What happens when the things we hold dear start to crumble? Join us as our first storyteller faces a heartbreaking choice: let go of her family legacy, or fight for a piece of the past while making a discovery about nonperminance in herself. And facing loss isn't just about places, our next storyteller defies death itself, a therapist grapples with a hidden truth while our final storyteller navigates an unlikely love friendship running out on the trails.

Transcript : Close to the Edge - Part 2

Marc Moss

Tickets are on sale for the next live in person Tell Us Something event. The theme is “Going Home”. In collaboration with Missoula Pride, Tell Us Something is excited to bring you this evening of true, personal stories featuring many voices from the LBGTQ+ community. Learn more and get your tickets at Tell Us something.org.

Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast. Tell Us Something is a nonprofit that helps people share their true personal stories around a theme, live in person and without notes. I’m Mark Moss, your host and executive director of Tell Us Something. Sometimes adventure is chosen. Sometimes it’s thrust upon you. In this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, we delve into the journeys of four remarkable people.

What happens when the things we hold dear start to crumble?  Join us as our first storyteller faces a heartbreaking choice: let go of her family legacy, or fight for a piece of the past while making a discovery about nonperminance in herself. And facing loss isn’t just about places, our next storyteller defies death itself, a therapist grapples with a hidden truth while our final storyteller navigates an unlikely love friendship running out on the trails.

Kathleen Kennedy

I was simultaneously indignant and sympathetic, but I also had this feeling like I would love for squatters to come there and light a fire and burn it down like, problem solved.

Susan Waters

And the voice said, do you want to stay or do you want to go? And without even thinking about it, I said, if I still have work I need to do here, I want to stay. And the voice said, okay.

Annabelle Winnie

I do wonder if what we think of as traits for neurodivergent, if they’re really adaptations, is there ways that the body adapts, behaviors adapt, and even the brain itself adapts to a world that often feels too bright, too loud. It’s just too much.

Amanda Taylor

We were texting each other every day. Morning. Tonight we call them play by plays, which I also loved because it made me feel sporty, like, yeah, we’re sending play by plays.”

Marc Moss

We acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional lands of the Salish, Ponderay and Kalispell peoples who have stewarded this land throughout the generations. As spring unfolded, vibrant colors and rejuvenates the Earth, we recognize the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of honoring indigenous knowledge and practices. In this season of renewal, let us commit to fostering a deeper understanding of indigenous culture and history.

Take time to learn about the traditional ecological knowledge of the original inhabitants of this land, and incorporate sustainable practices into our daily lives. Together, let us strive to be mindful stewards of the land, fostering harmony and respect for all beings who call this place home. A tangible way that we can do this is to practice. Leave no trace principles when we are outside recreating.

We can pick up our dog’s waste when we are out hiking. Don’t get it on the way back from our hike. Get it when it happens and carry it with us. Pick up trash where we see it. Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid feeding them. By practicing, some of these leave no trace principles, we can be stewards of the land that we claim to love so much.

We take this moment to honor the land and its native people, and the stories and knowledge that they share with us. 

Our first storyteller is  Kathleen Kennedy. Kathleen’s cherished family cabin, a symbol of precious memories, faces the relentless grip of time and erosion. A cancer diagnosis adds another layer of urgency, forcing a confrontation with impermanence. We call her story “Lessons in Letting Go” Thanks for listening.

 

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy

 

When I was three years old, my dad began digging a trench that would be filled with concrete and form the foundation of a small cabin that he built by hand on the coast of Northern California. I can still see him, the shovel in his hands. His foot on the kick plate,  he’s wearing a white t shirt, he’s got zinc oxide on his nose and his hair.

 

His wavy brown hair is blowing in the breeze, there’s Bishop Pines behind him, and the mighty Pacific Ocean to his left.  My memory might be aided by the 8mm  home movie camera that chronicled much of this process,  but  when I say he built it by hand, I’m not exaggerating. We didn’t have electricity until the mid 90s when we got neighbors, and so every board was cut with a handsaw, every nail hammered in by hand.

 

And so it was a really slow process, but being teachers. My parents could load us up in the Volvo station wagon each summer, and we’d go camp in the redwoods of Guadalajara. My dad would go up to the lot and build. We were like a little hippie family. My sisters and me, we were wearing our plaid pants, our crocheted ponchos.

