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a good cry

There’s a lot to cry about these days.  The headlines are lurid, devastating.  Bad news after more bad news.  And it’s increasingly hard to be shocked by it, or to feel something real.

I don’t cry often.  When I do, it’s not pretty.  I watch movies where the heroine is crying and her face is all soft and sympathetic and lovely in its vulnerability, and I think, I want to cry like that.  But I don’t.  When I cry, I look like a monster whose face is melting off.

I don’t cry when I’m happy.  I didn’t cry when my kids were born.  I still feel badly about it.  I felt love for the little goobers, but mostly I was shell-shocked, as I’d been throughout both pregnancies.  I barely knew where I was.  Added to the fact that I had an unplanned c-section with ten-pound Finn, and then another c-section with Tate, it all leaves me feeling like I should have a third kid to have a childbirth do-over, with the pushing and the tears of joy, and all the rest of it.

Tom’s dialed into his emotions and secure in his manhood and what that means is he’s not scared of a good cry.  Sometimes I’ll come downstairs and find him sitting alone in front of the TV, crying.  It might be Notting Hill.  Or a Red Wings win.  My Dog Skip.  The ESPN special about the Fab Five.  The Biggest Loser.  Love Actually.  I’ve seen Tom cry in front of Love Actually every December for the last twelve years.  A particularly devastating episode of CSI: Special Victims Unit.  The Olympics.  GOD, the Olympics.  He cries nonstop during the Olympics.

I envy Tom.  I wish I was more in touch with my emotions.  I guess it’s not crying that I crave, but the depth of feeling that leads to crying.

I once stepped into a small, dark church in Florence, put a coin into the light box, and was wrapped in the otherworldly glow of this.


As far as art goes, this painting is really uncool. It’s by Pontormo, and he is a Mannerist, and one thing you learn very quickly as an Art History major is that you can’t ever admit to liking Mannerist art. Caravaggio made the Baroque ok.  But not Mannerism.  I mean, you can’t even like it ironically. It’s like saying you like Nickelback or Juicy Couture. I’m no scholar, but what I learned in my High Renaissance classes is this: Mannerism took the beauty and refinement of the Renaissance and forced it into grotesque places, by elongating proportions and using lots of pastel.

But man, you can’t control what speaks to you. Standing there in that cold, dark church, and seeing this thing as people must have seen it in the 16th century when people died young and often, I felt a rustle in the cold air around me. I felt religious. I felt MOVED. I sobbed my eyes out.  Who knows why.  But it felt amazing.

I cried for an ugly painting.  Why can’t I cry for something real?  I must be pent up, overdue.

I eagerly await the deluge.

30 Comments Post a comment
  1. Richard Allen #

    I also was an art history major, and I’ve always been pretty open about my love of Mannerism. I got made fun of for liking Giorgio Vasari as a painter more than as a historian or writer, but I didn’t care, and I still don’t. I also love Boticelli, and will defend him as the proto-Mannerist.

    September 5, 2013
  2. I didn’t cry when my kids were born either. And I had them both the usual way, so there was lot’s of crying before-hand. I normally cry at everything, like Tom, including watching other babies being born on TV, but all I felt after mine were born was relief, exhaustion, and a ton of curiosity about who this new little stranger on my chest was. I totally understand crying over the painting. I almost did the same when I saw Michelangelo’s statues in person in Florence. Especially the ones that were only half-finished, strangely enough.

    February 16, 2013
    • the slaves maybe. very powerful and moving. because you can imagine Michelangelo chiseling them

      February 16, 2013
  3. I guess it hits you when you least expect it! I find I’ve become an emotional basket case since having kids. Anything that has to do with parenting and motherhood and loss makes me melt into a puddle of tears. I watched “PS I love you” last night and you can imagine how that went…

    February 15, 2013
    • that movie is ridiculously sad and not just because Gerard butler is in it

      February 16, 2013
  4. Go Tom! Ok, for me, here’s the thing. Growing up, my Dad was absolutely undone by even a single tear shed from any female eye. He worked resolutely to groom me to NEVER EVER let the bastards see me cry… (not his words precisely – I was probably 4 or 5 when his No Cry program began).

    Fast forward most of a lifetime and now I typically cry only when I am incredibly angry. Sorrow simply doesn’t trigger tears, except….

    When I was pregnant with my first, an “I’ll be home for Christmas” (I wasn’t) music background to a Budweiser commercial sent me upstairs to sob into our towels. Since then Bud ads around the holidays simply dial that back in somehow. I see a Clydesdale and I MISS MY MOMMY SO MUCH!!! Like that (thankfully my Mom is safely deceased for years and is not subjected to the humiliation of being associated with gigantic work animals. Or beer.)

