Hello, My Name is Carol and I Sell T-shirts

Growing Up AustinI wanted to dress well without looking like I was trying too hard and you know I’m not a very good dresser, so it took a while. I found just the right sweater to wear with my dark, skinny jeans and a funky/casual/interesting jacket on top, but the sweater was dirty. I washed the sweater and hung it to dry, but it didn’t dry fast enough so I put it in the dryer to dry, which is risky for sure.

The day was complicated: eight hours of work in a six hour day, pick up Noel, pick up the little girls, then eat a granola bar for dinner while driving through rush hour traffic to get downtown by 6pm so I can sell t-shirts.

I was very excited.

I love stories.

I love telling stories.

I love listening to stories.

I believe that history, science, politics, business and spirituality can all be taught best through stories and stories can change the world.

I love the Moth.

I was honored to be selling t-shirts for the Moth during their show at The Paramount.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

I’m lucky I didn’t wreck the car.

I was downtown, just around the corner from the Paramount when I realized my just-the-right sweater was still in the dryer.

What the #*@& was I wearing?

I looked down, scared to death. I was pretty sure I was about to show up to school naked.

OK, not too bad. I had my good jeans on, a little black sweater and a lose black cardigan. It wasn’t as good as what I planned, but it could have been a lot worse.

— The show was AMAZING. I was taken away to other worlds and I returned a slightly different person. —

Also, I was AMAZING at selling t-shirts. They didn’t have a lot of inventory, so I made it my mission to sell every last shirt. Near the end, I was looking out for people of certain sizes, to match the shirts we had left, and making a personal pitch to each woman, size small.

Mission accomplished.

Not a single shirt left.

The Moth folks kindly invited me to go to dinner after the show with them. It was like I was fifteen again and I got invited to go back stage at the Journey concert, 1981 Escape tour, but better.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

You know how it works when you are in a group and y’all are starting to sit down and you try to pick where you sit, more or less? There were a few folks who worked for the Moth and the story tellers who had performed and I decided to sit by one of the people who worked for the Moth. I wanted to know more about how to get a Moth Slam in Austin and what was up with the Moth Corporate program, but this didn’t work out for me.

My contact from the Moth was on my left, but to her left were her personal, very best,  long-time friends who lived in Texas while she lived in New York and they needed to catch up on all they had missed over the years, so I didn’t get to talk to her at all. At my right were a group of folks from Georgia, where the Moth started on a woman’s back porch, and they had recently done a story telling tour by bus, where the bus broke down a hundred times, but it was the most fun and memorable experience of their lives and it bonded them like family forever and it wasn’t easy to join that conversation. And across from me there was an empty chair.

It was like I just got back stage to find out the Journey had already left.

But, across and to my left was Mike Daisy, a very famous story teller, monologist and performer who had hosted the event and to his left was another person from the Moth. They were friendly and interesting and funny.

Mike Daisy, the professional story telling genius, solved my story telling problem.

I have a story telling group that meets in my living room and we are ready to tell stories for a larger group, but when we tried to move it to a public space, only four people RSVPd to the first night and they were the people telling the stories. We didn’t know how to make the transition.

Mike Daisy said to keep the group in my living room and plan just one event. Put all your energy into just one event and if it goes well and if people ask for more, then do another one. But don’t move it all together and don’t commit to doing regular shows. Wait until people ask for more.

Yes, I like that.

Then I talked with Issac, from the Georgia group. I told him the empty chair across from me was making me feel alone and he pulled the chair away from the table and moved across from me. He lives in Austin now and he told me about a group is he part of, The Old Murder House Theatre, that recreates movies in a live setting, like when they performed Aliens on Ice.

Oh, my, that sounds fun.

As people finished eating, they got up and mingled some and I met a few more folks.  I introduced myself saying, “Hello, I’m Carol and I sell t-shirts!”

Well, I hadn’t finished my food and I like left overs, but is it cheap and tacky to get a to-go box when you are back stage with Journey? Maybe so, but I wasn’t intimidated anymore so I took my food in a to-go box.

