Top Five Movies That Made Me Cry

53. Tear-Jerker: Watch a movie that makes you cry. Write about that scene in the movie.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Please Tell Me It’s Not Just Me…

But ever since having kids, I CRY LIKE A BABY in movies.

Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? It’s especially bad if it involves crying children, parents being separated from children, children losing parents, children getting lost, or anything in that vein.

Not that I’ve ever been particularly stoic when it comes to films. I was known to have a good cry at the movies even before having kids.

Here’s a list of the top five movies that made me cry.

1. Life is Beautiful

This is the first film I remember really breaking down and weeping in.

I saw it with my family in NYC when I was a teenager, and I remember going to the bathroom with my mother after the movie ended and helping her fix her mascara.

What’s wonderful about this movie is the combination of comedy and drama, which makes it all the more poignant.

2. Schindler’s List

I ugly cried during this film, it’s true. But that very fact annoys me.

See, I have this beef with Steven Spielberg. Yeah, the dude knows what he’s doing (he’s one of the world’s most successful film makers, after all), but he plays unabashedly on people’s emotions.

“How is that different from ‘Life is Beautiful,'” you ask? There is no subtlety to Spielberg. He whacks you over the head with his point, driving it home with a sledgehammer.

For example, as Liam Neeson playing Schindler weeps at the end of the film saying, “I could have saved more!” the discerning viewer already KNEW he felt that way! You didn’t have to state the obvious!

Okay, all that to say that I ugly cried in this film and still hate myself for it.

3. Of Mice and Men

I don’t know what was up with me when I saw this, but I just lost it. The friends I was watching it with thought they had scarred me for life.

It was in high school at a New England boarding school. My advisor, the dean of the school lived on campus and she would let students use her living room to study, have group meetings, or just hang out and watch TV.

“Of Mice and Men” was showing on TV. The awkward part is that the gun shots were edited out for the TV audience, so you had some guesswork to do to figure out exactly what was happening.

It was pretty obvious, though, and I cried like I’d never cried in a movie before.

4. Mary Poppins

You weren’t expecting this one, were you?? Yeah, I choke up each and every time I watch this movie. We own it on DVD and have a DVD player in the car. We’ve watched it three times in the last month on long car rides. I still get a lump in my throat every time.

Don’t ask me why. It’s the poignancy of it, I guess. That, and Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I know what you’re thinking, but wait! Don’t judge!

Chico and I sat down to watch this film shortly after our first son was born. At one point, James Franco’s character has to leave his incredibly intelligent chimp in an animal shelter, and walk away.

I was postpartum. I couldn’t handle it. Enough said.

A Couple Others for Good Measure:

6. Coco: You cannot tell me you didn’t cry at the beginning of this movie. YOU CANNOT HONESTLY TELL ME THAT.

7. Up: Ditto for this one. I mean, COME ON! They fall in love as children! They dream of traveling together! They lose the baby! They grow old together! She gets sick AND DIES! I was weeping.

There Are Probably More…

I have definitely cried or at least teared up in other films. But these are the big ones I remember.

Which movies always get you crying?

Un-creatively Creative

This may not make any sense, but I’ve never thought of myself as creative.

Sure, I write. And I knit. And lately I’ve been playing the piano. I acted in plays and musicals for years as a teen and young adult. I’ve even dabbled in drawing and painting.

Not Much Spark

I just don’t consider myself creative because I always follow some kind of pattern or model.

When knitting, I follow a pattern. I always drew best when I was looking at something, rather than from the imagination. Even in teaching, I would hash out ideas for lessons and activities with colleagues, or search online for inspiration.

But it’s the execution I’m pretty good at. And it’s the act of creating that I enjoy.

Creativity in Pandemic

Since the pandemic started, I’ve found it helpful to add creativity to my daily life.

I set myself this writing challenge, which, though sometimes a bit of a pain, has also been a fantastic exercise.

Since we got a piano, I’ve been sneaking in about an hour of practice each day. I’ve been slowly plugging away at my knitting (though the warm weather slows that down).

