Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last Thursday. There were some amazing stories told that night. As always, we learned a lot.

Kat showed us how people of all cultures and backgrounds can come together as one in their frustration in trying to park in Seattle. Tracey let us know why it’s important to occasionally make sure your boyfriend has all his toes. And Mike taught us that what you think is on your pants isn’t always what you think is on your pants. I’m pretty sure everyone who was there that night will never forget this piece of advice:)

Thanks to all the folks who walked up to the microphone and shared a story: Tina, Tracey, Wudan, John, Chris S, Mike, Abil, Chris M, Cavan, Ginger, Bengt, Kat, Julie, Jenny, Connie and David.

One person I want to give special thanks to is my friend Bengt. I’ve been trying to get Bengt to tell a certain story for almost 19 years and he finally told that story Thursday at Roy Street. The story was about the moment he decided to leave the Mormon church. It was funny and powerful and touching and inspiring and just beautiful to hear. It was the first time I ever saw him nervous on stage but as he told me afterward it was worth it.

I’m trying to convince him to let me put the recording on our Facebook page but he’s worried about some of the people he named in his story. Maybe he’ll let me bleep them out or maybe I’ll just have to accept that the only ones who will ever hear that story were the ones who were there that night.

The recording from last week’s show sounds like it came out fine so I can give each of the storytellers a copy of their performance if they want it. I only give them to the people who told a story and it’s only the audio of their own story. Most performers don’t want their personal stories online so that’s why I only give copies to the people who told them.

I hope to see a bunch of you at our next show on Thursday, May 26. I’ll write up the official invite as soon as I can. The theme is stories of being wrong about something.

See you on the 26th!


See you this Thursday!

Hi Everyone,

I’m looking forward to this week’s show! Thank you for all the patience you’ve given me for having to take a month off for the family emergency. Hopefully, we can go another six years before that happens again:)

Here is a quick reminder of the rules and guidelines for telling a story if you’re going to throw your name in Mr. Coffee:

And here is this month’s theme if you need a refresher:

Fresh Ground Stories – I Didn’t See That Coming – Stories of surprises

Thursday, Apr 28, 2016, 7:00 PM

Roy Street Coffee & Tea
700 Broadway East – Seattle, WA

121 Story Fans Attending

When I was a kid growing up in Anchorage in the 70s I always knew there was something different about my mom. She talked loud and fast and everyone said she had an accent though I could never hear it myself. She wore clothes she made herself but since she never used a pattern everything she made turned out to be a poncho. She looked like the Outlaw…

Check out this Meetup →

Before I go I want to tell you about a couple of cool things that just happened for two of our regular tellers.

David Schumer got a story accepted to They put some Stevie Wonder music behind it and posted it here:

Episode Seventeen

Is it Stevie Wonder? It sounds like him. What song is it?? I love it when people make a soundtrack for a story so you should check it out. The site wants us to send them more stories so if you get one accepted I’d love to know about it.

Also, Barbara Abelhauser just got one of the stories she told at our show on the StoryCorps podcast. AND they just told her that not only will she also be in the next StoryCorps book but a version of her story will be in an upcoming issue of O Magazine. We are officially one degree of separation from Oprah Winfrey!

I have no idea why O Magazine is suddenly publishing our kind of stories but I am not ashamed to say that I am totally jealous of Barb for getting one in there. For the first time in my life I am going to start reading O Magazine while I’m in line at Fred Meyer because I know that somewhere between, “Boost Your Bathroom’s Potential” and “Six Small Upgrades to Tacos That Will Blow Your Mind” there will be a story from one of my very cool friends.

Here is Barb’s blog if you’d like to listen to the StoryCorps podcast:

That’s all for now. Thanks for sticking with me. See you this Thursday at Roy Street!




A thank you and some announcements

Hi Guys,
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the next show on the 28th. Thanks for all the well-wishes for my mom (stepmom, actually, but she’s been around longer than my biomom).  The pacemaker is keeping time nicely and she’s recovering at home. She is the toughest 87-year-old I know so we’re planning on her sticking around for a while. I was really touched by everyone who wrote me asking about her. This is why the fourth Thursday at Roy Street is my favorite day of the month.

While we’re waiting for the next show to roll around be sure to tune in to KPLU’s Sound Effect. Two of our regular tellers will be on the show sometime in the near future. Exciting, right? I am so happy I get to recommend some of our storytellers to places like KPLU. I’ll let you know more about each show after they’ve been recorded.

Also, April 16th is the last of Saturday of Bill Bernat’s monthly storytelling workshops before less frequent evening schedule for summer. It’s free, casual and very helpful. I can’t recommend it enough. If you have a story you’d like to tell but aren’t sure how to shape it, this is the place to go. Bring a story to work on:

Contact Bill through his Meetup site for more info.