It was 1:00am when we finished our late dinner. Some folks were going to the Driskill Hotel for drinks. I had two equally powerful thoughts:

1. I must have drinks with these people.

2. I must go home and sleep.

Normally, I would chose #1, because I believe in making the choice more likely to end up in a story. But, the next day was my girls’ holiday performance which would require sophisticated logistical coordination to get all the right kids, family, costumes, shoes, extra panties and food in the right place at the right time and this is harder to do when I’m tired. And if we drank for very long, I would get home just as the kids were waking up, which can’t be a fun way to start the day.

I still chose #1.

The Driskill bar was closed, so they headed to 6th street.

It was cold, cold, cold, so I reached to tie the belt around my coat.

My hands got wet and sticky.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

I had tilted the to-go box and gotten sauce all over my coat.

I could drink all night on 6th street, but I would smell like shrimp the whole time.

I smiled.  That was enough story for one night. It was time to go home.


Me and Spike Gillespie to Perform at the Moth in Austin

The Moth

Photo courtesy of TheMoth.org

Spike Gillespie, Austin’s own writer, performer and all-around-fun personality, announced on Facebook yesterday that she has been asked by The Moth to perform a story at their Austin performance in December.

I told y’all before that I LOVE the Moth and Spike Gillespie is GREAT, so isn’t that fun for everybody?

Well, I have a little of my own news to share. The Moth has also asked me to perform at the show. I won’t be exactly on stage, more near the lobby and I will technically be required to sell t-shirts while I tell my story during intermission, but I still consider this my big break.

Do you love stories too? Then come see The Moth in December at the Paramount. You can see Spike Gillespie tell her story and you can buy a Moth t-shirt from me. I promise it will be fun for everybody!

(UPDATE: Spike didn’t end up performing that night and I sold a ton of  t-shirts.)


Twice as Good and a Long Way To Go


The dress rehearsal for The Motherhood Instincts Project was one week before the live performance and as I finished my reading I realized that I sucked.

Oh, #$%#$%.

I didn’t think I sucked before, but that was before I saw The Moth in New York City.

I was fascinated by a woman who tied for the win that night.

Her story was terrible.

The theme of the night was Struggle and her story was about being on a bus while she watched a guy running to catch the bus, but he didn’t catch the bus. For the moment of personal growth that comes at the end, she said that now she feels empathy for people who miss the bus. That was the whole damn story.

But she performed the hell out of that terrible story. She believed it and worked it. She had the audience’s complete attention. Her timing was brilliant. Her story wasn’t memorized, it was re-lived in the moment. She nurtured an energy, slow at the beginning, then building, then all crazy and wild, with a sweet snuggle at the end.

All I could say was “Yes!!! Yesss!!!!! Yeeesssssss!!!!!!!. THAT was a PERFORMANCE.”

The night of the dress rehearsal, I compared my performance with hers. My delivery was a polite and accurate reading of words. My energy was a sweet kiss on the cheek.

I’m a writer. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing trying to perform at all. The words are everything. Aren’t the words enough?

No. They aren’t. Not when there are people in the room.

My girls stayed longer in day care that week. I put down my printed story. I imagined the audience in my living room. I forgot about the words. I tried to connect with them, I tried to sense what they were feeling, I tried to reach into their world and make my story their story too.

After delivering it like that, I rewrote the words. Then I forgot about them again and performed the story another few thousand times for my green couch and coffee table.

Oh, no, I just now looked at the video of the live performance.

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I REALLY DO SUCK!

The beginning is verryyyyyy slow. The mike was in the way. I didn’t let go enough, I was still holding back. The audience didn’t laugh like I wanted them to. I should have gotten rid of the notes. How come I’m 44 years old and I still don’t know how to fix my hair and holy cow, my knees look funny, what’s wrong with a nice pair of tights?

THERE IS NO WAY I CAN PUT THIS VIDEO ON MY BLOG!

Only because I love you, here it is anyway.

At least it is better than it would have been without The Moth in New York City.

Next time it will be even better.

I can hardly wait.