Metaphors and Memories

Hello!

My brain is okay but I still don’t really know what I’m doing in life. It is snowy where I am in Utah, the skies grayish and the ground too. I don’t know why I haven’t been blogging lately. I suppose it is because we move through life the way we do scattered rainstorms on the freeway, sometimes passing through battering sky water, or mist and puddles, or glittering sunshine and rainbows. Maybe I am that way with writing. It comes and goes.

School started again, my last semester. It feels good to be so close to finishing.

Who am I talking to? Hello, human. You are reading this. Or maybe you are a cat on a laptop with all abilities of reading but without the knowledge of personal language expression. Did I just make a cat reference? Meow.

Blah, I have nothing to say. Life is moving so fast, faster than is safe. I feel like I’m at the top of an icy hill and I’m just losing my footing. My feet blur, cartoon-like, as I try to regain balance, but the truth is that I hiked up this hill on my own so I must have wanted to try the rush of gliding down.

I am dating someone. He makes me happy. It’s all so confusing, but nice.

I sleep late on days I don’t have school. My dreams are strange and I have nightmares sometimes. I think about days back at BYU, staying with my extended family. I recently pulled out the bag of BYU shirts I hid in the closet last year and I returned them to my drawers. I’m wearing one right now, actually. The first time I put one on last week I could actually feel a burning on my chest where the logo fell, but it’s getting better. My mom wants me to go to the campus and yell that I’m taking back Provo. This seems silly but to be honest it is not above me.

I want to scream with frustration at myself that I am not more productive. (I considered actually screaming but then I decided that would stress me out, so I’ll do a tiny scream here: Scream! If nothing else I made myself smile.)

What is up with your life? We haven’t seen each other in forever. I don’t know who you are so I guess I haven’t necessarily missed you, but there’s an absence when we don’t chat.

I’m going to post a piece of writing I found in my email drafts from November 2014. I promise I’ve come a long way, even if my writing sounds just as dejected.

You are welcome for this blog post, and I sincerely thank you for your time and caring on my behalf.

Love, Maney

 

My Capital-T Truth

Dear humans who read this,

I hope that the holidays treat you well. I hope they are filled with joy and love, and that all your dreams come true. I hope you look back on December 2015 as one of the best times of your life, and that you move forward into 2016 with renewed energy and hope.

But if you are struggling, if you feel alone or depressed or abandoned or empty, if darkness surrounds you and you don’t see a light ahead in your future, lift up your eyes.

There is always hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we never need lose faith in a better tomorrow. His Atonement will make up for every unfair thing in this life. It is with His light that I have survived some of the darkest nights of my life. I know that He loves me, and if He loves me, then He certainly loves you, too.

Don’t give up. There is always light ahead. I understand hopelessness, and the anger that can result from it. I have turned from God and lashed out at Him in prayer, blaming Him for struggles and pains that we all inevitably face in our earth life. I know that He knows me by name, and He is constantly aware of me, of my desires and my needs. He knows me better than I know myself, and still He loves me.

Hold on to that hope. Take whatever embers of light you have inside you and let His love make them brighter. I testify that good will triumph over evil. I feel it deep in my bones, an undeniable truth in my soul. He will come again, and He will bring peace and rest for His faithful children.

This is the greatest gift I can give to you, my readers: I give you my testimony of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, my Savior. He lives, He loves us, and we can choose every day to follow Him and let Him heal us.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and an amazing new year!

Much much love,

Maney

Poetry Friday: Our Cause

Our Cause

Believe me that I care for equality.
My life testifies to me again and again of its importance.
Believe me that I have words, more words than you know.
My tears testify to God and me and everyone
that I’m one part broken and one part healing,
the pieces fusing together into a makeshift heart.

I can’t lose what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.
I can’t say words I feel, for they’ll condemn me.

I pray for understanding, for release from my burdens.
I pray for mercy from my brothers and sisters.
I pray for strength to keep going, to hold onto hope.

I’m sorry I cannot light these pages of confusion in me,
wield them as a flag for your cause;
a flame that reaches the clouds and unites the masses.
My testimony douses my flames, my fiery passions.
I let heaven rain down on me, hiding my tears,
washing away the blackened novels I’ve written in my heart
about my sins, my variances, my questions.

I can’t be your spokesperson.
I won’t die a messenger of your—our—cause.

