Friday, July 31, 2015

Moth StorySlam: A First - Part 1

I have a little time before I'm meeting Dr. Sassypantsmagoo for a run, so I thought I would start on one of the posts I meant to write a few months ago.

I am a huge fan of The Moth, which is a storytelling show and podcast. I believe I have listened to every story that's available on the website. The one thing I wasn't able to do for a very long time was get tickets to a live Moth show of any kind. For a long time (although I think they've remedied this now), the tickets would go on sale about a week before the event, but I was never sure exactly when and they sell out almost instantly.

One serendipitous morning, my friend Vicky managed to check the site at the perfect time and tickets were still available. We made an immediate decision to go (there's not a lot of time for ruminating) and I bought a ticket for each of us. The event was a StorySlam and the site listed the evening's topic as "Bosses." A StorySlam is essentially an open mic where anyone can submit to tell a story that relates to the evening's topic. The only real "rule" aside from relating to the topic (and even that is somewhat flexible) is that the story must be true and it must be your own. Over the course of the evening, ten storytellers are chosen to perform onstage.

For the week before the show, I racked my brain trying to think of a story I wanted to tell. I thought of a few I could tell, but none that I felt like I needed to. It's a hard feeling to articulate, but after lots of thought, I resigned myself to the idea that I was going to pass up the opportunity to tell a story. Rather than force a story that would seem (to me, anyway) contrived, I wanted to wait until I had something true to say. I wanted to tell a story with not just factual, but also emotional truth because that is the crux of storytelling as a performance genre.

The Monday of the show arrived and I could barely contain myself during the workday. Since I didn't intend to submit, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to commute to the show by running. Kill two birds with one stone and all. My timing could have been better, but I arrived about 15 minutes before the show started and had an absolute bear of a time getting my ticket. Fortunately, Vicky had gotten there on time and was saving us seats.

When I got to my seat, I found a slip of paper on it that said "Tell us about a time when you took charge," which I thought was just another way of interpreting the theme of "bosses." Suddenly, I thought of a story I wanted to tell. I scribbled it onto the slip of paper and brought it to the front. Unbeknownst to me in the moment, I actually dropped it in the wrong container but got some help from the person standing at the front with the submissions. Crisis averted.

Ophira Eisenberg was the show host. I'm a fan of her stories, but she's even better in person. She explained the format of the show and also how many people had submitted. I imagined lots of people would submit to tell a story and that the odds that I would actually be chosen were slim to none. I was completely wrong and shocked to learn that only nineteen people had submitted. Nineteen! My odds of being chosen were slightly higher than 50%!

All the storytellers aren't chosen at once. Each person goes up, tells their story, and then chooses the next person. From the minute I put my name into the pot, I knew I was going up. It was just a hunch. One by one, stories were told and I had a small heart attack every time a name was called that wasn't mine.

As the ninth person's story came to a close, there was a split second when I thought maybe it wasn't my day and I wouldn't go up after all. But he (she? I don't even remember) stuck their hand in the bag and pulled out a slip of paper and I heard Ophira Eisenberg read my name. I turned to Vicky and made a less than family-friendly exclamation before heading up to the stage. Keep in mind, I was still in my running clothes.

I did not expect this post to drag out to multiple parts, but here we are. To be continued!

Monday, July 27, 2015

July (Almost August) 2015 Catchup

This is shaping up to be my worst year for blog posts. I've been meaning to catch up for some time, because there were four or five times over the last few months that I wanted to write and just never sat down to do it. Call it laziness or a funk, but I've been terribly remiss with regard to blogging.

I was inspired to post something tonight because I spent the last few hours of it watching livestream of the Ironman Lake Placid finish line. It's something I highly recommend doing if you're looking for some big ol' feels.

I was at a social function a few weeks ago and met a friend of a friend who slipped into casual conversation that she was set to do Lake Placid in a short three weeks. Prior to this, we had chatted a bit about riding and triathlon in general, but it took some time for her to mention the Ironman. She revealed that she was anxious about it because she had attempted the same race in 2013 but hadn't made the bike cutoff. She was very apprehensive about even talking about it much. I had some relevant insight, as someone who has found myself in the same exquisitely agonizing situation (well-documented, in a four part post that starts here). We commiserated about it for awhile, and eventually parted ways. She said she wasn't completely sure she was going to do it while I did my best to encourage it.

It wasn't my day, so I won't make this its own epic saga (although maybe she'll do a guest post about it...). Suffice it to say, she started and finished like a champ and she is an Ironwoman. I am very glad she overcame her fear of the distance and was able to power through all the tough times that come with a daylong race.

I'm liking this guest post idea more and more, so I'm going to try to make that happen. As for me, I would like to post about a few things that have happened since we last touched base:

  • I told a story at the Moth StorySlam just about a week after my last post. It was (perhaps not shockingly) about running and Hurricane Sandy.
  • I finished the New Jersey Marathon at the end of April and ran it just about the time I anticipated.
  • Brooklyn Half
  • Queens 10K (maybe)
  • Challenge Atlantic City half iron tri
  • Party With Purpose - 5K in Hoboken
  • Tomorrow is Day 1 of serious marathon training
Now that I've broken the ice, hopefully these posts will come easier. Congrats to M (kept at least partially anonymous for now) and to all the Lake Placid (and other Ironman races that happened today) finishers.