étages, oisifs étages

a fez of the heart

More work in progress. I’ve had quite a useful week. Celebrated by cycling out into Somerset, as yesterday was bright and sunny. Snowdrops everywhere, and mistle thrushes throwing their voices across the valleys, as they like to do.

I listened to Desert Island Discs on Friday. Howard Jacobson was the castaway. He made several references to crying, including

“When I was choosing the music for this and I played them, I sobbed over half of them. I cry a lot now when I hear music and I use music for crying.”

“I’ll be doing a lot of sobbing. I very much doubt I’ll survive.”

I felt a little uncomfortable about this, and then thought, “Why are you uncomfortable? What’s wrong with Howard talking about crying? Isn’t he being open and honest and in-touch-with-his-feelings? Surely that’s a good thing?”

And maybe it is.

It used to bother me that I was apparently incapable of crying; I thought it might mean that I was repressed, emotionally constipated or something. I did actually do it a few times in the summer that I started taking female hormones; it was quite an intense time, and not just hormonally. And it felt rather good to cry; a temporary surrender to something elemental. Like an orgasm, perhaps, but without the mess.

It was a passing phase… these days, I don’t do it. Though it doesn’t bother me that I don’t. I notice that it is not entirely unknown for trans women to describe how something has made them cry, though, as though it were a badge of feminine sensibility. I wonder if for them, too, it is just a phase? I can’t think of any of my friends, male or female, who either talk about crying or who have cried in my company.

What do you reckon?

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14 Responses to étages, oisifs étages

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention étages, oisifs étages | Being Drusilla -- Topsy.com

  2. Chris Goddard says:

    I can only speak from my own experience, Dru. I when I was married and in the closet, I never cried. But some of that was “big boys don’t cry” stuff from my childhood.

    When everything fell apart and then coalesced again, I found that the tears did come in plenty. The full works including “don’t be nice to me” situations.

    These days it’s a lot less likely to happen, but does at what I feel are appropriate times. Not in public though.

  3. Federay says:

    I am always crying and it is actually a rather annoying reflex over which I have no control. I don’t always know what kicks it off either (though as I think Chris is saying above, it is often when someone is especially kind… gawd). I am usually rendered incapable, too, which is why I think I never cry (can’t believe I’m saying this but I *think* it’s interesting) onstage. I can’t carry on speaking if I’m crying and, well, I’m paid to talk.

    Nothing worse than people (directors, ex-boyfriends) who think I can do it on call. I wish. It sounds like it would be nice to have a good emotional flush but I am not Mr Jacobson. I can’t organise myself into a good cry at a convenient moment by listening to the appropriate playlist.

    I find it very interesting that the hormones caused you to get very emotional. This begs the question: is it a chemical thing? I encourage my boys to cry. Even possibly to the point of being irritating. (“Go on – have a good cry.”) I’m not sure if that’s right either. Sigh. Sniff.

  4. Richard says:

    My eyes sometimes glisten when *I’m* trying to be nice to someone else. This is a terrible thing, I feel, like laughing at your own jokes.

    Otherwise, whenever I feel like crying, I suspect I must be coming down with something. So I cry about as often as I catch a cold. No soundtrack required.

  5. Richard says:

    Forgot to say – love the picture. Is this for a new, more whimsical book?

  6. Caroline says:

    Chose to lock my emotions and ability to cry away when I was four and saw the danger of outing myself.

    Half a century later the valves are set open and there is pleasure in having that release. Certainly there was a lot more flow in the early days of the HRT, films are more fun now that I am uninhibited!

  7. Melissa says:

    I’ve been weepy since childhood, although since becoming an adult, I try to keep it as private as possible. I sometimes have a hard time not getting choked up when discussing certain subjects, and poignant moments in films are virtually guaranteed to turn on the water works.

    I love your badger. Am I safe in assuming the club means he’s been involved in a criminal enterprise? He does look a little bit paranoid.

    Melissa XX

  8. Thomas Guest says:

    I don’t cry, except when I’m reading stories to my children, or watching a sentimental movie on an aeroplane.

  9. nix says:

    When I started taking T there were a few months when I couldn’t cry, even when I wanted/needed to. I’m glad those days are gone! I enjoy a bit of a cry, and I have to admit that music is usually the thing that sets it off – doesn’t have to be sad, could just be whimsical, could be happy, could have some sweeping sense of the sublime that leaves me breathless and in awe of the universe!

  10. Dru says:

    The badger picture is for a new project, a bit speculative at the mo so can’t say much… it’s hard to imagine badgers engaging in criminality, Melissa; maybe Badger in Wind in the Willows colours my imagination. I’m not going to impose my narrative on this badger, though…

    I do wonder if it is a chemical thing, Federay; I recall the feeling of hyper-reality and intensity that came with the advent of female hormones into my system. Maybe it’s still like that but I’ve become habituated to it. Margaret Atwood described the way it felt in ‘Nothing’ –

    The sky’s
    not vacant and over there but close
    against your eyes, molten, so near
    you can taste it. It tastes of
    salt. What touches you is what you touch.

    Yes, I get dewy-eyed at lots of things. And there are poems I would never dream of reading out loud because I get choked up on them. But (other than in this context) I don’t think I’d mention it…

    Thank you, everyone, for your take on it!

  11. The last few minutes of Lark Rise brought a tear or two to my eye, and that of others I’ve talked to.

  12. Caroline says:

    The first few minutes of the very first episode did that to me when it dawned on me that another of the favourite books from my early life was going to be b******* up by the BBC.

    • Jenny Alto says:

      I’m afraid the BBC’s treatment of Lark Rise is a little close to me, I’m (just) old enough to have been able to buy stamps from Flora Thompson’s Post Office.

      There are times when I would really appreciate the chance to cry on demand, but can’t.

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