And so we have arrived at December 21st, the shortest day and longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. I miss the daylight, but the long night hours are good for a few activities–among them storytelling. With telling and hearing good stories in mind, my wife and I have recently started attending The Moth, hosted by Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, and on Wednesday night I made it up on stage to tell a five-minute, true story about joy–the theme for the evening.
I haven’t done much public speaking, so my heart was pumping a little stronger than normal as I took the stage. Having written down the story, I had rehearsed beforehand, but as I was given my instructions–“Stand with your feet here. Speak loudly. Don’t touch the microphone.”–all my pretty words fell out of my head. I pulled it together and began, I know I rushed a bit, but it came out okay.
I’m still not sure what I’ve learned here so far, however telling a true story from your past in front of an audience has a much more immediate feeling of danger to it than writing a novel where you have so many ways to hide. I’ll definitely try The Moth again with the hope that it will improve my craft.
I hope you have a happy holiday with friends and family, or a quiet time with your dog and a good book.
I’m back on the Oliver Hazard Perry for another semi-annual check up on the rigging. Last night as the ship was moving out of a dock in downtown Newport she got a line wrapped up in her propeller. The overloaded engine stopped. The captain gamely tried maneuvering between the closely spaced yachts with one engine, aiming to gain sea room or bump down on the commercial ship pier in the rising wind. It was difficult trying to get the bow into the wind and the OHP bumped into two yachts before moving away from them. And then, as the skipper was succeeding at getting the ship into open water, rather perversely, the other propeller sucked up a loose section of the same line that was caught in the first prop. Handcuffed, with no power any longer, he ordered the anchors dropped and slowed the ship’s drift until the crew got mooring lines out to nearby dock pilings. In all, there was minor (yet expensive) damage to four yachts.
The incident kicked off a media frenzy and the reporting has been a bit wild. Some reports went out that there was a person overboard; a crushed boat; a deck collapse, and that the ship was aground, none of which were true. It underscores to me that we are often reading fiction even though we sometimes believe it to be fact.
In the end no one was hurt. Kudos to the captain and crew for keeping a no win situation from becoming someone’s terrible loss.