Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cry Me A River Part Two

I'm so happy to have gotten the response on the last post I did...I was hoping to, if only to get some books to add to my reading list. First, some responses to the comments left on the post:

-Genny, so funny you mentioned "Anne of Green Gables", b/c folks commenting on the EW web post mentioned that one a bunch. It was up there with "The Lovely Bones", Harry Potter, and a few others as books that made many, many people cry. And now I'm going to have to look for "Tiger Eyes" to read. I love Judy Blume, so I have no doubt I will enjoy this book, and probably have a crying jag after I finish. Oh, and "She's Come Undone" is on my reading list. I've read "I Know This Much Is True" by the same author, though I don't remember crying. I might have. Good book, and I also plan to read his latest, "The Hour I First Believed."

-Steven, really? Not at ALL at Harry Potter? Not even when Dumbledore died? Wow, you might be dead inside. Or just need to really find a book that opens up the tearducts for that particular medium.

-Juli, I have "The Devils Arthmetic" on my list of books that made me cry, but I had to make some cuts, and since "Jacob Have I Loved" stands out the most, it won. Yeah, that one is fantastic and had me crying.

-Elise, I was sooo going to mention Stan's death on The Commish as a t.v. example, but you stole my thunder. Ah, memories.

-Em, "East of Eden" was also some cartharsis for me. I need to read it again. So satisfying on so many levels. And you know I have your copy of "Lovely Bones" and have for a while (I'm a horrible person) and still plan on reading it b/c of all the amazing things I've heard. I loved "Education of Little Tree"...didn't cry as much as you mentioned you had while working a shift at Mac Shack, but definitely emotionally worth it.

Okay, so onto some television. My last post about this will be movies, so don't worry about me neglecting that particular medium.

Television was the hardest for me to remember things that really made me cry. Even though I know it is probably the most likely of the three (books, t.v. and movies) that I will tear up at simply due to sheer exposure. So I'm eager to hear what television has made you all cry. Without further ado though, here is what sticks in my mind as tear-jerker television:

-Well, what first comes to mind is the Olympics Opening Ceremony. This one is funny b/c I have been very vocal with how I find both the opening and closing ceremonies a waste of 5 hours of television (and thats just for one of them). I guess I've never just sat down and watched them. Not that I did this last time. I was working out on the trusty elliptical here in Iraq during the summer olympics and naturally, anything sports-related was on. It happened to be the opening ceremony. I groaned inwardly and immediately started trying to find something to drift off into thought with. But as my eyes kept going to the screen, just seeing these athletes, who have worked so hard for 4 years, rise to the top of their sport and get their moment on the center stage of the world, it got me. And seeing the pride of each nation in their athletes. What a spectacular feeling that must be. So it wasn't just sweat dripping down my cheeks that morning.

-While we are on sports, it must be mentioned that certain pivotal games make me cry. I get wayyyy too invested and the whole play-off experience is already so emotionally draining, that I can't help but cry when my team loses or wins. More often than not, they lose. The game I remember crying the most at was the 1997 loss of KU to Arizona. Man, I sobbed after that game. It still hurts in case you were curious. Their winning of the championship last year went a long way to healing that (and the Syracuse) wound, but still...

-I used to be OBSESSED with ER. If anyone dared call me during the hours of 9 p.m and 10 p.m. on Thursday night, I would refuse to talk to them. That was my time. Now, that time is whatever time Lost is on, but once upon a television, it was ER. I remember being terrified and filled with anxiety for the week after the episode where Carter is stabbed on Valentines Day, just praying that they wouldn't kill him off. And I remember that same season, in the season finale, crying when Carter finally admitted he had a pain-killer addiction (due to the stabbing and subsequent surgery) to Benton, after taking a swing at his mentor. They get on the plane together for rehab, and man, that was a good episode. But it was nothing compared to the one where Dr. Green dies. Oh, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed at that one. I think Elise watched it with me, an ER novice herself, and she sobbed as well. ER has been replaced in my heart, but that episode never will be.

-Funny about that Carter season finale, it also had the episode of Friends and Frasier that made me cry. It was the episode of Friends where Chandler proposes to Monica, and the episode of Frasier where Daphne picks Niles. It was an emotional night for me, and that Friends proposal still chokes me up. It is the perfect proposal and my favorite Friends episode of all time. I was apparently a basket case that Thursday night.

-Any episode of Oprah featuring mothers or someone getting their wildest dream, and I am a bucket of tears. I can be in the pissiest, least emotional mood ever, and all it takes is someone recognizing how amazing their mom is to have me crying hard. It doesn't even matter if it is on in the background as I get ready for work, I am always reduced to tears. Darn that Oprah and her emotionally manipulative episodes.

-The episode of Buffy where her mom dies is one of the best episodes of television ever. They use a Sarah Mc. song to perfection in that ep.

