It feels great to have my writing reach a larger audience, like hitting a grand slam while eating a pizza; like I’ve climbed to the mountaintop secret writing club, been accepted and received a jacket with my name embroidered on it. I’m certain that fame, fortune and lucrative book deals are in the mail as we speak.
This is the first time one of my stories has been published and I’m very proud of it. While you’re over on Creative Colloquy’s site, check out the other stories. CC is an awesome literary website that publishes new work by South Sound writers every two weeks. Once a month, they also host a reading and open mic night in Tacoma.
This month, I’ll be one of the featured writers. If you’re in the Seattle-Tacoma area, come down to the B Sharp Coffee House on Monday, July 28 at 7:00 pm. I be reading my short story alongside other talented storytellers. Come support local writers and artists!
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. You just read all about his new story, but did you know that he also has a Twitter feed? Once you’re done reading, you should follow him on Twitter and tweet him your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
Physically, my weekend started with an early morning flight down from where I live in the Pacific Northwest to attend a wedding in my old home in the Southwest. But mentally, my weekend started with running into a high school acquaintance who didn’t remember me while changing planes in Phoenix.
Had I really changed so much? I wondered as I settled into the 30-minute puddle-jump to Flagstaff. I tried to read my book, but there was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that wondered what else had changed beyond recognition. Can you ever go home again?
It was good to be back, but it was also strange. In my mind, Flagstaff is a constant of the universe — frozen in time like an air bubble in ice. But it isn’t like that at all. As I have grown and changed, so has this timeless place. People have drifted away. Relationships have evolved. New townhouses have sprung up in what used to be the empty Sawmill lot. Several of my old hangouts, like the Mad Italian and Tacos Locos, have been wiped from the map.
“You can’t go back home,” Thomas Wolf wrote in 1940. “Back home to your childhood…back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame…back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
I think there is truth in his words. As my friend Chris said over breakfast at Martanne’s, we have an expectation that nothing has changed when we return home and are surprised to find that while you’ve been growing and having new experiences, so has everyone else.
And yet, despite the strangeness of change, there is also a comfort in knowing that a place I love still has life and vibrancy. The little mountain town where I grew up continues to exist without me. The friends I left behind continue to get new jobs, fall in love, get married, and have children.
Somewhere between seeing my friend dancing with her husband and holding my 3-month-old goddaughter, I realized that Wolf was only half right. You can’t go back to the way things used to be, but you can embrace the newness. Flagstaff will always be my home, where some of my absolute favorite people live and where I became the person I am today. But my definition of home has expanded. I now find home in two places. Two cities far removed in distance, climate and culture from each other, but both a part of my story. I’m not so sure anymore that home is a set place or a particular time. I think home is a feeling — a feeling that you belong.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. He also makes his home on Twitter, where you can follow him. This is also his 200th post, so thanks for reading the last two hundred! Here’s to two hundred more!
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They call it the City of Destiny or the Gritty City. It is a city of contradictions, loved and despised, where 19th century steeples share the skyline with 20th century smokestacks. A blue collar city choked in paper mill chemicals and cleansed by saltwater breezes. A city of potholes and community gardens.
The second city, overlooked by glistening Seattle to the north, Tacoma is the dark horse. The people drawn here, the people like me, prefer it that way — we fight for the underdog. And yet, in spite of its reputation, I see it throwing off the shackles of its industrial past. I see it reclaiming the abandoned waterfront warehouses; nurturing a fledgling arts community like a flickering flame. I see container ships on the bay waiting their turn to unload the cargo from foreign lands.
Years ago, it lost the railroad and with it a chance to stand on the stage of the world. For a hundred years, it shed its sweat in obscurity, but now, it calls those of us downtrodden and searching for a second chance. Now, it rises and claims its identity, not as the lesser of two great metropolises but as the place that destiny remembered.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, photographer and underdog supporter living in Tacoma, WA. You can follow his gritty Twitter feed @jonnyeberle or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
There’s something about the blues that I’ve always connected with. Maybe it’s the unexpected rhythms of the music or the wordplay of the lyrics, but I think it’s mostly the themes which resonate so deeply with my own life. The blues chronicle love, loss, struggle and hard work. It’s nice to know that someone else feels the same way.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a small house concert featuring singer Chaney Sims and singer/guitarist Mark Riley. It was a small party and the lights were dim. We drank wine while Chaney melded blues and reggae with Northern jazz, Southern work songs and a twist of Stevie Nicks. Mark’s hands flew over the guitar; the strings wailed sweet sad harmony.
