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The internet has long been accused of being a toxic, harmful place, full of conflict and anonymous trolls. It’s hard to deny that, in a general sense, but let us brag on ourselves a little bit. Because since our launch in September 2016, The Prompt has largely avoided that awful spirit, instead finding real personal connection through creative writing, good ideas, and good people. Honestly, it’s been quite a tonic to meet strangers on the internet that are so deeply earnest and good in their souls. 

To extend that positive vibe into your lives a bit more, we’re starting a new content segment called This Prompts Joy, in which we will each share something positive or worthwhile that got us through the week. Each week, we will publish a miniprompt of the things that filled our cold, bleak, post-apocalyptic hearts with happiness, pride, gratitude, peace, interest, amusement, and so on.

Read on for our very first edition of this segment, where we prove our motto.

The Prompt Mag: Proof that the internet isn’t completely terrible™

Jillian Conochan

Who has two rollerboards and thought she arrived to the airport 3 hours early, only to discover she was, in fact, 21 hours late?

Yes, this happened, to me, on Sunday. Shout out to the following problem-solvers who helped get me through this harrowing experience: United Airlines, who got me on a flight the next morning; my colleague Lore, who let me crash on her couch; my colleague Mike, who volunteered to cover my shift at the gym; and the bag of mixed nuts that provided sustenance.

An equally big shout-out to Problemista, the delightful movie I watched in-flight, and you should too. Written, directed by (and produced by!) the most creative voice I’ve discovered in a decade, Julio Torres (if this means anything to you, I could tell Julio Torres was an Aquarius before Googling him), Problemista is an easy-to-follow story about an aspiring toymaker who needs to land his dream job before losing his work visa. Alejandro (Torres) falls into working for Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton, doing the absolute most), pinning his entire life on accomplishing the impossible tasks she hurls at him. Easter eggs abound, including the very last line of the credits, I just so happened to catch.

If you like eye-acting, the de facto leader of the Wu Tang Clan, and crafty visual jokes about Roosevelt Island, you won’t be disappointed with Problemista.

Jay Heltzer

In its heyday, I consumed the Harry Potter series, written by “She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named” both in the print version as well as the audiobook version performed by the amazing Jim Dale. The placating and authoritative voice of Mr. Dale, with the acting talent to personalize a then-record 146 different voices in the final book of the series, is so firmly planted in my memory, he creates an unavoidable expectation. Imagine my surprise then when I begin to listen to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, narrated again by Jim Dale. So… after a 7-book series about magic read by Jim Dale, I’m reading another book about magic read by Jim Dale. Other than one F-bomb early on, I keep waiting for him to read “Harryyyyyyyy” just as he portrayed Hermione’s voice. Talk about typecasting. Nonetheless, I could listen to Mr. Dale read my tax returns with the dramatic flair of the Battle of Hogwarts and become enraptured in the great retelling of my annual deductions.

Kelaine Conochan

Maya Angelou has written some of the most evocative and symbolic poetry of her generation, and yet, perhaps her most quoted line is beautifully plain. “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Sadly but truly, this is also my experience with literature. Even I, the intrepid editor/founder/unpaid intern of a creative writing publication, barely remember the books I read.

Is that tragic? Problematic? A sign of our decaying brains? Not to me, it’s not. Because girrrrl, have you ever reread your favorite books? Oh, what a treat! To relive the twists and turns of every plot with a vaguely imprinted recollection of what happened. To rekindle the spark you felt for a particular character. To retrace your finger over the expertly crafted prose of a masterful author.

This week, I started rereading David Benioff’s City of Thieves, which hasn’t come off my bookshelf since somewhere around 2020. I remembered so little of the story (set in Russia during World War II, two guys, a persistent feeling of cold), but I remembered loving it from cover to cover. Now, as tear through it at a speedy clip, it feels both familiar and new at the same time. I’m beginning to remember why I loved it so much, just in time to forget again.

