Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
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The City Is Not My Friend Today

This latest Marah tour has been hell on my marriage. Is a successful marriage possible when a great distance is repeatedly shoved between those who long to be together? A relationship conducted through a string of texts and late night phone calls. Am I wrong for wanting to break my phone? Stomp it to pieces beneath my shoe?

At this late juncture in The Surge's tour, every nuance in speech is taken the wrong way. Every conversation dissolves into an argument within ten minutes. Every text, a reminder of the great divide. An electronic stab at hilarity despite the miles. Texts are for shit. I could text the happiest sentence possible in between my sobs that the hot water is off for the third day and the ants are back. Why tell him? He can't do anything from Serbia anyhow. Serbia? Yep, Serbia.
"I miss you." That sentence loses it's luster when spoken over and over and over and over and over again. Yeah, you miss me. I miss you. This is how our life is now. Me here, you there. You can miss me all you want.. it still doesn't mean I'll get to see you any sooner.. And it's beginning to sound as perfunctory as 'what did you do today?'

Admitting I miss him is not my way. My way is to power through.. Share the facts from my day. No time for mushy talk. He longs for the emotional stuff. I don't have it in me. So I focus on inane bits from my life that don't deserve the attention. Analyze silly things until I drive myself mad. I am going mad.

Maybe I am mad at him. Mad for leaving me alone so often. But I knew the deal when I married him. No I didn't. I knew nothing when I married him. So I should have prepared myself for anything. I met him while he was on tour for godsakes! But I didn't expect this.

Days and days of loneliness. I want to go to the movies with him. I want to ride the subway to Coney Island with him. I want to walk our dog with him. I want to have coffee at our place! But it's not the way it is. The way it is sucks. Hanging out with my husband should not be considered a luxury. But anymore, that's the way it is. I am slowly losing my mind. And so is he. Hours with other men in a van, in a hotel room, on a stage, in foreign countries. His only privacy: the bathroom.

If I was in Utah (I nearly said home instead of Utah.. which demonstrates I still don't feel at home here) I would take hikes with Max in those big motherfucking mountains that punch through the evergreens straight to the heavens so even God can see them up close.

Mountains. Always towering over my Utah world. They were present for my birth one sunny Sunday morning. They watched me attend my first day of school. They solemnly observed my graduation. They looked on as I met The Surge. They were witnesses at our wedding. Mountains. You can hike for hours and never run into a soul. Just you, nature's palette of greens and browns and that big, beautiful swoop of cerulean sky overhead.

Here, there is always someone. The concrete jungle colors of cement gray, dirty building slate.. I am sick of people. The guy repeatedly blowing his nose on the subway platform. The grown man I observed picking his nose on the train and then wiping it on the pole. The lady on the corner trying to shove a flyer into my hand. The guy on the subway begging me for money and berating me when I don't oblige. The woman banging me with her oversized (yet stylish, of course) purse. I long to hurt you all. Beat you into unconciousness with my own oversized (not stylish, of course) bag.

What's that you say? Oh.. go to the park. Utah laughs at your "park" New York City. She nearly injures herself with great belly shaking howls at your "nature". The crowded park. Where I get dirty looks if I dare let my dog off leash? The park is worse than the subway.

Max straining wildly on his leash in an effort to get at the squirrels that taunt him before scrabbling up to the lowest branches where they fall over each other, shrieking with laughter at the frenzied dog who can't get them. He nearly chokes himself, frothing in his efforts at squirrel success while I plant my feet in the ground and lean back as if water skiing to keep from being dragged to my death in a publicly humiliating fashion. Grown men give us a wide berth for fear the gangly black labrador might jump them. Pussies. He's a black lab!

This city is not my friend today.

Reader Comments (60)

I am not married by any means, but I do know what it is like keeping up a relationship through calls and text messages. It is FREAKING TOUGH! My b/f isn't on tour, but he works some long ass hours, from 5 or 6am until 8 or 9pm at night! He used to email me all the time, but now since the govt monitors the company he works for, they have stopped all outside email, it sucks! His job is super stressful,and I try not to bother him, but a teeny tiny text message could make or break my day! Funny how you let people have that power over you. It is hard to share your life that way, but somehow we manage and it makes me love him even more. Funny you mention the mountains and such, comparing NY and Utah. I did the same thing over the weekend, comparing AR to LA! Sorta made me appreciate where I live, how I can hop in the car and be an hour drive from the highest point between the Rockies and the Appalachians! Takes me less then 5 minutes to get to a grocery store, I drive there, not walk. It is a whole different life I am not sure I am ready for. One day I hope!
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Distance can be hard, but yours is a distance borne of mileage... not emotion. There are people today who woke up next to someone within reach but out of touch. There are those who take for granted the big things like taking walks and having coffee at "our place," by calling them the little things. [That's not autobiographical... but it once was.]

