Acceptable Reasons to Cry in Public

Ok, lets just condense the
why-i-haven’t-been-here-in-a-year-or-so  into 
“i’m erratic” and move on,
because that is much less interesting than why I am here now.

I recently funded and participated in a Kickstarter art project, Acceptable Reasons to Cry in Public, a project by “a girl in Salt Lake City“, that  is a really cool example of what I think of as Urban Art Intervention. Here’s how the Kickstarter campaign was presented:

This past summer, my best friend and I found ourselves crying in public for various reasons and in various places (multiple sidewalks, a gas station, an auto parts stores, a concrete bench outside a law building). We made total spectacles of ourselves.

People who cry in public force everyone to witness—it’s completely embarrassing and also sort of awesome. We want our essay to perform this kind of spectacle. The kind where complete strangers are pulled into another person’s intimate grief—just by sharing the public space.

So! We’re printing our essay over four 11 x 17 broadside posters and posting the edition of 350 (that’s 1400 posters!) in multiple cities—hopefully yours!

When you support the project, you’ll not only be helping out with printing costs, material costs and shipping costs—you’ll also become one of our project curators (or distributors). This means we’ll send you the broadside essay. You’ll choose 3 posters to display somewhere in public (on a top-secret designated day in November) and keep the fourth as a thank you prize.

Help us out. It’s going to be rad.

How could anyone resist that?! The hardest part was deciding where to put them up. Although part of me wanted to hang them in some really cool, trendy part of Portland or somewhere iconic, like Powell’s Bookstore, …the other part wanted them to be in my neighborhood and/or places where people might be ready to cry, because I see a lot of folks that I think might need to cry in public, and seeing this hanging up somewhere might just subliminally say, “Hey, its okay — we all do it”.

MAGDolls Hair Parlor, Portland, OR

So I chose the shop of my favorite hair genius, Michelle at MAGdolls because she gets a very diverse group of folks in her shop, some of whom seem very likely to cry in public, and if you did need to cry, Michelle’s shop would be a very safe place to do it. Although I have not yet cried there, when I’m feeling sad I like to change the shape and color of my hair.

Mt Scott Community Center

Then I thought about the places where I have actually cried in public and I realized that it was usually in places where i felt sort of anonymous, part of a large crowd of people where i didn’t particularly stand out, places with nooks and crannies i could dip into if the crying became too much to hide. I thought of Mt. Scott Community Center where I sometimes go to swim. Although I haven’t cried there yet, it is not inconceivable that this could happen and this would be the type of place I could do it in and not feel completely exposed. Looking at the picture just now I imagined the person putting up the lost pet poster and how they were probably crying while they did it. And even though the Community Center looks pretty ritzy, it is located in a park that used to be a druggie hangout, in my neighborhood in the somewhat blighted area of outer Southeast Portland called “Felony Flats”. What my friend refers to as living in “the Deep, Deep South”. There are most likely people with all sorts of reasons to cry in public here.

On my way out of the center, contemplating the third site, I spotted a lonely looking bus stop. I have done much public crying over the years on, or waiting for, public transportation. I realized I didn’t have any tape and then I had a brilliant idea. I would go to “I’ve Been Framed”, my favorite local art store, get tape, ask them to put a poster up there (because probably artists are a large “cry-in-public” demographic) and then put the fourth poster up with tape at the bus stop. I purchased my transparent duct tape (along with a cool new sketch book and some pens!) and headed for the bus stop. Sadly, when I got there and looked in my envelope there was only the cardboard piece to prevent bending. I’m not sure what happened to the last poster. If I find it somewhere I will drive straight to that bus stop.

I’ve Been Framed Art Store, Portland, Oregon

In the meantime, if you are at a bus stop and you need to cry–go ahead, we all do it sometimes.


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9 Responses to “Acceptable Reasons to Cry in Public”

  1. agogo22 Says:

    Reblogged this on msamba.

  2. a girl in SLC Says:

    hey, i’d love to send you a set to replace the 4th that went mysteriously missing. I just have artist proofs, but they’re just as good. message me through kickstarter.

    • eileen2000 Says:

      that would be awesome! thank you. I am excited to be able to put it up at the bus stop!! I’ll contact you when I get home from work.

    • eileen2000 Says:

      as I posted to Eileen E in the above post, I think I know where it is now and I will be picking it up soon.

  3. Eileen E Says:

    My name is Eileen too. And I saw your poster at “I’ve been framed.” It almost made me cry. Can you please post up your paragraph for all to see? It was beautiful. And thank you.
    The Other Eileen

    • eileen2000 Says:

      thank you, Eileen. I am so happy that you were touched by this. I know so often I am trying to project having it together when i’m in public, no matter what is really going on. Seeing a reminder that we all feel grief, sometimes so uncontrollable that we break the taboo against crying in public, is important I think. I will post my paragraph up with it when i go to retrieve the other poster (“I’ve Been Framed” kindly let me know that I had accidentally left two there, so I will be picking one up to take to the bus stop on my days off). Thank you again for responding. the other other eileen

  4. stantonclark1 Says:

    I swore i would not cry, but the post office guy asked me how I was, and I had to say Bad. He really cared that my wife left me, and I sobbed, trying to control it. Let it out more in the parking lot. Went back to the cafe I swore I would not cry at again, but there was music playing, and it freakin made me fall apart again. $11 bucks for a sandwich and an empanada, got tears on my new book, “How to break your addiction to a person.” Went to the park to stretch out, beautiful shiny sun made me collapse into a ball, shaking from my tormented attachments to what I still feel as true love. Went to another park, and watched a great game of Ultimate frisbee, laughing at the super playful goodness, and the glory of real team dynamics. FUN! I only cried a little cause it was just so beautiful to see real sportsmanship and chaos and cheering and unpredictability. I want to put up posters that demand that people show their sadness in public, dammit. So many freakin happy beautiful people seem non compassionate and selfish, until they are forced to witness humanizing suffering. Who is the next stranger I will get to express care for?

    • eileen2000 Says:

      Thank you for sharing here. It is hard to admit to so much vulnerability. I find that a very brave thing.
      Your post made me think of something i read this morning. I get the daily truthbomb from Danielle la Porte and today it was:

      let yourself be shattered

      I instantly felt myself recoil from that thought, but i’ve been thinking about it alot. I think crying in public is letting yourself
      be shattered without shame. I agree, maybe if more of us would show our real, unvarnished selves in public it would ignite others
      compassion toward themselves and others.

      sending thoughts of warmth to you, eileen

    • eileen2000 Says:

      thank you so much for sharing this. It is easy to forget how much pain can be hidden behind the surfaces.

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