FGS: It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

January’s theme is “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”

I’ve always liked this phrase because it feels like another way of telling myself that I did my best. Instead of saying, “What was I thinking?” or “How could I have been so stupid?” or my usual goto line when I’m laying in bed staring at the ceiling, “What kind of an idiot would do such a thing?” I get to say, “Hey, you did your best with what you had in front of you.”

Luckily, a lot of things that I thought were huge mistakes right after they happened turned out to be okay later on. Maybe the reason I keep coming back to this phrase is because I need to remember to stop freaking out so much and trust that things are almost never as bad as they seem. Maybe all of my missteps and mess ups actually were good ideas and they just need more time. I’ve heard it’s possible that, with enough patience and the right amount of body English, we can change the trajectory of a mistake into something positive. That’s what the self-help books on my nightstand say and those late-night Amazon book purchases always seem like a good idea at the time.

No matter how your good-idea-at-the-time adventure turned out we’d love to hear the story. Bring a true 8-minute-or-less story based on that theme to our next show on January 25, 7pm at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

Remember your stories need to have a beginning, middle and an end, and for FGS you to keep it clean. Most importantly, practice your story out loud as much as possible. Here are the rules & guidelines to help you get started.


Write me if you have any questions.

See you on January 25th!



Thank you

Thank you to everyone who came out to the show last Thursday. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the holidays without actually dealing with the holidays. December is always a weird month for me (and maybe for a lot of people) but listening to people share stories felt like a surprisingly wonderful gift exchange. Maybe that should be a new holiday tradition, trading stories instead of trinkets. A guy can dream, right?

We had two wonderful first timers onstage this month. Dana told the story of overcoming her fear of public speaking by accepting that, in her words, “you have to suck before you succeed.” I have a feeling that first speech Dana gave years ago in front of a room full of dogs wasn’t nearly as bad as she described it. But if it was, she’s come a long way because everyone in the audience that night at Roy Street could tell that her fear of public speaking is something she’s long since conquered. You did great Dana 🙂

Jonathan, our other first-timer, told us about the time he was falsely accused of getting mud on a little girl’s dress in kindergarten and how that lead him to a career in criminal justice. I don’t want to say Jonathan holds grudges, but it’s been 46 years since “The Incident With The Coat” and Jonathan’s old kindergarten teacher better hope she doesn’t come up against him in court one day.

Rich, one of our regulars, told the story of his travels behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany and John told his own travel story of his climb up an active volcano in South America. I have to say I do get a little jealous every time I hear about people’s international adventures. I’ve had a passport for over 30 years and it doesn’t have a single stamp on it. I do think that certain places I’ve been should have their own you’re-in-America-but-not-really passport stamp but what do I know.

Zoe told a great story about how shocking it can be to find out how the people you went to school with turned out years later. And Stephanie told a sweet, sweet story of her little girl finding the courage to do the thing that scared her the most. Catherine won the never-do-what-I-did award when she told us about the time she Superglued her eye shut. About two minutes into her story I think everyone was silently putting Superglue Eye Shut right at the top of our list of things never to do.

David’s story of being the attending physician when his boss and mentor had a heart attack was especially interesting to me because I could see him discovering the real meaning of the story as he told it. Sometimes you think you know what a story’s about but then you tell it live and suddenly you realize it’s about something else. I’m so lucky I get to be right up close to the stage when I see a teller going through that. I can’t wait to see how David rewrites that story with the new meaning in mind.

The story that broke my heart that night was Sonny’s. Sonny always tells these quiet little stories that make you lean forward in your chair because you want to catch every word. Last month he told a poignant story about a heart he carved into an old oak tree 60 years ago that’s still rising into the sky inch by inch every year. Last Thursday he told us about one of his friends who passed away recently and wondered if he would have to grace to face his own mortality as courageously as his friend did. It was a story that even though it ended on stage for us we knew it wasn’t ending for Sonny. It was a sad and quiet moment and one that I know many of us are still feeling. I hope you’re well, Sonny.

Special thanks to everyone who told a story that night: Niranjan, Zoe, Sonny, Ginger, Jonathan, Dana, Marty, Stephanie, Rich, John M and David, and Catherine. More special thanks to the two tellers I had to bump because we ran out of time: Rebecca and Dan. Thank you for understanding. I promise to get you onstage as soon as possible.

Next month’s show will be January 25. The theme is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I’ll get the invite out in a day or two.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.

See you in 2018!


Fresh Ground Stories: Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears

Hi Everyone,

December’s theme is “Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears.”

Many of you know that we have a little something called The Scone of Courage at Fresh Ground Stories. Before each show, I buy a scone from the cafe and give it to the first newcomer who gets onstage that night. It’s just a way for me to acknowledge how much I appreciate the courage it takes to get up in front of a group of strangers and be vulnerable.

This month’s theme is about a time when you could have given yourself a Scone of Courage. Bring a true story about a time when you faced your fears. Was it a physical fear? An emotional fear? What was at stake? Your job? Your health? Your reputation? What happened when you finally did it? What did you learn about yourself? Did it lead to facing other fears?

The older I get the more I realize that the people I love most are the ones who have faced something scary. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little shaky about my own life, I’ll ask a friend to tell me about a time when they faced their demons. Of course, my timing is usually terrible and instead of trying to dive immediately into their soul I should probably just ask them to pass the gravy and wait until after dinner to solve my personal issues.

