Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Kindred Spirits

I like to be liked. Who doesn't, really? I mean, DUH. But I think what I'm trying to say here is that it quietly destroys me when I am not liked, not well-received. Some people are able to shrug their shoulders and move along to the next thing: Eh, their loss...

Not me.

I obsess. Analyze. Over-analyze: What is wrong with me? I am racked with insecurity, especially around women, that I shove down deep, deep, deep which lends itself to more insecurity which is probably the cause of all the social anxiety I experience. I don't enter into situations expecting to be liked, as I think most people do, I feel like I have to convince you to like me. Fuck, maybe that's what this blog is: one long ass letter to the world, convincing you to like me. It can, and often does, make social situations feel more like work than fun which leads to a preference of staying home.

This is probably why I am so thrilled when I discover people who really and truly like me. Not the over-compensating version of me trying to convince you to like me, the real me. It's rare that you can let your guard down without later regretting it and it's hard to make friends as an adult. You don't have the forced interaction or that huge commonality that school provides. So unless you belong to a church (we don't) and unless you work with a lot of people that you dig (I work at home) making friends as an adult is beyond difficult. And not just making friends, making friends you really like.

People liking each other is the definition of friendship but sometimes friendships aren't born as a result of a real enjoyment of the other person. Sometimes they are leftover from childhood/high school/college and we've long since outgrown them but don't know how to break up. Sometimes our friendships are a result of outward commonalities, things like husbands, kids the same age, the same church or neighborhood, but really, when it comes down to it, there is no substance. These friendships can make us feel even more alone than if we had nobody.

But the best kinds of friendships, at least to me, are the ones that seem to have sparked from pixie dust. You bond with someone and it almost feels like a milder version of falling in love. These are the people we carry in our hearts forever. The friendship isn't one of convenience, of obligation, it was simply inevitable once you met.

Several years ago, while working at WABC and living in New York City, I met a woman. I totally fell in love with her. I don't know what that means, really, the falling in love thing. It's the only way to describe how I felt and feel about this woman. I don't mean I want to sex her up or anything, although I wouldn't be opposed to the experience what with all the bisexual tendencies I've left unexplored since getting married. It's just that I really, really connected with this woman in ways I am still apparently unable to articulate on this blog other than to immediately resort to sex talk. Typical of me.

Weird thing is, I only knew her from work. We never hung out outside of being co-workers. Once I left New York City we occasionally emailed and stuff, but it wasn't, like, a consistent pen pal thing either. You know how it goes, people burrow into your heart and soul but life gets in the way and you're forced to leave them there, maybe turning the relationship over in your mind every now and again because it's just comforting to know that certain people are out there existing in the world whether or not you see or speak to them.

She's the first person that really expressed admiration for my writing. I have been told I was a good writer by a couple of English teachers and probably my mom who is pretty much obligated to express admiration, but this was the first outsider that ever said Hey! I think you have a knack for that shit.

I started this blog while working at WABC and she was one of a few co-workers who read it and complimented me even though, God, I go back and read some of that earlier stuff - even more melodramatic than I am now and a violent misuse of apostrophes - and I have to physically restrain myself from pulling an all-nighter or five and obsessively editing the whole blog.

While showing my mom and brother around Manhattan this past weekend we were headed to Central Park but were stopping off at a Starbucks near Lincoln Center so my brother could use the john. WABC is near there and as we were crossing the street I saw her. My friend.

We spotted each other at the same time. For me it was like a bolt of lightning. Really. It's been nearly seven years or something like that but it was just BOOM. There she was and the minute I saw her, she saw me. And you know how you never know if the people you carry a torch for feel the same way? Once you haven't seen them in awhile you just don't know if they look back on the time you spent together with the same glow as you do... We only knew each other for about a year, if that, and like I said, we never hung out outside of work, so, while I have often thought of her who knows if she thought of me...

She recognized me instantly. I remember thinking that as we simultaneously screamed and hugged: She recognized me. It was almost like running into an ex-boyfriend but better because there was no horrible past to overlook, no shitty break-up and subsequent awfulness, just the good stuff.

It could've just as easily gone the other way. It's happened to me before. Spot an old friend or flame who looks right through you without recognition or maybe pretends not to see you. Either way, it's a blow to your heart that this person, this part of your past who can still make your heart thump, doesn't hold the same feelings.

My mom and brother continued across the road and my friend and I stood there talking as fast as we could what with her heading back to work from a lunch break and my family waiting for me on the other side of the street. Just a jumble of oh-my- gosh-I-love-you-I-can't-believe-you-recognized-me-how-have-you-been...

She still reads this blog. It blew me away when she said that. Thrills me to my toes to know that she's kind of been here with me the whole time and I didn't know it. She's my mom's age so it surprises me that she still gives a shit, you know? I kind of tucked her away in my heart, never thinking she did the same with me. But she did. It made my day. My week, really.

So I guess I just wanted to acknowledge her here. Let her know how happy it makes me to know that she's out there. Even if she didn't read the blog it still pleases me to know that she's out there existing; doing her thing and thinking her thoughts and being who she is and, well, now I probably sound insane but I am, a little bit, so that's okay.

Anyway, thanks, my friend. We are, like, so totally kindred spirits in the Anne Shirley-est of ways and it's probably best that we enjoy each other from afar or you would likely discover that I am actually an asshole and our friendship would quickly reach the finish line in a most unvictorious fashion.

Realizing my old friend is still out there got me to wondering who else is out there right now reading this... Do I know you? Are you a stranger? Why do you come here? You know my story, what's your story? I want to know who you are if you want to tell me.

Reader Comments (63)

You don't know me. I was born in Philly, live five minutes from where I grew up. My in-laws are in Utah. I stumbled on your blog googling something else and was hooked. Been following for a while now. Mostly because I like dogs (I KEED). But really, because you tell us your story without too much of a filter. The good, bad and ugly. And we have a summer place up near where you live and one of these days I know I'm going to run into you and you're gonna run the other way screaming. GUFFAW. But really.

