Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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On Turning 29...

I don't wish to impart the impression that I am fighting aging. I love the wisdom that inevitably accompanies age. But it IS alarming how quickly Father Time sneaks up on you and delivers a rapid fire succession of jabs to your kidneys... your eyes... your knees... your aching back. Luckily I'm only afflicted with the shitty eyesight, but still.

Just yesterday I was the youngest news producer in Salt Lake City. I reveled in my status, having clawed my way to a job usually reserved for older, more experienced journalists. But I'm no longer the youngest person in the newsroom. The simple fact that I'm working in a newsroom doesn't hold the same acclaim at 29 as it did at 22... I used to sneak into the studio after my writerly duties were complete and watch - filled to the brim with awe - as the news anchors did their thang.. I'd get a little zing when 45 year old anchors seriously read the words I drummed up in my humble 22 year old brain. I'd marvel that millions of people were watching and listening.. I realized the zing had died the day I produced a newscast here in Manhattan featuring none other then Barbara Fucking Walters. I didn't care in the least. Babs What? WaWa Who? I don't care.. She just better fucking shut up when I give her a 30 second warning. I quickly realized my dream career had lost it's luster. Even sneaking in to watch Regis and Kelly do their business bores me.

I have a journal entry from August of '96, nearly ten years ago, that says:

"I need to travel. To get out of this sheltered town. I want to report the truth in politics, wars, all the lying that goes on in this world we live in. I don't want to live in passivity and ignore it all and let someone else make decisions that impact America. I want to be a part of those decisions, or at least be able to inform the public."

Sheesh... What an optimist. Bus as we all know, it isn't that simple is it? Although there are some bright spots and some amazingly talented people, the news industry in turns bores me, appalls me and never inspires me. I'm not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, excited to be at the center of all the folks that are "in the know" before the rest of America. I feel like another working stiff teetering on the brink of my thirties.

So today I'm taking stock. Affixing gold stars to my fridge for past accomplishments and setting my sights on loftier goals. I want to get my book published. I want a book with my name on it in the bookstore so bad I can already smell the delicious New Book Smell. The scent of fresh paper and ink and promise and cozy couch reading sessions, diving head first into the world another writer has created.

Two things are on my mind as I am dragged into the last year of my twenties. I want to start my second book (can I call it a "book" if it's still only a bunch of pages?). I also want to start jogging again. I did already. Jogged today, I mean. Thundering down the sidewalk, ass thump-thumping with the beat of my sneakers, wheezing like a dying old man. I was wheezing, I mean - not my ass. Although if asses could wheeze, mine would have today. It's been a while. It was tough. I almost puked. Almost. Instead, I unwisely ignored an old adage and spat in the wind. Luckily, no one was around to witness the aftermath of that unfortunate decision.

At 29, my mom was divorced with four children. Wow. That puts my life in freakish perspective. It's strange how swapping the environs of Utah for this crazy Brooklyn life has changed me. I feel free. More alive. Thoughts I never woulda thunk behind the Zion Curtain have taken seed in the dark corners of my brain. Were I turning 29 in the high altitudes of the Utah suburbs right now I think I would be treating myself to a long, luxurious bath... with my toaster.

It's been one year since I've been "home". It's been the best year of my life. It's been the hardest year of my life. I don't know if I would have made it without this blog.. It has given me my voice back. Allowed me to say what I wanna say without funneling my words through some news story using industry jargon.

Thanks everyone, for being a part of this journey with me. Your comments, your awesome emails and your willingness to share pieces of yourself have sometimes been the only light on some very dark days. It's not so easy to move to a new city (New York Fucking City at that!) have your husband be gone nearly all of the time, start a new job in the biggest news market in the world and not lose it once in a while.

Reader Comments (48)

I was hit with a similar disillusionment about journalism and my work when I was in grad school. Not sure if the industry has changed or if I have; I'm sure a little of both. Growing up there was always the fantasy of being a kick-ass reporter for Rolling Stone, breaking news and changing the world through the power of words. Now we get to watch the head honchos of R.S. squabble like girls in a middle school bathroom.

There was also a fateful conversation with a longtime journalism buddy of mine last year, where we finally admitted to ourselves we were too old to ever be considered prodigies again.

