Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Sincerity Project or To Drexel, Part 3 (José)

A few weeks ago, the people of Best Day went to a writing workshop sponsored by Drexel’s Dornsife Center and FringeArts. Everyone who attended was given a free ticket to The Sincerity Project, a show that was devised by Makoto Hirano, the same person leading the writing workshop. Most of us said that we could see the Saturday June 8th matinee, but life got in the way as it often does. Joyce, for instance, made a point of leaving early so she could drive out there. Unfortunately, her car broke down, and then she took SEPTA and got some bad directions. As a result, she only made it to the show fifteen minutes before it finished. Fortunately, I was able to see the show with older buds Delores and Cara, and Best Day volunteer Victoria, and I even got a quick pic with Joyce.




So the gist of The Sincerity Project is that it’s  one biographical show that gets performed every two years. Each year they give updates on what happened to the cast during the past 2 or so years, and how that changed the show’s direction. One performer’s transitioning from male to female, for instance. One part of the show featured the oldest actor, the youngest actor, and a cooler full of soda. The minute the oldest member could no longer lift the cooler completely over his head, the younger would step in and help him. All in all, it felt very intimate, like you were invited to someone else’s living room.

Here's hoping today's story gives you that same feeling of insight:

José Dominiguez 03.14.2019There Are testimonies to Testimonies 
A long time ago when posing as a lawyer in México, a testimony was a personal corroboration to establish the existence of a fact. Some testimonies I coached were real, some were half true and some mere fantasy. I didn’t get into trouble because God is great. Some 30 years later I heard my brother’s Ramon testimony. He was a born again Christian after living a disastrous sinner life, according to his public testimony, which didn’t impress me too much — not because he didn’t touch upon those painful days, some of which I witnessed — but because of some [of the] inconsistencies that I identified as pure imagination.Obviously, the testimony changed each time he testified and embellished his encounter with Jesus to dramatize the impact on the public. This was the case when he stated that during his infancy and preadolescence the Bible was a prohibited book in our house and that it was hidden so none of us could read it. Nonsense! Since I have memory, I remember it was the biggest book in our library and because of its size, 2 by 1.5 feet, it was over a special table almost in the center of the room. Maybe he tried to present himself as a victim of a plot so he could not be in touch with Jesus.The next encounter I had with testimonies was when my wife and I become permanent legal residents or green card holders. As soon as we changed our address to El Paso, Texas, we were involved in a Catholic community at the San Martin’s Church at Sunland Park, New Mexico. Maria’s participation on the ACTS retreat was fallowed by mine. ACTS is a Catholic ministry that exists in almost all Catholic churches in Texas, and it’s attended by parishioners interested in serving the church community. For me, and almost to every person that happened to experienced it, the retreat was a very powerful event to change our lives. The central and more intensive part of this event were in my case, the 7 or 8 testimonies of fellow parishioners. They admitted publicly being sinners and described their wrongful lives. They also communicated how much pain inflicted on their families and friends, how regretful they were and how Jesus was the savior and total meaning for their lives. They included biblical quotes in the presentations and ended concluding that Jesus died to clean our sins and that our personal salvation and peace in this life depended on our faith. The testimonies were really impressive, they covered a great range of excesses, betrayals, self indulgences, offenses, violence, avarice, self destructive behavior, etc. Moved by those lives in pain and repentance each one of the 35 participants took the stand to add their personal testimonies increasing the spectrum of wrong doing and sorrow. They spoke about drugs, lives dedicated to money, uncontrolled sex, lying, even homicide.I was reluctant to say anything about me and that made me the last one to declare. It’s not that I did not have sins, of course I have never been perfect! What I did not want was to fantasize saying something simply to agree with the situation. Standing before my companions without haste, doubt, nervousness, or emotion I began to say with calm: “My life has been so favored, and the people around me so caring and I have not been inclined to extreme behavior that I don’t have testimony to give and I will not exaggerate any of my stupidities or wrongdoings to make you believe that I have suffered and that I am repented. Of course I regret not been more loving with my wife, I could always have been a better father with my children, or a could have been a better citizen, etc. For sure my biggest wrong doing has been not doing what’s necessary to find my true self and embrace it passionately. If I had done that, I would not have wasted my time in omissions or nonsense. The pain that I have are for all those things that I could have done and that I have not done only for my own comfort and well-being. Nevertheless, I thank God for the life I have lived and the wonderful opportunity to live.”
If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through http://bitly.com/shareastorytoday  
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/donate/

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spring Chorus (Iris and Rochelle)

Best Day has a few older buds who also sing in the Philadelphia Senior Center’s choir: Joan, Rochelle, and Iris. They have concerts every few months, and when they do we take a break from writing to support them. None of them had solos, but both Iris and Rochelle acted as MCs, and they got the audience into it!


