A Night to Remember: Moth GrandSLAM XXV

The Highline Ballroom before doors opened. Taken with the Vignette App on my Droid.

What a night!

Sound engineer extraordinaire Paul Ruest runs sound check.

I was up past my bedtime, performing in the Moth GrandSLAM, a championship show in which 10 winners of Moth StorySLAMS come together in an evening that is part showcase, part competition featuring some of the best live storytelling around.

And last night was no disappointment.

Before the show I talked new belts and water bottles with some of my fellow performers, many of whom were stepping onto the GrandSLAM stage for the first time. When the doors opened, the party really started. I was honored and delighted that Amy Williamson and Maya Stein traveled in to see the show. Many of my storytelling pals were in the house, including Ed Gavagan, Jim O'Grady, Ben Lillie, Steven Berkowitz, Peter Aguero, and Steve Zimmer sharing the stage with me--in addition to the friendly faces that make up The Moth staff and support.

A room of profound listening.Pre-show shotsHost Dan Kennedy and Senior Producer Jen Hixson introduce the judges.

Our host for the evening, Dan Kennedy, was completely cracking me up, as usual. If you haven't read his book, Rock On: An Office Power Ballad, go to audible.com and download it today. I'm super picky about memoirs, and I loved hearing this one in Dan's own voice so, so much.

The other three female storytellers were picked out of the hat right off the bat--one, two, three. And they were slaying it. I honestly can't remember a night so filled with heart and soul from start to finish as last night was. I was SO proud to be a New York City storyteller, so honored to be in their company.

During intermission I checked in with Amy and Maya, who were engaged in a hot debate at their table about the scoring and we jammed for awhile about what makes a good story. As an audience member, I always love it when I get lost in a story--totally immersed in a character, a world, or in a moment.

Photo by my husband, Justin

I was the 6th or 7th storyteller of the night, and I told the story of our move to New York City, almost exactly five years after we walked off that airplane and into the great unknown of our coming life. If you had told me back then that this was the future awaiting me, I'm not sure I would have been able to believe it if I tried.

It's hard for me to explain what it's like to have a place like this stage where I can simply be who I am and tell it like I see it, to have my words received by rooms filled with people offering the most generous kind listening, and to be held by a community of tellers who hold story sacred.

The very first time I walked up onto a stage like this was just over three years ago. Dan Kennedy was hosting that night, too, and I remember I was wearing red shoes as I stepped up onto the stage and I felt like Dorothy coming home.

I think it's felt like that ever since.

At the end of the night, I tied with Ben Moskowitz to win. My first thought this morning when I woke up was that it had all been a dream.

Then I remembered: it was a dream, once. But now it's real.