Speak Up Storytelling #5: Renata Sancken

Episode #5 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure.

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." I describe how I discovered two important things about myself that apparently everyone else already knew. 

Next, we listen to a hilarious story by Renata Sancken about ghost hunting in the south. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer a listener question about telling a good anecdote, and we each make a recommendation.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 15 or so people to rate the podcast and 11 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

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Speak Up Storytelling: Episode #3

Episode #3 of Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure. 

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using my strategy "Homework for Life." 

Elysha gets a little annoyed with the moment that I share. 

Next, we listen to the incredible story by Mansoor Basha about the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and it's echoes years later. Then Elysha and I discuss the strengths of his fantastic story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer listener questions about telling a story at The Moth and humor in storytelling, and we each make a recommendation.  

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 17 people to rate the podcast and 5 to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier, and it makes us feel better about ourselves and our work. 

Our first review, by the way, came from a woman named Kate who is my former third grade student, Elysha's former fifth grade student, our former babysitter, and now a teacher beginning her career in the same school where Elysha began her career. 

Remarkable how your former students can sometimes remain a part of your life long after they have left your classroom. 

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Speak Up Storytelling: Episode #2 PLUS an opportunity

Episode #2 of our podcast Speak Up Storytelling is now ready for your listening pleasure. 

On this week's episode, we talk about finding and crafting stories in your everyday life using Homework for Life

Next, we listen to a story by Michelle Sebastianelli about her hilarious and tragic attempt to transform herself through yoga and discuss the strengths of her story as well as suggestions for improvement.

Finally, we answer listener questions and make some recommendations. 

If you haven't subscribed to the podcast in Apple podcasts (or wherever you receive your podcasts), please do. And if you're not one of the 13 people to rate the podcast and four to review it in Apple Podcasts (who are the best people ever), we would love it if you did.

Ratings and reviews help listeners find our podcast easier. 

We also have an unusual offer for anyone interested:

Elysha and I are looking to redesign the Speak Up logo, but before we do it ourselves (Elysha designed the first) or hire a professional, we thought we'd invite our audience to take a crack at redesigning it themselves. 

We're looking for a logo that pays homage to our current design but is also fresh, new, and will work well on our website, podcast, programs, and swag like tee shirts and totes. 

If you submit an logo for consideration and it is ultimately chosen, you will receive our undying gratitude, one free beginner or advanced storytelling workshop, two hours of free storytelling consultation, and two free tickets to our Real Art Ways shows FOR LIFE!

We can't wait to see what you submit!

I broke into the Brooklyn Navy Yard and committed a crime (I think)

I went to Brooklyn at the end of August to record a podcast at Slate. 

Slate moved its offices from a fairly convenient location in Manhattan to a terribly inconvenient location in Brooklyn that I had been to only once before. So I plugged "Slate Magazine" into the Waze app on my phone and was off. 

By the time I arrived at the destination indicated on the app, two things were apparent:

1. This was not the Slate offices.

2. I had to pee so badly that I thought I might pee my pants.

My GPS app had brought me to a blighted section of Brooklyn featuring razor wire, graffiti, boarded-up buildings, and not a single person walking the streets. But I assumed that I was close to my destination. Perhaps a block or two away, so when I saw all the free parking spots on the street, I took one, thinking it would be a five minute walk at best to Slate. 

I also had to pee so badly that I couldn't stand the thought of driving around to find the place. Even if I had to walk a little ways, I assumed that I could find a place to pee on the way. 

Boy was I wrong. When I emerged from the side street onto the main thoroughfare, I saw a single gas station and block after block of empty buildings, chainlink fences, and walls. Not a retail establishment, restaurant, or coffee shop to be seen.

I waddled to the gas station. It was my only hope.

When I entered, I saw a woman speaking to the gas station attendant, who was standing behind nine inches of glass. I also saw a small door marked restroom behind the glass as well.

My salvation. 

I waited patiently for the woman and the attendant to finish their conversation, but when it became apparent that it might never end, I interjected.

"Excuse me. Could I use your restroom. I'll buy stuff if I can. Lots of stuff."

The attendant replied, " It's out of order."

"Out of order?" I asked. "Then how do you pee? Or where do you pee?"

"It's out of order," he repeated.

"Yes, but you must pee, I said. Where does that happen?" 

"Sir, there's no bathroom here."

"But there must be," I said, "You can't go all day without peeing."

"He said there's no restroom," the woman shot back at me. "Leave him alone." 

I would've loved to have engaged further with this woman, but realizing that I was not going to be able to use a restroom here and knowing how dire my situation was becoming, I left. 

I stood outside the gas station, just a week after US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte got in trouble for (among other things) peeing on a gas station in Brazil and wondered if I was about to do the same thing. There was no place to pee anywhere, and not a single tree or area of concealment to be seen.

Then I looked across the street and saw them. Three thin saplings. A tiny stand of trees. All that I needed to pee. 

The only problem: The trees were standing just inside the entrance to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an imposing brick entrance festooned with a guard shack and a sentry. There was no way I was going to slip through that entrance and make it to the saplings without being seen.

Then I caught a bit of good luck. A delivery truck pulled into the Navy Yard and stopped at the sentry post, creating a barrier between the sentry and the saplings. If the truck remained in place long enough, I could duck into the entrance of the Navy Yard and into the trees unseen. 

There was no way the guard wasn't going to see me emerge from the stand of trees a minute or two later, but that was a problem to solve after I had relieved myself. 

I went for it. I ran as fast as possible with a bursting bladder across the road and through the large gates of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, veering off after about 15 feet into the trees. I could barely contain my bladder for a second more. As soon as I was secreted behind the stand of trees, I  peed onto the vine-covered brick wall, keeping the trees between me and the sentry.

One of the happiest moments of my life. 

When I finished, the truck was gone. I emerged from the stand of trees and was immediately spotted by the sentry, he rose from his seat. I tried to look confused, held up my phone as if to imply it had misled me (which it originally did), and exited the Brooklyn Navy Yard while offering gestures of confusion and apology.

The sentry appeared annoyed but allowed me to pass without comment. 

A few minutes later, after speaking to a Slate producer on my phone, I began the 25 minute walk to Slate in the 90 degree heat rather than driving my car closer to the offices, which turned out to be a terrible decision.

But it gave me time to ponder this:

Had I been a woman, I would've been in a lot of trouble. A woman could not have peed in that fairly exposed location behind those tiny trees. A guy needs the smallest sliver of privacy in order to pee. Essentially, a man need only to turn his back in order to avoid exposing himself while peeing, whereas women require a hell of a lot more privacy. 

Then I thought about all the times I have peed against trees while playing golf. All the times I have stepped off a trail while hiking or hopped off my bike to pee a step or two into the woods. All the times I have disappeared into a stand of trees a a park to pee. All the portable toilets in the parking lots of Gillette Stadium where I am able to pee without touching a single thing other than my pants.

Men have it good.

We have it very, very good.

I found enormous sympathy for womankind on that walk to Slate, realizing that had I been a woman, I I might well have peed my pants. 

There are solutions to this problem for women, including devices like the GoGirl, which comes in a lovely shade of lavender, but the image of a woman holding a GoGirl against her groin as she pees seems even less discreet than a woman dropping trow in order to pee.  

It's also bizarre. Rachel, my Boy vs. Girl podcast co-host, has agreed to give one a try.

 

I also thought that the Brooklyn Navy Yard is not nearly secure enough for my liking. Had I had been an evil doer with more nefarious purposes, I wonder how much damage I could've done had I been armed with more than a full bladder. 

"Just about everybody" I know is not flying on a plane this summer, and to assume otherwise might be an indication of the bubble you live inside.

I like the Freakonomics podcast quite a bit, and if I could choose a new friend, I think I'd take Steve Levitt, an economist and co-author of the Freakonomics books who loves golf and McDonald's and seems to share my disposition.

Every time I hear him speak, I think that we would be fast friends. 

Yesterday, I was listening to an episode on flying when I heard Levitt's co-author and producer and host of the podcast, Steven Dubner (who I also like a lot) open the show by saying:

“It is nearly summertime, which means that you, and just about everybody you know, will soon be getting on an airplane.”

Either Dubner is making an enormous assumption about his audience demographics or he is living in some kind of bubble where everyone in his world flies to exotic locales during the summer.

While I have friends who are flying places for vacation, I also have friends who have never set foot on a plane once in their lives. 

I have friends who can't afford to take a vacation this summer.

I have friends who don't have paid vacation as part of their employment. 

I have friends who can't afford airline tickets for their family to fly this summer. 

And I will not be getting on a plane this summer, as much as I might like to. I'll be working quite a bit - teaching, speaking, and writing - and we simply can't afford the four airline tickets to whatever destination we might choose.

"Just about everybody" who I know is not flying this summer, either. Some are. Some are not. Perhaps this is reflective of the economic diversity of the people I know, but I don't think so. I suspect most people who aren't living in a bubble have friends like mine.

Some of greater and some of lesser means. 

I love you Dubner, but that was not a good sentence. 

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 28 - Going gray, the reading habits of men, and infertility

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss going gray, the reading habits of men, and infertility.

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 26 - Boy vs. Wife and Girl vs. Husband

In this week's episode, Rachel and I talk podcasting and gender with our spouses Elysha and David. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 25 - Income in Dating, Mansplaining, and Tallywackers

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss income as a determining factor in dating, the ridiculousness of mansplaining, and our thoughts on the new restaurant Tallywackers and public nudity.

I tell Rachel that her boobs are not very special. It's great.

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Mike Pesca's favorite sentences of 2015 (and mine)

Back in January, Mike Pesca of Slate's The Gist discussed some of his favorite sentences of 2015. When Pesca attributed the sentence to someone., I included the attribution. 

  • Bill Raftery on how he enjoys learning something and immediately sharing it: "That's why I went into broadcasting rather than espionage." 
  • "It's easier to condemn than to figure out the charge."
  • "They're against changing the flag because that's against they're identity. I don't mean the flag is their identity. Being against change is their identity." - Mike Pesca 
  • "Grief is our compensation for death."
  • "Some voters do not share democratic values, and politicians must appeal to them as well." 
  • "The tradeoff of living in a country where California gets to set the standard on auto emissions is that Texas gets to set the standards on textbooks." - Mike Pesca
  • Frank Luntz, acknowledging the anxiety of Trump voters: "But they're also out for revenge."
  • "Bravery is easy when you defend yourself from other. Humanity is more difficult. It's when you defend others from yourself." - Nino Markovich of Montenegro 

Like Pesca, I am a serial collector of words, sentences, dialogue, images, and ideas. You can't write five novels, three musicals, a magazine column, and a blog post every day for almost ten years without being a good listener and connector of ideas. 

 Inspired by his list of favorite sentences, I went to my Evernote to recover some of my own favorite sentences from 2015:

  • “What is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” - Don Draper
  • "In a world where superheroes, and more importantly super-villains, exist, being a glazier must be a great job." - Michael Maloney
  • "He was the fourth of three children."
  • "Whisper to yourself what you love most, and that's how you can be brave." - Clara Dicks
  • "The saddest of all the ribbons is the white ribbon." - Matthew Dicks
  • "You make me want to come to school every day, and that is what every teacher should try to do before everything else. All the other stuff isn't as important as that. Just fill the classroom with hilariousness and love." - a former student (currently in eighth grade) writing to me
  • "None of us marry perfection, we marry potential." - Elder Robert D. Hales
  • “I trust my story. I always betray my heart with my tongue.” - Clara Dicks while reading Neil Gaiman's Instructions

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 20A and 20B - Twenty Questions

In this week's episode of Boy vs. Girl, Rachel and I play 20 questions in a special two part episode celebrating our 20th episode. We ask each other about spirit animals and Super Bowls and coed naked podcasting. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 18 - Pants, Lands End, and military service

In last week's episode of Boy vs. Girl (apologies for the delay in posting here), Rachel and I discuss pants, the Lands End decision regarding Gloria Steinem and compulsory military service. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 19 - Wedding proposals, politics, and frats

In this week's episode of Boy vs. Girl, Rachel and I discuss wedding proposals, double standards in politics, and single sex fraternities. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 17 - Sexy voice, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model, and Cuddling

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss Rachel's sexy voice, women's clothing sizes, and men's aversion to cuddling. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 15 - Boy bands, men's grooming, and size matters

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss boy bands, men's grooming, and the age old question about size mattering.

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 14 - Girl Scout Cookies, Valentine's Day, and Schlongs

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss Girl Scout cookies, Valentines Day, and the use of the word schlong. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 13 - Disney Princesses, Modern Day Uniforms & Tighty Whities

In this week's episode, Rachel and I discuss the state of Disney princesses, modern day uniforms, and the mystery behind the construction of men's underwear. 

You can listen here or - better yet - subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts.

And if you like the show, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. It helps readers find the show, and it makes me feel even better about myself.

Boy vs. Girl: Episode 12 - The Rachel-less Episode

Episode 12 of Boy vs. Girl features unintentional and accidental recordings of conversations between myself and my ch-host, Rachel Leventhal Weiner, about such issues as when you should get married, the proper level of aggression in a poker player, and whether or not women would ever want a stay-at-home husband. 

Rachel experienced a death in the family and was unavailable for recording, so rather than skipping a week, I put together this shorter, less formal episode. 

You can listen here or subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Boy vs. Girl: Episode 11 - New Year's Resolutions, Driving, and I WAS GROPED ON THE POLAR EXPRESS!

Episode 11 of Boy vs. Girl features a discussion of New Year's Resolutions (and Rachel's ridiculous resolution), the question over whether men or women are better drivers, and the story about how I was groped by a woman as I was disembarking the polar express, about ten feet from Santa Claus. 

You can listen here or subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts. 


Boy vs. Girl: Episode 9 - The girl tax, chicks and dudes, and a lady's legs

Episode 9 of Boy vs. Girl dropped today. Listen to Rachel and me debate the girl tax, the use of the word chick, and answer a question about when women can stop shaving their legs.

You can listen here or subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store or wherever you get your podcasts

I recommend Overcast, but any podcast app or player will do.