I am married, have two autistic kids and I dog sit for a living, since it's the only thing I can do and stay home. I like potatoes a lot. I've been blogging for almost 8 years and had two decent writing gigs but real life is kinda in the way now. I volunteer too much and I need to learn to say no. I miss my Dad. I need a vacation. I like dogs more than people.

That's about it.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Domestic Goddess

Hi, I'm Cat from West Yorkshire in the Uk. I've never commented before, I feel like a virgin!
I've read your blog for years. My cousin who lives in Arizona started a blog about 4 years ago so we could keep up to date with her daughter. I followed a few links on the side of her page and found you about 3 years ago. Violet was tiny and I've followed you ever since.
I love the truth in your writing, your honesty. Marriage is hard work but some of the other blogs I read seem to gloss over all that and portray a perfect life. Which just makes me feel inadequate.
I'm a single mum of 3. My husband and I were married 11 years when he met someone else and left. I had a 6,4 and 6 month old. I thought it was the worst period of my life but finally realised I was better off without him. My kids were all I needed! We had a fantastic life for 5 years and then in June this year my 9 year old daughter died and my world ended. We will pick ourselves up and get on with our lives but right now I don't know how.
I read your blog to escape to another country, experience other cultures and to laugh! My daughter and I loved watching yours and Serge's videos.
I wish you all the best for the future xx

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCat

I honestly don't remember why I started reading your blog. I think it was probably about two years ago, maybe? I don't know. We're total strangers but I feel like we'd have good talks if we were real life friends. I imagine that's probably how many people feel about the bloggers they read (or I hope so, anyway).

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCandice

I'm a complete and total stranger and I have been reading every post after I found your blog over a year ago. Oh, and I really LIKE you! I love the way you write. Your open, honest and sometimes pour your guts out and I admire that.

What a great post. I have a friend like that too. They are rare and fill your heart with love when you think of them. It can be years between from when you last spoke, yet pick up right where you left off like you never missed a day. I knew we would be friends the first day I met her.

I used to have a lot of "friends" or so I thought. Then I had a child with a disability (she is total care). We found out pretty fast who really was our friends. After a few years, I learned not to give a shit what people thought about me. It's none of my business. Today is her 26th birthday and as I think back over the last 26 years I think about all the things I've learned from her. She loves unconditionally, completely without judgement. She loves and lives life, has a wicked sense of humor and not a mean bone in her body. I always tell her I want to be just like her when I grow up. THAT is what matters. You, Monica are unique and different and that's a good thing in my opinion.

My favorite saying is from Dr. Seuss. ""Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

Oh, worry too much! I mean, seriously...who couldn't like you? I can't imagine. I think you're cool as hell! Just remember that if someone doesn't like you, it has much more to do with them than it does with you.

And not much of an exciting story here - I'm a wife and a work at home mom, like you. I homeschool my daughter and make jewelry and run our business and that's my life! We have chickens and dogs and an adorable daughter and she makes our life complete.

I greatly enjoy your blog and think you and Serge are both super talented. I see you both writing books together someday...I think a great movie could be made from parts of your lives! Best to you guys - hope you're enjoying the fall colors!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

I'm pretty sure I started reading you because you are ex-Mormon, like me. You seem to have let go of a lot of the anger but I still live in "Zion" and Mormonism is still annoying as hell. I love that you got out of Utah. I'd like to too but I would head west to Oregon or Washington. It probably won't happen because my kids are in school but it's a nice dream, especially during the election year and all you hear is Romney. I substitute teach and boy are there stories there. I'm also totally socially awkward. I was forced to talk to another teacher today (small talk) for a half hour and I thought my head would explode.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWendy P.

You've done this blog for a while, so we know you, but you don't know us. I sit in front a computer all day and spend a big chunk of it looking at blogs (it IS work related, I work in the beauty industry so I'm looking for our brushes and other companies' brushes) and I found your blog through this other young mom's blog. Like you, I love to read, so I started your blog a couple months ago and just kept reading (in chronological order) and now I'm all caught up. My fiance thinks I'm a little crazy for talking about you and your family like we're 'friends', but he should talk, he befriended a blogger and she ended up INVITING US to her wedding, so he must be a little crazy too. I too obsess about Hollywood nonsense, (never got into the Real Housewives, though I do watch Bethenny Ever After) I lived in Hollywood right after college for 6 years, and then came back to Chicago and was a producer, see we have that in common too, for talk and news radio. I got very used to being the only girl on the show and talking on-air and being able to express my thoughts, that's what I miss the most. I still get to do Hollywood stuff, we send our brushes to celebrity events, tv sets, magazines and film sets, but that's about it. Even though I don' t have kids, I'm REALLY good with them. All kids love me and I used to call myself the "Baby Whisperer" because I can usually calm any crying baby. I have 2 nephews that I love, they are 6.5 and 4.5. If you've ever read any of my comments, then you know I bitch about weight issues and this big, fat, wedding that I have coming up (in 10 days). Last week the House of Brides called to tell us they're no longer doing business with the company making the bridesmaids dresses (shit out of luck), and TODAY I got an email from the hotel we're staying at for our honeymoon thanking us for our visit and that they look forward to seeing us again -- even though we have been there yet. Your family stories crack me up. My family is also dysfunctional, except I used to ask my parents to divorce, but they never did. This is why we could be BFFs, Things in common: from a family of 4 kids, second child (also first to move away from home, I've heard 2nd kids are more adventurous), weird religious backgrounds, hairy chins. But I don't worry what people think of me and pretty much say what I think. And I think I'll shut up now.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonnieLee

Hi Monica! Im Belinda from Newcastle in Australia. Im 39 and have two kids just a bit older than your babies. I work part-time and the rest of the time Im a Mum, wife, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, referee... you get my drift lol. I can't remember exactly when I came across your blog, but i think you must have left a message on a blog I was reading and i probably thought you were being such a smart arse that I had to see who you were.... and a couple of years later Im still here. I love reading your blog, you are so honest, funny, smart and a pleasure to read (I also like reading what Serge writes too). I have sent through a few photos that you have requested like birth, kids, fridge (i had the messy fridge with the gorilla lol).
If I lived closer I would love to catch up with you for a beer, like someone said above, i could imagine us being mates in real life. If you ever want to share a beer over skype one day, let me know :)

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

I read a ton of blogs daily on the internet, and for whatever reason, yours is the one I find myself most attracted to. I don't have kids and I'm not married, and obviously we've never spoken, but I feel like we are kindred spirits as well.