Chaney told us that she’d recently read about how when people sing together, their brain waves literally sync up, mirroring each other. It was clear that she and Mark — who had only met about an hour before — were sharing the same brain waves; anticipating each other’s musical cues. By the end of the first set, I could feel it, too. It was almost a trance state; everything was blues, all around me.
There is something incredible about sharing music in a small circle. Without microphones and amps, there is no electronic medium separating the artist from the listener. Slowly, the divisions between strangers and the distant past melt away to the tune of “Go Down, Hannah.”
I think a well-told story does the same thing. It lifts us out of wherever we are and transports us to another place and time. It lets us inhabit the skin of another human being. The brain waves of the reader and the storyteller sync up, riding waves of emotion and conflict and resolution together. That’s what stories do — whether in print or in song — they unite us in a world that makes us feel so separated. No matter if it’s a book or the blues, it reminds us that we are not alone in our sorrow, our desperation, our hope.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer, but he would’ve been a musician if he’d been born with musical talents. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
I have a new obsession. Last weekend, my girlfriend and I walked into a drab building in Tacoma’s sketchy Narrows District. Rain was pouring down outside, but inside, tucked behind a bowling alley and an arcade, is something special. Like Gulliver on Lilliput, we stepped into a miniature world and were suddenly transformed into giants.
People of all ages were there, putting colorful golf balls around fake sand traps (and very real water obstacles). The whole place was alive with activity. Hoots of victory and groans of failure echoed under the low ceiling. Teeing off at the first hole, I was confident. I hadn’t been to a mini golf course in years, probably not since going with my cousins on a muggy summer’s night in Pennsylvania ten or fifteen years ago. In all that time, my game has not improved. My ball wheeled wildly off course. A par-3 hole? Ha! I’ll do it in nine. For the sake of my dignity, Stephanie stopped counting at six. Even though my technique began to show signs of life in the back nine holes, she still ended up beating me 65 to 75.
I’m a long way from being the Tiger Woods of putt-putt, but I think I’ll be back. You see, the really cool thing about mini golf, the thing that will likely keep me coming back to Tower Lanes, isn’t the competition. It’s the novelty and the nostalgia. It doesn’t matter if you sink a hole-in-one or miss the hole ten times from two inches away, the fun part is the strangeness of inhabiting this brightly-colored astroturf universe, where half-size rivers tumble through a plastic and concrete wilderness. For us full-grown people, a trip to the mini golf course feels like a trip into our own technocolor childhood. Win or lose, I think we all need that perspective when our stress levels are high.
In the land of mini golf, the world feels smaller and so, too, do the problems.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and photographer in Tacoma, WA. You can follow him on Twitter for more pint-size thoughts or leave a mini comment below. Thanks for reading!
Shakespeare knew best that a stage play can provoke powerful emotions. A great performance can make you laugh, make you cry, make you question (and in Hamlet’s case, expose a guilty conscience). With that in mind, I started writing a play shortly before the end of the year. Now, nine weeks later, I’m finished.
Worm Food is a dark comedy about a group of family and friends who gather at a funeral and are forced to come to terms with their insecurities, jealousies and unsettled scores. At 96 pages, it is one of the longest things I’ve ever written and my very first full-length stage play.
Last week, I rounded up some friends for an unconventional table reading. Using a Google Hangout video chat, nine actors from all over the country — Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts (and one person in Guatemala who lost her Internet connection) — read the script out loud. I nearly didn’t make it, having accidentally double-booked my afternoon, hitting traffic and failing to get the script to print. Together we laughed, stumbled over typos and generally had a great time. I am deeply grateful to each of them for staying up late to bring the characters alive. And they even seemed to like it.
Now, that it’s finished and safely registered with the Writer’s Guild of American West, the show must go on. It isn’t enough to have a completed script. It needs a stage on which to be unleashed. That’s my next challenge. Over the next few months, I’ll be shopping the play around, starting with my hometown community theatre and hopefully, my story will stride out under the bright lights to make audiences laugh, cry and question death, family and friendship.
