Joseph Grady talks about Native spaces, acting, art and storytelling.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Joseph Grady

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what [00:01:00] you may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board share Joseph Grady. Let’s listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Joseph Grady, current academic advisor at the university of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member Joseph. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.

Joseph Grady: oh, yeah. It’s absolutely my pleasure.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Thank you. I think we should just hop right in and if you’d be willing to share your impactful experience, I’d love to hear.

Joseph Grady: Yeah, absolutely. Um, again, thank you [00:02:00] for inviting me and, um, been thinking about this, um, impactful experience and, um, there’s so much in life to choose from.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. Of this kind of question. So it really was racking my brain about like, you know, what’s important enough or what’s cool enough, or what have you. And I decided to just kind of let it flow if, if you will. Mm-hmm um, the, what, the thing that, uh, has come to mind, I think most recently is for me as, um, not just an academic, but as a creative.

Joseph Grady: An artist, um, creative, an actor mm-hmm writer, um, painter, um, outside of the workplace. Uh, there’s a lot that I think goes on with, um, my advising position where there’s lots of amazing stories with students and so forth, but I’m not sure entirely if that’s appropriate to tell in this space. Um, but that said, I honed in.

Joseph Grady: Uh, a story with, [00:03:00] um, a recent acting opportunity that I had. Um, and I, you know, I applied for a lot of, uh, small roles, uh, a lot of walk on stuff here in Montana, and it gives me a lot of experience to, uh, do film acting, um, in a way, and kind of in a way that’s very fulfilling, but also, um, helps me, you know, with the creative expression.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm . Things. Um, and it’s very informative and I learned quite a lot from the process and so forth, but that’s it. Um, essentially I had applied recently for an acting gig, um, for, that was calling for a native American role mm-hmm um, and. Reached out for it and got a, a, a call back if you will. Um, from the casting director who reached out to me and, um, indicated at that time that it was, it was actually for local, they were making a local call for [00:04:00] actors and the gig was in Los Angeles, California mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: And, um, I was like, oh, well, I’m in Missoula, Montana kind of negates that one. Yeah. And then had just a, sort of a brief follow up and sort of conversation. And, um, you know, she expressed some, um, like, oh, you know, darn it because you’d be perfect for the role kind of a thing. And. Um, you know, I was apologetic that I didn’t really notice that it was in LA.

Joseph Grady: I hope I didn’t waste your time kind of a thing, you know, in that setting it’s I really, really wanna make sure that I’m, you know, keeping it on the professional level. And, um, that point was just like, okay, so, you know, no big deal, but then about two weeks later, um, got a call back from the same casting director, um, who reached out.

Joseph Grady: Um, asked me if I wanted the gig, um, which was to fly down to Los Angeles and, and do about three days of shooting mm-hmm in [00:05:00] various locations. And, um, that kind of, sort of tip things off. And I was like, uh, much was running through my head. You know, there’s a lot of planning that had to happen. It was a very sort of short turnaround time between actually getting the gig and getting to LA I think it was about a week and I.

Joseph Grady: uh, turnaround. And so, you know, just sort of that preparation and then what is even the job, right? Yeah. But then that was a lot of excitement and it turned out to be like a really amazing experience. And I, you know, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun and so forth and, um, it, um, you know, added of course to my resume and my credentials and, um, expanded my opportunities, at least in terms of like getting into unions and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Uh, but I think the, the actual experience of getting on set and working with other native American actors in those kinds of professional spaces was really sort of the, the real hook for me. Mm-hmm but, uh, overall that’s kind of [00:06:00] the, the gist of what was happening. Um, and it was, it’s probably one of the more significant sort of things to happen in, in the last year.

Joseph Grady: Um, and so that was, um, That was really cool. I really, really had a, a really good time with that one.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. I know you had mentioned this to me, um, around when it was happening or a little before. And so I think that’s very exciting and I’m glad that, um, it seems things went well and you really enjoyed your time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So, what about this experience, um, made you choose it kind of getting at, how has it either changed you or impacted you since?

Joseph Grady: Hmm. Um, it’s. I working here in Montana as an actor, just speaking from the acting, um, space alone. Yeah. Um, there’s, I’ve had a, I think a real opportunity in the last, probably [00:07:00] five to 10 years where I’ve this.

Joseph Grady: Um, I guess you wanna say, I don’t wanna say movement necessarily, but a shift is happening in the television to film. Okay. Where, um, the call for native American actors is, um, becoming more. Of a qualified type position. Um, and it’s one that is for me as an actor created all of this access, right? While at the same time, eliminating a whole bunch of competition for roles that was previously, you know, sharing the same space.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. You had a lot of, um, what, what you’ll hear calls for and sort of acting resumes and on acting calls, looking for ethnic ambiguity, right? Mm-hmm so that, you know, if you are classified as ethnically, uh, [00:08:00] ambiguous, you can fulfill many. Right as, um, Latinx, um, middle Eastern, um, you know, sort of Arabic identities to, um, to any of the Pacific is or Asian.

Joseph Grady: Classifications, if you will. And historically, I think particularly, um, in film and TV, back in the old days, it was like if you had black hair and any sort of a complexion, they would slap a little makeup on you and you were it, that was, you know, you were this role. Um, and so the, you know, the scope for ethnically ambiguous was even wider.

Joseph Grady: I think back then, mm-hmm and nowadays it’s a lot more. Arrow, um, to even like more recently where you have calls for specific ethnic identities to, you know, fulfill roles. And, um, that’s quite a, a, a big shift in, in an industry that is so fast paced. And [00:09:00] so like, concerned with anything in production other than getting.

Joseph Grady: Cultural humility pieces, um, on point or correct all the time. Um, and so that for me, I think was kind of the big takeaway more recently is the work that I’ve been doing as an actor has allowed me to work with entities, people, and productions, where that. Um, attention to cultural authenticity has been really out front.

Joseph Grady: Um, and so as an indigenous actor, that’s refreshing, uh, because what it says is these roles are for you mm-hmm and for like, for you, not just alone, but, um, people who also identify as, as indigenous and so forth or come from native communities. Yeah. And so it creates opportunity, um, as well. Allow the stories to be more authentic, I think, um, from where they’re coming from, [00:10:00] um, with that with people sort of thinking about that stuff automatically, what you get in those spaces are people who actually start to kind of ask questions and really express.

Joseph Grady: Their humility. Um, there are certainly incidents of that that were on this last job, as well as like other like projects that I’ve worked on. I think, um, probably the first, well, one of the first like major acting gigs that I ever got was winner in the blood and. Um, the directors actually, we had a, a night where we went out and had Oros at Scotty’s table and we sat around with, uh, a whole bunch of our in native actors from the film mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: Um, and we were able to have a conversation of really sort of candid conversation with the directors who were like we’re too white dudes. And. We don’t know the first thing about being native American or what that’s like and so forth. So you need to help us please help us understand, uh, what those are like so that we can like really sort of give this very accurate [00:11:00] portrayal and invited us to give feedback and sort of, um, you know, scan the, the script and so forth.

Joseph Grady: And Hey, this is kind of how we would say it kind of a thing. Um, and that information. Like onboarded with that process in a way that was very respectful and mindful. Um, and I, I wanna say very sort of forward thinking if you will. Um, where I was very impressed at that moment with the directors was like, well, I’m, I’m in with the right gig.

Joseph Grady: I mean, this is like I had a feeling I would walk in here and be like, you know, here’s how you be native American, Mr. Um, and, uh, you know, I kind of roll the eyes and you, you jump into the role and do the gig. As an actor, that’s kind of what it is really. I mean, I’m an instrument. I mean, actors, theater people, we are sort of the paint on the canvas.

Joseph Grady: And so it really is, you know, we it’s, we’re trained to follow directing, um, and that’s not always like fulfilling if you will. Yeah. Um, in, in those kinds of ways, [00:12:00] Especially when it comes to cultural and racial identity. Um, and so I’ve seen a big shift in, in the more recent years where you have more of that presence of mind on set and in the conversation.

Joseph Grady: And even in the invite where those people will be very respectful out front acknowledging culture and identity and their own humility in that space where they’re actually looking to you to be the expert on that experience. While also sort of like infusing this whole dialogue and role into the process.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm is like kind of some new stuff. I mean, at least for me, it is, um, and this experience in Los Angeles was, was very much the same.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. That’s exciting and great to hear. So would you say you do believe you’ve been experiencing, or you do think there are changes in the industry?

Joseph Grady: Yeah. I mean the, the, the little that I experience that I do have with film, um, or television has just.

Joseph Grady: [00:13:00] Historically been either as an observer or as a learner in the classroom space, um, you know, learning about critique and, and understanding stories. Um, and you know, there were there, I think various examples along the way. I don’t really want to draw attention to too much. Yeah. But I think prior to, to my experience, what you would get is kind of what I would describe, uh, the actor would show up, they would dress you up.

Joseph Grady: Here’s how you play Indian and then sort of onto the film. And then you do your best to sort of infuse your own personal characteristic and into the, into the storyline and, and into the setting. Um, but there’s not a lot of like, um, collaboration between director and the creative production and the actor themselves, as the, say the indigenous person mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: And that goes all the way back to the, um, you know, to. The the Oscar incident with, um, I’m just forgetting Marlon Brando, um, and the young, [00:14:00] uh, native woman who accepted the award for him, you know, from that point, you know, you, even prior to that, you had indigenous people like calling for greater respect in these spaces.

Joseph Grady: And, you know, here it is, um, you know, in, into the 2000 and twenties, um, and into the two thousands, and you’re starting to kind of get this recognition and. I think there was a hesitancy along the way to mm-hmm for that, because maybe people just didn’t know how to communicate that. I, I don’t want to like sound like I understand where that was coming from necessarily where the hesitancy was coming from.

Joseph Grady: Um, but in terms of like the outcomes, um, you know, with television shows like. Reservation dogs and, and some of the others that are, are now out on, um, various outlets, like FX and so forth. Um, you, what you have is our native American voices and creativity actually driving the ship mm-hmm and it turns out that it’s it’s it’s really.

Joseph Grady: Funny. There’s a [00:15:00] lot of crossover. Uh, it communicates, well, no matter which culture you’re coming from, it’s just an indigenous perspective. Um, and that’s really refreshing. And I think that that for when we start talking about storytelling and, and being part of the story, Yeah, we as indigenous people tend to thrive because, um, that’s, and not just indigenous people, but many, many stories, but indigenous people as continent, um, storytelling has been deeply infused into who we are as people mm-hmm, our process, how we learn together, the way we built community, uh, et cetera, was, was very much like stories under the stars.

Joseph Grady: And so that’s, that’s how we identify largely. And so when we get, you know, opportunities to be in these creative spaces, we thrive as storytellers. And so I think that that’s, for me watching that happen throughout my lifetime, I mean, I’m 51 years old and. When reservation dogs [00:16:00] dropped the first episode dropped, I was able to watch it.

Joseph Grady: I remember thinking, man, I’ve been waiting like 50 years for this TV show. Um, you know, sort of speak my, speak, my language, and represent, Hey, that’s me on the screen. And identifying in those kinds of ways where we’re not just backdrop characters, we are the foreground and we are the interest of the narrative.

Joseph Grady: Um, and. The kind of moving forward more recently having that access point is I think in part even largely as to why I’ve had any kind of success as an actor, uh, because most of the roles that I step into are have a, you know, a call for a native American, um, of my bearing mm-hmm. Um, it’s not like, um, you know, some person who’s not native American who slaps on a wig and a little bit of sort of brown makeup can then step in there and be like, oh, you know, [00:17:00] it’s like, did you know you called for a native American, uh, to walk through the door and, you know, show up at the audition.

Joseph Grady: And so, um, it, and I think along with that, what I am seeing are when I do go to these auditions, at least when they were held in person. Yeah, you would see a lot of like young, sexy native people, like hanging out, you know, good looking like mm-hmm of all walks and looks, right. Native people showing up to say, Hey, I’m gonna take a swing at this thing, uh, and try this acting gig.

Joseph Grady: And you know, maybe they did a little high school or whatever, you know, sort of goofed around, you know, nowadays you it’s, most of it’s like on the social media, you can film little, um, skits and so forth. do those, uh, sort of have an audience without like having the actual audience and so forth. Yeah, yeah.

