I got a compliment from a friend the other day that made me feel very proud in a modest sort of way. He said, “Well, Paul, you do tend to finish things.” We were talking about a novel I have recently started. I have no idea if I will finish it. But with my friend’s kind approbations added to the analysis, I like my odds.
When I set out over a year ago to publicly read chapters of my memoir-in-progress, The Starting Gate, at my favorite bar, The St. Andrews, I wasn’t even close to finishing the book. (I had about 4 chapters in rough draft form out of 13.) So of course I really had no idea if I would ever finish the reading series. But eventually I did finish the book, or at least, a decent first draft of it. And a week from today, I will be wrapping up my secondary task, by reading the last of the chapters, “Gateless”, about how my twenty-five years of Zen practice has affected the course of my life so far and where it's all likely to lead me in the future.
It’s been a helluva run. I’ve learned a lot from these readings: how this book works and doesn’t, how my friends are awesome, how reading prose in public is different from and similar to reading works of theatre. And all along the way I have had a consistent metric shit-ton of fun. There is literally nothing quite like meeting monthly for drinks and noshes with an every varying corps of your good friends. I highly recommend it, whether or not you choose to read weird stories from your life to them.
So please join me, if you can, for this final reading on March 16 at 7 pm. We’re adding a few fun things into the mix because the day also happens to be my beautiful wife’s birthday, and my good friend Jay’s as well. Food will be free and drinks will be cheap. And there will be cake!
Here are the details:
When: Monday, March 16 (St. Paddy’s Day Eve) at 7 pm
Where: The St. Andrews Bar, 7406 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98103
Who: Me and you, Heather and Jay’s birthday well wishers, and, frankly, anyone who walks in off of Aurora
Why: Some endings are worth celebrating, as are some beginnings
How: Like you do
Face Book invite here: https://www.facebook.com/events/874011142621692/
Evite here: http://www.evite.com/event/0378OWZ2VWPAO4WXGEPEWVECT3FXQA?gid=0378OWZ2VWPAO4KCKEPEWVECT4NHFM
And here, is a quick list of the chapters so that, if you’ve never yet come to one of these readings, you don’t have to feel completely new to the loop:
Chapter One “The Gate”
I introduce the dominant setting of the book, the Starting Gate, which was the country town bar I basically grew up in, working as a stock boy there, along with my older brother, from the age of 13.
Chapter Two “The Crease and The Hatter”
The next two bars I worked in before I was even old enough to legally drink, one just outside of Baltimore, the other on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Chapter Three "The Perfect Experiment"
A quick introduction into the early family tragedy that has made us Mullins who we are
Chapter Four "White Boy Can Take a Punch"
My adventures as the only white guy on a labor crew at the National Archives.
Chapter Five "The Devil's Workshop"
My examination of the power of boredom, for good and evil, throughout my entire life.
Chapter Six "How I Got the Scars and Learned to Stop Dropping"
My adventures as a high-rise window cleaner in New York City
Chapter Seven "What Should I be Doing?"
…Now that I've retired from theatre and am about to be shit-canned from my day job.
Chapter Eight “Johnny Got his Gun”
What happened when some hillbilly hold-up artists tried to rob the pharmacy across the street from the Starting Gate.
Chapter Nine “Bars: A User’s Guide”
A brief review of the rules everyone should know when availing themselves of that venerated technology, the public house, including a special virtual happy hour with the incomparable Murray Stenson mixing the drinks.
Chapter Ten "I Was the One at Home"
About the night in the house on Sweet Air Road when it was just me, my step-dad, and his massive left hemisphere stroke.
Chapter Eleven “Confession at St. Andrews”
A quasi-philosophical investigation of a quintessential happy hour at my favorite bar in Seattle.
Chapter Twelve “The Ending Gate”
Of when the Starting Gate burned out of existence and threw me and my brother into entirely new chapters of our lives.