Once: A Scatter-shot Look

Next Monday at Tenx9 Nashville’s storytelling event, they are doing stories on the topic, “Once.” I forgot to put in for a slot and was very disappointed to find it out. Nevertheless, you should come to Douglas Corner Cafe on Monday, June 23 at 7:30pm. A list developed based on my random memories that I thought might be good story material. I read over it and thought y’all might enjoy it. Not a word of it is a lie.


Once, I swam with sharks without knowing it.

Once, I taught a 73 year-old man how to read.

Once, I hiked over 100 miles in 2 years in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Once, I was seeing a Lenny Kravitz show in Memphis when they announced Jeff Buckley had died.

Once, I was asked to be someone’s Dominatrix – and all my bills would be paid. I declined.

Once, I wept seeing the exquisite ceiling in Gaudi’s Palau de la Música Catalana.

Once, I was a camp counselor at a United Methodist Environmental Education center.

Once, I saw the Bread and Puppet Theatre at Highlander Center.

Once I got ripped off by the Rainbow Tribe in Utah.

Once, I went out in the snow and stomped out a peace sign on the football field..

Once, I dove off a rock cliff into a river because boys were making fun of me.You can see it in this video of hillbillies like me jumping off things.

Once I fell in love with a gay man. Ok. More than once.

Once, I met with Sen. Strom Thurmond to express my concern about abortion. I was 13. I am pro-choice now.

Once, I self-published a book of poems.

Once, I passed out on stage in front of my entire middle school giving a campaign speech to be Treasurer.

Once, I was sexually assaulted as an adult and went to work the next morning as if nothing happened.

Once, I ended up in the loony bin.

Once, I played the part of a male back-up dancer in a production of “Guys and Dolls.”

Once, climbed up a rock face and thought I might die of fear.

Once, I hosted a Women’s Open Mike for almost 4 years.

Once, I made it to the final round of cuts for Downtown Julie Brown’s show on MTV in 1987.

Once, I had a “social issues” column in my college newspaper.

Once, I co-facilitated court-ordered therapy with Domestic Violence Offenders.

Once, the whelps from on my legs from “spankings” were so bad I had to hide them in gym.

Once, I taught Creative Writing in a homeless shelter.

Once, I stood at Archbishop Romero’s tomb.

Once, I challenged a 300 pound man to a fight because I didn’t like the way he spoke to his girlfriend.

Once, I caught a Stryper Bible.

Once, I played a prostitute with a heart of gold that sang Rizzo’s song.

Once, I was a mascot for a radio station in Knoxville. I was a bee.

Once, I helped deliver a baby.

Once I drove a friend to an abortion clinic in KY and was hit in the head with a Bible. I was pro-life at the time.

Once, I fell in love with a Compulsive Liar.

Once, I lived over two years in a homeless shelter that I managed at nights and on the weekends while in college.

Once, I threw a plate of food at my Dad when he said something racist.

Once, I was a therapist for juvenile sex offenders.

Once, I held a man’s hand as he died. He had no friends or family.

Once, I took a pie in the face.

Once, I had a BIG CRUSH on someone for almost two years and later married him.

Once, I worked in a bakery where most of our customers where in the Mafia in Upstate New Jersey.

Once, I was scolded for dressing in “an attention-getting manner.”

Once, I helped take care of my abusive father as he died of pancreatic cancer.

Once, I lived in a Dismas House with former offenders and college students from Maryville College.

Once, I was an extremely successful telemarketer.

Once, I was on C-span.

Once, I camped out for 2 days to get U2 tickets.

Once, I earned a Master’s degree because I didn’t know what else to do.

Once, I did mushrooms and went to see Prairie Home Companion.

Once I hid contraband in my friend’s mass of curly hair at the Lilith Fair show at Starwood Amphitheater – successfully.

Once, I danced up a fury at a Ludacris show and a man I did not know gave me $50 at the end of the night.

Once, I was in a boxing match with the Science teacher at the High School I was principal of – she got me right in the face and then forfeited the fight, saying “After I saw the look on your face, I couldn’t hit you again.”

Once, my friends and I made and wore t-shirts that spelled out “D-E-V-O”.

Once, a complete stranger gave me $300 to buy books at Grad School because he heard I couldn’t afford it.

Once, I had breakfast with Sen. Al Gore, where he remembered me from when he visited my college. I lit into him over the first Gulf War the first time I met him.

Once, I wrote away to Clown College because I was seriously considering it as a career choice.

Once, I broke my ankle in three places mowing the grass.

Once, I traveled across country, and each day my companion and myself would strip down randomly and do naked shots.

Once, I ate a snake.

Once, Dorothy Allison told me I should quit smoking.

Once, I got so drunk in a Mexican Restaurant that I left a shoe there.

Once, someone took a shot at me and missed.

Once, I formed a Feminist Collective that lived “in community” for two years before it imploded.

Once, I gave too many fucks and had such a hero-complex, that I was told :”Get off the cross, the wood is needed elsewhere.”

Once, I joyously threw rotten tomatoes at my friends.



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About Kristen Chapman Gibbons

Loosely connected facts: Storyteller. Curator of a Better Internet. Lifelong Politico. Social Media Maven. Creativity and Empathy Evangelist. Performer. Creator of Content Worth Sharing. Digital Strategist. Former Social Worker. Decade teaching in Higher Ed. Master's Degree in Theology. Married to an Irishman. 3 darling kiddos. Preacher's kid. Appalachian. Music maker. Music devour-er. ENTP. Bohemian. Geeky. Obsessed with thrift stores and all things vintage. Lover of species.

View all posts by Kristen Chapman Gibbons

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