 

We had bandanas taming our really long stringy hair. But my parents were not hippies. They were about as straight as the nails that kept the framing together.  But, Once we could sleep inside the cabin, those times were magical. We could go down on the beach and play unsupervised, explore the tide pools.  We could look for the tiniest of seashells. 

 

And when the tide came in, we’d just go into the cabin and play. to the second floor and look out these magnificent windows onto the Pacific, and there was always something to watch. We look for gray whales, we watch osprey and brown pelicans, birds that were recovering from the ravages of DDT. And when I think about it, It’s really where I fell in love with the world and it’s likely why I became a science teacher. 

 

So  one year there was an El Nino event and the heavy rains and surf washed away about the last 15 feet.  long wooden staircase that led us down to the beach. And, you know, we didn’t mind. We just tied a rope around a post, and then we rappelled down. And, and when we did that, we’d go through this, like,  It was like mudstone, like a scree of mudstone.

 

And we didn’t really pay much attention to it. All of this material that was just kind of crumbling down from the cliff. And, you know, El Ninos occur on pretty regular intervals. So over the years, more of the cliff would erode. And then eventually the top started to erode as well. So, you know. And I distinctly remember sitting in my UM Geology class and learning about slope and a material’s angle, angle of repose and just having this sinking feeling because  suddenly I thought about that material and from that lecture hall I started to worry. 

 

I always knew I was going to retire there, there someday, you know, I would be content to live that simple life. Um, and I, I continued to visit and I put that out of my mind. But as an adult, my worries really shifted to my parents. And  my dad was showing some signs of dementia. And because I would travel from Missoula to the Bay Area and go up to the cabin to get my ocean fix, I was, I was aware of it.

 

I, each trip would notice more cognitive decline and I tried to tell my sisters and my mom and everyone was in denial until one day there was no denying it. And a few years later, he died of an aortic aneurysm. And I have to say, somewhat thankfully, he spared us from what would have surely been a painful, long goodbye. 

 

But,  I continued to go to the cabin. It was my happy place.  My mom, she struggled to get up there. But I would take her when I could.  And one trip I arrived up there and, and the ground was kind of sinking and there was a tree that was leaning one of those Bishop pines and our neighbor’s deck was sinking and they had hired a geotech firm to figure out what was going on.

 

And I took all these pictures so I could report back to my sisters what was going on. And,  you know, the building didn’t. It wasn’t worth much, but it was my dad’s legacy. And that view was priceless. And I started to really, like, campaign to save the cabin.  And so we did try.  We hired that geotech firm and we got a plan and we moved the cabin  and then we put it on.

 

Kind of an, at an angle because the lot was getting smaller and smaller, closer and closer to the edge, if you will. And so,  did that on an emergency permit. We couldn’t obtain a full permit until we got approval. And so it was up on these supports.  And then COVID hit, and the county planning office closed down, and they weren’t doing anything.

 

They were not going to approve any permits because no one was there. When they finally reopened, suddenly the rules had changed. And now the height variance was no longer going to be grandfathered in, and they wanted a rare plant size. survey. They wanted an archaeological survey. Um, they did not like what the geotech firm had proposed for the foundation.

 

And we were sort of stuck. And you know, the money was going out to sea much like the material from the cliff. And we really didn’t know what to do. There were no more liquid assets. And so we just kind of paused while we gathered ourselves.  And then that cough that I had always attributed to Missoula’s, uh, smoky summer air, it turned out to be stage three lung cancer.

 

And suddenly, like, my whole world was crumbling. And so,  I was not thinking about the cabin, but I was also thinking how much I would have loved to be able to be there to recover from my treatment, but I couldn’t go because it wasn’t on a foundation and therefore uninhabitable. And about the same time, we had these new neighbors.

 

They were part of that, like, COVID urban exodus.  And they started to call and email, and they had a lot of complaints and questions and, you know, they were saying things like, hey, this is an eyesore and a fire hazard and we’re worried vagrants or squatters might come. And I was simultaneously indignant  and sympathetic. 

 

But I also had this I was feeling like I would love for squatters to come there and, and light a fire and burn it down, like problem solved.  So they, they were really relentless and, you know, we’re just like, Hey, she’s dealing with cancer. Like you can’t do this, but they didn’t care. And so finally I said to my sisters, we got to hire a lawyer.

