redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

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Journey to The Moth Stage – CONTROL

If you listen to your local, national public radio station, you’re probably familiar with The Moth. Specifically, The Moth radio hour, an hour worth of curated stories from people’s lives that entertain and inform us all about life and the human condition. Each story is a true story from the storyteller’s life and what they share can be humorous, emotional, heartfelt, but basically always leaves you feeling a little more connected to humanity than you did before – or at least it does for me. I love listening to people’s stories. I love connection. So I really love The Moth.

I’ve fantasized about being on The Moth radio hour, but it’s a long road to get there, and it starts with StorySlams. The Moth hosts StorySlams in various cities across the country that are centered around a specific theme. Storytellers then coming to the event put their name in the proverbial hat and destiny decides whether they will share that story or not. Each story is judged by random people in the audience, and the winner of the night goes onto a GrandSlam where they compete against other StorySlam winners. The stories that get onto The Moth Radio Hour are curated from the Moth Mainstage, which is another level of The Moth that I assume one gets to by winning a GrandSlam.

It’s a journey, and one I am ready to embark on. I’ve been called an oversharer. I definitely identify as being a writer. So why not! Last night I attended my first Moth StorySlam. I crafted a story around the topic of control, and then decided it wasn’t good enough to perform – so I just went to observe. Since I was a newbie, I felt just getting a lay of the land would be good and I’m so glad I gave myself the grace to try and then know when I may be out of my realm. Well, after listening to fabulous stories, and not so great presenters of stories, and stories that weren’t even on topic – I have COMPLETE confidence that anything I write is worthy of my name in the hat. And really, I can only get better with each try. So I’m going to keep on trying.

When you attend a StorySlam, slips of paper with a question around the topic is on the chairs, and people can write a two sentence story around the topic to toss into a box. Last night the topic was “Control, ” and the question was, “When was there a time you felt you had lost control.” I wrote four sentences that outline the story I’m going to share below. The host read my slip of paper, the audience laughed, and she ended by saying, “That’s not a two sentence story, that’s an existential crisis.” I loved it. But her saying it was an existential crisis was sort of the reason my instincts said to not share my story because it didn’t feel like a story, it felt more like an essay.

Later in the evening, Dan and I ran into a few of the people who were also at the StorySlam, and I had confessed which slip of paper was mine. They burst into laughter and astonishment in being able to relate to my life existential crisis and encouraged me to share my stories – because it seemed like I could tell a good one.

So without further ado – here is my story around the theme of “CONTROL.”

(please note this is the first and only draft)

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I’m a writer…

We reject and desire labels all the same. Placing them on ourselves like a Name Tag to the universe, Hello I’m___. But if someone else comes at us with a label, well damn them for trying to stick something on our backs with out us knowing. Labels are most used in the work force, when trying to determine what our career is. It’s a very nice social safety net if you have a good label. I’ve been dealing with, am I trying to be a “blogger” or a “writer”. Now a few existential crises later, I have committed and come to the fact, I am a writer.

I either carry paper or a moleskin notebook with me everywhere I go. I’m not as much a people watcher, as I am an observer. I observe everything, like a mental photographer. But my pictures extend past the visual; into scents, textures, sounds, anything that inspire a story in my mind.

One day as I was driving home I saw a mattress propped up on the side of tree outside of an apartment building… this is the vignette which came from it.

We came across this queen mattress, abandoned in the back alley of a converted industrial building that  was now overpriced art studios. Smelling of piss, body odor, and stale sex; we devised a plan to sanitize and get it back to the manor. We’d been sleeping on a pile of donated blankets and worn in sleeping bags, using tacky winter coats as cushioning from the hard wood floor.

There’s a kid we knew, about 16, who’d be our taxi for a case of beer and a few joints. Calling him up, about an hour later, we’d secured our new bed to the roof of his 94 Honda Civic. Most likely a hand-me-down car from an older brother; I always wondered if his upper middle class parents would ever cut him off.

We pulled up to our place and dragged it to the yard, the dead grass causing me to sneeze and legs to itch. We stopped by the 99 cent store to pick up 5 gallons of bleach. Pouring the solution onto the dingy satin, the silk flower pattern began to fade.

It took a whole day in the sun to dry. We smoked cigarettes and talked of the state of our world, various characters joining us periodically to stare at the drying queen.

The fumes burned my lungs as I held it close, hands cracked after dragging it up the stairs into our room, throwing our previous bedding on top. On humid days, our room transforms into a YMCA pool locker room.

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