It’s turned out to be hugely important for keeping myself sane.

Creative Escape

For the short while that I’m writing, knitting or playing, I am taken away from the reality of confinement and the anxiety of this situation. When I’m writing, knitting or playing, those things don’t matter.

I’m an extremely social person, this is true. But this pandemic has helped me find resources within myself for coping with the isolation.

I’m tapping into a creative energy I didn’t know I had.

My Outlet

I’m far from being 100% okay in this situation. There are days when I’m practically climbing the walls.

But having a creative outlet has been wonderful. (It also helps that I’ve added exercise to my daily routine.)

So often we’re told to cut something out to feel better. Cut out sugar, alcohol, Facebook or TV. Sure, sometimes things do need to be cut out.

But what about the benefit of adding things in?

Tell Me About It

What do you want to add to your daily routine? What would make you feel better? What would make you feel more like yourself?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Memory Lane

52. Memory Lane: What does Memory Lane look like? How do you get there?

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Today, a piano is taking me down Memory Lane.

I can hear my mother nagging me to practice piano as a child. I can see the little upright we had in my childhood home. I can hear my brother playing “The Entertainer.”

Fast forward nearly twenty years since I last had a piano lesson. A piano has fallen in my lap.

(Not literally.)

Friends were clearing some things out of their home and offered us their old spinet piano. It hasn’t been tuned in twenty years, but hey! It’s a free piano!

Well, turns out nothing is really free.

The tuner came in on Tuesday and opened it up. I heard a tentative clearing of the throat.

“Jane…? I need to ask you a question.”
“Yes?” I said.
“Did you spend any money to move this piano here?”
“No… Why?”
“Well there’s that, at least.”

The bass bridge is cracked and there’s what looks like mold in the bottom of the piano.

Essentially, the piano sounds like crap and will always sound like crap unless we pay about $800 to repair the bridge. Even then, the sound is nothing special.

The question is, is the piano worth this much?

The tuner was wonderful. She didn’t charge me for coming out, and she gave outlined three possibilities:

  1. We repair the crack in the bridge ($800 as previously mentioned).
  2. We ignore the crack in the bridge, tune the piano and know that it won’t be a stable tune and the crack could get worse.
  3. We replace the piano.

We looked around a bit online at Craig’s list and Facebook marketplace to see what was on offer. Turns out, a lot of people are trying to get rid of pianos for free (since they know whoever takes them will have to pay professionals to move them).

It also turns out that people who are trying to get rid of pianos are happy to open them up and send me pictures of the instrument’s innards.

So now I’ve identified a promising piano. I know how much it would cost to get it here and to haul out the old one. I know how much it would cost to get the new (old) piano tuned up and repaired.

The question is:

How much am I willing to spend on a “free” piano?

And all because I want to remember how to play?

Sunrise, Sunset

51: Sunrise/Sunset: The sun comes up, the sun goes down. It goes round and round. Write something inspiring about the sunrise or sunset.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

Do I have to write something inspiring? Can’t I just write something inspired by the sunrise or sunset?

Not Inspired (or Inspiring)

Why is it, that instead of feeling inspired by today’s writing prompt, I feel annoyed? “[The sun] goes round and round.” No, it does not! The EARTH goes round and round! What are you, a flat-earther? Do you believe the solar system is geocentric??

Anyway. I’m going to use today’s prompt as a kick-off into a subject that is pressing on my mind right now.

At Sunset Last Night…

Our local school board had convened and was debating.

They were debating whether or not to go back on their plan to offer both hybrid and 100% distance learning for Fall 2020, and to offer only 100% distance.

The superintendent had come out with a recommendation to cancel the hybrid learning option and go to only 100% distance learning, despite pressure from the white house.

By Sunrise Today…

The school board had voted. For the school year starting in September, our kids will all be staying home.

As I wrote earlier this month, I had agonized over the choice between 100% distance and hybrid learning for our rising kindergartener.

Now, I’m just annoyed that they put me through that emotional upheaval, only to remove the options.

Through the Wringer

Did we all really have to ride that rollercoaster? Was that absolutely necessary? Did I have to spend those days anxiously doubting? Did I have to shed those tears?

Nope. Turns out I didn’t.

I’m not going to criticize the school board’s decision. The decision is what it is, and given the state of things, hardly surprising.

But I am ticked off that they didn’t just make this call earlier and spare us the headache and trouble.

No One Knows

And yes, I know, I know. No one really knows what’s going to happen. But numbers have been going back up for a while now, and health experts have been warning that we’re not even out of the first wave, much less into the second.

So yeah, this is probably the right call. But it could have been made much earlier and at much less anxiety to parents had everyone just agreed to trust public health experts in the first place.

Anyway

That’s all I really have to say. Nothing new. Nothing inspiring. Just that at sunset last night, we thought things were going one way. By sunrise this morning, we learned they’re going another.

And I now have this song stuck in my head:

You’ll be singing it all day, too now. You’re welcome!

4_great_reasons_to_take_kids_outside

A Quick Reminder

When our Bug was little, I wrote an article about not talking about your kids.

Not because it’s annoying to other people (alright, a little bit because of that). But mostly because our kids are people whose privacy should be respected.

Today, I was reminded why I wrote that article.

Old Habits

I still slip into the bad habit of talking about my kids. The other day, I even went so far as to talk about them in front of them.

It makes me cringe to think about it. Our oldest is smart and observant, and he listened as I compared and contrasted him with his brother.

How was he not going to notice? I’m ashamed of myself.

The Consequences

So today, I shouldn’t have been baffled when the Bug did his best to live up to the picture I had painted of him earlier in the week.

We were having a social-distanced get-together for ice cream with distant relatives, some of whom we’d never met.

Suddenly, our Bug was behaving totally uncharacteristically. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.

He Explains

When we got home, he was still behaving strangely. He looked up at me with his big beautiful eyes and said, “Mama, I’m shy.”

At first I was miffed. But then I remembered the conversation he had overheard earlier in the week.

That’s when I realized that his weird behavior was on me.

All he wanted to do was try and live up to the description he had overheard me give of him. He’s a sensitive and sweet boy; of course he wants to conform to what he thinks his mama wants from him.

So Zip Up, Mama.

It killed me to see my son try and fit himself into a mould I’d made for him. A mould that, though perhaps true in some ways and at some moments, was too simplistic to be accurate.

It’s the same lesson I keep thinking I’ve learned: Zip it, lady. Stop it. Just don’t talk about your kids.

But I can talk with my kids. And in the morning, I think the first thing I need to say to my son is, “I owe you an apology.”

Power Trippin’ No

50. Just Say No: Write about the power you felt when you told someone no.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

“No.”

Such a tiny little word, and yet! And yet how powerful!

I’ve come up with lots of different ways to say “no” these days. As a mom, I think it’s important to have a variety of ways to destroy your child’s happiness.

“Now’s not the time, love.”
“Not likely.”
“Never in a million years.”
“Heck no!”
“What, do you think I’m stupid or something?”
“Ix-nay.”
“Let’s all have a big tall glass of nope.”

It feels like I have a whole arsenal of “no” weapons, ready at a moment’s notice!

A Bit Carried Away

At one point, though, I realized that perhaps it was getting a bit excessive.

This dawned on me when my three-year-old threw himself on the floor and screamed when I told him, “No, you can’t play the piano.”

That’s normal, you think. Any three-year-old would throw a fit about something like that.

True, but hear me out.

I have fairly high noise tolerance. This piano has survived lessons from four kids: it’s not like it’s delicate. My kids aren’t that rough. We had just finished one activity and hadn’t yet moved on to another. He had washed his hands and everything.

Could It Be That…

Perhaps I was saying “no” too much??

But how can that be?! I must be FIRM with my children! They can’t have everything they want!

This is true. They cannot have everything they want. But not everything has to be a battle. After all, we got the piano for the kids to enjoy!

