Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Nicole Stewart

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Oral Fixation’s creator, Nicole Stewart, is no stranger to the stage herself. Next week, she’ll close out the show’s fourth season with a powerful story about the cry for help that helped her overcome an eating disorder in “Happy Camper.”

Nicole Stewart is the creator of Oral Fixation. She spoke at TEDxSMU about the power of sharing your story. Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, Modern Loss, and Upworthy. She couldn’t do any of this without her supportive husband Anton, dog Ellie and amazing community of friends.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Melissa Smrekar

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Oral Fixation’s assistant director, Melissa Smrekar, is a humorist, Oral Fixation vet and lover of performing. This month, she’ll give a hilarious account of her most memorable childhood camping trips in “Happy Camper.”

Melissa is a fourth generation Dallasite, who works as a fundraiser by day and moonlights as a writer, editor and improviser by night. Oral Fixation’s assistant director, Melissa loves sundresses, souffles, birthdays and books, and is currently writing a collection of comedic essays. She has been feeling feelings since 1986.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Charles Scudder

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He’s a writer by trade, but even Charles Scudder couldn’t dream up a story like the Goatman that terrorized North Texas residents in the summer of ’69. This month, he’ll take the Oral Fixation stage to talk about finally meeting the “creature” that haunted his youth in “Happy Camper.”

Charles Scudder is a reporter and editor at The Dallas Morning News. He grew up in Colleyville, Texas, and graduated from the Indiana University School of Journalism in 2014. He has won writing awards from the Indiana Collegiate Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, & the Hearst National Writing Championship.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Xuan Nguyen

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She always knew she wasn’t like any of her other classmates. And this month, self-described “weird kid” Xuan Nguyen will take the Oral Fixation stage to talk about the time she finally fulfilled her lifelong dream of taking a family camping trip in “Happy Camper.”

After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, Xuan Nguyen taught children’s theater in Ireland. Her parents feigned retirement in 2012 so that she would return and take over their upholstery business. She takes improv classes at the Dallas Comedy House, makes her own clothes and writes unrequited love songs.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Ryan Gifford-Robinson

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He’s a city slicker through and through, but this month, Ryan Gifford-Robinson will hit the Oral Fixation stage to reminisce about the summer he spent as a counselor at a summer camp for the disabled in “Happy Camper.”

Ryan Gifford-Robinson is a transplanted northerner who now calls Dallas home. His career in insurance has taken him across the country. He’s a newlywed, has three great sons, three feisty terriers and several boisterous birds. Ryan enjoys creating art, randomly breaking into dance and volunteering for non-profit organizations.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Ken Bethea

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A board game aficionado and family man, Ken Bethea quit his boring desk job at age 30 to become the lead guitarist for the Old 97’s. And this month, Ken returns to the Oral Fixation stage to tell the story of Dallas’ favorite band in “Happy Camper.” 

Raised in an oak forest near Tyler, Ken Bethea moved to Big D in 1988 to seek fame and fortune. When not traveling the country, bending strings with his creepy friends, he spends his time in Lake Highlands with his wife, his kids and his precious board game collection. Read more

“Two Peas in a Pod” featuring Mandy Aguilar

Theme: “Two Peas In A Pod”
Storyteller: Mandy Aguilar

The eternally cool and effervescent Mandy Aguilar returned to the Oral Fixation stage, and invited the audience for a trip down memory lane with a story of the “never-ending slumber party” of life with her best friend, Diana. Mandy and Diana were cut from the same cloth: badass, aspiring artists who favored counter-cultural idea, while still following the rules and making good grades in school. Through a powerful female friendship, founded on championing one another instead of competing, Mandy and Diana succeeded in upholding the spirit of their non-conformist “2.5 Girl” pact — even if they failed at the literal letter of it. It was an excellent reminder that you can grow up, get an office job, get married and have a baby while still being a badass.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Randy Brown

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He is an attorney by day and an avid backpacker any chance he gets. Later this month, Randy Brown will take the Oral Fixation stage for “Happy Camper,” to spin a yarn about the time he found himself trapped deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon without a lifeline.

Randy Brown was born in California, raised in New York and got to Texas as fast as possible. He has lived in the Lakewood area for 30 years. He is an attorney with Haynes and Boone, where he manages the nationwide Intellectual Property Department. Randy’s passion is backpacking in our magnificent National Parks.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Pamela Stone

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She is an award-winning writer herself, but next week, Pamela Stone will return to the Oral Fixation stage to talk about how it was her daughter’s literal “Writing On The Wall” of their home that helped the two connect during those awkward teen years.

Pamela Stone is an award-winning journalist and author whose articles have appeared in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times syndicates. Her book, A Woman’s Guide to Living Alone, is nationally distributed. She says that writing is in her DNA. Her father often rose at dawn to write Japanese haikus.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Rene Rivera

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With a brave face and a strong defense mechanism, she looked past the “Writing On The Wall” for longer than most anyone else would have tolerated. And next week Rene Rivera will take the Oral Fixation stage to share how she finally came to grips with her husband’s mental illness. 

Rene Rivera is from Oklahoma City. She is a mother of two teenage boys, who are the light of her life, and the thorn in her side at the same time. She is currently a business analyst for a health care compliance company. Rene enjoys the outdoors, traveling and being active. When she wants to escape from the world, she binges on Netflix.

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