Friday, March 28, 2008

Watershed

Post-trip blues. First-of-spring funk.

Body dysmorphia. Escalating social anxiety.

Monthly hormonal fluctuations. Run-of-the-mill stress and strain.

An unexpected barrage of heartbreaking news from friends near and far.

Whatever the root cause or diagnosis, I've been beset by a deep and abiding funk lately, one that's left me feeling as fragile, raw, ragged and thin-skinned as my chin after a hateful and incredibly ill-advised chemical peel.

And while I'm well aware that a dizzying array of mood-balancing medications and remedies are available for the asking, I'm absolutely convinced that the only cure for me is a good, cleansing cry.

You know the kind: a full box of Kleenex, get-it-all-out cry. A no-holds-barred, unabashedly ugly cry.


But suddenly it's like I forgot to pay the water bill: I can't seem to squeeze out one salty, therapeutic drop.

I used to be able to cry on cue. And off cue. Truthfully, I cried pretty much anytime, and, to Trey's horror, with stunning regularity. But now, for reasons I can't quite explain, crying seems like a luxury I can't afford.

Maybe it's because I feel guilty: why would I willingly wallow in sadness when I have so much happiness in my life?

Maybe it's because I usually have an audience of three adorable muppers who, I suspect, might be a wee bit traumatized if Mommy curled up in a little ball on the floor and began weeping and wailing.

Maybe I'd simply cried myself out by my thirtieth birthday.

I don't know. But I do know that if I can somehow flip that stubborn release switch, I'll feel so much better.

And so I'm assembling a mercilessly masochistic list of sure-fire tear triggers. Truthfully, any one of these items could make me more than misty, but as a group, I think they'll set off the cascade of catharsis I so desire.

I'll begin with the obvious, the low-hanging fruit; then I'll work my way up (down?) to the inexplicable, absurd and enigmatic.

1. A wedding is proposed; vows are exchanged. A baby is born, or maybe two. A family is made complete when a child is adopted.

Thank you, The Learning Channel, for your sensitive selection of daytime programming, which consistently makes my nose run.

2. And while I'm thinking about the award-winning, amazing Jennifer Weintraub: her pictures alone move me to wordlessness (which is, I assure you, no small feat), but when she puts them in motion and sets them to music, I just... I can't... I wish... oh, see for yourself.


Note: if you quickly, but quickly (do not tarry, do not pass GO, do not collect $200) click this link right now, you'll find an insanely beautiful slideshow of our wee family.

Which is perfect, because the profusely wordy post I've been working on since, oh, December, about that session (Miracle on Elm Street: In Which the Franklins Are Uncharacteristically Cooperative Before a Camera) is still firmly embedded in my cavernous Blogger draft folder and may never find its way to publication.

But for the record, it's not just Jen's photographs of my very own offspring that make me cry. Friends, distant acquaintances, local celebrities, complete and total strangers: if she shares a link to any Sugar slideshow, I will watch it and weep. Repeatedly.

3. Oh, Mr. Jones: I owe you a sincere apology. All through my youth, I rolled my eyes whenever your song was played, and folks both old and young instinctively reached for their threadbare hankies.

I hope you'll forgive me when I confess that I failed to comprehend the weight, much less the meaning, of the line, "they placed a ring upon his daughter."

But now that I know he stopped loving her because, in fact, they placed a wreath upon his door... well, sir, I've discovered that one hanky is woefully insufficient. Well done, you.

4. Sticking with the genre, but giving it a good tweak, I will tell you that the Dixie Chicks can, nearly without fail, get my tear ducts working overtime.

Sure, there are obvious weepers like Cowboy Take Me Away or the achingly beautiful Lullaby. But magically and mysteriously, even their toe-tappers and knee-slappers Goodbye Earl and The Long Way Around take my breath away and temporarily blur my field of vision.

5. I fully intend to write a strongly worded letter of protest to the station managers of XM Kids for their newfound crush on the song The Babysitter's Here.

No, it's not because it contains the words "guts" and, I cringe to report, "butt." It's not because I have a fundamental opposition to hippies or tie-dye; I rather like both, as it happens.

It's that, seriously? Every single morning without fail? I'm driving the kids to school, we're late and I'm pissy... but once Dar starts in on her clear-as-a-bell warbling, I've got to fake-cough to muffle the sounds of sniffling and snuffling from the front seat.