But I have realized that no matter how mind-numbing the day-to-day gets, every once in a while there's something that will hurl me back to being a geeked-out kid tingling with excitement. And I have to live for these things, otherwise I would have a similar date with my toaster.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
Happy Birthday Monica!

When we are children, we can't wait until we get older. Can't wait until we reach 13 years old because then we are a teenager, 16 years of age so we can drive. Then 18 when we can legally move out on our own (well most people that is), then 21 when we are legally allowed to goto bars to drink or be able to buy alcohol. After 21, what age is their too look forward to? That was my thinking.

When we were kids, it seemed like getting older would never get here. Now that I'm almost 32 years old, it's like it's coming faster than the speed of light.

30 came and went. I wasn't excited for it at all. Still not excited for it. My 20's were my best so far.

One thing about goals, wanting to do something in life. Years and years ago our grandparents weren't told you can be anything you want at any age. They grew up either being housewives or stuck in the same job. They were told they were too old to do this or change careers. Now in 2006, we have so many more options. Even though I am 32 I know that there are many things I can do no matter how old I am. My mom will be 60 this year. I try to tell her the same. She doesn't always believe me. I told her she could goto college if she wanted. To do something that she loves to do. She keeps talking about getting into PR work. I tell her "Then DO IT!" She brings the age up. That's just an freaking excuse to me.

You're welcome Monica. I enjoy coming here, reading your thoughts, rants, and ideas. I am honored that you allow us to join in with out comments, insights and opinions. I am honored you have a place for us to share our stories and rants. Thank you!

Sorry for the long length comment. Just had stuff to say. Hope you have a wonderful day!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Oh, to be 29 again. Everyone gives me a hard time when I wish it was Friday. My response? Well, I wish it was LAST Friday.

There are a few days I wish I could have a do-over for. Anyway, enjoy your 29th birthday. You only get one.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStFarmer
Monica, monica
Serge plays the harmonica.
To get a flat stomach
One gets a colonica.

Your hair, it is blonde
Of you, I am fond
If you were a wizard
You would have a wand

And then you'd cast spells
And save children from wells
And all year a-round
They'd play silver bells.

On ev-er-y station
An infatuation
With monica mania
That lasts the duration

Of time, and okay
Let me just say
I love you to death
Happy Birfday!

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
happy Birthday Monica!! Now come here and let me put you over my knee and give ya 29 smacks on your bum! LOL :)
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I love how birthdays tend to give us pause and time to reflect. I have to say that turning 30 was one of my better birthdays. I, too, am at a completely different place than most people "back home". I love this and love my life.

Here's to accomplishing all those things you want to do this year! Happy belated ; )
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSerena
Happy Birthday Monica! 29 is a good year but 30 is better. Don't be sad about your last year in your twenties be excited about all there is to look forward to in your thirties. It is a shiny new decade to accomplish so many more wonderful new things. Enjoy your birthday and relish in all your accomplishments, because that is what really counts in life. It isn't our age it is our accomplishments! Have a great day and make it a fantastic year! Thanks for your wonderful blog!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermap
Happy Birthday!

This might have been my favorite post. It's so good to reflect on life this way. I do the "when my mom was my age she was..." thing a lot too. It freaks me out.

On a different note, I too started jogging again today. Ass thump-thumping... that was such a great description.

Enjoy your 29th year. Congrats on your awesome accomplishments, and good luck as you work towards your new goals.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b
Happy Birthday, way to go.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
I may have to meet sicksadworld (sunshine) if I ever make it out the New York Way.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
Oh you'll meet me, alright. I'll be the one at the airport holding the sign "If you call me "sunshine" one more time I'll kick your ass all the way back to Orem." Then I'll leave you there and let you find your way back to brooklyn.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
1) Sicksadworld, that was awesome!
2) Happy "Birfday"!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
All that attitude, someone needs a hug. I love a tough-girl persona, those are the best walls to bring down. Although I don't know you that well so I am going to play it safe for now and stop calling you sunshine.