I live in the Delaware Valley, closer to Philly than Amish Country, but close enough! I used to place importance in being that hard-working career girl, trying to make a living working in television, but it's been tough the past year or so. I have feelings and "issues" from my childhood and parents' subsequent divorce I've been trying to work through. I've always gotten along with guys better than girls, and I too have trouble finding women I can connect with outside of the friendly banter at work or in random social situations. I'm having trouble finding new friends at this stage in my life. But aside from all those obvious parallels, it's your relationship to Serge that most attracts me to your site.

I've lived with my boyfriend the past several years, and feel like we are as good as married. Neither one of us got to see what a good relationship, or successful marriage looked like growing up, so we are slowly trying to make our own way. I feel like I get you guys. It pisses me off when people give you guys shit about your relationship, because it makes sense to me! Real people have real problems, and if you are making the effort to get through that bullshit, and continue wanting to be together, then you guys are obviously in love. Nobody should be judging you for that. I love that you guys live this quiet little life in the country (that's our eventual dream as well) and your sense of humor seem to mesh the way I view my own relationship.

Lastly, I originally wanted to work in TV because I eventually want to be a writer myself. Unfortunately, I lack the confidence to really make any bold moves in that situation, but it gives me hope to see stories like yours. I find your writing insightful, funny and I think you're brave for putting yourself out there despite your insecurities. Maybe someday I can get past my own insecurities.

Anyway, this was long and rambling, and I sound like I'm sucking up to the teacher! Knowing that you are awkward around women and I am awkward around women, who knows if we would be friends if we ever ran into each other! I like to think we'd get along, though..... Thanks for sharing your life with us!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJax

LOVE this post; what a great story!!

I'm Kate, I live in beautiful eastern Washington state. I grew up in S. Idaho, though, and am slightly obsessed with Mormons and especially the FLDS. I found you via a comment you left on Mamapundit, and I thought "Hey, she sounds like someone I could be friends with. AND she's an ex-Mormon!" Then I obsessively read your love story and connected with you all over again; my husband and I basically became engaged the first weekend we met in person. He's the love of my life (even though sometimes I want to strangle him with his dirty socks) and we've been together 6 years. I have one daughter who just turned 12; she is the most hilarious person I've ever known. I run, I read, I kayak, I sew, I ride my bike, I drink cheap-ass pinot gris. I believe strongly in equal rights (Washington is voting on gay marriage here soon) and I'll be voting for my man, Obama again in November.

Oh, and I once wrote you a fan email, because you seem so honest and real and approachable. Honestly, who wouldn't like you? And if they don't, fuck 'em. Love to you and you're beautiful family.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Hi! I'm a stranger in Madison, Wisconsin. I don't remember how I came upon your blog but I've been reading for a year or so. Your voice on the blog fees very familiar and friend-ish to me, that's why I enjoy reading. By friend-ish I mean you sound like any of my real life girlfriends who bitch about annoying things, gush about cute things, talk about cool stuff you bought or tried or liked, unload things that are weighing on your brain. I usually read when I take a little break at work, so you feel a bit like a work friend. Like in another universe we would walk across the street to grab a coffee and talk every day at 2 or something.

My story is I'm a librarian masquerading as an IT professional, been married for 10 years, no kids, two cats, one dog, love to travel, like to run, play on a bar trivia team with the husband and our friends a couple times a month, read a lot in my spare time, wish I had a job that I loved instead of liked but I don't even know what that would be, hate yard work, don't mind laundry, am currently fighting the urge to go to my building's vending machine to buy a bag of M&Ms.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I too feel anxiety about whether or not people like me. But mostly, if I know or think someone doesn't like me, I want to know why...because I happen to think I'm pretty awesome!

I can't remember how I found your blog, but I started reading regularly when we were both pregnant with our youngest. I have a son a bit older than V and my younger son was burn a day before Henry.

Oh yeah! Now I remember, I followed a link from Katie Allison. Then I wondered and hoped we would have our babies at the same time. Close enough!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

Complete and total stranger from Canada with two kids who thinks you are a fantastic writer.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbec

I've been reading this blog I have no idea but it's been years. I love your writing! A lot of blogs start out good but as they get more well known it turns into constant ads and endorsing products. I love that you still write about your life! I read almost daily hoping to hear more about Serge, Violet, and Henry.

Hell, the other day I met up with my husband and his friends at Taco Bell for some delicious lunch. Had a great time with excellent conversation. I got home and realized that I had a big chunk of lettuce in my teeth and couldn't help but think "Hm, I just pulled a Monica".

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Oh, I forgot to blather on about me... well I'm Courtney, I'm 28 years old and I live in Delaware (second smallest state, yahoo!). I recently got married to my boyfriend of ten years. Our relationship is pretty similar to your marriage, at least from what I can see. I love him more than anything, but I feel like killing him on a regular basis. We have two cats, Frank and Beans, and no children yet. I am halfway done getting my Masters in Nursing Education so for now I am a lowly staff nurse at a local hospital.