 

And so we did. And then we, uh, said, hey, why don’t you ask them if they would like to buy it and perhaps deal with the expense, like a demolition permit is really expensive there, as is disposal. And miraculously, they said yes.  And then I had to  figure out how to let go, how to let go of this place that meant so much.

 

And so I tried to remember all of my Buddhist studies and think about impermanence and non attachment. And I finally came to a place where I was like, okay, yes, this is what we have to do, I understand.  And,  I also couldn’t stand the thought of certain things being demolished, and I had to go to retrieve them.

 

There were these little wooden, um, plaque pieces, scraps of wood that people wrote messages It was to my dad at his memorial and we were gonna put it in the fireplace there and burn them to send those messages up, but we never did. But I knew right where they were.  So my friend Sheila and I decided we’d go on this retrieval mission.

 

And we bought hard hats and gloves and, you know, wore these old clothes, and we drove up from our place in Marin, and we had to break in the door, because  it had settled. And when we opened that door, it was like this multi sensory assault.  Um, there were mouse droppings everywhere and mouse carcasses. It was almost like the mice died while they were moving through, scampering across the floor because, I don’t know, it was so clear that it was the right decision.

 

There was nothing that could have been done to bring that place back. And so I retrieved the things and I went up the stairs and I said, you know, kind of my goodbye and I looked out. The window, it had been turned and I looked at the view and it wasn’t anything like what I loved. Um,  so I cried and I took my leave  and now that I’m dealing with a cancer recurrence,  I’m trying to.

 

I’d like to just summon those lessons again to remember that clinging to something,  it often just delays inevitable, um, the inevitable and that it can often bring you even more pain.  And that, But the reality of impermanence, there’s no escaping it. So as I move through this next round of cancer, I want to remember those lessons.

 

I want to let them inform me  and inform how I choose to spend the rest of my days on earth. Thank you.

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Kathleen.

 

Kathleen Kennedy grew up in Oakland, CA, and is a science teacher at Big Sky High School, with 24 years teaching experience. She has won a variety of prestigious teaching awards. She won the EcoDaredevil award in 2009, and in 2011 she was a Fulbright Japan-US Teacher in the Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development  She was an Adult Participant in American Youth Leadership Program’s Trip to Thailand in 2015, and continues to be passionate about her students and teaching. When she’s not busy saving the world and working towards a sustainable future, you might find her enjoying the beauty Missoula has to offer, rocking out to Pearl Jam, or dancing along to her favorite Dave Matthews song.

 

Next we join Susan Waters on a journey that transcends the physical.  Hear the voice that offered a stark choice at death’s door. Susan defies the odds and lives on to continue her work on this corporal plane. Susan calls her story “Fade to White”. Thanks for listening.

 

Susan Waters

One of the great joys of many outdoor recreationists is mountain biking.  There’s that incredible sense of freedom, being able to go far and fast.  And the burn of the muscles as you grind up those hills. And the precision and the focus it takes to do the single tracks.  And then that screaming exhilaration when you’re flying downhill. 

 

So it’s September, 2005.  Beautiful, late summer, Missoula day that you just don’t want to let go of.  I had just finished a group trail ride up in Paddy Canyon.  And everybody’s relaxed and happy, and they start heading back into town.  And I lingered behind because I wanted to take some photographs.  So when I was ready to come back down to town, I loaded up my bike, and started heading down Paddy Canyon Road by myself. 

 

And for those that don’t know, it’s a paved two lane road, generally in pretty good shape, light traffic,  um, but windy.  And I’m cruising along, not a care in the world.  And the last thing I remember is this visceral feeling that suddenly something huge was in front of me. And it happened so fast, and I couldn’t hit it, so I slammed on the brakes,  and black. 

 

The next thing I know, I’m pulling myself off the pavement,  onto the gravelly shoulder of the road.  And I’m stunned, and I have absolutely no idea what had just happened.  I was there for a while, and this little pickup truck comes up the road.  And a man who spoke very little English asked if I was okay. 

 

And, you know, stubbornly, I said, ah, you know, I’ll shake it off. I’ll, I’ll just, I’ll be okay. And I tried to get up, and I couldn’t.  So he stopped.  There was another bicyclist that came up the road, and he summed up the situation pretty quickly and took control and said, you need to go to the hospital.  So they load me up in the truck. 

 

We’re riding down Pattee Canyon Road,  and I keep losing consciousness,  and I manage to crank down the window.  And stick my head out so that the water, the, the air would hit me in the face and keep me awake.  And my consciousness kept fading to white.  And then there was this voice.  And it was genderless,  very kind but neutral, and matter of factly said, you know you can die from this, don’t you? 

 

And I thought, well, it’s looking a little worse than I thought.  And the voice said, do you want to stay or do you want to go?  And without even thinking about it, I said, if I still have work I need to do here, I want to stay.  And the voice said,  okay.  And from that point on, I had absolutely no fear.  I had an unshakable faith that I would be okay. 

 

And for once in my life, I surrendered into that. 

 

And I was at complete peace.  And this was way before the hospital drugs. 

 

So we have a bouncy ride back down into town.  We hit the downtown traffic, and it’s heavy. So the two guys in the truck are yelling at the other motorists in two languages to get out of our way.  We get to the ER, and things are relatively quiet. And that’s it. And, the crescendo starts building up, there’s more people, there’s more equipment, there’s all these sounds, they’re stitching me up, they’re taking me into scans,  and a doctor comes out, and is very serious,  and says,  you have a concussion, you have broken bones,  and you have severe internal injuries,  we’re gonna have to put you on life flight to go to Seattle. 

 

And I’m sitting there, taking a minute to take it in, and I’m like, okay.  So I’m laying on the table, they’re prepping me, and there’s two nurses, just right outside the door in the corridor.  And one of them says, I don’t think she’s gonna make it.  She came around the corner, and she saw me looking at her, and she was horrified. 

 

But I had to smile at her.  And I think I even winked at her. And I wasn’t upset at all.  Because I knew she was wrong. 

 

So now the hospital drugs are kicking in.  They wheeled me out on the tarmac at the airport  to get me on the life flight plane.  And I’m in one of those ridiculous hospital gowns, you know those really thin ones that make you feel really, really vulnerable?  And there was a big wind,  and my thought was, oh my god, what happens if the plane crashes?

 

And this is all I’m wearing. 

 

So the flight,  the pain,  boy, it hits hard  and I’m so uncomfortable and I turn on my side and my blood pressure crashes.  My angel paramedic brought me back  and I’ll never forget looking up at those warm, comforting eyes  that were so reassuring. And his gaze never left mine, that entire flight. 

 

One of my friends was able to get to the ER quickly, and they talked her into getting on the life flight with me to be my medical advocate.  And at one point in the flight, I looked up and I saw her. She was in a jump seat facing toward me. And she had those big headsets on. And her face was deathly white.

 

And her eyes like saucers. And she looked so small and so afraid.  And I just wanted to hug her and convince her that everything was gonna be okay. 

 

Seattle was nuts. Yes. I mean, if ever there was a time to check out, it was then.  There was so much noise and chaos and they were just tossing me around that I just surrendered again into this  peaceful sea of white. 

 

I regained consciousness about a week later in the hospital.  And then a couple of weeks after that I was released back home to a very long recovery. 

 

My helmet,  helmets,  and trauma medicine saved my life, and for that I will always be grateful.  The people were so skilled and so caring,  but the system is very strained,  and they don’t have a lot of time  to give individual treatment.  So after about a year of recovery,  An extreme physical therapy, it’s a sport. 

 

They were proposing some really invasive and scary surgeries.  And it just, down to my bones, did not feel right.  So I decided to go another direction. And I started looking into alternative health.  And there was no stone left unturned. And hey, it’s Missoula, you’re all out there. 

 

I did mental health therapy, I did eastern medicine, sacred,  indigenous,  all of those medicines  that are ancient and so wise.  And all of these practitioners took the time  And they were really present and really listened. 

 

I have to acknowledge I have a lot of privilege.  That I was able to,  I had a lot of options.  That not a lot of people have.  And they should.  Equally. 

 

And I also acknowledge that I had a lot of fairy dust. Good luck to.  So, do I regret  staying?  To be honest, at times, yes.  The following years were the hardest of my life, and it wasn’t just the recovery.  I lost both of my dear friends, lifelong friends, prematurely and tragically. Both my parents died.  I lost several animal companions. 

