Before I get to the show wrap-up I want to let you know that one of our tellers, Mary Anne Moorman, is doing a show with the amazing Go Janes this Saturday at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle. If you’ve never heard stories and music together you need to see this show. It’s magical. Either one of these acts is worth going to West Seattle for. But together? It’s a must-see! So go see’em 🙂

http://www.kenyonhall.org/

Ok, now that you’re back from buying those tickets and changing the course of your artistic life…thanks to everyone who came to our show last Thursday! I was worried that I hadn’t worded the theme in a way that would jog some memories and generate stories but we ended up with eight tellers that night which is a perfect number for us.

We started out with Gretchen, star of Moth Slams and Risk! shows lately, who told us how she went from Thanksgiving novice to a turkey-carving samurai. Along the way, she reminded us that it’s never really about the food. Thanksgiving and other food-focused holidays are always about the people we gather around us. Or as she puts it,  “It’s about the company, not the cuisine.”

Next up was our favorite metro bus driver Nathan. I’ve been trying to get Nathan back to FGS for years but his driving schedule keeps him on the road Thursday nights. I’ve been this close to getting everyone in the audience to hop on his bus for a few stops so he can tell a story while we drive around town but then we’d all need to get Ubers and cabs back to Starbucks so…the mobile show will have to wait. But one day I will make this happen! Nathan’s story that night was about a young woman riding his bus one day who handed him a note that said, “Making friends won’t hurt you.” Everyone at the show that night knows now that anyone who gives a note like that to a stranger she sees on the bus is absolutely not the person you want to be friends with. Turns out sometimes making a new friend can hurt you. 

Chris followed Nathen with the first chess story we’ve ever heard at FGS. Is there something about being good at chess that leads to having a big ego? Chris told a sweet comeuppance story about beating the 8th-grade chess master in her very first game of chess. I love stories about tiny victories we still remember decades later. Chris’s story was a great example of taking a single moment in time, one move on a chess board, and turning it into a story. 

David was next with a story that also happened many years ago. Thirty-nine years ago to be exact. It was about a time he got lost in a Costa Rican jungle and was convinced he was going to be eaten by a jaguar. Or, if you’ve read your son too many Winnie-the-Pooh stories, a jagular. Yes, every time David mentioned jaguar in his story, I was hearing jagular in my head. When David was done there were two thoughts running through my mind. One, that I need to find those old Pooh books and see if it really was a jagular. And two, that I need to start walking through jungles so I can get more near-death stories.

Quinn, who we also haven’t seen in years, made a surprise appearance that night and told a beautiful story about going from acting and dancing to violin repair to soon a career in law. Somewhere in the middle of her story she said, “I decided to cauterize the wound of my poverty with art.” Such a perfect sentence! I’m still thinking about it a week later. Quinn and Nathan, by the way, came up with their stories in the 30 minutes before the show began when I told them we only had five names in Mr. Coffee. If you had heard their stories you would have sworn they’d worked on them for weeks. We truly have some amazing people walk onto our stage each month. Thank you Quinn and Nathan for helping me out on short notice.

Deborah was next with another story that began decades earlier. This time it was about a heart-shaped box of candy that she wanted every Valentine’s Day when she was a kid but never received. Was the story about a box of candy? No, it was about how the dreams of youth don’t always measure up years later when you live them out as an adult. Of course, for me, it was also about the importance of laughter and not taking yourself too seriously.

Carolyn was up next with a hilarious story about entering the workforce with her college degree in 1978 and discovering that there were still a lot of barriers for a woman to overcome even with a college degree. Normally, this isn’t the type of story we tell at FGS but Carolyn told it so well and without veering into a TED talk that she kinda found a loophole in my “no politics” rule. In the 12 years FGS has been around, only one other person has been able to tell a story like this without turning it into a speech at the end. It’s wonderful to see when it works and terrible when it doesn’t. That night it was wonderful. Thank you, Carolyn, for keeping it a story. According to my calculations, we have to wait at least eight more years before anyone else can try this.

Our next teller was a complete surprise. Shreya, a young woman who had never told a story onstage before, was so inspired by the tellers she’d seen so far that she walked up to me during the show and asked if she could tell a story. I love it when this happens! We usually have too many tellers to add more during the show but that night I was able to get her in toward the end. She told the story of how she’d started over by moving to Seattle from another country and all the things she had done to try to make this her new home. I hope Shreya comes back in the future and tells more stories with us. The audiences at FGS shows are incredibly supportive of new tellers and it’s exciting for me personally to see someone discover this wonderful art form.

I was so happy to see another teller from the old days of FGS walk onstage next. Elliot finally returned and shared a sweet story about what it means to find a job where you’re treated like a human being. We’ve all had jobs where we were treated like a lump of coal and wondered how we were going to escape. It made me happy to see that Elliot was able to do just that. He’d started his job just a week or two earlier and we could see the excitement on his face when he talked about how good it felt to enjoy going to work every day. Thank you Elliot for sharing that with us.

Emily was our final teller and she told us about falling in love with Iceland. I’m smiling right now as I’m listening to her story again and hearing her say, “Jenny, I think I love it here. I think I’m supposed to be here.” Tomorrow, Emily’s wish is coming true. She’s going to Iceland for two months and performing her one-woman show, “Iceland Please Love Me” at the Reykjavik Fringe Festival. I’m so touched that she chose FGS to work on the stories she’s going to tell there. Emily is an amazing writer and storyteller and Iceland is lucky to have her. Here’s the link to her show if you’d like to read more about it: https://rvk.ssboxoffice.com/events/iceland-please-love-me/

Thanks again to all the tellers and everyone who showed up to support them. This is where we learn how to tell stories and we are lucky to have such fantastic audiences every month. We’re also lucky that Starbucks not only stays open for us three hours after they close, they also provide free drip coffee and pastries. This is a big deal. When we changed venues in 2019, they were the only ones in Seattle who offered us a free place to perform. I’ve kept FGS free for everyone to attend and perform because I think the world needs places like this to share stories. I couldn’t do that if I had to rent a space. That this coffee shop also gives us free coffee and pastries while their registers are closed so they can’t even make money while we’re there is amazing. If you’re ever in the area, please stop by and leave a good tip. It’s important to take care of people who take care of us.

That’s all for now. I hope you can make it to our next show on July 21. There will be two themes that night. Pick whichever one you have a story for. The themes are “Gratitude – Stories where you get to say thanks” and “Lessons Learned”. We all have people we can thank in our lives but I also know it might be hard to find a specific story on that theme. So I’m adding “Lessons Learned” as a theme in case you can’t come up with a thank you story. I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.

Write me at freshgroundstories at gmail dot com if you have any questions or would like some help on a story. Our next free workshop is July 10. Here’s the link for more info:

Take care,

Paul