So after watching him scream for a minute, I thought to myself, “Do I really care enough about this situation to worry about seeming inconsistent if I change my mind?”

The answer was (you guessed it!), NO. No, I didn’t care that much.

“You know what, love? Why not? Of course you can play the piano. Go ahead.”

Picking Your Battles

His face immediately cleared, and he clambered up onto the piano stool and started plonking away. He didn’t last long, and soon became interested in his trains.

Noise gone. Happy child. Happy mother.

That was a battle that didn’t need to happen. Others definitely need to happen (like reasonable bedtime, brushing your teeth and OMG STOP EATING TOOTHPASTE HOW DID YOU FIND IT GAAAAAAH).

But when we’re all cooped up at home together, and things are tough enough as it is, picking your battles is an important skill to learn.

It’s also good to realize that sometimes…

“Yes” Is Powerful, Too

(Or, if “yes” feels too permissive, try, “What the heck? Knock yourself out, kid.”)

The Joke

49. Joke Poem: What did the wall say to the other wall? Meet you at the corner! Write something inspired by a favorite joke.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

A good joke is honest.

I find things funniest when they are unexpected, blunt and have a strong element of truth.

The Beginning of Life

A Catholic priest, a Protestant priest and a Rabbi are arguing about the beginning of life.

The Catholic priest says, “Life begins at conception!”

The Protestant priest says, “No, no! Life begins at birth!”

The Rabbi looks at his colleagues in wonder and says, “Are you kidding? Life begins when the kids move out of the house and the dog dies.”

Lost in Translation

As a mother of young children, I can definitely see the truth in that joke.

But it’s a rare joke that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. The joke above would probably not seem all that funny to my family in Spain. While some of the jokes they tell are completely lost on me.

And that got me thinking…

About Monty Python

Because Monty Python is funny in whatever language. Am I right? Of course I’m right.

Cake Exhaustion

I’m too tired to write.

Why? Because I decorated a cake today.

And then ate too much of it.

Our Bear turned three today, and BOY is he three. You know. A threenager. He’s adorable, hilarious, fun, funny and EXHAUSTING.

He requested a Thomas-themed birthday with a “Thomas cake.” Luckily, what a “Thomas cake” actually was was up to me.

Inspired

I wanted my cake to look like this beaut’ from Living Well Mom:

What I got was this:

Two things are evident here:

  1. My phone is old and the camera is crap;
  2. My cake decorating skills are not as good as Living Well Mom’s.

Here’s another view for good measure:

The Reception

“It’s Thomas!” he shouted as I approached with the cake. He was delighted.

But then he realized that the Thomas on the cake was actually his toy mini Thomas (thoroughly washed before being placed on the cake). And he was none too pleased about that.

Here he is, removing Thomas from the cake:

The cake was delicious. The buttercream frosting was particularly tasty.

(It helped that the cake was the devil’s food cake box from Betty Crocker. Hey, my time and effort went into the decorating, NOT the baking.)

Happy birthday to our little man. Here’s to another waltz around the sun with you.

Written in the Stars

48. The Stars: Take inspiration from a night sky. Or, write about a time when “the stars aligned” in your horoscope.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

I swear this story is true.

I don’t really believe in “signs”. I’ve never read my horoscope or bothered much about fate or superstition.

(Except I think it’s a scientifically proven fact that bad stuff happens in threes.)

A-Courtin’

About ten years ago now, my Chico and I had just started dating.

We went to restaurants, for walks, picnics, to concerts.

We watched Spain blaze its way to victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and ended the night of the final dancing in a fountain with every other Spaniard in Geneva.

By mid-July, though we had only started dating in April, it was pretty clear to me that this man was very special.

A Separation

But I was getting set to leave. I was headed to the UK to do a one-year masters program.

We also learned that summer that my Chico would be moving to Montreal the following year.

It was time to make some big decisions:

Was I serious about this guy or not?

The Truth

Alright, alright, since I swore at the top that this story is true, I cannot lie to you now.