Last Words Before Brutal Death by Hordes of Young Mormon Feminists

Guys. Team. Readers.

My stomach’s in my throat right now.

!!!

So. I got accepted to write for this really cool blog called Young Mormon Feminists. And I’m freaking out but no big deal.

Hopefully I will be able to eventually get over my anxiety/excitement about this opportunity. But in case I am killed by hordes of angry YMF readers, just know that you guys are awesome and it’s been a real pleasure sharing my thoughts with you.

P.S. This is how I feel: (The whole video applies, but especially from 1:40 on.)

P.P.S. I’m making a big deal out of this but it’s pretty much not even a cool thing.

P.P.P.S. I’m going to be excited anyway.

Feeling Better Better Better

A few months ago I expressed my concern that once my mental health started improving, I wouldn’t have anything left to blog about. Now after about a month of slow posting, mostly reblogs and Poetry Fridays, let me say one thing:

Mental health is not so bad.

I’m no longer desperately clinging to, and then dejectedly hanging from, one last thread of life. There are bad days, of course, but now I can distinguish between my emotions, all my feelings spread across a palette from the lightest yellow to the deepest indigo; tears over past horrors, hours of inexplicable contentment, bursts of energy, and more and more. I am so consumed by this diverse spectrum that I can hardly even remember when all my emotions ran together in a blackish, hopeless mud.

Life is actually and really and truly okay. I am moving forward. I’m making plans. I am learning about myself–learning to love that girl for who she is. I’m learning where I want to go in life, not just physically, but emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Things are definitely still hard. It hurts to remember what I’ve been through, to think about all the sadness and pain in the world. But things are beautiful, too. I’ve been patient; allowed myself to just heal slowly, months and months passing until I can’t even recognize myself anymore. And I have a loving family, medication, and a supportive counselor to thank for that. Not to mention the many prayers that have been offered on my behalf.

Yes, that’s right, prayers. Maybe you’re noticed, readers, but I’ve haven’t mentioned much of God or religion for a few months. I guess that was part of the healing: learning to trust God again and let His love heal me. Great, I’m tearing up as I type this. I’m so grateful that I feel deep within me that the doctrine I’ve been taught my whole life is truth. That doesn’t mean I don’t get to ask questions. There’s plenty of room for that. But the beauty is, I don’t want to trouble with questions right now. I’m just soaking in the beautiful feeling that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into my life. I love Him so much. Not as much as I should, of course, but I’m working on it. He’s patient with me.

So anyway, I don’t know how much I’ll be posting in the coming months. Maybe I’ll go back to three a week again, or we’ll just stick with Poetry Fridays for a while. Whichever, please know that I’m doing better. I love and appreciate you all for being a part of my crazy journey through life. Keep being your wonderful selves, my dear readers.

And because I have had this song stuck in my head for several days, here is Regina Spektor’s song “Fidelity.” Do the lyrics pertain to this post? I don’t think so. The music just sounds like turning a new page to a “better better better better better better better” chapter in life.

Poetry Friday: For Drooble

For Drooble

Gray speckles on a gray-green landscape,
me a pink splotch,
I march through the cemetery
unafraid of the mothers and fathers
and children
sleeping in earth.

Stone benches say,
“Come sit awhile and think of us.
This stone preserves our
hospitality, like the jars
we sealed our jam in,
laughing with loved ones.”

I see symbols of life,
like flowers and angels
and “always in our hearts”—
the beating hearts of the living,
moving on but holding close.

What the school counselor
doesn’t tell you
as you sit in her office in tears,
is that not only does everyone
grieve differently,
but that you will still grieve
one, two, three years later,
walking by the sixteen-year-old’s stone
and wondering why.

Surrounded by all the words
of comfort from families left behind,
the traditions and religions,
the pictures and tokens,
you’ll touch the hollow of your throat,
near a pulsing vein
and think of him,
and of Him,
and of death,
and of what lies beyond.

* * *

If you want to hear me read this to you… check out this video I made! On my YouTube channel.

P.S. I’ve figured out I like blogging, but I don’t like blogging on a schedule. So yeah. Enough of that nonsense. Also, I’ve spread myself so thin on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WordPress that at this point I’m pretty much just gonna post and tweet and whatever only when I feel a need. Live life! Do great things! I hope you guys are so happy with life. Peace.

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.]