Luckily, your distance can be solved by the world's major airlines. And it soon will.

[Musical cue: "We have all the time in the world." I'd go with the Fun Lovin Criminals version today, but the Louis Armstrong one is priceless.]
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
at every moment of our lives there is something lost or longing. as humans, we somehow find a way to starve our desires with disappointment. it does drive you insane, but isn't that what life is all about? i can't look at a day or a circumstance and feel slight remorse without this understanding: that i'm going to wake up tomorrow with a fuck-all slant, ego defenses up, ready and waiting for the next turn. so you round the corner, remember what you're all about -- what you love -- and ride that motherfucker out like it's nobody's business. it's very exhausting, i know. but the spoils make the journey so worth it.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJu
Home. It's ok to say. This is home, Utah is home and the mountains are still here. Right now they show my favorite plumage; white capped. The valley is warm; all the trees are blossoming with their white, red and pink flowers. After noticing the spring trees one naturally has to look up into the mountains and see the remains of a winter that was. The mountains do call, they beckon the soul to relax and be at peace, to take time to reflect on the day and one’s life. Shake free from expectation, from doubt and trouble to be what you want to be, if only for a moment. When life calls back and one heads back to the valley, no problem, just look east and see the mountains they are here when needed, always calling, ever inviting. Just like home.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCChild
There must be an equation for longing. I'm certain some economist could tease out a graph that shows the pain to yearnings ratio of two lovers apart. In fact, if you gave a poet a calulator, a road map, and a sharpened pencil he might come close to drawing a portrait of the hot-blooded lonliness that comes from love stretched across a globe.
But none of them can approach the vivid anxiety and desperate beauty of reading Monica's blog and, soon after, going to a Marah show and hearing, "The Apartment".
Long distance marriage must be terribly difficult to pull off, god knows it's hard enough when there's no proximity problem whatsoever. Keep fighting, writing and telling it like it is. You two are bright lights when the world is dark.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
That's a great post, if you just made that up and have never said any of that before I will give you the "post of the day award".

That's fucking clever, I don't care if you have said it before, nice job.

April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCChild
Maybe you and Serge need a different way to communicate with each other. I don't know if anything will take the pressure off not seeing each other, but I hope you both find a way to "power through".
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercitygirl
Damn.. Y'all are posting some good shit today.

In fact, this here comment sounds crass next to your superb words.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
That is palpable pain I feel in those words!


One thing for sure, if you felt nothing, I'd worry.

The city is an enticing place to visit, but the mountain's, countryside, and woods...ahhh yes...that's where you truly can hear yourself think.

Someplace quiet and beautiful.

I know about the love-hate affair with the City. It's OK that he's not your friend today (if Utah is a "she", then NYC is definitely a "he"). He will always be there, just as the mountains will be as well.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b
New York is a a fucking woman.

She never shuts up.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSicksadworld
What do you do when that bitch won't shut her mouth? Plug your ears, roll your eyes and walk out of the room. But do you walk back into the room? Do you go back for more abuse and constant chatter? What is it about the noise that brings us back to the insanity of life? So much comfort to be found in the cradle of anonymity, so much peace to be had within the constant nothing of living. Why do I keep posting this bullshit?
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCunning Linguist
As Dorrie said, Just keep swimming.

NYC can beat you down, for sure.

But every once in awhile something happens there, a thing that could happen nowhere else, and it makes all of the city's borderline eccentricities and improprieties seem worth it.

At those moments, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else for all the fir trees in the world.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
Aw. Hang in there. I don't know how you do it. My boyfriend goes on tours for two weeks at a time, three weeks tops and I go crazy! You're almost done.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
Wow, these men on here with the souls of poets - I really think the post deepens with your comments attached.

Monica, very well done post. I can see it, feel it, hear it.

I never stuck out any long distance-required relationships - I bailed or cheated or got dumped. I would do it, if I had to, for Nick but probably with more reprehensions than any marriage can withstand.

So hats off to you and Jen and everyone else who makes it works when distance is thrown into the ever-maddening mix of modern love.
April 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterEDW
4 more days Monica.....4 more days until you are in the country of love. Italy! You'll get to see The Serge. 4 days seems forever doesn't it?

While I know a little of how you feel, not completely. Just think, a little girl who hasn't seen her daddy since Xmas. If he isn't able to make a visit in those few short days they have off next month then who knows when she'll get to see him?

