Friday, October 1, 2010

Manufactured Emotions

I discovered something new about myself the other day. If you were to ask my friends, even family members how many times they have seen me cry in the my adult life, they may tell you one of two possible answers,
a.) never
b.) once.
Its not that I'm trying to be strong and keep my emotions ( especially tears) bottled up inside of me. Its not that at all. But I will tell you that if someone were to come me and say "watch this movie, it will make you cry" or "watch this clip on youtube, but grab some Kleenex because it will make you cry"  I can guarantee that I won't. Why? Because whatever you are referring to, was probably designed to get me to cry, and that canned tear induction drives me crazy. 
I can't tell you a movie that makes me cry.  The first time I watched The Notebook (a notorious tear jerker) was in 2005 with my husband and it was shortly after my second son was born.  I thought it was a nice story, but towards the end I heard sniffling.. as I turned to my husband who was trying his best to hide the fact that tears were flowing faster than a woman on Oprah, I began to wonder if I was a cold hearted snake? I chalked that up to the antidepressants I was taking for my post partum anxiety/depression my emotional range was as flavorful as vanilla pudding. But I have since seen the movie and not shed a single tear. But just last night I went to a piano concert. Its my job to publicize these events, and once in awhile, I like to go to them to see if I did my job well.
I was sitting in my usual box seat looking at my toes and thinking I needed a new pedicure but my attention was quickly directed to the stage.  The virtuoso pianist, John Blacklow was playing Chaconne von J.S Bach and arranged by Brahms.   This is an arrangement for the left hand only. His right hand was placed on his lap.   I don't know what Brahms was thinking about when he composed this, but whatever it was spoke to me on such a deep emotional level. The expressivety he was able to portray through the music was iconic. I found myself sitting in my seat crying.  I don't know if they were happy tears, sad, who knows and who cares it was just happening and I allowed it.
 I'm an emotional enigma.   This proved to be a bit of an "issue" when I was obtaining my theater degree in college.  Other acting students would get to a death scene or a break up scene in the modern script and in quotations it would give a direction (crying) Well that wasn't me.. usually.
I was however doing a dress rehearsal for a black box performance of Romeo and Juliet.  Everything was going well and we were in the last suicide scene. Juliet (me) wakes up to discover her Romeo was actually dead.   When I noticed this I burst out laughing...hysterically.  I was completely in the moment and something struck me as funny. I was certain that the director was going to cut and start over, but it was a dress rehearsal and he didn't. I'm sure my Romeo was about to raise himself from the dead and kill his Juliet but he didn't thank goodness. So the laughing continued for what felt like two minutes and as I inhaled to catch my breath, what happened then surprised everyone... I began to sob.
Too bad it wasn't the actual performance, because it was the most raw display of emotions I had every experienced on stage and not easily duplicated.
Perhaps the emotion to the arts is from my childhood. I was taken (dragged) to many MANY choir practices, and Opera rehearsals.  My mom would give me paper and crayons and would let me sit on the floor somewhere in the auditorium and quietly color.  What I believe is that it taught me to express my emotions on paper based to what my ear was hearing.  I attached music to emotions with colors and feelings. My dad is an artist and are home was filled with all different types of art. Some of which scares me to this day, Its one of Jesus' shroud and its freaky and dead looking, my sister can inherit that one... it fits her personality much better. ;)
I didn't cry initially at my grandmothers funeral, when I did first cry was when I spoke to my grandfather who arrived alone (I had never seen him without his sidekick) and when he looked at me with a blank stare and told me he didn't know how he took his coffee because she would make it for him every morning.
I didn't cry at 3 out of the four births of my sons (possibly due to the obscene amount of drugs I was on) but hey, I'm not complaining. When I recently did cry is when I watched Oscar slowly drift to sleep one evening.
I cried when I watched the youtube of the two guys in bell bottoms reunited with the lion they trained and the lion ran up and hugged them..
I cry when I'm angry, hurt or really frustrated.  I guess sad isn't in my tear repertoire.
Some people thrive on tears and it is those people that cry for any reason at the drop of a hat.
Given the choice between being happy or sad, I will always choose happy.  Between chaos or peace, I choose peace and between drama (Jersey Shore) and non-drama (Bob Ross) I would gladly choose the Joy of Painting.

It may be genetic too. Although my sons shed more tears than Niagara falls on any given week, they also cry at odd moments.  At Oscar's baptism last week a woman at church played some sonata on the piano and my 3 yr old's bottom lip started to quiver. He said it scared him. Good I thought... and I let him feel that way. I didn't start singing Elmo in his ear or take him out of the church.  The music was speaking to him, and he choose to listen.
Once in awhile I think its good to just be. Allow whatever comes up to come up and just cry or not.
With that said, maybe I'll dust off the old DVD player and try to watch  The Notebook one more time just to see if I cry.. or maybe just to save my husbands pride. Because he acknowledges that Hollywood, a few hundred takes and some good actors can get him every time.


  1. i'm very similar, i cry at stupid adverts, but not normally in movies!! i'm glad to know i'm not the only one!! Try reading the Notebook, it is much more powerful than the movie, they left out so many amazing parts!!!

  2. Then there are those of us who cry too much. It frustrates me to no end, it weakens my position when I'm angry and need to confront a situation, but I can't turn it off. Oh, another kleenex movie is P.S. I Love You. I felt more connection to it than "The Notebook".