Joseph Grady: That I’d be, I think that’s really cool. And, um, the, you know, I think there’s more to say about LA, um, in more in greater [00:18:00] detail, but I mean, in terms of the overall experience for me, the, you know, the, the access point for other indigenous actors, not just myself is probably, I think a huge turnaround mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. So you’ve talked about kind of being a little bit in the industry and acting a fair amount. And I was curious to kind of see how that ties into, um, you also like working at the university and if this has changed, maybe would you hope to pursue, or do you enjoy having that balance? Because it does seem like you are doing, like you said, many different.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Artistic ventures as well. Yeah.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. I think that’s a great question. And I, I, that was actually one that I was really sort of reflecting on as I was doing this because, um, it is, it is a concern for me, you know, being, you know, in an academic professional setting, um, you know, fulfilling a role within that space.[00:19:00]

Joseph Grady: Um, and having a. You know, sort of set objective and, and goal for, for that position. Um, and then going out and doing like professional acting along with it, how is that going to be accepted? Is it going to be accepted? Is it going to be one of those things where it’s, you know, um, someone doesn’t like the idea of that maybe.

Joseph Grady: And mm-hmm um, so trying to like, just be mindful about those factors. Um, and fortunately the, um, I think the, the team that I work with and, um, and you know, my supervisor who’s absolutely amazing has been nothing but support. In that space. Yeah. And so I think that I’m really sort of kicking this around and like, you know, oh my gosh.

Joseph Grady: And how do I find that balance point? Right. Um, where it’s, it’s not only, um, fulfilling, uh, an objective for me, but also, you know, keeping me fair and in tuned [00:20:00] in with my students, you know, because I also, um, that, that is a very realistic consideration for. That said, um, balance to this point hasn’t been terribly difficult.

Joseph Grady: Um, you know, realistically, um, you know, you get the work done and so forth, but that said looking forward, I think the way that I’ve, I’ve thought about this, and I think the way that I’ve always thought about this, like with photography or with writing, um, any of the script writing that I do any of. Like the illustration or, or art that I do a graphic novel that I’m working on.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, any of the, like the acting they’re in all of that stuff is like creating opportunity if opportunity is needed. Um, Kind of fallbacks, if you will even. Um, I mean, let’s face it. We live in some pretty uncertain times. Mm-hmm , um, there’s a lot out there that is just putting to question even some of [00:21:00] the old standards that we’re used to just having around, you know, like education.

Joseph Grady: It was, I think at one point it was just like one of those things. Thought never would be it, it just was always going to be the way it was, you know, teacher in the classroom, attitude from the student that doesn’t look the same anymore. I mean, people are talking about arming teachers. The guns and so forth.

Joseph Grady: And so the it’s a very different sort of world right now. Mm-hmm, uh, than what I had grown up in as a kid. And so like, as I look to the future, I wanna make sure that I have, um, I think a lot of experience under my belt. if at some point something a shift needs to be made, um, that certainly is an objective or a goal of mine right now.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm, , I’m pretty stoked about the life that I have. Yeah. You know, with, um, the, even the roles that I fulfill in my professional life, um, you know, there’s tell us something which serving on [00:22:00] the board and the committee there, you know, has its, has it. Peace in my life. And then there’s the artistic thing in all, its sort of various forms with the writing mm-hmm uh, to, to create right now it’s like a lot of focus on photography.

Joseph Grady: Um, and then there’s, there’s also the work thing, right? Yeah. Um, I wanna make sure that I’m building my own experience and resume along the way, um, because you never really know what’s what the future holds. I wanna. Or that I’m, I’m prepared enough in a way. So if something does happen where change is like, oh, um, here’s how tomorrow’s going to look.

Joseph Grady: And it’s not like it was yesterday. I have the kind of footing and I think, um, world experience where I can go out and, and make a pivot or a shift if I need to mm-hmm . And, you know, like right now with the acting thing, kinda like what we’ve been talking about, [00:23:00] part of that is building that opportunity to look towards maybe getting an agent.

Joseph Grady: Now, do I join the unions? Is that something that is, is going to be equitable? Um, for me as a professional. Yeah. Um, and right now, um, where I am, um, making advances is in the workplace, um, at the university, um, and we’ve been making considerable strides and that’s on the backs of a lot of work and a lot of focus and a lot of effort and a lot of teamwork as well.

Joseph Grady: I mean, as a, as an entity, our Montana 10 has had a lot of success. If you will. Um, and we just want to continue to grow that, um, so that we can, you know, our work with other entities yeah. In university campus settings, um, is kind of a full package if you will. Mm-hmm because right now it seems to be working for students.

Joseph Grady: Uh, works for me. I love it. I, I find it [00:24:00] very, very fulfilling. Um, and so. Both are kind of on this trajectory of their own, if you will. Yeah. Um, and if anything, I, what I’ve learned in my life is that, um, just to be present for the ride, um, and, you know, make those big choices when they have to be made. Um, but for the rest of the time, just really, really try and make the most of it.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, this has been a, a pretty tough. You know, there’s, um, things that happen with family and, and, you know, there’s things that happened with students. I mean, this is, this last two years has been incredibly heavy. Um, yeah. In terms of people getting sick to, um, people. Struggling with mental health mm-hmm and in my work position and my job position, that’s, that’s very much at the forefront of what we do is, is working with students sort of navigating that stuff.

Joseph Grady: And, you know, it’s like you [00:25:00] need mental health services. Here’s where to go for that. And sort of just taking a lot of time to listen and so forth. Mm-hmm and it’s been a waity year. I mean, a lot of people are struggling with a lot of like really dark. Um, and I think the isolation and the uncertainty about future, especially now more than ever, um, you know, sort of this eruption of just violence in the way that we are, I’m not used to necessarily experiencing.

Joseph Grady: In what is this country is supposed to be mm-hmm um, I think is leaving a lot of uncertainty in terms of one sense of their own safety. Just going out into the world for, to go shopping or to go to school, you know, places where once that was like, those were the safest places to be. Um, and so the, you know, the students that I’m working with right now are, are kind of reflecting, I think, on a lot of that stuff and, and, you know, living through it while also trying to be students and in very [00:26:00] similar ways, think about their own futures.

Joseph Grady: What’s gonna come next. What am I gonna invested in? What’s gonna create opportunity. Um, what is my life and family going to look like moving forward and so forth? Yeah, definitely. There’s so much diversity in that realm that, um, right now the, the position that I find myself in, I kind of feel like roles like this are needed.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, and so, uh, for the moment, um, the university gig is, is the main focus. Whereas the creative sort of electric forces in my life are the things that allow me to kind of process that stuff and find a different kind of fulfill. Yeah, um, in life and I don’t know, maybe it’s just sort of come to that where I’m like really sort of seeking those additional bits of, of input.

Joseph Grady: And I’m also getting older. I mean, you know, I’m not getting any younger right now and, and, you know, I don’t wanna be, I, I, I’ve always sort of, I, [00:27:00] um, worried about that time in life, where you’d get to a place where it’s like, I wish I had done that, you know, Um, I, I wonder what would’ve happened if I ever ever made a go of that acting gig right.

Joseph Grady: Or putting some of those skills to use, um, along the way. And I, I don’t know if I necessarily wanna find myself there. So maybe even subconsciously I’m kind of like pushing myself in directions where I can kind of spread out into those areas, get that experience. Yeah. You know, dinner in the blood. That first movie role was like a bucket list moment.

Joseph Grady: And I remember just not only landing the role, but going and doing the gig and then coming home and then seeing the film at the end and taking part in the whole process for me was like, that’s kind of it. I mean, I was a native, I played a native role, so I was a native actor, a black feet character in a story written by a black feet, man.

Joseph Grady: I think I’ve done it. I think of. [00:28:00] Accomplished all I wanted to do. Mm-hmm but then moved on to like these other sort of roles and so forth because it just it’s it’s really great work.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. Okay. Um, kind of slightly related, but is there any maybe form of art that you really hope to start doing or to take part in?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Um,

Joseph Grady: I think that, I mean, for me, the, the, something that is less fulfilled is the writing. Mm. Um, that’s where I think I’m, I’m really trying to tie a bunch of things up, so to speak. Um, I have a couple of different scripts that I’ve been writing. Um, I’ve got a story for graphic novel that I’m trying to round out.

Joseph Grady: Um, and all of it is like sort of indigenous influenced. Um, so I guess you would wanna say more contemporary type work or even into like science fiction. Okay. Um, that’s the sort of the area that I’m going. And then something that is, [00:29:00] has always been a natural fit for me is comedy. Um, When I was like in my early twenties, used to do comedy open mics.

Joseph Grady: I used to go out and do sets and get up on stage and try and exercise some of that theater experience as well as the, like the creative writing side of things always loved comedy as an outlet and trying to do it creatively as a, as a native. Uh, person trying to reach the audience in a way, um, with that aspect of my identity, um, has been infused into that.

Joseph Grady: And so the, the writing piece for me right now is something that, um, I really wanna see kind of, you know, bubble to the surface next. Um, yeah, like I said, there’s a lot more outlets these days. Mm-hmm for a lot more. Call for native writers, actors, creative types, even production people. And I mean, I’m talking to the production people out there, the young folks who are like going into the, into, into, you know, either [00:30:00] theater or film or TV, if you’re a native American and you’re on the.

Joseph Grady: and you’re on the production side. You’re on the postproduction you’re behind the camera. You’re in this sort of creative force behind the scenes. Um, that’s that part is like, I think really, really significant and important. Yeah. And I’d like to, I’d like to break into that a little bit. I’d like to see some writing represented and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm because we need the, the turnaround for that is creating opportunity for the next native writer or indigenous actor down the

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: road. Yeah. All right. Well, I think that we will start wrapping this up, but thank you once again. Um, and as my final question, what is the best piece of life advice you’ve been given?

Joseph Grady: Oh, man. Um, Well there’s one and I can’t say it here. Um, because it’s, it’s, I think three quarters of the phrase is cursing. Um,

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: [00:31:00] okay. I mean, whatever you wanna share, you can share

Joseph Grady: let me, let me dig for something else, maybe. Okay. Um, basically I think in the, some of the greatest. Perspective I’ve I’ve learned in life or, um, come from the, the people that I know in life who got sober, um, you know, the people who struggled with addiction and, and alcoholism I’m, I’m one of them, you know, I’m one of those people who’s thankfully, you know, recovered from alcoholism or, or is recovery.

Joseph Grady: You’re always in recovery. Um, but one of the things that has just made life, particularly for me, way more doable and has made all of the rest of this stuff, like really accessible is just to keep it simple. Um, I have this real capacity to overthink. Um, I think that that’s present in my photography and my, in my acting and my writing and my creativity and my [00:32:00] painting and my process and all of that stuff.

Joseph Grady: And, um, I, I think the one thing I’ve learned in my life is that, um, the, the biggest thing that is standing in my way, ways of me, uh, and it always has been, it’s always been this, this sort of internal dialogue that has been happening and has been informed of course, by. Influences and factors and other voices and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm but I think that keep it simple thing was just a way for me to learn, to just sort of get out of my own way.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah, no, I like it. I think that’s a great piece of advice. Okay, well, Joseph, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Joseph Grady: Awesome Sierra. This is really cool. Um, good job on your podcast and I, I really appreciate the opportunity to come on and, and share my experience.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. Thank you for sharing and thank you guys for listening and take

Joseph Grady: care.[00:33:00]

Marc Moss: Thanks, Joseph and Sierra. Joseph Grady is a professional actor and artist with roles in films like winter in the blood, Jimmy P and slant streets. He has been painting and selling art for more than 30 years throughout the Northwest. Joseph graduated from the university of Montana with a degree in social work and a focus in native American studies and lives in his community.

Marc Moss: As a change agent addressing social justice. And anti-racism action. Joseph serves on the Missoula food bank anti-racism task force. And is the chair for tell us something’s board of directors, Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice.

Marc Moss: To sitting down to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty brownie Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, [00:34:00] wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to her. Inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company.

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast. Remember to get your ticket to the next. September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Rachel Bemis shares her impactful experience of finally deciding to become a teacher after a fulfilling career in other sectors.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Rachel Bemis

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board treasurer, Rachel Beas let’s

Sarah FitzGerald: listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I am joined by Rachel Beas elementary teacher in Western Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast

Sarah FitzGerald: today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Me too. And of course, so let’s just hop right in and if you’d be willing, could you tell us a little bit about your impactful experience?

