In a story spanning decades, humor, and heartbreak, Shelley Miller explores the complexity of love and family. On Valentine’s Day evening, come hear her #StickTogether tale of velcro, romance, and commitment.
Back in the olden days, Shelley Miller was a singer/actress in the musical theater. When motherhood beckoned, she put down her microphone and picked up pen and paper. Four kids later, Shelley has stories to share and songs to sing. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from the Cincinnati Conservatory.
Hoping for new friends, when Monica Berry moved to Big D, she tried joining a Scrabble club. On Valentine’s Day evening, come hear her hilarious #StickTogether tale of two-letter words, bingos, and pancakes.
Monica Berry was born in upstate New York and raised in Albuquerque, NM. She attended Midwestern Big Ten schools for college and law school, but ended up in Texas. She’s an in-house lawyer who writes in her free time, believes in fairy-tale endings, and eats dessert before dinner whenever possible.
Theme: “Out From Under The Rug”
Storyteller: Emily Cortez
In her early twenties, Emily Cortez felt her life was really starting to take off when she fell in love with an older man, missed some birth control pills, and suddenly found herself gaining weight and fighting back nausea. With multiple tests confirming her pregnancy, Emily knew she was not ready to be a mother. Going against her Catholic faith, she chose to abort her pregnancy. “Walking into the clinic, I was greeted outside by a middle-aged man holding a sign: ‘You’re going to hell!’” Later, a full range of emotions overtook her, including fear of being judged and a wavering between guilt and non-guilt. Ultimately, however, the experience transformed her: “My unplanned pregnancy helped shape the timid woman I was into the strong, vocal woman I am today. To that protestor who held that sign, I want you to know: I am like you—a person—a human with stories, moments and experiences that have shaped me but do not define me.”
Theme: “Out From Under The Rug”
Storyteller: Britt Payne
When Britt Payne discovered she was pregnant, she thought “everything would fall into place.” The opposite occurred. “I want the whole package,” the man said, “and you are not it.” Britt questioned everything. “Would I bring this little spirit into the world, knowing that its father would likely dip in and out, a sentence of a lifetime of heartache? Or would I have an abortion and set the spirit free? ” No easy answers, but in choosing to terminate her pregnancy, Britt ventured onto a path of self-love where she realized that she actually is the whole package.
Emily Cortez struggled with feelings of shame and isolation, knowing that she was not prepared to have a child. Hear her personal story in “Out From Under The Rug.”
Emily Cortez is a third generation Texan from Dallas. Her hobbies include reading, writing, playing her flute and the occasional attempt to learn new cooking recipes. Currently, she keeps busy by running an online vintage boutique called 829 Vintage and is launching a project to help Mexico fight poverty.
What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? Raw, emotional performances. Every story keeps you on the edge of your seat.
What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? I felt like it was important to show a woman who was sure of her decision, especially because I am Catholic and Hispanic. Our traditions are a bit outdated; I want women to know there are other options and choices in their lives.
Who is your favorite cartoon character and why? Muttley from the Hannah Barbara cartoons. I think I laugh just like him (or so I have been told).
What is your favorite Dallas hangout? Wild Detectives and The Great American Hero (the best sandwich place ever).
Sneak peak: “There was an ongoing struggle within myself as to whether I should be feeling guilty or not. I felt the guilt reemerge sometimes because I realized there was no guilt anymore.”
Caught up in a brittle on-again-off-again relationship, Britt Payne learns that her pregnancy will not create the stability she longs for. Hear her emotional story in “Out From Under The Rug.”
Britt Payne is a Dallas native from a long line of Texans. She adores her husband, her hounds, and an ice-cold martini. A proud member of a cookbook club, she’ll talk grub any chance she gets. She prefers sunshine along with a rainy Sunday (a good excuse to cuddle up).
What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? This is such an important topic. I want to help move the conversation forward and hopefully help people see matters from a different perspective.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A mermaid.
What is your favorite Dallas hangout? Louie’s. That’s where I got engaged!
Name one thing you miss about being a kid: I miss the moments when time seemed to move really slowly- those long summer days. Now, time appears to be on warp speed.
Sneak peak: “Upon learning that I was pregnant, I was cautiously happy and extremely nervous. The reality of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks. It became very real and I was flooded with so many thoughts and emotions.”
Rev. Daniel Kanter looks back on a moment in his youth and tells the story of how one decision shaped his future. Hear Daniel reflect on his life and experiences in “Out From Under The Rug.”
Daniel Kanter is the Senior Minister of First Unitarian Church of Dallas. He serves as vice-chair of the national clergy advocacy board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and is active in multi-faith efforts to bring Dallas together around issues of race and equity. He is an avid cyclist, has two teenagers, and is married.
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? Erasmus, because he was a tenacious reformer of his time.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor, but that didn’t pan out freshman year of college.
What is your favorite Dallas hangout? The Old Monk, you can find me there with a pint on occasion.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last decade and why would you recommend it? Red, by Orhan Pamuk, because it is an incredible book on perspective and so fun to read.
Sneak peak: “At the clinic, and sometimes with my parishioners, I receive a kind of confession about mistakes and abortions and screwed up relationships, and I can sit there with some integrity, having been there myself. I know in receiving those stories we are both healed.”
Lulu grew up in a place and at a time when sex education was nonexistent. Her experience directly relates to her upbringing and also informs the next several decades of her life. Hear her story in “Out From Under The Rug.”
Lulu Ward is an actor in Dallas. She was voted “Best Actress” in 2004 by the Dallas Observer, named Actor of the Year by the Dallas Voice in 2011, and named Outstanding Acting Performance in 2015 by the DFW Theatre Critics Forum for her performance in Tennessee Williams’s The Two-Character Play. Lulu teaches theatre at Collin College in Plano, TX.
What would you name the autobiography of your life? The Misadventures of a Late Bloomer
What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? Theatre’s origins are in storytelling. As an actor, I am definitely drawn to the storytelling aspect of plays. My favorite plays all tell a great story. I think it’s fantastic that storytelling as an art still exists.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Patient.
What is your favorite smell? Puppy breath.
Sneak peak: “In the fall, at school, I told no one. I attempted to cleanse myself of the shame by being ‘The Perfect Little Girl.’ I didn’t date. I went to church every Sunday. I made straight A’s. I represented my town in Mississippi’s Jr. Miss Pageant. I became anorexic. I was 54 before I stopped trying to be “The Perfect Little Girl.'”