    February 15, 2013
    • sobbing into towels, that sounds hardcore and I want to cry like that

      February 16, 2013
  5. A man in touch with his emotions is unstoppable. You should be proud of Tom for setting such an example for the boys. Woot!

    February 14, 2013
  6. Cloie #

    I didn’t cry when my kids were born either. Maybe it’s the c-section thing or maybe it’s that the whole experience of a human growing in your body and then it’s on the outside is just completely freaky. I never cry if I can avoid it, though I’m definitely vulnerable to shows about dogs or moms dying.

    February 14, 2013
    • thank you for validating my experience. freaky is exactly the right word

      February 14, 2013
  7. Jrdpdx #

    I cried my eyes out while ironing and watching a Lynard Skynard documentary when they described the plane crash. I tried to hide it but was caught
    I quit watching the Olympics mainly because of those stupid tear jerk stories, horrible

    February 14, 2013
  8. Meg #

    Have you ever read “Bad Kitty Christmas” to your kids – preferably on Christmas Eve, after a glass or three of wine? You’ll cry, I guarantee it.

    February 14, 2013
    • I have not. But I hate cats so maybe this is a good choice for me. Your comment reminds me that I cry while reading the Giving Tree, but what human doesn’t do that

      February 14, 2013
  9. bora #

    didn’t tom also once sob in public while reading cormac mccarthy’s the road at a coffee shop and extreme home makeover while on the treadmill at the gym? you really could dedicate a post just to tom crying.

    February 14, 2013
    • hello, what do you think you just read. he has never seen an episode of extreme home makeover without crying

      February 14, 2013
  10. Courtney #

    Something hormonal is going on here because I cry at everything and that doesn’t move me. Did you cry at the Budweiser commercial in the Superbowl? Did you cry at the video of Christian the Lion reuniting with his owners? If not, you may need an adjustment.

    February 14, 2013
    • i would say you are highly in touch with your emotions. if you are talking about the budweiser commercial with the horse reuniting with its owner, i definitely did not cry at that. i did not cry at the lion, which was staged. i also did not cry at the otters holding hands although i watched it 25 times consecutively. the last commercial i cried at was the P&G commercial during the olympics with all the athletes and their moms. damn the olympics

      February 14, 2013
      • Courtney #

        The lion wasn’t staged. I know because I read the book in addition to crying at the video. I cry at about every third commercial.

        February 14, 2013
      • Karen #

        HA! I was just going to ask about that Olympics commercial with the moms – who doesn’t cry at that one?

        February 14, 2013
      • I feel brutalized by that commercial. It taps into all my guilt about being the kid of immigrants who drove me to innumerable practices

        February 14, 2013
  11. Andy #

    I once cried over chubby baby portrait by Frans Hals in my Dutch art textbook. It was weird. I don’t know if I was just overwhelmed by the drama of the painterly style, or the impact the Dutch merchant class had on European art and culture, or if it was the fact that I was trying to learn like 232343494 slides the night before my exam. Anyway, I made ugly cry face such that could have been Anne Hathaway’s guide to playing Fantine in Les Mis.

    February 14, 2013
    • hals makes me cry too, but for different reasons. i love this comment almost as much as i loved art history exams

      February 14, 2013
  12. I’ve always loved your husband, but knowing that he cries at Love Actually makes me love him even more!!! Has he seen The Notebook? I wonder? And, a third kid, yes!!!!!!!! Although you might have to take your girl names back from Linds 🙂

    February 14, 2013
    • of course he’s seen the notebook. he’s seen all of ryan gosling’s movies. he loves ryan gosling more than any girl ever could. i actually saw him cry twice at love actually this year because he watched it a second night with cuz

      February 14, 2013
  13. I have cried twice today already! Once because of an unexpected gift from my sweet husband and again over good news involving work. Maybe I should hang out with Tom?

    February 14, 2013
    • happy cries!! i totally forgot it’s valentine’s day. what a day for tears! everyone should hang out with tom, he’s fine company

      February 14, 2013
  14. a good strong cry, one where you lay down on the floor w a box of kleenex and get snot, drool & tears all over the rug…omg yoona, there’s nothing like it. i wish this for you. it is such a relief to let all that out. it’ll come, and when it does, have a mop and bucket nearby and let ‘er rip! also, i am so glad to hear that someone else cries at the olympics. if there’s a montage where they show old footage of jesse owens i almost have to be hospitalized. man…humans are so funny, aren’t they? guide dogs for the blind also do it to me. anyway, you awesome thing, thanks for such a sweet post.

    February 14, 2013
    • have you noticed that the networks have dialed back on those emotional story pieces during the olympics? has affected tom’s crying not a bit, but i hated those segments and i’m glad there are fewer of them. now i miss the olympics. i absolutely agree that a huge cry can make one feel reborn

      February 14, 2013

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