I feel your pain a little, I do.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Your words sound so familiar. I could have written them those same words about my life and feelings but probably not express them as well as you did. I'm fifteen more years down the road than you are and i'm still waiting for the simple things you mentioned. To drink coffee together, take a walk, watch a movie with the kids at the weekend. My kids are almost all grown and i'm still waiting. The difference is that now i'm starting to realize it's just never going to happen....
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJoan
Hi Monica,
I love your writing. I'm a native Utahn now living in New York as well. I don't think I ever really knew how much I loved and needed the mountains when I lived in UT. Now I physically crave them - they give me a peace and calm I can't find anywhere in this city. I have visions every week about renting a car and driving up to the Adirondacks. Somehow that never seems to happen though . . . .
Keep writing. You've got a gift!
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter84124
Was that your zip code? What's your hometown? Mine was 84057. Aw, that made me homesick.
April 26, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Love is missing someone whenever you're apart, but somehow feeling warm inside because you're close in heart. ~Kay Knudsen

As my mother has always told me, time and time again...Patience is a virtue. And a lesson that never ends.
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAME
Hey Monica..I can imagine your situation quite well (not only by your writing) cause I had a distance relationship myself (Greece-Germany). It was weird. In a way the distance itself didn't bother us. He said he'd always feel me sitting right next to him in his car and I literally felt him standing behind me with his arms around me, so he was "there" and made me smile.
It only kind of got worse when we spoke on the phone or did the messenger-chat-video thing cause the real touching we wanted was still missing and it seemed so useless to do.. But then again I always thought "hey, we are a couple totally in love, aren't we supposed send messages all day long?? So why the fuck didn't he send me any message today??" He wouldn't cheat on me but I was extremely jealous about everyone who was able to share time with him.
One of the few german words he learned was "Sehnsucht" which means "longing"..
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjudith
Monica...I can't relate to how hard you and Serge work to keep your love alive when you are so far apart and how lonely working that hard can be...and I won't insult what you are feeling by trying to relate. Reading this journal entry flooded my mind with these lyrics - god I love these lyrics - maybe in some small way they will help speed up the next four days until you can be with your husband in Italy:

We said we’d walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we’re walkin a hand should slip free
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lover’s steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There ’neath the oak’s bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
Darlin’ I’ll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me

- Bruce Springsteen
April 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle
I was in no way trying to insult Monica by relating. I relate in a different manner of course. I only have a child that is involved. I relate in the manner of my child that I share with one of The Surge's friends, bandmates.

Monica at least will get to see The Surge soon. My daughter on one hand never knows for sure when she will get to see her daddy even when he says he'll be down for a visit such and such time, that get's bumped off the schedule due to other things. I get impatient myself. I enjoy seeing my friend as well, spending time with him, feeling some normalcy myself.

Anyways, I think Monica knew I meant no harm from what I say. Sometimes I want to hear someone can relate to the pain I feel or what I may be feeling or going through. It's nice to know your not alone.

Italy is closer now Monica...<sigh> You lucky bitch. (I mean that in the most humorous manner)
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Fiabug....I did not mean that you were insulting her...I wasn't referring to your comment at all - I was just saying that I can't relate. I know that you can.......

I am so sorry to have made you feel like I was bitching at you! Now I feel stupid for what I wrote - it totally wasn't meant that way. Sorry again Fiabug.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle
I don't think you were being referred to Ms. Bug. It was just a general disclaimer not intended for anyone in particular. (Except for Debbie Downer, I mean Joan.)
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
No...I didn't think you were bitching at me Richelle. :) Just that sentence shot out at me is all. And wanted to just clarify that I wasn't trying to insult her by relating. I knew you weren't pointing your finger out at me and knew it was just a general statement.

No sorries needed. And don't feel stupid for what you wrote. Just a clarification was needed is all. It's all good.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Good...thanks Fiabug. I guess what I should have written is what I meant, which was:

I wish there is something that I could say to make Monica feel better - but I have nothing that can do that - so I won't even try....hence the lyrics. Bruce says things much better than I can.

April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle
I quite often get the foot in mouth disease. :)

I'm just a bit ancy tonight. May have taken it a bit more personal, as I sometimes do, than I should have.

My daughter and I are just missing 1 part of our family. It happens. I just hope we aren't disappointed with a no visit. I need a night out with my drinking buddy and our friends. And my daughter needs a day or two with her buddy/daddy to jump on, beat up on and go for walks and learn about the constellations at night. :)
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
Yesterday I read this thing and I liked it very much. I try a translation hoping it will help you to improve your mood...because maybe a new day is what you need.

Everytime I've been a stone,
everytime I've been the wind,
when I stood
and when I ran away,
I had a necklace
with the days I've seen:
sometimes I ate them,
sometimes they ate me.
But if I can always smile towards the sunset,
the circle will always be a wheel.