Can I brag a little more about one of our storytellers? Barbara Abelhauser just got a story in the new StoryCorps book! I’m getting a copy as soon as it comes out on April 19. It’s a story she told at FGS last year and I’m excited to see it in a real life made-out-of-paper book. Remember those? Books are the things we used to read before smart phones.  I read online that they’re making a comeback and that is pretty exciting for people like me who whose home is littered with them.

Here’s the link to her blog if you want to read more about it:

One last thing. A Guide to Visitors is looking for more stories for their Advice Show on Tuesday, May 3. Do you have a story about advice someone gave your or that you gave them? How did it turn out? Send a brief summary of your story to and maybe you can be on the show.

I hope to see a bunch of you at our own show on the 28th. Here’s the link to this month’s theme since it’s been a while since I sent it out originally:

Let me know if you have any questions.



I have to cancel this month’s show

Hi Everyone,

I have some bad news. For the first time in six years I have to cancel this month’s Fresh Ground Stories. I just found out my mom has to have a tiny machine put inside her heart this Thursday so it keeps beating in way we like it to keep beating. I don’t let much get in the way of running FGS but pacemaker has suddenly shot to the top of the list of things that are more important.

But we’ll be back with our regular show on April 28th so keep working on your stories if you were planning on telling this week. The theme will be the same so you don’t have to change anything.


I do have two really cool opportunities for everyone as a way of making up for this. A couple of storytelling shows reached out to me recently asking me to send them tellers. One of them is a very popular live show and podcast called Risk! (yes, the ! is a part of their name)

They are coming to Seattle in April to do a show at the Vera Project and wanted FGS tellers to pitch them some story ideas. If they like your story you’ll get to be part of the show. I’ve listened to the Risk! podcast for a long time and I would love to be in one of their shows. This is a great chance to stretch a bit and see if you can meet some out of town storytellers and maybe even get to be in a show with them. I pasted the text of their email below so you can find out how to send them a story and ask them any questions you might have.

I was also contacted by Mike Lawson down in the Bay Area. He runs the podcast 12 Minute Stories. It’s a really interesting concept. You record your story on your phone or computer and then email it to him. Then he produces it, adding music and whatnot, and plays it on the podcast. He also puts the finished version on the website

Check out the website if you’re curious what the produced versions sound like. I don’t know Mike personally but I like the idea of someone else producing a story for me and it’s always fun to be on a podcast.

Contact him directly from his website. If you do send him a story let us know how it goes. I’d love to post the podcast link to your story on our FaceBook page:)

I’ll be posting all the info I have for both these shows on our FaceBook page as well:

That’s all I have for you guys right now. I’m sorry I have to cancel this month’s show. This is the first time since we started in 2010 that I’ve had to do this. But we’ll be back in April and I’ll be able to tell you guys all about something called Atrial Fibrillation.

Don’t forget to check out the Risk! info below


PS – For those of you who know me the mom I’m talking about is actually my step mom but I’ve known her longer than I knew my bio mom so she’s kinda got mom status now. That makes three moms for me if anyone is counting. Only two speak English, one is Canadian and one was on Bewitched. I’ve had lots of great women to learn from!


We are currently casting storytellers for an upcoming show in:


Seattle, WA on Thursday, 4/28/16

@ The Vera Project

Warren & Republican Ave N


RISK! Is a live show and podcast “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” hosted by Kevin Allison, of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State. RISK! has featured people like Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, and regular folks from around the world, dropping the act and showing a side of themselves we’ve never seen before. The RISK! podcast gets over a million downloads each month. called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.”


RISK! is not like other storytelling shows. It’s “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public.” We encourage our storytellers to step out on a limb, be brutally candid and emotionally raw. This is an uncensored show where taboos are tackled and people talk about things they ordinarily might not share in mixed company, but might save for their therapist.


To hear some of our stories, go to

For more information about what we look for in story pitches and how to submit, go to and send us your pitch by 3/31/16 to be considered!


Please let the performers in your community know about this exciting opportunity as soon as you can, and let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you,

Cyndi Freeman

Fresh Ground Stories – I Didn’t See That Coming – Stories of surprises

When I was a kid growing up in Anchorage in the 70s I always knew there was something different about my mom. She talked loud and fast and everyone said she had an accent though I could never hear it myself. She wore clothes she made herself but since she never used a pattern everything she made turned out to be a poncho. She looked like the Outlaw Josey Wales.

Of course if you have a weird parent sooner or later that weirdness is going to transfer to you. For me, it started with the strange and foreign foods I would bring to school. Sometime in third grade I discovered I was the only kid in Turnagain Elementary who had a bagel in his lunch box. The other kids had no idea what a bagel was and assumed my mom was punishing me for something by sending me to school with the World’s Most Tasteless Doughnut.

Some of the most puzzling moments were when I realized we actually spoke a different language at home. It resembled English but it was sprinkled with certain words that no one in the neighborhood had heard before and that I had only heard on shows like M*A*S*H and All in the Family.

Once in grade school I tried to explain to my teacher Mrs. Hill a character in a book I was reading. I said, “He’s a shlemiel.”

Mrs. Hill said, “A what?”

“A shlemiel.”

“A shimmel?” she said.

“No, not a shimmel, a shlemiel. You know, a shlub, a nebbish.”

“Honey, are you ok?”

A week later I’m in speech therapy. No, I’m kidding. Mrs. Hill didn’t send me to speech therapy but she did probably think I was having a seizure.

After a while all these little moments of being different started to wear on me. I was already smaller and weaker than all other kids but now I was eating food no one else would touch and speaking gibberish. Were we from another planet? I had a vague idea this was all connected to New York City where my mom grew up but the only experience I had with New York was watching the skyline during the opening of Taxi.

Then one day when I was 10 or 11 I was reading this little book of stories my mother had given me. The first story was called, “Remembering Needleman” and it began with this line, “It has been four weeks and it is still hard for me to believe Sandor Needleman is dead. I was present at the cremation and, at his son’s request, brought the marshmallows, but few of us could think of anything but our pain.”

I started laughing uncontrollably. I was the funniest thing I had ever read. The book was “Side Effects” by Woody Allen and I could not put it down. I had never seen writing like this before but at the same time it felt like it was written just for me. I remember laughing non-stop until somewhere around page 30 when I stopped suddenly, looked up, and said, “Waitaminnit! Are we Jewish? ARE WE JEWISH?!?!”

I ran downstairs to my mom.

“Are we Jewish?”

She looked at me like I just asked if we were made out of rocks and railroad ties. She said, “Of course we’re Jewish.”

“But I thought we were Baha’i.”

The story I was raised with was that a few years before I was born my mother had converted from Judaism to the Baha’i Faith and had moved to Alaska as a missionary. I had no idea that you don’t stop being Jewish any more than you stop having shingles. Once you get it you got it for life even if the only time you see it is when you’re under stress.

The strangest thing of all was that everyone else seemed to be as clueless I was. My mother was never known as The Jew of 29th Street. If anything, she was known as the Crazy Lady from New York who Talked to God. (This is true. The Catholic kids next door always peeked over the fence when my mom was stomping around the back yard yelling at God. Their mother, Mrs. Dugan, used to tell them that Mrs. Currington had a very special relationship with God and that was why she could use certain words when she talked to him that no one else was allowed to use. Later, in high school, I heard Peggy Dugan using one of those words but she wasn’t talking to God so she may have found a loophole.) No one around me knew the cultural references of Yiddish, bagels or my mother’s constant reminiscing about something called “locks” which I later discovered is spelled “Lox.”

It’s been 40 years since I first read “Remembering Needleman” and discovered why my mother and I were so different from everyone else. I’ll never forget that moment. I wish everyone could have a moment like that. It was one of the few times in my life when just for a second the world made sense.

My son and I have talked a lot throughout his life about his grandmother and what she was like. Once, many years ago, he asked me if he was Jewish. I said, “No, your mom has to be Jewish for you to be born that way.” Then he said, “But genetically the blood of the Jew runs in my veins, right?”

I said, “The Blood of the Jew? You think you’re some kind of Jewish Highlander? There’s no Blood of the Jew. If your mom was Jewish then you’re Jewish. That’s it. If you want to convert you can but it’s going to require a lot homework and I think we both know how you feel about that.”

Is there a moral to this story? Yes. Talk to your kids. Tell them where you’re from and why you are the way you are. If you don’t they’re just going to make stuff up and tell their friends that you’re crazy and speak in tongues.

And that’s the kind of story we’d like you to bring to our next show: I Didn’t See That Coming – Stories of surprises.

Tell us about a time when you were caught off guard. What happened? How did it change you? Did it force your life to take a sharp left turn or did it just make you see things a little differently from then on?

The rules for stories are below but you know the kind we’re looking for: true stories that happened to you that still mean something to you days, months or years later.

Remember to practice out loud on friends and pets and keep it under 8 minutes.

Rules & Guidelines:

I hope to see you at our next show on Thursday, March 24, 7:00pm at the Roy St Coffee and Tea.




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