Sarah Razner

This week, I was in charge of assisting in our email migration at work. As a naturally anxious person, made more anxious by the fact that things with technology rarely goes as planned, I had been dreading the day, and went in the Spider-Man inspired mentality “if you expect disappointment, you can’t be disappointed.”

Knowing that I was worried and that it was going to be a long process, my coworker bought me an açaí bowl from my favorite restaurant in town for lunch. It was such a sweet gesture that understanding and care added a bright spot to a day that I had clouded with anxiety.

To my surprise, the migration went better than I had anticipated, and I can’t help but think it was aided by that delicious bowl and kind friend.

Eric Mochnacz

Billionaires, AI, and the algorithm (and well, stupid racists) are ruining the Internet – making all of our digital communities almost uninhabitable. But every now and then, we, as a world wide web community, forever interconnected, all share in something GOOD.

It happened when Tracy Chapman performed “Fast Car” with Luke Combs. Overnight, people were sharing and resharing the video, and all of a sudden, hundreds and thousands of strangers were connecting and reflecting over how much the original song impacted. It felt like this is what the internet was made for, back when AOL sent their first “Free Hours” CD, and Tom decided to create something called MySpace.

I felt that again when my Instagram feed was bombarded with The View, of ALL things, because the Sister Act 2 cast reunited to sing two of the songs from the film with Whoopi Goldberg herself—in a habit, nonetheless. It brought me back to my college years, doing “Joyful, Joyful” as our RA staff lip sync performance. And again, it became a shared, collectively nostalgic experience for Millennials.

When it feels like the internet is now just created for Donald Trump and the rest of the evil GOP troglodytes to get free publicity, every now and then something joyful makes the rounds, and I reconsider deleting all the apps in pure disgust.

Also, a Peloton instructor told me she loved my “vibe” in 200th yoga class. And right now, there’s an apple pie baking in the oven. “Oh, happy day” indeed.

Devin Householder

Last night, my wife and I had dinner at Matunuck Oyster Bar on Narragansett Bay. It was our 34th wedding anniversary. This spectacular place right on the water was buzzing with joyful people: boat enthusiasts, rehearsal dinner parties, people enjoying this particularly beautiful space.

Our daughter, hostessing for a brief stretch between college graduation and a trip to Nepal with her boyfriend’s family, led us to table 205. The guy checking us in looked up and smiled at me. “Ah, the best table we have.” I smiled back. “We know a guy.”  We were literally right on the water, the evening air wafting in, a setting sun making the waterline glow a beautiful shade of purple. Between the wine, conversation, and admiring the in-house oyster fishing boat operation in action, we had the added pleasure of watching our daughter tend to neighboring tables, that sweet smile no doubt adding to their already great evening. A small slice of the most delicious chocolate tort (on the house, no less) would top off the evening.

Thirty-four years sure had its share of good, less good, and everything in between. And looking back on all of it, we both agreed there is no place we’d rather be at this moment in our lives then together, in this place. The three of us.

Dennis William

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Today, when I went looking for a good sandwich spot for Sunday dinner, did I expect the Bobby’s Holiday (Smoked Turkey, Pepper Jack, Lettuce, Pepperoncini, Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce, Mayo, and Salt & Pepper) at BodegaPDX to jump to the top of my personal list of Portland’s Best Sandwiches? No. Did I know that Jalapeño Cranberry Sauce was the thing I didn’t know was missing from my life? Also, no. Is a sandwich enough to bring joy to my weekend? Yes.

But my experience at BodegaPDX was transcendent. Not because of the sandwich, but because while I was eating the sandwich, the good folks working behind the counter were listening to a mashup of “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles and “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was). The mashup is called “Dear Dinosaur” by Neil Cicierega, and it is perfect. The song made the sandwich better; the sandwich made the song better. I am fully expecting this all to have been a dream. Even though I am currently listening to “Crocodile Chop” (“Crocodile Rock” + “Chop Suey”), which either means it’s real or the dream isn’t over.

The Prompt Staff

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