Luckily, you guys won’t have to worry about poor timing because we’re doing a whole show on facing your fears and the only timing you have to worry about is keeping your story under 8 minutes.

In the meantime, I might spring this question on my family. Sometimes our Thanksgiving dinners are too quiet and I’m always looking for a way to shake things up. I can’t wait to see if I can get one of the grandparents to tell a story that shocks the teenagers so much they put down their phones for a second.

No matter what happens at Thanksgiving this year, I hope to see a bunch of you on Thursday, December 14 at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

If you bring a story, remember to keep it clean, practice out loud, and use a timer to make sure you keep it under 8 minutes. Here are the rules & guidelines to help you get started.


See you on the 14th!


Thank you

Thank you everyone who showed up last Thursday and made it such a special show. There were so many touching stories that night that I ended up listening to some of then again tonight as I was writing this.

One of our new regulars, Rich, started the show with a sweet story about getting an unexpected hug from one of his jazz heroes, Roland Kirk, years ago in a little bar in San Francisco. It was a wonderful reminder that sometimes our heros are just as nice as we think they are.

Marty, a first-timer, followed Rich with a story of his first love, Jenny, when they were both five years old. It was the start of many crushes and love affairs in his life and also a winding journey of living with rejection while still trying to be vulnerable. His story brought me back to my own first crushes in elementary school and how I’m still learning my own lessons on how to stay open in the face of being hurt. Thank you Marty. I was happy to present you with the Scone of Courage.

Nathan, another first-timer, told us about the last act of love he was able to show a beloved uncle who meant a lot to him when he was growing up. Part of me wants to say more about Nathan’s story but another part of me feels like it should stay right there at Roy Street where we heard it.

David, one of our most prolific tellers, told a story that made me want to sit down with him for the rest of the night and talk about it. The story was how he came to realize that when we fall in love with someone we always think we’re the first act of our lover’s life but really we’re in the second act. We forget that the person we love has already lived through the first act before we got there. It’s something I’ve never thought about but as soon as David said it I knew it was something I’d be thinking about for a long time. Thank you, David. You know I’ll be calling you one day to dig into that.

Kristi, who has only told once before, almost had me falling out of my chair as she described diving into Lake Union to save Bubba the Boston Terrier. Even though I’ve never technically seen a woman swimming to shore with a dog on her head I feel like I have a really good idea of what that looks like now. While I’d never wish ill on Bubba the Dog Who Can’t Swim I do secretly hope that he falls off the dock one more time so I can see Kristi rescue him.

Chad told a great story about a particular series of gifts he spent hours preparing for his girlfriend. It was extra special for me because from where I was sitting I could turn around and see his sweetheart in the second row alternately laughing and beaming.

Bruce, another first-timer, told a story about how he dealt with his crush on Salma Hayek who just happens to live in Yelm which is 20 minutes from my house. Bruce, I swear if I ever see Salma buying corn nuts in the AM/PM down there I’ll give her your number.

Two of the sweetest stories of the night were from Sonny and Chris. I just sent Chris the audio of her story and told her that I’d listened to the last minute-and-a-half of it over and over tonight. If she lets me, I’m going to keep those 90 seconds in my phone and listen to them whenever I need to remind myself of how important any act of loving kindness is.

Sonny told one of the sweetest and quietest stories I’ve ever heard. It was about the time he went back to Wyoming and stood under the cottonwood tree where he carved a heart over half a century ago that said, “Sonny loves Ann.” The image of Sonny’s heart climbing higher into the sky every year is something I’ve thought about every day since he told that story. He was 12 when he left Wyoming and saw Ann for the last time. Somewhere out there in the world is a woman named Ann who I hope, at least in some small way, knows how much she meant to a little boy named Sonny.

Every now and then I see a story I love so much that I invite the teller to tell it at FGS. A few weeks ago I came across a fantastic story from Cindy Healy who won the Moth Story Slam with her story about a movie she saw in the theater that brought her back to December 4, 1996 when she and a small group of people did something amazing.

Thank you Cindy for being kind enough to come out and tell that story again for us at Roy Street. You are always welcome to come back and tell stories with us.

Click the link below to see the Moth version of Cindy’s story:

I wish I could thank everyone by name who came out and shared a story last week but I only have a handful of the slips from Mr. Coffee and I know there were more people than that onstage. So thanks to everyone whether you were onstage or in the audience cheering people on.

Our next show is December 14. The theme is “Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears.”

I’ll get the invite out tomorrow night. I hope you can make it.

Take care and have a great holiday 🙂


See you Thursday + KUOW needs storytellers!

Hi Everyone,

I know I’ll be seeing a bunch of you this Thursday at Roy St for our regular show but I also want to let you know about a great storytelling opportunity coming up.

Jeannie Randel of KUOW got ahold of me today to ask if I would let everyone at FGS know that they need storytellers for a live event they’re doing.

KUOW is looking for true, first-person stories for, “Why we stayed – An evening of storytelling about why people have stayed in our rapidly growing, increasingly expensive and traffic jammed city… and what they had to do to stay.” The stories must be no longer than 12 minutes.

If anyone has a story about why you’ve stayed in Seattle, what you had to do to stay, and what you’ve learned from all of it, please contact Jeannie at jyandel@kuow.org or call her at (206) 616-7537. It sounds like a lot of fun and if I actually lived in your wonderful city I’d be wracking my brain right now for a story about it 🙂

In the meantime, I hope you can make it to our “Anything for Love” show this Thursday.