Thursday, December 19, 2019

More Than Just Best Day (Rosalyn)

The Best Day of My Life So Far is just one of several of The Philadelphia Senior Center’s programs. And even beyond PSC there’s loads of people starting and running organizations for our older buds. Last Thursday, we had an Amy Haller as a guest, because she was interested in bringing Best Day to the Main Line. She loved hearing everyone else’s stories, and she knew a lot more older buds with stories of their own. I showed her our submission page, so keep an eye out for her submissions soon.

After our session, I caught the tail end of “I Remember When,” a joint production between PSC and the Wilma Theatre. I enjoyed their 2018 show (and Wilma’s dedication to our older buds), so I wanted to see what they did for 2019. What little I caught was incredibly well done, and one older bud in the audience had an interesting story of her own during the talkback. When the show was over, I asked if she wanted to share it with Best Day, and here it is:

Rosalyn McGee
Trying to Be Cute

My sister went to school in the American Institute of Fashion and Design in Lucerne, Switzerland and she brought back colored cigarettes. Black, red, purple, green, any color you could think of. So we were cute with them! We’d bring them with us when we went out. We’d wear red shirts with the red cigarettes, black shirts with black cigarettes, green shirts with green cigarettes, and so on. We never smoked them! We just held them in our hands because they looked good. People would come up to us and ask “Where’d you get those?” They wanted to get some for themselves, but they couldn’t. They were an attention-getter! Aside from that, I never smoked myself, and I never will.

Incidentally...I found a couple different types of colored cigarettes online. I'm putting them in this link and this link because I don't want to advertise them. But feel free to check them out in all their multicolored glory.

I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays. 
 Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Time Crunch (Frances and Loretta)

As a facilitator of The Best Day of My Life (So Far), I always keep my ears open for new stories and older buds to meet. The workshop itself, however, is in a very fixed timeframe. We meet once a week from 1PM to 2PM, with the Constitution Class meeting in the same room at 2:15PM. Our sessions are split halfway with equal time for writing and reading, but many older buds need more time or want to take the time to rewrite their stories without any errors or crossed-out words. Some of the writers bring their stories with them, but many don’t know what they want to write until the day of.

As you can see, time is precious, especially when you want your story to be well-written and to look clean and sharp. Often I’ll have an author ask to take their story home so they can re-write it, but they don’t always bring the stories back. A lot can happen in a week, after all.

It can be difficult, but it’s important for me to not only make the most of the time we have in Best Day, but also to make sure the writers always have that time. Especially during the crazed holiday season.
Frances Bryce 

My goal is to give those things that I no longer need, and that someone else may find useful. 

I am no longer working outside the house, so my wardrobe is still filled with clothes I seldom wear, the closet in my house is filled with career wardrobe now that my life is in another phase. 

Volunteering and doing more things for pleasure which now allows me to wear jeans and casual clothes. 

My first task was cleaning out a closet that contained things that I had not seen since I moved in my home, so it stands to reason I have and had no reason to hang on to these things, once they are in a bag or box, nothing cannot be removed or recovered by me. Progress will be slow.
Loretta Dotson 
Left Behind 

What a blessing to welcome a newborn baby into the world. When a child is received with love and blessings, it’s a loving sign of happy beginnings. We love each other, we care for each other, we protect each other, we anticipate long happy prosperous lives. We age, some gracefully, some not. But still, we anticipate good living. We create bonds with friends, acquaintances and relatives. Life rolls along, then you realize your list of friends, acquaintances, and relatives is getting shorter. You want to talk about a situation that occurred with a family member and oops, you remember they’re gone. Remember the party when the electric went out? How about when the Preacher fell when leaning on the pulpit? Or when the candy store on the corner got robbed? Well how about when you came to church with shoes the same style but different colors, one black, one navy blue? So many incidents, some funny, some sad, and the folks you shared these special moments are all gone. And how you are left behind to sit and enjoy those precious memories. We are making memories for others also and I pray yours will be as pleasant and rewarding and hope mine will be to others. So lets live – pray – love. 
I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Moth vs. Frost (Eleanor, José, Ann)

Hi everyone. Like I said in last week's post, some of the older buds and I went to The Moth this past Monday. Usually, the line goes up two flights of stairs and sometimes extends outside of the building; way before the doors open at 6PM. This time, the line only consisted of five people until about 5:45, and even when the doors opened the initial line-up of people only filled half of the World Cafe. Many people either got delayed or stayed home due to the inclement weather. So that left only the die-hard Moth fans: Ann (and her friend), Eleanor (her husband and their two friends), José, and myself. José, surprisingly, didn't have a story planned for that show's "Family" theme. Then again, family can be a very complicated subject, and the "write as if everyone's dead" adage won't necessarily protect you from living, breathing, angry relatives. Nonetheless, everyone had a good time, and I got to make friends with even more older buds.

