As many of you know, I’m writing a historical novel inspired by family stories my Mexican-Chinese grandma used to tell me: tales of secret immigrants and mixed races, family loyalties and betrayals. I’m also involved in the world of live personal storytelling, and The Storytellers Project recently invited me to share a true story about my search for my ancestral past. Here’s a video of that virtual show on the theme of Home. You’ll see my 9-minute story at 19:34. Warning: In the story, I mention sexual abuse, though not in a graphic way.
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.
Wish you could run away from Pandemic 2020? Try escaping into a book! I’ve been reading books by other authors—turns out most books are by other authors. But if you haven’t read mine yet, then please check out They Only Eat Their Husbands. It’s my memoir of how I ran away: from love, to Alaska, around the world. Remember how adventurers used to travel? In the before times, not long ago… Here are a host of links to all the places you can purchase They Only Eat Their Husbands. Thank you, beloved readers, for supporting books, the economy, and my family’s supply of food, soap, and disinfectant!
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?
At The Moth GrandSlam on July 24 at L.A.’s historic Regent Theatre, I was honored to share the stage with some of the best storytellers around as we told stories on the night’s theme: Identity Crisis. Please check out this 6-minute video of me performing Old Mr. Ma, the story of my grandma, me, and my search for her father’s Chinese roots.
About The GrandSlam: These events always feature 10 storytellers who have won local StorySlams. Each tells a five-minute story to a live audience in a friendly competition for one of The Moth’s greatest honors: GrandSlam Champ. On our night, 500-plus people listened to us share the most vulnerable, unusual, ridiculous moments we’ve spent seeking answers to the question: who am I? It was a thrilling night of people connecting through the power of story.
About The Moth: “The Moth’s mission is to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.” Put simply, The Moth is: true stories, told live, without notes. If you haven’t yet, I recommend listening to The Moth Radio Hour or The Moth Podcast. Beware: it’s addicting.
After more than a year striving to find my voice in the world of oral storytelling, I won The Moth StorySlam in L.A. on January 23, 2018. The night’s topic was Achilles’ Heel. It was humbling to win with a story about my weaknesses. I now qualify to compete in a Moth Grand Slam with nine other StorySlam winners. There are no prizes, just the joy of celebrating the human experience with fellow storytellers and an enthusiastic audience. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you’re unfamiliar with live storytelling, I recommend checking out The Moth Radio Hour or The Moth Podcast. You’re in for an unforgettable experience in the power of story.
I told this true personal story at The Moth StorySlam in Los Angeles on June 6, 2017. The theme was “Mystery.” I came in third place, for which I won: nothing…except pride in getting better at this art form every day. I love oral storytelling. What an exciting way to connect with community, share what we all have in commoon, and increase our understanding of one another! If you’re unfamiliar with live storytelling, I recommend you check out The Moth and listen to either The Moth Radio Hour, which also plays on many NPR affiliates, or the online podcast. The stories are funny, moving, surprising…and addicting.