Big thanks to everyone who came out to the show Thursday. You were just what I needed. I hope everyone heard at least one story they’re still thinking about. One of my favorite parts of FGS in the Before Times is talking about the stories on the way home with whoever’s with me in the car. Sadly, the drive home is a little shorter now. There’s not nearly enough time to talk about the stories between the computer and the couch. Plus, I’m the only one here so that makes it kind of awkward. 

If anyone was wondering what happened to my assistant Kris over the last few months you found out that night when she told us that she’s been dealing with Hashimoto’s Thyroidism. It’s an autoimmune disease that does what autoimmune diseases do – they make you miserable and frustrated because no one knows what’s wrong with you. Luckily, Kris was able to figure out what was going on herself and her doctor confirmed it. The best part is that if you have to get an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s is the one to get. It’s the only one you can put into remission by diet and lifestyle changes. Finally some good news in 2020!

(Ironically, the portable word processor I’m writing this on often randomly starts typing in Japanese so I may have just spelled Hashimoto’s Disease in its native kanji. Don’t ask me why I keep using this thing. I guess I get a kick out of suddenly writing in another language.)

Another story I’m still thinking about one Jen told about a stoic grandmother who gave her a gift she very much needed after a car accident. It was a haunting story that took its time getting to where it needed to be. It’s only the second story Jen’s told with us but she told it perfectly. There’s a scene in it where 9-year-old Jen is sitting at the counter of Murphy’s Five-and-Dime smashing a Matchbox car into her milkshake glass over and over again. She doesn’t explain why she’s doing it but we all somehow understood it. Thank you for that beautiful story, Jen.

Behnaz also had a story about a tiny gift that meant a lot. It was a little charm her aunt gave her that she lost immediately but still remembers years later. Her aunt gave her that charm because she knew it would be different from all the other presents Behnaz received that day and she wanted her to feel special. I hope one day Behnaz can share this story with her aunt so she knows how much that gesture meant to her. We all need an aunt like that in our lives.

Chris, one of our regular tellers, told a story about her new relationship with Marie Kondo. Thank you, Chris, for making me see folding t-shirts in a new light. A few weeks ago Chris mentioned to me that she was trying to downsize. I love it when something a friend says to me in conversation becomes a story. It makes me feel like I was there in the beginning of something special, like seeing Van Halen play a high school dance in 1974. 

Marte shared a story about riddles and poker faces that reminded me how often we forget that our parents had childhoods too. Weird, right? It took me decades to even begin trying to figure out my parents through the lens of their childhoods and not my own. I wish I had asked my parents more about what their lives were like growing up. It would have saved me a lot of grief knowing that sometimes the things they said and did had nothing to do with me. I know how much time Marte spend working on her story. I hope she knows how great it turned out. One of the nice things about storytelling is that we get to learn a little bit more about each other with every new story. I’ve only known Marte for a couple months but I already feel like I’m getting to know her and her family. I like that. In a world where we never talk to our physical neighbors, I’m glad we have a place to share bits of our lives with our storytelling neighbors. 

Yael told a beautiful story about introducing kids to art. I wish I had been one of those kids. How often do we get to experience not just someone’s passion for art but their commitment to introducing it to people in a way that will inspire them? Knowing how to share your art is an art too. It’s rare to find someone who is good at something and also good at explaining that something. Yael is one of those rare ones 🙂

I’m starting to think that all of Tracey’s stories have a moment in them where she silently thinks, “This can’t be happening.” We’re lucky to be blessed with a teller like Tracey who can turn tragedy into comedy. Who else could get a laugh out of a line like, “My doctor pronounced me barren”? When you can laugh at the worst times of your life it means those memories don’t control you anymore. That’s one of the reasons I tell stories, to prove to myself that I can slip out of any handcuffs my past tries to put on me. In my stories, I’m always Houdini. Thank you, Tracey, for showing us how you do that. And congratulations on the twins!

Bob Krulish, the only first-timer that night, told a hilarious story about trying to get to a psychiatrist one day to settle a bet with his therapist over whether he was bipolar. I asked Bob to share one of his stories after reading his memoir, “When Screams Turn to Whispers.” I was touched by how he was able to find joy after so much pain. If you’re curious how he was able to do that you can get his book at https://bobkrulish.com/book/. No, he didn’t ask me for a plug. I’m doing it because stories like his deserve to be heard. 

The only teller I haven’t mentioned so far is my son. If you were there that night to hear this story you probably understand why I don’t know what to say right now. It’s hard to see your kid talk about things you can’t fix. The hardest thing about being a parent is letting your kid feel their feelings. Years ago I had to share a story with Taran before I told it publicly. He needed to hear it first before anyone else did. I remember telling him then that this is how we get through stuff. We put our experiences into stories to make ourselves decide what the ending is going to be. When you put a memory into a story it takes it out of your body and into the world where it doesn’t hurt as much. It’s how we turn something bad into something beautiful.

As hard as it was to hear that story, I’m proud of him for telling it. Thanks for being the kind of audience where any one of us can get up and tell a story like that and know they aren’t alone. Thanks also for all the sweet comments I found later in the chat room. I sent them to him tonight. I always get choked up when I see how kind everyone is to our tellers. I don’t get to talk to every teller after the show but I know those comments mean a lot to them. 

Next month’s show is on Dec 17. The theme is “What was I thinking?” I’ll get the invite out as soon as possible. If you were one of the tellers last Thursday, let me know if you want an audio copy of your story. 

See you next month 🙂

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com