Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Anthology Philly

I am super proud of Anthology Philly, a collection of short stories from up and coming Philadelphia Area authors. Here is the intro I wrote and never put into the actual book because I was so excited about it and forgot:

The City of Brotherly Love is known throughout the nation as a place with a depth of historical wealth. Philadelphia is the home to history-making locations such as Independence Hall, and the most famous bell in the country, The Liberty Bell. The “Love” statue in Love Park has become an iconic image of the modern art world. And who can ever forget the William Penn Statue and all of the urban legends surrounding that?

With such a magnitude of meaning, it’s no wonder that Philadelphia has become a cultural epicenter of the United States. The city boasts several arts and events such as First Friday, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Philly Fringe Festival, and First Person Arts. Philly has recently evolved into one of the great cultural centers of our time.

Anthology Philly showcases work from some of the great new writers of the Philadelphia area. Each story pays homage to The City of Brotherly Love and all of the aspects of our wonderful metropolis. Even through generational changes, Philadelphia continues to touch its residents and visitors in a meaningful way. Some will always remember the Christmas light show at Wanamaker’s while others will think of the same show at Macy’s. Some will reminisce about the days of seeing Sinatra play Convention Hall while others love the memories of standing in line waiting for an R5 show at the Unitarian Church. In either case, the experience of Philadelphia creates memories and sparks creativity across generations.

The richness of Philadelphia’s culture has inspired the stories within this anthology.

We hope you feel the love.

Market East

Matilda stared out the window of the train as the hissing sounds emitted from underneath. Her belongings were scattered on the seat next to her, both because she was unorganized and trying to keep a stranger from sitting with her. As her eyes focused on the Market East Station sign she jumped up. “Is this Market East?” she yelled in a frantic tone. The ticket collector nodded as she attempted to collect her stuff. The line of departing passengers was long gone and the hissing happened again, warning of the train’s imminent departure. She threw objects into her bag as fast as she could: a book, a newspaper, her iPad, an umbrella. She made it off just in time.

Image by Mike Garde. Click on it for his Flickr.

A List (for Fun)

People Who Shouldn’t Be Texting While Working as I Walked Through the Streets of Philadelphia This Morning

I had quite the eventful walk to work today, and couldn’t help but notice the massive amount of people texting, most of whom were “on the clock” as they say. I compiled it here for your amusement.

The police officer (in the jewelry district).

The cab driver (with a fare).

The bike messenger (for real).

The guy who almost got hit by a (different) cab driver.

The other police officer (who was driving at the time[and yes it’s illegal in Philadelphia]).

The food cart worker (with a long line of people waiting for their morning coffee).

The mom walking her kids to school (not technically work, but probably even more wrong than the others).

I wish I could say I was making most of these up, but sadly, I’m not. An interesting walk to work this morning.

 

 

A Vaudevillian Moment

As far back as I can remember my grandmother reminisced about her days on stage back in the Vaudeville era.  Her and my grandfather were well known, in New York at least, as performers of music, dance, and probably even more so, comedy.

Grandfather, before he died, swore he’d made up Groucho’s famous “Outside of a book, a dog is a man’s best friend.  Inside a dog it’s too dark to read,” line back then on the stage.  It’s true, Groucho did attend one of their performances with his brothers, but regardless, there’s no way to prove that claim.

When I was little I would spend summers at my grandparents’ home in suburban New York, a small property that working the stage had paid for.  Mother considered it an extended visit, a vacation.  I loved it.  Dad, eternally disliked by my grandmother for pulling my mom out of the spotlight and marrying her, hated every moment.  Using work as an excuse, he would drive up from Philadelphia, our hometown, on weekends.

As I got older, after grandfather died, our visits were really all my grandmother looked forward to.  She would have my room all done up with a frilly pink bedspread (something I pretended to love even after I’d outgrown it) and would serve all of my favorite meals.  She would cater to anything I wanted as if I were her own daughter.  Actually, even mom didn’t have it as good as I did in that old house.

And every summer, like clockwork, she would pull out her old prop umbrella, worn out and missing the knob, and we would do one of the skits she loved so much with me playing the straight man.  She’d put on a funny hat and dress and jump right in.

“There are so many ways to understand what a lady is saying just by how she carries her umbrella!  Like if she holds it like this-”

And I would break in, “It means it’s raining?”

“No, no,” she would correct.  “It means she’s married!  And if she holds it like this-”

“She’s single?” I would ask, giggling.

“No!  It means she’s married and her husband is coming.”

“So you run?”

“Of course not.  Then you nod, like so.”

“So apologize?”

“No, stupid!  It means you want to meet her around the corner!”

“But she’s married!”

“Exactly, so you have to wait for the signal from her.”

“Which is?”

My grandmother would then flirtatiously lift her dress a bit to show some leg, usually with dirty work pants and boots underneath since she was always gardening.  This would have me doubled over in laughter by this point, keeping me from finishing the skit.

