On battling bullshit.


It’s the end of another year. We’re all preparing for the onslaught of “new year, new you” messages and postings, and I know the majority think such verbiage is cliched bullshit. I was such a believer until I sat down to draft this blog post.

The endings and beginnings of life often prompt us to be introspective, and as a writer, I’m hopelessly narcissistic, so at this time of year, I do nothing but think about myself, talk about myself, and write about myself. I think we’re all allowed some selfish moments if they are to truly be reflective and endeavor us to be greater.

There are lots of things I hate about myself. One of the more depressing aspects of society is that we all can do this, and that we all have done it, and that we all will most likely continue to do it, and that is list our failings. My favorite kind of humor is of the self-deprecating kind, and my favorite kind of gathering is a pity party. I’m not revealing these less than appealing parts of myself to elicit sympathy or to begin to construct a false kind of humility to make my self seem more creatively eccentric. Hand to God, I’m just trying to let you know that I get it, that I understand, and that I’ve been there too. There are days where I absolutely and unequivocally hate myself.

But there are also days where I’m not so bad. There are days where I am downright awesome and a sheer pleasure to be around. In 2016, I am going to acknowledge more of those days. And in that same state of mind, I’d like to share my favorite thing about myself. What makes Mandi Bean worth anything is my childlike optimism. I could list all the disappointments of the past year, but I could also list all the times I’ve been pleasantly surprised, when I’ve fallen in love – yet again – with this spinning globe, with humanity, and with the endless opportunities for romance and adventure this crazy, miraculous life offers. As such, I am totally buying into the “new year, new me” bullshit. I will be a newer, happier, and healthier version of myself in 2016. Those who roll their eyes in derision and/or disbelief are free to do so; that’s their right. But as for me, with a smile and a deep breath and a pleasantly unfamiliar sense of determination, here is how I am going to make 2016 my banner year:

  1. I will, as mentioned previously, focus on the positives. Every day, I will find something to be grateful for and I will put it in writing, so I can’t lie to myself later.
  2. I aim to lose 60 pounds by December 31, 2016. I’m the maid of honor for my friend’s wedding, so there’s extrinsic motivation, but more importantly, I want to be beautiful. I want my outside to match my inside, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve got going on in there.
  3. I am going to be a writer. I’ll update this blog faithfully, market my published work, work harder to get my second manuscript published, and seriously work on a third.

Three promises to myself. I can do this. I will do this. I will forgive myself when I stumble along the way, and I will encourage others endeavoring to become the best version of themselves.

Here’s to a happy, healthy New Year.



On the fact that yearbooks never lie.

“The space between the tears we cry is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more.”
– Dave Matthews Band

Life, for a complete and utter lack of a better adjective, is crazy.  As people, we experience and live through events that make and/or break us in varying degrees of intensity.  We feel triumph in finding a parking spot near our destination in a crowded city.  We feel triumph when we finally land that dream job or finally purchase the dream car.  We can be devastated if we miss out on an incredible deal.  We can be devastated when we get into a car accident or misplace something valuable.  Every human has major and mini crises throughout the day; there is no revelation in such an observation, but I think what strikes me is how often these events occur and how differently each individual reacts to a particular set of circumstances.  Because of problems within my immediate family, I have been doing some soul searching and deep thinking as of later, and as far as rationalization and understanding go, this paragraph is all I could come up with.  The kick in the proverbial pants is that there is no explanation for all of the things that happen.  And what’s more, even if there was, people would reject what was in front of them in search for something better, something more suited to what they want it all to mean.  Is that cynical?  Am I losing faith?

I finished the first chapter of my next novel, which is currently titled Moody Blue.  I feel proud and accomplished, but I am worried that I rushed the ending of the chapter.  I printed a copy for my mother to read; she helped me edit my first novel and it was only after I took her advice that I was published – and on her birthday, no less.  She’s my good luck charm.

I am currently scheduling an author talk and signing at the Manchester Branch of the Ocean County Library for sometime in October or November.  I think this latter half of 2013 is going to prove to be an exciting time for me.  Between you and I, I need it to be better.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I went for an ultrasound of my gall bladder last week, and the results came back clean.  My doctor, and my best friend, and my mother, all seem to think it is stress that is tearing my insides apart.  This makes sense to me, especially when I think about how many nights are restless, and how often I toss and turn, unable to escape my own head and the endless list of worries.  I am even beginning to have horrible dreams.  Most recently, I had a dream that featured someone who is dead and has been dead.  In the dream, this person was in a darkened bedroom with only the light from the blaring television and perhaps a bedside lamp.  I do not know if this was inside a house, or an apartment, or what – the surroundings were completely unfamiliar.  As a matter of fact, the person did not even look familiar, but I understood who it was and I knew that this individual was supposed to be dead.  I was in the bedroom, but I had no desire to be there.  It felt horribly wrong and it was bizarre.  The blanket and sheet were pulled down and away so that they pooled near his waist and his bare, pale chest and loose stomach were exposed.  On his chest and stomach was balanced a large glass bowl and two tall glasses.  I made to move them, to pick them up and carry them to a kitchen somewhere.  I was hesitant in approaching because his eyes were only slightly closed.  It was like he was awake and aware, and only pretending to sleep.  I think I called out to him and said his name once or twice.  But I was scared and so I ran, only grabbing the glass bowl which turned out to be full of water (so were the two tall glasses), and the dream ended as quickly as it began.

My father knocks on bedroom doors before entering, even when he know there is no one inside.

Thursday, I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to listen to Stephen King have a conversation with some pretentious blowhard.  It was 103 degrees, and I walked around Hartford in that ungodly heat in a panic, looking for somewhere to quickly eat before the event began.  I arrived ninety minutes later than I had planned because of horrendous, horrific traffic.  I ate a restaurant called Hook and Ladder, located next to the firehouse.  The décor and atmosphere were great, but I was really disappointed in my grilled cheese sandwich.  I can’t believe I broke my diet for that.  But the event was awesome; King is a brilliant, accessible mind.  He shares my passion for the Boss, believes in God, and believes that love can be and should be and most often is limitless.  Ali from MSU was there, but we didn’t get a chance to speak.  She purchased a copy of his newest book Joyland, pre-signed, for $200.  I used to be that dedicated.  Or maybe I am just more fiscally responsible than I used to be.

There were fireworks that night.  So many cars were pulled over on I-84 to watch them explode.

I hit another 90 minutes of traffic traversing onto the George Washington Bridge.  Such is life.

But I promised in my last entry to accentuate the positive.  So, here goes nothing: I lost seven pounds in my first week of dieting and exercising.  I spent a birthday with two absolutely amazing friends in Brooklyn after surviving the drive in.  I was totally enchanted by Brooklyn and developed a crush on a friend’s neighbor, which is exciting and fun.  I have that story to tell, in my overly romantic way, for next week’s blog.

friends1 friends2

Stay golden. xoxo

On what it means to be lucky.

I am sick of the stopping and starting, of the broken promises. If I am serious, then I must make a change.

Vague enough for you?

PROMPT: During her first trip to Las Vegas, a woman experiences the luckiest night of her life.


Brandi had never taken a single moment to stop and consider the definition of the word “lucky.”  At the mention of the word, Brandi was faintly aware that many would think of casinos and gambling, and of taking risks and placing bets.  Brandi was also faintly aware that some would think of various scenarios, in which a person was “lucky” for narrowly escaping danger, or for receiving some kind of accolade, be it monetary or other.  These ideas would bounce around the corners of her mind, never actually sticking, but always kind of floating in some nebulous of hazy understanding and consciousness.

Until her first night in Las Vegas.

Brandi had obviously heard of Las Vegas – Sin City.  She knew that according to popular culture, what happened there, stayed there and that some people just couldn’t handle the lawlessness the city seemed to exude.  Exiting the airplane that had traveled across land – and maybe sea; she had been too frightened to look out of the window – to bring her to her final destination, Brandi silently prayed she’d be lucky enough to survive a couple of nights in Las Vegas.  If the powers that be had deemed her fit to survive the flight, what was a few nights of drunken debauchery?  With a queasy smile, Brandi flagged down a taxi cab and politely requested to be taken to The Venetian Hotel, where her girlfriends were awaiting her arrival – anxiously, she hoped.

Brandi looked out the window, her eyes widening as best they could to take in all the majestic and mischievous sights zipping past.  The rhythmic and subtle jostling of the cab and her slight case of jetlag acted as a lullaby.  Soon, Brandi was sound asleep.

When she awoke, Brandi was nowhere near The Venetian Hotel.  As a matter of fact, she was probably as far from the wicked, winking lights of Las Vegas as was possible.  Heart racing as her bottom lip trembled, Brandi looked from left to right.  All the doors of the taxi cab were open, and a chilled night breeze rumbled through, whipping her hair about her eyes and mouth.  Frantically tucking the loose strands behind her ears so she could see and start composing some kind of visual assessment of the situation, Brandi was thankful for the compartment light shining overhead.  She leaned forward out of her reclined position and looking once more from left to right, realized she was in the middle of the desert.  It might as well have been the middle of fucking nowhere.

Sanity is a fragile thing, and if it is not handled with care, it will shatter sure enough.  Brandi was currently handling hers with a pair of rubber gloves, tiptoeing lightly around reality so as not to hit a snag or a bump which would send it flying, clattering to the floor where it would burst into a million, billion pieces.  She slid out of the cab to the right and decided to head to the front of the vehicle, where the high beams of the headlights shone for a precious number of feet.  As Brandi scrambled with her hands cautiously waving straight out in front of her to protect her from bumping into something and falling down, her breath became shallow and tears crowded to the rims of her eyes.  This was bad, very bad, and she didn’t know if she would make it out alive.

Someone else certainly hadn’t.  Brandi released a blood-curdling scream as she came to the front of the taxi cab.  A man was lying face down in the desert sand, pants and underwear around his ankles, eyes wide open but seeing nothing.  Brandi knelt to find a pulse and found none.  She leaned closer to study the face and found it to be that of the driver.  What had happened?  Why was he dead?  Would she be next?  She leapt to her feet and scrambled to the driver’s side of the vehicle.  Clamoring into the seat, she grabbed the microphone of the CB radio, squeezed the button like she was squeezing the trigger of a flare gun and screamed for help, pleaded for assistance.

Cops were on the scene within an hour and a half.

It turned out that the driver was a serial rapist, posing as a taxi cab driver to lure potential victims.  He would drive ladies – and the occasional weak-looking male – into the desert, have his way with them, shoot them twice in the back of the head and then dispose of the body.  Brandi would have been victim number seven – lucky number seven – but as luck would have it, a heart condition that had lain dormant since childhood had finally come home to roost; the rapist fell dead as he raced to commit the foul deeds, his heart giving out from all the excitement.

Brandi decided being lucky had a lot more to do with survival than numbers or money.  To be truly lucky was to be alive at all.