I started this blog one year ago on the sixteenth. Some of you may have wondered why this blog is called “maney smiles back.” Happy one year anniversary, folks. Here’s the story:
(Quick background: my siblings have called me Maney for years. I think it started in teasing: “Mane-again is a pain-again;” or maybe that stemmed from the nickname. Dunno. Doesn’t really matter anyway. I like the name.)
One day at my state college, I noticed a book sale in the library. Everything cost two bucks or less, since it was mostly outdated textbooks. Of course I ignored the sale because I’m a hopeless cheapskate. But then a few days later, the signs changed! Suddenly, all the books were free. I was enthralled. I decided that an appropriate amount of free books would be ten books of poetry. I chose ten and carted my treasure home.
They were all good, but my favorite was called Trudi Smiles Back by Mikal Lofgren. The dedication page says simply, “For all the Trudi’s.” I wondered if I was a Trudi. Was this book for me? (I recommend the book but it’s probably not easy to acquire, as it was published by the Utah State Poetry Society in 1998.)
The story takes us through Trudi’s adult life to her age-inflicted mental deterioration. It is heart-wrenching, yet funny; banal, yet insightful; relatable, yet just beyond my understanding. I loved it. I grew to love her.
The last stanza goes like this: “Trudi’s brain dries like mud, / dries and folds and cracks, / but when someone smiles at Trudi, / Trudi smiles back.”
I wanted to be Trudi. I wanted to be clever and complex and compassionate. I wanted to be stronger than my pain; wanted to smile back at life, no matter how difficult it became. I wanted my story to have the effect on others that her story had on me.
So when I started documenting my opinions and experiences and beliefs, I published the words that had become my inner mantra: Maney. Smiles. Back.