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An Almanac For The 21st Century

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I Cried 17 Times While Writing This.

I Cried 17 Times While Writing This.

Here's something that's not remotely news: I cry a lot. I get it from my mom, who, when she realized in my youth that I inherited her crying gene, prepared me for what was to come by telling me, "I think I cried every day of my 20s."  You can laugh at that, by the way. It's funny. It's funny that my mom told me that when I was 12 as a way of preparing me for life. What's even funnier is how helpful I've found it over the years.

The catharsis of crying is truly a drug, and I've found a new way to get a fix in the fabulous podcast Crybabies, hosted by Sarah Thyre and Susan Orlean. In each episode our hosts discuss some of their own "crying cues," and also interview a guest about their own crying cues. Sometimes guests cry, and sometimes I cry. During a recent episode, which I listened to during an errand-heavy day of driving around the city, I cried three separate times and had to keep checking my mascara before getting out of the car to go to another appointment. In case that peaked your interest, which it should have, it was the episode with Megan Amram and Sarah and Susan's children. The tears started flowing right at the top of the episode when Sarah's 10 year old daughter Mercy said that listening to "Space Oddity" made her cry. Reading that sentence should at least make you well up a little. Seriously. Do you have a soul at all?

I started listening to Crybabies by downloading a few episodes from their podcast feed with guests I recognized, and it was during the second episode I listened to, featuring Dave Holmes, that made me subscribe. They were discussing Stephen Sondheim, and Sarah Thyre said (I may be paraphrasing here), "When you open the door on Sondheim, you open the door on tears." And at that I picked up my phone, hit the subscribe button, and never looked back. I downloaded every episode they'd released up to then, and worked my way through the entire Crybabies catalog. Now that I'm all caught up I think I may foam at the mouth when I new episode shows up in my podcast feed.

If you're like me and love the catharsis that comes from a good cry sesh, and love hearing other people talk about their emotions, give Crybabies a listen. It's phenomenal.

And now for something a little bit different!

One thing that Crybabies really does is make you think. It makes you think about what your crying cues would be if you were a guest on the show. I thought I might share some of my own crying cues with you, and if you'd like, you can share yours with me, and we can FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS.

Home Alone

Some people think Home Alone is about a kid who comes up with wacky ways to keep burglars from burgling him while he's at home alone (whaaa?) in his suburban Chicago home at Christmas. Some people are straight up incorrect. Sure, all that stuff happens, but Home Alone is actually about a mom who will stop at nothing to get home to her son. So, when I say that Home Alone makes me cry, what I mean is that the scene at the end, where Kevin's mom finally makes it home and he runs into her arms? That's one of those moments where I go from zero to blubbering mess in mere seconds. Have I mentioned before that O'Hare at Christmastime makes me very emotional? Well, it does, and that's because of Home Alone. But here's the thing: They don't even show the Christmas decorations at O'Hare in Home Alone! It's a leap I make all on my own. I just have to see the big wreath in the terminal and suddenly I'm like, "His mooom!" (Sob) "Rode across the country in a moving van!" (Sob) "With John Candy's polka band!"

Atonement by Ian McEwan

I read Atonement not long after its publication, not knowing much about it. I think I picked it up at the library after seeing it on a display table. I had seen it on a few "Best of" lists, and I had head of Ian McEwan, but other than that, I was going in blind, which turned out to be a very good thing. I was immediately immersed in the novel and devoured it, and once I was finished, I was completely gutted. (I'm not going to spoil anything in case you haven't read the book and would like to, other than that the ending was a f***ing gut punch.) For about a week after I finished reading Atonement I walked around looking at smiling people and thinking, "Don't they understand what's happened?" And then I'd remember that all I'd done was read a work of fiction and I should probably chill. But then again, I'd also been through something. Even now, years and years later, when people ask me to recommend a book to them the first thing I say is, "Have you read Atonement?"

"Jóga" and "Unravel" by Björk

I love Björk so much, you guys. Evidence: As I write this, I'm sitting in my apartment next to a framed Björk poster. She watches over me and keeps me safe, like a saint. I have a lot of favorite Björk songs, but at the tippy top of my list of favorites is "Jóga." It was inspired by Iceland and the chaotic but beautiful geography of Björk's homeland. Something about that combination of volatility and beauty in "Jóga" is a real tear-jerker for me.

Another Björk song that punches me in the feelings is "Unravel," which if I could describe as one of the greatest poems ever without sounding like an ass, I would. (I didn't just say it then, you're imagining things.) It's incredibly short, so I'm going to leave you with "Unravel," one of the non-poems that makes me weepy.

While you are away My heart comes undone Slowly unravels In a ball of yarn

The devil collects it With a grin Our love In a ball of yarn

He'll never return it

So when you come back We'll have to make new love

Wear, Watch, Want #22: The Toothy Amish Mystery Edition

Wear, Watch, Want #22: The Toothy Amish Mystery Edition

Protect Ya Nose

Protect Ya Nose