-The Gilmore Girls have me crying at many, many points, but that final episode was soooo good and I think I spent the whole thing crying, from the theme song to the last shot of them in the diner, I was dripping like a leaky faucet. It was similar to Harry Potter, where I knew I was saying goodbye to them, but man, when Lorelei tells Rory "It's too soon", oh, I'm just crying right along with them. Gosh, I absolutely love that show. It is my favorite show of all time. That's right, I said it. I have many competing heavily for number two, and I'm not saying it is the best show ever made (that would be The Wire and Arrested Development), but it is my personal favorite, go-to, comfort, tear-jerking escape.

-Last but not at all least is Scrubs. There are too many episodes that have reduced me to tears to count, so I'll just say that there is no show out there that can have me laughing so hard I'm crying and then in the next second, just simply crying. Episodes that stand out are the ones with Brendan Fraser, any episode that has Dr. Cox emoting, and the one where J.D.'s dad dies. And that finale this year? For any Scrubs fan out there (looking at you Em and Joe), it was tear-jerking and completely satisfying. The perfect finale. My favorite part? "Hooch IS crazy."

So, there it is, the t.v. that has me crying. I'm missing so much from this list, I know. I haven't even delved into those old Hallmark commercials at Christmas time or the cotton commercials or anything involving old people, so feel free to remind me of some great television that is cry-worthy. Next up, movies...(not that that won't be enormously predictable, but it's still coming).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cry Me A River

Last week, during my regularly scheduled phone call with Mom and Dad, we were talking about something (can't remember what) and it came up that I hate to cry. Mom was surprised and I went into my explanation of how I keep myself from crying at movies and the like (I think of funny scenarios like puppies playing in flour or episodes of Arrested Development). If I don't cry, I not only don't get splotchy face, but I can maintain my emotionless superiority over the rest of you tear-buckets. However, there are moments when no amount of reminiscing about Gob-isms can prevent that pounding heart, the dripping nose and the little gasps for breath as you hold back sobs. They come in a variety of circumstances, one of which I just finished reading about on the Entertainment Weekly website: books. Now, I should say this has inspired me to reminisce not only about the books that make me cry, but the movies and t.v. shows, so this could become a series.

But first things first, a sampling of the books that I can't help but sob while reading. Many of these will be familiar to all of you, and those that aren't, I promise not to spoil the ending for you in case you want to pick it up with a box of Kleenex.

-Well, no tear-jerker book list can be complete without a mention of the last three Harry Potter books. This will not be spoiler-free b/c you all have read these (and if you haven't, you are clearly not a member of my family/extended circle and I don't need to accommodate you). I remember reading the 5th book, as Harry is in Dumbledores office, completely out of control and I'm just bawling my little eyes out. I lived at home at the time, it was a Sunday night, and Mom comes down to get me to come to dinner, and I have to explain to her with my red eyes that now wasn't the time. Well, each book got successively more tearful. In book 6, it was in the middle of the night that I'm finishing it, and it wasn't until Dumbledores funeral with Hagrid sobbing and Harry realizing what he has to do, on his own, that it hit me and I cried and cried. I had refused to believe he was dead all through that battle with Snape and with everyone else discovering he had fallen, but the funeral made it real. And his office, with his portrait sleeping on the wall. By now I was ready and prepared for what J.K. would throw at me in book 7. I remember Kyle and I were reading it and trying to pace each other so we didn't binge too fast on the experience, but I'm a naturally faster reader than most, so I would have to put it down and wait for him to catch up. However, after the escape from Gringotts, there was no way I could halt my reading, and when I knew I would start crying (The Battle at Hogwarts), I had to leave the living room so I wouldn't inadvertently ruin it for him. From that chapter on, it was just straight tears with the occasional laugh, gasp, hiccup, sob, up until the end. Parts that especially get me include the forest scene of course ("will it hurt?"), when Hagrid carries his body sobbing, when everyone refuses to believe his death is real, the house-elves coming out with Kreacher in front, Neville, and the epilogue. Man, I'm tearing up just thinking about these scenes. And it isn't just the amazing story J.K. wrote, it was saying goodbye to one of the best cultural experiences I will ever have. It's not a forever goodbye though, as I can pick of the books at any time in the future.

-Next book that I thought of was Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson, same author that wrote Bridge to Terebithia. I know it is the less typical pick of the two in terms of favorite books/tearjerkers, but it is the one I lean towards. It is also the first book I remember that reduced me to soaking my t-shirt with my waterworks. I've always had a strong sympathy for the sibling that is, for lack of a better phrase, "the wind beneath the other siblings wings." This one epitomizes that theme.

-Which leads me to East of Eden, a book that was introduced to me by Emily; I will be forever grateful. It is another sibling book where my favorite character is the outwardly lesser of the two, Cal. Interestingly enough, both books are also loosely based around biblical tales, with JHIL being based around Jacob and Esau, and EOE around Cain and Abel. Just funny that these are two books that no matter how many times I read them, they will move me, touch me, make me think, and leave me drained at the end.

-It was Juli that had me reading Little Women, another one to add to this list. I don't recall which part makes me cry more, Jo's rejection of Laurie, Beths death, Jo's discovery of Laurie and Amy (that one has me crying from fury), her budding relationship with the professor, I don't know. Man, I need to re-read this book.

