Here are two events taking place next week (1/23-1/27) here in Philly! Don’t miss SJU Writing Studies student Joseph Thomas at Fergie’s Pub on Wednesday, January 25!
When I was approached to write about my experience interning at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, I could not think of what to write. It’s just that during my time with the Parks Alliance, I have already experienced so much and it’s only halfway over.
It’s actually rather bizarre how I got the internship in the first place. I knew that for my second year of grad school, I wanted to get an internship so as to make a smooth transition into the working world. After all, I’m still coming off from years of working at H&M and Starbucks, so I figured I could use the help. Little did I know that I would be finding such extreme value in an unpaid internship.
At the time I was applying for internships, I had just completed the SJU Grant Writing course taught by the very wise Maureen Saraco. It was the end of summer session II and I spoke to Tenaya Darlington about my interest in grant writing for nonprofits. And then, our lovely director forwarded me to the Parks Alliance intern request with the short message of:
Here’s a nonprofit that is seeking an intern…
So, I applied for the internship, went in for the interview, and received an offer later that very same day. I was elated. And after my first week of being at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance, I knew it was a perfect fit.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you know an internship is a perfect fit. Often it feels, particularly as writers, that limits do not exist on the amount of internship possibilities, leading you in very different directions. Having taken so many courses in the Writing Studies program covering numerous areas of the writing world, they all can seem like perfect fits.
Before taking the Writing Studies’ Grant Writing course, I had only a vague sense of what grant writing entailed. It was only after the course that I realized that grant writing utilizes the power of narrative to fund the cause of whatever nonprofit you work for. It also helps if the writer is passionate and actually cares about the cause. Lucky for me, the Parks Alliance exists to serve Philadelphia’s public spaces because they see the power of having spaces with no barriers to entry– something I also believe in.
During my time at the Parks Alliance, I have not only written successful grants, but I have been further opened up to new realms. Primarily, I have learned the world of Development, the umbrella of grant writing and how nonprofits find funding. I have also gained a plethora of experience in social media management, massive event planning, organizing a donor phone bank, and engaging in community outreach.
I have absolutely loved my time at the Philadelphia Parks Alliance and can not wait to continue. Through this experience, I have already learned that if you have the valuable opportunity to take an unpaid internship, take it. It could very well be a perfect fit.
Stomachacha-pained and ravanaged
my blue I’d blurry self. Eyerainful.
Blerked with nuked coffee
Infinite simile, intestinally twistoptic
My thoughts turn entrospectif
In the quiet of my domestisilo
Safety becomes my primary concern in this
Society of trumpeeting divisination.
With out honor; with out humor –
just a malignificent terrortumor.
Corpse aquiver, mouth agape,
throat scorched with acid regretsting.
Unkind hindsight causes fleshtions
flashing: come up wanting (air)
Nerves blergomous in the silence
Ears straining for the clatterpanic of the
Their carnivagorging all consuming,
As a family we break freak feast
Ribbonibulous time streaming out.
Thank God it wasn’t hunting season,” was the last thing I could remember saying to Officer Bill before I blacked out. Usually, he wakes you with a clipboard smack to the forehead, but this morning it was the tapping of a No. 2 pencil. As I stirred, I could feel the eraser keeping beat out of time with the inherent beat of my hangover.
“What’s that song you’re tapping out?” I asked.
“Ain’t no song.”
Officer Bill stood and smiled, looking down as I rubbed my eyes. I squirmed on the floor of the holding cell, stretching toward the fluorescent lights. “
It’s Morse code for, you’re a goofy asshole. Your mommy is here to pick you up again. We’ve got another public intoxication award for you.”
“What do I win?” I asked, rising in the cell, rubbing my right eye.
“A court date.”
“A while since I’ve been on a date,” I said. “Who punched me?—Is it bruised? Feels a little swollen.”
“Murph did,” Officer Bill said. “In fact, he said you were trying to get a date with him last night. Want to see my rod, is what you said. It’s all in the report.”