I love to paint and read. Mostly read. I am terrible at painting and excellent at reading, haha. I used to read a lot of blogs everyday, but most of them have lost their luster. I still read Katie Granju, The Pioneer Woman, and yours on a daily basis. I use my sarcastic humor to cover the fact that I am a natural introvert and hate being the center of attention. The people who know me in real life would be shocked to hear that I am shy.

I believe in gay marriage, I'm pro-choice, and yay! for equal rights for everyone. I am anti-death penalty, anti-republican, and anti-delivery pizza. All delivery pizza tastes like shit wrapped in turds.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

@Courtney - Talkin' chive. Totally been there. I also think the people who know me in "real life" would be shocked to hear I am shy.

October 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterMonica

Hi I am from Kent in the UK. I reply to some of your posts, but yours is the only website I use my real name for. (as my name is quite unusual I have always gone by the name Vi for other blogs - it felt weird to do that for yours)
My husband and I married last year after 20 odd years together, we have two children a couple of dogs, ferrets and chickens. I have just started a new job which will involve a lot of college work.
and I found you via Katie Granju.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSaffron

Hi Monica! We just "bonded" over Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on FB today, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to say hi formally. I'm 30, live in Portland, OR (love it here!), and make my living as an office manager...a career I constantly feel stuck in, as it sucks the life out of me on a daily basis. With that in mind, I recently went back to school and took some pre-requisites so that I can apply to a program in the field where my true passion lies: zoology. Exciting, scary times ahead!

I think I stumbled upon your blog from a FB friend who posted one of your He Said/She Said videos...and I immediately LOVED you guys. You are so openly honest and funny about your marriage and all the hard work it takes to make it through, and I so appreciate and respect that. It feels like too many people invest so much time in concocting this image of their perfect lives (especially with sites like Pinterest out there enabling them) and all it really does is make everyone else feel inadequate because they don't have time to craft a perfect autumn wreath for the front door of their beautiful home. But you and Serge aren't like that. You tell it like it is, and give the rest of us hope and laughter along the way. I'm not even married, but I tend to idealize other happy couples and compare their relationship to my own. So unhealthy! I think it's in no small part due to the fact that I have started reading your writing that I have recently done that less and less, however, and I am happier for it, so thank you! I'm slowly starting to realize that NO couple is perfect, and if you think they are, it's only because you don't see what really goes on behind closed doors. Ha! That sounds so ominous!

I also wanted to mention the recent post you wrote about your dysfunctional parental influences and how they have contributed to the fact that you and Serge were "ill prepared for marriage." Seriously, I could have WRITTEN that. I even copied an excerpt and sent it to my b/f, really resonated with me. It felt so good to know that someone else out there was feeling the exact same way and could put it into words, which is something I have been unable to do.

Shortly after I discovered your blog, I read the ENTIRE love story between you and Serge. And of course I started idealizing your relationship. Your story had this power over me; it sucked me in and I couldn't stop reading. I spent all day at work covertly devouring your words and sending snippets to my friend, because I felt she just HAD to know about these two strangers and the incredible circumstances that brought them together. It was so beautiful and just...everything everyone thinks they want their love stories to be, ya know? I couldn't believe that you made the last minute decision to go to a concert after work and ended up marrying a rock star. Who does that happen to?!? I mean, really? You, apparently. =)

Anyway, here I am. I started reading Serge's blog too and am continually blown away by the sheer MAGIC and beauty of his words. He is so gifted. Will you please tell him to write a book? Or, hell, short stories? I would snap it up in a heartbeat (and yours too, btw!) I just love the way he gleans pure joy out of the simple act of parenting and never forgets to appreciate *every tiny moment* because he knows it won't last forever. Always sentimental, but never overly so.

Anyway, I'm sure I've rambled enough. Basically, I'm gonna be reading for a long time. You are such a kickass lady, and it only gets better the more I learn! Thank you for sharing your life with us.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

Gina is my name and making friends is my game. Sadly I am not very good at it. I have always had 2 sisters and enjoyed ready made friendship with them. Still I also found myself over at the homes of other girls my age, playing with their toys and listening to their music, riding bikes, going to their birthday parties etc etc. I trace the beginnings of social anxiety to a few incidents involving friends I would go to visit only to find out they had moved away without telling me. Hello if that's not a punch in the face....not their fault. THEN I also had a father who would tell us kids that there had better NOT be any friends in the house when he got home. Well you can't blame him, Dad was a teacher and being around kids all day long, the man needed his peace. Still, I wanted my friends to come over and hang out in my room. Not that my room was all that great but it was kind of a right of passage to have your friend actually step foot into your ROOM. On more than one occasion I remember stuffing a few girlfriends under the bed in my room upon hearing the front door open....yes, he was walking in the front door....No time to shuffle out the back, Not that he was all that scary because in actuality he is one of the funniest guys I know but I just knew how he felt about kids in the house, Besides that, Dad has this secret hand signal to let us know that the kid downstairs was not welcome and needed to GO NOW. So sad isn't it? Okay... He points to the inside center of his hahd in the direction of the unwanted guest and then a sudden thumbs if to say " OUT" or he would whisper to the offending child: Get em outta here." So it's no wonder I really never felt as if my house was a safe haven for friends. It wasn't. In a nutshell, I ALWAYS felt unsure that my friendships were real and wondered what other girls thought about me. My two sisters have life long friendships but I often feel like a loner. I fail to keep connected untess I reach out which always seems counter intuitive...dangerous, as if I may be rejected. IN the end, I do have a few people who get me, who love me inspite of my hermitage...hah. I read your blog because much like the others here, have gotten used to your life and love the stories. On 2 occasions, you and Serge actually wound up in my dream, Maybe on account I don't have
a life.but I do remember in this particular dream becoming aware of the fact that I DON"T KNOW either one of you in person and I had to create a personality...and for some reason Serge was quite annoyed that I would be sitting in your kitchen talking to you and he wanted me to go home...I think he gave you the signal. "get her outta here."....So who's the crazy one now? PS. I miss my old gfs from work and can't wait to get back to NJ to visit.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergina

I'm a long time reader who has not commented before (or at least not often, other than on Facebook). I don't remember how I found you, but I think it may have been through Katie Granju (Katie Allison, whatever) while nursing my oldest child. I read both you and Serge and you both crack me up! I love your blog because I totally relate to you. I have more male friends than female, have a hard time making new friends, and would rather stay home than attempt to socialize because it feels like work and stresses me out. I also assume that people don't me and that I have to force them to do so. The only place this isn't true is work. I don't care what people think of me there as long as I get my job done, and I think that because I don't try so hard, I'm easier to like, if that makes any sense... I have a daughter who will be three next week, which I think makes her a bit younger than Violet and a son who will be 2 in December (I think around Henry's age). The stories and pictures of your two remind me of my two. I've been married to my husband for 5 years and was with him for 5 years before that. We have one dog and a parrot.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBridgitt

My name is Sarah and I have no idea when I started reading your blog. You are in the same category as dooce, a total stranger whose entire archives I have read. I simply don't remember what the first post was. I feel like you were pregnant with Violet? Maybe? I can't remember.

I absolutely love you. I love your honesty and your approach to relationships in your life. I feel like if we ever met, we would definitely be kindred spirits. We are a lot alike.

I am a chef in Ohio who blogs about the craziness of my life and that industry. I do not have kids, yet, but have a murderous cat and a dog, who is not actively trying to murder me. I read everything. Ever. I live downtown, so I walk everywhere and spend a lot of time "stopping in" to bars on my way home from various outings. I watch terrible reality TV and would love to spend an afternoon hanging out with you and watching terrible reality TV. So few people get it. Or everybody gets it. I am not too sure.

I too am very liberal and very pro human rights, gay rights, women rights...just equal rights. I am an avid supporter of The Humane Society (not so much PETA) and would have approximately every animal ever if my boyfriend didn't threaten to leave me if I brought one more animal home. I love posts with pictures of your dogs. And your kids. Because they are stinking cute.

I get pissed when people bash you and Serge because I love your relationship. It reminds me so much of my own...except we are the couple that has been dating for four years and have zero plans for getting married. More our interactions.

The bottom line is that I love you. And don't change. And don't let anybody ever tell you that there is ANYTHING wrong with who you and your family are. Because I think you are pretty fucking awesome.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErratic

This was an awesome post! I LOVED it!!

And I SWEAR -- it is a good thing I didn't have a drink in my mouth when I read the "violent misuse of apostrophes" part because I would have sprayed it all over my laptop, no doubt.

I think I need to use that line with my students because, damn, there is some serious violence in how some of them use apostrophes. Best line for a professorial dork type like me!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

My husband introduced me to you because he follows thunderpie and had drug me to a few Marah concerts. I live outside of Philly with my husband (who still loves Marah and Serge...hubby was so upset that we were out of town when Marah visited Doylestown earlier this year) with our two boys. I am a bad internet reader, in that I only check in on a weekly basis and then play catch up. We could totally be friends as long as you accept that I'm a bad friend. I will insult you in an attempt to be honest or forget to return a call but really that's just my way I saying how much I care.
After a few too many glasses of wine and an encounter with a large social gathering, I will stay up all night replaying what offensive things I said or did. Determined to never drink again or leave my house. Never have I stuck to either!! Thanks for letting us get to know you so well, it takes a very brave person to be as open as you have been.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouLou

I've been reading forever it seems. I think it was when you were in NY and then moved to Utah. I always thought - This chick I get!
I'm 36 and live in California, and work as a teacher. I've been married for 12 years to an awesome guy and firefighter (loved the firefighter post) and have an 8yo and a 3yo. I'm a 5 year cancer survivor that is just now learning how to live my life again. This survivor status is bringing up crap from my parents divorce, and my mother's alcoholism. I hate my job (not the kids) but the people I work with! I don't "fit in" to any clique and I've been working at this school for 10 years. Women can be mean!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

Hi Monica, I'm Elle and I live in Southwest VA. My parents grew up in PA, so most of my family still lives there, plus my husband's parents moved to Gettysburg a couple years ago. My parents actually lived in State College for about 2 years. Anyways, my husband and are I fairly young (27) and we have a 14 month old little boy. I first started reading you on Being Pregnant when you were pregnant with Henry. I'm a PhD student (Animal and Poultry Sciences) and my husband is a police officer, i.e. we're poor. We live in a little fixer upper cottage that we bought when we were 22. It's on an acre of land in the middle of a small National Forest, and is about 20 minutes outside of town. There is still a lot of fixing upping to do, but apparently progress is slow when you do everything yourself and have no money. We actually got married in our yard 3 summers ago. We were only engaged for 7 months, during which we completely gutted our kitchen and my husband built a deck. Over 2 years later, and we still don't have trim in our kitchen, nor do we have a finished pantry! Let's see, what else. Clearly I am very boring. We realized last night that our dog has fleas, so I got to spend most of my Tuesday evening performing flea erradication, all the while carrying our toddler because he's terrified of the vacuum cleaner.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElle

I found you shortly after your house fire. I think one of the other bloggers I follow was expressing their sympathy? I don't remember who.

I like reading your blog because I feel like I'm kinda fucked up in similar ways to how you're kinda fucked up. Like we can manage on a daily basis and it's not like friends or coworkers think "Whew, that bitch has issues!" but they're there. I like to see you acknowledge and attempt to work through them. Serge too. It's really interesting to see both perspectives and the fact that you guys are both awesome writers draws me in all the more.

Wait, you didn't ask why I liked reading this blog, you asked who I was.

That question always makes me feel weird, I never really know what info to impart. My name is Katie and I'm from St. Louis MO (Go Cards!). I'm 29 and have been with my husband for 7 years, married for 2. We have an awesome black lab/beagle mix who's currently licking my knee and soaking my sweatpants. We've wanted to have kids for about a year and a half now but haven't been able due to fertility issues and unexpected job loss. I just got a new job though so we're back in the game after our cruise at the end of November. Because there just isn't any possible way I could spend a week locked on a boat with my husband's old ass, crotchety, uptight family without drinking to excess on more than one occasion. I'm a chronic over-sharer, a bit of a know-it-all, and I'm terrible at keeping my opinions to myself. I have 7 sporadic posts on a blog that literally 1 person has ever seen. I'm not good at conclusions and often end my writing abruptly.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I love this. You described the kindred spirit concept so well. We all know those kinds of people, who we don't necessarily hang out with, but connect deeply to.

And PS - I have that same "need to be liked." I don't necessarily aim to please everyone I meet, but I get really down and depressed if I hear someone has an issue with me.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I've been reading for a few years. I first feverishly read through your love story with Serge (that should be a book!) and have been a fan of your writing and followed your blog ever since. Your writing is accessible, but good. I love your honesty. Occasionally, I do disagree with your actions or don't relate to your perspective (I actually think that helps keep me engaged as a reader!) For the most part, I just really relate to your life, even though our lives are very different.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherewin

Hi, I'm Anne in Virginia by way of NJ and I am a stranger. I started reading your blog earlier this year. My path to you goes something like this. I saw a Mike Adamick story on Yahoo, so I went to his blog. Saw on his blog that he writes on Dadding. Read Serge on Dadding, and that's how I found you. And so glad I did. I have commented before but after I hit submit my comments sound creepy so I stopped for a while cause that's not my intent. Really love the stories about the kids and the cows. I am another one who checks every day to see if you've written. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Hi Monica,

My name is Abi and I've been following you fairly religiously for the past 7 years or so. I live in the South East Asian nation of Malaysia where it's summer all year long and food is a national preoccupation (please come over to this side of the world if you ever have the chance). I love the way you write, you have such an amazing gift, I don't think you know how good you are. I have introduced all my friends to you and you now have a little Malaysian fan club. All the very best to you and your lovely family and please keep writing.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbi

I've read your blog for about 1½ now and love it. This is my first time commenting. I have 2 friendships that are just like what you described here. It never matters how long we go without talking or spending time, we always catch up without any awkwardness. Since you asked, I'm a 29 yr old SAHM of a 22 month old little girl. Married for 8 years and live in Indianapolis, IN.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

Hi Monica, I think you know I read your blog since when you were in NY, and I'm hooked... I think I will stop reading it only if you'll decide to stop writing it! :D It's funny because when I think of having a chance of meeting you in person, I always think: "I'm not enough for her, she would find me completely boring, or stupid or not interesting at all", and I guess I would appear to you as a kind of freak, trying to impress you and it would never cross my mind the thought that you could feel inadequate too, 'cause I see you as a talented, beautiful, funny, interesting, witty woman, a kind of woman that should have no problems in making friends and all. So, here's who I am, even though through my FB page you should already know a lot of this: I'm 37, I've 2 daughters (5yo and almost 2yo) and I live in Trento, a small town close to Venice. I have a degree in psychology, but I'm not a psychologist, I'm an editor and project manager for a book publisher, I speak italian, but I speak also french, english and a bit of spanish. I work 40 hours a week, so I'm always running between home-work-daycare-and all the activities my older daughter is involved in. I'm not married but I'm in love and live with my "almost-husband" since 2001. I spent some periods of study and work abroad, in my life, one year in Geneva, Switzerland, 6 months in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and also one month in USA before starting college; I stayed in Chicago, where I have family, but I also visited NY and I fell in love with the city (who doesn't?). I don't know what else to tell you about me. As a reader of your blog, I feel strange to come "out into the open" and talk about me... it's your home here, and I feel like the stranger I am, even though you're not a stranger to me. As I wrote on Serge FB, about the picture of you two in Venice, it was strange to see you pictured in a place I know so well, 'cause you're so "out of reach" to me in my mind, even though I feel so close to you in what you write, that the thought of running into you in the street makes me blush with shame ;). So, for what it's worth, in my opinion you are an amazing writer, a great mom, and a strong and beautiful woman, and I'd love to make friends with you if we lived closer. Don't judge yourself too much. Just be yourself, that's absolutely enough. And much more than you think. Hugs.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSerena from Italy

I've been lurking for years and rarely comment, although I religiously read everything you and Serge write. I found your bog through the Marah message boards and have been here ever since. I have had some crazy adventures over the years trying to get to Marah shows, especially in Spain, one of which actually prompted a really nice email from Serge and Dave's mother!

I love the way both you guys write. I've had some great times hanging out with Serge around Europe and feel sure that if we ever met we'd get along great in person. Reading about your relationship, and especially reading how Serge writes about Violet and Henry, has slowly changed my attitude to relationships around. I'm a confirmed bachelor who has always been happy being alone who is now contemplating moving to Greece to live with a girl that I've spent very little actual time with since we first met.

Should we ever end up actually getting married, I warn you in advance that you and Serge will be ORDERED to attend the ceremony, as without your story there is no way I'd ever have even contemplated the idea of marriage. I'll even pay for your flights, s no excuses for non-attendance will be accepted :-)

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDamien

Hi, I'm Kim from Tallahassee, FL. I am 35, and I have two little girls (6 and 2). I met my husband on the internet back in 1999, when the internet was still full of axe murderers and not things like eharmony and shit like that. We have been married 12 years now after eloping when he was here for a 3 week vacation.