-The Joy Luck Club is kinda a downer book, so you expect to be depressed through a lot of it. But for me, its at the end when June goes to China for reasons I won't detail in case you haven't read it that I lose it. The movie is equally sob-a-rific, but that is for a potential future post.

-I think the last one I will mention is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I must say, I was not at all anticipating crying in this one. It is written in a non-traditional format, it is bleak, stark, depressing, dystopian, and just didn't have me anticipating the gut-punch it gave me at the end. I remember staying up past 8 p.m. to finish it, b/c as depressing as it is, it is still a really good book, and tearing up at the end, satisfied with the read. And as I got up to get ready for bed, I just kept thinking about it and within seconds, I was sobbing. It was so intense. I laughed at how ridiculous I was through my tears, and still didn't stop crying. I think I cried myself to sleep. It is the last book (with the exception of re-reading Harry Potter) that I have cried so hard while/after reading. I don't recommend it to everyone for the reasons I mentioned above, but for those who think they can handle it, it is completely worth it. Plus, it is also a yet-to-be-release movie starring Viggo Mortenson, and if you read it, you will realize how absolutely perfect he is for the role.

Now its your turn. What was a book that surprised you with tears at its intensity? What is your go-to crying read? What book do you remember first made you cry? I'm sure we have some overlapping tastes, just as I'm sure that different books and stories will elicit different reactions from us. But maybe we can all get a new book to add to our reading list and have a good ole cry over it. And I had some fun with this, so anticipate a film and t.v. version soon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Bright Spot in a Dusty Day

It is sandstorm season here in Tikrit, which means that Flo is going to spend every day hacking and coughing and pretending that every little cloud she sees is proof of worse sandstorms to come. It also means that getting out of Tikrit for any reason, by any means, is all the harder. So I approach my upcoming R&R with some trepidation. I will either get to Baghdad extremely early and have to find some way to spend my days in a place I remember to be as bad, if not worse, than Kuwait, or I miss my oppurtunity/flight and have to find some way to meet up with Kathy and Kyle later. But these are things to worry about in a few days.

In the meantime, I have to mention the amazing care package I got the other day from Tamara and Steven. Completely unexpected and entirely delightful, it is the best part of my week. They wrote little notes for every item, which just added to the amusement. My personal favorite that still makes me laugh out loud was attached to a mini "Daily Spanish for Dummies." It said (written by Steven): "Some Spanish to help for your trip to Greece. (Tamara in backgroung) 'Um, I think they speek Greek in Greece, not Spanish.' Me, 'Babe, I am the geography king. I won the Oakland geography bee in the 7th grade. Don't argue.' (Tamara rolls her eyes)."

Classic high jinx from these two.

It also included some chocolate yummies, gum, a "Middle-East Conflict for Dummies", EW, crosswords, a recycled bag, and a few other goodies. Thank you so much you was so very thoughtful and well-received. I love you both and I hope you had as much fun compiling this package as it seems you did.

On another note, I'm watching Firefly, lent to me by my very gracious sister, Sarah. With the way I'm plowing through it, I should be watching the movie shortly. I think I've mentioned on twitter that it is hard to keep watching knowing that it is going to end very soon. It only took a couple of episodes to become absolutely hooked to these characters and the unique stories that are told. So if anyone wants to talk Firefly in the future, I'm game.

Other than that, things are pretty much same old, same old. I have an Iraqi version of senioritis, where it is really hard for me to care/invest in anything I do here since the end is so near. I planned out my 2nd and 3rd R&R's with the intent of having the longest stretch of time behind me by the end of my 2nd, not realizing that I would come back so not wanting to work or do anything. And pretty much resenting anyone who dares ask me to learn anything new. I struggle every day to get through it and just keep telling myself that if I continue with this attitude, the gods will smite me and force me to stay another year, all b/c I counted my going home eggs before they hatched. I fear the time after this upcoming R&R most of all. The fact that it is hard to quit and just walk off will work in my favor here. For all those wondering, I will probably stay till mid-late July. I want to stay on so Dave can take his R&R, which he plans to take at the beginning of July, and then hang for a week after, so I don't thrust the whole program at him immediately after he lands. I don't think there will be anyone new to train, b/c word on the downlow is that they are cutting back so much here, there will only be one project controls person (that's what I do, if you are confused). So naturally it would be Dave...and hopefully he isn't thinking the same about me.

I miss you all dearly and really don't know what half of you are doing right now/how you are doing. Heck, I'll call you out...that way, if someone else knows how you are doing, they can shoot me an email. Juli, Kirsti...hmmm, not as many as I thought. I've gotten a couple of cards from Elise, so I know she is well enough to address an envelope, I talk to mom and dad weekly, so I know how the pets are (and every story delights me more than the last), Sarah blogs regularly, Steven and Tamara just sent me a package, so they are doing fine, talked to Em last week and despite being the caretaker of a male sickhouse, her crew is doing fine (headed back from Wisconsin, if I believe), so yeah, that just leaves Kirsti and Juli. Are they alive? Are they well? Someone drop me a line and let me know.

Have a great day of the dead (what I used to think Cinco de Mayo stood for and would wish people, and I find it so amusing how wrong I was that I continue to do it)!!