Unemployment, Netflix, and the Postponement of my Childhood Dreams

I had an interview today that didn’t go as well as I hoped it would. To be fair, when I shook the interviewer’s hand and left her office, I was feeling pretty confident. But it’s been about twelve hours since we talked, and in that time I’ve thought of about a dozen things I wish I had said during the interview. The problem was that while we were talking, I got so excited about working there, and I started congratulating myself on the job well earned halfway through.

Now, as I sit in sheepish concession, I’m trying to convince myself that I didn’t really want the job anyway. The ol’ sour grapes routine, right? But it’s true. Perspective makes me acknowledge that this isn’t a big deal. I did my best in the moment, and whatever happens, happens. Interviewees get rejected all the time, right?

The thing I’m still clinging to, however, is how good it felt to be excited about something.

Social media gives me the impression that millennials dream of being paid to watch Netflix, their greatest hardship being the pantless trek from the couch to the kitchen. And I guess I got married and got a degree, but I still lump myself in with the Netflix binge crowd (though sadly I moved away from my roommate’s account. I guess I’ll have to read about the last few seasons of Lost). But this can’t be what we really want, right? Not deep down? When I was little I wanted to be an author and illustrator. Other little kids wanted to be scientists, rock stars, vets, firefighters. You know, jobs that they could recognize and relate to.

I can’t subsist on my childhood dreams right now any more than I could subsist on watching TV all day, but I’m watching, not writing. Maybe we’re empty and want to fill some pesky, bottomless void in our souls. Our consumption–my consumption–of stories played out in sounds and pictures must be some kind of vicarious living. I mean, if you’re like me, you’d rather tag along on your character friends’ adventures from the safety of the couch, as opposed to feeling and emoting like we see the actors do–for money, I might add.

Perspective: I might not get this job. I had dreams as a child–dreams I still hold–that are not being realized. But things are going to change, eventually. I’m trying to open myself to wherever fate or God or luck would have me go.

Anyway… thanks for coming along for the ride.

Poetry Friday: The Dreaming Boy

The Dreaming Boy

The earth, it speaks of the dreaming boy;
the trees, they echo his name.
The brilliant sun in the summer sky
remembers the day he came.

His steps, they fell on the cobbled path
in a steadily crooked beat,
with a white dove in his outstretched hand
and gold soles beneath his feet.

The dreaming boy, so he called himself,
sat upon his hill of glass.
He watched as his days went rolling by;
he watched, but refused their pass.

The boy with his eyes like living jewels
and his heart with ice-bound seams,
always believed that he had yet
to be woken from his dreams.

So his dove, his soles, and his clear glass hill,
they faded out of his hands,
like the even tide of the ocean shore
dissolves in its golden sands.

And the dreaming boy, though he was no more,
for he saw with a broken heart
that the wasted time wand’ring through his days
had been real from the very start.

The earth, it tells of the dreaming boy;
the trees, they whisper his name.
The silver moon in the diamond sky
breathes soft of the day he came.

Poetry Friday: Fierce Love

Fierce Love

Black clouds blanket the sunset
and warm winds tug me home.
My evening walk is followed by thunder,
the smell of rain breezing in
through windows thrown open for airflow.

You see, two scents melt my defenses:
one is rain, the other you.

Rain heals the earth tonight,
battering the rooftops and
spattering our garden and
spritzing me through a window screen.

The sky loves the earth
with a fierce love,
hindering my sleep.

I lie awake and wonder how it would be
to hold you on a night it rained.

Poetry Friday: The Gallery

The Gallery

The art gallery is quiet, but not silent;
beautiful, but not perfect;
reverent, but not sacred.

The artists’ thoughts hang in the air,
so thick inside my lungs and hands
I could reach out and take them.

Art must be the stuff of dreams,
or so, to me, it seems.

If I breathe too loudly,
the paintings will fly off the walls
and scatter leaf-like on the floor.

I feel an artist’s eyes on my back
as I take a last look around
and walk carefully out the door.

For years and years art has been,
at least from me, kept hidden.

Plans Change and Oh Well

My sister introduced me to a bunch of YouTubers last night, so I’m actually super distracted by Tyler Oakley right now, but here goes anyway.

I used to be concerned that if I got better I would have nothing to blog about. Well, my fears are being realized. Of course this is a good thing, but since I have this whole MWF thing going on with you guys, if I run out of depression stuff, then what will I talk about? I’m afraid that after a few embarrassing moment posts I’ll lose all respect from followers, and my chances of getting hired will evaporate because employers will tut-tut about this blog in future job interviews.

Oh well.

In junior high I made a goal that by the time I turned sixteen, I would have a pixie cut, be on the track team, and be popular (back when I cared, I guess). Cut to me at sixteen: did not happen. Not because it couldn’t have happened, but because the image didn’t fit me by that time. I did eventually get a pixie cut, which is growing out now. I never joined a track team again after seventh grade (jogging still upsets me).

Last year I started this blog assuming I was done dealing with depression and it was time to share my hope and wisdom with others. Then I got bad again. I’ll admit, I sometimes read my own posts for inspiration. (I particularly like the recent posts On Being Loved, Battlefield, and Getting Serious Adult Help.) My plan to inspire others totally flipped.

Now I’m blinking into the vast expanse that is my future without knowing what’s going on or what’s going to happen. It’s scary. But at the same time, dear Readers, I think it’s going to be okay. Maybe I won’t get what I think I want right now (which is to be popular, obviously).

Maybe it will be something better.

To quote Sondre Lerche,

“I’m not gonna lie
Saying everyone will be all right
And fine until we die
What else can you do but hope and pray
And say that we’ll get by

Be prepared to be surprised
Better be prepared to be surprised
Baby, be prepared to be surprised
Better be prepared to be surprised
It’s all I know”

P.S. I love the movie Dan in Real Life. You should probably go watch it right now.

Why I Am Maney

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.

* * *

And, hey, here’s the old About page, if y’all are ever feeling sentimental:

Maney is not this writer’s legal name, but she will respond to it when called, so it’s kind of her name. She is trying to blast through college and get on with life. She often feels guilty for not taking classes like rock-climbing or studio art. She is Mormon (LDS) and it manifests itself in her writing. This blog is where she addresses her mental illnesses, random tangents, and (hopefully) somewhat poetic ways of viewing life.

Some favorite quotes:

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

-Albert Einstein

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”

-David Foster Wallace, This is Water

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

-Romans 8:18

Maney loves the smell of mail. She drinks hot chocolate in the summer. She likes books that expand how she perceives the world and make her a better human. On her good days she thinks life is really wonderful. She is just getting by one day at a time, doing her best, and sometimes not even that. You may be wondering why she is writing in the third person.

(Also, she tweets: https://twitter.com/maneysmilesback )

© [maneysmilesback] [2014] [Content is free to all as long as you give Maney credit and share a link back to her site.]