Thanks for the laugh.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
Call her Sunshine.. It actually does match her personality although she will probably track me down and cut me for saying so..
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Happy birthday Monica!
You talk about aging on your 29th birthday...
So you´re disillusionized with your job after all those years - happens to all of us. The more enthusiastic we are in the beginning the quicker we burn out.
What´s important, you´re ready to take the next step in a different direction, and as long as you keep moving you won´t age.
I´ll stick with this blog for 50 more years if you will.
Best wishes from a 38year-old!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentertanja
Monica: You may forget about the state of the art salad tosser I bought you to celebrate the day of your birth.

Cchild: Hmmmmmm. You may have given in too easily on the "sunshine" bit thus rendering future exchanges humorless and dull.

Heather B. Thank you. It's nice to know people still appreciate classic poetry.

PS. I have a feeling that everyone on this blog knows me a little too well at this point.

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
Sicksadworld: Did the Salad Tosser have a penis? Or was is post-op?

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

That you might think I would give monica a Salad Tosser without a penis.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
You are probably correct, if all we had was "sunshine" for entertainment then I held my hopes a little too high. It seems you may be able to spot the obvious a little sooner than most. I only gave in because I wanted a ride from the airport. FYI: That bitch is not always half-empty.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
Hmmmm. I don't believe I understand you, cchild, but I do know one thing: If it's full of whiskey, it's always half empty.

I meant to say: WITH a penis...which still doesn't make sense. *exasperated sigh.*

Happy birfday, AGAIN, monica.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
That's good shit, I love a good laugh. You never fail to deliver the goods, I will top that glass off for you.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
Sicksad....thanks for clearing things up!!!!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Happy birthday Monika! Hope you had a great day full of friends, love, alcohol, sunshine and presents.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen
Happy Birthday Monica! The weather in London is FABULOUS today and I'm thinking that the jogging thing might do me some good. Gotta stop indulging in the ciggies on the weekends though.

As for the whole age thing, I'm 21 and am feeling the whole quarter life crisis thing. My older sister (2 years my senior) was married when she was 1 month shy of 22 (that will be me in August). I am so not close to that, but to a certain degree, I wish that I was. I'm getting sick and tired of being the tough/single/independent girl that all of my attached friends can count on for a sholder to cry on. I am just wanting to find HIM. It only takes one look at all of the single 30 somethings to create a pit of panic into my stomach. But honestly, there's nothing that I can do!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHoopla
Happy Birthday Monica. Great post. Your enthusiasm is infectious. I want to move to NYC, write a book and marry a rocker. Send Ryan, please. :-) I digress...Your passion is as beautiful as you are. We will be lining up to buy your book. Hurry up already!

Have a fabulous birthday!
A fan
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTabatha
oh yeah....Happy birfday Monica....sorry sicksadworld made me have tranni salad tossers on my mind!!!!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
Happy birthday my dearest blondie Mon! I'll try to send you a home made bd-cake with FedEx... Should I be warned about turning 29? Ten years and four months to go! I just hope you'll have a great time; and keep having a great time! Is there something better than getting high on life? Huh..
Whole lotta love from the Chinese Senorita in Sweden!

Ps. I'm thinking about forcing a publishing firm to publish your books here in Sweden...
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSuyin
I know exactly what you fucking mean about age. I turned 31 last year and the sensation is freaky. One day I'm a 10-year-old dreading a rainy day school field trip because my mom makes me wear old lady rain caps, and the next...well, I'm 30 fucking 1 years old! Lawd! I think it's true that as you age time seems to go by faster. When you look back at think over the mistakes, should haves and even former good times, it can kill your spirit.

Have an amazing damn birthday and plan to enjoy the next 29 years!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercitygirl
Having spent some time recently reading the blog that "inspired" yours, I have to say, with all due respect to S.Klein, your chapters blow anything I've read over there right out of the fucking water.

And I'm not one to say "fuck" lightly.

As Paul Kelly says (in "Nothing on my Mind") --'young people, what's this about the young people? I never did a damn good thing 'til I was over 30.'

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjls
Happy Birthday!!!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNichole Lindsay
Happy birthday!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGiorgio

Hostest with tha' mostest!
You rock...even though you are old!
Long may you write and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
J (who's WAY older than your typical demographic group)

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
Happy birthday Monica!!!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEnrico
'young people, what's this about the young people? I never did a damn good thing 'til I was over 30.'