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Jonny Eberle is an aspiring playwright, novelist and short story writer living in Tacoma, WA, where he does most of his writing in coffee shops, trains and Twitter. Thanks for reading!
I’d never heard of Monkeyshine before that day. I don’t even think I knew that it was the Lunar New Year. But a text message from my girlfriend’s father got me interested. “Look up Monkeyshine Tacoma,” he said. Within 15 minutes I was out the door; on a modern-day hunt for buried treasure.
Monkeyshines is a wonderful and peculiar event in Tacoma. It started in 2003 and is organized by the mysterious Miss Monkey. One day a year, after months of behind-the-scenes work, thousands of hand-blown glass floats and medallions are strategically hidden throughout the city on the eve of the Lunar New Year for residents to find. Each unique piece is stamped with an emblem displaying the Zodiac animal symbol of the coming year. People hit the streets as early as 4 a.m. to comb through trees, bushes, and local landmarks in search of elusive Monkeyshine – because if you’re lucky enough to find one, you get to keep it.
The game was afoot.
As a newbie Shiner, the odds were stacked against me. I started five hours later than the hardcore scavengers, but I was determined. Online buzz suggested that the Proctor District, University of Puget Sound, and the median strip along the center of Union Avenue were all emptied of glass prizes.
I needed a win. I was frustrated at work and felt a cold coming on. It was the tail end of a terrible week and part of me wanted to give up and go back to bed. But something else had stirred deep within me — a hunter’s instinct, a shot of raw adrenaline. It seemed that the whole dismal week could be redeemed by a few ounces of glass.
So, I headed away from the popular areas. Instead, I struck out north, to nondescript Jane Clark Park in Tacoma’s North End. I was not alone. Another Monkeyshiner was prowling the perimeter. After a few tense seconds, she headed in one direction and I took the other, splitting the park in twain. My canvas shoes were quickly soaked in the dew that clung to the grass. I came up empty-handed.
I headed east, making for Puget Park as a light drizzle began to fall. Families were gathered around the playground nestled between a bridge and a wooded trail leading into a deep, mossy ravine. If there was any Monkeyshine hidden there, it was long gone. At that point, I had been at it for a couple of hours and I was starting to think I was too late, that all the glass art was found. A small team of fellow seekers arrived soon after me, armed with walkie-talkies, a detailed search plan, and military precision.
I retreated to the nearby business district — little more than a barbershop, a dive bar and a garden supply store. The sidewalks were lined with planters. If I couldn’t find something shiny there, I was ready to call it quits and head home. I had articles to write and bills to pay.
Again, I came up empty.
I headed back to my car, defeated, when a glint of light caught my eye. Something gleamed in the shadow of leaves under a potted shrub. I pushed back a branch and there it was, a beautiful glass medallion four inches across, embedded with swirling tendrils of vibrant orange and red. A running horse was stamped on its face.
For the first time all week, I felt alive. I’d found a one-of-a-kind piece of local art and it was mine to keep. It was incredible. I couldn’t have been happier if I’d stumbled across the Holy Grail itself. In that moment of discovery and joy, I felt connected to the artist and to the city of Tacoma in a real, tangible way. All the stress of the week dissolved away as I safely tucked my prize into the pocket of my damp pea coat.
That’s the power of art. It binds us together and serves as a lens through which we can see the world in a radically new way. Next year, I’ll be out early, flashlight in hand, searching for another treasure. Once you’ve found a piece of Monkeyshine, you’re addicted. As long as there are artists to make and hide these beautiful keepsakes, I’ll be hunting for them.
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Jonny Eberle is a first-time Monkeyshiner, newly-minted Tacoman and writer of many words. Special thanks to Exit133, Post Defiance and Roxanne Cooke for providing background on the event. You can follow my quest for meaning and shiny things on Twitter. Thanks for reading!
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I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. They’re so mainstream. Years ago, I decided to make birthday resolutions instead. Last year, my list of birthday resolutions was one of my highest viewed blog posts. A tradition was born.
The Hubble Telescope, the Republic of Namibia, Jennifer Lawrence, Seinfeld, Dances With Wolves, Jurassic Park (the book, not the movie), “Ice Ice Baby,” Windows 3.0 and yours truly all turn 24 this year. Some of us are aging better than others. I’m looking at you, Hubble. As I approach the new year, here’s what I hope to accomplish in 2014.
