Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Big Cry

Has it been a while? It feels like it has.

I’m afraid I’ve come down with a mean case of homesickness in the past few days, which I will talk about in another post.

As I have gotten a few messages from friends and peers to tell me they enjoy reading (which I am so grateful for, by the way), and people I meet at work-related events try to add me on my personal Facebook where everything is private except for my posts, I have become a bit self-conscious about speaking openly about certain things. However, at the end of the day, I wanted this project to be as open and authentic as possible, so I am pushing through those feelings of doubt.

Today, I wanted to talk about a sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes both, incredibly human thing: crying.

My biggest support system is my family unit. My parents, my sister, my pets, have all been right beside me as I have faced the biggest challenges in my life- from moving to a new country, to having my first dealings with administrative tasks, to getting my first student loan bill. They have been there to make it easier and now I am miles away from them. While most of the time I am too busy to remember if I had lunch or any other aspect of my life that doesn’t involve work or other more pressing things, sometimes for a split second, I look around my tiny apartment and realize there is no one else, and it knocks the wind right out of me.

One of my close friends in Paris often tells me that I need to just give in and have The Big Cry, “Just let it come over you and let it all out,” she says. In my eyes, she’s a bit of a veteran of life in this city, having gone through all the motions by now and surviving (it can be harder than you think). However, I simply cannot give into The Big Cry, it seems out of the question.

When it comes to women and discussions on gender, having emotions and expressing them, through harsh and “uncontrolled” bursts of rage or tears, are a couple of the key arguments used against women in positions of power or high levels of stress, without mentioning of course, menstruation and the uncontrollable mood swings that misogynists argue prevent women from making rational decisions.

There is always an infuriating conversation about women crying in the work place and how it should be avoided at all costs, for fear of being considered weak or emotional by their peers, and young boys are raised to believe that crying is for girls and that if they were to express any emotion through tears, they too would be considered feminine. During recent coverage of the presidential debates and conferences by candidates, there is often the sexist and upsetting comment of Hillary Clinton “yelling too much,” never mind that her male counterpart, Bernie Sanders, seems to only speak in a tone of alarming decibels, something he is not criticized for.

On the other side of the spectrum, refraining from all emotion is the main character trait of powerful, controlled, poised women, at least in the way we portray them. If you’ve binge-watched the latest season of House of Cards, you’ll remember Claire’s bout of tears, probably the only few seconds we’ve caught of her showing any emotion in four seasons. In The Other Woman, Cameron Diaz’s character says “Then cry on the inside, like a winner,” when the distraught wife of the man she’s been seeing shows up at her doorstep.

I have strict rules about crying, both privately and publicly (rarely ceding to the former and never giving into the latter and never crying for other people), and when everything seems to be falling apart, I take great pride in keeping it together, which I admit is ridiculous and which makes me wonder how we became so conditioned to see crying as an intolerable weakness.

There are a few silly things that are sure to make me cry though: Chet Baker singing My Funny Valentine, the end of Lost in Translation, any version of Les feuilles mortes, when Holly Golightly lets cat loose under the rain in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, everything about the book One Day, when Madame Butterfly kills herself, the last chapter of The Great Gatsby, Ibrahim Maalouf’s Beirut, I cry in every theatre I go to (which is why I mostly go alone), anything by Dustin O'Halloran, and every time a French person talks to me about Donald Trump. Last week, I had to do everything in my power to not cry in front of Carlos Saura when I met him.

So, are you a big crier? I’m curious to know.