6. The last five minutes of The Way We Were. Ditto Gone With the Wind.

From opening scene to final credit of Out of Africa.

Because I am a card-carrying member of GRITS: Steel Magnolias. Because I am, well, breathing: Terms of Endearment. Because I am warped: Little Miss Sunshine.

7. There's a reason, you know, that if Miss America were granted only one wish, she'd gladly exchange it for world peace. (What? You don't believe her?)

The reason is: war. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again, y'all.

Due in part, I suppose, to my career as a military brat, I am almost always overcome by any images, moving or still, of soldiers.

Soldiers, freshly enlisted. Soldiers, being deployed. Soldiers in the field. Soldiers who come home. And (I can barely see to type the words) soldiers who don't. Ever.

So when my sweet and brave friend Mandy sent me this link, I'll be honest: I put it aside. I knew I couldn't go there lightly. I knew it would shake me to my core, and leave me shaken for a long, long time.

I was right. And then some.

WHOO. Deep breath. Lots of them, actually.

I feel sadistic, pressing on after that, but I'm a woman on a mission to create the longest, most depressing post in the whole history of the blogosphere, and I cannot, I will not, be stopped.

8. Ultrasounds. Ultrasounds make me cry. Blurry, maddeningly indecipherable black-and-white images of blobs printed on shiny, curly paper: they get me every time. Especially this one.

9. The day after we brought those babies home from the hospital, in bundles so tiny we weren't even sure how to hold them properly, Carter woke up in the morning, with the sun... and began to cry. For six hours. Without stopping. Without saying one. single. word.

He cried through breakfast; lunch, too. Wouldn't eat a bite. Cried when Granddaddy took him to the park. Cried when we cried as we begged him, Carter, sweetie, please, tell us: what's wrong? Are you tired? Are you hungry? Are you hurt?

No answer.

We were gobsmacked. Our sweet, bright, two-year-old chatterbox had never really shed tears of any quantity before. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I hysterically called the pediatrician, convinced that he'd developed some horrible form of overnight autism.

The nurse who had the misfortune to take my call said, well, you never know how a child will react when first he meets his sibling. SibLINGS, I spat into the phone. He has siblings. And now he's broken! I have ruined my son!!

I hung up on her and called my mom, mother of four and fountain of wisdom. "Honey, Carter's so bright," she said. "He has so many words at such a young age. But how could he possibly find the words to describe what he's feeling about this enormous change in his life?"

I hardly ever think about that day now. Now, when I see the three of them running around like wild monkeys and digging up the backyard and reading books together.

But when I remember that day, it brings me to my knees.

I'm drained. I'm weak. I'm burned out on tears. But weirdly, I feel better.

Maybe I backburned my blues: you know how firefighters will purposely torch a ring around a raging wildfire? The hope is that it'll act as a control line.

With that theory in mind, allow me to add one last item to my abominable list of That Which Makes Me Weep:

10. Laughter. Laughing so hard your sides hurt and your eyes involuntarily well up. Giggling right past the point of tears. Belly-shaking, bigtime guffawing at something that you know is so utterly ridiculous, but you just. can't. stop. laughing about it.

Submitted for your approval: best laugh ever. Bonus points, I think, for the German dub:

11 Comments:

Blogger Minivan Mom said...

Well, first, I love you. Just had to get that out there.

I am the antithesis of weepy. Historically, I have reacted to sadness with rage, because, really, rage is so much more...energizing. Now that I'm in my well-adjusted 30s, I react to sadness with exhaustion and mopiness. Or maybe that's just my daily state now. Hard to tell.

But, like you, I also get misty at Weintraub's art. Seriously - I really DON'T regularly exercise my tear ducts, but there is something about the beauty of her photographs set to music that make me tear up, even with people I don't know.

But that slideshow of Weintraub's photos with one of my very favorite families in the whole wide world? Misty. Verklempt. Filled with love and aching for April 12th.

Oh, and Dar Williams + Pagans and Christians = musical brilliance.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I hope you are feeling better. I hate feeling like this.

I can't believe I have never seen your pictures from Jen before now. They are AMAZING! They made me tear up. Really, they are fantastic. I must get Lucy's pics made with her soon.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Big Mama said...

