Day 20: Things I’ve cried at in the past 24 hours

Oh, hi there. Nothing to see here, just a woman now sort-of in her late twenties but still very much under the impression her age, looks, and penchant for terrible hair cuts paused at 22, crying into a supermarket trolley, improvised buddha bowl, chocolate pavlova. Whatever happens to be close-to-hand and weirdly inappropriate. Thankfully, salt makes everything taste better so once I am always around food stuff whenst (it’s a word – ask Jane Austen) blubbering (which of course one always is in lockdown), I’m good.

So. Is anybody else finding this to be the time of ALL OF THE EMOTIONS? As an over-sensitive child, crying was one of my favourite hobbies. And by that I mean, an annoying – for siblings, as well as myself – seemingly unconquerable personality quirk that could be brought on by anything vaguely upsetting/annoying/unfair/sad/funny/happy/scary/strange. So, to summarise, everything. My acute sensitivities to the suffering of not just humankind but ANY sentient or non-sentient being was such that, on finishing Charlotte’s Web one morning before school in second class, my mother had to write my completely unimpressed teacher a note to explain why her eight-year-old had come to class with puffy eyes and swollen cheeks and would probably spend the day sitting in a corner sobbing. I’m pretty sure the phrase “TLC” – an acronym frequently used in association with me and my never-ending spectrum of feelings – was employed. And I have just realised why that teacher never liked me.

After years of personal development through encounters with real-life hardship and a healthy dollop of perspective (another classic lavished on me in pre-adolescence) I thought I had overcome this primal need to deal with EVERYTHING by dissolving into a veritable volcano of molten tears and lava-like snot – just last month I remember inwardly congratulating myself on navigating several difficult situations without once transforming into the round-faced, red-cheeked China man my sister likes to describe me as after a particularly impassioned bout of the weepies. Ahh, I thought. One thing I can finally – and permanently – tick off my personal improvement list.

And then this surrealist Dystopia swept me into its quarantined frenzy and suddenly every day is the acne-ridden, sore-nippled, existential-questioning of PMS at its most bloated and neurotic. The fact I can’t refrain from eating for more than forty minutes (at a stretch) and therefore, on top the mood swings, strange moments of prophetic doom, and woeful insecurity, am only perpetuating the bloating, cramping, and general self-disgust of the days before and during a period, means I have spent the past five weeks wondering if I’m in a constant state of acute – albeit invisible – menstruation.

Because reader, I cannot seem to stop crying.

Not quite the wailing of my childhood but still the dignified solitary tear of the Golden Hollywood era. A suffocated sniffle, a doe-eyed look of fornlornness out my bedroom window as two perfectly-formed crystals slide, snail-like down my cheeks. A throaty intake of breath, signifying deep mental torment. Now, as an incredibly intuitive and observant individual, I understand that this newly-heightened emotional state is really a reaction to the turbulence and tumult of THESE STRANGE TIMES (in a very real way, how many screenplays/novellas/cookbooks are going to be pitched in the next twelve months with a variation of this phrase? I, for one, cannot wait for the inundation – ‘100 recipes for THESE STRANGE TIMES’ ‘Strange Times: A Memoir’; ‘Love in the Time of Strange’; ‘Dr. Strangetime or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Quarantine’). It is a manifestation of the zeitgeist, a subliminal registering of my unconscious presenting in a physical reaction. Blah blah Freud, blah, Brené Brown, Dr Phil blah. What I do not understand is the cause of these outbursts. So, in an attempt to make sense of my deteriorating mental state, I did what every naturally chaotic yet hyper-efficient person does: I made a lit. Here is everything that has caused me to well up in the past 24 hours.

  • Modern Love – the TV series based off the New York Times column. Yes, there’s moments of heartbreak etc etc and yes, should those be the source of the tributary of emotion pouring forth from my globular eyeballs that would be not just understandable but perfectly acceptable. However, I am crying at bizarre points of each episode – like the opening credits, or one schmaltzy line that is probably supposed to induce a cringe or a laugh instead of a disintegration into a less-than-human woman. The first episode feat. the doorman had me actually in convulsions. Not the ha-ha kind. It also makes me want to text all of my exes which is why it is a brilliant and a terrible show. WATCH AT YOUR PERIL.
  • Late Night – Written by Mindy Kaling (personal hero, she is everything) which stars her and Emma Thompson (also personal hero, she is the everything of everything). THIS IS NOT A SAD MOVIE. It is an honest, comic look at the discriminatory and misogynistic TV industry. Why did I shed tears at the actually very mawkish ending? Why did I get so involved in Emma Thompson’s husband’s Parkinson’s? Why have I not stopped thinking about this movie since?
  • A truly exceptional loaf of sourdough. Need I say more.
  • Brittany Runs a Marathon – Again, this is cited as a COMEDY. It is about a woman who wants to change her life and partying habits and so decides to run a marathon. WHY did I cry twice at this? Ok fine it actually does really hit a poignant note in terms of addressing female body issues and the inbuilt insecurities we have around being “the fat girl” but oh my god Holly GET A GRIP. Again, weirdly wanted to message all of my ex-boyfriends. WHY IS COVID MAKING ME SO NEEDY FOR LOVE AND VALIDATION.
  • Modern Love again. That Anne Hathaway episode though. I was right there with her, lying broken on the floor. #Torn
  • Home Again – You know that shite (actually think it’s kinda good I’m just pretending I’m high-brow) Reese Witherspoon movie where three men half her age move in to her family home and proceed to fall in love with her while her equally attractive Michael Sheen husband attempts to win her back? Also known as: the most realistic movie of all time. Or, according to me, a modern day Beaches because even though I only saw the last 15 minutes, I still wound up crying at the final scene that honestly was even more outrageous than the entire plot. The whole dysfunctional family gathered around a candle-lit outdoor garden setting, guffawing incessantly even though none of them seem to be drawing breath while they all talk at the same time and Reese gazes upon the scene with calm serenity. Just her two daughters, estranged husband, young toy-boy she slept with while becoming estranged from her husband, and his two twenty-something boy-mates who love nothing more than to hang out with children doing domestic bits. So authentic, so true to life. Oh, and don’t forget the grandmother. Of course I cried.
  • One of the UK supermarket ads – Waitrose, Sainsburys, honestly couldn’t tell you. All I know is they told me they’re doing everything they can to look after their staff and customers and god damn it, I believe them. God bless humanity.
  • A Halifax ad – an ad about fucking INSURANCE. Just seeing the little workers pop up on their Zoom screens telling me there was no need to worry, they were there to talk me through anything I needed and how all they wanted was for me to be safe and…………oh Jesus, gone again.
  • Almost – but not quite – started crying when we opened our 3,000 piece jigsaw. I legitimately feel that opening a puzzle for the first time is kind of like going into labour. Nothing is more exhilarating, life-affirming, terrifying. Will I have the stamina to see this through? Will my baby come out with all the needed bits and pieces? Will it be one of those horror story labours that takes DAYS? WHO KNOWS. One thing you do know, you will most definitely weep with exhaustion, frustration, and that final moment of bliss when you push (a piece into place) for the last time. I think that might be the most beautiful paragraph I’ve ever written. Let’s leave it there.

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