“Oh!” I followed the officer down the hall toward booking. I remembered. “Fishing.”
“What?” He said, sitting down behind his desk with a squeaking swivel. I couldn’t see my mother standing two feet to my right, but I could smell her “out-and-about” perfume. My eye was swollen and nearly shut.
“It was a fishing rod. I have a new one. For catfish.” Officer Bill rustled paper. My mother sighed. I couldn’t look at her—literally or figuratively. “Graphite composite rod. Three bearing reel. Ergonomic design. Two-piece construction,” I said.
I didn’t see it coming, but pain suddenly blinded my good eye. My mom flicked the side of my head with her finger. “You’re a dumb boy. Fishing in the street?”
When the pain subsided, I remembered the night before, out front of the Spread Eagle Tavern, casting my fishing rod into the street. I remember the police approaching. I remember slowly reeling in, jerking the rod to bounce my jig worm on the asphalt. Officer Bill had asked for my license. “My fishing license?” I asked.
Officer Bill was gentle with me—the way he’s been since I was a teenager. My mother—not so gentle, but she has to “keep up appearances.” That holding cell is home for her just the same. We’ve left notes to each other carved on the rail of the cot.
After signing my rod out of the evidence room and placing it carefully in her sedan, down the center and out through the trunk, we sat in silence.
“What kind of bait were you using?” She laughed and slapped the dashboard. “Want me to drop you at the Spread Eagle?
“No,” I said. “Drop me off at the river. That jig hasn’t seen water yet.”
“You got your license?”
Ryan R. Latini is a freelance and fiction writer living and writing in the Greater Philadelphia Area. He received his M.A. in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph’s University, and is currently on the editorial staff of The Schuylkill Valley Journal. Contact him on Twitter, @RyanRLatini, gmail: email@example.com, and check out his website, The Narrative Report at www.ryanlatini.com.
I went on the audition as a favor to my friend, Cole. I’m not an actor and neither is he, but I used to work full-time on his construction crew. His wife, Maria, is an actor, and as Cole related to me over the phone, Maria had told him that they “were really very desperate” for more actors, just for small parts. I had been struggling so hard to get consistent work, I figured Cole might help me if I tried out for this community production. He told me it was Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
I practiced the lines they had sent me. I felt nervous, sick, the whole day of the audition. I drove to the church in the rain, about forty minutes. It was a medium-sized theater. Bright, clean, wood floor, royal-blue stage curtain. The director, Simon, and two other older people–one a man, one a woman–sat at a table. Simon had a grayish-white beard and was paunchy, friendly and relaxed. The older man and woman, late sixties, early seventies, were a little fragile in how thin they were. They both had white hair, too; the older woman, glasses. They all smiled as we said hellos and shook hands. I filled out a sheet with my basic information and walked up onto the stage.
I read for three small parts in total. At first, I felt it was going fairly well–and then better –but I had to do an accent next, which I fumbled: I was having so much trouble with the lines that I forgot to keep up the accent; the last character I improved, I thought, but it was all overwhelming. It appeared they were not impressed when it was over. I walked down off the stage and they thanked me for coming out and I thanked them for the opportunity and was courteous and well-mannered.
When I left, it was still raining, driving home, and I felt unbearably strange: I didn’t want to act and I never wanted to be in the production, but I felt like a failure now that it seemed as though I would not be offered a part. At home, I sat in the kitchen and felt worse. I was tired. Maybe if I did some leg work, found other actors to recommend, that would help. That might count for something.
I never heard from the theater. I got a gig, full-time, selling alarm services door-to-door. I hated it, but I had to stomach it. I went and saw the play. I was a little worried I might run into Simon or the older man and woman (it would be embarrassing), but I didn’t. I saw Cole watching Maria up on stage and wondered if there was any point in talking to them when it was over. But really, I focused all my energy in understanding what was going on upon that stage: Who was playing who and what the characters wanted, and if it worked out for any of them.