From P-Town… Mortified for Like the Fifth Time Already

1. The line felt short until it stopped moving and started to rain. 2. If you see two open seats in this picture, I’ll be mad because we sat in a dark raccoon hole behind the upper balcony.

On Thursday, the 5th Anniversary Mortified show, which is hosted by Egan Danehy, brought Sarah Adelhart, Serra Sewitch, Amanda Sledz, Katherine Lewis, and Susan Estes to the stage with their teenage journals. Tom Ifversen brought two short student films.

Doors were at six. Show was at eight. My friend and I got there at sevenish. A guy who said he was from Atlanta was standing near the door, offering to buy someone’s ticket to the sold-out show for forty dollars. I’m always disappointed when people from Atlanta don’t have accents. No one sold him a ticket from our section of the line.

1. Serra Sewitch, who read second, and her front table of fans: Jon, Sue Ellen, Krissy, Denna, and Ben. 2. Mary and Andrew didn’t realize they had good seats until I explained my raccoon hole situation. 3. Mr. Egan Danehy hosted the evening’s performance.

Once inside, I bought a gin and tonic and a small popcorn, and found my friend in the raccoon hole behind the balcony after about seven “Where are you?” texts.

In honor of the 5th Anniversary, Danehy shared an early blackmail letter written to his parents after spending three days at camp in which he admits that he cannot live without them and tells them to write him a daily letter or he’ll think they’re dead. After getting over this hump, Danehy had a great time at this week-long camp.

1. Lauren, Amalia, Megan and Haimah are not in a book club, but I think they should start one. 2. On my way back to the hole, people were still coming through the door. I’ll assume they had others saving seats for them because no one was sitting on laps.

Adelhart’s journal as a twelve-year-old was unique in that she gathered thoughts in list form like: “Was I doing the right thing by signing up for volleyball” or “What’s it like to have a boyfriend?” Though my favorite quote was, “I’m wearing jeans so no one can pants me.” I had completely forgotten about the danger of unsecured clothing in our schools, as well as the resilience needed to show up every day with so many unanswered questions.

1. A sweeping landscape of the Mortified crowd from the bank shot seats to the left. 2. Emily said they got these great seats because Paul is an accountant, and he made her get here when the doors opened.

Next up, Sewitch, a self-described outcast in high school, got high-fives and assumed hippies and stoners were possible sources of intellectual conversation until she could get out of her small town. I’m not sure anyone needs more than a Blockbuster, a K-Mart, and a McDonalds, but this was before the Internet and low-fives.

As an ex-Midwesterner, Sledz’s journal of her Cleveland, Ohio public high school really got to me, maybe because I can imagine the scenery of her story a little more than the others. She shared entries in which she goes from daily, unsolicited submissions to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper to becoming, at the age of fifteen, their youngest person on contract. While bringing her love of writing and music together, that girl dealt with some shitty high schooling which prompted her to write, “Punch me in the face if I ever want to be a gym teacher.”

1. Olivia is elementary school friends with one of the readers. I think Larry, Mary, and Eric came with her. 2. Spontaneous PDA sparked between Danehys in the final moments of the show.

After getting an “F minus six” in Calculus, Ifversen went for an easy A in video production with hit videos like “Surf Quest” and “A Man’s Guide to Prom,” which were shot in his hometown of Hawaii. The man had mad post-production skillz, lived in Hawaii, and took Obama’s little sister to prom. This was an easy Mortified moment to bear.

Lewis and her high school friends believed they were the next Beat poets. She read some of her poems and journal entries of hanging at a diner and getting life-lessons which “kinda made [her] respect reality and the little people in the rug.”

Estes went a shade darker by sharing her Brian/Derek love triangle. Not that he’s not a “special guy” or anything, but Derek was in prison most of the time for a drunk driving accident in which his girlfriend was killed. Estes masterfully brought us through her experience with coming to terms with the situation.

1. Post-mortification, all contributors took the stage. 2. Back into the bleak night with teenage thoughts on my mind.

Perhaps this is what sent me into a retrospective abyss as I walked to the car. What were my high school life lessons? I felt like these teenagers were way ahead of me in some ways. Or maybe this line-up was simply a selection of amazing people, sharing what it was like on their way to amazing.

If you want to see a sold-out crowd for grassroots storytelling, you can count on Mortified Portland to deliver. You really should get there at doors or you’ll be sitting in the darkness, north of the balcony, with me.


— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her at

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