She would always chuckle along with me, then sit down in the nearest chair and remember the good old days, working the Vaudeville circuits with my grandfather.

Strangers on a Train

As I sat on the train I noticed the people in the seat directly in front of me. She had a big white knitted hat on as protection from the bitter cold of the early Philadelphia morning. His hat was striped and didn’t look nearly as warm. Her head rested on his shoulder and I could see from my vantage point that she was dead asleep. I wondered how long they had been on the train that her slumber could be so deep. Maybe she was just a good sleeper.

I could hear the pages turning in something he read; it sounded more like a book than a newspaper. They have a much louder sound and longer page-turning time. He seemed so relaxed and content on his morning commute. I assumed they knew each other; people need a certain comfort level to rest their head on another’s shoulder. Or maybe that’s just me. Who knows.

My single-ness was a bit painful after seeing two people so comfortable with each other, so relaxed and close. It ate away at me as I looked down at my boots, toes awkwardly pointed inward just the slightest bit, my tights keeping my legs warm and the gray sweater dress that I painstakingly chose this morning in the hope of seeing that guy I have a secret crush on; I can’t help it, I have a thing for sweater vests, what can I say.

I wonder about these two people in front of me. They seem like nice, kind people, a couple I would love to hang out with. They’re about my age, maybe twenty-four or twenty-five at the oldest. While I am dressed for office work, they look like they could be on vacation or possibly going to work in some new trendy company that not only allows jeans, but expects them. I would love to work in a place like that.

The speaker crackles and someone announces Suburban Station, next stop, Suburban Station and he nudges her gently with his shoulder; she looks up. Lines from his coat mark her face and she smiles as her hand wipes the sleep from her eyes. The train hisses and slows, he smiles at her. She gets up, fixes her soft yellow coat, and kisses him on the cheek.

“See you tonight,” he says with a smile. She smiles back and nods, then turns and exits the train.

Artwork by the always lovely and talented Nadia Lavard.

Cobblestone Streets

The couple walked hand-in-hand through Philadelphia and stopped as Front Street brought them to cobblestone. They looked around and sat on a bench.

“My feet hurt. This is just the break I need.”

A loud sound started coming from around the corner, the sound of a car driving quite quickly on a flat tire. It reverberated off the giant stone statues that made up the monument across the street.

“Sounds like a flat,” he told her knowingly.

“You don’t come to the city enough. It’s just the cobblestone.” He looked at the street and noticed for the first time that it was made of bricks rather than asphalt.

“Oh that’s what you’re always complaining about walking on when you leave work!”

She nodded and snuggled up to him as a cold wind came across Columbus Boulevard from the river.

“But they’re all uneven and messed up. They must be terrible to walk on. I can understand why you’re always breaking shoes.”

“And skinning my knees when I trip.”

“Right.”

The sound of horse hooves came from around the same corner. He watched as the light turned green and a small stream of cars vibrated across the old red bricks. Once the cars were gone the clopping of the horses took control of the environment once again.

The horse and cart rolled by and made less noise against the bumpy road than the cars made only a moment ago.

He watched a guy on his bicycle coming through the park. The biker ignored the red traffic light and flew into the path of an oncoming car that clearly had the right of way. He stopped the bike and started yelling profanities.

“You can tell the cobblestone streets were made for carriages and not cars. I wonder what they’re like for bikes,” he said to her.

“Smart bikers stay away from cobblestone. But sometimes you just can’t avoid it.”

The biker got back onto his bicycle and started on his way only to hit a huge cobblestone brick that was a few inches higher than the rest. The bike tire stopped, throwing the angry biker over the handlebars. He skidded to a halt and sat up, a bit bewildered.

“Try not to laugh,” she said to her boyfriend as he stifled a giggle.

Philadelphia Writers Anthology

Hey all! I’m SO EXCITED to be the judge/editor of an upcoming anthology of Philadelphia area writers. Know anyone from my locale that writes fiction? Then please tell them about this contest.  Here’s the information:

Attention Philadelphia Writers!

WragsInk, a local publisher in the Philadelphia Area, is creating an anthology of the region’s best and brightest authors. How are they doing this? Through a CONTEST. Here’s the deal:

YOU: A writer from the Philadelphia Area, including suburbs.

WHAT: A short story contest. First prize: $50. Two runners-up each get $25.

The skinny: You need to be from the area, and your story has to have something to do with the great city of Philadelphia or the surrounding suburbs. It could be the setting, a main character could be from here, whatever, but it has to have SOMETHING to do with the area. The book will be edited by Dennis Finocchiaro, local author of Capturing a Moment and The Z Word.

The fine print: The three winners will automatically be included in the upcoming anthology, slated to come out at the end of the year. Any other short stories selected to be included in the anthology will receive an author’s copy of the book and will be invited to take part in public readings of your work at some of the many local events run by WragsInk. WragsInk has print and electronic rights to your story for two years, at which point the author may resell the story. WragsInk has the right to use the story in any capacity until the two years are up. By sending your story you are saying that A) It has not been published anywhere else; B) you exclusively own the rights to the story and C) that WragsInk has the right to use the story, if selected, for the next two years.

Also, the subject must say “Fiction Contest Submission” or we will not even read it.

What to send: Send us the story, your name, address and contact information. Please make sure the file is a RTF or Word document.

Where to send the story: Phillyfictioncontest@gmail.com

Deadline: October 31st

Winners will be notified via phone by November 15th.

People Watching in Rittenhouse

Artwork by Shalaya Holliday. Her work can be seen here.

They sat on the park bench facing each other as the lights came on and illuminated the area.
“I love this park. Especially for people watching,” he said to her. She returned a smile.
“Yes, it’s always a good spot for that.”
His eyes scanned the area and rested on a twenty-something girl with a flowered skirt, tank top and blue and white striped oversized cardigan. “Take her, for instance.”
“Yes?”
She was kind of bent over sitting on a bench across from them with her elbows on her knees, her long hair hiding her hands that could have been on her chin.
“I like her cardigan.”
“Yes, yes we both like her cardigan, but that’s not what I meant.”
She looked at the girl a bit more. Finally he broke her concentration.
“Well, is she sad? Her body language tells me she might be considerably morose.”
“I think she’s just on the phone. He hair is hiding it from our view.”
He looked again, this time with her point in mind. “You know, you might be right. But her face still looks sad, and her mouth doesn’t seem to be moving.”
The girl’s face suddenly broke into a smile, and from that to laughter.
They looked at each other and both said at the same time, “Phone.”

Footprints in the Snow

“I’m coming to Canada on a school trip. I’ll be staying right near you. I checked.”

“What?” she asked, a surprised look on her face that he could see via Skype all the way from Philadelphia.

“My professor is organizing a trip for next month for our geology club. He has some crazy notion that there’s a group of kimberlites that might have formed diamonds in them so he wants to abuse our club to become rich.”

She shifted in her seat and he could see she was uncomfortable. Either that or nervous, he couldn’t tell.

“Aren’t you excited? We’ve been online friends for two years now. Here’s our chance to finally meet.”

She thought back to that conversation as she sat in one of her favorite spots a month later. She’d come across the old cabin doing a nature shoot for her Digital Photography course and noticed the dilapidated hunting cabin that was falling apart from disuse. It was cold out and the recent snow made it stand out in the woods; she doubted anyone had set foot in the building in decades. From inside she could see enough of the snow through the giant cracks that had formed between the logs, and while a draft did float through the building the aged walls still kept some of the cold out.

Today was much like that first day she found the building. A fresh snow accompanied a cold day, and she was so nervous about meeting him that she didn’t even think to bring a coat. In her hands she held the best gift she’d ever received from a boy. Last Christmas he bought her the small porcelain carousel, inspired by a trip she’d taken over the previous summer photographing vintage carousels across the country. They reminded her of her father before he passed, and somehow the photographs all seemed to capture that, which she always thought helped her win the contest that helped her attain her first gallery show in the city.

She was to meet him in one hour in a café near campus, and even though they had Skyped for hours every week, he still insisted she bring the small toy so he would recognize her. She had romantic notions which were leading her to such nerves that she needed to collect herself in the cabin, the place she often found herself in moments of doubt, nervousness or deep thought. This one was all three.

She walked to the window, the most comfortable place to sit, and brushed the ledge off with her hands so she wouldn’t get her favorite flower print leggings dirty, just in case. She had no idea where their meeting, or date, was it a date? would lead. She’d fallen for him over the past two years of constant texts, calls, IMs, and Skype dates but never had the desire or nerve to tell him. Why bother? He’d never been a real person she could touch before. All the boys she shunned, all the dates she subconsciously sabotaged were because of him. She hadn’t even kissed anyone in over a year, which was right around the time she realized her feelings. Even though she knew she would never meet him.

But now he was coming.

She turned the little carousel over in her hands, listening to the subtle jingle of the parts inside that would play music if she wound it. They sounded so far away, but she knew she could just twist the knob and they would echo through the cabin at a high decibel.

She looked at her watch. Forty-five minutes until he would be sitting in her favorite coffee shop, the one she’d talked about often and even Skyped with him in so he could see it. She wanted to show him everything she loved, and there was only one place he hadn’t heard of, and this was it.

Maybe she would bring him, show him the hideaway she visited for the big decisions. But then he might notice the fresh footprints and put the clues together, somehow realizing that she loved him. He might say “Were you here today?” and she couldn’t lie to him. She would have to admit it. And he would look into her eyes and ask “What was the big decision you had to make?” and she would blush and smile and he would take her in his arms and she would feel him for the first time after years of wishing and hoping and their lips would meet for the first time in her favorite spot and she would share it with him and maybe, just maybe, he would fall in love with her in that moment.

She would bring him here. They would get tea in little to go containers, and she would show him to her favorite place and hope he noticed her footprints in the snow.

Photographs by Danielle Suzanne Photography. Check out her website or her Flickr.