Reality

All posts tagged Reality

On the fear of the forever funk.

Published August 9, 2013 by mandileighbean

Whenever I leave my house to go absolutely anywhere – even to Wawa in my pajamas for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread – the following exquisite scene from an equally amazing film plays over and over in my head, soundtrack included:

Maybe it is because of the crippling disappointment I experience when reality does not match nor even meet my expectations that I haven’t really left the house, or found a reason to get dressed or style my hair for a couple of days.  These are the dog days of summer and no one particularly feels like doing much of anything, but I worry when these moments of complete lethargy and absolute disinterest stretch into a day and then a week.  Everyone experiences these so-called “funks,” but most snap out of it eventually.  I have definitely slipped into a funk that has been going on for what feels like months.  I have been avoiding social interactions, sleeping more, gaining weight, and going from one set of pajamas to another.  I know I recently wrote about how liberating it can be to wake up with an absolutely clear schedule, but after a while, it becomes tiresome. 

I think my apathetic nature will be eradicated once the school year starts, but what if it is only yet another instance of reality falling short of the expectations of a wildly romantic writer?  I thought my life would change in high school; it didn’t, so I thought college would make all the difference.  Everything remained the same, so the key to an exciting and fulfilling life must be in a full-time teaching job.  I acquired the job and am still restless.  Even when my novel was published, it did not inspire the instantaneous and dramatic change I thought it would.  Do I need to lower my expectations?  It seems a simple enough solution, but won’t doing so also eliminate that wonderfully dreamy aspect of my nature that allows to me create and – hopefully- inspire?  I think the real answer is not to depend on change for happiness, though it is a consistent aspect of our lives.

That being said, do I believe one hundred people will show up at my upcoming author events?  No, not exactly; I will be obviously devastated if not a soul shows up, but I know I will be equally as devastated if no romance comes of it.  I don’t limit the meaning of romance to a chance encounter with a handsome stranger – I’m talking about all kinds of romance, like there’s a large portion of the crowd that attends with a battered copy of my novel clutched in their hands, eager for me to sign it because they really did love the story that much.

I started this blog to narrate my writing life and what I have discovered is that my “writing life” is my life; they cannot be separated.  I am still determining whether or not this is a good thing.

I remembered my earlier promise of trying to accentuate the positive, so here it goes: I have an author talk/book signing event at the Manchester Branch of the Ocean County Library on October 15, 2013!  The event should begin around 7:00PM.  I am waiting on confirmation from the program coordinator, but so far, all systems are go! Smile  I hope to see some of you there.

Stay golden. xoxo

On literal weddings and metaphorical funerals.

Published April 15, 2013 by mandileighbean

First and foremost, I would like to begin this post by sending my prayers to the victims, their friends, families and loved ones, and the entire city of Boston.  I would also like to borrow the sentiments of Fred Rogers and urge all of us to look at those helping and sacrificing to provide aid, rather than be utterly and completely incensed.  Evil does happen – it absolutely does – but so does good, and we must never lose sight of that if we are to remain loving, compassionate and human.

religionI must admit that the post I had planned for this evening now seems completely frivilous and in poor taste, at least somewhat.  However, that being said, I am going to continue because not doing so will not help those afflicted in Boston and perhaps posting my ramblings will offer a distraction, at least for a moment or two.  Then again, I probably flatter myself greatly in thinking enough people read this blog to place a judgment of value on the timing of my posts.  So, please, allow me to talk about this past weekend.

I was seated with colleagues and friends in a purposely poorly lit bar.  There was nothing remarkable about the venue; it could have been any Irish pub anywhere in New Jersey.  I did think it was slow for a Saturday night, but that is not a complaint.  I was idly sipping a Coca Cola and Jack Daniels, suffering through it patiently as some kind of demonstration of bravado that was unwarranted and probably unnecessary.  We were gossiping and chatting, generally enjoying ourselves, when someone familiar walked in.  All the blood rushed to my face and hands so that they felt swollen and numb, utterly useless, and I suddenly became unattractive to the point of being grotesque – or, at least that’s what I felt like.  I wanted him to see me, but at the same time, I was comfortable with recognizing without being recognized.  It was not like there had been some great love affair; it was only a schoolgirl crush, juvenile notions compounded with lonely fantasies and absolutely nothing more.  Yet there I was all the same, reacting as if some great figure from my past had walked in with the sole intention of rekindling some great passion.  It was silly and I know that, but it’s all I have and I can’t help it and I am not sure if I always feel like apologizing for it.

He did walk over to say hello, but he started with those seated farthest from me.  He hugged and gave quick kisses upon the cheeks of the ladies, offered a firm handshake to the lone gentleman present.  He did not say hello to me at first; he sat with those he knew the best and had a long conversation.  It gave me a chance to sip at the alcohol through the straw desperately, to giggle to expunge nerves that were winding tighter with each passing moment.  I delighted in the teasing, perfectly happy to entertain some farfetched notion that any kind of mutual attraction was possible when really, his mere presence made me feel so unworthy.  “Indeed, when he did come over to say hello, he offered a genuine embrace, but then turned away to spend most of his time talking to the others.  Though his arm rested upon the back of my raised chair – some kind of hybrid between a chair and a stool – he did not make eye contact.  I received the impression that I was unimportant, boring and even a nuisance.  I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.  How he had the ability to make me feel so small was perplexing until I realized I allowed it, because my writer’s imagination and romantic mind were turning nothing into something important, something worth writing about when honestly, it was baited breaths and daydreams – nothing more.  But every time he left, he would place his hand on the small of my back ever so lightly, just to signal he was leaving but promising he would return.

wedding1

He told us he was attending a wedding and for one positively horrifying moment, I thought it was his wedding, and that meant that the infintisemal window of opportunity I laughably deemed was present for him and I had been slammed shut.  However, he was simply attending a wedding.  So the next day, when I was attending informative workshops during which I should have been paying more attention and behaving in the fashion of a consummate professional, I was imagining.  What else can I do when my expectations never ever come to fruition?  I closed my eyes and saw myself, in some kind of slinky, sexy yet elegant evening gown, colored emerald green.  I was not wearing shoes – perhaps they had been discarded on a dance floor, or thrown to the side to better enable movement because I was running, and running fast.  My long hair flew out behind me, all waves and curls that no blow drying or hairspray could ever possibly hope to replicate, and my arms and legs pumped in unison with my heart like some well-oiled machine I have never before seen.  Across cobblestone warmed in the sun I run, and there he is, running towards me.  Left behind is his jacket, and the sleeves of his shirt are pushed up from his wrists to his elbows.  His tie is blown back over his right shoulder as he sprints towards me, just as eagerly and as quickly as I am running towards him.  Eventually we will collide, fall into each other’s arms, crash against one another’s body.  Will it be a passionate explosion, or will we both slow just before contact is to be made and simply stare, chests heaving from breathing hard?  I do not know, because the daydream always ends, and it is always unfulfilled.  I have never run towards someone who was running towards me.

I imagine it is one of the greater experiences of this world.

wedding

On the similarities in breaking through and breaking up.

Published July 25, 2012 by mandileighbean

I didn’t sleep last night.  In fact, my wearied head didn’t crash against the pillows until around 4:00AM.  Why such late hours?  What could have possibly been so enthralling, so engaging that it kept me up until dawn was but a few hours away?

I was writing.  I was writing the beginnings of a second novel, not just another prompt.  I haven’t done anything like that, or felt so excited by an idea, since I started writing Her Beautiful Monster, and that was years ago.

Whatever I decided to do professionally and no matter where I move – no matter where September finds me – I am ecstatic that I broke my dry spell and that I am truly back to doing what I love.

I hope what I wrote above doesn’t put too much pressure on tonight’s prompt.  Mainly, tonight’s piece was a hell of a lot of fun.  Enjoy!

PROMPT: A high-priced prostitute suspects that one of her best customers is falling in love with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIECE: Candi had only just escaped to the ladies’ restroom in the upscale restaurant that Carl had brought her to for dinner.  The napkins were made of soft linen, as were the tablecloths, and it made her nervous as hell to wipe her mouth because they were clearly so expensive and the trashiest thing in the world – the absolute trashiest thing – would be for Candi to leave a smeared trail of bright red lipstick on the napkin.  That’s what Candi was though – she was trash.  She was a prostitute and no matter how many times she insisted that “high-end” come before the profession, it didn’t change anything.  Night after night, she would tart herself up and exchange pleasantries – social niceties, can you believe it? – only to end up on her back with a stranger inside her.  What kind of life was that?  What was she doing, really?  Candi suddenly discovered she was having difficulty breathing in a smooth, even pattern.  If there was one thing Candi prided herself on, it was her ability to stay strong – she didn’t rattle.  She rushed to the nearest sink, her high heels clicking against the beautifully tiled floor, and turned the faucet on.  She used trembling hands to cup water and throw it on her face, using a sparing amount so that the makeup that had been so expertly applied would not run or be washed away.  After all, a naked prostitute was more vulnerable than sexy.  Candi needed all her engines firing and she needed to have all of her tools in her arsenal ready to go.  That was the thing about Carl; he was constantly catching her off guard.  While the change of pace excited her in a way she thought she’d long be numb to, it was also dangerous.  In her line of work, there could be no surprises.

What could she do though?  How was she to know that Carl was going to take her out once she had been dropped at the hotel?  She shouldn’t have gone, but Candi wasn’t as strong as she liked to believe when Carl flashed his pearly whites and asked something of her.  He had charmed her, sure, but things were going farther than that.  He had brought her here for dinner when they could have easily ordered room service and remained hidden and discreet.  Carl kept clearing his throat like he was nervous, and he kept fiddling with the silverware folded in the fancy napkins.  Why was he nervous?  Candi had a sinking suspicion that he was going to ask something impossible.  She feared that Carl was in love with her, and had hatched some insane scheme that involved him saving her, carrying her away from her life of sin and regret in strong, toned arms before a stunned crowd of seedy onlookers who applauded the effort, but slowly – very slowly.  She splashed more water against her face.

Candi was an idiot; she had nothing to worry about.  She was certainly not Julia Roberts and Carl was absolutely no Richard Gere (but when she told the story later on to friends, she’d make the analogy innocently and swear it was accurate).  This was not a movie and she was not about to be whisked away to anywhere besides a high-priced hotel room.  Patting her face dry with a cloth towel, she smoothed her dress (in an attempt to make it look longer and elegant, rather than short and scandalous) and returned to the table.

Carl was not in love with her, no way, no how.

Right?

On monsters.

Published July 20, 2012 by mandileighbean

The name of this blog is Her Beautiful Monster, and that is also the title of my first and forthcoming novel.  Chuck Palahniuk, an incredibly and enormously talented writer, penned a novel titled Invisible Monsters.  After the tragic events at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I am unfortunately reminded – as we all are – that monsters are not beautiful or invisible.  Monsters are all too real and what’s worse is that they walk among us without victims being any the wiser.  To escape that brutal and relentless reality, many of us turn to fiction, whether it be literary or cinematic or televised.  We are able to engage in worlds and dimensions where heroes are real and people are honest and trustworthy at all times.  Those who are not honest and trustworthy are always apprehended at the close by the beloved hero who never waivers in his or her commitment.  These imagined worlds are creative inventions, naive and childlike in their innocence and optimisim and stubborn belief in goodness and its ability to triumph and are thereby fragile.  They shatter easily when monstrous reality rears up and roars.  The people in that movie theater were simply going to the movies; they were not knowingly entering a dangerous situation.  Walking into that theater was not required for any of them as part as any kind of professional or occupational obligation.  They were fans, many of whom had been counting down to the release of the film for years, let alone days.  Some were dressed up, their excitement and passion becoming tangible.  Some were young and some were old, some were male and some were female, but all were united in what they wanted; to be entertained, to be removed from the real world for just three hours.

There will be those in the coming days who will be looking to place the blame on not only the man who wielded the weapons, but on some other failing.  Some may call into question the amount of violence in the creative media and what kind of message it sends.  Some may wonder why there wasn’t more security.  At the end of the day, I personally believe there is no one to blame but the shooter himself.  All of us are innundated with images from popular culture every single day, some of which are incredibly violent, but not all of us kill innocent people.  As for security measures, it is often times beyond our scope to imagine a human being, one of our own so to speak, doing something this depraved and cruel and senseless to other human beings.  Who could have predicted and/or prepared for something like this?  Is that really the kind of world we live in?

I want to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” but I know that as I take my seat in the darkened theater, with a bag of buttered popcorn balanced on my knees, that all I will be thinking about are the victims, the horror, the tragedy and the aftermath.  I will not be able to enjoy the movie.  I know I am not alone in this sentiment and that is truly a shame.  An innocent pleasure has forever been tainted.  A truly wonderful and artistic film franchise has been poisoned by the reality of horror.

Tragedies are devastating.  Tragedies create victims who will no longer be with us, who can no longer be held or touched.  Tragedies create victims by extension and association; the friends, family and loved ones of those who were lost, who will never be the same and who will run the gamut of emotions in trying to cope and rebuild and eventually, move on; the friends, family and loved one of the perpetrator, who may feel guilty and in some way responsible, and may also feel confused and lost and betrayed.  Then there’s the rest of us; shocked and dismayed and robbed of at least a part of our innocence.  We are hardened, made cynnical and lose what I believe is an intrinsic and painstakingly beautiful part of ourselves.

May God bless the victims, their families, their friends and their loved ones.

On supernatural distractions.

Published July 6, 2012 by mandileighbean

Missy and her family are visiting from Virginia.  They came up for a wedding, and will be staying through the weekend so Jimmy can celebrate his fourth birthday with us.  Missy, John and Jack will leave on Sunday, but Jimmy will stay for about a week.  I’m very excited but – as to be expected – I’ve been distracted from writing.  Simultaneously, I’ve been inspired by the film “Fright Night,” starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell. You’ve been given fair warning: the following probably sucks, as I’m trying something new without giving it my best effort.

Good luck.

PROMPT: “You know, they invented a word for guys like him.”

PIECE:

“You know, they invented a word for guys like him.”

Cheyenne sighed and ran her hands along her wearied face.  She was definitely too young to feel so fucking old.  Maybe Marley was right and it was all part of the territory, but Marley being right was the worst thing in the whole entire world – she’d be wildly obnoxious about it.  “I get it, Marley.  We’ve had this conversation a million and one times – you’re not telling me anything new, or anything that I don’t already know.  So essentially, you’re not being helpful and unless you’re going to help, shut up.”

Marley bit the insides of her cheeks to keep quiet and crossed her thin arms over her chest.  Cheyenne had insulted her – best friend or not – so Marley would let Cheyenne turn the whole place upside down on her own.  Why would she help a bitch on a wild goose chase?  She wasn’t dating a monster.  She raised an eyebrow and watched Cheyenne derisively as she wrenched open cabinets and pulled out drawers, letting their contents clatter to the floor.  “What are you even looking for?”

“I’ve already told you,” Cheyenne answered sharply.  “He needs a medallion about the size of an old subway token.  It has a bat on it, and he needs it tonight because the main guy is coming for it.”

Marley’s mouth dropped open.  “Are you saying there are more coming here tonight?”  Cheyenne did not answer, but she did considerably slow her frantic searching.  “Oh, fuck that!” Marley erupted.  “It could be a bloodbath!  He’s putting all of us in some serious danger!  They could kill us all!”

Cheyenne turned slowly to face Marley.  Her clenched fists and deep breathing showed that she was battling a swelling rage.  “James wouldn’t do that, Marley.  He would never –“

“What happened to Sam?” Marley asked, interrupted.  Both young women knew exactly what had happened to Sam – he had been killed – murdered – about a month ago.  There had been a severe misunderstanding about Sam’s intentions towards Cheyenne and how those intentions affected both his attitudes and actions towards James.  In essence, James was convinced that Sam was coming for him, so he struck first and even though Sam had been brave and fought long and hard to defend himself, it had all been for naught.  “Please, Cheyenne, let’s end this!  I know he’s one thing to you, but to everyone he’s not trying to fuck, he’s something else.”

Cheyenne wiped her eyes.  “It’s not just that, Marley.  You know it’s not so vulgar.  We love each other.”

“He can’t love you or anyone, Cheyenne.  He’s a monster, a literal living and breathing monster.”

“Marley –“

“There’s a word for guys like him, Cheyenne.  There’s a word for draining the life from someone and not feeling an ounce of remorse, rationalizing murder because it’s necessary for existence.  If he were human, he’d be a sociopath, but he’s not human, is he?”

“No,” Cheyenne barely whispered.

“So what’s the word I’m thinking of?  You need to hear yourself say it.  You need to come to grips with reality.”

Marley sighed.  “I know – the word is vampire.”

On making progress.

Published June 4, 2012 by mandileighbean

I am super duper pleased to announce that the first round of editing has begun on my novel, Her Beautiful Monster! My dream is inching closer and closer to a reality!

🙂

%d bloggers like this: