Some bad decisions on a New Years Even lead to a wrongful conviction, a young woman joins a cabaret show in Hamburg, Germany, and must escape once she learns that she may be working for Nazis and a 3rd grader learns an important life lesson from an inmate in the Montana State Prison.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming Part 2

[Marc Moss] Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme, is “Letting Go” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please, call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you.

[music]

He’s like, “I want that gun.” He’s like, “and I want you to go take me to get it.” And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so I said, “yes”. I took him to go steal the gun.

[Marc Moss] This week on the podcast…

[Linda Grinde]
I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done.

[Marc Moss] …three storytellers, share their true personal story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”.

[Raymond Ansotegui] And as we come in, he says, “We’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.”

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot Communications over at blackfoot.com.

[insert land ack from live event here]

Our first story, comes to us from Katie Garding. Some bad decisions on a New Years Even lead to a wrongful conviction and 10 years in prison for Katie Garding. Katie calls her story “The Paths We Take”. Thanks for listening.

[Katie Garding] Do any of you remember what it’s like to fall in love at a young age? And maybe a lot of you are going through that right now, but when it feels like nothing else matters, except for that person and that you guys would be together forever. That’s how it felt. The night that I met James, he had walked into the store that I was working at on a night that I should have never been working.

So that’s, that’s how I knew it was meant to be. Um, he was a smooth talker. He always knew what to say. And he made me feel wanted by, from the moment we met, we went out new year’s Eve night. And at this point we’d been going strong for about four weeks. And honestly, how well can you really know somebody in four weeks?

If you would’ve asked me, then I would’ve said, oh, I know everything about this guy. You couldn’t tell me any different. I was in love. I was dumb. Um, if you would ask me now, I’d obviously tell you, you know, nothing about a person in, in four weeks. Um, so pretty typical new year’s Eve night, we’re out drinking.

It’s Missoula. I had just turned 21 we’re bar hopping, having a good time. Um, at some point throughout the night, um, a guy had approached us looking for a party. He was new in town and didn’t really know anybody. And so of course we invited him along. yeah. Um, so yeah, we, we wound up partying with him all night long.

We close the bars down and at this point we’re, we’re pretty wasted. And James and I live out in Bonner and there’s no way we’re driving home. So this guy offers us his couch to stay out with a stipulation. We’d be up the next morning at like 6, 6 30. He was going skiing with his buddies. So we stayed the night on his couch and the next morning.

He took us back to my truck and we parted ways a little while later, James and I were having a very lovely breakfast at McDonald’s and, uh, he goes, Hey, you know that house we just left. And I was like, well, yeah, I mean, we literally just left it. So it’s pretty, um, he goes, yeah, that guy, he, uh, he left a 3 57 Magnum sitting on his counter and me at the time, knowing nothing about guns was like, oh nice.

he’s like, yeah. He’s like, I want that gun. He’s like, and I want you to go take me to get it. And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so if I said yes, I took him to go steal the gun later on James and I are driving around Missoula and we get pulled over. Um, you would think it would was because we had stolen a gun, but it was because I had a cracked windshield.

And, um, the, the night before there was a fatality and they were looking for a vehicle that was involved in a hit and. and so that’s why they had stopped us. And during this traffic stop, James had actually wound up going to jail surprise . Uh, he was up here on the run for 12 felonies outta Missouri, um, went to jail and, uh, that was the first time he had deceived me.

So shortly after his incarceration, um, we had lost contact. We had kind of quit talking to each other and about a year and a half later, I got a random phone call from a lawyer. And I don’t know if any of you have ever been in trouble, but when you get in trouble, the state plays this game called well, let’s make a deal.

If you testify, I’ll give you this. If you plead guilty, we’ll give you that. And this lawyer says to me, he’s like, Hey, the state wants to charge you. And, um, I was a little shocked and confused and didn’t really know what was going on. And he said, the state’s looking to charge you with negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence.

And I’m stunned at this point. And, uh, I didn’t really know how to respond. And he said, this is a really good deal. And I think you should take it. And I immediately said, no. I said, I’m not gonna take this deal. Um, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Um, I’m not gonna plead guilty to a crime. I didn’t commit.

And he says to me, you’re never gonna get an offer like this again. Um, and you know, when we make life changing decisions, we never really realize in the moment how life changing. They are looking back. Now, I always wonder what it would be like if I would’ve taken that deal. Um, but instead I said no, and before I get too ahead of myself, um, I wanna tell you why this lawyer called me.

So the day that James had went to jail, he knew that they were looking for a hit and run suspect. And because he was on the run from Missouri, we’d also been charged with the burglary charge. And so he was looking at ti doing time in Montana as well. He was looking at being charged with a persistent felony offender, which could land him up to a hundred years in prison.

So while he was in jail, he had concocted a story to get himself out and put me in. Um, I trusted and believed it believed in our justice system. And I believed that everything was gonna turn out normal and fine. You know, I was like, the state has nothing to prove. I’m not gonna be found guilty. Like if you would’ve asked me now, I was like, people don’t go to prison that didn’t commit crimes.

Like everybody in jail is guilty. That’s what, that’s what they’re there for. And, um, I realize now how naive I was. And, um, after five days of trial, I was found guilty by a jury of my peers. And shortly after I was sentenced to 40 years in the Montana women’s prison, if I would’ve taken that deal, I would’ve only spent five years in prison maybe.

Um, and I don’t know if you guys know how often. Innocent people are incarcerated, but in the United States, over 3000 people have been exonerated. And 15% of those people that were incarcerated were incarcerated under false testimony, just like I was. Um, and I know we gave a shout out to the innocence project, but the Montana innocence project here in town had heard about my case, um, about a year into my incarceration and they had done some investigating and they had done some research and they decided to take me on as a client, um, their amazing group of people that spend their lives saving others.

And they’ve been fighting for my freedom for the past 12 years.

And I know that I’m standing here in front of you guys today, but I want you to know that I’m still not free. Um, I had to ask permission to be here tonight with you all cuz after. So they’ve been fighting for my freedom for the past 12 years and 10 of that was spent in prison before I was paroled out.

So I’ve been out for almost two years now. Um, and I would never say that I’m thankful for this kind of an experience. I would never wish this upon anybody, but I have gained so much from this experience and so much knowledge. And I understand now what’s important to me and how I wanna live my life and how I wanna honor those that have fought for my freedom and that have stuck by me this entire time.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss]

Thanks, Katie. Katie Garding is a humanitarian at heart. She believes in the connection of all things. Katie is a lover of art and the simple beautiful things this life has to offer. To get links to video interviews with Katie, updates about her case and to learn more about the Montana Innocience Project, visit tellussomething.org.
Next up is Linda Grinde. Linda Grinde joins a caberet show in Hamburg, Germany and must escape once she learns that she may be working for Nazis. Linda calls her story “Last Can-Can in Hamburg”. Thanks for listening.

[Linda Grinde]
It’s 1975 late summer. And I am in a, a cabaret in Hamburg, Germany. No, no, no, not, not the musical cabaret. I am in a real honest to God, German cabaret theater performing at, uh, the Salam theater actually, which is where the Beatles supposedly got their international start. I am with a company of 30 performers that were hired in New York city to come and join this theater.

We’ve been in rehearsal for three weeks and we have a Broadway choreographer. Who’s putting a, a, um, a full modern ballet to Gershwin’s American in Paris on us. We are learning the, the authentic CanCan with cartwheels and hitch kicks and drop to the floor splits. They’ve hired a specialist from Paris to come and teach us this.

It, it has been wonderful. I mean, the experience has been as sunny as the weather, we all have been given our own apartment in a building that’s within walking distance of the theater. They’ve hired a costume to build the costumes for us, not just pull them out of storage. We have all gotten special shoes for the CanCan because when you do a drop to the floor from a, from a Cartwheel, those heels will just fly off unless they’re reinforced.

So we’ve been taken care of

the, the shows are so fun. Um, there’s a Judy Garland impersonator, and I’m one of the three Andrew sisters, you know, The trio from world war II. It’s been fabulous. It’s the night before opening and our producer, Ms. Duran has invited us all to dinner and it is extravagant. We step out of the apartment building and there is a line of Mercedes-Benz waiting to take us to the Argent, the Argentine steakhouse, which he has reserved the whole thing just for us.

He says, order whatever you want. Then after the dinner, he stands up. Now, miss your Duran is German, but he uses his French name. He is a cross between a young Salvador Dolly with a little mustache and GOE, and one of the three Musketeers he’s got long black curly hair in my memory, he’s wearing a big hat with a plume, but that’s just my imagination.

And he tells us. Our show is going to be added to the show that’s already there. And he is effusive with his praise, how wonderful we are. He knows how to win over a room of actors. So the next night is opening night and I’m in a small dressing room with a five other performers. I, I mean, small, if somebody has to get up to pee, we all have to pull our chairs in, so you can open the door.

I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done, but so it turns out. Our cute little song and dance numbers are gonna be sandwiched in between live porn.

you know, in reality, it’s goofy. It’s actually comic. Imagine the Andrew sisters waiting off stage while the S and M guy still in his mask and leather thong is scrambling around the floor, picking up his whips and chains and leather straps. We pick our way to the front of the stage and begin our number who’s love and daddy with the beautiful eyes.

What a pair lips. It, I could try emphasize, right.

Well, it turns out with the new material. Each show runs about two and half hours and we do three shows a night with a break in between. That means we get to the theater between six or seven and we don’t get out till three or four in the morning. and we do this six nights a week by now. It’s late October.

So that means if you get some sleep, by the time you wake up, you may have two hours, a daylight, all thoughts of traveling around Europe on my time off forgotten on Saturday on Sunday, I barely have enough time to buy groceries and do my laundry. Well days roll into weeks. We are, we are into the routine.

My best friends are the other Andrew sisters, um, Elizabeth and Claire in their other life. They are Showgirls from Las Vegas, but out of costume, they are as down home as farm girls. One night we’re, we’re sitting in the dressing room and somebody says, is this the second or the third show? Nobody knows we’re living in this like murky blur well, by late November, the Americans are kind of homesick it’s it’s Thanksgiving back home.

And this year Duran invites us all to his house for dinner. We’re so excited for a change, a break in the routine. We get dressed up and I remember standing in the entryway, taking off our coats and talking, and then somebody swings the front door shut. And that’s when I see it right behind the door in a prominent place, a portrait of ADLF Hitler,

my brain freezes. I mean, I, I really can’t recall anything else about that dinner, but I do know that a. The Andrew sisters came to my apartment and we sat down, we started putting the pieces together. We’d been so busy working. We hadn’t really thought about it. You know, miss you, Duran has always seen with a couple of big beefy guys around him.

They’ve decided to pay us in cash because that would be easier. This extravagant lifestyle that, that he’s been showing us, can’t be paid for by this little theater. You know, I’m from Northern New Jersey and these girls have worked in Vegas. You know, we’ve rubbed elbows with organized crime. We don’t know what’s going on, but we gotta get out.

So so, um, you’ve seen the movies, right? You don’t walk away from the mafia. So, um, we, we have to come up with a plan and, and we have to keep it secret because we don’t wanna start a stampede. If the rest of the company knows we’re going. And we also don’t wanna. Have them make us stay . So our plan is this first we have to get our passports back.

Oh, they’d taken our passports about a month ago and we hadn’t heard anything about them. It was no concern until we realized we have to get them back. So we decided something close to the truth would be best. And we said to the front office that we wanna go to Copenhagen on our day off and we pass her and we pastor and we pass her.

It takes them days. But finally we get our passports. Now in those days to buy a ticket to New York, you had to go downtown to a travel agent. So we have to carve out some time in this crazy schedule to go down there and buy a ticket. We get that done. Finally, we have to figure out how do we get our baggage out of the building?

I mean, you can’t walk out the front door, you know, so. I live on the first floor. So there there’s a little balcony in the back that goes, drops down onto a street. The girls bring their luggage down to my apartment, and while they go get a cab, I take those suitcases and throw them over the balcony one at a time.

So they can take them in the suit, in the, in the cab. And I’m wondering if anybody back there, they probably see this all the time. so they take the suitcases down to the bus station and they put them in a locker. Now we’re ready. It’s into December. And we decide that we’re gonna go on a Saturday night because no one is gonna miss us until Monday call.

So we go through the first. We go through the second show. We’re excited, but nobody knows anything. We go finish our CanCan kick drop to the floor. We jump up, run to the dressing room, change into street clothes. While the rest of the company is taking the final bow. We dash out the back door into a cab to the bus station, grab our suitcases from the bus station to the train, the train to the airport.

And I don’t exhale until we are on that flight off the tarmac, headed back to New York city. My friends go back to Las Vegas, that Christmas, I got a postcard from my friend, Elizabeth in full showgirl attire, feathers, and all, but I never heard from any of those people again, you’ve heard of the last. The last tango in Paris.

Well, this is the last CanCan in Hamburg.

[Marc Moss]
Thanks, Linda. Linda Grinde is an amateur philosopher and a professional garden beautifier. She leads nature rituals and wild women camping retreats. Linda learned to swim this winter and just last week she competed in the backstroke event at the Senior Olympics. She also competed in the putting and cornhole events. Her team won the gold in the cornhole event. She will be playing Maureen for the Missoula Backyard Theater production of “Rent or Die” this September.

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast is Raymond Ansotegui.

Raymond learns an important life lesson when he’s in 3rd grade from an inmate in the Montana State Prison. Raymond calls his story “Fruit for Vegetables. (A Fair Trade)”. Thanks for listening.

[Raymond Ansotegui]

I had just finished my second year of formal education and it was tough. Math was okay. Phonics. They’re great. Sitting still being quiet, not so good for this kid. I still had the ability to focus and I did really good. I got the grades in second grade, but I got the good grades. And in return, my parents offered that I could do one thing.

I wanted to do anything for a day.

Definitely the biggest life choice I had made at this point. And without the slightest hesitation, I said fishing, my parents knew I wasn’t a Disney world kid, so I’m ready. I’m gonna get my day to fish. Two hours later, my dad comes in and says, Hey, I’ll trade you. If you do a little cowboy in, you could go fishing for five days.

Oh lottery, but he said, we’re gonna, so we’re gonna go to deer lodge if you’re up for going. Yes. And by dear lodge, he means we’re going to Montana state prison. You see my father’s a professor at Montana state and taught animal science. And in the process of his PhD, because MSU is a land grant school, the prison is also a state run facility.

They can work together. And for most people don’t know the prison has their entire cattle herd. They have their own dairy and it surrounds the entire tight incarceration area. So, but where we’re specifically going is a place that Thomas Quain wrote about some young actors. Jeff Sam slim made very famous in a 1974 film called Rancho deluxe.

Rancho deluxe is the Premo housing facility for inmates at the prison. It’s several log cabins. It’s outside the main secure area. And these guys are Cowboys. They could get on their horses and ride off at any point, but they don’t. So we’re gonna go there. I can’t wait. The truck is loaded. The canned ham can, we’re pulling behind and I’d spent enough of my childhood.

I was potty trained at the prison, but in this phase, I don’t remember the gate. I know there was a gate. I remember guards, but I do remember that crossing over the hill and dropping down into Rancho deluxe. There’s these cabins, this huge roundabout corrals barns. And as we pull in I’m in my fishing heaven and right out comes a gentleman.

Blue pants, blue shirt, blue vest. And he’s coming quick with a smile from ear to ear. And this man’s skin is the perfect tone of mahogany, but blended in our scars all over his face and not acne pop marts. These are cuts blades wounds, but as he approaches and he’s saying hi to my father, whose name is also Ray, the spaces between his teeth are as beautiful as the teeth that he’s carrying.

And this love is coming from this man. He says, hello to my father and gets his head inside the truck and says, hello, sir, who are you? And I’m Raymond. And he shakes my hand and he says, you must be the fisherman. And he looks back over his shoulder and he’s like, whose bike is that? In the back of the truck?

I was like, that’s my huffy Wrangler, dark brown, tan stitching chopper bars, banana seat. Third grader’s dream. He says, well, if you’re here to fish, I’d probably be willing to make a trade with you, cuz I’d really like to learn how to ride a bike. I just finished second grade. I haven’t been riding a bike long, so I’m probably gonna be pretty good at teaching him how to ride a bike.

So we haul the bike out. My dad leaves to go do adult things, Chico and I start and I’m telling you, I must have been the best bike coach ever. Cuz this guy rode a bike. Like he’s probably ridden a bike a few years in the past, but he’s wobbling it. He’s doing the show. We’re out there for hours. And as we come in, he says, we’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my, my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.

that’s big, but it is the greatest life lesson, but I have to do it before dinner. He reminds me after dinner tonight. No go can’t start and do a five, four and a half day. I’m pretty good at taking my fork at home and I can stab almost all the vegetables in one round and get ’em in sometimes two. So what’s four.

I could do four of those for this life lesson about then the truck pulls over with the food and we shake cuz it’s a deal. And we go in and sit down.

He quickly puts his vegetables on my plate and it’s this big, but I know we’ve all seen it. It was the Lima bean, kidney bean green bean chop. That’s held together with like the end of a really good lung cold when you really get the, and that’s like there, and they’re all watching cuz every one of these inmates is loving this one other problem.

If you heard my reference of how I like to get vegetables on my fork, you can stab other things with a fork. So forks are gone. No knives. I got a shitty little spoon. I gotta wel these things in. So my for fork plan went to a lot. We get through Chico grabs this big apple reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pocket knife.

which confuses me a little and he sits down and Chico with these scarred face. And these kind eyes just started whittling the Michelangelo, marble Chico, apple. This guy carved a face. So beautiful. So intense. The eyes looked at you. The nose was so strong. The lips were perfectly pursed and this hair tied it on a string.

Hung it up.

That was the end of the evening. I don’t think I slept a lot. The next day we went and did cowboy stuff. Chico wrote up and said, Hey, come here, pulled out a can old empty can of peanuts showed me the best spot to get these big fat worms. We finished doing cowboy stuff. Came back, ate lunch. Oh, looked at this apple not much changed.

Beautiful that afternoon. I fish. I fish every day for the next four days, pretty much minus riding for a couple hours in the morning. I had peas that were holding shape beyond physics because when they touched your mouth, they just stopped and went creamy and they tasted horrible. And then I looked at this apple and there were some lines by the eye and little lines were shown by the mouth and the apple wasn’t that same perfect color of an apple.

It was starting to change. He wouldn’t say a word, go through more projects, eat more bad vegetables. Julian carrot should have texture and not just appearance. And I watch, and this apple, the nose is starting to curl back and sink, and it’s really shriveling. It’s physically changing its size and, and the presence that it was holding.

I got some awesome fish. I also gotta spend a ton of great time with my father. but I kept my eye on Chico cuz these vegetables were bad.

so we get to the end of the, this process, which is our last lunch. I choke down another round of veggies and I look at this beautiful wrinkly face. I’m standing by my dad. No one says a word. Everyone says goodbye. And I’m crushed. Like I can’t imagine what my third year old face was and we got ready to leave and Chico was like, Hey, we made a trade.

Do you wanna know what your life lesson is? I would also like to know what that face looked like, cuz I’m sure it was pretty, pretty good. Chico comes up and he takes the apple down and he just hands it puts it right in front of me says remember, no matter how beautiful or handsome anyone is. In the end, they’re gonna get old wrinkly and ugly.

What the, and in my third grade, lexicon fart, knocker, jerk. I don’t know, but I was pissed, but I was silent. I got in the car with my father. And as you can imagine, I’m a talker. I didn’t say a word from dear lodge to Livingston, but in that time I chose not to take Chico’s words. I didn’t know what a sacred clown was.

Then I still wonder today, but I chose not to take that. And now I look at wrinkles. I look at blemishes, I look at noses changing ears growing, and I remember that lesson, but the lesson I take from it is that no matter what. As we go, those are our stories. That’s what we carry. And our last day on this planet in this form is our most beautiful day.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss]
Thanks, Raymond. Raymond Ansotegui was born and raised in Montana. He is a reclamation scientist and spent a decade as a rodeo bullfighter. His wife is a world-renowned artist that shares her life with him on their piece of paradise overlooking the Yellowstone River and the Crazy Mountains. He loves people and the bond of storytelling that holds us all together.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right? I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Leting Go” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 27. You can pitch your story on the theme “Letting Go” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our Accessability Sponsor, Garden Mother, who subsidized the American Sign Language interpreters at this event, allowing us to support our friends in the Deaf community.

Garden Mother is devoted to the love and health of our community through holistic education and resources. All plants are grown with healthy soils that you can taste and feel. Learn more at Gardenmother.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, we’ll hear the from Missoula author Rick White…[Rick White: It’s way back there, in the heart of the Selway Bitterrroot National Forest. So, yeah, we were at the end of the road and off grid for three weeks. Looked like me, scribbling, furiously, in a yellow legal pad. And then transcribing on to a hundred dollar typewriter that I’ve got at the antique mall beforehand, so that I could kind of translate it into print.].

[Marc Moss] Tune in for that conversation, and the story that Rick shared live on the Tell Us Something stage, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something and to hear stories from the past 11 years, please visit tellussomething.org.

A young human takes us on a hike up Waterworks Hill in Missoula, MT, where they finally find the mother they’ve always wanted, a middle-aged woman is loaded into a cargo plane for a life flight to Seattle, to get a new liver, A man from Togo sees a cute girl across campus and is persistent in his pursuit of her, a lesbian woman goes on a hike to Hope Lake, in Montana, with her best friend, a straight girl, who has listened to Katy Perry one too many times.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming - Part 1

[Marc Moss] Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme, is “Letting Go” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please, call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you.

[music]

[intro clip – x2]

[Marc Moss] This week on the podcast…

[clip x2]

[Marc Moss] …four storytellers, share their true personal story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”. Their stories, were recorded live in-person, in front of a sold-out crowd on June 27, 2022 in Bonner Park, in Missoula, MT.

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot Communications over at blackfoot.com.

[insert land ack from live event here]

Our first story, comes to us from Rae Scott
Rae takes us on a hike up Waterworks Hill in Missoula, MT, where they finally find the mother they’ve always wanted. Rae calls their story “Good Mom Hunting”. Thanks for listening.

[Rae Scott]

Okay. I think that every good love story begins with a heartbreak. The end of my eighth grade year, my biological mother. Kind of went a little crazy. , she ended up leaving with my three siblings and I had no idea where she went and I had no idea if she was coming back. I was really scared and disappointed, but I think I knew that that was coming a few months later driving to the China buffet.

I saw her Subaru or her suburban. I could tell because the back window was busted out in the suburban was there. She sat, my siblings were playing around at little Caesars. I haven’t seen them for months. And I was so absolutely happy to see them. And when I saw my mom, she didn’t even get out the car to say hi to me.

I was about five years ago. I was 13 I’m 18 now. And I still haven’t seen her since about a little while after that. Um, my dad had gotten divorced for the second time and we were all really numb at that point. Women were coming in and out of our lives and we were all kind of defeated. My dad ended up coming home one day and saying that he had met a very lovely woman on match.com, not sponsored

, and he said her name was Angela. And I was really excited, but I was really, really nervous. Ugh. I had sad with myself for hours and hours and asking myself what was wrong with me. Why, why won’t women stay in my life? Why won’t women stay and love me for the person that I am

feels like maybe two weeks, but it was definitely longer than that, but she had ended up moving in with her two lovely boys, Alex and Aaron. and it was a bit of a rough start. , my older brother Connor and I, it had been a while since we started a new family, met new people. So we were all a little bit nervous after a long, long while of bonding, not bonding, fighting buckets, being thrown at younger siblings, I had hit a stopping point with Angie.

When you have similar trauma to somebody, you know exactly where to hit when it comes to fighting, he would always jab each other. And sometimes we meant it. Sometimes we didn’t, but nevertheless, it always really hurt.

once again, I had to sit down with myself and ask what is wrong with me? why won’t women love me? Why won’t women stay? Why don’t I have a mom? Why won’t this new mom love me? So I was ready to give up. I didn’t wanna keep trying, I didn’t wanna keep pushing for something that I didn’t think I was gonna get.

I was out and about downtown, , with some friends and I came across the artist workshop and there were the peace sign stickers, and I was like, oh, Angie would love this. Angie would love this. So I got her some and the cashier was like, oh, this is happening. There’s there’s um, a hike. That’s going up at waterworks.

For those of you who don’t know waterworks hill is a hiking path, , where the old peace sign used to be. There’s a huge peace sign, um, that when you drove into Missoula, you could see, , and they had a hike that was going on. And I was like, Ugh. And she would love that this is like my final chance to reconnect with this person, my final chance to, to really convince her that, that she should stay, that, that I am a good person.

And so that night I asked her, I was like, let’s go for this hike. You know, it’s mother’s day weekend. I would, I would love to do this with you. And she said, yeah. Okay. So the night before I’m laying in my bed, I’m like, okay, here’s all the stupid shit you don’t say to your mom. Okay. Okay. Okay. I’m prepping myself for this day.

It needs to go. Perfect. This is my last chance. It has to be perfect that morning. I wake up. Unbelievably nervous. And I’m like, okay, let’s go. Let’s go. We’re really excited. So we’re talking, we, we start driving up to the hill and a lot of people are there. And, um, I got to meet the previous, uh, I think she’s the founder of the JRP C anyway, very lovely people.

, but I remember it being so cold. We got, we were at the bottom, it was nice and toasty. It was warm. We hike up this hill, I’m wearing converse, which is a very poor foot choice. to go hiking. And, but I did it anyway because I have no fear. I walking up this hit with Angie and we were just talking, talking about anything in our lives.

Anything that we could grasp onto, I wasn’t trying hard to start a conversation. Didn’t wanna make it obvious. I was trying hard, but. So we finally get up to the top of the hill and they’re, they’re doing a presentation about the old peace sign and the people that were painting the peace sign. And, oh my God, it was stupidly windy.

It was so cold. It was so cold up there. And I had only brought in a, like a hoodie, a zip hoodie and nothing else, maybe a beanie, but I was so cold. Angie is really smart. She has a really good job of thinking ahead. And so she had ended up making us some bone broth wasn’t the best, but it was really warm and it was really lovely.

And she had also made me a cup of tea beforehand. It’s like, she knew it was gonna be freezing so amazing. So we’re out there, we’re listening to these stories. She’s listening to these stories. I’m trying to make this moment stay in my life. And I look at her and she’s paying attention so thoughtfully and so beautifully.

And I look at her and it’s so hard not to cry. Because at that moment, I realized how much I truly love this woman and how much I desperately needed her to stay in my life. So I look at her and I say, Angie, it’s so cold. And she unzips her hoodie, wraps it around me and just stands there with me. And she keeps me warm.

We go down that hill and I’m so relieved. I didn’t have to speak a single word to this woman. And she was my mom. I had never gotten prom dress shopping before no one had ever braided my hair or went on drives with me to talk about boys and eat ice cream. But Angela took me from dress shopping, Angela braided my hair.

She still does. And Angela takes me on car rides and talks to me about boys and eats chocolate with me.

Thank you, mom.

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Rae.

Rae Scott is a theatre nerd through and through. They enjoy animals, music, and is pretty sure that gingers will ruin their life. With an incredibly large family who puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”, they have a lot of love to give. Rae looks life directly in the eye and observes before responding, with ferocious truth. Rae is an old soul, ready to share their truth on the stage, and in a variety of other to be discovered art forms.

Our next story comes to us from Ann Peacock. Ann is loaded into a cargo plane for a life flight to Seattle, to get a new liver. Ann calls her story “An Unexpected Plane Ride”. Thanks for listening.

[Ann Peacock] In the beginning of October of 2019, I woke up and I was exhausted. I was also a little nauseous and I had some slight tremors, but I just put it down to growing old. So then I found out that a friend of mine had been diagnosed with mono and she and I had been cheering a mic.

Well, let me rephrase that cuz my husband’s name is Mike. So , we, we had actually been sharing a microphone and, and so I went to get tested. So. No demo mono, but my liver function was off so two weeks and there are more tests and there’s more nausea and more Netflix. And I wake up and I am in the hospital with an IV in my arm.

It is nighttime. It is dark and peaceful and quiet. And I have no idea how I got there. So it turns out that my husband had come home from work and found me still in bed. And I was incoherent and slurring my words. So he rushed me to the ER, where I was diagnosed with dehydration and ammonia on the brain.

So the next day we’re in the hospital, the doctor comes in and he tells us that, um, I probably have acute liver failure and that I most likely will need a liver transplant. And he wants to life flight me over to the transplant center at the university of Washington in Seattle. didn’t see that coming.

really look, I was a 57 year old, healthy woman, you know, I tried to eat right. And exercise. And I had literally spent my life trying to avoid alcohol because my dad was an alcoholic and he died from his disease. I mean, I didn’t even like to take over the counter medication. So the leap from dehydration to liver transplant was pretty shocking.

So, so then the doctor tells us that, um, he sees that we’re kind of like deer in the headlights. And so he starts to try to dial it back a little bit and he sort of emphasizes, well, the might need a liver could possibly. And just in case, he is insisting that I get life flighted out to UDub. So my husband and I are like, well, can’t we drive?

I mean, life flight is incredibly expensive. I mean, we think it’s like around a hundred thousand dollars and our insurance. We’re not sure if it covers it. And it’s only eight hours and the doctor’s like, well, you, you might survive the drive over there, but you might not. And really, I mean, when you think about it, what’s your life worth?

It’s just a hundred thousand dollars. So I am life flighted out to UW about, get there about 11 o’clock at night. And I am in the UCU and I am immediately inside an episode of Grey’s anatomy, every single person in the room, except for me is a very attractive 30 something professional . And there’s like all this clever dialogue and snappy banner back and forth between the nurse.

So the ICU doctor is gorgeous. he has these soft, warm hands and these deep blue eyes, and this really. Great jawline. So my girlfriend nicknames him, doctor M dreamy . So he is also though caring and kind and reassuring and every single doctor and nurse and support staff that I meet in that hospital. The entire time I stay there is the same and I feel seen and I feel taken care of and I feel safe.

So, which is a wonderful feeling. And I am laying in the bed and I am overcome with this sensation, surrounded by all these wonderful people that I am so blessed and humble. And I have never really used that term before. I think of it as sort of like have a nice day, but. In that moment. I understood what being blessed and humble really felt like.

And it was incredible and it was not just the doctors and the nurses and the support staff. I mean, it was everyone, it was my family and my friends who all stepped up to the plate and did what ever needed to be done. And I was astonished by the amount of love and support that people gave me. And I told my husband later, I said, you.

I really need to work on being the person that all these people seem to think. I am so, which I’m, I’m still trying to do. So my husband and my best friend who are driving over from Missoula, get there about one o’clock. And by that time, I am deep into the process of getting registered on the, on the transplant transplant registry, hard to say.

So, because there are so many more people who need transplants, then there are organs available. You have to meet a certain criteria for them to accept you as an organ recipient. So, um, which is a little like standing before the Pearl gates. I have to admit , but everyone is very encouraging. And basically what you need to do is you just need to survive the operation and be able to take care of this amazing gift that they are giving you.

So we’re almost done. I’m like, oh, thank God. And then they say, we need to check your teeth. I’m like what? And they’re like, sure. So apparently if you have tooth decay, certain operations, you will release a flood of bacteria into your bloodstream and you can get a life threatening infection. So I am thinking, oh no, because I’m thinking of all the years that I haven’t flossed and I am thinking, oh my God, not flossing will kill me.

And, and my dentist is right. So again, they’re very encouraging. And obviously I, I manage to, you know, make it through and I get put on the registry. So now the ICU’s job is to keep me alive for as long. As they can until I find a match and I am so lucky because I have magical blood. It is a B positive, and I can match a, I can match B.

I can match a, B and O positive blood. I am a universal receiver. One of the things though, about three days in, they’re worried about as fluid building up on the brain. So they, to combat that they insert a catheter kind of through my neck and get it as close to my heart as they can. And then they pump this high sodium solution into me.

I’m not allowed to eat because I could go into surgery at any moment. I’m not allowed to drink because they’re really watching my fluids. So I am incredibly thirsty. So, and to make matters worse. Every time I try to trick the nurses or doctors into getting me ice chips, my husband, and my best friend who stay with me the entire time in the room, leap up and go, no, she can’t have them.

But then my back starts to hurt and the nurse offers me a cold pack and I have a choice between ice or gel and I choose the ice. So late at night, when everyone is asleep, I pride this ice bag open. And then I think, you know, really how sterile is the inside of a reusable ice bag at a hospital? So I compromise, I say, I’ll only drink half a.

Which I do, and it is the nectar of the gods. And then I immediately call the nurse in and have her take it away. So I am not tempted. And from then on, I only used gel packs, but one of the other things about being on the liver registry is that you have to let them know what level of liver you were willing to take.

So I found out that there are actually three tiers of, of organ donors. And that one of is the first tier is perfect. The second tier has some slight medical anomaly that they can fix with a minor surgery. And the third level is, uh, hepatitis C. So hepatitis C is now curable. And it’s really easy. You just take this one pill every day for 30 days, but it’s this hepatitis C group that is.

So tragic because most of the people in this group are young people who have died of a drug overdose and, and there is no way around it that I, I have to face that I am benefiting from someone else’s tragedy. So you’re not allowed to contact your donor family directly, but you can write them a letter.

And the social worker at the hospital will pass it on. And it has been two and a half years. And I have not found the right words to say because how do I thank someone for giving me back my future when they’ve just lost theirs, the bears. So spoiler alert, I got the transplant. It went well. I am here.

Thank you. and, and I wake up in the recovery room and it is nighttime and it is dark and quiet. And peaceful. I’m a little disoriented, but I look over and I see my husband’s bright orange water bottle just there on the table. And I immediately relax because I know that he is in the room with me. And then I think I’m also relaxed because I realize that I can have a drink of water whenever I want.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss] Thanks,Ann.

Ann Peacock escaped the enticement of Madame LaVoux in New Orleans, Ann honored her calling of embodiig truth via the alleged fiction of theatre. Ann has been a resident of Missoula since the late 80’s ( which she swears was just three weeks ago) She now calls Polson, MT her home, and is gradually adjusting to life outside of the big city.

Our next storyteller is Ablamvi Agboyibo. Ablamvi sees a cute girl across campus and is persistent in his pursuit of her. Ablamvi calls his story “Love Concretes Everything. Never Give Up”. Thanks for listening.

[Ablamvi Agboyibo] Thank you. Hi, uh, I think it is, uh, a privilege and an honor for me to be here and, uh, you know, to tell my story. Thank you so much for inviting me. Actually, it was one Friday afternoon, uh, after, uh, study at university, I was so tired and hungry as well. So I decided to walk out out of the campus to find a taxi and go back home busy with my telephone.

I was writing and reading messages

and suddenly a smell of a perfume drew my attention. Oh, it was the best smell over. The perfumed smell like a lilac. I was obliged to raise my hand and see who was passing by. Fortunately for me, I saw a young, beautiful lady passing by with a, a big bottle walking.

Hi lady, where are you going? and she say, go home. What is your name? Jane. She replied me. Oh, Jane, you are so beautiful. I love your body building. The sun used to see beauties, but the sun has never seen a girl beauty for like you definitely. I would like you to become my girlfriend so she pause for a minute for some seconds and say, I will think over it and let, let you know, after all, uh, can you give me your telephone number?

Uh, she said no problem. And she gave me her business card. Definitely. I told myself that the battle was half worn. If she gave me her, her number, it means that she will accept the offer. So when I went back home at night, I tried her number to make sure that she reached the home safe and sound, but I tried invent the number was not working.

I was frustrated. I was asking myself so many questions. Did she give me a wrong number? What happened with the, her telephone or I, myself, I didn’t write the number. Well, I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep that night until midnight. I was standing right and left on the bed. So AF AF after midnight, I decided to try the number again.

And this time the telephone started to ring. I was half satisfied because for me, she will pick the. It kept on ringing, but she didn’t pick the call. Finally, I sent her a message and I went back to, to my bed this time I slept because you know, there is hope now that the number is working. the next morning she called me apologizing for the fact that she was not with her telephone.

And I told her, no, you never, you shouldn’t worry about that. There is no problem with that, but can you meet, can we meet together in the evening for dinner? She said, no problem. I was so excited to meet her in the evening because I would like to see the same beautiful girl I saw the, the night, the, the, the evening before.

And when we met during our, uh, over the dinner, she let me know that she welcome my idea of becoming my friend. I say, wow. And from that time I used to call her three times a day in the morning, honey, how are you? Did you have a good. At 12 o’clock I used to call her, what are you going to eat for lunch?

And then in the evening, did you have a good day? So sleep with a lot of love. This is how we started. After nine months of relationship, we decided to get married, have as many children as possible and people the whole world. And it was from there that I decided to know her parents, actually, her parents were divorced and both were they, they were living in their different villages.

I decided to meet her mother first because in my community, if your, your mother-in-law accept you, it means that the father in-law will accept you. That’s why I decided to meet the mother first. So we had two hours and half trip to visit the mother. When we went there after self greeting and self introduction.

She offers us a delicious meal. Even when I was at the gates, the smell of the, the, the meal made my mouth water. Wow. I say, what kind of meal is this? It was rice and taken. It was such a delicious meal after eating the meal. I thank her very profusely for the owner because the meal she offered to us was in fact, great.

And after that, after the meat, after eating the meal, we continue the discussion and she asked me, tell me, where are you from? And I told her, I am from Vogan village situated in the south of Togo. Are your parent also living in the same place? And I say, yes, she stood up and said, no, You cannot be with my girl.

Actually. I told her that in fact, I would like to get married with her daughter. That’s why I have come to see her. No, you cannot get, get married with my daughter. That one is not possible. And she left, quit the house and the room and left Jane and I in the room. Actually, the problem is that the highest personality of the country are from the north Jane and her parents are from the north.

And then I am from the south and then the, the highest personalities of the north, most of them consider that those from the south as inferior to them. So Jane’s mother cannot imagine that her daughter can bring somebody from the south to her that she would like to marry with that person. And we were in the room for some minutes.

The mother was not coming back and suddenly. Jane started to cry.

if you don’t want me to, to marry Ablamvi, I’m gonna kill myself. I felt very sorry for her. I tried to console her, but she was uncontrollable. She kept on crying. And finally, I decided that we should leave, but the mother was not coming. When we went out of the room, the mother sat at the gates of the house.

I went to her and made her a firewall. In fact, before going, I brought her a nice gift. It was a nice, a nice necklace that I brought it to her. In fact, I would like to let her know that by that gift, I will take good care of her daughter in fact, but she refuse. No, I don’t want your gift go away with your gift.

I don’t want you to be with my doctor anymore. I felt very frustrated and I was sorry, but Jane kept on crying at that. And we drove back on our way back home. She kept on crying. I tried my best to, to convince her not to cry, but she kept on crying. I even told her that I didn’t take credit for what her mother told me that I continue to love her.

She has to believe in me. We, we have to continue tell the, when the, the, the end, but she didn’t believe me back home. The next morning, she felt very sick. When I called the people with whom she’s in the same room, they told me that she was very sick and she was brought to hospital. Wow. I went to visit her in the hospital.

And she told me that even if she died, I have to be convinced that she loves me and I have to keep it in my mind that there is a girl called Jane who loved me and who died for me. So I told her she shouldn’t say things like that, that she has to recover. And together we get married. She was there until she stayed in the hospital for a week.

And after that she recovered and she was sent back home. And from that time, she suggested to me that we should go now and see her father. I hesitated at the beginning because I was afraid that what happened with the mother may happen to me again, I didn’t intercept at the beginning, but she convinced me that we should go and we take two hours drive to visit his father.

And when we arrived at the gate, I told her to be in front. I would like to hide at. And then she was in. And we went into the room, the father welcomed us and offers us a drink. In fact, in my community, if you visit somebo some somebody, the first thing, the best gonna offer you is water. So he offered us water and we drink and he asked me what to win, blows me there.

It means the purpose of my visit. And I told him that, in fact, I love her do his daughter a lot. And I would like to get married here. And actually I have come to know him so that I see what I can bring as a do to him. And he said, great ideas. Oh, if you come to see me, it means that you love my daughter. I like your idea.

You should not worry. I was really surprised and I was happy and Jane was happy as well. She stood from her chair and comment and hugged me. And that day we even wanted to kiss each other in front of the father that is not allow. And, and then finally he gave me the list and then I went back after two months, I tried to buy everything that I need.

And then we went back, I invited my parents. We were together. We paid a Dory and we celebrated the traditional marriage. That day. Jane was too happy. I was too happy. The father was so happy. And as well as the whole members, they gave us some pieces of advice. Like Ablan, you have to love your wife. You have to take care of your wife.

And they told the Jane Jane, you have to be submissive to your husband. If there is a problem you have to discuss with, with him. And this is how we got married and we have two kids love, concrete, everything we should not give up. Thank you so much.

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Ablamvi. Ablamvi Agboyibo is an English Teacher at Blitta High School in Blitta, Togo, which is in Western Africa. Ablamvi is one of the participants of the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Global Scholars, or SUSI, which is a U.S. Department of State sponsored program for mid-career foreign scholars and educators designed to improve the teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad. SUSI is a program of the Mansfield Center, part of The University of Montana.

Our final story in this episode comes to us from Cathy Scholtens. Cathy goes on a hike with her best friend to Hope Lake in Montana. They work out their complicated feelings for each other overnight and are now celebrating 25 years married! Cathay calls her story “Friendship, Hope and Wisdom”. Thanks for listening.

[Cathy Scholtens] As with any great adventure. There’s often complications. They can be logistical physical, and sometimes there matters of the heart. My best friend, Becky and I were hiking in the big hole to hope lake. We’d never been, we wanted to go, it was late. September weather was terrible, but we started up the map, said seven miles.

We could do that. What the map didn’t say we figured out about the 30th switch back was it was six miles straight up to the continental divide over the top and down another mile to the lake. So we’re making promises to God to just get up there. She’s my best friend. And we’re just talking like best friends.

Do we have a third companion, Katie? The wonder dog. She was a retarded three year old, uh, golden retriever. And, uh, she was, uh, didn’t belong to us, but we had her with us. Well, We were talking about everything except what we needed to talk about because I’d met Becky about seven years before that. And we immediately became best friends.

She was smart and funny. She was a tomboy and I was a tomboy go figure. And so, uh, we did all kinds of fun stuff together. She was the most caring and kind person I’d ever met. As a matter of fact, whenever we had to go into Missoula and we went together, I made sure I drove. Why? Because if you were in the passenger seat, every corner that a guy had a sign, she’d go, Kathy, Kathy hand, that guy, 10 bucks hand that guy 20 bucks and it come outta my wallet.

Right. I’m like, so I drove, saved myself a lot of money

so we were talking about all kinds of stuff except what we needed to talk about. And that was. Recently, our relationship had kind of shifted a little bit. Okay. It shifted a whole lot. We’d become lovers and we didn’t know how that happened, but there we were in the middle of a mad, passionate affair. And, uh, we didn’t know what to do with that.

Becky was gung ho. Becky had said, come be with me, let’s spend the rest of our lives together. And I was like, mm . I don’t know. Cuz there was some major complications. Okay. First we were both already in relationships. Wasn’t fair to them. And we were feeling pretty crappy about that. Two Becky is a straight girl and any lesbians out here, you know what trouble straight girls are?

they’ve listened to one too many Teddy Perry songs. They just wanna kiss a girl and they’ll kiss you, but then they’ll break your heart. And I was well aware of that, but the biggest complication was. I am a relationship loser. Okay. I had left every relationship I was ever in. I think I was in love and pretty soon I wasn’t in love and I was gone.

Okay, well, Vicky wants to have a relationship and I’m thinking, how can I do that? I’m no good at this. I’m gonna hurt her. And I’m gonna lose my best friend and I didn’t wanna do it. And so we had a lot of discussion to do, to figure out what we were gonna do. Neither of neither. One of us was very keen on that though.

So we’d like ignored it on the top of the continental divide. You can see forever. And it was gorgeous and we had made it to the top, but what we could see was thunderstorms, snowstorms, and most importantly, The sun was going down there. We on the top of the continental divide, sun’s going down. So we know we’re not gonna make the lake.

We’re not gonna make the lake. We can’t because we’re responsible. And we don’t wanna be caught on a mountain in September, in the dark. Okay. But we take a few minutes to look around and we watch this Hawk flying along the Ridge, just on the air. Current’s beautiful. And the next thing you know, that Hawk comes and she’s hovering right in front of us.

And I swear to God, you guys, if I had reached up, I could have touched her. Okay. And she’s looking at us and we’re like looking at her and you know, I’m not one of those bitter ho Getty, boogey. Woo. Mystical girls. I’m just not, you know, I’m pretty cut and dry, but. Something mystical happened with that Hawk.

Can’t explain it. She’s talking to us. And just as I turn my head to Becky to see if she’s hearing the same bullshit, I’m hearing the bird flies up over the other side of the Ridge and down towards where we think hope lake is, there was no discussion. We had gotten a message and the message was go to the lake.

So against everything we knew to be smart, we checked our bags and said, what do you got? What do you got? Well, I had a water filtration pump. We had a fishing pole. Becky had a nine millimeter Glock on her hip. So butchy, um,

We had a pound of trail mix that I was already sick of. I hated it. we had some matches and a pen light and we decided let’s go . So I don’t know. We go, and by the time we get down to that stupid ugly lake, um, it’s dark. Okay. So Becky starts fishing right away because guess what? Katie can’t eat trail mix

And I start looking around for something dry to start a fire with, because I know we’re gonna freeze our asses off and, and I’m watching Becky and every time she gets a fish on, of course she’s big cheater uses worms and Bob her, um, that Bob would go down and Katie be like all fun and she’d jump in after it.

And Becky would lose his fish. So, uh, I wasn’t doing as well either because. There’s everything’s wet and I can’t get anything started. And I was quite the pyromaniac as a child. I could burn down anything, but I was striking out, well, just then Becky’s coming up. She’s got couple fish that she saved and she sees my dilemma and I’m almost outta matches.

Okay. I’m starting to freak. And she says, huh, I got something for you. And she reaches deep inside her jacket and pulls out a handful of love letters that I’d written to her in the past couple months score we’re gonna live. So we take the time to read these letters cuz we’re in love. You know, we, we read these letters out loud to each other and they’re full of how much I think she’s great.

I think she’s fabulous. And what a shit I am and how terrible I am and how I’m gonna ruin the relationship, you know? And uh, I didn’t wanna do that. Lots of doubts and fears. And as we’re reading them, she’s shaking her head and she’s, crumping ’em up and putting ’em in the fire. And pretty soon we got that fire going and it’s ripped roaring now.

Right. And she’s cooking the fish for Katie, not for me. And, um, she, uh, says, oh, look at that, look at that smoke, going up, all your doubts, all your fears, all your misgivings up in smoke, Shelton’s all gone. I’m like, oh yeah. Well, what about the, uh, love that’s in those letters? She said, oh, the love goes to the universe and the universe that’s listening and we’re gonna be okay.

I just nodding my head. And we spent the rest of the night trying to stay warm, freezing our butts off. And every once in a while, Katie would make things interesting. By looking off into the woods, growling this growl that I’ve never heard of golden retriever it’s do. And I would shit my pants every time.

Right. Not Becky Becky like whipped that Glock off. They wanna just commando crouch. Right. Jim, ready to shoot up anything in the woods. I’m like, woo she’s badass. I love her. So we spend that night freezing and talking, freezing and talking, freezing and talking, and it starts snowing first light of Dawn, the snow’s coming.

So we get the hell out of there. Right. But I take one last look at that little campsite. And I think to myself, you know, what did we just do? We did something outrageously stupid, dangerous, something we’d really should have done, but we trusted each other. And we worked together really well and we made it happen.

And is that much different than what Becky’s asking me to do with her to lean out of my comfort zone to trust? And I figured if I trusted a bird I’d never met before, I could surely trust my best friend. so on the way down, I tell her yes, and we are on cloud nine. We run down that mountain. We don’t even stop at the camper.

We jump in the truck cuz we have to find a payphone, nearest payphone wisdom, Montana . So we go to wisdom and we call the people that need to know that we’re not coming back. And we tell ’em because that’s not home anymore. Home, home is in my Becky’s arms and that’s where I wanted to be. Well, I’m happy to tell you guys that trip that September, this next September, that will be 25 years ago.

I’m still madly in love with her. And she’s still my best friend. Thank you.

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Cathy. Cathy Scholtens is an escapee from southern Florida, who has been living in and loving Montana since 1975. She and her wife are die-hard Eastsiders down in the Bitterroot Valley along with their two rescue dogs; Pepe le Pew and Jack Hammer. Recently retired after 32 years as a Pediatric Nurse, Cathy can now often be found strolling down mountain trails, taking an excessive number of photographs along the way.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right? I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Leting Go” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 27. You can pitch your story on the theme “Letting Go” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our Accessability Sponsor, Garden Mother, who subsidized the American Sign Language interpreters at this event, allowing us to support our friends in the Deaf community.

Garden Mother is a liscenced Medical Marijauana dispensary and is devoted to the love and health of our community through holistic education and resources. All plants are grown with healthy soils that you can taste and feel. Learn more at Gardenmother.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, we’ll hear the remaining stories form the “Didn’t See That Coming” live storytelling event in Bonner Park.

[Katie Garding] He’s like, “I want that gun.” He’s like, “and I want you to go take me to get it.” And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so I said, “yes”. I took him to go steal the gun.

[Linda Grinde]
I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done.

[Raymond Ansotegui] And as we come in, he says, “We’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.”

Marc Moss: Tune in for those stories on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something and to hear stories from the past 11 years, please visit tellussomething.org.

[Marc Moss] Hey there, storytelling fans, it’s Marc Moss from Tell Us Something. [Rae Scott] And so that night I asked her, I was like, “Let’s go for this hike. You know, it’s Mother’s Day weekend. I would, I would love to do this with you.” And she said, “Yeah. Okay.” So the night before I’m laying in my bed, I’m like, okay, here’s all the stupid shit you don’t say to your mom. Okay. Okay. Okay. I’m prepping myself for this day.”
On this episode of the podcast [Ann Peacock]

we hear from four storytellers

{Ablamvi Agboyibo] Hi lady, where are you going? And she say, “go home.” “What is your name?” “Jane,” She replied me. “Oh, Jane, you are so beautiful. The sun used to see beauties, but the sun has never seen a girl beauty for like you…” [Marc Moss] that shared their true personal stories on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”.

[Cathy Scholtens] Becky is a straight girl and any lesbians out here, you know what trouble straight girls are!?

They’ve listened to one too many Katy Perry songs. They just wanna kiss a girl. And they’ll kiss you, but then they’ll break your heart. And I was well aware of that. But the biggest complication was. I am a relationship loser. Okay. I had left every relationship I was ever in.

[Marc Moss] Listen at tellussomething dot org or wherever you get your podcasts.

motherhood,journey,parents,family,hiking,peace,liver,transplant,cargoplane,lifeanddeath,Togo,Africa,love,courting,romance,marriage,in-laws,love,marriage,hiking,hike,Hope,lake,Wisdom,LGBTQ,lesbian,complicated,gratitude,tellussomething,didntseethatcoming,yourstorymatters,livestorytelling,Missoula,Montana,storytelling

innocence,mtinnocence,innocenceproject,prison,jail,newyearseve,feedom,nazis,nohate,Germany,caberet,eatyourvegetables,lessons,prison,apple,carving,beauty,ugly,gratitude,tellussomething,didntseethatcoming,yourstorymatters,livestorytelling,Missoula,Montana,storytelling

Sharing stories goes beyond entertainment. It goes beyond a night out. The stories we share at Tell Us Something are the stories of our lives and of our community. And without you sharing your stories, there would be no Tell Us Something. Without your financial support in the form of ticket sales and donations during fundraisers like Missoula Gives, there would be no Tell Us Something. And so, for this week’s podcast, we’re exploring why Tell Us Something is important to the storytellers themselves. Let’s hear from the storytellers what they love about Tell Us Something, and what they love about their experience sharing their stories.

Transcript : Your Story Matters - And So Do All of the Stories Storytellers Share at Tell Us Something

TUS012-010-Missoula Gives Special Verbiage

 

[Marc Moss] Hi, it’s Marc Moss, Executive Director at Tell Us Something

 

[Dick King] And ended up going to Afghanistan 71. So that’s the beginning of the story, you know, that, uh, when I thought about that at that time, and when I told the story to tell us something, it was, uh, you know, uh, interesting would think about what’s, you know, what do I have to say? Well, everyone has something to say that can, can.

 

Highlights and things on the inside, what really happens, you know, not the big news, the headline news

 

[Marc Moss] That was Dick King, saying what I have been saying for years: Everyone has a story. Then, I always ask: what’s yours? Our stories don’t have to be earth-shattering stories of epiphany or revelation. They can be as simple as running out of gas in front of a huge box store and having someone help you out.

 

[Katrina Farnum] So yes, this is a story of me running out of gas in my car. And,  I am going to just avoid telling you how many times in my life that I have run out of gas in my car. There are probably some psychologists in the room they’re evaluating me right now.

 

[Marc Moss] And those stories can be quite compelling. That was Katrina Farnum from the March 2022 live storytelling event. 

 

Here’s Dick King again.

 

[Dick King] You know, so what I really liked about Tell Us Something, as I thought through that, and then, you know, you helped me get that kind of get my thoughts organized. And it was a real pleasure to talk to people then, uh, uh, do that as Jason, then afterwards continue that discussion with people and they had their stories told.

 

So I thought it was a really positive experience.

 

[Marc Moss][ Sharing stories goes beyond entertainment. It goes beyond a night out. The stories we share at Tell Us Something are the stories of our lives and of our community. And without you sharing your stories, there would be no Tell Us Something. Without your financial support in the form of ticket sales and donations during fundraisers like Missoula Gives, there would be no Tell Us Something.

 

And so, for this week’s podcast, we’re exploring why Tell Us Something is important to the storytellers themselves. Let’s hear from the storytellers what they love about Tell Us Something, what they love about their experience sharing their stories.

 

First, though, a brief message from Missoula Community Foundation Executive Director marcy Allen. For those that don’t know, Missoula Community Foundation is the organization that organizes the annual online giving event called Missoula Gives.

 

[Marcy Allen] Hello Missoula! We have raised just about $1.2 million in 26 hours for Missoula and Bitterroot non-profits. We are so grateful for all the donors and all the volunteers and all the nonprofit staff that has worked to make this day special and works to make our community special.

 

[Marc Moss] You know the importance of storytelling. You know the importance of sharing stories. And some of you have already stepped up to help keep Tell Us Something going. Missoula Gives has been extended through May 13. So far 62 donors have given $6,327 to support Tell Us Something. Every dollar helps. Donating as little as $10 enters you into a raffle to win season tickets for the remainder of 2022.

 

Oh, what’s that Marcy?

 

[Marcy Allen] You can still give until May 13th, and we encourage you to give.

 

[Marc Moss]That’s right! The giving portal is still open. Go to tellussomething.org and click DONATE to be taken directly to the Missoula Gives donation portal. Thank you so much.

 

Let’s start at the beginning. What a very fine place to start, right? When I talked to Jeremy N. Smith as part of the meet the Storytellers of Tell Us Something series back in 2020, I told him that the storytelling event that he produced back in around 2004 or 2005 was the first live in-person storytelling event that I had attended. I was blown away by the stories that he, Josh Slotnick, Gary Delp, Caroline Keyes and others told that night at The PEAS Farm here in Missoula, Montana. He called that event “Eat Our Words”, and it happened in the late summer, when the harvest at The PEAS Farm was in full swing. It was one of the inspirations to make Tell Us Something become a regular event when I took over what was then called Missoula Moth in 2011. Here’s Jeremey after I thanked him for the inspiration that because Tell Us Something:

 

[Jeremy N. Smith] Well, That’s amazing just because I know how amazing the events you put are are, and how you’ve seen it grow and how much storytelling you’ve nurtured and just how the audience is so moved. So to be like, I’m the father of the father of the father of all that pleasure in my own way. It’s, it’s a lot of, I’m like 8 times removed from all that hard work and amazing stories, but it’s just, that’s, that’s inspiring to me because it means you can just do something that’s kind of random and cool, and, you know, you can do it three or four times and it can have this other effect.

 

So thank you. And you’re just never, I say that to people all the time, like you don’t, you know that good. You do, but you also, like how else could you don’t know that you do yeah. A follow up. So you know, back at you, I hope you’re, you know, I know you’re getting good feedback, but just whatever feedback you’re getting. Each of those people is speaking for so many other people.

 

[Marc Moss] Jeremy has shared 2 stories at Tell Us Something. In fact, he closed out the very first Tell Us Something event at The Missoula Art Museum in 2011. His story was about a crush that he had and pushing through the feelings of a crush and getting to know them as a person. And it was about more than that. Listening to it again, it was also about the power of storytelling.

 

[Jeremy N. Smith] Her story was even more beautiful to me. And I realized at the end of her story, she had figured out what she wanted to be a coach. And I figured out what I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to hear people’s stories about their life changing moments or where they changed other people’s lives. And I wanted to share them with other people.

 

[Marc Moss] We’ll find, as we listen to this episode of the podcast, that the storytellers had fun sharing their stories, they felt heard and that they are grateful to have been able to share their stories live onstage. Here’s storyteller Laura King, from Helena.

 

[Laura King] Laura King: No, I just, I really appreciated the opportunity of that, that you gave of having a platform to tell it. So thank you for that. 

 

[Marc Moss] As we listen to each storyteller, you may be curious about the stories that they shared. [Laura clip] 

 

When you visit tellussomething.org and look at the show notes for this episode of the podcast, you’ll be able to click through to each of the storyteller’s stories. 

 

Melody Rice shared a story in 2019 at The Covellite Theater in Butte. 

 

[Melody Rice] I walk into this barbershop and I say, Hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in hiring somebody to be in that second chair. And the guy turns and looks at me and he says, I don’t hire women. And I go, huh. And he says, there’s a guy down the street that does. So I, I back out because I know that barbers have sharp things and I can feel how intensely like angry or whatever he was to me.

 

[Marc Moss] She really gets Tell Us Something:

 

[Melody Rice] Um, And when other people share their stories, there’s it becomes part of us. So there’s a couple of layers in my view of how storytelling is so important and women being able to externalize your narrative, you have a story that lives in you. And I think it was my line and a little bit said something to the effect of, um, there’s no bigger tragedy than having a story in you not expressed.

 

[Marc Moss] Going in to 2020, Tell Us Something had a lot of momentum. We sold out 4 shows at The Wilma, we nearly sold out The Myrna Loy in Helena, we had our first visit to Butte, America, and we were getting ready to do the same thing in 2020, adding stops in again in Butte and Helena, as well as Livingston, and Gardener.

 

Wendy Wollett, a storyteller who shared a story that she called “Blackfoot River Horse” reflects on Tell Us Something during the pandemic:

 

[Wendy Woollett] People are still telling me that people still go there, you know? Cause when they Google my name, that’s the first thing that comes up is Tell Us Something 2017 or whatever.

 

Yeah. So I, I recommend people, you know, listen to it and then I try to sell, Tell Us Something, you know? Cause I think it’s such a great idea. It was fun. What are we going to do now?

 

[Marc Moss] What are we going to do now?

 

When the pandemic hit, I didn’t know *WHAT* to do. So I asked the storytellers to guide me. Let’s meet the storytellers! I put out the call, and about 20 storytellers responded that they’d like to sit down with me and talk about storytelling, about their story, about Tell Us Something and about what’s been going on with them. Those conversations are still coming out. 

 

What I did, what Tell Us Something did, was host donation based and free storytelling workshop intensives on Zoom. We streamed two live storytelling events with all new stories from brand new storytellers. 

 

But Wendy was right in asking the question 

 

[Wendy Woolleett]  It was fun. What are we going to do now?

 

[Marc Moss] Well, donate that’s what. That loss of revenue really impacted us. Help us keep the lights on. The giving portal is still open. Go to tellussomething.org and click the DONATE button to be taken straight to the donation page.

 

Here’s Melody again:

 

[Melody Rice] Uh, reinventing how this going to be in order for it to fit in the coronavirus pandemic and the norm for other people that continue to allow that healing to happen, even though based with faith or live audience, um, a way of storytelling can happen right now. So, um, thank you. Thank you for your motivation.

 

Thank you for your creativity in this. Um, thank you for your dedication, dedication to it, to allowing people to share and to, um, receive the story. 

 

[Marc Moss] And Missoula author and storyteller alumni Neil McMahon weighs in about the importance of Tell Us Something to this community.

 

[Neil McMahon] Hey, let me just say I don’t, uh, I don’t want to blow smoke or anything, but I just want to say, uh, you know, this is really a terrific program. Tell us something. And I think a lot of people realize that you put a lot of work into it, and there’s a great appreciation for that.

 

[Marc Moss] I hope that it survives this pandemic. 

 

[Neil McMahon] Well we sure hope so too, but it’s gotta be tough. 

 

[Marc Moss] When I greet you at the live in-person storytelling events, I open the evening by saying It is important to actively listen to one another, join together, & to support each other and share stories. This is your community. These are your stories. I go on to say, Thank you for your support of each other and of each other’s stories. Tell Us Something believes that everyone has a story and everyone’s story matters.  Everyone is welcome to share a story. Yes, it can be scary and intimidating to call the pitch line, and, you got this! Here’s storyteller Travis Doria explaining how he came to understand that he wanted to share his story.

 

[Travis Doria]  So I was familiar with Tell Us Something hasn’t paid. Citi event. , I think it’s something that Ms. Lou should be really proud of to have a storytelling community for being such a small town.

 

It’s a Shaundra of a creative expression that I think is growing in larger cities. And to have that and to speak uniquely to the Montana experience, and specifically Zula is really beneficial. So. Whenever I could, I would have to get out to tell us something events and it’s something I wanted to support.

 

But I guess I was the type of person whenever I heard someone’s story, it would prompt me to think of things that happened in my past. And always wondered if I could do it. , could tell a story myself. What I went specifically made me think of it. I think I was listening to a podcast at work and I thought of this story in the past.

 

And I was like, oh, I really could put this together. And to. Succinct 10 minutes story. And it would be something I would be comfortable telling on stage. And I think I called to pitch it that night. 

 

[Marc Moss] One of the things that I love about Tell Us Something is that I don’t announce who the storytellers are ahead of time, and you still show up. You come to the event not to listen to a specific individual, you show up and you listen to your community share their stories. Brian Upton shared a story at Tell Us Something in 2015. He remembers a reason that he loves Tell Us Something, and it’s that storytellers interpret the themes in so many unexpected ways.

 

[Brian Upton] Brian Upton: Anybody that hasn’t been to a tell us something event is one of the things I’ve always appreciated too, is that in a number of the events, there’ll be a side splitting, hilarious story. The same night as there can be a really, really moving emotional, sometimes traumatic story that just in some ways they just don’t go together at all. And in other ways it’s a great way to, um, really appreciate the, either emotional depth of one story or the humor in another story, because you get to compare them to each other. Okay. It kind of lets you kind of travel a whole human gamut in one night and I’ve always appreciated that.

 

[Marc Moss] And the audience is as important as the storytellers at a Tell Us Something event. The audience holds space the the stories. They hold space for the storytellers. 

 

Here’s storyteller Shelby Humphries:

 

[Shelby Humphries]  It was at the Top Hat, and that room was packed, which I loved, but I have since been at the Wilma and you know, what that manages to feel really intimate as well. I think Missoula does a great job of showing up when we can. And, uh, I got to benefit from it that night 

 

[Marc Moss] Can you hold space right now by donating to Tell Us Something? I’m asking you to show up for each other right now. Show up for the storytellers, who are paid to share their stories, show up for the photographers who are hired to capture the event with their cameras. Show up for the poster artists who make beautiful artwork to convince you to come, to let you know that yes, these stories are happening! Showing up is easy, go to tellussomething.org and click the DONATE link to give any amount that you can. Tell Us Something has 1,639 Instagram followers, we have 2,393 FB followers, people who “LIKE” Tell Us Something. Imagine if all of those followers each gave $10 during Missoula Gives! 4,032 followers x $10? That’s over $40! That’s enough to pay back the loans that Tell Us Something had to take out during the pandemic to stay afloat. That’s enough to keep the organization going, to give us a jump on 2023 and keep live storytelling alive in Missoula. Donate today. Donate now. Don’t wait and think that someone else will donate. We need YOU! Yes, YOU! To donate today.

 

When I initially envisioned what Tell Us Something has become, I imagined that audience members would listen to the stories and absorb the stories and their meanings over the course of time. That the stories went beyond the night. That the stories required active listening, sure, and that they also required reflection over time. That they might touch the hearts of audience members. Of those who are holding space for the storytellers who are sometimes performing open soul surgery on the stage. Soon I learned that the storytellers need a little bit of guidance in shaping their stories.

Here’s Dick King again.

 

[Dick King] you know, so what I really liked about tell us something, as I thought through that, and then, you know, you helped me get that kind of get my thoughts organized. And it was a real pleasure to talk to people then, uh, then afterwards continue that discussion with people and they had their stories told. So I thought it was a really positive experience.

 

[Marc Moss] Neil McMahon, a storyteller who shared a story at Tell Us Something back in 2016 remembers how great you are as an audience:

 

[Neil McMahon] Neil McMahon: So it, and it was, it was wonderful, you know, I mean, a really good audience and, you know, and you could tell that,

 

[Marc Moss] Can you extend that graciousness to us during Missoula Gives, too? Donations are extended through May 13, so you still have this week to make your donation. Be part of the Tell Us Something story.

 

Hey, let me just say I don’t, uh, I don’t want to blow smoke or anything, but I just want to say, uh, you know, this is really a terrific program. Tell us something. And I think a lot of people realize that you put a lot of work into it, and there’s a great appreciation for that.

 

Marc Moss: I hope that it survives this pandemic. 

 

Neil McMahon: well we sure hope so too, but it’s gotta be tough.

 

[Marc Moss] As a good audience, are you ready to keep Tell Us Something going as we come back from the deficit that the pandemic caused? Help us heal this financial wound so that we can continue providing opportunities for our community to share the stories of their lives, of *YOUR* lives.

 

Melody Rice, a storyteller from Butte remembers the power of storytelling to heal.

 

[Melody Rice] Um, and I, I agree with that. And, um, so there’s that level of telling it that’s super important. And then there’s that other level of healing that can happen when we hear someone else’s story and it resonates in the stuff in a box, um, personal experiences. So, so yes, really want to tell you how much I appreciate the fact that you are keeping, tell us something alive that you are.

 

[Marc Moss] Even after years have gone by, the storytellers at Tell Us Something remember how impactful the experience was for them.

 

[Becca Kelly] I, I really enjoyed telling my story to tell us something all those years ago and doing this interview now with you and talking about it again is just really lovely and helps me process it even more.

 

So, yeah. Thank you. Still relevant material.

 

[Marc Moss] Becca shared her story back in 2016. She remembered how a death affected her.

 

[Becca Kelly] And then you could walk across the train tracks at that time. And then she ran outside and ran across the railroad tracks at the end of the night and like slept and just tried to stay on the railroad tracks and wouldn’t leave. It was so dramatic. It’s like, that’s why they put the pedestrian bridge up, you know.

 

[Marc Moss] Tell Us Something stories are a record of history in Missoula by those who lived the history. We’ve had the privilege to host on the Tell Us Something stage some who have gone before us. One person from our community, Greg Johnson, who was the force behind the legendary Missoula Colony, a program of the Missoula Repertory theater shared a story at the inaugural Montana Film Festival at The Roxy.  

 

[Greg Johnson] I got a call from my agent and he said, this guy wants to meet you. Um, he’s a hot, hot, very hot, uh, director out of USC. He’s got a movie coming out this summer. Everybody thinks he’s the next big deal. And it’s American graffiti and his name is George Lucas. I said, okay. Okay, George Lucas. So I go, I’ll meet anybody, starting my career.

 

And he says, it’s a, it’s a part of, uh, this, this, this, uh, Luke Skywalker in star wars. And I said, fine. Okay, I’ll go have coffee. So we have coffee.

 

[Marc Moss] Greg shared a story about how he auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker, and remembers having lunch with George Lucas.

 

[Marc Moss] Ric Parnell, the legendary drummer from “This is Spinal Tap”, shared a story in 2013. 

 

[Ric Parnell] Um, okay. What else? Storytelling. Okay. All right. That’s it. Um, oh, Jimi  Hendrix, Jimi  Hendrix once bought me a scotch and Coke and gave me a Malboro . Yep. My dad was doing the dusty Springfield show and, uh, he comes up to me one morning and he goes, oh, I’m taking you to the show. I’m like one I’m 16. And he goes, no, your idols playing.

 

I’m like Jimi  Hendrix. I’m like, all right, let’s go. Thank you. So I get them. And I’m sitting there in the front of the state. And jimi  Hendrix is like where you are and he goes into, um, stone free. I don’t know if you know, Jimi  Hendrix  music stone free is a really good song.

 

[Marc Moss] Ric was the only person that I’ve ever pulled off the stage. He died just this month, and the drinks I had with him will be forever fuzzy in my memory.

 

[music]

 

[Marc Moss] So – you subscribe to the podcast. You bought tickets to the live in-person shows. Did you donate to the live streamed shows that we did in 2020? Because the very first live-streamed show that we did had over 700 attendees watching live. Tell Us Something paid all of the storytellers. Tell Us Something paid the american Sign Language interpreters. The event was donation based. Did you donate? Because I can tell you that less than 100 people donated for that initial show that we live streamed. You “like” Tell Us Something on social media. You subscribe to the podcast. Sometimes you are able to attend the in-person events. Sometimes you share your story. Now is the time to help keep Tell Us Something going. We need your help to make up the losses that the pandemic caused. 

 

You can go to tellussomething.org now to donate.

 

Thank you for supporting Tell Us Something during the Missoula Gives event!

 

Your donation is a ‘yes’ for stories. 

 

It’s a ‘yes’ for the magic of someone going on stage and bringing our community together. 

 

It’s a ‘yes’ for acknowledging there is so much that ties us all together and a story can show that.

 

Your donation ensures that we can support storytellers, host a podcast, continue to produce in-person events, and to keep the lights on.

 

It takes a community to keep the spirit of Tell Us Something going and we are honored to have you be a part of it.

 

The donation platform is open through Friday May 13.  We need your help to continue to provide a platform for our community to share their stories. We need your help to continue holding space for storytelling here in Missoula. Please, go to tellussomething.org right now and click the DONATE button to let your voice be heard that you support your community. You support live storytelling. You support the storytellers that share their stories and bring us together.

 

There are only 3 days left. The time is now to go to tellusssomething.org and click the DONATE button. Let your community know that you hold space for them. Let them know that you  go beyond “liking” a social media pot, or liking the Tell Us Something page. Turn that like into action and donate to Tell Us Something today. Thank you for supporting Tell Us Something during the Missoula Gives event!

 

Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the Tell Us Something theme song, an original composition of theirs called buzzin. Additional music comes to us from Super Mario Brothers, music released under the Creative Commons license form NIN and Moby.

 

Next week, we return to the expected Tell Us Something podcast. We’ll catch up with Rick White.

 

[Rick White] Then I was concerned because curious students in my classroom were kind of endangered species or as we in capital leave education, like at risk.

 

Thanks for listening. Remember to donate at tellussomething.org. today.

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Melody Rice to talk about the story she shared live on stage at The Covellite Theater in Butte, America in 2018. The theme that night was “Work”. We also talk about inequality in the workforce, life in Butte, Montana, and what things were like in regards to COVID in Butte at that time.

Transcript : Interview with Melody Rice and her Story "Butte Barber"

00;00;00;22 – 00;00;25;15
Marc Moss
Welcome to the Teleseminar podcast. I’m Marc Moss. Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something during Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula gives dot org. This week in the podcast I sit down with Melody Rice to talk about the stories she shared live on stage at the Coveleite Theater in Butte, America.

00;00;25;16 – 00;00;27;03
Marc Moss
The theme that night was work.

00;00;27;18 – 00;00;41;17
Melody Rice
I walk into this barbershop and I say, Hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in hiring somebody to be in that second tier of yours. And the guy turns and looks at me and he says, I don’t hire women.

00;00;42;10 – 00;01;07;01
Marc Moss
We also talk about inequality in the workforce, life in Butte, Montana, and about what things were like in regards to COVID in Butte at that time. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell US Something storytelling event. The theme is didn’t see that coming. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4062034683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

00;01;07;19 – 00;01;26;16
Marc Moss
The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for joining me. As I take you behind the scenes at Tell US Something to meet the storytellers behind the stories. In each episode, I sit down with a Tell US Something Storyteller alumni. We chat about what they’ve been up to lately and about their experience sharing their story live on stage.

00;01;27;05 – 00;01;48;18
Marc Moss
Sometimes we get extra details about their story and we always get to know them a little better. Melody Rais shared her story in front of a live audience at the Kodak Theater in Butte, Montana, in November. 2018. The theme was work. Melody Rais shares her story Barber about being the first woman Barber in Butte, Montana, in the 1980s.

00;01;48;28 – 00;02;01;21
Marc Moss
Remember that the Colville Theater in Butte is an old church that’s been restored and operates as a performance space. So the recording has a little bit of an echo. Thanks for listening.

00;02;02;01 – 00;02;46;04
Melody Rice
In 1980 I moved from San Diego to Butte Montana. And the reason why is a different story. Today we’re talking about work. So there I was in Uptown Butte with my newly minted barber’s license looking for a job in the first barbershop that I popped into was the barbershop. I am certain that Ray Stevens wrote the Barbershop song, the haircut song about if you haven’t heard the haircut song, it’s time that you look it up on YouTube because Ray Stevens went to came to Butte, Montana, and got a haircut in this redneck barbershop.

00;02;46;05 – 00;03;01;05
Melody Rice
Anyway, I’m I walk into this barber shop and I say, hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in hiring somebody to be in that second chair yours. And the guy turns and looks at me and he says, I don’t hire women.

00;03;04;01 – 00;03;32;19
Melody Rice
And I go, Huh? And he says, there’s a guy down the street that does. So I, I back out because I know that barbers have sharp things, and I can feel how intensely, like, angry or whatever he was to me. So I backed out and went the direction that his thumb pointed. And so sure enough, that other barber had just been thinking about how he wanted to get somebody to rent his other chair.

00;03;33;17 – 00;04;19;28
Melody Rice
So I got the job my first day at work. It was 40 below zero for oh, below zero. I had no idea that entire vehicles could freeze solid, so you couldn’t even put your key in the door. But that’s another story also. So here I am working in this barbershop, and I love it. It’s wonderful. There are business people bankers, lawyers, doctors, Old guys that are cut their hair and the old guys sometimes would come in and they’d go, Ooh, a female barber.

00;04;21;05 – 00;04;25;02
Melody Rice
And I would say, Oh, a guy who needs a haircut.

00;04;27;08 – 00;04;47;04
Melody Rice
And some of them thought my sassiness was OK. And they’d get in my chair and others would run away. But that’s all right. So I learned a lot in that place from all the business men and women that came in. And one of the things that I learned is in order to build business, you give business to the people who gave you business.

00;04;47;20 – 00;05;14;07
Melody Rice
Right. And at that time in Uptown Butte, there were three banks. So I had my business account in one bank, my personal account in another bank, and my safety deposit box in another in the third bank to spread the love, because all the presidents and vice presidents and some of the loan officers would come in for haircuts. So I was learning how to spread the love.

00;05;15;03 – 00;05;39;16
Melody Rice
So I loved working there. I learned so much from all the folks that came in. And about 12 years into cutting hair there, there were signs from the universe. Now, that’s kind of California lingo for there were there are business indicators and the signs from the universe was were telling me to get my own barber shop, and the signs were kind of like this.

00;05;39;23 – 00;05;43;17
Melody Rice
A guy would come in, he would sit down and he would say, You should get your own barber shop.

00;05;45;25 – 00;06;17;12
Melody Rice
And so I was taking that, you know, indicator in. And then the final indicator, though, was when the owner of the barbershop came in one day and noticed how worn the floor was getting from how busy we were. And he said, we’re going to have to get a new floor and you’re paying 50%. Well, in that 12 years, I knew the difference between an independent contractor and a equal share business partner.

00;06;17;18 – 00;06;47;20
Melody Rice
I was not a business partner. So that helped me decide the indicators and the signs from the universe that it was time for me to get my own barbershop. So I decided to go and try to find out somebody would give me a loan. So I picked bank number one where I had my business account because I thought, well, they could see that I had my business account in there for 12 years, and then it may income was building and I paid my bills and I was a good risk.

00;06;48;08 – 00;07;15;00
Melody Rice
So I called and I made an appointment and I showed up at the allotted time and I was having really good confidence about this because I cut that guy’s hair, right? And so I go to the, the appointment and the secretary told me where his office was. I walked in with confidence because I did have an appointment and he says What are you doing here?

00;07;15;24 – 00;07;49;01
Melody Rice
And I said, Well, I came because I have an appointment to talk to you about. And right then in the doorway, what, this guy with a ten gallon hat, you know, like the one that Hoss wore on that TV show. But then. That’s right. So Hoss is walking in and loan officer Lew from the home. The desk jumps up and he almost runs over there, and he’s with one hand shake and ten gallon hat, man’s hand.

00;07;49;01 – 00;08;12;09
Melody Rice
And with the other one, he’s indicating to me that my appointment is over. So I walk out the door and I feel like I just got kicked in the gut. Like, what the heck was that? I mean, I need an appointment. I wanted to give this guy business. What the hell? And so as I’m walking back to the barber shop, I’m confused.

00;08;12;09 – 00;08;31;03
Melody Rice
Just I’m just dejected. But then I get pissed. I’m so angry. And what’s that saying? Hell, hath no fury than a woman going for a bank loan and getting blown off by ten gallon hat, man.

00;08;34;02 – 00;09;09;19
Melody Rice
So I decided, okay, I still I still gotta find a loan. So I go to bank number two, where I have my my private account and make the appointment. And the person on the phone had told me, OK, it’s really important for you to bring some evidence that you have savings. Now, that’s one of the other wonderful things that I learned working at the Barbershop is that some very wise person told me to save 10% of my income when I was 19 at the time when I first started cutting hair.

00;09;09;19 – 00;09;32;04
Melody Rice
So I, I started saving 10%. So even if I made $5, I’d save 10%. Now, as a contract worker, you have to pay all your own taxes. You have no benefits no health insurance, you have to pay. So you almost have nothing. So I was able to manage to save that 10% and I had a little portfolio really.

00;09;32;04 – 00;10;06;27
Melody Rice
It was just one bank statement talking about my IRA. So I brought that with me to the loan officer of bank number two I show up and the loan officer is a woman and I say, Oh, good on you. Nontraditional. Yeah. So we sit down and I hand her my one page statement of my IRA and she opens it up and looks at it and her eyes get really big and she closes it and her smile gets really wide and warm.

00;10;06;27 – 00;10;38;09
Melody Rice
And she says, how much money can we loan you and so now think like three months into the future, I am owning my own barbershop. It’s the off-Broadway barbershop. And I bought it from guess who? The guy who I went to his shop the very first stop I went to. Right. Except, well, I really didn’t buy it from him, did I know?

00;10;38;09 – 00;11;05;13
Melody Rice
Because he wouldn’t have ever sold it to a woman, but I bought it from his widow. And his widow was a wonderful woman. And we did a beautiful, mutually acceptable, beneficial business deal that left us both happy as clams. Yeah. So now flash forward to my little new barbershop. I it’s it’s renovated. It no longer looks like that.

00;11;06;06 – 00;11;33;04
Melody Rice
You know, that place that was a redneck place. But anyway, so I’m there. It’s busy day. Lots of people is walking. I’ve got a guy in the chair and who walks in the doorway, but loan officer Lew. Oh, OK. I get kicked in the gut again when I see him, because the last time I saw him was at the bank, and and I think it’s cool he’s coming in to give me business.

00;11;33;11 – 00;11;56;06
Melody Rice
I don’t like it. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. So I finished my haircuts and all the guy’s waiting, and he hops in the chair and we do pleasantries, and we’re talking about his family, and I’m thinking, OK, we’re on the homestretch. We’re OK. And so now it’s time to us. Shave around his ears, and I’m getting the hot lather from my lather machine.

00;11;56;06 – 00;12;22;09
Melody Rice
Jeez. And I put that around his ears, and I get out my straight razor and I’m strapping my razor, and I am about ready to shave right around his ears when he says to me, you know, if you ever need a business loan, I’m your man. And I freeze. I freeze right there with my razor right above his ear, my straight edge razor right above his ear.

00;12;22;09 – 00;12;49;04
Melody Rice
And I’m thinking some thoughts in my head that aren’t very nice. I’m thinking some stuff that I cannot say, and I think I just want to tell him off. So but but then I notice, oh, there’s too many witnesses but there’s fight or flight or freeze. And I was frozen. And I’ll tell you that freeze saves lives or ears at the very least, right?

00;12;49;27 – 00;13;10;28
Melody Rice
So anyway, I get unfrozen because I think too many witnesses and I finish up a shave and I shave around the edges and I get the lather off and I slap him up with some aftershave. And I’m thinking to myself, what am I going to say to him? And I take off the cloth from the cloth from him.

00;13;11;08 – 00;13;25;07
Melody Rice
And I say to him, Thanks for the offer, Lieu. Appreciate it. And he pays me and he leaves and the other guy gets in the chair.

00;13;34;28 – 00;14;00;12
Marc Moss
It was a 60 degrees below zero cold snap in Butte that convinced Melody Rice’s mom to pick up her three year old daughter and head to the warm shores of Southern California. Most summers, Melody returned to Montana to Fish Camp and help her granddad build stuff, which created a special place in her heart. For Crabby old guys. She worked as a barber for 18 years until a shoulder injury required her to find a new profession.

00;14;00;24 – 00;14;18;11
Marc Moss
Melody is now a licensed clinical professional counselor and art therapist in private practice in Butte. I caught up with the melody in June of 2020. I’m curious. I can’t remember how did I recruit you or did somebody tell you about it, or how did you end up being a part of it?

00;14;19;20 – 00;14;52;25
Melody Rice
So I saw your ad and I had heard about your project before from my sister in law, Teddy, who you did with when he came to you to play this show about you as a potential place. So I just heard about the project itself and she is a librarian and the school she works with, the School of Computers and storytelling itself, which is telling you about it.

00;14;53;09 – 00;15;23;14
Melody Rice
That’s great. And then I thought your posters everywhere and even included a poster in the hotel. Yeah. So that’s where I worked and I was able to, of oh my gosh, that’s so great. In terms of if you have, if you would be interested in any of the stories I have and then seeing if any of my friends or clients would be interested in sharing their life stories.

00;15;23;16 – 00;15;36;14
Melody Rice
And I believe life stories are so essential in terms of wellness and hearing. And so I was pretty excited to be on call and everything in my head. Yeah.

00;15;36;14 – 00;15;38;00
Marc Moss
So I was.

00;15;38;28 – 00;15;41;26
Melody Rice
It thrilled that you liked the story?

00;15;42;05 – 00;15;45;09
Marc Moss
It wasn’t just me personality. It’s an awesome story.

00;15;48;12 – 00;15;55;01
Marc Moss
Yeah. And I was so grateful to you for providing the space for us to do that practice run.

00;15;57;12 – 00;16;06;00
Melody Rice
So it was an honor to have other story tellers there in my office serving you customers on that was super cool.

00;16;06;04 – 00;16;13;24
Marc Moss
Yeah, it was really cool. And Jim, your uncle. Yeah, yeah, he was. He’s a riot.

00;16;15;02 – 00;16;16;24
Melody Rice
He is. So fun.

00;16;17;00 – 00;16;18;01
Marc Moss
Yeah. So I’m just.

00;16;18;15 – 00;17;03;05
Melody Rice
He’s got a lot of I had so many amazing stories and stories of working over the Mountain View and and I think that, you know, he’s is 100% Irish. And I think that those Irish folks they know us Irish folks that they know how important storytelling is to just the fabric of the world. Fabric of society and the fabric of importance of not only learning from other mistakes but also just from hearing each other of each other.

00;17;03;17 – 00;17;06;11
Melody Rice
I don’t know if you ever been to Ireland from my work.

00;17;06;22 – 00;17;18;12
Marc Moss
No, I haven’t. I, I’ve been to Canada and Mexico, and those are the only two foreign countries I’ve been to. Unfortunately, I’m not a world traveler. I wish I were.

00;17;20;20 – 00;17;50;23
Melody Rice
But one of the things that happens is that still to this day in Ireland is that there’s a gathering of people at Harvard Public Health then this is it used to be that the whole family would go there with kids, everything, and keep all whatever talent they had favorite singer, the band, if they were dancers or if they were placed in a musical instrument.

00;17;51;04 – 00;18;39;24
Melody Rice
They have a story then they would take turns sharing their things. And it’s a pretty super cool thing to watch that you know, people speak so well. Yeah. For you to go around the table and then say, what do you have for us to share? And so very often there be those stories that are jokes or real life stories, you know, and and so I just know that tradition and I love that my whole goal and a lot of my family members are like, do that and they’re gracious in terms of, you know, asking How does your show have something to, you know, or what did you experience?

00;18;41;01 – 00;18;54;14
Melody Rice
And tell me there’s nothing to plug for at the traditions from Ireland to me and over here, and that traffic is fantastic.

00;18;54;23 – 00;19;01;29
Marc Moss
Yeah. So can you walk us through the process of how you decided what story you wanted to tell.

00;19;04;28 – 00;19;42;20
Melody Rice
Oh, that’s a good question. But just to you know, the first piece was that you have a theme posted on the poster of work. And so currently I’m an art therapist, a counselor, and the majority of stories that I experience in my work now are confidential. And they’re in I can see them. However, well, I was a hair stylist for 18 years and viewed as a barber, specifically in Europe, which is huge.

00;19;43;00 – 00;20;27;19
Melody Rice
And an interesting place in terms of its flow to catch up with the rest of the world in that it’s kind of a little bit isolated in its flow in terms of at least my experience experiences been flow in terms of just being aware of women’s rights and women’s place in the world and so as I started thinking about, OK, what is one of my favorite stories about being gay being on my way here?

00;20;28;11 – 00;21;18;29
Melody Rice
And so that story of being country first female barber and being one of the first female barbers and for the first time and also to go out on my own in terms of being an independent worker and having my own shop and getting along and sort of the fact that that that story for me was an important piece to my confidence that I can speak my own shop owner being my own person in the industry.

00;21;19;11 – 00;21;54;19
Melody Rice
And so I felt like, OK, if I start at the very beginning, in terms of what it’s like being a female barber and you’re trying to be in the business world fully. And so anyway, it was kind of primary in my mind, like, what is that? I want other people to know what it’s like that to try to launch yourself at a place where you’re mostly geared around an industry.

00;21;55;00 – 00;22;03;12
Melody Rice
So how is my process of deciding which story to tell and how important to that?

00;22;04;08 – 00;22;27;02
Marc Moss
I think it still resonates. I mean, women still haven’t caught up in some in some sense, you know. Right. People in office jobs. As an example. I always think of you have two people with the same skill level. One is a man, one is a woman. Woman is always going to get paid less. Right. And it’s not fair and it’s not right.

00;22;27;14 – 00;22;51;03
Marc Moss
And to hear your your origin story of working in viewed and and sort of standing up to that and overcoming that was really inspiring yeah. And you’re great with handling the guy when he after after the fact. It does. Yeah.

00;22;51;06 – 00;23;31;12
Melody Rice
Yeah. And I think that in in the business world in general, I think that there are circumstances that are like that where the playing field aren’t level. And and then how do how do women or or other minorities how do they how do they manage it without burning bridges. How do they manage it without making them struggling more severe and so for us to actually experience that, I feel just just being a woman in the industry, it’s difficult to manage, especially when things are unjust.

00;23;32;04 – 00;24;09;25
Melody Rice
And so, yeah, but it’s like what’s interesting. Yeah. I, I love within you and I a even though there are some things that are pretty difficult speak that I is it was worth being here for just the level of community and family building that I have experienced elsewhere. And so while there was struggle in terms of being a female in business, I feel like it was worth a challenge it has been tough for me.

00;24;11;15 – 00;24;12;20
Marc Moss
How long have you been in view?

00;24;13;23 – 00;24;32;26
Melody Rice
I mean, I must tell you when I was 18 to my family first my mom and I lived in Butte when I was three and then she had a it was a really rough winter was 60 below zero.

00;24;32;26 – 00;24;33;14
Marc Moss
Oh my gosh.

00;24;34;02 – 00;25;21;09
Melody Rice
And then so she’s got so many Southern California, you can start detoxing up at age three and I lived in Southern California until I was dating 18 and then found my place dude after I finished barber college and in due time first landed in LA it was my family and then the Holy Bible College was in the fall and to finish up my training there and I had planned on staying in San Diego and had planned on getting a roommate and just finishing things up there because I didn’t want to go back to a place that was so potentially frigid.

00;25;22;00 – 00;25;40;14
Melody Rice
But every time I need to go through. So it’s kind of like be here listening and you need to go, you need to go there and then. So yeah, I’ve been here for 40 years. It’s kind of crazy.

00;25;40;23 – 00;25;44;09
Marc Moss
Yeah, I know you’ve seen a lot of change, I bet.

00;25;45;14 – 00;26;26;10
Melody Rice
Yes. Yeah, yeah, I have. I have seen a lot of changes. When I first arrived here, it was struggling. Was a mining shut down and stuff. But, but the thing that was very interesting is how over the decades you have been able to manage through all kinds of strikes and all kinds of adverse experiences here. And so it is a place of learning, resilience and learning connection and community learning how to help one another when things are difficult.

00;26;26;10 – 00;26;57;10
Melody Rice
And so I have understand this kind of coaster, as you call it, to around a virus pandemic has hit our community that continues that connection, that that strength in numbers sense and and I have a lot of confidence in this community because of the history of helping one another. And there.

00;26;58;18 – 00;27;03;13
Marc Moss
Are people masking up and B right now generally.

00;27;04;17 – 00;27;51;21
Melody Rice
This seems to reflect blame the kind of general public 5050 there’s some people now who do their first two years I would say that’s like going to the grocery store about 50% of the workers do all of us. I mean that’s just because they’re doing restricting the plants the patients or never walk in and there are some places that require that you were and people have been fighting against that which is pretty sad so I’m not and they were my nurse came and not had anybody there approach me in terms of it being a political statement.

00;27;51;23 – 00;27;52;04
Marc Moss
Right.

00;27;52;04 – 00;28;19;14
Melody Rice
So yeah this is for me I feel like wearing a mask is a protection because there that element of people that may have it but have no symptoms, right? So I don’t want to be a person that is the potential for me being a carrier giving it to other designers. I wear putting me in close quarters.

00;28;20;08 – 00;28;31;21
Marc Moss
So yeah, yeah. I mean for me when Saint Patrick’s Day got canceled, that was sort of my cue, like, this is real. This is a big deal.

00;28;32;24 – 00;29;11;05
Melody Rice
You exactly. Because I don’t know how many how many decades ago for today’s stand in view of that. But that was a wake up call for me as well. Like I told you, this is that this is got to be you. Yes, you, Curtis. The St Patrick’s Day parade. And they cancel the beer against the gathering that they had and the farmers and and all of those things.

00;29;11;05 – 00;29;16;13
Melody Rice
And so that’s definitely OK. This is absolutely, totally real.

00;29;16;16 – 00;29;54;17
Marc Moss
Yeah. Well, the last time I was in Butte, I think it was maybe October I was scouting out other locations to come back and try to do it again. And I went and I found Frank Little’s grave. And you did? Yeah. Yeah. And but I was also wandering around the cemetery, looking and noticing the number of gravestones from 19, 19 and 1920 and you know, 1921 in 1922 I was just like, wow.

00;29;54;29 – 00;30;26;06
Marc Moss
And when Saint Patrick’s Day got canceled this year I, I was like I have a view remembers what this, what a pandemic is like because they did not shut down during the flu pandemic. Pandemic I mean mining was still going in and Butte suffered. And I think what I was reading was Butte had the most deaths in Montana during the during the flu pandemic of 1918 1919.

00;30;26;09 – 00;31;09;04
Melody Rice
Yeah. So it, it, it, if I’m correct I think that government are pulling in some Butte and so I’m here I think that yeah, me personally have some family. I mean this entire family is from Anchorage and he might get at least know some story about it. I know in my family my grandmother’s brother died during the pandemic and everybody’s a family was just laying low and they had a woman in the neighborhood that was the only person in the neighborhood that wasn’t just bedridden by the Thomas.

00;31;09;20 – 00;31;40;12
Melody Rice
And they had come she had come over to help care for everybody. And, you know, and in that process, my great uncle died from 300. So it just so interesting range in terms of how people how they may or may not live from that from their history. And, you know, in Butte, they were used to of course, the virus is there.

00;31;40;28 – 00;31;49;02
Melody Rice
You know, places where the miners would hang out and the miners would go down into the mine and the particular areas. Oh, my goodness.

00;31;49;09 – 00;31;51;10
Marc Moss
Yeah. I mean, you can’t such a distance in the mines.

00;31;52;27 – 00;31;55;27
Melody Rice
You play it pretty safe. Yeah.

00;31;57;13 – 00;32;03;19
Marc Moss
And I don’t even think that they knew that they should do that. Right. Social distancing.

00;32;05;06 – 00;32;28;06
Melody Rice
Well, they were there newspaper clippings that ended up in the Montana Standard just in terms of comparing what the newspaper was saying back then. I to say now and indeed, there were newspaper clippings saying that the health department of Health Health has been downgraded afterwards. So don’t do this. Don’t do that, you know, and the people were doing it right.

00;32;29;10 – 00;32;40;20
Melody Rice
So so there was a you know, from the state level there and even across the land saying, don’t do these social events and do this like whatever other time yeah.

00;32;41;23 – 00;32;43;19
Marc Moss
You don’t know us. We’re tough. We’re from being.

00;32;44;03 – 00;32;47;28
Melody Rice
Mean, like you said, in time and large, large numbers. Yeah.

00;32;49;07 – 00;33;21;04
Marc Moss
I don’t know when public gatherings will be possible. I mean, we go to the grocery store about once a month and we try to utilize the curbside pick up when possible. And it’s required to wear a mask at the store at this particular store. And it’s still really stressful. There are certain people who are getting close and, you know, touching each other and hugging and them just like it’s anxiety inducing, just to go to the grocery store.

00;33;22;00 – 00;33;22;19
Melody Rice
Because of.

00;33;23;07 – 00;33;38;24
Marc Moss
The nature. And then you get home and or at least we get home and wash everything before we put it away. And then we take all of our clothes off and get out, get in the shower. And it’s like, you know, what would be a 15 minute grocery trip turns into 90 minutes.

00;33;39;10 – 00;34;18;28
Melody Rice
But for sure, yeah. Just in general, you know, I woke up this morning and there are no new cases in Montana and I just think, Oh gosh, so here comes the snake. And we were thinking that this second wave would only happen this fall because typically those kinds of viruses only come during the flu season and quote unquote, you know, with the viruses and stuff here and it just it’s just not even taking a rest really.

00;34;19;04 – 00;34;51;27
Melody Rice
It’s, you know, especially we can’t believe this bigger than the first like it was the Spanish Flu. Yeah. That hopefully will well have some requirements that are a lot more, you know, safe and producing. And I was thinking about being more stringent because your doctor might be what we need but when people think that government is stringent and overreaching, then they have folks to and stuff.

00;34;51;27 – 00;35;05;22
Melody Rice
But I’m one of those people that feel like this is there’s parameters that there are boundaries that are meant to keep us safe. I feel like, yeah, just to go for that just because I prefer no doubt. And then more.

00;35;05;22 – 00;35;06;20
Marc Moss
Deaths. Yeah.

00;35;09;00 – 00;35;15;07
Marc Moss
Me too. It’s like this isn’t this shouldn’t be a political conversation at all.

00;35;16;08 – 00;35;33;21
Melody Rice
But yeah, so it’s unfortunate that that’s, that’s, that’s a political it became a political issue. Health care issues and political caring for us for more damage should not be political to do my views.

00;35;34;01 – 00;36;00;21
Marc Moss
Yeah so going back to tell us something in storytelling roundabout way, this is sort of an Irish Irish way to tell stories isn’t that where you go a on all these different rabbit holes but you know rolling into 2020 tell something had a lot of momentum and we were going to be back in Butte. I can’t remember what we were going to be at the orphanage or theater.

00;36;01;24 – 00;36;04;12
Melody Rice
Oh yeah yeah. Yeah. Great venue.

00;36;04;16 – 00;36;14;14
Marc Moss
Yeah. We were going to come to the orphan girl and you know, that’s a pretty intimate little space and obviously we’re not coming this year.

00;36;15;16 – 00;36;50;19
Melody Rice
You know, and I love how you’re kind of reinventing how this is going to be because it reminds me of this and this is one of the things I tell my clients who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by how everything has changed because we kind of out of it. And that is during the time of my grandparents, my, my grandfather was in World War Two in the Pacific, and he he married my grandmother and then groom he had to go and be gone in the war.

00;36;51;15 – 00;37;26;12
Melody Rice
And I think about, wow, what does that make for all of their spouses? During the war? Right. And particularly in the case of my grandparents during the war were to stay in each other for a long time. And how do you stay connected? How do we even though we’re not in each other’s physical presence, how do we stay connected so so the case for them, if they just wrote letters or wrote letters and wrote letters and then that that connection maintaining.

00;37;26;12 – 00;37;50;02
Melody Rice
So when he returned you know, they they still were married. They still spent the rest of their lives together. And, you know, my mom was born my mom is the oldest of two. And three siblings. And so, you know, she was born and my grandpa came home for a and me and just all kinds of stuff like that that I just think wow, I’ve never had to do that.

00;37;50;24 – 00;38;00;14
Melody Rice
Maybe a coronaviruses is a better way of figuring out how to stay connected we can’t see each other physically. Yeah.

00;38;01;16 – 00;38;04;14
Marc Moss
Yeah. No, I mean, people are finding ways to do it.

00;38;06;03 – 00;38;42;04
Melody Rice
Yeah, well, I just want to thank you for creating a place for people to share their their stories, their life experiences, and I feel like there and from Olivia, that stories were such a very, very important part of the human experience. And I’m pleased to be to be able to get a view of what it is that you’re doing in terms of helping people tell their stories.

00;38;42;04 – 00;38;51;24
Melody Rice
And because I’m a mental health professional, I have great trust in the value and the ability for stories to heal.

00;38;53;28 – 00;39;24;16
Melody Rice
And when other people share their stories there’s it becomes part of us. So there’s kind of layers, in my view, of how storytelling is so important and what is being able to externalize your narrative. You have a story that lives in you, and I think it was Maya Angelou that said something to the effect of There’s no better tragedy than having a story is not expressed and I agree with that.

00;39;25;04 – 00;40;06;25
Melody Rice
And so there’s a level of telling it that’s super important. And then there’s that other level of healing that can happen when you hear someone else’s story and it resonates if this stuff is about our own personal experiences. So so yes, really want to tell you on a very preciate the fact that you are keeping something alive, that you are reinventing how this is going to be in order for it to sit in the coronavirus pandemic and in order for other people to continue to allow that to happen, you know, face to face or live audience or rest referring to COVID right now.

00;40;06;25 – 00;40;21;20
Melody Rice
So thank you. Thank you for your motivation. Thank you for your creativity in this. Thank you for your dedication, dedication to it, to allowing people to share and to receive the stories.

00;40;22;06 – 00;40;44;12
Marc Moss
Oh, you’re welcome. And I think I’ve said this to you before. It feels this work that I’m doing feels like a vocation. And it’s almost like I don’t have a choice. I have to in order to honor the work that I’ve done for the past ten years, I have to figure out a way to keep it relevant and make it real and allow it to continue.

00;40;45;17 – 00;40;53;10
Marc Moss
And sometimes I’m not doing great at it. Sometimes I’m messing up and making mistakes, and that’s what growth looks like.

00;40;53;10 – 00;40;56;05
Melody Rice
So yeah, that is true.

00;40;56;11 – 00;41;02;16
Marc Moss
Yeah. Melody, thank you. Thank you. So much for spending the time with me this morning.

00;41;03;20 – 00;41;06;21
Melody Rice
You are so great. I know. Talking with you, Mark.

00;41;06;28 – 00;41;09;08
Marc Moss
Oh, and tomorrow’s the first day of summer, so happy summer.

00;41;11;00 – 00;41;16;02
Melody Rice
Tomorrow is. Wow, that’s great. Yeah, yeah.

00;41;16;02 – 00;41;40;14
Marc Moss
Happy so. All right. Thanks, Melody. You too. Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth Missoula Gibbs is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support. Tell us something during Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth Learn more at MissoulaGives.org .We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell us something storytelling event the theme is didn’t see that coming.

00;41;40;29 – 00;41;57;12
Marc Moss
If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4062034683 You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is May 27th. I look forward to hearing from you thanks to our in-kind sponsors.

00;41;57;19 – 00;42;12;11
Joyce Gibbs
Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

00;42;13;04 – 00;42;17;17
Gabriel Silverman
Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell us something.

00;42;17;29 – 00;42;50;07
Gabriel Silverman
Learn more at Gecko Designs dot com

Marc Moss
Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN Radio The Trail, one of 3.3 Jack at them and my favorite place to find a dance party while driving you want to paw point by floating to zero Learn more at Amazon Wacom and Missoula events dot net thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast Find them at cash for Junkies band dot com If you’re in Missoula you can catch them live at a union club on May 14th to learn more about Tell us something please visit.

00;42;50;08 – 00;42;51;25
Marc Moss
tellussomething.org.

 

Neil McMahon shared his story in front of a live audience at The Wilma Missoula, MT in September of 2016. Neil is working as a carpenter on a construction site in a remote part of Montana when the call comes from his New York City publisher. Neil calls his story “Deus ex Buick”. Stay tuned after his story to listen to our conversation. I caught up with Neil in July of 2020.

Transcript : Interview with Neil McMahon and His Story “Deus ex Buick”

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;25;06
Marc Moss
Welcome to the Tell US Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell US Something storytelling event. The theme is didn’t see that coming. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4062034683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is May 27th. I look forward to hearing from you this week in the podcast.

00;00;25;07 – 00;00;35;12
Marc Moss
I sit down with Neil McMahon to talk about his story. Deuce X Buick which he told live on stage at the Wilmer in Missoula, Montana on September 20th. 2016.

00;00;35;20 – 00;00;54;27
Neil McMahon
At that time, believe it or not, young folks, nobody had cell phones yet, and there was no way for me to get this information. I couldn’t afford to take the day off work or just hang around. So it came down that the only way we could do this was that my and my wife, who was working at home at the time, would feel the call.

00;00;55;22 – 00;01;04;05
Marc Moss
The theme that night was the fork in the road. After his story we talked about his friend and fellow author Kim Zupan. His day job and the life of a writer.

00;01;04;09 – 00;01;05;15
Neil McMahon
Go into some kind of line.

00;01;05;15 – 00;01;05;29
Neil McMahon
Of work.

00;01;06;15 – 00;01;10;06
Neil McMahon
That would give you much more material you know, whether it’s like.

00;01;10;06 – 00;01;11;00
Neil McMahon
Michael Connolly.

00;01;11;00 – 00;01;11;24
Neil McMahon
Was a journalist.

00;01;11;24 – 00;01;14;04
Neil McMahon
Obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever.

00;01;14;27 – 00;01;16;13
Neil McMahon
Something besides swinging a hammer.

00;01;16;29 – 00;01;40;22
Marc Moss
Thank you for joining me as I take you behind the scenes at Tell US Something to meet the storytellers behind the stories. In each episode, I sit down with a Tell US Something Storyteller alumni. We chat about what they’ve been up to lately and about their experience sharing their story live on stage. Sometimes we get extra details about their story and we always get to know them a little better before we get to Neil’s story and our subsequent conversation.

00;01;41;02 – 00;02;02;03
Marc Moss
Please remember to save the date for Missoula GIBS May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event remember to support Tell US Something during Missoula gives May 5th through the sixth. Learn More at Missoula gives dot org. Neil McMahon shared his story in front of a live audience at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana in September of 2016.

00;02;03;01 – 00;02;10;07
Marc Moss
Neil was working as a carpenter on a construction site in a remote part of Montana. When the call comes from his New York City publisher.

00;02;12;28 – 00;02;33;27
Neil McMahon
I started working as a carpenter back in the early seventies actually started as a union apprentice in 1973 and in a few years later I started getting interested in writing and you know along the way I started thinking, you know, really I’d kind of rather make my living as a writer than a carpenter and this is easier said than done.

00;02;33;27 – 00;03;00;02
Neil McMahon
So I kept swinging and a hammer and trying to buy time to write and so on and you know, lots of ups and downs There was a brief little peak in the late eighties when I managed to publish three horror novels. I was trying to kind of ride on the coattails of Stephen King and The Exorcist and all that stuff, and they vaporized and that little bubble tanked very quickly and I was back out on the bricks again, so on.

00;03;00;02 – 00;03;26;18
Neil McMahon
And so forth. So we fast forward to 1998 on a rowboat and by this time I have managed to cobble together a draft of another novel. This time a mainstream thriller. I’m trying to reinvent myself as a writer. I get it to an agent in New York. And then astonishingly, we get word that there is an editor at HarperCollins who is actually interested in this This is kind of a big deal.

00;03;28;07 – 00;03;47;27
Neil McMahon
On the other hand, it’s kind of not because I’d been through so many of these deals already where it was a, you know, a near-miss and somebody is interested and yet peters out and so on. Couldn’t take it too seriously, but you can’t not take it seriously. So the deal was anyway, the way it came down this was a Thursday in July that we got this news.

00;03;48;17 – 00;04;15;17
Neil McMahon
And this guy was going to call the next day on a Friday. And I had to actually be there to talk to him on the phone to formally confirm if he made an offer. It was a yes or no deal. If he did not call, you know, if he didn’t call and nothing was going to happen, if he did, I had to be there, talk to him, confirm it, a kind of a handshake over the phone, you know, make contact and all above all, not give him the weekend to change his mind.

00;04;16;09 – 00;04;33;13
Neil McMahon
So the wrinkle with this being this day and the crew online, we’re working with Brother Creek Road past the airport and then up in the Master, the New World, that’s about three miles past where the pavement is, this rutted dirt road and so on. And at that time, believe it or not, young folks, nobody had cell phones yet.

00;04;35;09 – 00;04;52;22
Neil McMahon
And there was no way for me to get this information. I couldn’t afford day to day offer. It could just hang around. So it came down that the only way we could do this was that my and my wife, who was working at home at the time, would field the call. And if it was a no, then, you know, that was their Tuesday home.

00;04;53;06 – 00;05;14;23
Neil McMahon
But if it was a yes, then she was going to have to drive up there and find me. And I didn’t even know, you know, to tell her where the place was. It was just a few miles up past where the pavement is. And there’s this kind of shelter like house up there. And the only thing I could say was, honey, you’ll see our trucks because the crew I was working on our trucks looked basically like a mobile junkyard.

00;05;15;06 – 00;05;23;07
Neil McMahon
And we actually we actually had a client call the sheriff’s office one time the first day we showed up on a job. This is true.

00;05;26;24 – 00;05;48;18
Neil McMahon
And on top of everything else, he’s driving his little Buick’s a little bit eighties white Buick that has a wheel clearance on the back. You know, this much in the ruts on the road or about this. And the top of it was peeling off, looked like it had leprosy. But OK, that’s another story. So I’m up there with the crew and the day goes on and on and on and nothing happens and nothing happens and nothing happens.

00;05;48;18 – 00;06;14;15
Neil McMahon
It gets to be about 230 in the afternoon, which is 430 in New York time. And by this time I’ve ridden it off I figure, you know, this guy’s forgotten all about this. Forgotten all about me. He’s in a bar or someplace, drink a $20 martinis in midtown Manhattan and I was in Europe for this. But on the other hand, this is kind of a big deal.

00;06;15;06 – 00;06;36;27
Neil McMahon
Again, I was trying to reinvent myself, and writers know that when a novel goes out like that, if it doesn’t sell in the first few passes to an editor, chances are it’s not going to there are exceptions to that, but usually they’re looking for pretty much the same thing. So this was kind of the handwriting on the wall because of that deal, you know?

00;06;36;27 – 00;07;06;03
Neil McMahon
And so anyway, I remember I was on the side of the houses mid afternoon at that point where there’s drag and things are getting heavier, and I was on the side of the house hanging a door and I heard my friend Kim Zubair, who was working with me, I heard him yell at me and I looked over. He explained, It’s still hard for me to get through this point and down the road and I see this little white car and up there, my wife behind the wheel, you know, kind of looking around.

00;07;06;03 – 00;07;35;23
Neil McMahon
But I would like to say that that was the start of a New York career. And a wave that I’ve been riding the crest of ever since. In fact, it was more like a little ripple in a child’s wading pond that toddler in a rubber duck inner tube could very safely negotiate with. Then a lot more trust and trust and so on and so forth.

00;07;36;19 – 00;08;01;26
Neil McMahon
But but still, that was the start of everything, you know, that was that moment when everything changed. And it has made all the difference. Anybody, you know, it’s cliched, but to say anybody who’s chased the dream and for years and wants to slip away and then you get that moment where you get a piece of it you know what that means and how it changes your life in the way you see yourself and the world and all that sort of thing.

00;08;01;26 – 00;08;27;22
Neil McMahon
And when I think about it, that’s what I think of as looking down. I see that little white car jam behind the wheel. So if I got another vintage tumor I assume I do I’ll add one more connection there. And that’s my my great old friend Jim Zupan, who was the guy who yelled at me there and very much in the same situation as me.

00;08;27;22 – 00;08;56;09
Neil McMahon
He was also a carpenter, an aspiring writer. It took him way too long to get his own break, but eventually he did with the publication of a novel called The Plow. Man. Some people might be familiar with his extraordinary. Oh, yeah, OK. The editor at HarperCollins, who bought my book that day, a guy named Dan Conaway, then went on to become a literary agent, and he was the agent who took on Kim Zoop, Dan’s book, The Plowman, and handled it and sold it and so on.

00;08;56;09 – 00;09;08;13
Neil McMahon
So kind of a little triangle there. That was that was kind of cool. Yeah. If I may just I’ll finish this off with one more very brief story Hey, I’m Irish.

00;09;10;29 – 00;09;32;04
Neil McMahon
This is this one. This was this was really pretty good. It’s actually, it’s it’s it’s Zoop story. Kim Zupan, a story talk about a fork in the road his grandparents immigrated here from Slovenia in the early 1900s. And the deal was that the old man came across a typical deal. The husband came across first and he got a job as a miner in Nevada.

00;09;32;20 – 00;09;58;07
Neil McMahon
And he sent back for his wife and a couple of her brothers to come and join him. So they took off and made it across Europe. To Cherbourg in France. And they were just about to cross the Atlantic the last second. They get a telegram from him saying, hold off. He was going to go up and work in the mines in Butte, which, believe it or not, apparently was a step up so he needed time to get up there and get settled and so on.

00;09;58;25 – 00;10;10;11
Neil McMahon
And so they were forced to cancel their transatlantic passage and sell their tickets that they had bought on a ship named the Titanic. True story. Thank you all again.

00;10;15;29 – 00;10;34;00
Marc Moss
Neil McMahon grew up in Chicago and moved to Montana in 1971. He’s the author of a dozen thrillers. His favorite is Lone Creek, set near Helena, Montana. To learn more about Neil and his work, go to tell us something Georgie. I caught up with Neil in July of 2020.

00;10;34;27 – 00;10;56;10
Neil McMahon
The manuscript I’m steering it until drops of blood form on my forehead are you reinventing yourself again? Oh, kind of. I guess I’ve been working on this for years, so not really. But it’s not the same vein of stuff I was doing earlier. Well, you first. You did horror, right? And then you did some thrillers, right? And what’s this?

00;10;57;11 – 00;11;47;08
Neil McMahon
This is maybe kind of somewhere in between the two. It’s it’s medieval. It’s actually set if you’re familiar at all with the Templars, that whole mythology and some historical mythology, they were there was a mass arrest of the entire this great order of knights and 1307. And the sort of springboards off of that, I would imagine there’s a lot of research involved uh, yeah, I guess I’ve been fascinated by them for years anyway, so I know enough to kind of gloss it over, but uh, it’s actually more, I don’t know, it’s, it’s not really historical novel, it’s not really fantasy.

00;11;47;08 – 00;12;06;29
Neil McMahon
It’s got some kind of magical elements and horror elements involved in that sort of thing. So I don’t know what to call it. We’ll see, but we’ll see when an agent picks it up and says, this is incredible. Yeah, well, you’ll be the first to know when that happens. Oh, great. You hope you’ll tell another story about it, I’m sure.

00;12;07;08 – 00;12;27;24
Neil McMahon
Absolutely will have. You bet. Hey, let me just say, I don’t I don’t want to blow smoke or anything, but I just want to say, you know, this is really a terrific program. Tell us something and I think a lot of people realize that you put a lot of work into it and there’s great appreciation for that. So thanks for saying that, Neil.

00;12;27;25 – 00;13;02;17
Neil McMahon
I hope that it survives this pandemic. Well, we sure hope so, too, but it’s going to be tough. Well, the last time I put out a call for stories nobody called the pitch line. And I had a I did a intensive workshop. So five days, 2 hours a day on Zoom but the idea that the participants would then tell a story at a livestreamed event and right out of the six people, only two wanted to tell a story and can’t really have an event with two people.

00;13;03;11 – 00;13;27;22
Marc Moss
So that’s really do you think that’s just because of the pandemic or. I think people are just torn in so many different directions right now and they don’t have the bandwidth to think about things like this. I was kind of dug in to well, you know, especially parents who have kids and they’re having to not only work from home, but also help them help their kids with school and will and worry about whether the schools are going to open.

00;13;27;22 – 00;13;52;14
Marc Moss
And so, yeah, I mean, I can’t imagine being a parent right now or even a teacher. Well, exactly. It’s a health worker. Yeah, all of it. And or or even a carpenter. Well, that’s true, too. I’m I’m glad I’m out of it for a lot of reasons. Yes. Some days I’m so hopeful and so full of optimism and so excited about the future.

00;13;52;14 – 00;14;09;19
Marc Moss
And other days, I just want to crawl into a bottle of whiskey and call it good. You know, I kind of do both you but, you know, I do think eventually this virus is going to get down. I mean, they’re going to come up. We’re going to we’re going to be living with it for years in some form.

00;14;09;19 – 00;14;28;09
Neil McMahon
But there’s going to be vaccine and treatment and so on and so forth. But I’m sure while you have been working from home for years. Yes. This really hasn’t changed much for you in that perhaps. It really hasn’t. You know, I’m kind of you know, I’m I, I discovered that I that I work best when I really hunker down.

00;14;28;09 – 00;14;30;00
Neil McMahon
And I tend to make lists.

00;14;30;00 – 00;14;31;01
Neil McMahon
Of errands I have to.

00;14;31;01 – 00;14;47;06
Neil McMahon
Do and then try and go out and get them all done at once, more or less, rather than kind of constantly popping in and out. You know, it makes me sort of a recluse, but on the other hand, it it gets you up the hill. Yeah. And I’m looking forward to busting out of that, I hope, by hoping to have this thing done pretty soon.

00;14;47;14 – 00;15;07;12
Marc Moss
What’s pretty soon months? Three months? Oh, I’m actually looking to try and get it out of the house here in another week or two. Oh, that’s great. After several years, well, but then we’re going to find out, you know, that’s the day of reckoning is coming. So but that’s, you know, the sword is hovering over the head and all that stuff.

00;15;07;12 – 00;15;28;25
Marc Moss
So well, at least Kim’s not having to drive the shitty Buick up the hill. Well, there you go. There you go. She knows where I am right now, you know? Yeah. Yeah, I remember you well. I listened to it this morning when I was picking raspberries. And I loved your description of the the top of the car peeling off.

00;15;28;25 – 00;15;30;01
Marc Moss
It looked like it had leprosy.

00;15;32;13 – 00;15;54;24
Marc Moss
Oh, well. Well, I think we’ve all had a car like that. And that was all I had for the first, you know, until till I was in my forties. You know, finally. But, yeah, well, there’s, you know, it was, I have to say, which, Jim, this point we were talking about, if for some reason it was a good little car, you know, I mean, it had 100 and change on it and it lit right up and all day long.

00;15;55;04 – 00;16;22;18
Neil McMahon
That’s great. What year was it? Was it mid eighties. I’m not exactly just one of those little nondescript, you know, it ranges that you saw all over the place at the time you were working on a crew with Kim, Kim Zupan. And he did he had he been published at the time, stories but not a novel. Yeah. So he was cheering you on.

00;16;23;17 – 00;16;58;11
Neil McMahon
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. He’s been you know, he’s been a great supporter. And I must say, conversely, I got him in touch with my then editor, Dan Conaway. Right. You mentioned that, who’s now an agent and Dan loves Kim stuff right from the get go. This is back when I first hooked up with them in the late nineties. You just couldn’t you know, you got to persuade what’s known as the X Committee at the publishing house acquisitions, but they call it the S committee with several other people who oftentimes are, you know, trying to keep you from, you know, getting your stuff done.

00;16;58;11 – 00;17;18;12
Neil McMahon
And anyway, it was way too long before before Zoop finally got over the, you know, the hump there. But thank God he did yeah. It was a great book. Terrific up. So good. Well, yeah, you mentioned that at the end of your story when you finished up your story and then you said, do I have time for work?

00;17;18;14 – 00;17;34;16
Marc Moss
And I was like, I mean, I remember being backstage doing No, you don’t. And you said, well, I guess I I’m assuming that I do well, I was waiting for I was waiting for the cane to come out and hook me around the neck, drag me off. But I’ve never I didn’t do that. I didn’t go on too long.

00;17;34;23 – 00;17;59;11
Marc Moss
No, you didn’t. I didn’t time it when I was listening to it today. But I think you maybe you were like 90 seconds long, longer than that time. That’s fine. I’ve never told anybody off the stage with a cane or whatever. You know, there have been times where I’ve wanted to believe it and I’ve had to have hard conversations after the fact with people who sort of went off the rails.

00;17;59;11 – 00;18;26;21
Neil McMahon
And, yeah, well, it’s a temptation for everybody. And, and writers, you know, writers like to talk. Yeah, well, you’re Irish, too, so, you know. Well, there’s that. Yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t drink until afterwards. There you go. So had you ever done anything like that before? Because, I mean, telling a story on stage like that is much different than doing a reading though I don’t think I have.

00;18;28;08 – 00;18;52;26
Neil McMahon
That was you know, that was the first time I the only thing about sometimes, you know, in readings when I do them, my tendency is to keep the reading itself real short, you know, like 5 minutes max and then get questions because they people get a lot more, you know, stay a lot more interested, you know, when it’s interactive and so on.

00;18;53;12 – 00;19;15;02
Neil McMahon
That’s what I’ve always found as an audience member and. Sure, yeah. But so I mean, that would be kind of those would be the times when I would, you know, was talking more or less off the cuff. So a little bit of that. But I don’t I don’t recall ever ever doing a sustained monologue like that. So what what was that like for you?

00;19;18;03 – 00;19;42;14
Neil McMahon
It was fun. I remember you and I rehearsed it first and, you know, I felt OK about it. I I’m I’m reasonably comfortable I guess in a situation like that, just, again, you know, maybe because of readings out there and all that many of them. But, you know, on the one hand, I was, of course, a little nervous that I’d screw it up and then on the other hand, I thought, well, so what if you do you know who’s going to know what’s what are they going to do?

00;19;42;14 – 00;20;04;11
Neil McMahon
You know, then, you know, anyway, so and it was it was wonderful, you know, I mean, a really good audience. And, you know, and you could tell that. And of course, you know, coming up, being up there with John and and all that, it was it was, you know, it was it couldn’t have been better. It was a fun night.

00;20;04;11 – 00;20;36;01
Neil McMahon
I remember it was also he gave a great talk. He did. And it was also packed. Yeah, it was. We had no I mean, as far as the roster, we had 11 storytellers that night. Right, right. Right. And, you know, eight is the sweet spot. Hey Storytellers is about what people can tolerate as far as attention span goes and it was part of the festival, the book right then it was like, oh, another, another author wants to do this.

00;20;36;03 – 00;21;02;23
Neil McMahon
Okay, now. Okay. Yeah, it’s buried my mind somewhere. I remember if I could ever think, yeah, electrical and what’s that? Spoon it out of my memory. Yeah. Well, is there anything that you want listeners to hear or to know about your story before we wrap it up? I don’t know what what I would say about about the new book or the or the old stuff.

00;21;02;23 – 00;21;20;21
Neil McMahon
Just if you’re going to see if you’re going to write, you’re going to write and, you know, write try to be smart about it. If you can make some money, great but you’re going to write what you want to. It’s going to come out somehow, you know what’s in it. Oh, here’s how about if I ask this question.

00;21;21;17 – 00;21;30;08
Marc Moss
If you could tell your 20 year old self some advice from you. Now, what would you tell him?

00;21;40;29 – 00;22;08;00
Neil McMahon
If I knew that I wanted to write, which I didn’t by that age, by the time I was 25, you know, my late twenties, I started getting more serious about it. I would certainly get some kind of go into some kind of line of work that’s a lot more conducive. That’s not the right word. But you know what I mean?

00;22;08;29 – 00;22;39;03
Neil McMahon
Would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s like Michael Connolly was a journalist, a lot of people have done that. Obviously, physicians lawyers, whatever something besides swinging a hammer, you know, which I did for much of my life. So just so you’d have that experience to draw and then maybe be smarter about money and some other things like that, smarter about money, isn’t that always the truth?

00;22;39;26 – 00;23;04;29
Neil McMahon
Yeah, it really is. It’s some of that was generational because, you know, I think, you know, in the seventies, as you know, kind of when I was coming up, it was, you you know, we didn’t have this atmosphere that we do know about, you know, sort of everything being contingent on that and, you know, students being swamped by loan debts and you know, the markets as all you hear about Wall Street and so on, that stuff was pretty well muted.

00;23;04;29 – 00;23;20;13
Neil McMahon
And it was you know, you went out and worked and drew wages and, you know, put your money in a savings account. And so it kind of snuck up on me. I wasn’t paying attention. But nowadays I think you’ve got to pay a lot more attention to it. And just to get by, what’s the savings account. Yeah, exactly.

00;23;21;06 – 00;23;41;08
Neil McMahon
Yeah. That’s you know, nowadays, you know, that really was the way it was. You put it in and it was, you know, three or 4% and it was steady and you know, it didn’t disappear overnight, you know, because Wall Street went crazy and so on and so forth. But those days are gone. Yeah. Anyway, so it seems like there are a lot of writers and Zoeller who swing a hammer.

00;23;42;23 – 00;24;02;20
Neil McMahon
Well, a lot of us did. Zupan, I of course. Yeah. And I remember thinking, you know, Mark Gibbons worked as a mover and Bob Reid was a cop all those years. And, you know, I keep going down the line of thinking of a lot of, you know, a lot of different people from the women to, you know, gooks or whatever.

00;24;03;07 – 00;24;19;26
Marc Moss
Yep. When are you going to get up there and tell us something? I did one, I don’t know, a couple of years ago. I, I try not to make it be about me. You know, I want to focus on other people, but I can’t remember what the theme was, but it was just too good to pass up the story that I told was about.

00;24;20;17 – 00;24;49;28
Marc Moss
I lived in Gardner, Montana, and I didn’t have a car and also a big Bruce Springsteen fan. And he had just done the E Street Band reunion and was touring and the closest he was going to come was Fargo, North Dakota. And so I I bought for tickets and didn’t have a way to get there. And so I’m not paying attention to the time.

00;24;50;26 – 00;25;12;03
Marc Moss
And all of a sudden I look down and I see that it’s like 2 seconds left and I’m not anywhere near done. And the gong person is a friend of mine, Marissa. She’s standing up like a like a batter about to hit a home run, and she’s just wound up the gong and she plays into it as loud as she can.

00;25;12;15 – 00;25;33;06
Marc Moss
She’s laughing her ass off. Everyone in the place is cracking up because they know I’ve broken my own rules. Exactly. Is this a heal thyself? Yeah. Yeah. So it was that was the last time I did one. It was pretty fun. Oh, that’s a great story. Yeah. I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what themes pop up then.

00;25;34;22 – 00;25;54;26
Marcf Moss
All right, we’re we’re we have just as much talent in this town as L.A. or New York or anybody else. Austin? Yeah. Yeah, so that’s been a lot of fun. It’s a great town. We’re lucky to live here. We are. We’re we’re very blessed. And I can’t imagine living in a big city right now. God, I grew up in Chicago.

00;25;55;02 – 00;26;18;12
Marc Moss
I know fast enough, right well, I won’t keep you. I know you’re cool. Instead of swinging a hammer, you’re swinging at those things. Swinging my fingers it’s a pleasure to talk, Mark. Hey, it was great talking to you, Neal. Fantastic. You’re my best to Joyce. I will say hi to camp, OK, my friend. All right.

00;26;21;05 – 00;26;26;13
Marc Moss
Thanks, Neal. And thank you for listening today. Next week, I catch up with melody rates.

00;26;27;05 – 00;26;41;04
Melody Rice
I walk into this barber shop, and I say, hey, I’m wondering if you’re interested in hiring somebody to be in that second chair. Yours. And the guy turns and looks at me and he says, I don’t hire women.

00;26;41;29 – 00;27;02;00
Marc Moss
Tune in for our conversation on the next Tell US Something podcast. Please remember to save the date for Missoula. Gibbs May 5th through the sixth Missoula Gibbs is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell US Something during Missoula. Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Learn More at Missoula gives dot org thanks to our in-kind sponsors.

00;27;02;07 – 00;27;16;28
Joyce Gibbs
Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at Joyce of tile dot com.

00;27;17;20 – 00;27;18;26
Gabriel Silverman
Hey, this is Gabe from.

00;27;18;26 – 00;27;21;18
Gabriel Silverman
Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell Us Something. Learn more at geckodesigns.com

00;27;22;15 – 00;27;47;18
Marc Moss

Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN Radio The Trail one, two, 3.3. Jack at them and my favorite place to find a dance party while driving you on a portable five float measure. Learn more at float MSL, Laikum and Missoula events dot net thanks to cash or drunkards who provided the music for the podcast, find them at Cash for Junkies band dot com.

00;27;48;02 – 00;27;59;09
Marc Moss
If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them live at a union club on May 14th. Find them at Cash for Clunkers Bandcamp to learn more about. Tell us on. Please visit. tellussomething.org

 

Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme "Stone Soup". A young woman visits New York City with her Papa, a Polish track athlete reflects on defecting from Poland in the 1980s, A woman runs out of gas in front of Costco on a busy Missoula street and an adventure guide with a dying cell phone, no water, and only a thin poncho is charged by a wild boar and end up drinking his own urine before his dramatic rescue.

Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 2

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

This week on the podcast…

Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.

Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.

Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.

Marc Moss:…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Our first story comes to us from Rachel Bemis. Rachel Bemis visits New York City with her Poppa, who sleeps through much of the trip. She sees her Top Chef favorite and yells out the tour bus window, “I’m not your b*tch, b*tch!” at him and no one reacts. Rachel calls her story Sleepy New York” or “An Adventure with Papa”. Thanks for listening.

Rachel Bemis: It was the summer of 2007. I was 27 years old living in Missoula. I worked as a real estate lender and also served on a nonprofit board and I had a dirty little secret. I loved reality shows and my standards were very low

flavor

of love. Rock of love, project runway. We’re getting up there top chef, little better.

But after a long day, I absolutely loved watching a good show and reality stars became the new celebrities of our time. I had an upcoming trip planned. I had a work conference in Washington, DC, and I had traveled, you know, before, but I had never spent any time on the east coast. And I decided if I was going to be there for work for a week, I might as well add New York to the list.

Why not spend a few days in New York city checking out all of the sites. But the number one thing that was on my list is I wanted to meet a celebrity. And when I say celebrity, I mean a reality star. So the trip was planned. The tickets were purchased. Of course, I was going to go see the Lincoln Memorial Lincoln Memorial Lincoln monument, big priority.

I was certainly going to see the things that my mom told me I needed to see purchase the tickets. But of course, I also wanted to see a reality star. So like many of my trips, one of my weekly phone calls was to my wonderful grandfather. Papa Papa was 77 years old. We were 50 years and four days apart, he lived in Sacramento, California.

He loved hearing about my adventures. So I gave him a call, let him know what my plans were. I’m going to go to Washington DC. I’m going to jump on the Greyhound bus. I’m going to spend three days in New York and this was my plan. Okay, great. Super supportive. I felt very confident traveling on my own. A couple of days after I got off the phone with Papa, Papa gave me a call and said, I just want to let you know that I spoke with Ruth.

Ruth was his wife of six years. Not my grandmother. They were having some marital problems. And he said, I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

And

that I’m going to fly to New York to be with you.

And again, he lives in Sacramento, California, and I live in Missoula, Montana. And I said, okay, well, you’re more than welcome Papa, but you do know that I never had a travel companion. I feel completely comfortable, confident traveling on my own. And he said, Rachel, I need a break.

Okay.

I will meet you in New York city.

So the trip is

becoming very different. So first of all, I definitely checked some things off the bucket list spent the week in Washington, DC learned a lot. Did the work conferences did the sight? Seeing did all of the things my mom told me I should do. Then I went to art and soul, which has art Smith.

Oprah’s personal chef. I went to his new restaurant. I saw spike from season one or his restaurant top chef his burger joint, but I still had not seen a celebrity. So this is very much on my mind. And of course I knew I was going to New York, but a very different trip than I had planned as a 27 year old solo traveler.

Now my elderly grandfather is coming with me.

I get on the Greyhound bus on Friday afternoon from Washington DC to New York. Of course I had that trip planned as well. That’s who I am. I was going to be staying, or we were going to be staying at my cousin’s apartment in Harlem that my mom arranged. I’ve never met him and he wasn’t going to be staying there.

So I had the whole trip plan, very excited. So I get to New York city. My grandfather has been traveling all day. Of course, I’ve been in a conference all day and now I’m on the bus. And I arrived to see my 77 year old grandfather who loved every shade of green. And he wore them all at once. He was never too full for ice cream and he had beautiful salt and pepper hair.

We arrived and were exhausted. So we immediately went to the apartment in Harlem, which was great. It’s vibrant. We’re excited where these country bumpkins he’s from the suburbs. I’m in quiet, sleepy, Missoula. I’m in the big city and I’m going to see a celebrity I’m used to the magazines. You know, photographers are getting people walking out of restaurants with their dogs or, you know, something I’m going to, I’m definitely going to see somebody.

That was my focus. Of course, I’m enjoying my time seeing the sites, but that was my focus spent the night in Harlem. Wake up the next morning. How did you sleep? Papa? Terrible. We both slept horrible. It was loud. We weren’t used to it. It was great. It was vibrant. It was the city, but we were tired. Well, we had to push through.

We only have three days, so of course we had everything or I had everything planned and uh, we went on a boat tour, exhausted, pushed through. We said, we have got to go see a show. We’re in New York city. It’s sweltering. It’s 95 degrees. It would be really nice to go see a show and just sit into the suit, the air conditioning for a few hours.

So he said, let’s see Phantom of the opera. Okay. So we walk in air conditioning, we sit down and we woke up three hours later.

We slept through the entire thing.

And I don’t mean that peaceful, you know, with our head down on each other’s shoulders. I mean, you know, waking up snorting, you know, did anybody hear me?

Did anybody see, you know, head-nodding uncontrollably embarrassed and I’m still like, okay, we slept through it. It’s fine. We laughed about it for years. It was the best snap we’ve ever had. It was, it was the most expensive nap we’ve ever had. And I was like, okay, maybe this is the time I’m going to see someone.

I’m going to see a celebrity. Someone’s going to come to a matinee in the summer, right? No, nothing. Okay, fine. Continue on with the trip. We are walking central park. Not that big, by the way, if you haven’t been there, thought it was huge. It’s not times square, not that big, super shocked, but it was great. We had a wonderful, wonderful time still looking for that reality star.

So through our marital conversations and Papa’s venting and me trying to give advice to my 77 year old grandfather about marriage, when I’m not married,

we

decided on our last day, we’re going to go on one of those touristy bus tours where you drive by all of the sites. We drive by serendipity with the hot chocolate. We go by where the Macy’s parade is Rockefeller center, all these great things. So first of all, we get onto the bus. Again, air conditioning was our best friend.

At this point, it was so hot and he’s 77. He needs a break. He needs to sit down. We enter the bus, the air conditioning just blows on us. I sit on the window and he sits to the right of me with an aisle. The bus was fairly empty, which was kind of nice. I could comment on the, oh my gosh, serendipity. We should go there for hot chocolate.

You know, all of the things without worrying about other people judging or listening to our stories. So as we’re going along, we’re enjoying our time pointing to different things and the bus is moving. And then I

see him

walking the opposite direction of the bus. I see this platinum blonde hair. I knew immediately

who it was.

Okay. So pause.

So it’s season one of top chef. Okay. And there’s this feisty platinum blonde chef named Dave. And he is cooking with this fiery ginger red head named Tiffany. And she is assertive, not bossy. I don’t like that word because I relate to it very much. She is fierce and she is assertive. And he doesn’t like it.

Okay. And he says something to her, mind you, this is racing through my brain. As I see the platinum blonde. This is like two seconds of my life. Okay. I don’t really remember his name. I don’t really remember how I know him, but I remembered what he said to her

without a beat

I’m on the bus and I start panicking. Oh my God. Oh my God.

I’m not bitch. I’m not here. Batch batch. , I’m screaming this on the bus with my 77 year old grandfather next to me.

Okay.

Why? I didn’t yell. Dave. Don’t know why I didn’t yell top chef don’t know big fan. I’ve no idea. I just start screaming. Luckily the window was up and I looked to my right to explain why I have this outburst. And my grandfather is asleep.

I

had my grandfather for 13 more years. We shared many trips together, road trips, many memories. And I lost him in 2020. And that is the trip. I’ll never forget. That was the time that I screamed at a reality star on a bus and my grandfather slept

through the whole thing.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.

Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.

Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”

Thanks for listening.

Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.

And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.

I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.

And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?

And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.

Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.

He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.

My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.

And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.

I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.

Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.

And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.

And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.

He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.

And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.

If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,

She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?

And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel.

Rachel Bemis marks her 20th year in Montana! She is a 4th grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley where 1/3 of her students tower over her. She shares her home with her best friend of 21 years and 5 year old St Bernard Lorelai. She spends her free time binging Gilmore Girls, The Great British baking show, 90 day fiancé or any trashy reality show she can stomach. You can find her getting Biga pizza takeout, walking with friends, at the library or at her favorite consignment shop. She loves Discussing any book except science fiction with her monthly book club.

Our next storyteller is Darius Janczewski (Yonchevsky) Darius reflects on defecting from Poland in the 1980’s and realizes that most things we remember are about departures. Darius calls his story “Departures”.

Thanks for listening.
Darius Janczewski: Hello, good evening. I want to apologize to is making her work harder.

Um, since we’re kids, children, we’re always told to finish what we started, but I’m here to tell you something else. Don’t worry about finishing what you started. Start something it’s about

starting. I love movies and you might be surprised. They’ll tell you I have many favorite movies, but I often don’t finish watching them.

Not because they’re bad movies, but, uh, and sometimes they have terrible endings, you know, but I just enjoy the departure, the beginning of the movies. That’s what I want. One of my favorites recently is Shackleton. It was Kenneth broth and BBC production. You might be familiar with the insurance story, but if you’re not, I will just summarize it quickly that it’s about British Explorer or in a shuttle who is attempting to cross Antarctic on food.

Jess was dogs. They supposed to get to Antarctic, cross, get to the south pole and then continue to the other side of the continent and then be picked up by another ship. And some of you might know that never happens. He is stranded near the Antarctic. After few months of drifting, his ship is crushed by the eyes and sings his cruise survives.

They take three boats, safety, boats, then get to safety. It’s one of the best survival story ever. And some of you might know that they just found the ship recently after a hundred, six years of searching for it.

How many of you are runners? I can see you anyway. I used to be a very, very, very good runner. I used to run sub formula. And I are presented my country.

Thank you. Um,

but what I remember from my best races is the beginning, the start, not the finish or the metal ceremonies and stuff. I remember starting, I remember the first starter gone, taking off, seeing the muscular bodies of my friends in front of me.

I was not that good.

You know,

sweaty backs their hair, where I was working. That’s what I remember most from my best races. Not the finish.

Yeah,

because it’s all about the purchase, not about destinations.

So one of my best stories about the parties is my defection. I was a, deserter the difference between desertion and defection is slide the different, the dessert, or if he comes back or she comes back, he’s gonna go to long-term jail or even under the oil and be executed. That’s the difference. And the factors usually leave because of politics or religion or hardship.

So when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country. I don’t remember saying goodbye to my mother, but she didn’t know I was leaving anyway for good.

She knew I was just leaving to another competition, but what I remember the most from my defection is that is in Italy. When I was in Italy. I remember leaving, I remember taking my bag, my shoes, four o’clock in the morning, making sure everybody’s asleep coaches and my teammates and tiptoeing from their room down there, tow and leaving the hotel.

And I scouted where the train station was the day before. So I knew where it was. I had my pocket money enough to guide, get the tickets to the city that I heard refugee camp was in. And so I got on the train, had about 10 minutes to go and I was thinking, hopefully nobody woke up and find out I’m not there, but no, I was fine.

The train took off. I remember opening the windows, seeing the countryside, Mediterranean, Italy, beautiful Italy, uh, smelling the sea, the Italians laughing. Um, they’re a friendly, long story. Short. Got to the refugee come. And then I forgot to tell you one important reason why I defected.

I defected because I fell in love in Samba with somebody who left for America, and I decided to follow her,

wait,

it’s not the end of the story of it. So long story short, I went to refugee comes. Then I came to America and I found out that the love was not there anymore. There was no love

anymore.

And so, you know, it’s all about the purchase.

Well, let’s get back to the current issues. Um,

and thinking about Ukraine, of course, in the soldiers who are sitting around the campfire, having a very small meal and thinking and hearing the explosions and, and I’m thinking the world will be over one day. I’m sure they will be overweight. They all the wars and one day, and I’m wondering. What will this soldiers remember from this war?

Will they remember the explosions, the killing, the violence? Um, no, I don’t think so. I think they were a member saying goodbye that departure.

And I also think this never for me is what I remember it too. Uh, and I’m going to quit it here and say, please remember it’s about the partners who care, not about destinations. Thank you.

///
Marc Moss: Thanks, Darius.

Darius Janczewski is an author, graphic designer, runner, and a refugee who arrived in the United States in 1984 and in Missoula in 1999. Darius deserted from the Polish communist army in 1984 when he represented his country as a runner in Italy. He was preparing for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when he decided to defect, not knowing that the Olympiad would be boycotted by most of the communist countries, including Poland. Darius is a published author and is currently working on his collection of short stories titled Minotaur or the Art of Running. Learn more about Darius and see examples of his work at dariuszjanczewski.com That’s d a r i u s z j a n c z e w s k i.com

In our next story, Katrina Farnum runs out of gas in front of Costco on a busy Missoula street and is helped by strangers. She pays it forward when she sees a fellow human in need. Katrina calls her story “When Push Comes To Shove”. Thanks for listening.

Katrina Farnum: Joyce said you don’t like it if people hold the microphone. So I won’t do it. She said that people pace, but I love pacing when I talk. That’s the thing. So if there are two kinds of people, when it comes to roadkill, there are definitely two kinds of people. When it comes to filling up your car with gasoline, there are some of us that, or you that let it get halfway down and you pull into the gas station and you fill your car.

And there are other of us that let it run all the way out. Thank you. Glad we have a group and then we fill it back up. So yes, this is a story of me running out of gas in my car. And, I am going to just avoid telling you how many times in my life that I have run out of gas in my car, , in there probably some psychologists in the room they’re evaluating me right now.

And you probably have good reason because I’ve actually never run out of gas in winter, not one time. And, , Mr. Nichols, if you are by chance in the audience tonight, this is not the time that I ran out of gas on Brook street, but I did make it to the title company in time to sign papers. Thank you very much for that to get me a ride.

Now, this is the time that I ran out of gas on reserved street, the other awesome street in Missoula to run out of gas on, and I was southbound, , heading down reserved street. So Costco is approaching on my left and I don’t know, sorry for not giving you the shout out, whatever the Boxster is on the other side. Like to be fair here, the car that I was driving at the time had a faulty tire, like get age, , gauge sensor for the air theme, whatever the, you go head mechanics. And, , it would do this like, and like any good parent, you just learn how to block out certain sounds, which I did. And it’s the same sound for the gas.

So I’m driving it being, I’m not listening. I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot. And if I had just been like 15 or 20 feet further, I could have just scooted into the turn lane.

And I would have been far enough back in it that people could have still gotten around me. And I would have been out of the way of traffic, but that’s not happening. And it was a shoulder season like it is right now. So you’ve got like chunks of snow and it’s gritty and it’s starting to melt and kind of run down these old puddles.

And I just spring too. I’m like, holy shit. I need to get a gas can like right now. And as I’m getting out of the car to do this are literally people who are basically doing the like Gudo room, but whatever the equivalent of car running out of gas that you say to people. And so I like run into Costco because it’s the closest place.

And I like do this thing and I run to the service counter. I’m like, Hey, do you guys sell gas cans here? And she’s like, no, we do not sell gas cans here. And then I’m like, okay. And so I run across the street right in Lowe’s and I get into Lowe’s and have all the dumb luck. I know they sell gas cans there, but not this day.

They’re out of gas. I’m like, oh my God, how long has my car sitting in traffic? And I like run. I’m thinking like Costco has a service center, right. They have to have a gas can in there and it run as fast as I can. And I bust through the door of the service center and there’s a couple of guys working.

There’s a guy at the little Kiosky whatever. And I say, okay. So my car is really like right out there. It’s not very far and stranded and really need a gas can. And it, whatever you guys have, you have empty one. I can just fill it up and, you know, have you, I had that thing happen when you are in a hurry or a really big hurry.

And then the person or the people you’re dealing with are definitely not in a hurry. And so the guy like takes a sip of his coffee and then like, thinks about it and he sets it down and I could like feel myself coming out of my skin, like a little bit. And he like saunters over to this cabinet and it’s big and it’s kind of rusty.

And he like opens the drawers and inside is this weird smattering of gas cans. And like, whatever else is in there. And he might be saying something, but it’s like, the adrenaline maybe has tuned him out and it’s become this, like the Charlie brown teacher. And so he’s like, mom, mom, mom, mom. And I’m like, yes, Ken’s yes.

We’re talking to language. I don’t know what you’re saying, but there give me a gas can and the guy’s reluctant and he pulls out one that’s. All the good style, right? The kind we like, and he kind of shakes it and it’s like half full fuel and he’s like, all right, I think it’s probably good fuel. And he hands it to me.

And I run back to my car as fast as I can. Now, normally when you run out of gas, you would hopefully be on the shoulder, but I’m not. So I’m in traffic, right? My body and my trying to suck it up against my car as much as I can. And I realized that the spout for this old gas can, is really short. So it doesn’t quite get far enough down there that it’s pushing the little tab aside.

And there’s like fuel Gooding kind of in, but mostly out. And it’s running down the car and splashing on my feet and it is mixing with the gross stuff on the road. And I’m feeling like just happy if I get enough in there. And then I had like a little hoodie on it. And in my pocket I had this little leather pouch that was my wallet, and it’s got all the cards and it drops out of my pocket and it lands in the puddle with the gasoline and all the awesome.

So I Huck it inside my car and I’m like, all right, I think there’s enough fuel in here. So I just jump in my car, throw the gas can in there and I try to start it and try to start it and the definitely bad fuel. So. I’m like, all right. Uh, what am I going to do? And I, and I go to get out of my car. I’m going to bring the gas can back in, figure out it probably dump it out or whatnot.

And this guy pulls up. He had like parked his truck off the way. And he said, how can I help you? And I’m like, well, yeah, let’s push it. We’ll just, and my thought is, we’re just going to push it far enough into that turn lane where I had wanted to be in the first place where people can still get around me so they can turn.

And as we’re going, I can see we have two different ideas and we’re pushing and it’s a little bit of a hill. So we’re picking up speed and we’re approaching the intersection and the guy yells at me, go, go, go. And I look, and I mean, there’s four lanes of traffic in coming at us is a semi-truck. And you know, I’m not a professional gap reader, but I have done a lot of mountain biking and boating and snowmobiling and snowboarding that I think I have a decent perception when it comes to like speed and timing and distance.

And I know we are not making that. And I yelled back to him and I jumped inside the car and I have to Jack my foot on the brake and we are in the dead middle of the intersection. Now there’s definitely not any part of me that is having that because I’ve already just been over there behind this space that was inconvenient.

This one is way less convenient. And I can see like this moment happening, where I can see, okay, semis going to pass. There are three cars, there’s a gap. It’s not huge. We can make it. I don’t know this guy, but we’re about to build a trusting relationship together. And I say to him, okay, bud, are you ready?

We’re going to push and go. And we’re pushing, pushing, pushing. And we get through this intersection and you don’t actually know if a road has any sort of incline at all until you’re pushing a dead car. And then like an inch is more, it’s like measured in feet. So there, you don’t know if you’ve ever turned, you’re going to check next time.

But when you go into Costco, like there’s a slight incline right there. And so we just came to a peaceful stop and the guy’s like, what else can I do? And I’m like, nothing, dude, thank you so much. This is great. You’ve been huge help. And I like grabbed the yucky gas. Can, uh, run it back over to Costco. And I’m like saying like, I’m like, do you have any, can I just dump the fuel out of this can somewhere.

And I got this big talking to about the EPA and you can’t just dump gas out and I’m like, you definitely did not just see what happened on the side of the road, but I, okay. So here’s your can back. I shouldn’t have asked. The guy working there says, Hey, I drove my daughter’s car to work today. And in the back seat, she has a gas can.

So he walks me out across the parking lot, probably again, slower than I would have normally walked by myself and we get the gas can, and he, and I’m like, thanks. And it’s like empty, but I unscrew it. And I look inside the gas can, and there’s like just this little, teeny, NC bit of fuel in there, but like lots of dead flies.

And I cannot confirm nor deny what happened to said fuel or flies, but it was empty when I got to the pumps. So I walk up there and I realized like my yucky wallet I had thrown in the back seat is still in the back seat. And I’m standing at the gas pump and this guy is just finishing fuel and he’s like, Hey, put your gas can over here.

And I’ll just, I’ll fill it up for you. He doesn’t know, I don’t even have a wallet. He’s just being a nice guy. And so he fills it up and I go over and I put gas in my car. I’m feeling pretty good. Cause now I’m in home stretch. But you know, I had to deal with that shitty new gas can, which even though it’s long enough to reach it, the little push tab.

And so half the time you’re fighting with that thing, but it works out and I pull in and uh, fill my car up with gas. And I’m like at that moment where I’m like, all right, I have no idea what I was probably doing something important before this huge saga. Right. As I’m in, like done, you know, I’m wrapping up, I’m ready to leave.

And I see the guys who had pulled in behind me and he’s at the pumps and he’s doing the pat down. And then he gets inside of his rig and his little legs are kind of outweighs reaching across the seat and he gets back out and I see the pat down and I’m like, ha, you don’t have a wall lit. And it’s rare that you get to pay it forward so quickly.

Like a lot of times you do a good deed or someone does a good deed. And it just, you know, it’s like into the ether for awhile. And I just said, Hey man, pull your car up here. I’m going to throw fuel in it for you. And he’s missed like the whole awesome thing that just happened. He just thinks I’m being nice for all.

I know the guy who did that for me with the gas can just went through what I did. So there I am. I’m able to fill them up and I’m off

Marc Moss: Thanks, Katrina.

Katrina Farnum is a local dirt-loving herbalist, mother, and educator. She is the developer and owner of Garden Mother, a holistic herb shop and dispensary with locations in Missoula and Kalispell.
Katrina is passionate about healthy food, community, continual self improvement. She spends much of her time creating and engineering things to help others live better lives.
Her spirit animal is the Incredible Hulk and her alter ego is a mixture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman). Katrina leads the team of herbalists and educators with an emphasis on nutrition over at Garden M+*other Herbs. Learn more about her work at gardenmotherherbs.com

Bringing us home in this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Jeff Ducklow finds himself with a dying cell phone, no water and only a thin poncho, He is charged by a wild boar and more before his dramatic rescue.- Jeff calls his story “Lost in Kauai”

Thanks for listening.
Jeff Ducklow: Whew. It’s times like this, when I wish I had prepared. Even though I believe that the only thing worse than public humiliation is voluntarily doing it to yourself. I feel compelled to tell you my story for years, I thought my inner compass was damaged until I finally realized I didn’t have one.

What possessed me to become a adventure guide is still confusing. It’s sorta like a teacher of a second language teaching without actually knowing a second language I’ve been lost in the Andes. I have been lost in the Sierra Nevadas. I have been lost in the Alaskan wilderness. I’ve been displaced in the bitter roots and I’ve been completely lost in many, a malls parking

lot. So I don’t know why I thought a jungle on an island in the middle of Pacific would be any different. It was supposed to be a simple journey from point a to point B, but I got deep into the alphabet this day. My friends. so a few years back, I went to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai with my then girlfriend who incidentally I lost.

I mean, she, she knows where she is. Uh, we had a, w we’d gone to a wedding of, one of her friend’s wedding was over and she went back home. She had to work. I was in between seasons and stayed a few extra days. And so I did the typical touristy things I laid on the beach, played into serve, had a few mojitos.

And then I decided I need to kick the adventure level up a few notches. So I, I found a Hawaiian guy on the beach and I said, Hey, if you only had three days left and on this beautiful island, what would you do? And without hesitation, he said, lost trail, man, lost that. That sounds really hard to find. He said, no problem.

I’m going to draw you a map. And he sketched out a little map of dirt roads with no names and said, you’ll see a small break in the jungle.

And if you, if you walk down the trail and you find a little footbridge, that’s

not it go back and find another break in the. And that’s exactly what happened. So, uh, I got going the next day in the morning, actually it was the afternoon about three o’clock and I got in my rental car and started going down the roads and it was about an hour and a half drive down these unnamed roads.

And sure enough, I, I found a small break in the jungle and I thought this has to be it because I don’t see anything else. So I got out, sun’s getting a little lower and I packed a few essentials in my backpack and I took off and it’s supposed to be a loop, just a, this little journey, a couple of miles in, I got to an amazing place along.

Why may a canyon, which is spectacular. It’s 10 miles long, 3000 feet, deep waterfalls everywhere. The lava has turned red over time. Spectacular. I walked out on this little strip of land. It went out into the canyon, sheer drops in each side, spectacular, amazing. I took some pictures and that should have been enough, but I wanted more with the sun hang, hanging, even lower.

I took off down the trail and it was maybe a mile and I thought I can do this. And then I came to a branch in the trail and I took out my map and I’m looking at it there, no branch. And I start rotating it. And you know, when you start doing that with a map.

But I stood and I looked down one path and then another, and I thought of Robert Frost

who wants, stood in the yellow wood and could not travel both. And he took the one less traveled by night and made all the difference. I’m here to tell you it really does make a big difference.

so I choose a path that looks actually a little more traveled and it quickly becomes the trail that has probably never been taken. And I end up on a rock shoot, probably 1500 feet down, really lose boulders. And I’m, I know it’s a bad idea, but I, I see that the trail looks like it continues over there. So I really carefully get to the start going across and I get to the middle and I think this is stupid.

That doesn’t always stop me, but I had the thought I should go back. And then I looked at what had just traversed said no way. I am not doing that again. And I’m not going that way either. So I decided to go up clinging to the mountain, like Velcro, hands, and I got to the top. And then I see the jungle again and there’s little yellow ribbon hanging frames and trees.

And I thought Eureka trail markers. So I entered the jungle, which is quite a bit darker and I’m looking around and I, I see the. Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep. And I said no way. And so that, by the time I got to the top, it was dark. I was screwed.

I was spending the night in the jungle. So I took a quick inventory of what I had. I reached into the bag. And I had an empty Nalgene bottle, which I quickly began to fill with my urine. I had read this somewhere. You can, you can recycle and reuse. So I did what I kid with a bottle. And then I also saw I had a nine or a 2012 flip phone who had an touristy short battery life.

So in the dark I started crawling around because of course there’s cell coverage in the jungle. There didn’t seem to be any, but miraculously I found a one inch by one inch parcel that had one bar. So of course I called my girlfriend and not 9 1 1. And I said, I got on this trail called lost trail. I’m not sure how to tell you how I got there.

I’m not sure how to get back. I believe on spending the night in the jungle. And then she said, if you’re happy with this message, please press one.

So hung up the phone, brace myself for a rough night. The thing is, I’d heard plenty of stories of the Hawaiian jungle that it ran feral with wild boar. That’s what was on my mind. They had tests so sharp. They could tear Amanda to in seconds. So I sat there on the ground pretty. And I don’t know how long it was, maybe two hours.

I S I H I heard branches starting to snap from the hill above me, and it was getting closer and louder. And I sprung up with a burst of adrenaline. And by the beard of Zeus, I got about 10 feet up into the tree for about 10 seconds until the bank, the branch broke. I ended up on the canopy floor again, and now with only half as much adrenaline, I got about four feet off the.

And I sat on this branch for hours, not one wanting any bore contact, but my ass got so sore. I didn’t care about getting bored. I got back down on the ground fearing. Also what I were told were Sandy paeds, as long as the man’s boot shoe laces. So I was sitting there thinking this is pretty bad, but then it got worse.

Uh, cold, cold fog started creeping up the hill. I was on the mountain and also remember, this is actually the wettest place on earth, where may a canyon, so it could be worse, but a cold, cold fog. And then I remembered I had the emergency poncho. I took that out. It’s thickness could be measured in terms of Adams.

It was actually in my wallet, filed with the credit cards. And I put it on and I sheltered in the cold. I started shivering. I realized it’s not wild boar. That’s going to get me it’s hypothermia. And somehow I made it through the night alive and the sunset, it was the most beautiful sunset I’d ever seen, just gorgeous.

And so this time, a little wiser, I called 9 1 1, they picked up, but then I got put on hold and I see my battery icon. And a couple of minutes later, it was the fire captain. He said, where are you? And I was thinking if I knew that I probably would not be calling you, I said, lost trail. And he said, I’ve never heard of that.

I said, well, it’s in the canyon somewhere. He goes, okay, we’re going to get a GPS signal on you. He goes, and I told him, you know, the phone’s dying. He said, well, turn it off. We’re going to GPS signal. It doesn’t matter if your phone’s on or off. So he’s doing that and I’m thinking, oh no, this is going to be really expensive.

So, and told me once to be rescued cost $10,000. And that had been about a decade earlier. So adjusting for inflation, that can be around 13 grand and you have to know something. I grew up with a mother who equated personal injury with the cost of medical. If your injury was going to be really, really expensive, then you weren’t really hurt.

I remember coming in once after a bad bicycle accident, I was bleeding. I said, mom, look, and in compassion. She said, oh, she yet she always added an extra valve. So it wasn’t swearing.

And then she asked, I’m not sure if this is a rhetorical. Do you know how much that’s going to cost? I don’t know a mom I’m eight years old. I’m I’m bleeding profusely. I don’t know if I can make that calculation right now. All right. Get me my sewing kit, please. Ma no, I can see my femur. All right. Get in the car, but there goes your allowance.

So this is all my. So I get back on the phone with the, with the police or the fire captain, he says, we’re going to send you a helicopter. I said, oh no, that’s okay. That’s okay. Do you have mules or something like that? I said, I think I can walk out. There’s plenty of light. I have all day. He went, no, no, no, no.

Stay where you are. The jungle. It all looks the same. You’ll get turned around. We’re coming for you. So I said, okay. So I turned the phone off again and I’m waiting. And about half hour later, I hear, I hear the chopper. It was coming up the canyon, but it’s on the wrong side. So I get back on the phone. I said, I hear you, but it’s the wrong side.

He said, okay, we’re coming over. And then he said, he asked, is there a break in the canopy? And I said, no, it’s just like a roof up there. I can’t see the sky. He said, okay, just don’t go anywhere. Helicopter came over. The phone dies it’s over. And then the helicopter leaves just, just goes away. I was in shock.

I remember saying, ah, she yet,

and I sat there. I didn’t know what to do, but I, I did. And then sure enough, the chopper comes back and this time it’s right over the canopy. And I remember the old now tattered yellow poncho, and I took it out and just started swinging it around. And the next thing I know, there’s a paratrooper breaking through the canopy.

It’s it’s incredible sound. It’s like there’s centipedes and scorpions and wild boar flying all over the place. This I comes down, he hooks me into harness. Our phases are like this. Had it been COVID time. This wouldn’t have been good. And I got hooked in, he put a helmet on me and we went break into the canopy breaking branches, and then we were suspended by the, from the helicopter.

And I thought we were going to be retracted inside, but we just dangle there. And then we start going and I’m looking at the cable thinking is this half inch five eight is, uh, is this galvanized it’s pretty.

And then I looked down and it is spectacular. The Kanye’s it’s incredible view. And I’m thinking if this is $10,000 or 13, it’s worth every penny.

So I get the right of my life until we get to a clearing where the other rescue workers, there’s a fire. And then came the descent of shame from the heavens I was lowered.

And when I landed there, wasn’t a lot sad. I, I apologized, we got in the truck and started down the dirt road and they said, they’re going to take me to my car. And I thought, thank God, because I have no idea what that thing is. And then what I feared the question I feared it came, it came from the captain himself who was driving.

He looked over his shoulder. I was in the back and he said, by the way, what do you do for a living?

there was a long pause, just like this one. And I knew there are two answers. I could, I could tell them I’m a massage therapist, which is. But the other half of the year, I’m an adventure guide. And I thought they’d done so much for me. I owe them something. So I said, I’m a venture guide. He said, what?

The whole crew started laughing. He goes, you’re kidding me. Right. I said, I wish I was. Then he got on the radio.

he said, get this guys, the guy, the guy we rescued, he’s an adventure guide. And so I was thank you.

Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff Duck-low is no stranger to adventure. With Portuguese blood coursing through his veins, he inherited all of the wanderlust of his Mediterranean forebears, however, unfortunately, without the accompanying and essential navigational acumen. Simply put, Jeff was born without a sense of direction, so naturally he chose to become a professional Adventure Guide, guiding men, women and children oblivious to his affliction, on hikes over mountain passes, rafting down raging rivers, and leading sea kayaking adventures in Alaska in whale infested waters, at times in heavy fog. He is often quoted as saying, “Is it really an adventure if getting back is a certainty?”Having almost died unnecessarily on numerous occasions, Jeff is now a full-time massage therapist in Missoula who rides his unicycle to work in order to keep an element of danger in his day. He still loves the outdoors and enjoys recounting his exploits to anyone willing to listen.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right. I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Didn’t See That Coming!” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. You know what would make it really fun? Your participation. Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week I catch up with Neil McMahon…

Neil McMahon: Go into some kind of line of work. That’s would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s, uh, like Michael Connolly was a journalist, obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever, , something besides swinging a hammer.

Marc Moss: Tune in for his story, and our conversation, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit tellussomething.org.

Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme "Stone Soup". A dramatic river rescue, bullets confiscated at TSA, a middle-aged woman cookin up an incredible stew and a man, a porcupine, a jar of pickles, and a little birdie.

Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 1

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

This week on the podcast…

Tess Sneeringer: this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee.

Joyce Gibbs: He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job.

…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Lizzi Juda: Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

Brent Ruby: There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over

Marc Moss: We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Our first story comes to us from Tess Sneeringer. After her friend falls down a hill on a rock scree, Tess Sneeringer puts her training to work. She, along with several of her friends, paddle through the night to bring their injured friend to safety. Tess calls her story “All Aboard the River Ambulance ”. Thanks for listening.

Tess Sneeringer: So four of us were floating down the green river in Utah in two different canoes and they were tied together. And two of us were paddling. One of us was taking a power nap and the fourth person was managing some extreme pain with a substance that is now illegal in Montana. And it was two o’clock in the morning.

This trip had started earlier that day as the long awaited personal trip. After a grilling summer spent backpacking with teenagers in the woods and spirits were high when we launched earlier that day. And I remember when we pulled over for lunch on this beach, on the side of the river, I pulled up the canoe was sitting on the bow and was dipping crackers into hummus.

When I heard my friend Erica Yelp behind me and I look over and she’s about 20 yards downstream on the bank. And all I see is this cloud of sand stone dust. And she’s over there with our friend Christina. So I wander over, I guess what had happened is she had been climbing up this little bluff to get a picnic spot.

And this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee and of the four of us, three of us, our wilderness first responders. And the fourth is an EMT. So we kind of dove into our knee assessment situation.

But at some point she looked up at me and she goes test. I think my back is bleeding and she was wearing a white sun shirt. So we hadn’t seen any blood, but I lift up her shirt and sure enough, I see a five inch long centimeter wide, just gaping wound as if someone had cut her with a knife. And it was sure enough slowly bleeding down her back.

So I put her shirt down and it takes every ounce of me to tell her, yes, your back is bleeding. I’m going to get the first aid kit. I’ll be right back. And I tried so hard not to sprint to the canoe and instead use that time to calm my own nerves down, get the first aid kit, come back. By that point, we had her laying face down.

Everybody had seen the cut at this point and Jack, the other trip mate and Christina had made a plan to try to go get cell phone service. And they’d put me in charge of first aid. And there I am standing over her with my desert rat, sun dress and my big floppy hat. And now two blue nitrile gloves thinking.

Okay. It is time to put you back together. And as I said, it was, uh, it looked like someone cut her with a knife and granted, we never found. Like slicer, but the first aid was relatively simple. So we were still waiting for Jack and Christina to get back. When she asked me, she goes test, why is everybody freaking out?

And I was just like, without trying to make her freak out, even more explained like, Hey, your cut is big enough that we’re worried about infection and your knee is enough in enough pain that we can’t be here for five days, which was the plan. So we got to go. And the way that this river works is we’re on the green river paddling towards the confluence with the Colorado river and the green river is Flatwater and the Colorado river is whitewater.

So you can’t just paddle out. You schedule a motor boat to pick you up at the beach. That’s the intersection of the two rivers. And we had scheduled a boat for five days from then. It was about a 50 mile trip. That’s a really relaxed river trip, 10 miles a day, plenty of time for side hikes, relaxing. So we had scheduled it for five days from then, but as we were looking through our paperwork from our outfitter and the permits, we saw that they’d given us a schedule of all the other boats that were coming. While we were on our trip, there was two boats, one, which was ours five days from now and the only other one scheduled was the very next morning at 10 o’clock. So we had to cover about 45 miles by 10 o’clock in the morning. But if you remember those teenage trips, one of the ones that I led the most often involved a canoe trip, and to make our mileage on the last day, we had a routine of waking the kids up at three o’clock in the morning, putting them in boats, tying the boats together and paddling this flotilla of canoes down a very similar desert river.

So I knew, I knew it could be done and doing some quick rough math. I thought we had just enough hours if we paddled through the night. So Jack and Christina get back from their short-lived attempt to find cell phone service. I pitched this plan to them, suggest that we paddle until dinner time, pull over, eat food.

Can’t forget to eat food. paddles, pull over sleep for a couple hours and launch again around midnight and paddle until we hopefully get to the boat. And as we were paddling that evening, they said yes to the plan as we were paddling, you know, we were booking it. So everybody we passed could tell we are in a situation where our boats are tied together.

And we’re paddling with like 80% effort. And everyone we passed, as soon as they learned what our situation was, they had something to give us. Someone had extra Vicodin from an old wisdom to surgery. I’m not kidding. They gave us new first aid supplies to change her dressing. And an older gentleman even offered us his paddling chocolate, which was weed chocolate for, for his arthritis, which was very, very generous.

And so we paddled, we executed that plan, just how I lined it out. And we launched again at midnight, after a horrible anxiety written hour of sleep. And we made it about two hours until Jack who’s in the front of my canoe, turns around and he’s like, Tess, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m falling asleep.

I don’t know if we’re going to make it. And so we came up with new plan involving maps, , so that every 20 minutes, one of the three, paddler’s got to take a nap and cause we had tied the boat together, right? So there’s three paddlers. And we tried to make Erica as comfortable as we could. That’s a tall order when you have a bum knee, a huge gash in your back and it’s a metal boat, but we tried our best.

And when it was my turn to nap, I was out cold. I put my sleeping bag in my feet, I’d pull it over. Me and people had to shake me awake when it was my turn to paddle again. But we kept that rotation going all night long until finally the sun came up and we were tasked with figuring out where the heck we were, because all night I’d been trying to estimate like, how fast are we going?

How many hours have we been paddling? Continually trying to answer the question. Like, are we going to make it? And so when the sun came up, I had to use all that mental math to be like, okay, I think we’re about 15 miles away from the takeout and how the map works. River miles are labeled on the map. And in this case they were counting down to the confluence, but sure.

There’s a line on the map that says 15, but that doesn’t mean there’s like a steak on the side of the river that says 15. So instead it’s a topographical map and I’m having a lineup, natural features to what I’m seeing. And so, you know, I’d be like, okay, I think if we’re here, there should be two canyons on the right and a tributary on the left.

And then there’d be three canyons on the right. And I’m like, shit, I have no idea where we are. And I was probably trying to struggle with that for almost an hour, just constantly trying to line up reality to my map somewhere within the range of where I thought we were until finally we saw some folks breaking down a campsite and we knew that the campsites are kind of also labeled according to the river mile.

So if we knew what camp they were at, we would know how far away we were. So we shouted over and they shouted back that they are at camp four. So we weren’t 15 miles away. We are four miles away and we had plenty of hours to go. And at that moment we threw down our paddles. Erica shoots this like drugged out fist into the air.

We eat something. That’s not this stay on granola bar that we’ve been eating all night because at that point we knew we were going to make it. And sure enough, we pulled into the beach. There was a whole crowd waiting for their scheduled boat. But as soon as we. You know, they learned of our situation news spread fast.

And again, people had something for us. We got someone cooked bacon for us, the made coffee, someone set up a shade umbrella so that Erica could sit under the shade. It was like a super sunny beach. And there was even a surgeon there who had this beefy first aid kit and volunteered to clean out her wound again, which was super nauseating to watch.

But we got on the boat, we got her to the hospital. She ended up needing a lot of stitches and she had a torn ACL, which explains the knee pain. So after that moment, we split up to our respective fall seasonal gigs. But every time I think of this trip in many trips, since, you know, the reason I go on these trips often is to connect more intentionally with myself or the people I’m going with.

And explicitly not all the other people who are out there, the point is to get away. But in this situation, it was all those other people that made our evacuation safer, easier, smoother, and already I’ve been on another trip or I was approached in an evacuation for help. And I take great comfort knowing that that give and take will be a lifelong exchange among perfect strangers, as long as we continue to recreate in these wild places.

Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.

Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.

Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”

Thanks for listening.

Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.

And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.

I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.

And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?

And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.

Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.

He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.

My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.

And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.

I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.

Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.

And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.

And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.

He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.

And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.

If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,

She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?

And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Joyce.

Joyce Gibbs is a resilient, creative and adventurous woman who was raised in Missoula. After a brief stint in New York City and then in New Orleans, she bought a dilapidated railroad house on Missoula’s Northside and spent the next 15 years remodeling it and making it her own. Joyce loves being in nature on Montana’s abundant rivers, and hiking and hunting in the woods. When she is not busy building beautiful spaces with her tile installation at Joyce of Tile, you can find her riding her motorcycle, gardening, going for neighborhood walks with her husband of 12 years, Marc (that’s me!), and their kitten Ziggy.

In our next story, Lizzie Juda finds awakening after middle age in a story that she calls “Something’s Cookin’ in My Pot”. Thanks for listening.

Lizzi Juda: thank you all for being here to support us and to listen to our stories. So I’m going to take advantage of this stone soup, uh, theme and tell you a bit about my journey through life, using the kettle or the pot as a metaphor for my self, my. Yeah. So I was born in the Midwest in the early sixties, and my pot was filled with Twinkies and canned spinach and three siblings and TV reruns, and overly salted broth.

And at the age of eight, my dad died and my mom disappeared into her scotch bottle. And this left this pot of ours that we called family with a massive crack in it. And nobody was talking about this crack. Nobody was doing anything that I could tell that was trying to repair the damage that was being done.

And so eventually this kettle of ours crumbled around our feet and I being the sensitive, intuitive caretaker that I am. Desperately tried to gather up all the shattered pieces and the scattered ingredients. And desperately tried to make some kind of magic brew or healing stew that would save us and that we could survive on.

And obviously this was impossible and exhausting. So I eventually left and came upon at the age of 20, my former husband who, Ooh, damn, I wasn’t going to cry. My farmer husband, who was this cast, iron stainless steel, nutrient dense kind of man. And he was like solid and grounded and a Virgo. And he, um, he contained me and grounded me in a way I had never experienced before I even wrapped a gold ring around myself for security and belonging.

And. Gladly just dumped my leaky brothy, cracked, sad self into his kettle and merged all my ingredients with his ingredients. And we lived with this nutritious and delicious life for years and years. And we created two really amazing children and have this beautiful life together. And then around midlife, I would say this grumbling and rumbling started quaking in my core to the point where I could not ignore it anymore.

And I knew it was time for me to take my pot and see if I could cook something up on my own. I needed to like figure out how to delineate what was my ingredients and what was all of the ingredients that were scattered around me. So I had been cooking in this one kitchen, my entire adult life. And as I left, I brought with me like this teeny little Bunsen burner and the.

Uh, flimsy little empty kettle and wandered around for quite a while, dazed and disoriented. And there was another D word in there, days disoriented and devastated and,

hungry as shit. And then I met this fiery powerhouse of a woman here in Missoula. And as we were getting to know each other, I started telling her that I was living on my own for the first time in my adult life. And I was trying to figure out like, how do you do relationships, where you can say what you need and you can receive support and don’t get lost in the sauce.

And she said, you need to check out this camp that is in Southern Oregon. I didn’t totally know what she was talking about, but I could feel this flame under me growing in intensity. And I could feel like water starting to swirl around inside my kettle. Like. She told me that this camp network for new culture is a place where people explore intimacy and personal growth in radical honesty and transparency.

And I just knew at that moment that that was the next step in my evolution. So two weeks later, I’m in my car heading to Southern Oregon for the first time on a solo road trip, since college, two long, hot, exhilarating days of driving. Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

And I’m like, girl, you might’ve wanted to read the fine print because,

I knew no one at this camp. And I was saying to myself, Lizzie, this looks like some wild ass bull, yum that you may or may not want to put in your pot. So I stood around the edges and I. I’m a pretty open progressive earth mother, hippie chick kind of woman.

But I stood around the edges of this camp, like a wide-eyed coyote, checking out what the hell was going down. And I saw people picking up these handfuls of exotic herbs and spices and tossing them freely into their big old pots of stew. And then they were sharing their stew freely with all the other people.

And they were receiving this amazing stew back. And, they were nourished and they were fortified and they were, and I had, I was sitting there going, you know, I’ve like put like little sprinkles of salt in my bra and I wanted a taste of what these people were putting down. So, I have a minute left and I have like this much more of my story to tell you, so how am I going to shorten it?

Okay. So I’m going to tell you this part of it. So one day I went down to the river and I. I was hanging out with these people singing along the river and the harmonies were incredible and the sun was gorgeous and people are dipping in and out of the river laughing and telling stories and singing. And I got my courage up and I took a big breath and I stripped my clothes off and I got into the river and I could feel as I was standing there in front of people that I did not really know, I could feel this fear and this body shame and this sense of the cultural conditioning that I’ve carried around with me for my entire life.

Just start to

be carried down

by the waves of the river, down to the ocean. And I’ve been back to this camp many, many times, and I’ve learned to expand my ability to give and receive love. And I’ve learned how to. Merged deeply with people and then come back home to my own kitchen where I am cooking up this spicy organic Hardy, healthy, nutritious stew.

And I’m here to share it with everyone. And I know that I am being fed by this much bigger love that flows through all things. And it flows through you too.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lizzi.

Lizzi Juda has been a proud resident of the westside of Missoula for nearly 33 years. She is founder and co-director of Turning the Wheel Missoula and has over 25 years experience teaching improvisational movement-classes, expressive arts groups, and ceremonial rituals. She is passionate about providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, move and connect deeply with themselves and express their creative spark. She is an absolutely avid advocate for accordion and alliteration artistry and is a wanna be beat poet. She considers movement and touch her first languages and is finding her way with words.She identifies most with being a mojo sprinkling pixie

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Brent Ruby buys a jar of pickes for a gathering with friends. No one ever opens the jar of pickles, so he brings it home. The hitchhiker he picks up along the way, is very happy to learn about this magic pickle jar.”Paws, Claws, Pickles and a Little Birdie”

Thanks for listening.

Brent Ruby: I didn’t know the dress

code,

so I have to start by saying, oh my Frick. I’m standing on the stage of the Wilma theater.

Did anyone see John Prine thing here?

Thank you.

Cause the rest of my life, I can say John Prine opened for me at the Wilma.

So a lot of people don’t like road trips and there’s a reason for that. And that’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay to admit it. Road trips force us to merge the things that are organized in our brains with the things that are unpredictable and the things that are practical and predictable get tangled with the unknown.

And that makes people uncomfortable. That’s okay. Some about 60 miles south of Dillon Montana on interstate 15, great stretch of

road.

There’s two camps. When it comes to the philosophy of roadkill, the first camp is my wife and most of my coworkers are in this camp and that is drive by that shit. I’m kind of in the other camp, which is if it’s interesting, if it’s feasible, if it hasn’t been there awhile and I’m stopping.

So I pull around. Get out of my big truck and I’m standing in the sun standing over a dead porcupine and my scientific brain is calculating, huh? It’s about 11 o’clock in the morning. When did it die? How old is it? Cause porcupines can live to be like 15, 18 years old. So I kick at it a little bit, look around there’s no one coming, taking this guy.

So

I grab it.

But before I moved it, I realized, you know, dead things smell. And this didn’t smell that bad. I mean, bed bath and beyond is not like saying, oh my gosh, this has got to be our next candle scent, but it wasn’t that bad until I picked it up. And then the smell got into my mouth. No, no matter. I still took it, put it in the truck and I’m on my way down to park city, Utah, where I was going to meet some colleagues for a multi-day meeting down there.

So we get, I get down to park city porcupine in tow, uh, or. And I meet up with my colleagues. And the first thing we do is go to the grocery store. And one of my colleagues says, okay, we need to just like hodgepodge potluck stuff for dinner, so get whatever you want. And we’ll put it together tonight. So I walk around the grocery store, still kind of smelling that porcupine.

And all I came up with was some shitty Utah, 3.2% alcohol grocery store beer, and an enormous jar of dill pickles. That was my contribution. But I did tell my colleagues, I don’t think we should eat the porcupine. So we ended up going to our condo, Airbnb, whatever, and, uh, having our meetings for the next few days.

Well, I, when we got there, I put the porcupine right in the freezer and the pickles. I put the pickles right on the counter. And for the next three, four days, nobody touched either of them. So the pickles just sat on the counter and I thought, well, okay, whatever, when it comes time for me to go, we’d separate.

And I’m like, I’m taking my stuff. So I grabbed my giant jar pickles. I mean, it’s, it’s that big, it’s big grabbed my giant jar of pickles and realized, oh, the porcupine can’t leave that in Airbnb freezer, probably penalties. But I thought I’ve sort of. Ben with that thing. It’s not fully salvageable. So I run next door to some fancy mountain bikers because it’s sparked city.

And I say, guys, I need an ax. Oh yeah, here you go. It’s a nice, it’s a pretty nice ax. And so I run back to the garage for wax and I had my four paws ditch, the rest of the porcupine and the garbage salvaged the paws and went into the kitchen and wash the ax off real good with soap and water and went back to the guys and said, thank you so much for the acts.

What do you need it for? Porcupine salvage. No big deal. So anyways, I load up my stuff. I load up my paws, my claws, and my pickles into my truck. And I’m heading north on interstate 15 and I’m about 60 miles south of Dylan. Again, it is just after a thunderstorm that kind of after a thunderstorm where the sun is so bright on the pavement and the rain is just evaporating off of that pavement.

So you can just feel it and see it leave the earth that rain, that same rain was thick on the Sage. In those Prairie’s so thick that, that Sage. With sneaking its way into the cab of the pickup truck. And it was awesome. I wish I had my sunglasses, but they were packed away with my paws and my claws.

That’s when I saw her. That’s when I saw her. And that’s when I saw her thumb. There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over, backed up. I get out of my truck, right.

Then she swings this big old backpack off of her shoulders. And I look at her and her shirt was stained with earth and strain and pain. And I said, oh my gosh, what can I, can I help you? You need help. And she says, if you could give me a ride to Lima, I would love it. I’m like, yeah, get in. I’ll grab your pack.

So she gets in the truck, I grabbed her pack. I’m like, whoa, damn. I said, girl only picked up one porcupine. How many gotten this backpack? Threw it in the back of my truck, got in the truck. And when I got in the truck, when both doors closed, there was the smell of human. Sweat

earth,

a bit of wet dog. It was so bad that I wished I had the porcupine in the backseat of the truck and she sticks her dirty handout and says, I’m birdie. Thanks so much for helping me. And she says, I don’t think I smell very good. And I said, no shit. And I said, Bernie, what are you doing? And I said, how can I help you?

And she says, I’ve been food lists for two days. I got chased by a grizzly bear, lightening storm, bad rain. And then I saw your truck and it was my hope to get out of this mess. And so I rambled up to the highway to get on, to get my thumb up in the air. And I said, I’m so happy to help you. I’ve got food. I, what can you, what can I do?

And she goes, I just got to get to the grocery store in Lima or Lima. And I said, well, what’s, what’s what’s tomorrow. What’s your plan? And she says, tomorrow, I’m coming right back here. I’m jumping back on the continental divide trail. I got to finish this thing. She was hunting it. So hiking it so solo. So I said, well, I can get you the Lima, but uh, I don’t know how you’re gonna resupply.

And she goes, I need to get to a grocery store. I said, birdie, there is no grocery store in Lima. And she said, I got silent. I said, I have all the food you need. I got plenty of food. And she goes, it’s not that the tears rolled down her dirty face and carved what looked like Topo lines from a map down her dirty cheeks.

And she said, food is not what I need. I have a ridiculous craving and have for the last two days

for pickles,

you’re taking up my time at that moment, whatever was playing on the radio, went silent. All of the angels from all of the people in Beaverhead county that had ever been hungry, tired, or perished on the Prairie, locked their wings in position. As I fumbled to reach over the seat to grab my giant ass bottle of pickles, I struggle over and get it onto the, onto the console.

And Birdie’s eyes were as big as the lid on that jar of pickles. And the tears came back following that same matter. Just ending up in a giant smile. At the end of her face, I pulled into Lima, we got out of the truck standing in the gravel and she insisted that we have a toast. She let me pick the first pickle out of the jar, which was good because her hands were filthy.

So we had a pickle toast in the Lima parking lot in the gravel. And I, we shared hugs, smiles, little tears, and I jumped back in the truck and started to drive away. And I caught birdie in the back rear view mirror of my truck. She was clutching that big ass jar of pickles and just kind of dragging her backpack along as dead weight.

And I queued up the John Prine. So what is the plan? What indeed is the plan? A little dirty birdie told me that there is no plan. All we have to do is add our own special ingredients.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Brent.

Brent Ruby is a research professor at the University of Montana and has been on a near 30-year quest to do good science. He also is committed to writing his own brand of ornery poetry during his relentless study of applied human physiology. One of Brent’s research goals is to effectively share his research findings to improve the health and performance of wildland firefighters. Brent spends time outside of his research in the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Jo and their border collies, Wrango and Banjo. Brent also enjoys building hollow wood stand up paddle boards, woodwork, art and writing children’s books. Check out his books, download free coloring book pages and more at wrangoandbanjo.com.That’s W-R-A-N-G-O-A-N-D-B-A-N-J-O.COM

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share. I’ll bet you do! And I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!” The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. Why not participate? Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from Gecko Designs. We’re proud to sponsor Tell Us Something, learn more at geckodesigns.com.

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the “Stone Soup” live storytelling event.

Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.

Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.

Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.

Marc Moss: Tune in for those stories on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit tellussomething.org

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Laura King to talk about her story “My First Pregnancy”, which she told live onstage at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. The theme that night was “The First Time”. We also talk about podcasting, a new podcast that she’s working on with her cousin in California.

Transcript : "My First Pregnancy" and Interview with Laura King

[music]

 

Laura King: Yeah, so actually I’m super excited about the project itself and gathering these stories. My cousin and I have two great uncles who are pretty interesting historical figures and lots of glass, , both lawyers, , and I’m a lawyer.

 

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

 

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Laura King to talk about her story “My First Pregnancy”, which she told live onstage at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. 

 

Laura King: We can hear the heartbeat, which sounds great. The gestational SAC, which is what the baby starts out with. Looks good. So I left feeling reassured.

 

The theme that night was “The First Time”.

 

We also talk about podcasting, a new podcast that she’s working on with her cousin in California.

 

Laura King: So that’s kinda fun. one of them was very conservative and the other one was very liberal. So we’ve got a guy who is an FBI and involved in propaganda. , supporting Japanese internment, on the one hand. And then we’ve got, , the other guy who was, , a criminal defense attorney and, very active in, , you know, abolition of criminal punishment and, , the efforts early, early efforts to legalize marijuana.

 

Thank you for joining me as I take you behind the scenes at Tell Us Something — to meet the storytellers behind the stories. In each episode,  I sit down with a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. We chat about what they’ve been up to lately and about their experience sharing their story live on stage. Sometimes we get extra details about their story, and we always get to know them a little better.

 

Before we get to Laura’s story and our subsequent conversation…

 

I am so excited to tell you that the next in-person Tell Us Something storytelling event will be March 30 at The Wilma. 

 

The theme is “Stone Soup”. 7 storytellers will share their true personal story without notes on the theme “Stone Soup”. 

 

We are running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at The Wilma. Learn more and get your tickets at logjampresents.com

 

Laura King shared her story in front of a live audience at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. The theme was “The First Time”. Laura King, a 32 year old married to her high school sweetheart, becomes pregnant and has to juggle that with the stress of being in law school. Her first ultrasound is an internal ultrasound at five weeks and goes well. She returns home and has to go back to the hospital after complications arise. Thanks for listening.

Laura King:

This story is about a pregnancy, and you might notice that I’m pregnant right now. It’s not about this pregnancy, but it’s about my first pregnancy, which occurred when I was in my last year of law school. I was a third year law student at Harvard law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was 32 years old.

My husband not. Uh, our high school sweethearts. So at that point we had been together for 16 years, married for eight. So this was a long time in coming, but we had put it off and put it off. And we’re finally feeling like, well, there’s no time. Like the present, let’s just dive in. I got pregnant easily. I was thrilled to be pregnant.

I very much wanted this, but as much as I wanted it, That level of anticipation also seemed to create an equal level of nervousness and dread about what might go wrong. So I think it was because I was so nervous that I was ear for reassurance, and it’s unusual to have an ultrasound at five weeks pregnant, but at about five and a half weeks, I organized two.

Go in and have an ultrasound. And at that point they can’t do an external ultrasound. The baby is too tiny, tiny, so they do an internal one, which means putting a wand up inside and getting as close as possible to the baby. And they did this and found a heartbeat. They said, your baby’s doing just fine.

We can hear the heartbeat, which sounds great. The gestational SAC, which is what the baby starts out with. Looks good. So I, I left feeling. I went home couple hours later started bleeding. So I was extremely frightened. I called them right away. I’m bleeding. What’s going on? Oh, that’s probably okay.

It’s a common response. When you have an internal ultrasound, have a little bit of bleeding, the cervix is sensitive. So I took a deep breath and all right, well, would you like to come back in? And I did. So I came back in, they did another ultrasound internal again, this time they said we can’t find the heartbeat.

They gave me a little cup. They said it’s Columbus day weekend. The clinic will be closed. If you do have a miscarriage, please collect the specimen in this cup, keep it in your refrigerator over the weekend. Bring it to us. I was crushed. It was so clinical, this passing of the cup to me, I was in tears. I went home.

I got a bee in my bonnet that I should take. Herbal miscarriage prevention T and I looked online to see what combinations I might create. I called it my husband. He had the car, we had one car. He had the car at work. I said, can you take me to get these herbs? I really need them. I’m bleeding. I think I’m miscarrying.

He said, I can’t leave work. I’m busy. So I decided I’d take matters into my own hands and take away. I wasn’t used to taking buses in the city. I was so close to school that I usually walked. So I figured out the schedule, I found myself on a bus, still bleeding, and also on my lap was my law school work, which I was having this crisis.

And at the same time, I thought, well, maybe it’s not a crisis. Maybe I just have to continue doing this routine of, uh, preparing for my advanced environmental. So I’m reading a Supreme court case on a recent Supreme court case on environmental law. As I’m on the bus to whole foods to get these herbs, they don’t have them at whole foods.

My husband comes home. He takes me to another store. We finally get the herbs and I’m doing cups and cups of tea. And in the meantime, hoping that nothing will come out to fill this other cup that I’ve been given. I call people in my. Family who could help me? I call my mother-in-law who had four miscarriages during law school, no seven miscarriages during law school.

She also bled through one of her pregnancies. And so she told me maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s something you just have to wait and see, I called my sister and my mom. Had miscarriages and, um, they didn’t have much reassurance to offer. My sister said, oh, maybe it’s just implantation bleeding. I said, oh no, that would have happened two weeks ago.

That’s when the baby burrows in and implants, this is much later. Well, the bleeding didn’t stop. It got worse. Despite the tea, the tea seemed to do nothing but a fuel. The liquid that was coming out, I was in bed. For the next three days, as things got more bleak and the pain got intense, it was worse than my birth experience with my son, which was unmedicated.

12 hours and ended in a C-section. So maybe I didn’t get to the point where it really hurt, but in any case, this miscarriage was painful and it did end, um, with, uh, a little person coming out and I put that little person in the cup and put the cup in their refrigerator. Well, a couple months went by and I let my.

He’ll a bit and we decided to try again and again, I got pregnant easily and I wondered am I going to be like my mother-in-law with seven miscarriages during law school? During this stressful time, I was so worried and I ordered online a relaxation, CD pregnancy relaxation. And I remember lying on my bed, the same bed where I.

I felt this pain and all this resistance to having this, to losing this baby and the ma the relaxation CD instructed me to think of a place that I felt comfortable. I imagined myself on a beach. It instructed me to imagine myself holding my baby, which I did. I imagined myself walking from the sand, into the.

Letting the waves lap against my feet and holding my baby up in the air. And it was really nice. It was really peaceful. And then I had an experience that I’ve never had before, since I felt a true communication coming through. And I, I heard or felt my baby say to me, mama, I’m coming. I’m coming. And I felt this wave of relief.

And after that, I didn’t worry. And the months went on and he did come and I have a beautiful three-year-old boy. And one of my friends later said, you know, if you hadn’t had that miscarriage, you wouldn’t have Jeffrey, your beautiful son, but I don’t think of it that way, that other little. Person was important too.

I don’t think it’s worth discounting that, that other little being who didn’t quite make it to the finish line. Okay. .

Marc Moss:

As the mom of an 8-year-old boy and his four year old brother, Laura King gets the chance to tell two or three stories a day, mostly about spiders, fairies, and superheroes. She was, at the time she shared her story, also a lawyer with the Western Environmental Law Center in Helena. There she told stories about arbitrary and capricious government action (and weaves in spiders, fairies, and superheroes where possible). She has since moved to California to focus on a story that will take a long time for her to tell. We’ll get into that more during our conversation. Thanks for listening.

I caught up with Laura in June of 2020.

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Hello? Hello, Laura. Hi mark. How are you? Good morning. I’m well, how are you? Good. So I’m recording this right now by line. I have to say that

Marc Moss: I listened to your story this morning. Yeah. I haven’t listened to it a long time. Have you listened to it? I

Laura King: haven’t. No.

Marc Moss: Well, before we get into that, how are you?

Laura King: I’m doing really well. I’m um, yeah, just at home, working on some writing and I’ve got my dog here at my feet to beautiful day here in

Marc Moss: Helena.

Marc Moss: And your kiddos six now.

Laura King: Yeah, I’ve got Jeffrey has six and Nate who’s two.

Marc Moss: Oh my gosh.

Laura King: And they’re actually in school. We have a. They go to a private Montessori, [00:01:00] which reopened. So I have a little free time every day. It’s a shorter schedule, but, , they’re in

Marc Moss: school. Are they going to be in school for the entire summer?

Laura King: Yeah, I think so. We’re gonna be taking some time off, , going to California and a couple of days, but for most of the summer they’ll be in

Marc Moss: school. Yeah. What’s happening in California.

Laura King: So one thing that I wanted to talk to you about is happening in California, which is I’m doing an audio storytelling project with my cousin, , which I’m excited about.

Laura King: And it involves interviewing my dad and his dad. , so that’s one reason we’re going, we’re just also going to see our families

Marc Moss: cool, like Northern health.

Laura King: It’s Southern California LA areas.

Marc Moss: Yeah. , have you figured out how logistically you’re going to do the recordings? Like what equipment you’re using and stuff?

Laura King: That is [00:02:00] a great question. So my cousin who I’m doing this project with, , is a podcaster and, and we’re thinking of this as a podcast, he recommended. Eh, so I have a little recording device because I’ve been doing, , interviews, but not, , you know, just for my own, like I take a transcript of them. Yeah. , so I have a little recording device and he recommended getting just a simple external microphone. , but then I was also talking to a friend who is a, a guy who’s done PRX. , Pieces. And he was like, no, that’s not adequate. So I don’t know if you had any recommendations. I’d love to hear them.

Marc Moss: I mean, it sounds like your PRX friend is going to have better recommendations than me, but it is interesting.

Laura King: Thank you.

Marc Moss: Yeah, but I love this idea for the project. What, is the impetus for this?

Laura King: Yeah, so actually I’m super excited about the project itself and gathering these stories. My cousin and I have two great uncles who are pretty interesting [00:03:00] historical figures and lots of glass, , both lawyers, , and I’m a lawyer.

Laura King: So that’s kinda fun. , one of them was very conservative and the other one was very liberal. So we’ve got a guy who is an FBI and, , involved in propaganda. , supporting Japanese internment, , on the one hand. And then we’ve got, , the other guy who was, , a criminal defense attorney and, , very active in, , you know, abolition of criminal punishment and, , the efforts early, early efforts to legalize marijuana.

Laura King: I’m in California. So I kind of two interesting figures who are also connected the movie industry. Um, my family has connections to Warner brothers and the conservative guy became the head of, um, security for, for Warner brothers. So I think we’ve got some interesting stories that we can, uh, in our, both of our dads.

Laura King: [00:04:00] Um, my cousin and I, um, our dads are getting older. So now we feel a good time to go get their stories and tell these stories, which, um, really have not been very well recorded, but we think maybe of interest more broadly than

Laura King: I’m already fascinated. I’m going to subscribe to this podcast when it comes out.

Laura King: And you have so many directions that you could take.

Laura King: Yeah, that’s true. And we don’t know all the stories yet either. Um, one of the other interesting stories is that, uh, our aunt, um, niece of these two great uncles was Joan Anderson. Who, um, do you know that Joan Anderson letter, Neil Cassidy’s, uh, Joan Anderson letter.

Marc Moss: Anyway,

Laura King: because she was part of the beat movement [00:05:00] and I’m kind of involved in that scene. There’s a possibility that she was the Joni Anderson and the letter. We kind of don’t think she was, but, um, you know, my husband and I were talking about creating kind of a citizen Kane framework where you kind of build up these interesting, uh, Ideas that might turn into something and maybe they don’t need to anything at all, but it’s, if that’s the hook and it gets the listener interested in hearing the stories and also creates a platform for telling other stories that kind of branch off from, from the main hooks

Marc Moss: Rosebud.

Laura King: Yes.

Marc Moss: Background or training in how to collect stories like this. Cause it seems fascinating. And I, I, I really would love to hear what direction you want to take this. Cause I’m, I’m trying not to like plant seeds where I want to see you take it. Cause.[00:06:00]

Laura King: Lance, my cousin brought the project to me. And I think in part, because he thought, you know, I’m a lawyer and I can help him do the foyer requests, but I also got really interested in just the storytelling aspect of it. Um, And yeah, I don’t have, you know, I’ve been doing for the past six months, I’ve been doing interviews and writing profiles.

Laura King: Um, so there’s that piece of it that I’ve had, you know, just a little bit of experience with, but, um, this is all pretty new and exciting

Marc Moss: for me. It’s yeah. I mean, you might have more than one project on your.

Laura King: Yeah, well, his concept is that we would do like a series of, they would turn into like six to eight episodes, um, that we’ll see how it shapes how ha how it takes shape as [00:07:00] we gather the stories from our dads.

Marc Moss: Yeah. Have you thought about like what potential directions you could take it as far as, I mean, do you have any sort of story about.

Marc Moss: Well, I’m just thinking like, there certainly is the family aspect and getting some family stories and family history. There’s also the law aspect of historical perspective of law stuff that, that both of those men dealt with most interested in hearing how they feel about what’s going on. Right. With like defunding the police and the Brians and all of that stuff.

Marc Moss: I mean, it seems like, and maybe they’re all in maybe can time altogether, but it seems like there’s also some standalone storytelling options with each one of those subjects that I just mentioned. And those are the only the ones that come to mind off the top of my head. [00:08:00] And I don’t even know these men.

Laura King: That’s interesting. Okay. So yeah, I guess, yeah, it does. Um, it would make sense to once we have all the stories, figure out how they fit together and how they can be told, um, whether it’s, you know, each episode as a standalone or is there a, are there larger themes that we can also connect to present time?

Marc Moss: One thing that I think about as far as storytelling and being a responsible storyteller is if you’re a good storyteller. One of the things that you do is you anticipate questions that your listeners might have, and you try to, you try to answer those questions while you’re telling the story. So the questions that you have.

Marc Moss: Are important. And then think about the questions that [00:09:00] other people might have to answer and try to answer those or, or dismiss them and just acknowledge like, yes, these are, these are things that you might want to know about, and we’re not going to talk about them.

Marc Moss: I can’t wait to hear this.

Marc Moss: Do you have a target date for releasing?

Laura King: No. And so, as I mentioned, , we’re also putting together, FOYA requests for information from the FBI about both of these men. , so it may be that it takes a while to get that information, you know, it could be a year or two years. , so I have a feeling that we’re, you know, we’re going to get audio.

Laura King: Now we’re going to start working in this up, but it may be a slow walk to process as we wait for the other information to trickle on. Right.

Marc Moss: Well, I don’t know how I can help, but if there’s any way that I can help, please tell me. [00:10:00] Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else that you wanted to tell me about stuff that you have going on or projects that you’re cooking up?

Laura King: So I quit my job as a lawyer, I was working for a nonprofit Western environmental law center, which is an awesome organization. And I’m now working as a freelancer for them doing not law, but writing and storytelling. And I’m, ,

Laura King: Doing these profiles, kind of new Yorker style profiles of the attorneys. And what I love about it is they’re just giving me free reign to do it in the way that I want to do it. , so I’m having a lot of fun with that.

Laura King: I have been trying to as much as possible, you know, have like kind of a general idea of some things I am interested in asking them about, but I also try to just be present to the conversation and let it move in the way that it wants to move. , and, and just be present to them as they are. [00:11:00] You know, like I, I have Lily’s asked about their childhood, , and that often yields interesting, , stories that they, for example, I was interviewing someone recently and she said, well, you know, I haven’t thought about that in a long time, but that is an important part of my personal story.

Laura King: And, , so cool, cool. Things like that and just, you know, trying to keep it to, to, , The story of why they care about the environment and, , you know, why now what’s, what, what are the big issues that are, , bubbling up in your mind and your heart right now? And how are you facing them or, , bringing your energy to them.

Marc Moss: Why do you care about this work that you’re doing?

Laura King: I think that’s a great question. Yeah. I really feel like these, , you know, in some way it’s like, oh, profile’s about lawyers. That’s so boring. I’m like, you know, and their lawyers who deal with science and [00:12:00] that’s so boring, but you can humanize it, you know, because they do care passionately about what they’re doing and to tap into that, , can be really powerful.

Marc Moss: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s awesome. When and how are those being used? Are they just being pushed out on, on the website for the attorneys? Yeah,

Laura King: yeah, yeah. I’ve got it. I’m the communications director is doing the visuals and he’s doing a nice job with that. Cool.

Marc Moss: Let’s talk about your story that you told us.

Marc Moss: Tell us something. What was that like for you to tell that story? I mean, it’s pretty much.

Laura King: Yeah. You know, it was cathartic and I’m glad that I told it. I, um, when I had a miscarriage afterward, I was sharing it with some close girlfriends and suddenly it became clear to me that having a miscarriage is a really [00:13:00] common experience, but it’s one of those things that people don’t talk about.

Laura King: And I felt, um, good. About making the decision to go and share that story in public, because I feel like it’s a topic that needs to be talked about and doesn’t need to be a shameful topic that we, you know, hide. And it’s just a female topic and we can’t talk about it in public. Um, so yeah, it was, it was, uh, a powerful experience for me.

Marc Moss: What was the response of people in your community after they heard that?

Laura King: you know, I remember a couple of people coming up to me afterward and thanking me for telling me, telling the story. , I definitely felt a sense of yes. That, you know, this is something that we share and we appreciate you coming out with that.

Marc Moss: Yeah. I mean, it’s, [00:14:00] it was a brave story to tell. , and it’s, I asked you. , to tell a story, not knowing anything about you, because Aaron Parrett said that you’d be good at this. Yeah. , and so I didn’t know where, where you would go. , and then when you said, this is what you wanted to do, I was like, absolutely because this story, I’ve never heard that story, you know?

Laura King: Yeah. And it’s one of those topics that there are so few stories told about it that it’s like a blank slate, like, well, what was my experience of it? , you know, there’s no like set idea I have about how I should have reacted to it. So that was an interesting angle to come

Marc Moss: at it. Yeah.

Laura King: Yeah, well, it says there’s some, you know, there’s kind of the protocol and you get pregnant that you don’t say anything for three months until the day he is solid. , I love that idea. Well, you know, I’m pregnant and you know, whether or [00:15:00] not it comes to term, this is what’s happening and, and I’m going to be public about it.

Marc Moss: I like that. Yeah. It’s, it’s incredible.

Marc Moss: Anything else you want to say about your story?

Laura King: No, I just, I really appreciated the opportunity of that, that you gave of having a platform to tell it. So thank you for that.

Marc Moss: Oh, you’re welcome. I mean, that’s what I’m doing.

Laura King: Well, yeah. And it was just really fun, you know, it’s fun having these events and hearing everyone’s stories in the community, , it connects you to people in a way that is not always available when you’re just socializing,

Marc Moss: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Laura.

Laura King: Thank you so much. This was really fun to talk to you. Yeah.

Marc Moss: And seriously with your new project. If, if there’s anything that you think that I might be able to have. Please call me or text or email, whatever, and let me know how I can help.

Laura King: Awesome.

Marc Moss: All right, well, [00:16:00] have a fantastic morning. You bet. Bye bye.

Marc Moss:

Thanks, Laura. And thank *you* for listening today. 

 

Next week, I catch up with Neil McMahon

 

Neil McMahon:  Get some kind of, uh, go into some kind of line of work. That’s a lot more conducive that’s not the right word, but, , you know, what that means would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s, uh, like Michael Connolly was a journalist, a lot of people have done that.

obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever, uh, something besides swinging a hammer, Uh, you know, which I did for much of my life….

 

Marc Moss: Tune in for his story, and our conversation, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

 

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

 

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of tile. If you need tile work done. Give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my [email protected]

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from gecko designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell us something. Learn more at gecko design socks. Oh, it

was a little broadcasting company. Learn more at missoulabroadcasting.com. Float Missoula. Learn more at floatmsladotcomandmissoulaevents.net podcast production by me, Marc Moss. Remember to get your tickets for the next in-person tell us something storytelling.

I live at the Willma on March 30th, tickets and more information at logjampresents.com. To learn more about tell us something, please visit tell us something.org.

In this episode of the podcast, Brian Upton sits down with Tell Us Something Executive Director Marc Moss to talk about his story “Parting Ways with Henry Miller in Egypt”, which he told live onstage at The Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT in June 2015. The theme that night was “Oops! I Changed my Mind!”. They also talk about his extended family in Egypt, about Henry Miller and separating the art from the artist, and about the atmosphere at a Tell Us Something live in-person event.

Transcript : "Parting Ways With Henry Miller in Egypt" story and Interview with Brian Upton

[music]

Brian Upton: My stress just was on a huge upward trajectory about that book and who may find it or how I can get rid of it before somebody nails me for violating Egypt anti-pornography laws.

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Brian Upton to talk about his story “Parting Ways with Henry Miller in Egypt”, which he told live onstage at The Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT in June 2015.

Brian Upton: one thing I’m appreciating about this conversation is that I can also set the record straight because that was, that was definitely kind of traumatic for me. , but really the defining, , Aspect of that trip was getting to meet my wife’s family and the relatives.

The theme that night was “Oops! I Changed my Mind!”.

We also talk about his extended family in Egypt, about Henry Miller and separating the art from the artist, and about the atmosphere at a Tell Us Something live in-person event.

Thank you for joining me as I take you behind the scenes at Tell Us Something — to meet the storytellers behind the stories. In each episode, I sit down with a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. We chat about what they’ve been up to lately and about their experience sharing their story live on stage. Sometimes we get extra details about their story, and we always get to know them a little better.

Before we get to Brian’s story and our subsequent conversation…

I am so excited to tell you that the next in-person Tell Us Something storytelling event will be March 30 at The Wilma.

The theme is “Stone Soup”. 7 storytellers will share their true personal story without notes on the theme “Stone Soup”.

We are running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at The Wilma. Learn more and get your tickets at logjampresents.com

Brian Upton shared his story in front of a live audience at the Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT in June of 2015. The theme was “Oops! I Changed my Mind!”. Brian Upton buys Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn at Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France. He begins reading the book in Alexandria, Egypt and discovers that the book is considered pornography in Egypt. Thanks for listening.

Brian Upton: It started out in Arab spring 2011 and the Tahrir square revolution in Egypt, my wife, Dina, and I decided that it would be a good time to take our kids are eight and 10 year old kids to Egypt to see the country and to see their family and relatives. My wife’s parents had come over from Egypt and she was born here, but her mom actually brought her to Alexandria, Egypt to go to an American school.

So she has dual citizenship and she actually had an Egyptian passport at the time. She’d met her relatives and family, but I’ve never been to Egypt. Our kids had never been there and they’d never met the family. So it was a really exciting. When Deena booked the tickets over there, she got lucky and she was able to get a three-day layover in Paris on the way to Egypt.

So how great was that? I was excited because there’s a spectacular bookstore there called Shakespeare and company that I’d never been to. I don’t know how many of, you know, Shakespeare and company, but for those that don’t, it’s a hundred year old bookstore. That was a favorite haunt of the lost generation and all sorts of cool characters.

And I wanted to check that place out. So we take our trip, we get to Shakespeare and company. It’s fantastic bookstore. I wanted to find it a cool book, a great souvenir of that bookstore to take with me something I can’t just find anywhere I was coming up dry. So I thought, well, I’ll just come up with a book by somebody that had a connection there.

And I thought Henry Miller, I’ve never read any Henry Miller and Tropic of cancer is supposed to be a big deal. So I’ll get that. I go to the Henry Miller section. Of course there’s no Tropic of cancer. So, I don’t know any other Henry Miller books. I just look at the shelf and I see a book called Tropic of Capricorn.

So good enough. It’s a Tropic. So I picked up Tropic of Capricorn. That’s my souvenir of Shakespeare and company stuff. It in the suitcase, we finish up Paris, go to Egypt, go to Cairo, go to Alexandria, fantastic trip meeting my wife’s relatives, my relatives now. And, uh, it was just super, I started reading Henry Miller for the first time in Alexandria on our last night there.

Our next stop was flying up to upper Egypt in Luxor where the valley of the Kings are in a number of temples. Luxor in the nineties was the site of a terrorist attack on tourists at one of the temples there. And as a result of that, Egypt has co-opted the military to be security for the tourist infrastructure down in Luxor.

So what that means is when we get to our hotel in Luxe, We go through a metal screener and there’s military people acting as security in the hotel lobby, which is kind of unusual, really nice lobby, very comfortable lobby. So actually that night after we’d gone out in the town and we got back to the hotel room, everybody was ready to go to sleep except me because I’m still jet lagged.

So the kids in Dina want the lights out and going to sleep. I told Dean and I’ll just read down in the lobby. And so I get my Henry Miller book out and I say, I’m going to go down the lobby. And Dina says you can’t do that. I said, why can’t I do that? I’m just going to go down to the lobby to read. And she looks at the book and she says, that’s pornography.

And my face is all wrinkled up. I look at the book and oh, and the cover of the book, which I didn’t really think about when I grabbed it in Paris was a very tastefully done, black and white photo of a woman. From the knees up to the neck, which was all Henry Miller cared about. If any of you have read Henry Miller, it all makes sense.

But did I say it was tastefully done because it was tastefully done very skimpy panties, no top. So in Egypt, absolutely. That qualifies as pornography. So I put the book away and got another book, went down to the lobby, read that and everything. I watched the military men go up and down the lobby hallway while I’m sitting on my comfortable couch.

I go back up to the room to get to sleep. And you know how nighttime is the time when all the great worries come out? Well, I I’m trying to get to sleep in, uh, the gravity of this situation has impressed upon me that I am sitting here in Egypt with pornography, with contraband and. I was dialed right back to high school.

When I was in high school, I was in model UN and I remember reading a whole bunch of accounts of primarily Westerners that were caught in developing world countries with contraband, usually drugs and the things that happened to them in prison. And it terrified me. And I remember vividly thinking, I will never go to a country where I could even conceivably be caught with contraband and have something like that happen to me.

So I’m on my family vacation with my children in a country like that, carrying contraband, and now I’m stressed. And I’m also remembering by the way, for anyone that remembers midnight express the movie, not midnight run the Robert DeNiro movie, but midnight express about the American that got caught with contraband and Turkey and sentenced to life in prison and a Turkish prison, not an uplifting movie.

And I remember when I saw that in college. It reinforced. I will never go to a country like that and be caught with contraband. It’s not going to happen. I will avoid those. So that was my thinking for the night. And the next morning when we got up, I was concerned at that book is sitting in the room and whoever’s going to clean the room.

I’d come across this pornography, be alarmed, contact the military, my pipeline to prison. So I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t throw it away. I would, I didn’t feel like I could stuff it under a mattress. Cause I thought. Maybe I might look under the mattress for things like this and B if they’re just making the bed, they might come across it.

So I did the only thing I could do, which was just wrap it up in a shirt, stick it in a bag, wrap up the bag and some more clothes and put it in the middle of my suitcase and hope my suitcase doesn’t get ransacked by. And it worked. We went out, saw valley of the Kings, had a great day, put it out in my mind, all was well.

And same day or next day, same thing. It was pretty much out of my mind for the most part at night, I was still worried about midnight express, but where everything amped up was our next leg of the trip. And our final leg of the whole Egypt vacation was to go to Sharmel shake on the Sinai. The red sea. So we have to fly from Luxor to Cairo and then back over to Sharmel shake.

And I’ve got the book in my suitcase because I don’t have a good place to dispose of it. And there’s military patrolling in the lobby. So I’m nervous and all of my high school model, UN torture accounts and midnight express recollections are just forefront of my head. There’s nothing to be done. So we checked the suitcase and I just hoped.

Nobody was going to be looking in the suitcase. And all I could think of was, I don’t know if the airline personnel rifle through suitcases here. I don’t know if airport security rifles through suitcases, if they do random checks. But when we went to Egypt, there were far less tourists because of the economy and the political situation than there typically are.

So the odds of my suitcase being ransacked in my pornography, contraband found were much higher than they otherwise would be. And I was thinking about. But when we finally get to the airport at Shama shake, we go to the baggage carousel. I am not panicking, but I’m nervous and I’m waiting for the bag to come out.

And, you know, I don’t know if you guys have the same experience. I do my bags always the last one out, regardless of the airport. So I had that in mind and I was prepared, but we waited for a long time for the bags to come out. And finally my son suitcase comes out. Okay, good. That means our suitcases are here.

That’s good. And then after a while my daughter, Alex, his suitcase comes out. Good. We wait still no suitcase for me. We wait, my wife’s suitcase comes out. Okay. That’s good. Three to four. Where is my suitcase. So I’m waiting and waiting. And finally the baggage carousel stops and my suitcase isn’t there.

What are the odds that only my suitcase is not showing up? I mean, that’s, what’s screaming in my head amongst all the visuals of midnight express. So there weren’t a whole lot of English speakers there, but Dina speaks Arabic and she was able to find one of the airline staffers who’s assured her that there were no other suitcases.

So my suitcase was gone. He said, he’d make some calls. So we waited for 20 minutes and I’m sweating. He comes back and assures us that the suitcase is in Cairo. It got held up. He doesn’t know why he will look into it and give us a call at the hotel. So rather than spontaneously combust, Tried to clamp everything down for the sake of the children.

And we all went to the hotel and I was getting panicky at this point. I was a little panicky because this was way too close to midnight express in the prison pipeline than I ever wanted to be. And I was legitimately nervous. So we go there and then Deena and I are trying to have the conversation with.

Explaining to the kids. Exactly. What’s going on, how daddy brought contraband at Egypt. And we were trying to have the conversation about who’s going to go back to the airport when we get this call. And what’s that call going to sound like? So we’re talking about that and I say, look, this is my bag. So I should go there because it’s not your problem.

You shouldn’t have to go there. And if something happens with it, then I should be the one to be there. Dina is much more logical smart and everything else than I am. And she pointed out the fact that I can’t communicate with anybody at the airport valid point. And she also, which I found out later, she was putting on a good face.

Cause she was as panicked as I was. But at the time I didn’t know that. And she said, I’m sure this is just a mix up. And it’s just like a random mistake. So let me go to the airport and clear it up. Oh, We got a call after we sweated all afternoon. And all I can think about was what I’ve already told you.

And we waited all afternoon for that call and I’m trying to figure out how do we react when one of us is arrested in a foreign country and the other has to take care of the kids and get them back. What’s the number of the consulate. We finally get a call and they said our suitcases here, so we can go pick it up.

And that’s all they told us. So at least there’s no bad news over the phone. There was no military guy knocking on our door, but Dina goes off to the airport. And so I’m left with the kids and I’m just realizing, you know, she is not only in Egypt’s eyes and Egyptian citizen, but I’m also realizing that the bag that I use for this.

Was her suitcase and had her identification on it. So if they rifled through and found our pornography in our suitcase, it would have her name on it. And she’s an Egyptian citizen. And that could make things a lot more difficult if we’re trying to extricate ourselves out of criminal charges in Egypt. So that’s how I managed to ramp up the stress level in my head while she was gone.

And it was kind of a fever pitch. She comes back finally after about 45 minutes and she’s got. And my suitcase is unmolested and Henry Miller is in the middle of it all wrapped up, just like it wasn’t Luxor. So that was a huge relief. And then my whole crescendo of panic and stress and midnight express was receding, but it left a heavy residue of paranoia because now I see this book, this Henry Miller book that I don’t want to see again, that’s ruined my vacation, caused me more stress.

In years, I’m getting rid of this book. How do I get rid of the book? Because the wastebasket, the mattress thing, it’s the same as the hotel in Luxor. I don’t have a good choice here. So I just decided I’m, I’m destroying the book. I’m going outside. That’s our wastebaskets in the hallways. I’m going to destroy it.

I told Dina that and she said, all you have to do is rip up the cover. The rest is fine, and I’d read enough of the Henry Miller book already to realize it. If somebody were to see me throw out the book, fish it out and leave. The text is much more pornographic than the tastefully done, black and white photo on the cover.

So I didn’t want to risk it because I was completely paranoid at this point. So paranoid that rather than use the wastebasket on our hallway, I went up to slights of stairs. I told Dean and the kids I’m going to meet you in the restaurant go. So they left. I went up two flights of stairs. I ripped up the.

And I didn’t want to just throw the book in the wastebasket because you all realize that somebody could just walk around the corner out of the elevator and see me fish out the book and then pipeline to prison. So I figured if I had defaced that nobody would fish it out of the wastebasket. So I’m just frantically tearing up the pages, stuffing them in the waistband.

I bought a quarter of the book, go down a flight of stairs, repeat, go down a flight, skip my floor because I’m not going to have the incriminating evidence on my floor. I’m a smart criminal, right? Go down one more floor, shred everything while I’m looking around madly stuffed it in the waste basket. And then I’ve just got a little bit left.

So I go to the restaurant, there’s a bathroom off the restaurant. I walk in casually with the book under my shirt. I look in the bathroom. There’s nobody in there. So I shred the rest of the book, stuffed it in the waste basket, grabbed some paper towels stuff and over those pages. And then only then after Henry Miller is safely stuffed in the wastebasket of the restaurant bathroom.

I went over at dinner with Dean and the kids we snorkeled, we scoop it up. We had a great vacation. I was free and it was a fantastic feeling. We ended our vacation and two months later, it’s my birthday. Dina gave me a copy of Tropic of cancer by Henry Miller. So I was finally able to read Tropic of cancer and I didn’t like it very much. .

 

Brian is originally from the Great Lakes country and came to Missoula from Indonesia in the mid-90’s to go to the University of Montana. He has since discovered that Butte is the more interesting place, but is settling for Missoula anyway.

I caught up with Brian in August of 2020.

Brian Upton: Hey Brian, can you hear me okay? Yeah. Can you hear me?

So have

Marc Moss: you listened to your story since he told it?

Brian Upton: You know, I think I listened to it once. Just stay here. It and that was probably, uh, two, three years ago. It’s hard doing it yourself. It

Marc Moss: is hard to listen to yourself, but I ended up having to do it a lot. So I’ve gotten used to it.

I listened to it again today. The first time since. Um, at the time I wasn’t the one producing the podcast. So I think the only time I really heard it was when you did it on stage. And I listened to it again today. How much did you practice that?

Brian Upton: Well, it doesn’t show, but I’ve practiced it quite a few times.

Your workshop was a huge help and kind of getting some response and figuring out how to refine it. But because I was having a hard time keeping to the time limit with. I didn’t keep too. I, I ran over it. I dunno how many times? Probably at least six to eight, if not over a dozen times. Just mostly to try to get it to 10 minutes.

Marc Moss: The first time you were in the motel. I forgot about you putting in the suitcase.

Brian Upton: I should have destroyed the book. Initially saved myself a lot of.

Marc Moss: All right.

Brian Upton: That wasn’t me trying to build the suspense. It was. That’s how it went. My stress just was on a huge upward trajectory about that book and who may find it or how I can get rid of it before somebody nails me for violating Egypt anti-pornography laws.

Marc Moss: So they actually have laws on the books.

Brian Upton: Yeah. I have not seen them, but my wife who used to live there assured me that it’s illegal. You know, it’s, it’s not Saudi Arabia, but it’s still a Muslim country. And I I’m sure I believe it.

Marc Moss: Yeah, I believe it too. And I’ve not even after you told the story, I thought, man, I really had to see midnight express and I never got a chance to see it yet, but I can imagine it.

Wasn’t very pleasant.

Brian Upton: Midnight express is I haven’t seen it in probably a couple of decades, but I did see it twice at different times. One when I was probably just out of high school and the second probably when I was around 30. And it’s a good movie. It’s a, it’s a compelling story. It’s a very good movie, but also it hits you probably particularly if you’re male, it’s in a pretty visceral way.

And that that’s kind of why it was in my frame of reference while I was there in Egypt and feeling like I was susceptible to the criminal justice system. Yeah.

Marc Moss: Well, one of the things that I appreciated so much about your story is many people want to tell a story about traveling and it’s such a difficult thing to do, right?

Because you know, you’ve been traveling. Potentially weeks or months. And how are you going to pick the one thing, the one event that epitomizes the trip, you can’t include everything. So what are you going to do?

Brian Upton: You know, market and a lot of ways. That’s true. But one thing I’m appreciating about this conversation is that I can also set the record straight because that was, that was definitely kind of traumatic for me. , but really the defining, , Aspect of that trip was getting to meet my wife’s family and the relatives.

I mean, now my relatives over in Egypt, in Cairo and Alexandria, and they were so gracious and friendly and warm, all of them and her father’s side was a very big family and they actually, so it was. , so lots of aunts and uncles and cousins, and that experience was just so fantastic. And that’s how I remember the trip.

That’s the first thing I think of. I don’t think of my trauma over Henry Miller’s book. That’s not the first thing that I remember thankfully.

Marc Moss: Right. And that’s what I’m, I guess one of the points I’m making is because. That’s a completely different story. The story of meeting your wife’s family in a foreign country who has a completely different culture.

And that, that story, I think, would be a fascinating one to develop as well, but it would be a completely different trajectory.

Brian Upton: Right. And, and I love that story and that memory, it was, that was my first time to Egypt. That was my first time meeting any of these relatives. So yeah, that was. It was pretty amazing.

It was pretty amazing. And it’s a total counterpoint in the total opposite side of the coin to that terrible few hours. When I was waiting for my luggage to arrive, to see whether somebody had taken that book out of it

Marc Moss: has, has your, um, extended family. Dina side of the family. Have they listened to your story at all? Do you know?

Brian Upton: I, I highly doubt it. I, I’m not even sure how many of them really speak English. There were just a few that, that were very fluent in English that kind of served as our translator, Dina speaks Arabic, but I don’t.

So I, I highly doubt any. Would have caused to have Googled and found it. We certainly didn’t bring it to anyone’s attention. Right.

How many

Marc Moss: languages does Dina speak?

Brian Upton: She speaks three Indonesian, English and Arabic. I think she would tell you her Arabic is a little rusty conversationally and she knows some French. She took French for a number of years in college or high school.

Marc Moss: Actually makes a lot of sense, knowing what she does at the university, with all the international students that come through.

Brian Upton: Yeah. That’s definitely her passion and she’s so good at interacting with all sorts of people from anywhere on the planet. It’s always a pleasure to, to see that and to see the relationship she builds.

It’s pretty amazing.

Marc Moss: Well, it sounds like your experience meeting her family. You can see where she gets it.

Brian Upton: Yes. And her parents both, you know, both of her parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt in the sixties, her father to go to school. So her father didn’t come from wealth or anything. And he really.

He really built up a solid foundation for his family in the United States. He came to the university of Minnesota to get his bachelor’s and he went or excuse me to get his master’s. And he got a doctorate at Oxford, Mississippi, um, after Dina was born. So she was born in Iowa where her father was teaching at Simpson college, which is the same college that.

George Washington, Carver after Iowa state university rejected him for being black. Um, Dina grew up in Iowa until she was five and then went to university of Mississippi at Oxford for her father to get a doctorate. And when he finished that he taught at university of Wyoming. So they moved there, but her father just kind of his educational pursuit.

And his Intrepid newness, uh, coming to the United States alone and teaching in rural Iowa and going to the south and getting a doctorate and living in Wyoming. He was definitely, I unfortunately never got to meet him because he passed away when Dina was 10, but, um, his fortitude and Intrepid, nearness and ability.

To obviously navigate a whole lot of human landscapes. Definitely, definitely lives on through Dina. Yeah.

Marc Moss: And what a different upbringing than you coming from Butte, America.

Brian Upton: Oh yeah. I actually grew up in rural, mid Michigan and. Lived there till I was 18. And then I met Dina our freshman year of college at American university in Washington, DC.

Um, but yeah, very different. I mean, Dina, Dina is very interesting because she knows she grew up in Iowa, Mississippi and Wyoming, but also grew up in Alexandra Egypt because after her father passed away, her mother, um, Moved to Alexandria, Egypt and Dena went to high school there at an American school and they would go back to Wyoming during the summers, but that was part of her growing up too.

So to counterbalance the deep south, the rural Midwest and Rocky mountain west with urban Alexandria, Egypt is a lot of experience growing up that I certainly didn’t have.

Marc Moss: Right. And I don’t know for whatever reason. I always imagine that you’re from BU even though I know you’re not right. I always forget that right away, but

Brian Upton: no, I love Butte so much.

Marc Moss: Did you get any sort of feedback from people who were there or heard it later after.

Brian Upton: Yeah. I heard from a few people, um, that night afterwards when we were leaving, um, and, and a few people that have heard it, um, on the Telus something website, you know, and months or years later, um, and you know, the people that, that want to say something to you about it are the ones that are being gracious and want to say something nice.

That was nice to hear. Um, but yeah, that’s about all I’ve I’ve heard.

Marc Moss: Well, before you decided to tell a story, um, your history will tell us something initially you had never heard of it. Right. And, and I think I put up tickets for, uh, like a premium for the KBG, a fundraiser, the local college readiness.

Fundraiser and you and Dina got those tickets. And then I think they were like season tickets or something. Right.

Brian Upton: Okay. Yeah. You have a really good memory. Cause I I’m trying to remember. I think that would have been in 2014 or maybe 2013 and yeah, we, I had donated to K BGA cause I think that’s a fantastic station.

Always appreciate that. And part of the premium. Yeah, years’ worth of tickets to tell us something. And I believe that’s the first time I’d heard of probably wasn’t the first time I heard of it, but the first time it really resonated with me. And then I was like, oh, wish I could go to this. Um, so we went and yeah, that was when it was at the top hat.

And the very first one, we went to it just bowled me over at great stories. You know, you have a great. Presentation of the whole thing and the way you make it an event and a community was very obvious right then and there just made a huge impression on me and it just looked fun. So I remember stalking you after the end of it, to just tell you what a good job you’re doing.

I can’t remember if I asked to do a story or if you said, do you want to do one? But I, I thought that was amazing that I could have an opportunity to do that. And I remember you writing my name down in your black book. Yeah. I

Marc Moss: have a little book that I can carry around in my back pocket for those reasons, because anybody that ever says that was great.

I always say you could do this too, because that, I mean, that’s part of the point of it, right? I can do this. Everybody has a story to tell and I want it to feel inclusive for everybody. And so when you said this was awesome and I had a good time, I immediately invited you didn’t think you would follow up at all.

Most people don’t, you know, um, and you gave me your number and then yeah.

Brian Upton: So,

Marc Moss: um, I can’t remember how long after your first time. At the show you decided that you wanted to tell a story, but, um, how did you decide that was the story that you wanted to tell?

Brian Upton: I knew that was the story I wanted to tell, because I’d already told it to, you know, groups of friends and family, because that, that was a pretty.

Scarring experience for me, but it was also, it seems to me pretty funny in retrospect, but at the time it was pretty scary. Um, so I just kind of enjoyed telling it, cause it was kind of cathartic and I always got a kick out of seeing people’s reactions to various parts of the story. So I knew that would be the story to tell.

And I don’t think I have another one that, that, uh, That is equivalent,

Marc Moss: maybe not equivalent, but I bet you have another one,

Brian Upton: maybe.

Marc Moss: So did you ever, I know that Dana for your birthday gave you a Tropic of cancer and you read it and you weren’t really that impressed by it. Did you ever get around to

Brian Upton: reading Tropic

Marc Moss: of cancer Capricorn?

Brian Upton: I did not. I. My recollection is I thought that was a little more interesting as far as I got through it in Egypt. Um, because Henry Miller was talking about growing up pretty poor and working class, New York city. I forget which borough, but he painted a pretty evocative picture of that. And it’s so different.

Um, from the New York city of today, that it’s, I found it really interesting. Um, I, I never finished Tropic of Capricorn, but when I read Tropic of cancer, it was certainly interesting in its own way. And he was pretty evocative about how living in Paris was, um, at that time around the turn of the century, I think, uh, and that also was so different than how.

Most people experience Paris now. I mean, when he writes about cold drafty flats with lots of vermin and lights and it just didn’t sound at all, like the place, most of us kind of envisioned our experience there, but the book was also, um, super massage monistic and I don’t know something about it. Really enjoy all that much, but it’s scratched the itch.

You know, he was one of the guys that Shakespeare and company in Paris, uh, that bookstore, um, he knew Paris. So it was, uh, it was a good thing to pick up in Paris. It served that purpose.

Marc Moss: He was, uh, revered enough that they created a library for him in big Sur, California, the Henry Miller library. And I had the occasion to go there and I think it was 2003 or 2004. Um, I had a job that put me on the road and it just turned out that I was on the road. In that part of the country when jello Biafra was on a spoken word tour.

Oh, wow. You know, Jello Biafra is

Marc Moss: do. Yeah. The dead Kennedys lead singer. And if

Brian Upton: you’ve ever, you heard him speak at the Henry Miller library. Yeah.

Marc Moss: And if, if you’ve ever heard him do a spoken word show, I mean, it is like Henry Rollins. On steroids. I mean, he is in your face. He is super political and the people who come to events at the Henry Miller library, some of them, it seems like maybe never have read Henry Miller.

Brian Upton: Absolutely I, yeah, you’re right about that. And I bet that you’d also be. And that Henry Miller is probably surprised a whole lot of people. I didn’t know anything about him when I picked up his books. And I can imagine if other people think they’re going to pick up some kind of quaint, uh, 19th century, early 20th century author, who, who wrote in Paris, they probably didn’t know necessarily what they’re getting into when they started reading things like Tropic of cancer.

Marc Moss: Right. And I like put Charles Bukowski in that same sort of thing, but people said about this great American poet and all of a sudden they’re in this misogynistic bullshit. Um,

Brian Upton: yeah. You know,

Marc Moss: it’s and it’s, uh, then, then we have the question. How much of that was the person and how much of that was the art and how much of that is forgivable?

If. You know, and like, I don’t have answers to any of those questions, but it’s interesting to read some of those pieces of literature. And now with the knowledge that we have go on that guide and sort of cringe.

Brian Upton: Yeah. I would say Henry Miller is pretty cringe-worthy and I certainly don’t know the answers to your questions either.

I would assert that, um, my sense of traffic, of cancers, that we were seeing a pretty unvarnished look at the man. Um, that was my sense of it. Yeah.

Marc Moss: Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want people to know about your story or your experience?

Brian Upton: Um, I think the only thing I would add is that, you know, the experience of telling it can be as you know, intimidating, a lot of people, you know, public speaking is a pretty common phobia. Um, and it can be kind of nerve wracking to kind of prepare for that and know you’re going to go up in front of a stage of people.

I would just reinforce for anybody listening that the environment you create is very, uh, friendly, nurturing. It’s, uh, it’s an environment where you don’t really feel as nervous as you might think you would. And that’s in part because of. The workshops you do, and kind of getting people used to who they’re going to be on stage with and getting used to telling their story.

But it’s also, I think, a real tribute to the community that you have built and encouraged with with that audience. I think most of the time, those audiences certainly now are, are kind of regulars. Um, and I, I can’t say enough about how you’ve cultivated a good diversity from Missoula. Of speakers. And, um, the experience is just a really good one.

And when I was on stage at the top hat, which granted is not as imposing as the wilderness stage, that that tell us something has evolved into, um, but still that was a lot of people you packed into the top hat and it wasn’t, it felt, it felt good. And, and that’s, I think attribute to you. And I’ll also add that I’d never even heard when I was up on the stage, the little gentle gong that tells me I exceeded the time limit.

So, so you’re gentle to your participants in many ways.

Marc Moss: Well, the gong is as much for the storyteller as it is for the audience to key them in to know that we’re about to wrap. But

Brian Upton: also I’ve been here when I was the storyteller.

Marc Moss: Yeah. And I think at the time I think I might’ve been the one with the gone.

Now I’ve got a governor who is a loud enough timekeeper, , Marissa Crerar. So if you’ve ever listened to or ever been in the audience, you can recognize her laugh. She has this very distinct laugh.

It’s interesting to see, uh, Events are evolving during this time.

COVID and, , the, , live streaming events in particular. , the April show that we did the storytellers knocked it out of the park. I saw it and they didn’t have any interaction with the audience at all. Um, and I asked one of them, I had the opportunity to talk to her pretty in depth about that experience.

And she said it was all. Oh, the green room. , , I had a little breakout rooms, , for the storytellers to go quote unquote backstage. And they were just building each other up, back there. You know, they weren’t even listening to the stories as they were being told, because they’d heard them enough and we practiced them and us.

They were just like backstage having fun off my.

They all bonded and they’d never met each other in person.

Brian Upton: Well, that’s, I didn’t know you had done that. Um, that’s great. I, I really appreciate that. Tell us something is doing the virtual events during the pandemic, because a that’s really about the only way you can do it. And it’s just a great way to introduce, I think a lot of other people. The whole, tell us something, um, kind of event, but that’s, I can see some of the storytellers maybe being glad they’re not in front of hundreds of people on a stage with lights shining in their eyes.

Um, and maybe having it be an easier experience, but I can also see it being perhaps a little more difficult because you’re just trying to stare into a camera to make eye contact with the audience. And as being a little kind of empty with no feedback. So I guess it would depend on the person. I could see it going both ways, being maybe easier and a better experience, or maybe a more difficult or experience without all the people, but I’m sure, glad you’re doing it because yeah, we were part of that audience and, and again, I mean, those, those stories are great.

And I guess one of the other things that would be, uh, I’d like to comment on, especially for anybody that hasn’t been to a tell us something event is one of the things I’ve always appreciated too, is that in a number of the events, there’ll be a side splitting, hilarious story. The same night as there can be a really, really moving emotional, sometimes traumatic.

Story that just in some ways they just don’t go together at all. And in other ways it’s a great way to, um, really appreciate the, either emotional depth of one story or the humor in another story, because you get to compare them to each other. Okay. It kind of lets you kind of travel a whole human gamut in one night and I’ve always appreciated that, especially when, and I think this is how you usually structure it when sometimes there’s a traumatic event that somebody recounting is followed by something that has a lot more levity and it is funny and, and that’s always a nicer way to, to travel that emotional path.

Marc Moss: I think of it, like you would think of making a mix tape or, uh, if you’re a musician creating the structure of an album, what songs you want to include, it’s one thing. But then the order of the songs is just as important. And I learned that the hard way, because one night there were, I think, five. Pretty heavy stories.

And I stack them pretty close to each other without any levity in between. And I had people walking out because they could not handle it. And I had people talk to me later and say, man, those stories were good, but I just couldn’t, I couldn’t take it anymore. And I had to leave and that taught me a lot. Um, those conversations were important to hear.

And when I started thinking about it in the way that you would think about. What do you want to include in a mix tape or if you’re an author or like what short stories do you want to include and in what order, or if you’re a poet, you know, how do you want to order the poems you have in a collection? I think the order is just as important as the stories themselves.

And that’s my job as a curator is to try to determine how are these stories going to land most effectively for the list. So that the storyteller and their experience can be the most effectively honored.

Brian Upton: And sometimes I think you do a great job really easy.

Marc Moss: Well, thanks. I appreciate that. Um, but it took years to figure that out.

I

Brian Upton: love the mixed tape analogy. I think that’s perfect. And, and, uh, I’m a little concerned if you had people that had walked out after four or five. Stories of levity who wants to, who can’t take five grade funny stories? No, no. They were the heavy stories. Oh, they were heavy. I misunderstood. They were

Marc Moss: five, five stories of heaviness was sort of lined up one against each other.

Um, and that was a big mistake on my part to do that, to do it that way. And, um, People let me know. And I’m really glad they did because I probably would have made that mistake multiple times, but I only had to make it once. And that might be the only time in my life where I’ve only had to make a mistake once before I’ve learned the lesson.

Brian. Thank you so much for spending time with me today. Um, I appreciate you and all your support of telecommuting over the years, and I’m glad that you were able to participate. Okay.

Brian Upton: It’s always great to talk to you, mark, and, um, thanks for the opportunity and thanks for everything you’re doing for the community that you enjoy.

So have given us a lot and we appreciate it.

Marc Moss: Well, I appreciate. , acknowledging Joyce. She doesn’t often get credit and she’s just as important as me in this work that we’re doing. So I appreciate it. I appreciate you. And I hope you have a story worthy weekend.

Brian Upton: You too, Marc . Thank you. All right. Thanks, Brian.

All right, we’ll see you.

Marc Moss: Okay.

Thanks, Brian. And thank *you* for listening today.

Next week, I catch up with Laura King.

Laura King: Yeah, so actually I’m super excited about the project itself and gathering these stories. My cousin and I have two great uncles who are pretty interesting historical figures and lots of glass, both lawyers, and I’m a lawyer.

So that’s kinda fun. , one of them was very conservative and the other one was very liberal. So we’ve got a guy who is an FBI and involved in propaganda, supporting Japanese internment, on the one hand. And then we’ve got, the other guy who was, a criminal defense attorney and, very active in, you know, abolition of criminal punishment and, the efforts early, early efforts to legalize marijuana.

Marc Moss: Tune in for her story, and our conversation, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of tile. If you need tile work done. Give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my [email protected]

Gabriel Silverman: Hey, this is Gabe from gecko designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell us something. Learn more at gecko design socks. Oh, it

Marc Moss: was a little broadcasting company. Learn more at missoulabroadcasting.com. Float Missoula. Learn more at floatmsladotcomandmissoulaevents.net podcast production by me, Marc Moss. Remember to get your tickets for the next in-person tell us something storytelling.

Marc Moss: I live at the Willma on March 30th, tickets and more information at log jam, presents.com. To learn more about tell us something, please visit tell us something.org.