Sarah FitzGerald: Sure. Um, you know, when I was asked to do this podcast, I think like many people, I thought about [00:02:00] several different things that have impacted me the most, but I think really my journey, um, to be, and my detours, um, to becoming a teacher is probably the most, um, impactful experience for.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: I’d love to dive a little bit into that. And if you could share kind of what your journey has been to becoming

Sarah FitzGerald: a teacher. Sure. I was one of those little girls sitting in second grade with Mrs. Roach, knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew it. from second grade. And so, you know, all through elementary, middle school, high school, you read my yearbook.

Sarah FitzGerald: Everything is about me being a teacher mm-hmm . And I decided before I started community college, that I would start working with kids. I was an aunt, I had three, uh, I had two nephews and a niece by the time I was 20 and had baby. Yeah. And had babysat, uh, a ton starting at age 11, 12 years old. And, and.

Sarah FitzGerald: Really comfortable around [00:03:00] kids, but I wanted to make sure that translated into education mm-hmm . Um, and so when I was in high school, I, um, did some volunteering in a first grade classroom and I loved it. And then it was time to graduate and time to go to college. Yeah. One of the jobs that I got was as a summer camp counselor, And I hated it.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, wow. And , and for whatever reason, I convinced myself that that was teaching mm-hmm and I was like, this is not a good fit. Like I, this is I like, yeah. I don’t know what the problem is this whole time. For years and years and years, I had a plan in place. This is what I was going to do and was like, absolutely not.

Sarah FitzGerald: I need to do something else. so fast forward, like 12 years mm-hmm and I was a real estate lender in town, um, [00:04:00] and really enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I stopped enjoying it. Mm-hmm and I was about 31 years. I was 30, 30, 31 years old. Mm-hmm . and I just started feeling like I needed a change and I, I didn’t know what that was.

Sarah FitzGerald: I didn’t know if it was a career change. I didn’t know if it was just switching companies. Yeah. You know, I wasn’t sure. So those feelings were kind of stirring in my brain. And, and so, as I mentioned, I always knew, and everyone knew around me, my whole childhood, my high school years, that I was gonna be a teacher.

Sarah FitzGerald: There was no other option. I didn’t even think about anything else. Mm-hmm . And so when these, these uncertain feelings were starting to stir around. I randomly had a phone conversation with my first love from high school. Mm-hmm Roland. And I hadn’t seen him or talked to him since I was 17 years old. Yeah.

Sarah FitzGerald: And [00:05:00] I only knew him when I was 17 years old, so I only knew him for a year of my life. Okay. And we had this lovely conversation. Ironically I was at work. He was a real estate lender. And one of the first questions he asked me was, are you a teacher? And I was really taken aback because I kind of forgot that that was my path.

Sarah FitzGerald: And that’s the only thing that he had in mind. So when he had reflected on our time together, just me as a person, that’s what he focused on. Mm-hmm like, of course she’s a teacher, right? I’m talking to her 14 years later. Of course she’s a teacher. And I was like, no, actually I went, took a different path and you know, and I was very successful in my career.

Sarah FitzGerald: I had purchased my own home by myself and mm-hmm , you know, I legitimately had a career, but I had this nagging feeling that it was. Time for a change. Yeah. And so when he made that comment to me, it really affected me, um, to the point [00:06:00] that I got off the phone with him and sobbed in the bathroom at work.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, I know. And I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what that means, but you know, it, it almost felt like I was a failure. Like I hadn’t done what I set out to do, even though I was living a great life. Yeah. So fast forward a little bit, again, still stirring feelings. And I had a realtor friend that invited me to a networking event.

Sarah FitzGerald: It was this monthly, like women’s group that met and talked about business ideas and tried to do business together. Mm-hmm and we were sitting around the table. and, um, it was like a hundred people in a conference room, 10 people to have tabled one of which I knew and had become friends with, but everyone else was pretty much strangers.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And we’re sitting at this table of 10 people and the keynote speaker comes on the microphone and she said, before we, you know, have lunch and [00:07:00] before we chat, I want you to talk to your table about what would you do as an icebreaker question? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? And I, of course, maybe not.

Sarah FitzGerald: Of course my, maybe this is shocking. uh, I started crying immediately, um, at this table full of strangers mm-hmm and I said, I’ll go first. I’ll go first. Okay. And I said, I would quit my job and I would go back to school and I would become a teacher. Mm. and it just hit me that that’s what I was supposed to do and why I allowed my 18 year old self to convince myself that summer camp was teaching and let go of my dream.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. You know, we, we learn. Right. Um, so now I was this career woman that owned a house and had responsibilities. But I knew I needed to leave. I knew it immediately. I, I [00:08:00] never looked back Sierra ever. The next day I took the day off of work. Mm-hmm I went to the local university of Montana, Missoula mm-hmm I enrolled, I reviewed my finances that weekend.

Sarah FitzGerald: and on Monday I gave my two week notice. Wow. Yeah. And I left that job 11 years ago. Mm-hmm I started taking classes that summer. I didn’t even wait till the fall. I started that may. And I got my teaching degree and a minor in reading in three years, mind you, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to figure out how am I going to do this?

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And there was times where I had seven little part-time jobs, little. Oh my gosh. I know. Like, it might have been like one day a week. I worked at this daycare and uh, the other day of the week I passed out these pamphlets and it was all these little, [00:09:00] little jobs. Mm. Um, but I did it to make it work and I never, ever, ever looked back.

Sarah FitzGerald: And, um, I’m now going to be entering my ninth year of teaching.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. Okay. Really? What a journey. And

Sarah FitzGerald: it was, yeah, quite a journey, some detours along the way. But once I made the decision, I knew that this was going to impact my life. Mm-hmm .

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And now that you have been teaching. Um, or like you said, nine years, do you see yourself staying in teaching or potentially moving in the future?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: You

Sarah FitzGerald: know, I am really into embracing side hustles. Um, that’s my, that’s my new thing. So. You know, my passion is my day to day teaching mm-hmm . Um, I have looked into the past just based on my past experience and leadership qualities. Would I wanna be an administrator? Would I want to go in a different direction?

Sarah FitzGerald: Would I [00:10:00] wanna use education to work at a museum or whatever it might be? um, for me, I’m good. Like I am beyond satisfied. Mm-hmm I, um, I went back to school in 2019 and I earned my master’s. Last year. Okay. Yeah. So I have that. And so that was really a great professional development opportunity for a few years, um, to continue to learn more, um, I’ve focused on integrating arts in the classroom.

Sarah FitzGerald: So that has challenged me as an educator. As well. So for me, I think I’m good. I really would, you know, it took me a while to get here. Mm-hmm and I’m, I’m very, very grateful. And, um, beyond satisfied, I feel extremely fulfilled. Now I will, I will say I am the type of person. That’s always pursuing other things, but that doesn’t, that that has nothing to do with my career and my passion mm-hmm so that.[00:11:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: that would be like, for example, you know, I would love to teach, um, as an adjunct professor and maybe get my foot in the door at a university mm-hmm maybe that’s something that could transition into teaching a summer class, or maybe after retirement potentially being something, um, a mentor for educators.

Sarah FitzGerald: Things like that. So I’ve definitely looked into that. Um, I was a TA this summer mm-hmm , um, at the university for my old master’s program. So just kind of dipping my toe into different things, um, has been fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Very nice. And did you know kind of what grade or age of students you wanted to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, because of Mrs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Roach, my second grade teacher, I always felt like that was the right grade level for me. Yeah. Um, and then it was kind of a joke because I’m, I’m on the petite side. Um, so I was like, I don’t want them to be taller than me [00:12:00] and I just always really liked that age group. And so ironically, when I. Did my student teaching, um, I student taught in second grade mm-hmm and then I ended up getting hired from that same school in first grade.

Sarah FitzGerald: So I taught first grade for five years. Mm-hmm then I taught second grade for a year. Um, and then I was ready to make a move to a different school district for a variety of reasons. And the position that was available. Was at the district that I wanted, that I’m currently at was fourth grade remote, fully remote for the full year.

Sarah FitzGerald: And the remote thing of course, you know, is a little scary in general. Mm-hmm um, and then fourth grade was really scary for me. That felt like a huge jump from first. Yeah. Um, and to be honest, I felt like it would be a good foot in the door. And then I would kind of get a feel for if there’s other grades that open up and ironically a second grade position did actually open up and I [00:13:00] had zero interest and okay.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. So this will be my third year teaching fourth grade. I love it. And I would say about seven of the kids last year were taller than me. wow. Okay. So I prepared for that now every year. Yes. Um, but I absolutely love it and I, I don’t know. This might be the perfect grade for me. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Interesting. Um, and then.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think maybe what skills do you think helped you go into teaching or maybe had you learned before you went into teaching? Um, yeah. That you think are really applicable,

Sarah FitzGerald: you know, for me, I think some potentially non-traditional things have really prepared me to be successful. I think that, you know, I did my student, I did part of my student teaching in, um, Guang, China in 2014.[00:14:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: And I was expecting to enter an environment that was very rigid. and that I really need, and I love that I was really excited cause I’m kind of type a and I really like things very structured. And so I was like, okay, great. Like I’m gonna have a set schedule. I’m gonna know exactly what’s happening, what grades I’m teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it was the opposite because of the dynamics of the country. Um, that certainly trickled down into how the schools were run, how the students behaved. The relationship between the teacher and the student. And I was blindsided at how flexible I needed to be. Mm-hmm and that was very challenging for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, I didn’t have a choice I had to be. Um, and because of that, that is one of the biggest things that has translated into my teaching life here in the United States. And it sounds really silly. but the idea of covering someone’s recess [00:15:00] duty for them spontaneously, and the idea of, you know, a student having an issue and you needing to stop a lesson and do something else.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm , those are skills that are really important and they build community. Um, and so those were things that I really brought into. My career that I wasn’t expecting. Mm-hmm I think, I think also, you know, sometimes I joke like, oh my gosh, if I would’ve just gone to college, when I was supposed to go to college, then I would be retiring in five years or whatever it might be, or, you know, different things like that.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, or I would be making more money cause I would have more experience, but, but honestly, I don’t know that I would be where I am today. If I. Gone on that path that I had expected. When I went back to college a little older at 31, I took it very seriously and I had a mortgage to pay. I have [00:16:00] responsibilities that I wouldn’t have had when I was 18 years old.

Sarah FitzGerald: And so I was very focused, not only on actually getting good grades and learning, but also getting it done quickly so that I could start making. Money, even if it was even if it was a teacher’s salary, at least it wasn’t seven part-time jobs. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I think those are the things that I was not expecting to bring in and to learn that I, that I have.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So you think that if you had gone into teaching, um, I guess right after school, do you think you would still be in teaching or. I don’t know what

Sarah FitzGerald: happened. I mean, I really don’t know. I would say that my advice, if I was talking to my younger self or someone else, mm-hmm , um, you know, my advice would be to always pursue what you feel your passion is, but don’t just go straight to college.

Sarah FitzGerald: And what I mean by that is like, I still [00:17:00] would. I still, I think looking back, I would’ve just pursued teaching more while I was getting my. So I would’ve thrown myself more into the classroom. I would’ve volunteered more. I would not, I would’ve spoken with more educators about their experience and versus telling myself that summer camp was the same as teaching mm-hmm or like saying babysitting children is the same as teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: It’s not at all. Like, my job is. Relationships with parents. My job is about relationships with other people and those other teachers and those interpersonal connections. It’s not just like, oh, I get along with kids and I like learning about math. It’s so much more than that. So I think it’s about, if you have something in mind, take that time to volunteer.

Sarah FitzGerald: You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, don’t just go straight to vet school for the next eight years. Like. Get your high into a vet clinic, you know, like [00:18:00] those kind of, those kind of things. Mm-hmm okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. And do you have kind of a favorite aspect of teaching? Because like you just mentioned, there are many different things that you do and it’s not only.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Working with the students.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. I mean, I would say because of the grade level that I teach in fourth grade, there is so much room for not only creativity, but also for them to choose different ways to learn. So I think for me, it’s great to be able to expose my students to a variety of ways to learn, uh, specific skill.

Sarah FitzGerald: And then for them to be able to have the, uh, confidence to be able to choose which one works best for them. So I think that that is, that is something that we have the luxury of doing now. I, you know, it wasn’t like that when I was growing up even, um, that we were just taught one way to do it, and this was the only way to do it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And now there’s, there’s so many different ways to express your, um, skill level. And so [00:19:00] that, that exposure is, is really fun. And to be able to see students take ownership of their learning

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm okay, cool. Cool. I think that’s an interesting topic. Um, kind of thinking about different learning and also education changing over time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think has changed or maybe what are some differences that you’ve seen even from when you were student to now, or just throughout your past years teaching?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, a couple things. I mean, I grew up going to a private school. There was 40 students in my class mm-hmm um, and which is enormous. and you learned one way to learn things and that was it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it didn’t matter what you were necessarily going through emotionally, or if you were struggling academically, we were pushing along. And so that’s one thing that I take pride in is being able to assess my student and where they’re at. And if we are having [00:20:00] an emotional breakdown, if we are having students, you know, like this year we had students that were upset, they were having just conflict with it, with, you know, like friendship issues.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. They’re not able to learn. They’re not. And you know, if you certainly, if you have support of a school counselor or anything like that, that’s fabulous. But sometimes we don’t have that. And I had multiple occasions this past year where I just stopped teaching and we just got in a circle and talked and kind of problem solved some things.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, and that was a game changer because then I was able to get back to teaching and they were able to absorb it and care about it. Yeah. Um, because I was able to make that modification. So I think being able to have that flexibility is huge. I think. You know, dealing with COVID and so many different things going on that administration certainly recognizes how important it is to meet students needs of their social, emotional [00:21:00] needs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm first, before you can teach them anything. And so it comes back to that flexibility and, you know, being able to modify things like that. Mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: definitely okay. Um, kind of going back to knowing which grade you wanted to teach. Is there a grade you really don’t wanna teach or like you would never want to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, well, that’s funny. You’d say that when I was student teaching in second grade, We had a teacher that was in the middle school that got ill. And my principal said, can you please just step in just for a couple hours in seventh and eighth grade? Yeah. And it was fine. It was fun. But I came back and I was like, this is not a good fit for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Like I, I, yeah, I am an elementary teacher period. I. I could be a middle school teacher. I could be a high school teacher [00:22:00] for an hour if I needed to. I I’m joking, but more than. But it would not, it would, I would not be my best self. My best self is in elementary education where I can reach the whole student in a variety of ways, social, emotional, academic, um, that mix of love, but loving but firm, um, you know, clear expectations with a hug.

Sarah FitzGerald: That’s that’s who I am. Mm.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Okay. Alrighty. Well, I think that we’ll start wrapping things up here, but okay. As always, my last question is Rachel, what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Sarah FitzGerald: It is the most random and simple phrase and it is leave it alone. And I will tell you that my friend’s husband brought this phrase to me about 15 years ago.

Sarah FitzGerald: And to her, yeah, it’s really about picking your [00:23:00] battles, deciding when it’s appropriate to speak and not speak. Deciding when there’s certain things that you just need to leave it alone. And I used to not leave anything alone ever. I used to pick everything and I don’t mean nitpicky. I just mean that I felt like I was an advocate for myself and for everybody around me, even if they didn’t advocate for themselves.

Sarah FitzGerald: And I’ve learned with experience that it’s really important. Just like we’ve learned with tell us something it’s, it’s, it’s almost more important to listen than it is to talk. Mm. And the leave it alone thing has trickled into all aspects of my life, whether it is a student behavior that is just annoying, not dangerous.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm leave it alone. Right? Ignore it. Leave it. Whether it’s a personal situation where someone has said something, do I really need to comment on that? [00:24:00] Leave it alone. So this leave it alone. Thing has been a pattern for me. And it sounds really silly, but it actually has been like super profound for me.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I never ever had that piece of advice, but thank you. you’re welcome. Okay. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really

Sarah FitzGerald: appreciate. Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. And thank you guys for listening.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel and Sierra. Rachel is an elementary school teacher in Western Montana. Rachel has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in reading and earned her master of arts in integrated art and education all from the university of Montana. Miss. Rachel served at the local nonprofit north Missoula community development corporation as board chair and secretary in Missoula for 10 years, where she led [00:25:00] fundraising efforts, board retreats, and attended various conferences in and out of state.

Marc Moss: When Rachel is not working, she can be found with her St. Bernard Laura lie on logging, walks with friends, reading her next book for her monthly book club, grabbing a Quatro formage or pizza from Beka pizza. And planning her next road trip Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never-ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley.

Marc Moss: Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Marc Moss: Remember to get your ticket to the next event. [00:26:00] September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme. Letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Tell Us Something Board Secretary Sarah FitzGerald reflects on the impactful experience of volunteering for a Jesuit organization in St. Louis, Missouri.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Sarah FitzGerald

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board treasurer, Rachel Beas let’s

Sarah FitzGerald: listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I am joined by Rachel Beas elementary teacher in Western Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast

Sarah FitzGerald: today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Me too. And of course, so let’s just hop right in and if you’d be willing, could you tell us a little bit about your impactful experience?

Sarah FitzGerald: Sure. Um, you know, when I was asked to do this podcast, I think like many people, I thought about [00:02:00] several different things that have impacted me the most, but I think really my journey, um, to be, and my detours, um, to becoming a teacher is probably the most, um, impactful experience for.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: I’d love to dive a little bit into that. And if you could share kind of what your journey has been to becoming

Sarah FitzGerald: a teacher. Sure. I was one of those little girls sitting in second grade with Mrs. Roach, knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew it. from second grade. And so, you know, all through elementary, middle school, high school, you read my yearbook.

Sarah FitzGerald: Everything is about me being a teacher mm-hmm . And I decided before I started community college, that I would start working with kids. I was an aunt, I had three, uh, I had two nephews and a niece by the time I was 20 and had baby. Yeah. And had babysat, uh, a ton starting at age 11, 12 years old. And, and.

Sarah FitzGerald: Really comfortable around [00:03:00] kids, but I wanted to make sure that translated into education mm-hmm . Um, and so when I was in high school, I, um, did some volunteering in a first grade classroom and I loved it. And then it was time to graduate and time to go to college. Yeah. One of the jobs that I got was as a summer camp counselor, And I hated it.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, wow. And , and for whatever reason, I convinced myself that that was teaching mm-hmm and I was like, this is not a good fit. Like I, this is I like, yeah. I don’t know what the problem is this whole time. For years and years and years, I had a plan in place. This is what I was going to do and was like, absolutely not.

Sarah FitzGerald: I need to do something else. so fast forward, like 12 years mm-hmm and I was a real estate lender in town, um, [00:04:00] and really enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I stopped enjoying it. Mm-hmm and I was about 31 years. I was 30, 30, 31 years old. Mm-hmm . and I just started feeling like I needed a change and I, I didn’t know what that was.

Sarah FitzGerald: I didn’t know if it was a career change. I didn’t know if it was just switching companies. Yeah. You know, I wasn’t sure. So those feelings were kind of stirring in my brain. And, and so, as I mentioned, I always knew, and everyone knew around me, my whole childhood, my high school years, that I was gonna be a teacher.

Sarah FitzGerald: There was no other option. I didn’t even think about anything else. Mm-hmm . And so when these, these uncertain feelings were starting to stir around. I randomly had a phone conversation with my first love from high school. Mm-hmm Roland. And I hadn’t seen him or talked to him since I was 17 years old. Yeah.

Sarah FitzGerald: And [00:05:00] I only knew him when I was 17 years old, so I only knew him for a year of my life. Okay. And we had this lovely conversation. Ironically I was at work. He was a real estate lender. And one of the first questions he asked me was, are you a teacher? And I was really taken aback because I kind of forgot that that was my path.

Sarah FitzGerald: And that’s the only thing that he had in mind. So when he had reflected on our time together, just me as a person, that’s what he focused on. Mm-hmm like, of course she’s a teacher, right? I’m talking to her 14 years later. Of course she’s a teacher. And I was like, no, actually I went, took a different path and you know, and I was very successful in my career.

Sarah FitzGerald: I had purchased my own home by myself and mm-hmm , you know, I legitimately had a career, but I had this nagging feeling that it was. Time for a change. Yeah. And so when he made that comment to me, it really affected me, um, to the point [00:06:00] that I got off the phone with him and sobbed in the bathroom at work.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, I know. And I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what that means, but you know, it, it almost felt like I was a failure. Like I hadn’t done what I set out to do, even though I was living a great life. Yeah. So fast forward a little bit, again, still stirring feelings. And I had a realtor friend that invited me to a networking event.

Sarah FitzGerald: It was this monthly, like women’s group that met and talked about business ideas and tried to do business together. Mm-hmm and we were sitting around the table. and, um, it was like a hundred people in a conference room, 10 people to have tabled one of which I knew and had become friends with, but everyone else was pretty much strangers.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And we’re sitting at this table of 10 people and the keynote speaker comes on the microphone and she said, before we, you know, have lunch and [00:07:00] before we chat, I want you to talk to your table about what would you do as an icebreaker question? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? And I, of course, maybe not.

Sarah FitzGerald: Of course my, maybe this is shocking. uh, I started crying immediately, um, at this table full of strangers mm-hmm and I said, I’ll go first. I’ll go first. Okay. And I said, I would quit my job and I would go back to school and I would become a teacher. Mm. and it just hit me that that’s what I was supposed to do and why I allowed my 18 year old self to convince myself that summer camp was teaching and let go of my dream.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. You know, we, we learn. Right. Um, so now I was this career woman that owned a house and had responsibilities. But I knew I needed to leave. I knew it immediately. I, I [00:08:00] never looked back Sierra ever. The next day I took the day off of work. Mm-hmm I went to the local university of Montana, Missoula mm-hmm I enrolled, I reviewed my finances that weekend.

Sarah FitzGerald: and on Monday I gave my two week notice. Wow. Yeah. And I left that job 11 years ago. Mm-hmm I started taking classes that summer. I didn’t even wait till the fall. I started that may. And I got my teaching degree and a minor in reading in three years, mind you, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to figure out how am I going to do this?

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And there was times where I had seven little part-time jobs, little. Oh my gosh. I know. Like, it might have been like one day a week. I worked at this daycare and uh, the other day of the week I passed out these pamphlets and it was all these little, [00:09:00] little jobs. Mm. Um, but I did it to make it work and I never, ever, ever looked back.

Sarah FitzGerald: And, um, I’m now going to be entering my ninth year of teaching.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. Okay. Really? What a journey. And

Sarah FitzGerald: it was, yeah, quite a journey, some detours along the way. But once I made the decision, I knew that this was going to impact my life. Mm-hmm .

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And now that you have been teaching. Um, or like you said, nine years, do you see yourself staying in teaching or potentially moving in the future?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: You

Sarah FitzGerald: know, I am really into embracing side hustles. Um, that’s my, that’s my new thing. So. You know, my passion is my day to day teaching mm-hmm . Um, I have looked into the past just based on my past experience and leadership qualities. Would I wanna be an administrator? Would I want to go in a different direction?

Sarah FitzGerald: Would I [00:10:00] wanna use education to work at a museum or whatever it might be? um, for me, I’m good. Like I am beyond satisfied. Mm-hmm I, um, I went back to school in 2019 and I earned my master’s. Last year. Okay. Yeah. So I have that. And so that was really a great professional development opportunity for a few years, um, to continue to learn more, um, I’ve focused on integrating arts in the classroom.

Sarah FitzGerald: So that has challenged me as an educator. As well. So for me, I think I’m good. I really would, you know, it took me a while to get here. Mm-hmm and I’m, I’m very, very grateful. And, um, beyond satisfied, I feel extremely fulfilled. Now I will, I will say I am the type of person. That’s always pursuing other things, but that doesn’t, that that has nothing to do with my career and my passion mm-hmm so that.[00:11:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: that would be like, for example, you know, I would love to teach, um, as an adjunct professor and maybe get my foot in the door at a university mm-hmm maybe that’s something that could transition into teaching a summer class, or maybe after retirement potentially being something, um, a mentor for educators.

Sarah FitzGerald: Things like that. So I’ve definitely looked into that. Um, I was a TA this summer mm-hmm , um, at the university for my old master’s program. So just kind of dipping my toe into different things, um, has been fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Very nice. And did you know kind of what grade or age of students you wanted to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, because of Mrs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Roach, my second grade teacher, I always felt like that was the right grade level for me. Yeah. Um, and then it was kind of a joke because I’m, I’m on the petite side. Um, so I was like, I don’t want them to be taller than me [00:12:00] and I just always really liked that age group. And so ironically, when I. Did my student teaching, um, I student taught in second grade mm-hmm and then I ended up getting hired from that same school in first grade.

Sarah FitzGerald: So I taught first grade for five years. Mm-hmm then I taught second grade for a year. Um, and then I was ready to make a move to a different school district for a variety of reasons. And the position that was available. Was at the district that I wanted, that I’m currently at was fourth grade remote, fully remote for the full year.

Sarah FitzGerald: And the remote thing of course, you know, is a little scary in general. Mm-hmm um, and then fourth grade was really scary for me. That felt like a huge jump from first. Yeah. Um, and to be honest, I felt like it would be a good foot in the door. And then I would kind of get a feel for if there’s other grades that open up and ironically a second grade position did actually open up and I [00:13:00] had zero interest and okay.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. So this will be my third year teaching fourth grade. I love it. And I would say about seven of the kids last year were taller than me. wow. Okay. So I prepared for that now every year. Yes. Um, but I absolutely love it and I, I don’t know. This might be the perfect grade for me. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Interesting. Um, and then.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think maybe what skills do you think helped you go into teaching or maybe had you learned before you went into teaching? Um, yeah. That you think are really applicable,

Sarah FitzGerald: you know, for me, I think some potentially non-traditional things have really prepared me to be successful. I think that, you know, I did my student, I did part of my student teaching in, um, Guang, China in 2014.[00:14:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: And I was expecting to enter an environment that was very rigid. and that I really need, and I love that I was really excited cause I’m kind of type a and I really like things very structured. And so I was like, okay, great. Like I’m gonna have a set schedule. I’m gonna know exactly what’s happening, what grades I’m teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it was the opposite because of the dynamics of the country. Um, that certainly trickled down into how the schools were run, how the students behaved. The relationship between the teacher and the student. And I was blindsided at how flexible I needed to be. Mm-hmm and that was very challenging for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, I didn’t have a choice I had to be. Um, and because of that, that is one of the biggest things that has translated into my teaching life here in the United States. And it sounds really silly. but the idea of covering someone’s recess [00:15:00] duty for them spontaneously, and the idea of, you know, a student having an issue and you needing to stop a lesson and do something else.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm , those are skills that are really important and they build community. Um, and so those were things that I really brought into. My career that I wasn’t expecting. Mm-hmm I think, I think also, you know, sometimes I joke like, oh my gosh, if I would’ve just gone to college, when I was supposed to go to college, then I would be retiring in five years or whatever it might be, or, you know, different things like that.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, or I would be making more money cause I would have more experience, but, but honestly, I don’t know that I would be where I am today. If I. Gone on that path that I had expected. When I went back to college a little older at 31, I took it very seriously and I had a mortgage to pay. I have [00:16:00] responsibilities that I wouldn’t have had when I was 18 years old.

Sarah FitzGerald: And so I was very focused, not only on actually getting good grades and learning, but also getting it done quickly so that I could start making. Money, even if it was even if it was a teacher’s salary, at least it wasn’t seven part-time jobs. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I think those are the things that I was not expecting to bring in and to learn that I, that I have.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So you think that if you had gone into teaching, um, I guess right after school, do you think you would still be in teaching or. I don’t know what

Sarah FitzGerald: happened. I mean, I really don’t know. I would say that my advice, if I was talking to my younger self or someone else, mm-hmm , um, you know, my advice would be to always pursue what you feel your passion is, but don’t just go straight to college.

Sarah FitzGerald: And what I mean by that is like, I still [00:17:00] would. I still, I think looking back, I would’ve just pursued teaching more while I was getting my. So I would’ve thrown myself more into the classroom. I would’ve volunteered more. I would not, I would’ve spoken with more educators about their experience and versus telling myself that summer camp was the same as teaching mm-hmm or like saying babysitting children is the same as teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: It’s not at all. Like, my job is. Relationships with parents. My job is about relationships with other people and those other teachers and those interpersonal connections. It’s not just like, oh, I get along with kids and I like learning about math. It’s so much more than that. So I think it’s about, if you have something in mind, take that time to volunteer.

Sarah FitzGerald: You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, don’t just go straight to vet school for the next eight years. Like. Get your high into a vet clinic, you know, like [00:18:00] those kind of, those kind of things. Mm-hmm okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. And do you have kind of a favorite aspect of teaching? Because like you just mentioned, there are many different things that you do and it’s not only.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Working with the students.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. I mean, I would say because of the grade level that I teach in fourth grade, there is so much room for not only creativity, but also for them to choose different ways to learn. So I think for me, it’s great to be able to expose my students to a variety of ways to learn, uh, specific skill.

Sarah FitzGerald: And then for them to be able to have the, uh, confidence to be able to choose which one works best for them. So I think that that is, that is something that we have the luxury of doing now. I, you know, it wasn’t like that when I was growing up even, um, that we were just taught one way to do it, and this was the only way to do it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And now there’s, there’s so many different ways to express your, um, skill level. And so [00:19:00] that, that exposure is, is really fun. And to be able to see students take ownership of their learning

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm okay, cool. Cool. I think that’s an interesting topic. Um, kind of thinking about different learning and also education changing over time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think has changed or maybe what are some differences that you’ve seen even from when you were student to now, or just throughout your past years teaching?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, a couple things. I mean, I grew up going to a private school. There was 40 students in my class mm-hmm um, and which is enormous. and you learned one way to learn things and that was it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it didn’t matter what you were necessarily going through emotionally, or if you were struggling academically, we were pushing along. And so that’s one thing that I take pride in is being able to assess my student and where they’re at. And if we are having [00:20:00] an emotional breakdown, if we are having students, you know, like this year we had students that were upset, they were having just conflict with it, with, you know, like friendship issues.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. They’re not able to learn. They’re not. And you know, if you certainly, if you have support of a school counselor or anything like that, that’s fabulous. But sometimes we don’t have that. And I had multiple occasions this past year where I just stopped teaching and we just got in a circle and talked and kind of problem solved some things.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, and that was a game changer because then I was able to get back to teaching and they were able to absorb it and care about it. Yeah. Um, because I was able to make that modification. So I think being able to have that flexibility is huge. I think. You know, dealing with COVID and so many different things going on that administration certainly recognizes how important it is to meet students needs of their social, emotional [00:21:00] needs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm first, before you can teach them anything. And so it comes back to that flexibility and, you know, being able to modify things like that. Mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: definitely okay. Um, kind of going back to knowing which grade you wanted to teach. Is there a grade you really don’t wanna teach or like you would never want to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, well, that’s funny. You’d say that when I was student teaching in second grade, We had a teacher that was in the middle school that got ill. And my principal said, can you please just step in just for a couple hours in seventh and eighth grade? Yeah. And it was fine. It was fun. But I came back and I was like, this is not a good fit for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Like I, I, yeah, I am an elementary teacher period. I. I could be a middle school teacher. I could be a high school teacher [00:22:00] for an hour if I needed to. I I’m joking, but more than. But it would not, it would, I would not be my best self. My best self is in elementary education where I can reach the whole student in a variety of ways, social, emotional, academic, um, that mix of love, but loving but firm, um, you know, clear expectations with a hug.

Sarah FitzGerald: That’s that’s who I am. Mm.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Okay. Alrighty. Well, I think that we’ll start wrapping things up here, but okay. As always, my last question is Rachel, what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Sarah FitzGerald: It is the most random and simple phrase and it is leave it alone. And I will tell you that my friend’s husband brought this phrase to me about 15 years ago.

Sarah FitzGerald: And to her, yeah, it’s really about picking your [00:23:00] battles, deciding when it’s appropriate to speak and not speak. Deciding when there’s certain things that you just need to leave it alone. And I used to not leave anything alone ever. I used to pick everything and I don’t mean nitpicky. I just mean that I felt like I was an advocate for myself and for everybody around me, even if they didn’t advocate for themselves.

Sarah FitzGerald: And I’ve learned with experience that it’s really important. Just like we’ve learned with tell us something it’s, it’s, it’s almost more important to listen than it is to talk. Mm. And the leave it alone thing has trickled into all aspects of my life, whether it is a student behavior that is just annoying, not dangerous.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm leave it alone. Right? Ignore it. Leave it. Whether it’s a personal situation where someone has said something, do I really need to comment on that? [00:24:00] Leave it alone. So this leave it alone. Thing has been a pattern for me. And it sounds really silly, but it actually has been like super profound for me.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I never ever had that piece of advice, but thank you. you’re welcome. Okay. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really

Sarah FitzGerald: appreciate. Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. And thank you guys for listening.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel and Sierra. Rachel is an elementary school teacher in Western Montana. Rachel has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in reading and earned her master of arts in integrated art and education all from the university of Montana. Miss. Rachel served at the local nonprofit north Missoula community development corporation as board chair and secretary in Missoula for 10 years, where she led [00:25:00] fundraising efforts, board retreats, and attended various conferences in and out of state.

Marc Moss: When Rachel is not working, she can be found with her St. Bernard Laura lie on logging, walks with friends, reading her next book for her monthly book club, grabbing a Quatro formage or pizza from Beka pizza. And planning her next road trip Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never-ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley.

Marc Moss: Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Marc Moss: Remember to get your ticket to the next event. [00:26:00] September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme. Letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Tell Us Something Board member Jason Sloat recalls his impactful experience of visiting Missoula with a buddy and calling an old professor from a payphone - a phone call that changed his life trajectory.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Jason Sloat

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennis and theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra, Ty Brownley interviewed the tell something board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tele something board member, Jason slope. Let’s listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Jason slope, current risk manager at the university of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Oh, it’s

Jason Sloat: my pleasure, Sierra. Thanks for having me

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: anytime. So let’s just hop right in and I’d love to hear about your impactful experience.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. So, you know, when, [00:02:00] when I was thinking about what impactful experience I wanted to share, I was thinking about my, my current life, um, here in Western Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I started to think about there, there was one very impactful experience that led me. To this point that I’m at now. Um, I just turned 48 years old and, um, it kind of feels like I had this experience. Um, when I was 23 years old, I was fresh out of college. The year was 1997. And I had an experience in Missoula that all these years later has kind of everything.

Jason Sloat: Everything in a sense has, has, has really come full circle for me. Mm-hmm um, and the reason I’m here today is because of this impactful experience that I had in the late nineties, um, arriving in Missoula as a kid who was kind of fresh outta [00:03:00] college. And that’s the experience that I’d like to share today.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay, that sounds great. Well, I’d love to hear about it. And if you could tell us what brought you to Montana.

Jason Sloat: Sure. So I graduated from a small liberal arts college in central Indiana in okay. In, uh, 1997. And. My my best friend. And I set out when, when we graduated from college, we didn’t really have any career plans.

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm um, we were, we were trying to figure out what we were doing with our lives. Um, it was a moment for, I think, both of us, of, of kind of great uncertainty. Neither of us had a distinct. Path that we could see kind of out of college, into real adulthood. Mm-hmm . And so we set out on a road trip in kind of the classic American road trip.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. And we [00:04:00] didn’t really have much of a plan. Um, other than we were going to, we, we decided to challenge ourselves by seeing how long we could go without paying for lo. Okay. Just as a challenge. Um, so, uh, at the time I had my high school vehicle, which was a very old 1980 Jeep, CJ seven, like an old school kind of version of a Jeep Wrangler.

Jason Sloat: Okay. And we loaded, we loaded this Jeep up with all of our earthly possessions, um, in the early summer of 1997. And we set out, um, To just see kind of where the road would take us. Mm-hmm and we ended up traveling for almost four months, um, and we spent most of those four months camping. And once we got out of the Midwest, we stuck to national forests, um, so that we could camp for free.

Jason Sloat: That was [00:05:00] part of our, part of our challenge end. Four months later we had been, we, we left Indiana. We went north through Michigan, uh, into Canada, around the north side of lake superior. Came down, spent some time in the boundary waters in Minnesota. Came across the Dakotas traveled down the Rocky mountain front almost all the way to Mexico turned around and went up.

Jason Sloat: The west side of the Rocky mountains eventually ended up landing in Missoula. And by the time we ended up in Missoula, Montana, we pulled into town, uh, on a September afternoon mm-hmm and. We were running very low on cash. Mm. And, um, we had to kind of figure out what we were gonna do about that. And the first place that we ended up going in town, we actually, we actually drove, we figured out where downtown was.

Jason Sloat: And we parked on Higgins avenue and we [00:06:00] got out of our Jeep and we asked the first person we met, where’s a place. We could get a beer where the locals hang out. We went like a, a locals kind of place. Right. And they said, well, there’s a bar across the street, like a half a block up. It’s called Charlie bees.

Jason Sloat: And there’s no sign, but you’ll know it when you get there. Okay. And so we walked up Higgins avenue and we found this door that had a little sign connected to it, that set on the corner of space and time. And we thought, well, this looks the right place, check this out. And so we walked into Charlie bees and we ordered some beers and we started playing pool mm-hmm and, uh, We were just kind of passing the time at this point.

Jason Sloat: And as we were playing pool, my friend, John, who I was traveling with, um, said, Hey, I think this is the town. Where that there [00:07:00] was that professor, that art history professor at Wabash college, that’s where we had just graduated from okay. Several months before. And he said, I think that professor, we knew at Wabash named Rafael didn’t Rafael, move here and get a job at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I said, man, I think you’re right. Um, And so the story behind that is that there, when John and I were freshmen, our freshman and sophomore year at our college in Indiana, there had been a young professor fresh out of grad school, fresh off of his PhD. Mm-hmm who had come back, come back to his Alma. He was a graduate of Wabash college to teach his first two years out of grad school.

Jason Sloat: And then he got a tenure track job at the university of Montana mm-hmm . And so he left and he moved off to this exotic place called Missoula Montana. And we hadn’t really kept in touch since then. Yeah. But we knew, [00:08:00] we knew at the time we called him professor shaone and we knew professor shaone very well when we were at Wabash college.

Jason Sloat: So we found ourselves in Charlie bees, drinking beer, playing pool, saying, Hey professor, shaone I think moved here and lives here. Now we should get ahold of him. And so we finished our beers. We walked down the street. This was before the age of cell phones and the internet. And all of that mm-hmm so we found a payphone, um, and it used to be that in payphone, uh, there would be a phone book mm-hmm hanging from a cable.

Jason Sloat: And so we took the phone book and we looked up Rafael shaone and sure enough, he was listed in the phone book. And from this payphone, we dropped a quarter and we called Rafa. This was completely out of the blue out of voicemail. Voicemail said, you know, Hey, this is Rafael. Leave a message. And so I left a message.

Jason Sloat: I said, Rafael, it’s Jason and John from [00:09:00] Wabash college. We just landed in Missoula, Montana. We’d love to stop and say hi, it’s been a few years. Like, let’s catch up. Um, we’re gonna hang out at this phone booth for a few minutes. If you get this message, we didn’t have any other way for him to call us. Yeah.

Jason Sloat: So we were like, and they used to print the phone number of the phone in the phone booth on the, on the phone panel. Mm-hmm so I read him the number of the phone in the phone. And I said, call this number. If you get this message, like in the next five to 10 minutes, and then we hung out and waited sure enough, five minutes later, the phone and the phone booth rings and I pick it up and it’s Raphael and he says, yeah, like, of course I remember you guys.

Jason Sloat: Uh, I I’m here. I live outside of Missoula in this little town called Lolo with my, with my partner, Andy, we were like, oh, Andy. Right. We, we knew Andy from when they were in Crawfordsville, we were like, fantastic. Um, [00:10:00] and he was like, you know, I’m sure if you guys have been on the road for a few months, sleeping in the woods, camping the whole time, you’d love a hot meal and a shower.

Jason Sloat: He’s like, you’ve gotta come out and hang out with us tonight. So we did mm-hmm um, And it was this act of extraordinary generosity on Rafael’s part. I mean, we would’ve been okay if he was just like, let’s meet for a beer mm-hmm but instead he was like, come to my house. I’m gonna fix you a hot meal. I’m gonna, I’m gonna let you take a hot shower and you can stay here with us for a couple nights.

Jason Sloat: If you want to, if you wanna sleep in a real bed, get off the road, get out, get out of the woods. Like not, yeah. You know, you’re tired of camping. Come stay with us for a while. Um, and it was really amazing. He really didn’t have to do that. It was, it was just extraordinarily generous of him. So we went out and, and, and we met up with Andy and [00:11:00] Rafael, um, in their house in Lolo, we had a great meal, we got cleaned up.

Jason Sloat: It was amazing. Um, and basically we ended up staying with them for three nights. Um, mm-hmm and. we told them after three nights, we were very concerned about overstay. Our welcome mm-hmm , even though we were having a blast and it was really comfortable, um, we told them, uh, the third night that the next morning we were gonna leave.

Jason Sloat: Um, and so. They were gonna get up early and go to work. Um, and so we set our goodbyes that night, the next morning they got up and left for work. And my buddy, John and I were packing up getting ready to leave. We had no idea what we were gonna do. Next things were very uncertain. And then the phone in their house started to ring.

Jason Sloat: And I wasn’t gonna answer their phone. So I let it go to voicemail. He had one of those like old school answering machines where you could li you could hear the person leaving the message. Okay. So [00:12:00] when the answering machine picked up, it was Rafael and he was saying, Hey guys, it’s Rafael. If you’re still in the house, pick up the phone, I’ve got some news.

Jason Sloat: And I ran over and picked up the phone. I was like, Hey Rafael, you know, what’s going on? We’re just getting ready to walk out the door, like what’s happening? And he said, well, I’ve been making some calls this morning. I know you guys are a little short on cash and you’re not sure what you’re doing next.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. He’s, he’s like, I found a job opportunity for you guys. And he basically said, there’s this woman who we’re acquainted with, who owns a bunch of land out in Theo valley. it’s about 60 miles Northeast of Missoula. He said, and I talked to her this morning and she would like help getting her ranch land ready for winter.

Jason Sloat: Um, she’s got some fences to fix some basic labor stuff she needs help with. If you guys are willing to drive out there this morning, she’s home and she will interview you. And if the interview [00:13:00] goes well, she’ll hire you and you can help her get ready for get her ranch ready for winter and maybe work for for a week or two, uh, put some cash in your pocket.

Jason Sloat: and that way you’ve got some funds to go on to your next adventure. Mm-hmm so, yeah, so anyway, it was just incredibly nice of him to do this for us. And we, we drove out to van, we had this interview, it went well, we got this job. And after a few weeks, we ended up getting hired on to this. project as co-ran managers.

Jason Sloat: Um, okay. And that was our, that, that ended up being my very first official job out of college. Mm-hmm who was working on this ranch in Theo valley, I say ranch. It wasn’t really a working ranch. This woman who had bought this property, it was several thousand acres and she had taken the cattle off of it.

Jason Sloat: And she was her goal was to reestablish wildlife. Just just viable, healthy wildlife [00:14:00] habitat. It was a habitat restoration project. Okay. Um, and so anyway, that ended up being my first job out of college due to this kind of chance encounter Rafael’s generosity. Hooking us up with, with, with a place to stay for a few nights and then, and then finding a job for us, none of which he had to do.

Jason Sloat: Um, and it ended up being an absolutely incredible experience. And we worked on this land for about a year. Um, mm-hmm and that was my introduction to Western Montana. Okay. Here we are. All these years later, it’s 2022 and I’m back in Western Montana. Mm-hmm um, after a number of years away and, um, my wife and I are building a house that is on land that is next door to Andy and Rafael.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. And they’re still there

Jason Sloat: and they’re still here. They’ve been here this whole time. Um, they moved from [00:15:00] Lolo out to the Moise valley, which is out by the national bison range. Okay. Um, and they owned some acreage out here. Um, and when we moved out here several years ago, uh, after 15 years in Chicago, Um, I, I got a job offer at the university of Montana mm-hmm and one of the first people I called was Rafael.

Jason Sloat: Cuz I wanted to talk about the university and what he thought about the job opportunity, cuz he’d been there for a long time at this point. Yeah. And in one of our first conversations, he said, Hey, I don’t know what you guys have are planning to do when you get out here in terms of where you’re gonna live.

Jason Sloat: what you’re gonna do in terms of housing, but he said, if you have any desire to own land in a rural area, he said, I think our neighbors are getting ready to sell their land. And, uh, if you jump on it now, I think you can get in. And, uh, that, that, there’s just a great opportunity out here. So we came and looked at this piece of property.

Jason Sloat: Next door to where Andy and Rafael live. And, [00:16:00] uh, lo and behold, it’s a beautiful piece of property. I’m actually sitting on it right now. Um, and, and we ended up buying the land and we’re now in the process of building a house. So this is a great, like, you know, for me, this is a very like story. That’s come full

circle.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Definitely. Yeah. Wow. What a journey. And I, I understand what you. As you, when you said this is really kind of a full circle moment. Um, I think that’s kind of crazy and that Rafael is still still here and that you’ll. Living right next to him.

Jason Sloat: we’re we’re neighbors. Yeah. We’re gonna be neighbors.

That

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: is crazy.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Um, so you did mention that you did leave Montana, um, for a little bit. And did you know you wanted to come back or did you kind of, yes. Oh, okay.

Jason Sloat: So, you know, part of the rest of that story [00:17:00] is I worked on ranches out here for a couple years, and then I decided to go back to school and I, I went to the university of Montana cause I was, I, I loved it here.

Jason Sloat: I didn’t wanna leave Montana. Mm-hmm so I, so I applied for, and was accepted to a graduate program at, um, and I ended up getting my master’s degree at, um, in English literature. While I was getting that degree in literature at, um, mm-hmm I met the person who is, who I’m now married to, um, Addie, who was getting her MFA and poetry.

Jason Sloat: And so we were in the English program together mm-hmm and when we both got done with graduate school in 2004, um, that was a time in Missoula where it was very difficult to. A good job. Mm-hmm um, it was just that the job market was really tough in this part of the world, um, at that point in time. And so.

Jason Sloat: We didn’t really feel that we had much of an option, but to leave, um, [00:18:00] basically to seek careers. And at that point that, that we ended up moving to Chicago. Um, and so we moved to Chicago from Missoula in 2004, we moved there together. Um, and then we got married and then we ended up spending the next 15 years in Chicago.

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm . And toward the end of that time in Chicago, we had never really stopped talking about our love for Western MUN. Um, yeah. And so the last couple years we were in Chicago, I, we both started looking very diligently for any way that we could get back out here and, and, and any way that we could get back out here and have kind of create like a viable living situation for ourselves in terms of jobs.

Jason Sloat: Right. Because that’s always the, that’s the always the trick bag, right? How, what are you gonna do for work? How are you gonna make a living? And. I happened to be looking at the university of Montana’s job page one day. And I saw a job [00:19:00] advertised as, uh, the job was a, a for a risk management position at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And it just so happened that in this intervening 15 years that I spent in Chicago, mm-hmm . what I had done with my English lit degree was I had gotten into business and kind of by chance, and one thing led to another and I got into risk management. Okay. And I looked at this job opportunity at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I was like, man, I, I think I’m qualified for that job. Mm-hmm . And so I applied and it went very quickly. I went from applying to the. to having an acceptance letter in a matter of a couple of weeks. Um, and that was it. As soon as I had that acceptance letter in hand, we were like, we’re, it’s been a good ride, Chicago , but, but we are out.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, we were, that was one of the, it was one of the most exciting moments of our, of our [00:20:00] lives. Actually, we were so thrilled to move back.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. That’s really exciting. And I’m glad things worked out. So at this point, how long have you been back in Montana?

Jason Sloat: Uh, we came back in the fall of 2018, so it’s been about three and a half years.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And what motivated you to build this house? Like, was this also something you had in your mind for a while as well?

Jason Sloat: Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question. So it had been a, well, it had been a dream of mine since I was pretty young since I was in my early twenties. Mm-hmm to someday design and build my own house.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Um, and then when Addie and I got married, that turned out fortunately to be a dream that she shared with me. Um, we spent a lot of time. I mean, [00:21:00] I didn’t get real serious about a career until I was in my early thirties. Mm-hmm . And so this story that I’ve just told you kind of there’s big chunks that I’ve by necessity of time here that I’ve left out.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. The bottom line is, you know, by the time we were living in Chicago in the mid two thousands, we were both in our thirties and we had. 15 years renting, living in places that, you know, um, I think a lot of people can relate to this. You know, you, you get what you can afford. and every place comes with its own set of challenges and problems and irritations, right?

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm in terms of the spaces you’re forced to live in when you’re young and you don’t have any money, you’re just forced to live, where you can afford to live mm-hmm . And I think that created in us a desire to someday design a space [00:22:00] that worked with it was designed specifically for us mm-hmm um, where we weren’t essentially living in a.

Jason Sloat: that was full of other people’s problems, like other people’s poor decisions. yeah. Right. Um, and so, so this has been a very long term. Dream of ours was to find a place in a, in a rural environment we wanted, we knew we wanted to be in the country. Um, I’m a person who, if I’m gonna be in like in a city or in a town, I want to be in the city.

Jason Sloat: If I’m not, if I’m not going to be, I really don’t want to be, I want to be out. Um, okay. I, I wanna be one, I guess what I’m saying is I’m not a suburban person. I, I, I, I don’t like the in between lands. I either I either wanna be in the thick of the action. I want to be five, a five minute walk away from a great coffee shop, or I don’t want to have, like, I don’t wanna [00:23:00] be around people.

Jason Sloat: I want to be in the middle of a beautiful area. That’s very quiet. Right? Mm-hmm. So we spent 15 years, like in the city kind of dealing with a lot of noise and a lot of chaos. Um, it was, it was a great experience and I’m glad I had that experience, but I was at a point in my life where I was really ready for something quiet.

Jason Sloat: Um, and so when we found this piece of property that is very rural, um, we don’t have many neighbors out here. Um, it’s, it’s a quiet place and, um, it’s peaceful and, and that felt like home to me. Mm-hmm so we wanted to make a place here that was designed for us. Um, and that for us meant we wanted this very small footprint, um, Uh, we don’t have kids, um, by choice mm-hmm and, uh, so it’s just the two of us.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, that means that we don’t need a lot of space. We don’t need a [00:24:00] complicated space. We wanted something very simple, uh, very easy to live in. Um, we kind of knew from years of talking about it, exactly what we wanted, but it’s hard. It’s, it’s hard to find that thing. That as it exists on the market. Yeah.

Jason Sloat: Because a lot of places right. Are designed for families. Right. and a lot of places are designed for this kind of American sensibility of having the maximum amount of square footage. That kind of maximum number of rooms you can afford. Like is a, a lot of people, I feel like come to the house buying process, wanting to buy.

Jason Sloat: Now, this has changed a little bit with. Tiny house movement, things that have happened in, you know, the last decade mm-hmm , but generally speaking, a lot of people, I think still when they go to buy a house, they want the maximum amount of space that they can afford. And that’s distinctly not something we wanted.

Jason Sloat: We wanted something that was, we, [00:25:00] we didn’t really want to like to go completely the tiny house route. Yeah. But we wanted something that was very compact. Um, that just felt like just enough. And so that’s why it was so exciting for us to find land where we could design our own space.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Definitely. I think this is really exciting.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. That’s very cool that it’s happening right now.

Jason Sloat: You’re right. And it’s happening right now?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yes. Okay. So basically this story that you’ve shared, um, this in a way, like you said, kind of shaped what you did with the rest of your life, because if you hadn’t stopped in Missoula, you think everything would be completely different.

Jason Sloat: Everything would be completely D. Absolutely. I don’t know that I would’ve known about this area. I mean, another, another crazy aspect of this story. That’s just this kind of chance thing is that after I, I [00:26:00] spent a year working for on this habitat restoration project in the van valley, and then the friend that I traveled out here.

Jason Sloat: Went back to Indiana to go to grad school at that point in time. And I stayed in Montana and at that point I moved up to the, uh, I moved up to a place outside of AR mm-hmm , uh, on, on the reservation. And, um, I got a job for a rancher. Who was a tribal member and he hired me, uh, that would’ve been the summer of the summer of 98.

Jason Sloat: He hired me to, um, Make hay for his ranching operation. I’m a farm kid. I grew up on a farm in Indiana, so I knew how to make hay. It was one of the skills I brought to Montana now how to make hay, right. He hired me to make hay for him that summer. And at the time he was [00:27:00] leasing a piece of tribal ground where he made hay.

Jason Sloat: That was in the Mo east valley, which was a few miles from where his actual ranch was located. So I traveled to this valley. To make hay to, to cut hay and RA hay and bale hay for this rancher. Okay. And I got out here and I thought, my God, this is one of the most beautiful places. I have ever seen in my life, if I could ever find a way to live here, um, I would love to live in this spot.

Jason Sloat: And at the time I didn’t see how that would ever be possible. I just, it seemed like a pipe dream. I mean, it seemed like something that it was just at the time for me. I, I was just scraping together life. Like I, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was essentially a ranch hand. I, I didn’t have any, I didn’t have any money.

Jason Sloat: I didn’t see how I, I would ever be able to afford [00:28:00] anything, but I thought, you know, someday, if I could live here, I would really love to, well, it turns out that from this piece of property that we now own where we’re building our house. I can actually see that hayfield that I was in when I had that moment.

Jason Sloat: Wow. It’s right down the road. Wow. I don’t know. It it’s a, it’s a crazy thing. I, I, I don’t claim to understand it, but. Something about, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t really totally believe in that thing about, you know, you put it out into the universe and then it comes back to you. Like, I, I don’t really necessarily believe in all that, but boy, it’s been, it’s been quite a, quite a, again, a full circle thing.

Jason Sloat: Um, definitely, you know, it’s been, it’s been a thing that’s like 25 years in the making.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah, I think that is really crazy that you are like coming back and completing, I guess, those dreams that you had so long ago, and [00:29:00] it’s really tangible. Like you do see that where you were those years ago. I think this is crazy, but also very exciting.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Yeah. I, I hear, you know, Sierra, I hear a lot of, I hear a lot of despair these days. in, you know, like, uh, you know, gen Z, people who are getting out of college right now, and the world looks very bleak. Mm-hmm job opportunities. Don’t look great. I think there are a lot of people who kind of a lot of young people who are in this kind of state of despair, and I can actually.

Jason Sloat: I can, as a gen Xer, believe it or not, I can relate to that. I don’t think a lot of people, I don’t think, I don’t think most people, my age necessarily went through that, but I think there were some of us back in the, back in the late nineties and early two thousands who went through that feeling. Mm-hmm and I just always want to tell people, like, I don’t know, it sounds super cheesy, but like, hang in there, [00:30:00] like, you know, It’s it’s okay to want what you want.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, just, just, just keep going. Uh, cause you never know, you never know. As, as, as desperate and bleak, as things may look now, it can also turn around. Um, and you can end up in a place that’s kind of like in a situation that. Is beyond your wildest dreams. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm definitely.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Well, Jason, I think we will start wrapping things up, but I always ask at the end of each episode, what is the best piece of life advice that you’ve been given?

Jason Sloat: On the best piece of life advice? Um, I mean, I think, I think I just, I think I just kind of touched on that. Yeah. Which is, um, there’s a lot to be said for perseverance and, you know, despite the fact that things may look.

Jason Sloat: Things may look somewhat hopeless at [00:31:00] certain points in your life. Keep getting out of bed, keep doing, keep pursuing that thing. Put one foot in front of the other. It’s a little bit like when you’re facing down a long hike, right. Um, when you’re in that first mile of a 10, 12, 15 mile hike, um, it, it, it, it seems like you’re never going to arrive at the destination, but the thing is you just keep putting one foot in front of the.

Jason Sloat: and eventually you do arrive. Mm-hmm you, you arrive at some point. It may not be exactly what you had in mind. Uh, but you’re, you’re, you’re going to keep making progress and that’s what I would, that’s probably the best advice I’ve gotten is keep, keep moving. Yeah. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: No, I like it. I think it’s certainly a good piece of advice.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: All right. Well, I really appreciate you coming on today, Jason and I enjoyed hearing your story.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Of

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: course, of course. Yeah. Thank you once again, Jason, and thank [00:32:00] you guys for listening and take

Jason Sloat: care.

Marc Moss: Thanks Sierra and Jason, Jason slope grew up on a farm in Indiana. After graduating from college, he spent a couple of years working on ranches in Western Montana. During that time he fell in love with the beauty of Montana’s wild spaces. He eventually completed graduate school at the university of Montana, and now works for, um, as the director of risk management.

Marc Moss: Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share.

Marc Moss: You can find the impactful experiences podcast. Wherever you

Jason Sloat: get your podcasts.

Marc Moss: Thanks to our inkind sponsors. Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and [00:33:00] Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast. Remember to get your ticket to the next event. September 27th, 2022.

Marc Moss: Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Jason Forges, Tell Us Something storyteller alumni and Board member sits down with Sierra Tai-Brownlee to talk about his impactful experiences for her podcast "Impactful Experiences with Sierra Tai-Brownlee."

Transcript : Meet the Tell Us Something Board - Jason Forges

Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Mark Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next six, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra, Ty Brownley interviewed the tele something board. For her podcast, impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you may already accept.

This week. Sierra sits down with board member and tell us something, storytelling, alumni. Jason fors let’s

listen.

Welcome back

to impactful experiences with Sierra brown. I chat with a new guest

each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I wanna thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Jason forges, current program analyst at cognizant and tell us something board member living in Missoula, Montana.

Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Thank you for having me. Of course. I’m so happy. You’re here. I’d love to really just hop right in and hear a little bit about the experience you’d like to share.

Uh, well, when I’m thinking about experience that I like to share, um, mm-hmm, I realize, uh, the first thing that comes in my mind is I have experiences that I would like to share, but I think it comes off with a, a common theme.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. But, um, I think overall the common theme is, um, learning how to listen to myself. Okay. I think that’s, uh, something that’s very impactful that I, uh, continue to do, but I started to notice that, uh, uh, along the way, so originally I’m from Florida, I went to school in Delaware. During my time in Delaware, I was playing, uh, basketball at the time, college basketball.

And then, uh, I ended up being a fifth year senior, and I was working at Amazon, uh, at the same time. So during my, uh, times at Amazon, which was, uh, very, uh, Big moment of my life. I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried to move up in Amazon. I wasn’t getting, uh, I wasn’t getting the job for whatever reason.

I probably applied like three or four different times, long story short. I found myself thinking, wait, why am I trying to stay in Delaware? I’m not even from here. Yeah. So let me, uh, look for somewhere else to go. Um, I applied to a lot of different places. to figure out where I wanted to go, uh, through the AmeriCorps program.

Okay. Uh, overall, uh, I end up choosing to come to Montana. Mm-hmm now the theme of learning to listen to myself is when I wanted to come to Montana. Oh man. My relatives, friends, family. Uh, I had a opportunity to either, uh, do the AmeriCorps program cause I was offered to serve in Montana or serve in, um, California.

And when I was telling my family members, relatives like, oh yeah, you better pick Cali. I know what you’re doing. You better pick Cali. I’m like, nah, I’m gonna go to Montana. And it was kind of that sort of, uh, man, you crazy, what’s what’s going on with you. Like, what’s wrong with you? Even my mom. She’s like, why are you going all the way over there?

Mm-hmm, a sort of thing. But, um, I think that, that was like one of the pivotal moments is kind of like a, where I. and I’m still learning, but I learned in life is like small situations can have like big impacts. So even me trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I say, okay, you know what? I’m gonna choose Montana because why I want to learn how to listen to myself.

uh, I think I was definitely in a point of time in my life where even playing basketball or even in my personal life, I was doing, uh, what people wanted me to. mm-hmm and then wouldn’t stick up for myself on the things I wanted to do. So then I was left with oh, wow. Okay. Well, I did exactly the way that someone would want me to do it, but I don’t feel happy at the end actually feel terrible.

Mm-hmm so coming to Montana was kind of at that big push of like, oh yeah. Okay. Montana only has, uh, north of 1 million people. I’m in a small town. Mm-hmm town of, uh, a couple thousand. So, let me go there. It’s not gonna be a lot of people and all I can do is focus on myself.

Yeah. Okay. Interesting. And would you say that is kind of one of the experiences that started this theme and was it that decision where you really wanted to go to Montana already, but you just felt this pull to go to California and you chose to go to Montana.

You were listening to yourself?

I think it was, uh, I was trying to, I feel like it was like something within me was just telling me like, Hey, uh, well, what do you really want? I think that’s ultimately what it came down to. Uh, when I thought about California or Montana, I really thought about, well, what do I really want?

And mm-hmm . And when I was really trying to kind of, I was doing it in my mind, but it’s kind of like you do a checklist, like what’s the good, what’s the bad, what’s the. And when I was thinking of California, I was just thinking of fun. Oh, I can go here. I can go there. I’m a city boy at heart from Florida.

So I’m like, oh, what if it’s clubs around da? And I instantly stopped myself and like, wait, how is that helping me? and, uh, yeah, so then it kind of turned back to Montana. I’m like, okay. Uh, not a lot of people. I can really focus on myself and ultimately, um, again, I just graduated. Ultimately, I wanted to understand what I wanted to do in life.

And I felt like being alone will allow me the opportunity to not be distracted in the way I was mm-hmm in Delaware or Florida. Okay.

Yeah. Do you think that living in Montana has enabled you to accomplish kind of those, those goals?

Uh, yeah, I think Montana being in Montana, being a, being able to sit with myself alone, uh I think helped me afford a lot of things, which, uh, now I am in Montana and I am doing a lot of things, but, oh man, when I first came to Montana, it was, uh, rough.

So when I talk about finding that little voice inside me, say, oh, this is a great idea. Um, AmeriCorps is definitely a program that you don’t do it for the money and it doesn’t pay a lot of money either. Um, hence the service and I don’t have anything wrong with that, but, um, for my background AmeriCorps, the sector I was in, I was in the education sector and working with low income students and helping them get access to college.

If they chose to go that route for me, it was more about finding your passions and help broaden those passions. But I was. I’m the first one in my family to graduate college. Okay. Yes, yes. Yes. So when it comes to working with the first generation loan students, it’s like, oh yeah, that’s me. So with that being said, um, being able to save up a little money and then come to Montana, that’s all I really had like a little, uh, a little money mm-hmm so even though my, my, my heart or my mind or something in me said, yeah, go this Montana route.

Yeah, it definitely wasn’t a, oh, as soon as I got. It was rainbows and sunshine. I, I had to find a place to live mm-hmm uh, yeah, I, yeah, I’d had to find a place to live. I had to find a car it’s it’s close to wintertime, so I need to get things in order. So I’m like, yeah, that’s tough. I having people, um, hearing about my, my first month experience was rough and hearing people back at home telling me, man, you need to come back home.

What are you doing? Yeah. You need to come back home. But me saying no, but something’s telling me to stay here. I know it’s rough. Something’s telling me to stay here.

Okay. And at this point, how long have you been in Montana?

Ooh. Uh, now it’s like, I think so it’ll be north of four years, I think, close to five years.

And that’s the wow longest place. Uh, I never been in one area more than four years ever until Montana. Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Which is interesting. Okay. And how did you maybe kind of overcome or I guess push through those challenges and what really did keep you here if it was really tough at the beginning, and it seemed as though you could go back, but you still felt the need to stay in

Montana.

Oh, man. BEC, uh, can you repeat the question? Cause I wanna make sure I answer it ly. Yeah.

Yeah. I think the main question is what was motivating you to stay in Montana, especially in that first short period of time when you maybe could have gone back. Um, but you still felt as though you needed to be here.

Mm, uh, focusing on, I think for me was like the feeling, just really trying to tap into the feeling I’m very an, uh, analytical, so I’m very, uh, brand oriented first mm-hmm and not really focusing on my feelings, but, um, this time around, I know I felt like I wanted to do the opposite. That’s the whole purpose of me coming here.

It was like, um, everyone keeps telling me what to do. And I’m always, I’ve always been told, especially for my coach in college. He always tell me, oh, Jason, everyone wants to go left. You wanna go? Right. Mm-hmm so it was just me, uh, living up to that moment, like, okay, everyone’s telling me I need to, uh, leave, but I have a feeling I should be here.

And, um, I remember my car car broke down in the middle of. Uh, oh, no, I was here in Darby, uh, Montana. That’s when I was doing my AmeriCorps service. Yeah, my first year, my second year I was in Missoula, but, um, my second year when I had to travel back and forth Uhhuh, my car broke down. So I had to go through the struggles of couch, surfing, meaning sleeping on my friends couch on the weekdays.

If they would allow me to. Or sometimes I had to sleep in my car, um, drive back home over to the weekend to spend the night to drive. And in doing that, uh, I had my friends here in Montana saying, Jason, why don’t you just move to Missoula at this point? Because man sleeping in your car in the middle of winter, doesn’t sound great.

And yeah, you sleeping on the couch, but that sort of thing. But for me, I’m like, I don’t know. Something’s telling me I need to stay. I’m like, I don’t know. It sounds crazy, but, uh, I’m like, man, I’ve been, I’ve been through worse, but, um, I wanna stick with this because I feel like it’s gonna be impactful for me.

Mm-hmm and at the time too, um, staying in Missoula, I was at the university. So again, I graduat from college and I’m like, okay, well, if I’m on college campus, now I can, um, I thought I wanted to get into consult. So I was, uh, sitting in on some consulting classes trying to figure out. So even though I was going through all that, that sleeping in the car, riding the bus, winter, the car broke down, all that stuff.

What was going through my mind is like, I’m going to make it. It’s no way I’m doing this for no reason. Yeah. Something’s gonna come out of it. So that’s kind of the mentality that I try to stay strong with.

Definitely. How would you describe, or how do you think Montana or being in Montana has changed you?

I would say

it changed me in two ways. Well, I don’t know of two ways, but I think Montana changed me in a way of how I view the world in regards to nature. Mm-hmm man. Uh, I remember my first camping trip was in Florida and it rained and it was like, wow, hogs running around. and I’m like, yeah, camping. I’m not built for it.

Yeah. but then coming to Montana, I’m always, uh, down to experience new things. Uh, something that Montana taught me is how disconnected I was with nature. Mm-hmm , which I never knew it was a disconnect, but as I was talking about focusing on my feelings, right, yeah. Uh, going into nature was that same thing.

It was like, wait, something’s not to say it’s calling me, but I feel at peace. Hmm. I never thought I would. Okay. So I think that’s something that, uh, Montana afforded me. I think Montana also taught me to learn to under the meaning of community, which I’m still trying to figure out, but I think, uh, coming from a big city and have, I don’t know, the way I view community is so different may it’s probably cuz the AmeriCorps experience as well.

Now being in the community in Missoula and like the art community and kind of figure out what’s going on here and figuring out that there’s always ways to tap in. And it’s, uh, small enough that when you tap into a lot of different places, you know, a lot of different people mm-hmm so then allows you to build, uh, relationships in a deeper way.

And I don’t think that’s something that I did when I was back in Florida or even Delaware. I wouldn’t put myself out there like that. Mm.

okay. You mentioned a little earlier that you were, or maybe still are a city person. Do you, would you still consider yourself a city person

now? I would consider myself a human being city person.

Uh, I don’t know. Um, that’s another thing. When it came to Montana, I remember going on this five day camping trip, it was like took eight hours just to get to our camping. and when I came out of it, uh, I realized I didn’t, I wasn’t connected to anything. I didn’t see a building or anything. And when I start seeing buildings, I’m like, oh, wow.

Um, I think it’s a verse from Frank ocean that always stay in my mind that, oh, it stays in my mind. But, uh, he said, I’m living on the idea, a idea from another man’s mind. So I’m like, man, me living in a city is not really there’s someone, something that someone thought. right? Yeah. So I’m like, someone’s creating this.

So what do I want to create? So, uh, long story short, I consider myself a human being at this point. Not a city boy. I think I can, uh, I’m almost like a chameleon. I feel like I can blend into many spaces. Yeah.

Yeah. Okay. Do you hope to stay in Montana? For the future

for the future? I feel like I would like a second home in Montana.

I wouldn’t wanna live in Montana. Okay. Interesting. I’ve been questioning what does home mean to me? And I’m still questioning that I know Montana has taught me a lot when it comes to community because I’ve been to places where I don’t know, like being young and growing up in big cities, like it’s glamor or I’ve been on vacations where.

uh, it can be the most beautiful place, but if you were terrible people, the it’s terrible. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, to learn about, uh, to know that community starts with the people, uh, I learned that a lot in Montana, but something I just don’t feel fully at home. I, I can’t really explain it, but I definitely know that I would love a second home here.

Okay, very cool. Throughout our conversation thus far, you’ve talked a lot about like being in tune with yourself and knowing what you really want. How do you go about doing that? When I think it is quite hard to maybe distinguish that from other feelings or other

pressures, I feel like found finding the foundation of, uh, who I am was a, a big part of.

So being able to sit alone, to think with yourself. I remember I had a friend one time say, oh, I don’t like to be alone. I always have to be around people. But I feel like when you be around people so much, there’s nothing wrong with being around people. But when do you have time to think for yourself? So, um, being alone for a certain amount of time for me, uh, allowed me to really create that foundation of not allowing someone to tell me who I am when they know very little of me.

Mm-hmm . And, um, being able to be alone kind of helped with that, but ultimately I was been trying to learn self care. So, um, journaling is something that I got into poetry. Mm-hmm man, the, uh, the arts man, I, uh, just been deep diving into that. but, uh, I will say the number one thing for me personally is I never knew it, but taking baths, man.

Okay. Self care, self care. Self-care I’m not ashamed. I am not ashamed. So I’ll wake up early in the morning, have a nice bath at light up an Ince, play some jazz music, add some L E D lights, figure out what color, what vibe I’m feeling. And I just sit there and thought I might have a journal if I want a journal down, but I feel like, uh, overall.

Um, just trying to find opportunities to listen to myself. Uh, I’ve been tapping in, in so many different ways. I can throw out yoga. I can throw out a lot of things, but, um, overall, I would just say, uh, I sat with one idea and which was, what does it mean to be human mm-hmm I’m a hu what does it mean to be hu I’m like, wait it’s to create.

Okay. So that’s what I need to do. I need to figure out how I can create in a positive way. Mm-hmm. And, um, in listening to myself and trying out certain things, I start, uh, picking up on like, oh, wow, okay. I, I thought I was going crazy here, but something’s telling me I should go over here. So let me just do it.

And I end up doing it, something positive comes out of it. So then it makes me want to be more in tune with whatever allowed me to think of doing that particular thing. So I know I threw a lot at you. I hope you can catch something.

No, I think that’s all really helpful. And I think it’s, I don’t know something.

Yeah, definitely. I can take and use and hopefully implement and maybe listen myself a little bit more, like talking about maybe things you’re doing. What do you hope to work on in the future? Or like you just said. You feel as though being human is to create, what do you want to create in the future?

I would, I would like to be, I would love to be a part of something that I will not be around to see.

That’s fine with me. Um, I will, will wanna do something impactful. I’m all about people. And, um, I know when it comes to making change, uh, one thing I remember hearing, which always bother me is when someone says change is slow. Uh, huh. And I get the idea, but for me I’m like only if you let it be yeah. in certain ways, but for me, I’m like, uh, I also understand that, um, the changes that I will help hope to see, I guess, in the world, in the states, in the city and the community that I’m in to understand that, um, I D know, I just wanna be a part of something that I.

I won’t, uh, be around to see it until fruition, but to know that I’m a part of it. It’s uh, good enough for me Uhhuh okay. Mm-hmm . Wow.

All right. Well, I think that we’ve talked about quite a lot and I’ll start wrapping things up. But as a final question, I always just like to ask what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Mm to get something you never had. You have to do something you never did. Okay. Yes. Yes. I think I saw a speech. It was probably like a Denzel speech, but it, it made me realize I’m like, oh, it’s something I never had. I had to do something I never did. So, um, I realized doing something I never did brings fear.

So now I’m trying to. Build a stronger relationship with fear in terms of like embracing fear, as opposed to, uh, not doing it or not embracing it. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s, mm-hmm,

my thought. Well, that does make sense. And I think that’s funny because I spoke with Sarah a couple days ago and her piece of advice was something along the lines of you need.

Have fear in order to be brave. And so I think that’s kind of similar in the sense of you might be fearful, but that’s just an opportunity.

Mm yes, yes, yes. Oh for sure. And sometimes that fear can clutter, uh, clutter, your mind. I think the other day, uh, I was doing a poetry performance. Um, At an imagination brewery and doing that, I remember sitting next to my friend and I just got into the building and it was supposed to be me and my friend Elijah were supposed to perform.

And as soon as I sat down, she said, okay, you guys ready you about to go on right now? Like, What? So I remember looking at my friend Casper, I’m like, I am nervous right now. My heart’s pounded, like I’m nervous, but I said that in a way of, uh, I learned to say that because that’s how I’m feeling. It’s honestly, I don’t wanna like, keep all that energy in.

It’s like, I’m nervous, but I’m about to do this anyways. I’m gonna do it anyways. So, uh, embracing that fear mm-hmm

for sure. Okay. Well, Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate

it. Oh yeah. Thank you. Of

course. Well, I think we’ll end things here, but thank you guys for listening and take care.

Thanks Sierra and Jason, Jason for just is a community member that focuses on finding avenues to be open, authentic and artistic Jason’s goal is to create an entity titled appreciate color. That will leverage the arts to promote meaningful perspectives while provoking thought and encouraging actionable steps with himself and others.

You can listen to Jason forges, tell us something [email protected] Sierra. Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty brown.

Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast. Wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors. Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Remember to get your ticket to the next event. September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

 

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.

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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.