April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGiorgio
This post is awesome. Maintaining a relationship over thousands of miles is difficult at best. Luckily, you and your husband have a solid foundation to help get you through the tough times like this. But from what I gather, you will be seeing him soon. Interesting thing is this, the closer you get to seeing him, the more on edge you get. For some reason it doesn't relax you like it should. I hope you have a wonderful time in Italy.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Oh, most of the comments here are marvelous and I don't think I could top them other than to say hang in there Monica. Fiabug, I think (as you agreed) you're a bit too sensitive. Folks should be able to post whatever they want without you feeling like it's directed at you. Joan, goodness. Your post made me so sad and I actually wish you'd share more of only to have people to talk to. The "your stories" section maybe?
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Fiabug, If my post sounded harsh it wasn't meant to because I love to hear your stories. Particularly the one about your old job!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAimee
Oh Aimee, thank you for the kind words. But if i share more, i'll just be "Debbie Downer"(thanks ereiberg). I'll just act happy and shallow from now on to keep everyone happy. I've noticed on this blog that people can't really write what they want without being attacked by one of the other readers! Monica's blog is nice but a lot of the people that hang out here are too harsh and cynical. (I'll duck for the bombs now)
Let me just spell it out anyway, then I'll go on my way. Monica, this isn't ever gonna change unless he makes a career change. He isn't going to make a career change because music is his life. So just get ready for more of the same and believe me, it gets a lot worse more down the line. Oops, I forgot to be CHEERY! Adios.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJoan
Yep, that was the old zip code. I get homesick for stretches of time too. Then I go back (as I did for the 10-year reunion this summer) and see all my old friends w/ four kids and "mom pants." That usually snaps me out of my homesickness!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter84124
Joan, feel free to say what you wanna say. Sometimes I feel the same way. Whenever I post something about depression I get a lot of shit for being so "negative all the time". Like, I choose to be depressed, that perhaps it's fun for me. I like to think this blog is a place where you can write whatever you please without fear of a bunch of folks giving you grief... In fact, if someone has the balls to share personal stuff, we should applaud that.. Although the witty comments are good for a laugh, in the end, it's the personal stories where people can relate that stick with me.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
84124 - we're the same age.. as my high school just had the 10 year reunion also. What high school did you go to?
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Sorry Joan. It was a shallow attempt at comedy, at your expense. I will refrain from that.

Post loud and proud, and I hope that you find occasion to rejoice sometime soon. And that your loved ones can be big part of it. Elliot Smith had it right:
"All I want now is happiness for you and me".
Mindbogglingly simple, but the absolute truth.

On a side note, anybody in NYC thinking about the Adirondacks should do it. Go climb Mt. Marcy, it will slake your Mountain thirst.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
Ereiberg - for the record, I always love your comments. They're either funny or well written. Are you a writer?

Joan, what a difficult situation. Is your husband in a band too?

April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
Trying Gemma, trying.

But as Yoda said,
"Do or Do Not, there is no try."

So I guess I won't be a Jedi any time soon.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
See! That's what I mean. You crack me up. I love the vast array of people who log on here? Come on people, where are you all typing from? Manhattan here!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
unfortunately, i can relate 2 what u're going thru. distance makes madness seem normal. *sigh* nothing is what it seems... messages are constantly misconstrued, weeping + fighting are often what keep you feeling alive when u're apart.

best of luck on keeping it together.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAtlanta
"weeping + fighting are often what keep you feeling alive when u're apart."

Nail on the head, Atlanta. Seems like, unless there is passion (be it the good kind or bad) one of the parties feels like the other one doesn't miss them or doesn't care enough..
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

The space seems farther when imagination is your only communication.
Understanding and believing as your only saving grace.
It is lonely on this side of the lake
but more alone is the soul in the unfamiliar.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAME
I'll sign up for any field trip from NYC to the Adirondacks. I miss green space.
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
I went to Skyline. I'm sure in about 5 minutes of "do you know (fill in name)" we could find a common link!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter84124
Is there a Kevin Bacon Osmond in Utah?

Someone through whom all Utavians can be linked?
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterereiberg
Skyline... Hmmm. Only name off the top of my head from Skyline is Jensen Poore.

Kevin Bacon filmed Footloose in Utah.. perhaps there is an illigitimate child he fathered with an extra in the movie.
April 27, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Don't know Jenson. Although seeing as we graduated about 600 people my year it's not entirely surprising!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter84124
Ah well.. Worth a try.
April 27, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonica
Well, congrats on making it out alive (and relatively unscathed). Not many of us do!
April 27, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter84124

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