Even though the older buds didn't take the stage on Monday, you can still read their stories below:

Eleanor Kazdan
The Goat

Over the years, my husband and I have spent a lot of time sitting in Rittenhouse Square looking at the adorable and iconic statue of a goat. One of the benches right in front of it has a plaque saying, “Eleanor’s Bench,” so even better. This goat attracts children like a magnet. They like to play in the dirt around it, get hoisted up to sit on it, and make new friends on the surrounding benches. Early morning with coffee in hand is a great time to goat and kid watch.
After a few years, we began to think of grandchildren and wonder if we would ever have them. Goat watching took on a new significance. We were elated one day with the news that our daughter was pregnant. Those hopes were dashed with an early miscarriage. Then came a terrible few years with difficulty getting pregnant and 2 more miscarriages. The goat became a place of sadness.
Julia finally did have a baby, and my son and his wife had 2 children. All are boys. It sure was exciting the first time we were the grandparents hoisting our own grandchild up on the goat.
Now they’ve outgrown it.
The goat disappeared for a while for renovation. I guess too many little hands and feet wore it down.
It’s back now and we still sit on Eleanor’s Bench looking at the goat and counting our blessings!
José Dominguez
My Entrance to the Graduate School at The University of Texas

After I had finished my Bachelor’s Degree, I always dreamed to study for a Masters of Psychology, but in those moments being in Mexico, I could not figure how to plan it until a friend of mine was hired at the University of Texas as a Political Science teacher. He helped me take at least 3 courses at the University of Texas without the assistance of a counselor, so I was looking for a plan.
My last course put me in touch with the education department and I was uncovered from my incognito and low profile studies by a very strict graduate professor, Dr. Bonnie Brook. She called me and told me that I needed four conditions to continue at the University. First, to take the standardized test, secondly, to find a way to support myself as a full-time student in the USA, thirdly, to take an advanced writing course and finally, to be accepted by the graduate school as a formal student of a master’s degree.
In this [story], I will describe something about my advanced English course. My professor was Dr. Johnson, a super-intelligent, sardonic and ironic guy. His superb control of the English language made him a treat for all of us whose English level was not acceptable. At the end of the course, Dr. Bonnie Brooks called him to ask about my performance as a student. For me, that information was critical since I was under conditions (or under parole). But if Mr. Johnson reported something negative about my grades, I [would] have to struggle to find another way to study my masters. So Dr. Johnson answered to Bonnie Brooks: Jose’s performance in my course? Well, he is ok for being “a turkey.” And that was it. I was accepted. I don’t know if it was an insult to my intelligence but I was accepted as a full-time student at the Graduate School. About being or not being called a turkey, I believe it is a matter of circumstances, opinion, and luck perhaps in a turkey but I don’t mind.
Ann Von Dehsen
Island Wisdom
On my trip to St. Maarten last month, my friend and I visited an elementary school in one of the small villages. It had sustained damaged during Hurricane Maria and had only reopened in February, a year and a half later. To celebrate the reopening, parents had designed and painted a 4-panel mural depicting various families. The principal allowed us to visit a 3rd-grade classroom of 25 kids. Right away, we were impressed by the brightly decorated room as well as the brightly-dressed, attentive students wearing the school’s uniform of bright yellow button-down shirts and plaid shorts or skirts. The teachers told them we were from Philadelphia and immediately one little boy politely raised his hand and asked, “Do you like the Eagles?” (Yes). Then another asked, “Did you go to the Super Bowl?” We said no, but we went to the parade which seemed to equally impress them.
The primary language spoken at the school is English, but students also learn Dutch and French, the two native languages of the split island. As we walked around the room, they were proud to show us their written work, some of which was written in all 3 languages. It was their recess, but some chose to stay in and talk to us informally. One boy proudly said, “I’ve been to Philadelphia!” So I asked what he remembered to which he replied, “Not much, I was only a month old, but I have a sweatshirt with a broken bell on it.” Then a very quiet little girl came up to me and softly asked, “Have you met the Trump?” I said “No,” then paused and said, “I don’t really want to meet him.” To which she wisely replied, “Good, he is a very mean man who does not care about people!” So much for diplomacy… I met a 10-year-old girl on a distant, small island who speaks the truth about the Trump.
I want to give a huge Thank You to everyone who donated to our 10th Anniversary celebration over the past year. You really made our anniversary one to remember. And the party may be over, but we never stop sharing stories. If you or an older bud have a story to share, send them our way right here. Thanks again for everything you've done for us so far, and Happy Holidays.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri