Recorded live at The Moth LA's GrandSLAM; The Regent Theater, January 28th, 2019.Read More
My memories are still humming from a wonderful evening of storytelling shared with The Moth. The photograph above (by Ricky Steel), taken moments after the winner was announced (go Ron!), gathered all of us together on stage to receive a warm round of applause from the audience. Huddled shoulder to shoulder out there in the darkness were a handful of my friends and my mother, who drove in from Phoenix the day before. I was honored to share such a special night with those closest to me, as well as my growing community of fellow storytellers & writers whom I continue to be inspired by.
Humbled by the opportunity to share a new story at the upcoming The Moth GrandSLAM in Los Angeles: October 22nd at The Regent theatre. Having listened to its podcast since college, I can't wait to do my best to honor the stage that has entertained & inspired me for nearly a decade. To all those who've inspired me to tell my truth, boldly: Thank you. This one's for you.
A year ago to the day, I found myself outside Hanoi, steadying my camera upwards to cradle the silver of the moon in the center of its lens. A guest of Thắng Nghiêm Pagoda, I was documenting the Hungry Ghost Festival, traditionally celebrated by Buddhists throughout Southeast Asia during the seventh lunar month as a time to honor the deceased. Offerings such as cigarettes and oranges gathered alongside family photographs beneath sticks of incense, their glowing tails forming columns of smoke, calling their spirits back once more to enjoy what they might've missed since leaving the physical world behind.
Had there been an IHOP nearby, I would've placed one of their Strawberry Belgian Waffles (to go) beside a framed picture of my grandmother, Marie. Towards the end of her life, only visits from her grandson rivaled the excitement of indulging in this particular breakfast treat. Luckily for her, these often came together.
As I stared up at the night sky, I prayed that whatever footage I had travelled to Vietnam to gather for my master's thesis was worth it. This shot of the moon, for example. Whenever it was at its most luminous, my mother called them "Granny Moons." After her passing, these omens kept watch over the years that followed, not all of them good. Nevertheless, whenever these moons would hang in the sky, I would outstretch my hand and clutch it like a pearl. I would then slowly bring my closed fist back into the small of my chest and breathe, when times were bad and deep breaths were hard to come by.
I can't remember if there was a full moon the night I told this story at The Moth LA StorySLAM, but I could feel my grandmother was somewhere in the crowd. That same week, I was in desperate need of a break from editing the Vietnam footage I had shot last September. I ended up going on a whim, listening to the voice inside my head that said: "Go."
I'm glad I did. She always did give good advice.
Special thanks to Gary Buchler & Suzette Burton at The Moth, and all of the volunteers who make their Los Angeles StorySLAMs so special.