Almost nobody would publish my funny little ditty, Never Kill A Dog Or Cat In Your Novel, because they found it a tad too disturbing. Cue Slackjaw, a humor journal that specializes in over-the-top weirdness. Thank you, Slackjaw, because without you I’d be forced to conform, and I just don’t know how. You can check out this devilish little 4-minute read…here.
A story can mean different things at different times. In 2019, I first told this one, Cara Lopez Lee Gets A Reporting Job (a.k.a. The Boss of Last Resort) for Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. It’s the story of the most racist, sexist, intolerant tyrant I ever worked for, back in the 90’s. I share it now as a small underline to America’s cry for change in 2020. I previously shared the podcast, but below is the video of me telling the story to our live audience. It was one of the two true stories in the show.
I have not lived an African American experience, though I carry African DNA from my ancestors. And this story does not directly address the recent murder of George Floyd, or police brutality against people of color, though I am outraged by such injustices. Neither is this story about the Black Lives Matter movement, though BLM gave me impetus to share it now. Still, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate: Black Lives Matter. Maybe if we say it enough, and back it up with meaningful action, we’ll begin to create change.
Just before the new coronavirus became the 2020 Pandemic, my story Disaster Pants was published in DoveTales, the journal of the nonprofit Writing for Peace. I briefly stopped sharing the link to that story, about living through the Thomas Fire, when fears over the impending COVID-19 Pandemic began to swirl. Didn’t want to add insult to injury. But now that much of the world is in lockdown, and many of us are stuck at home, I hope it’s a good time to share this story…
Here in Ventura, my husband and I weren’t sure we’d get through the Thomas Fire intact. We did, though we’ll never be the same. Not everyone will get through COVID-19, but most will. As we all come together by increasing our social distance, I hope you’ll accept Disaster Pants as my gift to you, a reflection on fortitude in the face of trials. I hope this story reminds you of your own strength to endure, with your humor and compassion all the greater for it:
At The Moth StorySlam in L.A., at Busby’s East on December 11, 2019, I told a true personal story I’ve long hoped to tell, on a theme that means a lot to me: Family. It marked one of my most treasured moments connecting with an audience. I was proud to come in third place with my tale, Lost In L.A., neck and neck with a couple of terrific fellow storytellers. Thank you for listening, and for supporting stories!
Lost In L.A. (courtesy of The Moth) from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo
I suspect we all have a story about some crazy boss who we feared might destroy our lives. I recently shared such a story on Daniel David Shapiro’s podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. There is so much unbelievable drama in real life, but also so much surprising truth in fiction, that I can’t help but love Dan’s description of his show: “a podcast about truth, fiction, and the hazy line in between.” Whether he asks me to tell the truth or a fabulation, it’s always a thrill to share a story with Dan’s live audience. Here’s a link to the story I told for his recent episode, “Bosses.” I’m the first storyteller in the podcast, but I hope you’ll listen to all three so you can join the fun and try to guess who’s lying. Of course, you can always cheat and jump to the Reveal episode for the answer…but what fun would that be?
Above is a video Daniel David Shapiro recently released of me telling a story at his live L.A. show and podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. Dan’s show presents irresistible challenges for storytellers, as we all strive to keep the audience guessing:
- If Dan asks me to lie, for me the challenge is to build a story with details so deeply human that the audience feels the ring of a deeper truth within it, even though it’s made up. It’s also a fun balancing act to see how high I can stack the hyperbole, spinning a tale so outrageous they’re sure nobody would dare make it up, all without overplaying my hand.
- If Dan asks me to tell the truth, I strive to give the audience details that make them doubt it really happened, or at least make them hope it didn’t…even though it did. I love to take an audience with me as I ponder just how astonishing are the challenges of being human.
My above story, Baby Thumbelina, comes from an episode called Innocence. It’s a tale of childhood bullying and sweet revenge, and it’s all too true, my friends. Please check it out. If it reminds you of a story of your own, I hope you’ll let me know…
If you’ve checked my blog since the New Year, then you’ll recall I recently posted my latest performance on the L.A. storytelling show and podcast, Two Truths and a Lie. If so, you might still be wondering who the liar was. Let me end the suspense by directing you back to host Dan Shapiro’s website for the big reveal.
Dan’s show has a fun premise: three people share personal stories on a theme—this time the theme was Innocence—then the audience guesses which storyteller is lying. For a refresher on the story I told, here’s a link to Two Truths and a Lie: Episode 83.