Damn I love that!

March 27, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko
happy birthday, monica.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkasey
Happy Birthday, TGH!

Live from Nashville
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
Happy B-day! Congrats on reaching your final year of The Twenties (overrated). I really enjoy reading your stories and am glad that you gave birth to your blog~
Keep on keepin' on!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKDW
Happy Birthday Monica!

The honesty in your writing is inspiring...thanks for sharing part of yourself with us. I hope you were able to do whatever the fuck you wanted to today.

Oh, and props for starting to run again on your birthday! I started jogging again about 6 weeks or so ago, and after a couple of weeks I injured my shins. So now I'm going back to dancing, my first true love.
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterktphotog
Happy 29th, Monica!

On birthdays, and this age in particular...

My mom had a crisis when she turned 29, celebrated for 5 days, and 30 years later, it's still the last birthday she ever celebrated. On my 29th she got unbelievably drunk in front of all my friends and kept grabbing my face and kissing it...not at all like her. In fact, the last thing I would ever think her doing (the face grabbing, not the drinking).

Hope yours has less drama!!!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEDW
Dear Monica,

Happy Birthday to you.....

May you have the best birthday ever...and may the stars on your fridge sparkle ever so brightly! Add lots more stars too....multi colored, brilliant rainbow stars....because Monica your future shines very brightly.

May I say that I LOVE your blog site....every evening I try to stop in and see what you are up to. You make me laugh and laugh. I am always so entertained when I visit here. Sometimes you scare me a bit though...but, most of all you make me so very proud. I am so amazed by your stories, your wit, your adventures and above all your honesty.

What an awesome daughter-in-law I have! I am so lucky (& so is my son). Hope you have a wonderful birthday Monica! George and sweet Pete send you their love and best wishes too. Please come to visit soon. We miss you guys.

March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMother-in-law
Happy Birthday!

Yes, we do have a lot in common! Look forward to reading more of your blog!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJenorama
limited abilities
unlimited desire, ambition, passion
to be who you wish to be

happy birthday
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteredyta & bartek
Happy birthday to you
squashed bananas and stew
you look like a monkey
and you act like one too!
March 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Armstrong
Awwww...Mom in law....I love ya! Met ya at the TLA Xmas show....and well told ya one you had adopted, that you adopted me and my daughter as well. So sweet.

Happy Birthday Mon, seriously, hope it was a good one!!
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Yeesh! Look at you with all your comments. I am completely overwhelmed with comment envy!! ;-) Again I must say that I enjoy this blog immensely. And please....please dont tell me that 29 is old.
March 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMerteuil
missy too kissy... Sorry I'm writing so late but as I told you before my computer is an old clunker.(as you well know which one of your old boyfriends gave to me) and so it doesn't work half the time, but just wanted to tell my favorite daughter Happiest of happy birthdays!!! Time does go soo fast! Seems like yesterday when you were plopped on to my stomach and I cried and cried that you were so perfect and a girl!! Then you had that little pink bow glued in your black hair when the nurses brought you in to me later and you just slept and slept..I really can't believe it was 29 years ago. I dressed you in the most beautiful dresses for church and you had to spread your dresses out over the chairs and none of the other little girls could "touch my pretty dress," or it was "don't look at me" to the other girls. You were a spoiled little shit!! Man I miss those times. Anyway I'm getting carried away, and I want to bawl my head off, yeah, yeah I know you hate that. Just want to tell you that I love you and how very proud I am that you are my very own girl. Happy Birthday! Love mom
March 29, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
Happy, happy 29th! I love checking in here and reading your posts. I am always glad when I do. I hope you have a dozen books in your future.

And for what it's worth: The beauty of living and growing each day is that we are never done. I always think, maybe I'll be an actor when I hit my 60's, or maybe I'll go to law school when I'm 70. Who knows?

March 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCinco Lover

Yeah that is so true, father time sneaks up on you so quickly, the only method to reduce its speedd or at least than we fell that, is using viagra without prescription , I can affirm that.

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

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