Hi readers! Yes — I took a little break during the last two weeks of July, and I hope you did, too. I had my grandkiddos with me and just … wanted to be with them instead of being out in the world.
Which leads me to this week’s theme: TEARS.
Any time spent with children leads to tears, because crying is not only an inevitable reaction to the lumps and bumps of life, but I believe that crying is also helpful, cleansing, and cathartic. We need to do it.
I recently took to Twitter to ask about crying. Here is a sampling of my many many replies.
[Caution: If you click on these, you will be directed to Twitter and might become frustrated to the point of tears! Just scroll down through.]
I cry almost every day, for almost any reason. The older I get, the more rheumy-eyed I become — but I’ve stopped regretting my outcries. They are a reminder of my own humanity.
This interesting story from Time Magazine explores the science behind crying. Humans are the only animals who are brought to actual tears by emotions. Tears are one way we demonstrate our vulnerability.
But where do tears really come from? One interesting early theory:
“A prevailing theory in the 1600s held that emotions—especially love—heated the heart, which generated water vapor in order to cool itself down. The heart vapor would then rise to the head, condense near the eyes and escape as tears.”
(I like a good heart-heating now and then…)
But are tears useful? Despite my own catharsis theory, according to researchers, crying really does not seem to have a physical benefit.
And yes — unlike me and everyone I know, evidently some people don’t cry. Ever. Poor souls.
For the rest of us:
Railey Jane Savage’s JUNK FOOD: Things I consume to feel better.
THIS VEIL OF TEARS
“First: calm down, everyone. I know it’s “VALE” of tears, but bear with me.
As readers will have surmised by now, my grandmother—Jane—was a driving force in what media I consumed, and how I consumed it. Jane is perhaps the only person I’ve known who could re-watch movies as often as me. She would watch, and rewatch, and rewatch. She would wake you up in the middle of the night because something she loved was playing on cable; Jane would quietly coax you from sleep with the urgent whisper, “Come watch this with me; it’s never on…”
I think Jane’s heart must have (safely) skipped two beats the day I showed up to her porch with the library’s plastic-encased VHS copy of A Room with a View. We watched it that afternoon, and many, many times after. We reveled in the beautiful absurdity of the sumptuous settings and costumes juxtaposed with supposedly classy people doing inane things. Don’t get it twisted, readers: Room is an enduring and lovely portrait of Edwardian coming of age, but it’s filled with silliness. Merchant/Ivory’s 1985 film highlights this beautifully.
But what has stuck with me most profoundly in the interceding 25 years since she and I first watched the tape, was Jane’s reaction to the climactic scene wherein the frazzled Lucy Honeychurch finally admits her love for the enigmatic George Emerson. Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Lucy captured a wide-eyed wonder with an existential veneer that, I’d argue, remains relevant to today’s teens. But when the façade crumbles and her emotions let loose, Lucy cries for the first and only time in the film. Tears stream from her eyes and snot drips from her nose down her chin. At this Jane said, “She looks terrible: that’s not acting--that’s feeling.”
Tiny though the comment was, it has stuck with me because it confirmed something I’d suspected; feelings are messy. Even today, if I’m having a hard time and my face is red and wet from racking sobs and I’m tempted to hide, I think to myself, “I look terrible: that’s feeling.”
Railey Jane Savage is the author of A Century of Swindles from Lyons Press. Available now for preorder for September, 2021 release.
Emily Mason’s Targeted Upsell (stuff the Internet wants me to buy)
“Good news, I have the cure for endless crying! (Well, for stress, but stress often causes crying - so there you go!)
I have been introduced to the Be Calm Patch. Thanks, Internet!
Apparently, within this little envelope is the solution to anxiety and stress! Slap one of the patches on your arm, and a combination of essential oils and “key ingredients” will help you decompress for the next 8 hours.
Forget about seeing a therapist or talking to a human friend about your worries, or taking prescribed medications, nothing is more relaxing than a sticky bandage soaked with smelly stuff!
Why am I seeing this?
I searched for good products for anxiety for...a friend. You don’t know them, their name is Schmemily.
Did they sell me?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here (or do I? ... I should examine that), but the Be Calm Patch definitely doesn't work.
(So calm, so cool, so not wearing the patch yet! Oops.)
The utter vagueness of their website roused my suspicions, so I reached out to my best friend, a professional biologist, for their opinion about Be Kind Patch’s effectiveness.
She just replied with a laughing emoji.
Wearing one of these will not scientifically reduce your stress, but it will trigger something; the placebo effect.
Granted, the placebo effect is no joke (just watch the episode of Freaks and Geeks when a bunch of teenagers get drunk on nonalcoholic beer). But good news: you don’t need Be Calm Patch to trigger the placebo effect. Save yourself the $16 plus shipping and slap a bandaid onto your arm. If you TELL yourself it’s a Be Calm Patch you’ll stop crying in a matter of minutes!”
Laura Likes: (Where my friend Laura recommends great stuff)
“When it's distractingly hot, and you want something just a little bit sweet and cold, and can't face the idea of a rich ice cream, you can always crank out a granita without too much trouble. Bonus: you get to keep opening the freezer to scrape the slurry a bit.
(I have too many strawberries! Better make Granita…)
It's almost ridiculously easy, especially if you have a lot of summer fruits around that maybe aren't super-beautiful, or maybe you just couldn't resist buying an entire flat of strawberries or a full bushel of peaches even though you knew you couldn't eat your way through them before they started to look a little bit the worse for wear. There are lots of recipes online, which are basically variations on:
1) make a fruit puree
2) add some simple syrup
3) toss in some kind of acidic juice for a bit of tartness
4) freeze it
5) scrape the top of the frozen fruit goop and flake off bits of the ice
6) freeze it some more
You can make granita out of basically any liquid, but be aware that the more sugar you put in, the less icy it will ultimately become. My husband likes tart granitas, like blood orange or grapefruit, which become challengingly shattery and icy. I tend to like somewhat sweeter options, like blueberry or strawberry, which admittedly I could make less sweet, but sometimes you want a granita experience that's a little more sorbet-like. Sometimes I'll use just use a slightly-sweetened full-fat coconut milk and eat that.
(If I'm feeling ambitious, I might put it through a food mill to strain out some of the teeny seeds, but you don't have to.)
It's an extremely versatile dish, and it ticks all the boxes I look for in a recipe: economical, not difficult, and appears labor intensive while actually being mostly an exercise in being patient while you wait for something to happen (in this case, ice crystals forming). You can use pretty much whatever liquid you like. It's a great way to use up fruits, it's cold, it's refreshing, and it's extremely easy.
(Sweet strawberry granita with chiffonaded basil on top)
OK my sweeties…! It’s another lovely week gone by.
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