Confabulation

One of the things that I learned about in my storytelling workshop is Confabulation, a personal storytelling event with monthly themes. I had an idea for December’s “Family Stories,” but that event was set for December 8 and the idea was all that I had. Still, I reached out to ask when the submission deadline was, and dove into expanding my idea.

It took me a week to work up to a third draft; I was satisfied enough to submit. By this time it was December 2, so I was not at all surprised to receive a message the next day stating that the event was full. Oh well, better luck next time.

Two days later, I woke up to a facebook message from Nisha telling me to check my inbox. I practically flew out of bed and ran to my computer.

Someone dropped out and I was being invited to take their spot! It’s December 5, the event is in three days. Luckily, I would be workshopping my story with Nisha, so I eagerly awaited her notes while I got ready to go to work.

The next three days passed in a bit of a blur; I read her notes, tried to process them throughout the day, and came up with edits that I would apply as soon as I got home. There would be more notes the next morning. By Friday night, I started to recite what I had and time it, cutting out parts that sounded clumsy, changing the wording to better fit how I speak.

I arrived just before 7:00, was directed to a coatroom where I changed out of my boots, and went into the room. I had been to Confabulation once before at the Centaur; this month’s event was being held at the Phi Centre, and the setup was a little different. Lots of seating, and really fucking close to the stage. I helped myself to some water and chatted with a fine trio of people while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Matt Goldberg explained to me how things would work, took me up on stage, and offered a lot of encouragement. Standing on that stage, even before the chairs were filled, was nerve-wracking, but I appreciated getting a chance to be in that space before it was time to perform. He told me I’d be going third, closing out the first half, and I picked a seat toward the back. Nisha asked how I was feeling, I gave her the short version, and I started working to mentally prepare myself.

I was able to forget my stress a bit as I watched the first two storytellers; I got pulled into their tales, and was able to enjoy their performances. Then Matt is introducing me and I realise I have to pee; I walk up to the stage repeating my thought of confidence, confidence; and as I stand up there before the microphone I notice that my mouth is completely dry and I have to open it and speak.

As at the showcase, the performance passes in a blur. I had to draw out this one pause because my voice was about to break, I was getting choked up by my story. The utter lack of moisture in my mouth was only an annoyance, and before I knew it, I was singing the final line, “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.”

It was incredible. I knew I’d fucked up in a couple moments, but no one else seemed to  have noticed, or to mind. My workshopmates Amy and Manoosh were there and offered hugs, Nisha gave me a hug, and strangers thanked me for sharing. I had this stupid grin on my face, trying to process this elation and digest this experience, definitely wanting more.

Thank you to Matt Goldberg for letting me step in at the last minute.

HUGE thank you to Nisha Coleman for workshopping this story with me and providing critical feedback and words of encouragement. You’ve been there since the beginning and I was so happy to get to work with you on this.

Thank you to everyone who came to listen, and who expressed appreciation of my story. I learned a lot in writing it, and look forward to discovering more as I mine my past for new stories.

Finally, thank you to my grandfather. I think of you every time I play the guitar.

Presents and memories

For the past few years, my husband’s family has held a Secret Santa in addition to most everyone getting everyone else gifts anyway. The site we use asks each person to put up suggestions for the gifter; I had written a nice journal, a gift card to Indigo/Chapters, and a glass paperweight (you know, the kind with the colored bubbles inside). My gifter cheated and got me two of the three; he was supposed to stay under $20, but Christmas is the time to give too much if you can, right?

2013-12-26 10.52.15

The journal is very nice indeed, bound in leather with an elastic band and ribbon bookmark. I used the gift card to cover part of an order for the next two volumes of the Sandman, which I eagerly await.

It must be said that I also received lovely gifts having nothing to do with books or writing. From my sister-in-law, I got a cutting board and tools for cheese, complete with a ceramic dish for crackers or fruits and individual little forks for guests. She also gave us a cute ornament and gift bag that our adorable two-year-old nephew put together. From my mother-in-law I received an electric mixer, something that I feel I’m missing in my house when I am forced to spend too much time whipping or whisking by hand whatever latest dessert I’m making. From my father-in-law, my husband together received lovely commemorative coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. I’m not sure which of my parents-in-law got me the chocolate orange, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas without one.

Of course, it is not the quality nor the quantity of the gifts that makes Christmas so special. One of the best parts was a picture slideshow showing old family photos. It’s always amusing and nice to see the people you know as they were when they were younger, especially with 20-year-old pictures showing old fashions in clothing and hair. It always makes me wonder if in twenty years I’ll look back on my fashion choices today and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Merry Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. I don’t identify with any religion, but it’s a perfect opportunity to get together with friends and family, to share love and presents and food. My husband and I go to his folks’ place every Christmas Eve for turkey dinner, and often return the next day for leftovers.

I believe that “family” means the people that you choose to keep close to you and share the deepest parts of yourself with. These can be blood relations, old friends, or new friends. I spend Christmas with people I did not know six or seven years ago, and I love it. Of course, I would also like to spend more time with my family in Louisiana, but my financial situation doesn’t currently allow for that.

I don’t think that anyone should spend Christmas alone, unless they are genuinely happier removed from the company of others. For everyone else, I hope you find time to share something with someone close to you; a drink, a meal, a kind word, fuzzy feelings, etc. Hopefully you have the opportunity to escape the routine, leave all the stress behind for a time, and relish the peace and harmony of the holiday season.