Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Published Authors (Norman, Eugene, and Frances)

It's no surprise that our authors are getting published. Many of you already know about our book The Best Day of My Life So Far, featuring the stories our older buds wrote during the first five years of our workshop. However, some of our seniors have been published in other literary magazines, and some have their own books. Norman Cain has had his works published in the Drexel Writers Room Anthology 2 collection and is working on a new publication, and Eugene Carrington has already published his short collection of stories and poems Messenger Blues, among other things. Here's some content form the both of them, available exclusively at Best Day.

Norman Cain
Father: The Railroad Man

My father, an amiable, quiet, lean, tall, bald, well-proportioned, copper-skinned man, was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was a quiet man He rarely spoke. We communicated through physical activities. He took me to see the Brooklyn Dodgers where I was amazed by the athleticism of Jackie Robinson. One of the most memorable times that I spent with him was catching a baseball in an empty lot. We would spend hours  wallpapering, painting, and laying linoleum on the floor of the kitchen. When I was around five years old, he told me that I was a Highland Geehiee. Years later, I learned that the term Geehiee was derived from slave that inhabited the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia (around the Ogeechee River) who maintained many of African cultural traits, as they did not come to the main land for more than a hundred years. Those who were not from the low lands were known as Fresh Water Geehiees or High land Geehiees. He rarely took off from work; however, then a relative or friend or someone from his South Carolina township died, he took the train wherever the further was, up and down the East Coast.

He took advantage of his entitlement to free train tickets to various locations on the eastern seaboard. My family periodically visited relatives in Washington, New York, and Baltimore during the weekends. I was no stranger to the rails, I became accustomed to traveling on trains, recognizing landmarks in my travels during these journeys. During these junkets, he would be well-dressed: two-toned shoes, tailored suit, blocked hat. However, during the week, he was attired in the uniform required for a janitor at the 30th Street Station.

There are many mores stories that I can tell about my father, who was, in my opinion, a man amongst men. Those stories will follow. 

Eugene Charrington
Global Warming

Is it real or is it a hoax? Many conservative business people and politicians including President Trump feel that global warming is a joke. However, most of the world, top scientists, have stated otherwise. Every year the temperature of the atmosphere reaches a record high. And sea levels have been risking. For example, coastal areas in the southeastern United States have experienced the decline of beach fronts and severe flooding during storms. Caribbean islands have also suffered from torrential rains, flooding, and the encroachment of rising water levels along their costs. Storm winds at times have reached nearly 200 mph. Hurricanes have been arriving with more frequency, generally leaving a trail of death and destruction when they touch down.

Those who want to deny this change, global warming, or climate change, really need to wake up. Especially President Trump, before we all find ourselves under water, and human life on our planet is no more. 

Also, one of our newest members, Ms. M said she was going to have her letter to Dr. Martin Luther King published as well. Her publisher said her story wasn't to be "edited, distributed, or forwarded," so I will refrain from posting it until after its publication. Instead, I will be posting a story by Frances, the woman good enough to introduce Ms. M to Best Day.

Frances Bryce
Face the Mirror

I looked in the mirror,
Behold, I did see
A much older person
Staring back at me.

Who I standing in my space
Blocking my best view?
I wish she would move
Then, I too could see.

Someone with lots of wrinkles
Entered through the door
Face so familiar
My best dress, she wore.

I faced the mirror again
Cautious as could be
It’s useless to deny
The person staring back at me.

Days flew and the months rush by
The years take their toll
Beauty lives inside
Whether you are young or old. 

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lots-O-Laughs (Elliot)

The First Thursday sessions in the computer lab are always a change from the norm, but last week's session was especially funny. A few new buds joined us today, and one of them, Bettie, read a ghost story she had written. It was about a classroom with a haunted clock whose hands would move in places that never matched the time. As soon as she finished, Frances started reading her story...and the door swung open all by itself. And a few minutes later, it opened by itself again. "It's the ghost!" I said.

Second, I have a practice of making sure every guest and regular gets the chance to read, even during First Thursday. When I asked Ms. M, who Frances had brought to the class, this interaction happened:

Caitlin: Any friends of yours whose stories you want to read?
Ms. M.: No.
Caitlin: Not even Francis?
Miss M.: No.
(Everyone laughs)
Ms. M.: We're classmates from way back. I've heard all her stories already!
Francis: Just for that, now you have to hear me read you something you've already heard!
Ms. M.: Oh, I have a poem to read!
(Begins scrolling through her phone trying to find the story.)
Francis: Shall I read something while you find it?
Ms. M.: YES! Please DO!