And just like last week’s blog entry, we’re combining art with art by pairing these beautiful voices with beautiful stories.

Iris Wildflower 
03.21.2019 
The Best Thing I’ve Ever Learned in My Life

The best thing I’ve ever learned in my life is there are certain conversations not to have with my mom…because she will send you to another state…
When I turned 18 years old, I had graduated from high school (early 17 years), got accepted at Fisk University, and [worked] at the IRS for the summer. One day, I came home from work and told my mom that I was grown and about to leave for college in August and that I could stop by the bar for happy hour after work…
I waited for the good talking-to or the words, “What’s wrong with you?” but alas, nothing happened. Mom just sat there quietly. “Ok” she stated… Wow, that was easy, I thought I should have done this a long time ago…
For two weeks, I went as I pleased, happy hour, parties, staying out until the sunrise in the sky, even skipped church a few times…
Dad was waiting at the house when I came in hung over and with bloodshot eyes.
My dad said, “See you in church!!” Church? I thought, look at my condition… How?
Dad spoke, “You don’t answer back with a ‘why.'”
“Yes Dad.”‘
So I began to get ready for church. Dad then said, “When I turn around, I want to see you.”
“Yes, Dad.” I was hung over.
Later that week, my parents gave me a one-way ticket to Greensboro, N.C.
The dean’s phoned and advised me to call him and let him know what time my train would arrive. I would be attending Bennett’s Women’s College in Greensboro.
“But why mom?”
“You’re grown, remember?”
“No, I’m not grown, mom.”
“Two grown women cannot live in my house.” Thus I learned there are certain conversations not to have with my mom. She don’t play and will send you to another state. And set up everything for your arrival.
Thanks, Mom.

Rochelle Tynes
03.07.2019 
The Men In My Life 

First off, let me say that some of the men in my life have been good to and for me and because they were good or bad, some I don’t see or use anymore.
I’ll start with Sir Penicillin, he worked on and off for my ailments for quite a number of years – then I became allergic to him and had to let him go about the wayside. In these later years, I’ve had an affair with Mr. Balm Palm Rub – Mr. Arthritis Muscle Rub, Lord Extra Strength Tylenol, Sirs Melformin, Cilipige, and Sonlodipine. They all seem to be doing well, it’s just that I don’t like taking them because I thought when I went to the clinic for a checkup that I wouldn’t need to have anything new. But low and behold, I was told that I needed a pill to help my bones be stronger, so I now have to introduce myself to Mr. Glucosamine C.
Well, I believe its time for me to get a female helper so that maybe I can let some of these men go about their business and I can be free of at least one or two of these men.
If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through http://bitly.com/shareastorytoday  
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/donate/
 
And enjoy this random senior selfie from Philip and José before you go!
 
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, May 30, 2019

It's the Arts (Philip, Ann, and Iris)



There's always something to do at the Philadelphia Senior Center, especially for members of Best Day. On May 30th, some of our older buds will be singing in a concert, so some of us will be going to support them. Just this past week, older bud Mike Tsuei came back with a story...and informed us that he was part of an art exhibition downstairs! Not too long after Best Day, they opened the gallery to its ember and had a reception full of delicious snacks. You can see Mike's art and the gallery opening below:




And Best Day itself was packed to the gills! We had no fewer than ten older buds sharing stories last week. Not everybody got to write the whole story--this is always a risk when older buds come late--so some people had to finish their stories aloud. Also, the stories were so engaging that they sparked conversations before the story even finished! The downside is that we only have the room for an hour, and some of our writers have to leave early. That means as interesting as the conversations are, I have to cut them short to make sure everyone gets to read. It’s a downside to larger groups, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We didn't have time for our usual senior selfies, but we'll always have time to share our stories:

   
Philip Pan
April 18, 2019
A Lovely and Good Woman
 
There was a beautiful girl. She was very smart and kindly. When she was 17 years old, she married her neighbor. They didn’t have children. Her mother in law was blind. [In] not so long, her husband left her in order to go to a foreign country for school. She would take care of her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law was old, she couldn’t do anything. Sometimes she would make money for her husband’s tuition and he married another woman but she didn’t know. After many years, this lady was old and her mother-in-law died. Her husband didn’t do anything for them. When this woman was very sick, nobody took care. When this woman dies, her own brother cared for her.


Ann Von Dehsen
May 5, 2019
Do I Know You?
A long time ago when I was a college student walking along the sidewalks of Boston, I saw a man in the distance coming towards me. In my head, I was saying, “Oh there’s… there’s… there’s…” but I couldn’t think of his name or how I knew him. It seemed like he was someone from my past, but being only 20, I didn’t have much of a past. But I was sure I knew him and that it was really good to see him again, whoever he was. Meanwhile, he apparently was going through the same mental head game as we got closer to each other establishing eye contact and smiling and almost going into a slow-motion movie scene embrace. Instead, he said very hesitantly, “It’s good to see you again?” To which I replied, “You too?” Then almost at the same time, we said, “Sorry, I was sure I knew you.”
Then we spent several minutes trying to establish some connection – our names, where we grew up, where we went to school, friends names, relatives names, groups we may have been a part of in the past. Nothing. And it wasn’t that we reminded each other of someone we currently knew. We truly believed we knew each other at some point but maybe just not in this lifetime. Though we enjoyed this strange reunion, there was no plan to see each other again, but we hugged and wished each other the happiness in this life that we may have shared in a past life. I smiled as I walked away thinking, “It sure was nice to see him again, whoever he was!”



Iris Wildflower
May 5, 2019
Where Do You Dwell - Live?
Are you in the secret place of the most High God under the shadow of His wings? Are you living in His presence, isn’t that where we below, in His presence? That’s where we are, strong seeking His face, touching. His grace it in your presence of God. I want to go where the rivers will not overflow me, where my feet are on the rocks. I want to hide where a blazing fire can not burn me. It’s in your presence. Oh God, that’s where. I want to dwell. That’s where I want to live. Based on PS 91. He that dwelt in the secret place. Find the secret place for your life.



If you have an hour or more to spare, then share an older bud’s story through http://bitly.com/shareastorytoday 
I've posted stories about about targets, guns,potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/donate/
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, May 23, 2019

To Drexel, Part 2 (Joan, Delores, Rochelle, Hazel, Frances, Norman)

We went to Drexel’s Dornsife Center again last week for another storytelling workshop. But before we did that, I bumped into older bud Eugene. He’s moved from storytelling to photography, and he brought over a photo he took of one pf our workshops.


And I also confirmed that he headed the Harlem Atheist Association in the 90’s. I saw that he did in this one book, but I wanted to make sure.




I always get warm fuzzies when the older buds are cited in other books!

Makoto couldn’t make it last’s week Dornsife workshop, but Tenara ran it like a pro. We split up into groups of three again and got to hear everyone’s stories from last week. It ran the gamut from getting lost in Japan, assumed infertility, proposals, a dancing thief, trash-talking your own reflection, and getting a part in a movie. And not only did I convince a few more people to come to this week’s session, but Joyce brought a framed picture she took with the Obamas.


We're back at the Philadelphia Senior Center this week, but this won't be the last we'll see of Makoto or Tenara. We'll be seeing Makoto's show with The Sincerity Project on Saturday, June 8th at 2PM. Also, Tenara herself is interested in a collaboration with Best Day as well. And no wonder, with incredible stories like these:
Joan Bunting
03.14.2018
Visiting Loved Ones

Last Thursday and Friday, I spent with my oldest daughter, Rose. I was very excited because her daughter and her four children would be there. They’re from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have lots of other great-grandchildren but feel closer to these because before they moved to Johnstown and when they were younger, I used to have to take them to school and the youngest one to daycare and then pick them up. At that time, there was only three of them. I had to iron the clothes they had to wear for school the next day and make sure they were presentable at school.
I enjoy doing it and am glad I was available. My daughter worked and was not able to be there for them and of course, the children’s mother worked also.
My [favorite] television show that I watched with them was “Spongebob Squarepants.”
They have a little brother now. his name is Jcea. He’s not quite two yet and very sweet.
My granddaughter Tauheeda will be soon moving back to Philadelphia, sorry, I mean Chester, PA. At least they’ll be living closer.
I never heard of Johnstown until Tauheeda moved there. It takes about five hours from there to Philadelphia.
I also enjoyed visiting them while in Johnstown, and I know I’ll also enjoy visiting them in Chester.
The only thing I’ll miss now is the long ride from Philly to Chester. It’ll be long enough, but not as long.

Delores Wilson
03.14.2019
Eavesdropper

I started to go down the front stairs when I emerged from the bathroom and noticed that the back room door was now closed. Since the whole neighborhood was changing, several of my brother’s friends, my play brothers, stayed with us during the school days. The guys stayed five days and went home on the weekend. The boys had the largest room in the house – two big beds and two fold-up couches. Their room was near the back stairs that lead to the kitchen. So if the door was open, I would sit on top of the back stairs and converse with them. If it was just my brothers, I would sit on top of the dresser that was inside the room and talk with them while then shined their shoes and ironed their pants and shirts.
My mother always said an eavesdropper never hears anything good.
When I noticed that the door was closed, I did something that I never did before. I overheard one of my play brothers speak about one particular lady. It wasn’t what he said, but it was how he said it. When I emerged into the kitchen, my mom and her friends were at the kitchen table and they all said, “You look flush.”
I couldn’t tell my mom why. Lesson well learned.

