What a great show we had Thursday! The room was packed, the stories were wonderful, and the energy was perfect. Every seat was taken so I’m going to keep looking for more folding chairs to bring with me. Feel free to bring your own next time if you can. The only thing that didn’t work that night was the recorder which stopped working after five minutes. I don’t know what happened but I’m going to be investigating it over the next three weeks so it doesn’t happen again. I hate not being able to give tellers a copy of their story.
Since I can’t relisten to the show I might get some of the details wrong in this wrap-up. I also hope I don’t forget anyone who told a story. My notes are scattered across multiple pieces of paper so I’m praying I don’t miss anyone. I found three slips of paper with tellers’ names on them in my shoe in case you’re wondering how organized I am.
I do know that our first teller of the night was Mike. I asked him a few minutes before showtime if he’d mind going first and if his story was something that would be a good opener. He said, “Oh absolutely. It’s about my mom dying, but it’s funny!” That’s exactly the answer I was looking for. He told a sweet and funny story about his mom deciding to end her life with dignity and all the absurd things you have to talk about when that happens. Mike reminded me of how important storytelling is when we find ourselves in painful moments. Stories help put things in perspective and give us a little control over how we deal with those things. Thank you Mike for showing us how to do that.
Sybil was our only first-timer of the night and she did a great job. She told us about finding her passion for dancing in Juneau, AK, and how she went around the state as a roving terpsichorean (yes, I had to Google that). I wish I’d been around to see her teach dance in the logging and fishing camps of southeast Alaska. I remember what it was like to do comedy in those places and I didn’t have to do it in tights.
Deborah was next with a sweet story of all the love she encountered in Seattle one day. Not long ago, she met a Japanese tourist on the light rail with a three-hour layover in Seattle who wanted to go downtown to see the first Starbucks. Deborah offered to help get him there and along the way met a handful of strangers who went out of their way to help. It was just the kind of story I needed to hear. A few years ago we did a show on the theme of the kindness of strangers. We might have to do that one again. Thank you, Deborah, for all the work I know you put into that story and for reminding us that night that there is still kindness in the world.
If you’re looking for more true, personal storytelling, Sybil and Deborah run a great new show called 7 Stories in Burien. They have a good group of new tellers down there but they’re always looking for new folks to share the stage with. Their next show is Friday the 24th. Send them an email if you’d like to tell a story or just show up if you’d like to hang out and listen.
February 24th · 7:00-8:30 pm
Fed Up / Tipping Point / Enough is Enough
Ashley was our next teller with a touching story about coming to terms with who she really is and what it’s been like to finally accept it after hiding for so many years. It’s something I think a lot of us need to hear at some point in our lives. I’m glad Ashley had the love and support of her wife and kids to help her get to where she is today.
Dave was up next with a story of revenge in Newfoundland. It turns out that even Canada has bad bosses and that even Canadians can be pushed over the line. For the record, I fully support Dave’s reaction to his boss’s greed which included a few hundred gallons of aviation fuel, a catholic priest, and a bull moose.
Brian shared a story with us about what it’s like to grow up in a time and place where every boy had to learn how to fight and what happens when that boy grows up and can’t hit people anymore. I struggle with that feeling all the time. Even now as an old man, I beat myself up (ironically) for not cracking someone on the nose who I think deserves it. It’s a feeling that’s never gone away. I’ve just gotten better at defusing it. Thank you, Brian, for letting me know I’m not the only one. Brian last told with us a few years ago when we were at the Olive Way Starbucks. I’m glad he found us again.
Zac was next with the story of going to Cambodia partly to film a story on landmine removal and partly to escape from the grief of his mother dying a few weeks earlier. I remember all the things I did to escape the grief of my mother dying when I was young. It makes perfect sense to me that Zac went to the other side of the world to wander through minefields to escape his. Zac’s was the kind of story that makes me forgive myself for all the crazy stuff I’ve done to avoid doing what I needed to do. Patience isn’t something we can only give others. We often have to extend it to ourselves. This was Zac’s second story with us and the first live, onstage. I’m so excited the folks who met us during the Zoom years are now coming to our in-person shows.
Nick was next with a story about meeting his professional wrestling heroes when he was a kid. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear someone talk about George “The Animal” Steele and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. I never hear those names anymore and it was so nice to be carried away on a wave of nostalgia for eight minutes. Nick put a lovely twist on the old adage about never meeting your heroes and I’m so happy he came out to FGS to tell it.
Emily was our final teller with a story about spending the last three months in Thailand at a muay Thai camp. For those of you who don’t follow combat sports, muay Thai is a martial art that originated in Thailand and is also known as the art of eight limbs. That means you get to hit people with your fists, elbows, knees, and feet. Perfect for a Seattle middle school teacher on a year-long sabbatical. I knew Emily had been traveling around the world for the last few months but I didn’t know she was getting beaten up by 13-year-old kickboxers in Southeast Asia. Was it a genuine curiosity of Thailand’s culture and sport that brought her to Phuket or was it undiagnosed rage after teaching middle schoolers for the last seven years? You’d know the answer to that if you’d been at the show. How could you have missed this night of all nights?? Emily will probably be flying off to another country by the time you read this so you’ll have to wait another six months to hear about limping back to her room after battling children in a ring.
Our next show is on March 16 and we’ll have two themes that night. At the end of last week’s show, I said our next theme was, “Breaking the Rules.” Now I realize that it could be a little problematic to talk in public about breaking certain rules. So I’m adding a second theme to our March show. If you don’t want to tell us about the time you broke out of jail or set fire to your cousin’s Volkswagen. I totally understand! I have no idea what the statute of limitations is for that stuff.
So here’s the second theme for March, “Best Laid Plans – Stories of things going sideways.” I hope this jogs a memory and makes you want the share the story.
Before I let you go, I want to let you know that I’ve started a donation page for the show to help pay for the monthly venue fee. Fresh Ground Stories will always be free to attend and tell stories at but I’ve had to give up on my dream of finding a free place for the show. We started in 2010 and we’ve always been lucky enough to find a Starbucks that gave us their space in exchange for bringing in lots of people to buy coffee. The space we’re at now, the Chabad at Queen Anne – Magnolia, doesn’t sell anything so we can’t really ask for that kind of deal. Happily, they’re letting us use their space because they believe in what we do. All they’ve asked from us is a cleaning fee so that the space will be ready the next day for services.
Unfortunately, I can’t afford to pay the monthly fee on my own so if you’d like to help us keep this space click on the link below and send us a couple bucks. Extra special thanks to all the people who put cash in Mr. Coffee after the show Thursday. That was completely unexpected. I’m incredibly grateful for the love everyone showed me and FGS that night. (Thank you, David, for the suggestion.)
Don’t forget, our monthly workshop is also free and so is one-on-one story coaching from me over the phone.
freshgroundstories at Gmail dot com to set up a phone call
See you all next month on the 16th!
Email me directly if you have any questions (Meetup doesn’t usually send me replies to these emails.)
freshgroundstories at Gmail dot com