1) Get My Fiction Published
This last year, I broke into freelance writing. It felt great to find an outlet for my nerdy love of foreign policy and politics, but it was all strictly news writing. This year, I want to bulk up my publishing credits in the area of fiction. I tried to sell my first story to a literary journal in 2012. Two years of chasing the dream of seeing my work in print have taught me a lot. I have a good feeling that my hard work will pay off this year. All it takes is determination.
2) Communicate More Good
I moved across the country last year. As difficult as it has been to establish myself in a new community, it’s been even harder to maintain regular communication with old friends back home. My friends are like my family. I don’t want to lose them because I let them drift away. This year, I’m making a concerted effort to stay connected with the people who matter most to me.
3) Invest In My Passions
In the year-and-a-half since graduating from college, I’ve labored under the belief that my dream career path and a successful career path were two different things. But I’ve come to understand that success can’t be measured in dollars. You can’t make your working life be your only reason to get up in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I need to be engaged in things that make me feel alive. Freelancing in topics that interest me are a part of that. Carving out time to be with the people I love is another. I know there’s nothing revolutionary about this idea, but this year, I want to refocus on the people and activities that bring me joy.
Here’s to a new year, new adventures and the beginning of the countdown until I can legally rent a car. Carpe annum.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. You can wish him a happy birthday by following him on Twitter or share your own resolutions below. Thanks for reading!
When I eventually retell the story of my life, I think that I’ll say that 2013 was the year that everything changed. The funny thing about stories is how the details vary with the telling. The exact words are misquoted, the specifics are glossed over, timelines are stretched or squeezed and the wrinkles in the narrative arc are smoothed out. The truth is, many of our stories end up being a hybrid of fiction and reality.
The past is always changing. Histories are built upon fragile memories. That idea might scare some, but I think it gives each one of us power over our lives. We can take a painful experience and turn it into a moral fable. We can take liberties with the specifics of our stories; we can make ourselves quicker on our feet, faster with a clever quip, more daring. The past is written by those of us in the present.
So, when I look back on the passing of another year, I can choose to see it as a mishmash of disparate experiences or I can see it as the year I moved across the country for love. This was the year two sets of my good friends found out they were having their first child (and one baby arrived before the end of the year). It was the year I visited both the Canadian and Mexican borders. This was the year I wrote a novella, the first year I got a paying writing gig outside of college and the year I left a place I loved for a new adventure. I never could have imagined being here a year ago.
Soon, 2013 will only be a memory. In ten or twenty years, the story may not reflect the reality of what I see, feel and believe today, but that’s okay. My present is only the first draft of the future’s story, to be shaped by the course of my life. And when I tell the story of 2013, I’ll be sure to mention that it was one of the best years yet.
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I’ll be back here in 2014 with more stories that may or may not have happened. In the meantime, you can find me counting down the hours until 2014 on Twitter. Thanks for reading and I wish you a joyful new year.
I’d like to preface this by saying I’m not a regular dumpster diver. I respect the sport, but never advanced beyond little league diving. I do have a bookcase, an inkjet printer and a slightly crooked desk map that were scavenged from the junk heap, but that’s beside the point. For the purposes of this story, let’s pretend I don’t usually stick my hand into piles of refuse.
I was coming home from a long day of work and commuting. A light drizzle was coming down. I ran inside to get my recycling and was just about to toss it in the bin, when something caught my eye. Under a pile of plastic soda bottles and shredded receipts, was a book, lonely and discarded.
I couldn’t just let that poor, defenseless little book get destroyed. I hope to write books someday, I knew how I would feel if my story was thrown away like an empty pizza box. So, I grabbed it.
The pages were wet and curling. The front cover had a little tear. And sure, it was World War Z, not Shakespeare, but I had to save it from the pulp mill. No book deserves that fate — not even Twilight (okay, maybe Twilight would be better as a napkin).
I’m going to read that rescued book. Every story deserves to be heard. If I don’t like it, I’ll sell it to a used bookstore or donate it to Goodwill, so that someone else can enjoy it. But, I will never, ever throw it away. Someday, I when I’m published, I hope you’ll do the same for my book.
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Jonny Eberle is a bit of a book freak. He has far too many crammed into his tiny Tacoma apartment. When he isn’t elbow-deep in a good yarn, he’s usually writing or cruising the trending topics on Twitter.