Based on your list, you and I could get together and have ourselves quite the cryfest.

I think we should start with the end of Gone With the Wind.

And the pictures of your family? Stunning.

8:17 AM  
Blogger anniemcq said...

Franklin. My Friend. First of all, your list is amazing. The slideshow of your family? Brilliant and beautiful, making ME cry, and we've never even met in person. And a huge thanks because I'd forgotten that particular Dar Williams song, instead always remembering "When I Was A Boy", but now I'm going to put "The Babysitter's Here" on my iPod too. Some songs that never fail to make me cry are:
Tom Waits - Picture In A Frame, and Take It With Me When I Go
Willie Nelson -Valentine
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold
Oh, hell, just let me burn you a cd!
Good movies for the cause:
Seriously: these first two will make you weep. Hard to find, but you must, must see them. I promise copious salty tears:
Ponette. Yes it's french. Yes the mother dies. Yes, it will be your favorite movie of all time.
Time Indefinite, a documentary by Ross McElwee. All about family. Nuff said.
If you have HBO, tivo Autism: The Musical. It will also help your cause.

I need to say one more thing, though friend. A visit to a therapist or a low dose of something is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. If this funk lasts well past your tears, I mean. You are such an amazing spirit, so smart, so beautiful, so loving. You need to know that and nurture that. You are an incredible woman. Please take care.

8:53 AM  
Blogger The Nanny said...

All right, Franklin, what's the big idea? It's a SATURDAY AFTERNOON and I'M HAVING A BIRTHDAY PARTY TONIGHT and I'M A WEEPING, BLUBBERY MESS.

The pics of your breathtakingly gorgeous kiddos first got me a bit teary. The music was powerful and perfect. But then on to the military slideshow? I mean...my dog was practically crying beside me.

Ohhh, and the ultrasound day...Franklin I wanna have twins! I wanna!

Lord have mercy. I suppose I needed a good cry more than I realized it.

I do feel much better now. Woman, you are magical.

9:08 AM  
Blogger life with the wisners said...

do i really need to comment on weentrab's photos?

and your list? well, i am a mess these days. i can talk about buz or either of my children. mess.

franklin, i heart you. so much.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous trabilcobb said...

No need to cry, because I am taking care of that on your behalf. Could your kids be any more gorgeous?!? Holden was sitting on my lap as it played and he got all excited whenever Katie appeared. Watch out! And you need to run to Aaron Brothers pronto and get that one of you looking at the camera while Trey kissed you framed and hung front and center. You look be-u-tee-ful.

p.s. I heard that song on a CVS commercial and got all teary-eyed but refused to succumb to a darn pharmacy ad. Glad to know it's a greal song and I can bawl my eyes out without shame.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Sugar Photography said...

Oh. My.

While I knew a Sugar post was in the works (since DECEMBER)-I didn't expect it to be of this caliber. I am honored!

And yes-right when I was getting the gist of what you were saying, I thought "she needs to see Matt's slideshow"...cause that did me in, and I hardly ever cry.

Cold hearted beeyotch that I am ;)

But seriously-so sorry you're in a funk.

if it's any consolation, your chin is not nearly as noticeable as your "squished ants" were. And you will be back to your old shining happy self by Friday. Right? RIGHT???

feel better soon, my friend. Or I might come over and rub my eyes on you.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Fern said...

Oh, your kids are so very cute. And their hair! They will never fully appreciate the glory of having gigantic smooth curls.

This post is a terrific and thorough reference. It has given me a stinging front-of-the-head ache, which indicates that I would cry if I were not so incredibly tough that I make Chuck Norris look like a whiny diaper baby.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

LOVE YOU!!!Love your posts. So sad that you are sad, I've been there, call me anytime you need to talk. Your twins post made me cry!! Revisiting your sugar session made me cry and I can see those images anytime I want!!! I must have taken all of your tears, but I'll give em back if you're real nice and promise not to overuse them!

Side note---trip=happy=no more blues :)

6:21 PM  
Blogger Lady Di said...

I was catching up on blogs last night on my phone (no service in Oregon woods last week) but can't run YouTube and such, so i had to go back tonight on the mac to catch the Dar & the Sugar slides (beautiful, of course) >sniffle<. Been a little low myself, but never as eloquent about it as you. Take care.

8:53 PM  

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