I have been reading here for about 3 years I think.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Q

With regard to your insecurities, firstly I want you to know that I like you. Instinctively I like you although we've never met and it's highly unlikely we ever will. I suspect that a great many people like you immensely. Which is what brings me to my point. Of course we all want and need to be liked. It's an ego thing. We look in the mirror and think: 'who could possible not like this?' But for whatever reason, not everyone does. I try not to concern myself with the ones that don't like me, because a great many people do. I think you may feel the same and while your article may have a degree of truth in it, I suspect your tongue is firmly planted in your cheek. At least, that's my hope.

I discovered you through mutual friends – Rob and Richelle – and saw some of Richelle's retweets of your gems. They made me chuckle and I find you a very clever, funny and insightful woman. It's for that reason that I recently started following you. I'm also a fan of your husband's band and his writing as well (again, inspired by R&R).

I find myself really drawn to clever people and especially those who are very good at writing. I suppose that's why I quite enjoy you both. Good luck to the pair of you for all things in the future. You sound like a very well matched couple. Keep up your tweets and writing. I always use a good laugh, smile or reason to ponder. You inspire that. So, yes. I like you.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter P

My story is I grew up in London, came to the US to study, fell in love with an American, got married and moved to the US for a while. 13 years and three kids later, I'm still here, still married and living in rural Tennessee but getting ready for a big move to the big city (Atlanta). I can't wait to get back to civilization as small town life is nothing like I thought it would be. Life is harder right now than it has been in a long time as my husband is already in Atlanta, and I'm still in Tennessee with the kids waiting to sell the house. I have even started to blog about the experience, and other random bullshit that amuses me. It helps to keep me sane.

I found your blog through Katie Allison, right when you and Serge were about to welcome Henry into the world. My interest was piqued because Henry would've been my youngest's name had she not been Violet, and well, you had a Violet too, and I knew anyone who gave their kids such cool names had to be worth checking out, so I started reading your blog, and your Babble blogs too (He Said/She Said is genius, by the way). I just think you and Serge are pretty cool, and we'd probably get along in real ife if we ever met. I only follow blogs of people who I like, or else, what is the point? I hope you don't mind that I talk about you to my husband like you are a friend. That's not too stalkerish, is it? It's just, I feel I have made more connections online lately, that are more meaningful than any connections I have made in real life in the past few years. It's been so fucking hard to make friends here, which is why I am so happy to move. Blogs like yours make my life a little less lonely because I have finally found my people, even if it's a one-sided conversation. I thank you for that.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZoë

I have been reading your blog for probably somewhere around two years-ish? I love your honesty and your realness, even when you think you are being an asshole i'm sitting there reading thinking "Shit! I said that same thing yesterday! Asshole Sisters for Life!" Anyway, i'm Kyleigh, I've commented a few times, but I always look forward to your posts popping up in my reader. I live not too far from you, and I can't tell you how many times i've thought, Damn, we would have fun together. Then I realize I am a creeper internet stalker and you'd probably think i was weird. Yeah. I'm that girl. That girl that is apparently just like you, but then, nothing like you at the same time.

I live in Northern Maryland and bought a house about a year and a half ago with my boyfriend. He has two daughters, 19 and 16, and being a 30 year old quasi step mother is less than stellar circumstances, however, I've learned to make it work over the years.

So, you aren't as asshole-y or bizarre or strange or off color as you think you are, and, if you ARE, there are obviously a crap ton of us just like that too :)

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyleigh

What a great story. I've been reading you for four years or so. I'm in my early 30s and I'm the single mother of a daughter who is a few mos. older than yours. I'm living/working full-time in the DC area but I'm from a tiny suburb of Philly and my alma mater is the university near you that's been making all of the headlines for the past 11 mos. My boyfriend lives in your area of PA so I travel back to the Valley pretty regularly and it was cool to hear about your family's relocation to my "home turf."

I admire how honest you are in your writing. It's refreshing to hear from a mom who actually admits to being frustrated or feeling overwhelmed; it seems that a lot of mommy blogs out there make me feel like I'm failing miserably because their worlds are so picture perfect and mine's, well, just not. So really, I read you not because you're a "mommy blogger" but despite of it.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpam

I just want to say to the first commenter, Cat - my heart goes out to you. I don't know what to say. I was reading your comment and suddenly I was crying for your unimaginable loss. I'm so sorry, I wanted you to know.

Monica I've been reading you since you lived in Brooklyn, like maybe '06? A coworker at the time sent me your blog and said you had married a rock n roller after knowing him just a few weeks and I should check you out. I've been reading ever since. I think above all it's your honesty that I admire the most.

When I started reading your blog, I was still sort of a sweet young thing, dating assorted assholes and dancing til dawn. Now I'm married (sometimes happily, sometimes frustratedly) with a 3 year old daughter who is the love of my life. I've been working in tv and film for more than a decade, but I still haven't figured out what to be when I grow up. And since I will be 40 in 3 months, I worry about that a lot lately and am torn between money and meaning. And wondering how can I have both...? Hmmm.

Thanks for all the years of writing! I'm a big fan. xx

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Wow, Monica, you sure have endeared yourself to A WHOLE lot of people...My guess is that there a many many more who call you their 'frend', I know I do.

I was reading these commetns and was also touched to the core by your reader Cat. This is the worst loss of any kind and I wanted her to know that I am praying for peace and comfort. Know you are surrounded by love.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergina

I know I already wrote, but I found this clip that I think describes how a lot of us feel about you even though we've never met you. I know you don't like romantic comedies, but did you see Notting Hill? Fast forward to 1.30 and you'll see:

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBonnieLee

Wow, you have some awesome readership huh? Now I find myself trying to pull up some interesting facts about myself to measure up. Sound familiar? ha. I am Alicia, from Santa Fe, NM. I was an Air Force brat. Lived in Europe growing up & moved to a new base about every year which made for a lifelong appreciation for diversity in cultures & peoples. The downside was that I never really made deep friend relationships & still find it hard today to feel accepted or to fit in. I own & run a restaurant with my husband.(so I can relate to your challenges of too much face time with the hubby--which is why I think we have separate bedrooms). We have a son, Joey and our daughter, Anna Marie (who was born 8 years to the day, before Joey) passed away when she was a mere 19 years young. I miss her every day. "Hard it was to lose her, harder still to miss her". Which brings me to the reason I started reading your blog: you remind me sooo much of Annie. She was cool like you. (I would also like to say to Kat, I'm so sorry about your daughter). So as long as you keep writing I will keep reading. YOU ARE THE BEST, girl, I love you!

