Rob McRay’s understory from “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”

Tonight, Nashville, we travelled.

Our burning desire to fall from the sky led to Groupons and initialing all the small print and pleas not to jump. We were strapped to our hot master…intimately…and reached terminal velocity with tremendous views. And we hope for a future as a tandem master!

One drunk night on Manhattan subways, we passed out in Chinatown and tried to speak Budweiser. In a VW in the snow, we found a drunk and a lost  boy who saved each other. And now we believe in trains and guardian angels.

We set off driving through the world’s largest prison, photographing boats and border guards—until we were interrogated over mint tea and Turkish coffee. The “This-is-normal” guy reassured us it was “no problem”…but our wives were less reassured! We were late, but we got our 2 bucks back.

Our father was a Captain Kirk, charlatan, adrenaline junkie with well-laid plans for medical school in Mexico. A year of fast food and border crossings and all-night drives led to smuggling x-ray machines and dollars and devil’s food cake. But now we’re not illegal.

We travelled to a creative writing conference with fund-raising and frugality and fears of flying…and going Greyhound. We enjoyed an Airbnb with a free friend and Amtrak to Coronado and a comedy act city bus. The support of friends and followers finally brought us home.

We provided coffee and cleaning and personal care to a small, blind, homophobic, alcoholic with a tragic past. We boiled neckbones and purchased condiments. And we may be a “Sissy on a Bike,” but we cook like we’re dark!

We traveled to a once obscure Soviet bloc country and remembered crawling under desks and watching suspenseful spy shows. When the money disappeared and the KGB was obsessed with videotape, we took over the search and resolved the crisis. But now they call us “Commandant!”

We had a sacred ritual of Thanksgiving travel. We wanted a peaceful brunch-to-go at the yacht harbor, till 2 paraplegics and a blind man needed a 4th sailor. We had lunch in the doldrums and entered a scene in a Disney movie. It was the last time we sailed—but for that day, we were BAD!

Our car goes nowhere really well, despite the defecating aphids and leprechauns. In our mobile clubhouse for sneaky teens, we have remarkable memories of debt and English degrees and dull birthdays. And in the luxury lounge with smoke and food smudges, we somehow feel closer to home.Those were our travels, Nashville.

Tenx9 Nashville Storytelling

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Ten×9 Nashville, the first satellite of Belfast’s popular Ten×9 storytelling eventis a monthly community storytelling night in Nashville, TN, where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a real story from their lives.

Crafted by the brilliant minds of Paul Doran and Pádraig Ó Tuama in Ireland, Ten×9 (ten by nine) is not a creative fiction seminar; it is not a poetry reading or a musical concert. It is not a common sharing of favorite short literary stories or book excerpts. It is not a faith gathering for religious testimonies. All these have their place and their beauty, but they aren’t Ten×9.

This event is about us, our stories, our lived moments. Each month has a theme, particular enough to structure a night of storytelling but broad enough that anyone shelter logo-page-001should be able to find a life story that relates. The themes are starting points, not agendas. Pádraig introduced me to this magnificent Irish proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Ten×9 is an attempt for us to live in each other’s shelter – through drinks, presence, and narrative. We are strange people telling our strange stories to strangers. Standing on stage with a microphone, storytellers invite listeners to enter into moments of their lives and feel – to penetrate into the undiscovered continents of each other. Any given night will likely leave you in tears, often from both side-splitting laughter and heart-wrenching tales of pain.

Tenx9 is not designed to provide a night of professional storytelling. It will always be a place for the nervous and unsure, a place for new storytellers to “give it a go.” We welcome a range of humans onto the stage–some polished tellers, others most certainly not–but all embodying the messiness of human stories.

Ten×9 currently vibrates at the popular Douglas Corner Cafe on 8th Ave on the fourth (but sometimes the third) Monday of the month at 7:30pm. Hop over here to see when the next event is!

Ten×9 is about real people sharing real stories. Only nine people can share each night, so most participants are simply willing listeners. An audience member will never be specifically targeted to tell a story impromptu. There is no requirement to share if you wish to attend. Just come listen. It is a special thing –and ALWAYS FREE!

You can follow @tenx9nashville tweets and Instagram posts, or Like us on Facebook. If you want to share a story, let us know via the submission form here.

peace to y’all,
Michael McRay
Tenx9 Nashville Founder/Organizer/Co-Host