Rochelle R. Tynes 
10.18.2018 
No Heat Ain’t Funny 

Well when it first got cold, I turned the heat on. It was nice and toasty warm. I turned the heat off the next morning and went about doing my household chores, took a short walk, ate and finally got ready for bed. I turned the heater on and around 4 am turned it off because I was too warm. When I got up yesterday (the 16th) the heater would not come on. I called the Gas Company’s Parts and Labor Program and was given an October 24th appointment. Hopefully they can repair the problem. In the meantime, I have either a burner on to give the house hat in the daytime and the oven on low all night. I really don’t want to see this incoming gas bill!
But I have to pay for the heat or freeze, maybe freeze isn’t right but be cold and achy because of the arthritis. In addition to the cold and coming gas bill I’m worried that I will have to buy a new heater. I’m telling myself that it’s probably time because the heater is forty-two years old and I’m thanking the Lord that it’s lasted this long and if I have to get a new, I’m sure he will make a way for me to do so because being cold – putting on layers of extra clothes that must be removed for bathroom purposes really ain’t funny.

Hazel Nurse 
10.25.2018 
A Dinner Theater Question 

After a trip to the “Light and Sound Theater” in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I will always remember this experience. With a huge cast of professional actors and actresses and a never-ending backdrop of exquisite scenery, this was entertainment at its best.
Some of the 30 fellow travelers on the bus were happy to speak about this Pennsylvania Dutch country. However, I still have a few unanswered questions. Following the show, we stopped at the “Good and Plenty” restaurant. This family style eatery seated our group at a long table where we helped ourselves from large bowls and platters of delicious dinner foods.
Oddly enough, the “Shoo Fly Pie” was untouched! Why? Well, I alone tasted a small slice! Can you help me? What is the history of Shoo Fly Pie?? Why was it shunned? 


Frances H. Bryce, 
February 21, 2019
Stolen Stash

My mother saved her extra money she made doing domestic work, which included washing and ironing for families. She put her stash under the linoleum rug in the living room. This money was used to buy us Easter outfits and back to school clothes that we had previously outgrown the past year.
Our small town had few places to purchase quality clothes and lots of shops. This was the shopping center that our small town visited.
My mom and two of her friends tried a taxi to take them to the shopping trip when the cab arrived she grabbed her bag and went into the living room to get her money. She raised the gray incision to get the money. She didn’t see her money. She looked to see if the money had stuck to the underside, nothing was there. Her face showed the shock and disappointment that was impossible to forget, the money was gone.
She went out to tell the driver and her friend that she would not be going that day. Money she had earned during domestic work and laundry for families was stolen and she knew who had done this terrible deed.

Norman Cain 
7.30.2018 
Youth Team Sports Today and Yesterday 

In my youth, I was a team sport fanatic: football, baseball, track, tennis, golf, and especially basketball consumed much of my time as well as the time of my friends. 
We would play sports from early dawn to beyond dusk, on streets, playgrounds, and parks. 
Some of us were good enough and fortunate enough to be members of junior and varsity Junior High and especially High School teams, which was quite a feat because there were only 16 public high schools and fewer middle schools during the 50’s and 60’s. Today, there are at least 65 to 70 or more charter High Schools that held league competitions. In most cases, varsity High School athletes participated in these leagues.
While I did not make my High School basketball team , I played on a YMCA basketball team that consisted of members of Junior High School Penn Relay 440 championship and two outstanding football players. One was an all-Delaware Valley first team and the other a member of the Baltimore Colts. Often times we played against teams that were actual complete High School teams of merit.
During the 50’s and 60’s, the cost to see professional and college athletic events were not as astronomical as they are now. Things are different today. 
Schools in Philadelphia – most having athletic teams. Back in the day, many promising athletes did not make school teams because high schools may have had upwards to 2,000 or more students. However, athletes did not have the opportunity (know what their level was) to participate at a competitive levels, because almost each neighborhood had a recreation center and playground. 
There are fewer recreation centers and playgrounds. Video games have taken place over creative recreation and the joy of playing as a team. I feel sorry for the youth of today who have athletic interest.

There's never a bad time or place to tell a story, so share an older bud’s story through http://bitly.com/shareastorytoday 
I've posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Or if you'd like to contribute to our 10th Anniversary celebration, then donate at
http://bestdayofmylifesofar.org/donate/
Curated by Caitlin Cieri