By mid-July not only was it clear that this man was special, but we had also explicitly said that we were meant for each other and that I’d join him in Canada after I finished my MA.

So no real tension there.

BUT! There was a sign!

Our last weekend together in Switzerland before I left for the UK, we spent up in the Jura. We cycled by a mountain lake, and finished the day with a delicious dinner in a cozy mountain inn.

After dinner we took a walk.

If you’ve ever spent the night in the mountains, you know just how dark it gets. And consequently, just how bright the stars are.

Wrapped up in sweaters and each other, we gazed skyward. My Chico is an astronomy enthusiast, and helped me spot some of the constellations I didn’t know.

We found Arcturus, the brightest star in the summer sky. I remember feeling warm with contentment despite the chilly mountain air.

Chico turned to walk back to the inn, but I lingered for a moment. In that brief instant, I saw a shooting star streak across the sky.

It was like a private sign from the heavens:

He’s the one.

Ten years later, he still is.

From Darkness to Light

47. Light Switch: Write about coming out of the dark and seeing the light.

https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

My mother died three years ago today.

It happened so quickly that it knocked me breathless.

There were signs, of course, but a combination of surprise and denial kept me from truly believing it would happen until the very morning of the day.

Still Kicking Myself

When my dad called that morning, we should have jumped in the car and driven to her.

I was so pregnant, though, that we all thought it wasn’t a good idea.

But then, when he called again that afternoon and said she was really failing, we made up our minds to go.

I still kick myself for waiting. She died while we were on our way there.

Pitch Black

It was after one in the morning by the time we arrived. Though it was summer, I just remember the blackness of the night.

Mom’s hospital room was dimmed, and everything was still and quiet. Dad was on the phone making the necessary arrangements, speaking in hushed tones.

Looking at her lying so peacefully, it seemed like the only light in the room was the lingering light from her face. Her face had always radiated light, love and joy. The longer I looked, the dimmer she seemed to grow.

By the time we got back to my parents’ place, it seemed to me like I would never see her light again.

Two Days Later

It was blindingly bright as my brother opened the passenger side door for me and gingerly helped me out of the car.

We had three stops to make that Monday morning: first, the funeral home. Next, the clinic where she died. Finally, the church, to prepare the service.

It was mid-July and hot as blazes. I was enormous. Sweat poured liberally from my forehead as I slowly lumbered from the car to each destination. (Only the clinic was air conditioned, and I remember being very reluctant to leave.)

With each trip back and forth to the car, my father and brothers looked at me anxiously. They’re all fathers. They all knew the signs.

It wasn’t until we pulled into the garage at home that the first contraction hit.

Showtime

I held tightly to my brother’s hand as I stood and breathed through the first contraction.

His face said it all: anxiety, panic, worry, hope.

In the apartment, my husband and son were preparing lunch for us all. I heaved myself to my mother’s chair and eased myself in, closing my eyes. It felt like her arms were wrapping around me, and I could feel the comfort of her presence.

I looked up to find five pairs of anxious male eyes were fixed on me.

“Nobody panic,” I said. “But I’ve had three contractions, and each one is coming two minutes faster than the last.”

It was noon.

A Bit of a Hurry

Everyone but me had a quick lunch. My husband downed a cup of much-needed coffee.

Dad spread a towel over the back seat of the car and we drove to the hospital.

I had to give my entire medical history between contractions (this was complicated by the fact that they were coming fast and furious by now). The midwife was so kind and patient. She made a note of the circumstances in my file.

It went so quickly, all I remember is the kindness and efficiency of the midwives, and the steady comforting presence of my Chico.

Before I knew it, it was time to push.

Contractions had started at noon, and before 5pm our little Bear was cradled on my chest.

The Light Returns

I can’t possibly describe the combination of grief and joy I felt in that moment.

Just as the light had seemed to fade from my mother’s face two nights before, now it seemed to appear in my child’s face.

As I held him to me, a radiance grew in him. The same light that his grandmother shone with so beautifully while she lived.

It was as if her life was igniting again in him.