And I figured I'd cap off this entry with Elliot's final story about the characters from his neighborhood. This one's a little more sad than his last two, but we've never shied away from sad stories at Best Day.

Elliot Doomes
Unforgettable Characters Pt. 3

There was an elderly gentleman who lived two door down from me. Every morning when I was on the way to work he would be standing on his porch and he would shout to me, "Top of the mornin; to you, me boy, and the rest of the day to meself." I would laugh every time he said that and I still laugh today when I think about it. And the first conversation that he had was after his dear wife passed away. He told me that he could no longer live in that house. I don't know the day he moved but one morning I looked for him and he wasn't there. Although I realize that he wasn't there anymore, I couldn't help gazing at his porch each morning.
I fondly remember the all the days that he started my day with a laugh. I missed him dearly and I wish him well wherever he may be. Thank you for all the laughter that you contributed to all my days, Mr. MacGuire. We never had a long conversation before he said he could no longer live in that house, even though he and his wife had been liging there for years; and I'd known him for ten years beore then. I never knew her that well, but her husband was very sociable. He was one of the few people in my neighborhood who was. The wife was a very quiet lady; though. I never heard her speak. I guess opposites really do attract!
But I want to wish you well wherever you are Mr. MacGuire. I still don't know what you meant, but I still laugh when I think about you.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Cup Runneth Over (Kara and Joe)

At Best Day, I usually facilitate the workshops alongside Neha and Hannah, but both of them had gotten a little busier lately and can't make every workshop. Fortunately, my friend Kara said she had some free time and wanted to see what The Best Day of My Life So Far was all about.

Turns out, Kara picked the perfect day to come in. The class was packed, with nine older buds and one extra volunteer, and we took up the entire table! She wrote for Joe (which is always a treat), heard everything the older buds wrote that day, and even stayed for our usual friendly post-reading discussion. This week, I've asked Kara to write about her experience at Best Day, and I'm posting the story she transcribed for Joe as well.
Kara Naklicki
A Great Day at Best Day

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of joining Caitlin at the Philadelphia Senior Center for Best Day of My Life So Far. I know she had been volunteering there for years, but I was finally able to see what it was all about. I had a great time! We got there early to set up, and she showed me around. We weren't sure about the turn out as the weather had been acting up a lot that week, but thankfully that wasn't a problem. We had a full group in, all ready to write and chat. I helped Joe write down an essay on his thoughts about artificial intelligence. It was great to have a conversation with him and hear his perspective. Caitlin helped a few others with their stories, and then it was time for everyone to read and listen. I loved all the different stories. Each person wrote about something personal to them, including memories of family, the effects of global warming, tales of a silly cat, and upcoming vacations. Everyone gave feedback and had conversations about the different subjects, and before we knew it time was up. I could see that everyone enjoyed writing and sharing with each other, and it was clear that this program was a huge success. I look forward to coming back and hearing more great stories and developing new friendships with everyone. It was a wonderful experience!
Joe Garrison 

We all marvel at new technology, but how much do we want done for us?
Years ago, I wrote a story titled, “With Folded Hands.” It was a sci-fi story about a very advanced technological society. Humans had no function because robots would cook, clean, and babysit their children. There was a humanoid factory. We are getting closer to this future.
From “smart” phones, “smart” robots doing surgery, everything is automated or tech-based. It makes us question things like religion. I’m not afraid of admitting it. We’ve created a technoGod. People can’t live without machines. I saw a commercial about a restaurant where the waitress said, “the people care more about wi-fi than forks and knives.” We need a wi-fi free zone.
Technology has killed social interaction. It’s a sad commentary on human existence. I wonder in the future if our species will even have a function because machines have taken over.
Technology has a built-in blessing or a curse. No one thinks there is a downside. Phones are toys, not used properly. Everything is a gadget. Face to face human interaction is important!
People seem sicker because they are not exercising. Kids want to play videogames, not sports. We’re not utilizing our bodies.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri