Handle with Care

60. Handle With Care: Write about a very fragile or delicate object.

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

OUCH!

Having children under the age of five can be exhausting.

Our three-year-old is especially… Physical.

We’re pretty sure he’s at least bruised (if not broken) Chico’s ribs. The other day, after spending an afternoon in the play room with him, I felt like I’d been in a full-out brawl.

He doesn’t stop jumping on me, climbing on me, and otherwise being ALL-OUT ON ME.

The Kato to my Inspector Clouseau

The other day, when describing this state of affairs to my friends, one of them said,

“So, he’s the Kato to your Inspector Clouseau?”

It took me a second, because it’s been years and years since I’ve seen any of the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. Then I started laughing until I had tears in my eyes.

Yes! That is EXACTLY IT!

Yup. This is pretty much how it goes in our house.

Mama is Fragile!

I feel this is very true today.

I had a dermatologist appointment, and different parts of me were frozen, sliced, prodded, pressed, scraped, squeezed and sewn up.

The last time I had any kind of anesthetic was in childbirth three years ago, and everyone feels pretty drained after giving birth.

When the dermatologist told me this morning that I might feel tired and woozy after having a local anesthetic, I mentally brushed her off.

By noon, however, I had realized what she meant.

It’s probably age catching up with me (like it’s been doing for a while, now), but man! I feel completely drained.

Handle With Care

I’m lucky to have natural strength. I’m no delicate flower. But I’ve been particularly struck in the last few weeks at how my body, while still incredibly strong, experiences stresses differently.

Whether it’s the stress of lack of sleep, an attack-child, or a local anesthetic. My body feels these more acutely, and seems more sensitive than in former years.

This is why I am that much more grateful that I have taken the step of adding exercise to my routine.

With this small change of 30 minutes every couple of days, I feel more equal to the physical demands of parenthood, and of life in general.

My body is naturally powerful. Now, it feels like that power can be sustained. And it feels amazing.

Refreshed

59. Refreshed: Write a poem about a time you really felt refreshed and renewed. Maybe it was a dip into a pool on a hot summer day, a drink of lemonade, or other situation that helped you relax and start again.

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

A cool drink of water;
A hot cup of tea.

A long night’s sleep;
A short power nap.

A long-distance phone call;
A cosy tête-à-tête.

An intense workout;
A lazy afternoon on the couch.

A noisy family gathering;
Silent companionship.

Engaging in creativity;
Completing mindless busywork.

However it comes,
Enjoying the delicious feeling of being
Refreshed.

In the Dark

58. Darkness: Write a poem or journal entry inspired by what you can’t see.

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

I think about what my boys don’t see.

Or, more like, I wonder what they do see, but simply take for granted.

For example, the fact that their mother stays home. Or the fact that they are privileged.

The fact that their laundry gets done and put away. Their lunchboxes get filled, their dinners are made. Someone works his butt off to make money so they can enjoy a paddling pool and Disney+.

I Once Was Blind

I didn’t even think twice about any of that stuff as a kid. Any kid from a privileged background doesn’t need to.

It’s only as an adult that I understand how hard my parents worked to make things nice for us. And that I realize what hard work it actually is.

But Now I See

While acknowledging that I am extremely privileged, I can also recognize that being a parent is difficult. Marriage itself is hard work.

And so, I want my boys to see something else, and learn to also take it for granted:

Their parents take time to do things for themselves, and as a couple.

Whether it’s their father going for a run, their mother sitting down to the piano, or calling a babysitter (remember when we could do that?) to go out on a date night.

When They’re Older

None of this will register now, of course. They’re too little.

But when they’re older, I hope they’ll see the light.

They’ll look back at our family life and see each individual take time for themselves.

I hope they’ll learn that it’s not selfish to do this. By taking the time to do things we love, we’re keeping ourselves healthier and happier, and better able to do the hard work of marriage and parenting.

But man, we’re still tired.

Accursed Alarm Clock

57. Alarm Clock: Write about waking up.

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

Every. Damn. Day.

Every day it is just so hard to wake up.

Even the days I get to sleep in. It’s always a battle to drag this ol’ bag of bones out of bed.

I’ve Tried Everything

Going to bed early (that is also really hard). No screen time before bed. No coffee or tea too late in the day. Exercise earlier in the day, rather than later…

And yet, no matter what I do to ensure a good night’s sleep, it’s a struggle to wake up in the morning.

The Snooze Game

When the alarm goes off at six, I immediately smash the snooze button. Ten more blissful minutes.

The radio turns on again at 6:10 and WHAM! Snooze again.

By 6:20 I’m starting to feel a bit guilty, so this time I leave the radio on, but turn the volume way down.

Now I start to have some really weird dreams. Snippets of the radio come through and suddenly I’m having trippy dreams about the news stories.

I’m only startled out of these strange half-dreams at 6:45 when my kids run in and jump on the bed.

Nothing Helps

I’ve tried a simple buzzing alarm, bird song, wind chimes, classical music…

Waking up still sucks.

It’s not like I’m a night owl, either. It’s just that I could easily sleep 10 hours a night and still feel like I’m not getting enough.

What To Do?

I dunno. Any suggestions?

A change of diet perhaps? Or am I simply not a morning person and never will be?

Whatever the case, man. Waking up is hard to do.

Challenge Accepted

56. Photograph: Write a story or journal entry influenced by a photograph you see online or in a magazine.

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

Wait, What Challenge?

What is challenging about taking a selfie and posting it online?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve posted mine. But how many of the black and white “Challenge Accepted” Instagram photos you’ve seen in the last few days really say anything?

There is nothing challenging about putting a selfie on Instagram and writing some feel-good words about the women we love. It is just that: feel-good. It’s nice to see.

It’s not a challenge.

The Challenge is Facing Reality: Femicide

Why are these photos in black and white? It stems from a practice in Turkish media of publishing black and white photos of murder victims.

https://twitter.com/imaann_patel/status/1288080743198068736?s=21

The rate of femicide in Turkey, according to an article published in the Guardian, is shockingly high.

Most of these women have been murdered by a close male relative or acquaintance (husband, father, ex-boyfriend). Several individual, community and societal factors contribute to this high rate of femicide and violence against women.

This Problem Isn’t Just in Turkey

It might be easy for someone reading this in Europe or North America to think that this isn’t a problem here.

That is absolutely wrong.

According to the UN, rates of violence against women and girls have increased the world over since the beginning of the pandemic.

This isn’t just happening in Turkey, or in some other faraway country.

It’s happening in your home town.

A New Challenge

I’m no influencer. No celebrity. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and participated in these largely meaningless “challenges” before (anyone remember the black square from a couple months ago?).

But I do have this modest platform, and so I am challenging all the strong, beautiful, intelligent and wonderful women I know and love who read this to take action.

Donate to your local women’s shelter. Take food. Do some research into your area. Volunteer (where it’s safe, what with covid and all).

Also, if you buy frequently on Amazon, consider shopping at smile.amazon.com. There are hundreds of charities listed through smile.amazon and you can choose from national to local groups to support. Each time you purchase on through the smile.amazon url, a portion of your purchase is donated to the charity you select.

But Don’t Forget the Pics

I do love seeing the photos of the women I know and love.

Please keep ’em coming!

I’m just asking we add substance to the feel-good nature of the exercise.

Holding Hands

55. Holding Hands: The first time you held someone’s hand.

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

At first it was a tentative touch,
Soon our hands reached for each other
Seemingly without thinking.
Mine tucked nicely into his.

Hands cradled together,
Hands on each other’s backs.
Hands thrown up in frustration,
Hands clasping each other, seeking forgiveness.

Hands held together in prayer,
Before family and loved ones.
Hands joined by the priest,
His ring on mine, my ring on his.

Hands on my growing belly,
Feeling little wriggles and kicks.
Hands squeezing through pain,
Relaxing with relief.

Little tiny, brand new hands,
Closing tightly around ours.

Two more little hands,
Little hands I watch grow.

Little hands I never want to let go.

Dear Diary

54. Dear Diary: Write a poem or short story about a diary entry you’ve read or imagined.

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

Dear Diary,

Here are some observations I’ve made today:

  • My hair will never grow my “natural color” again.
  • Speaking of hair, I now feel the need to purchase beauty products called “No Mo-Stache.”
  • Eyebrow gel is a thing!
  • I LOVE my minivan. Yup. My minivan. I used to dream of a robin’s egg-blue convertible Fiat 500. Now I love my minivan.
  • I can (and probably should) use pore strips as an adult.
  • Spider veins are no longer in my future. They are in my present.

All these observations lead me to conclude the following:

Helloooooo Middle Age!

This is going to be FUN!

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?

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!