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterniobe19

I come for the sexy pictures. Of Max.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Penn

Hey Hun. I am crummy mummy. But you know me I guess as Suzanne. I met you through my old agent taking me to a Marah concert in 2004 August in london. at borderline. Just before I got married that October. Then I googled marah and found Serge had got married in october too. I found you and loved your blog.... It inspired me to start my own in many ways. We have ever met yet I feel like we have gone through lots of things at similar times and are kindred spirits in lots of ways. Or maybe your writing is more inclusive than you realise. You are a talented writer. Of that be sure. X

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrummy mummy

You know, to be honest I didn't really like you or your writing when I first read it. I think I heard about you from the fire and that fundraising thing Katie Granju and her sister did. And yeah, I got all judgemental on your ass, the whole why the hell don't they grow up and have renter's insurance shit. I admit it. Then I read something you wrote, and I can't even remember what it was, and I laughed my ass off. I am a sucker for a laugh, getting one, giving one, a bit of a laugh whore actually. And then you wrote the one about your little boy and finding his toy in your bag and thought, hmmmm, I might have misjudged this young lady. And the thing you wrote about how blogher wasn't really your thing, that sealed the deal.
So....I keep coming back to read. And your writing gets better and better, imho. You touch my damned heart. I do feel maternal towards you, I realize that. Well maybe cuz I am old enough to be your mother, eh? sure, you're an asshole sometimes, but who isn't? but somehow i get the feeling you really aren't as big of an asshole as you think you are. I want to hug you and say breathe, it's okay, you're okay.
Keep writing. You have a gift, keep using it. And I have to say, my female friendships have really got me through some of the shittiest things ever (our son died of an OD 3 years ago). I look forward to reading more from you.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeri

Hi, there! I am a total stranger. I have no recollection how I first came across your blog, but it was probably 5 or more years ago. I read it still because your honesty about motherhood, relationships, and life in general is refreshing. You often leave me with something to think about. I like that.

Who am I? I'm a 34 year old woman. I live in Chicago with my husband, our 1 1/2 year old little girl, and the world's most ridiculous bulldog. We just found out that baby #2 is on the way this Spring, and we're very excited, though not sure where s/he will fit in our tiny condo. So, we have that to figure out. I'm also a lawyer. I worked in a big firm for several years before striking out on my own. I make so much less money than I used to, but I make my own hours, answer to no one except clients, and don't have to play office politics. That makes me happy. It also gives me more time to spend with my munchkin, and I wouldn't trade that time for a million dollars.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentererose

monica, i love you - in that only partly explainable, strange way...
p.s. serge, i love you, too... :-)

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

Hi, I'm Veronica. I've commented a few times over the years. I've read your blog from the very beginning. Why? Well, I don't even remember how I found you, to be honest. I just did. And when I did, I remember thinking that you were saying (out loud) so many of the things that I wanted to be saying. All of the curse words, naughty stories, etc that at the time, I just didn't have the courage to say. I was hooked and have never left, and frankly, you can do no wrong. Even when I'm not loving what you're writing, I'm loving what you're writing, know what I mean? I just respect it because I've watched your honesty and your struggle all along the journey. I've seen you missing in action and have prayed for your return.

So, a little about me...
Ha! That's a loaded question for one little comment box! But I'm going to fit as much into it as I can, since so much of what I write and so many of my comments are filtered through my whole life and experiences. So bear with me! I'm almost 40 and am the mom of four (ages 20, 19, 15, 12). I lived in Cleveland until 3 years ago when I moved to Phoenix. I grew up in an extremely strict Christian home. I'm still a Christian but am not NEARLY so rigid and believe in LOVE, not rules and hate.
I got married for the first time when I was 17 (because I was in "love"). Five years later, I was divorced with two babies because my husband was a chronic adulterer. I remarried a guy a grew up with from church who turned out to be very abusive and went to prison for nine years for molesting my daughter. Needless to say, I was very burned on marriage and came away with trust issues, etc. So, now from dealing with that marriage and from growing up in that church environment, I am passionate about issues regarding domestic violence, gay rights, sexual violence against children or women, etc.

At this time, I'm an RN, I'm a single mother, although a live with my boyfriend and his kids. I'm also a writer. Oh, and I say keep doing what you're doing! We all second-guess ourselves, but I think you're awesome.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica H.

I'm an (anonymous) stranger from somewhere in the US where it snows during the winter. I started reading maybe 2 years ago or longer than that, when I realized I was reading a lot of Mormon mommy blogs and that needed to stop because they're all too stylistically similar, so I think I may have googled "former mormon mom blog" or something and wound up here (or a public radio/somewhere else news-ish article that was mostly mormon mommy blogs and you were also in it). Lovely writing (and I have an English degree so I'm qualified to say that!). In other interesting news, I realized maybe about 6 months ago that not only had I heard of Marah, I adored Marah back in the day, so I finally bought all the albums and have been listening lots since then.

Also, hugs to Cat.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Future PharmD

I think I also found your blog shortly after your house fire. What kept me coming back was the story of how you can Serge got together. I thought it was a great love story and very well written. My husband and I have two boys (7 and 5) and I live in Southeastern PA. Every time I read your blog (or Serge's) I wish we were neighbors. Our families would have a great time together. Thanks for the laughs and the insights.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

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