 

And I lost my livelihood.  But I’m on borrowed time,  so I have to be grateful, because I got to spend a few more years with those friends.  I got to hold both of my parents hands before they died. 

 

I played hard with those pet companions in the mountains and in the rivers.  I made tons of new friends, beautiful, wonderful friends.  And my family expanded,  and the love multiplied.  And I was so inspired that I studied and trained and I opened my own wellness practice. 

 

And  every day,  I’m so moved to be able to help other people find their light and their voice.  And gain the skills they need to navigate through their changes and challenges,  just as my teachers had done with me.  And they,  and beautiful, quirky Missoula and community that we have here,  all rallied together and motivate me every day.

 

To find joy and gratitude. And to keep looking for all of that work that I’m still left to do. [Applause]

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Susan.

 

Susan Waters is an avid outdoor recreationist, family and friend cultivator, and animal lover. Raised in Missouri and Colorado, she was drawn to the laid-back and nature-focused lifestyle of Missoula in the 1990s. She has had many livelihoods, including working as an artist, writer, filmmaker, photographer and communicator for numerous environmental and social causes. Active in the community, Susan cherishes all of her daily connections and navigates with an open heart and a well earned sense of trust.

 

Coming up after the break,

 

Despite professional achievements and a happy family, a deep unease lingers for our first storyteller after the break, until a surprising discovery unlocks a door to self-understanding

 

Annabelle Winnie

I do wonder if what we think of as traits for neurodivergent, if they’re really adaptations, is there ways that the body adapts, behaviors adapt, and even the brain itself adapts to a world that often feels too bright, too loud. It’s just too much. 

 

Marc Moss

and our final story about two women exploring a new friendship, running on epic trails, pushing both their bodies and their hearts to the limit.

 

Amanda Taylor

 

We were texting each other every day. Morning. Tonight we call them play by plays, which I also loved because it made me feel sporty, like, yeah, we’re sending play by plays.”

Marc Moss

 

Stay with us.

 

Thank you to the Good Food Store who, as the Story Sponsor, helped us pay our storytellers. Learn more about them at goodfoodstore.com. Thanks to Spark Arts who provided childcare for the performance. You can learn more about Spark at sparkartslearning.org. Thanks to our Stewardship sponsor, Blackfoot Communications, who helped us to give away free tickets to underserved populations. Learn more about Blackfoot, celebrating 70 years, at goblackfoot.com.

 

Thank you to the Good Food Store who, as the Story Sponsor, helped us pay our storytellers. Learn more about them at goodfoodstore.com. Thanks to Spark Arts who provided childcare for the performance. You can learn more about Spark at sparkartslearning.org. Thanks to our Stewardship sponsor, Blackfoot Communications, who helped us to give away free tickets to underserved populations. Learn more about Blackfoot, celebrating 70 years, at goblackfoot.com.

 

You are listening to the Tell Us Something podcast where people share their true stories around a theme live in person without notes. I’m Marc Moss. Storytellers in this episode shared their stories in front of a full house on March 26, 2024 at The George and Jane Dennison Theatre in Missoula Montana.]

 

In our next story, Annabelle Winnie, a successful therapist and mother, grapples with a lifelong sense of dissonance. Despite outward competence, she’s navigated years of therapy, seeking answers for a struggle she couldn’t quite grasp. Annabelle calls her story “Belonging.” Or…”Another Way to See.” Or “Another Way to Be.” Thanks for listening.

 

Annabelle Winnie

I’m in my new therapist’s office.  We’re sitting under the branches of her indoor ficus tree. Across the room are bookshelves. There’s a sculpture, or maybe it was a print of a caregiver embracing a child. Because this is Missoula, a few of you may be wondering, have we had the same therapist? 

 

I’d gone to see her because I was having a dilemma of dissonance.  I guess people often see me as competent, composed, confident.  This was about 10 years ago. I was the mother of two young boys, married, and a successful professional.  And yet, I’d been in and out of therapy most of my life. More in than out.

 

The first time I went, I was seven or eight. My mom brought me because I seemed like a miniature adult. And it worried her. 

 

Yeah, hi mom, it’s me. I, I, yeah, I’m in my mid forties, I know. We haven’t really talked about this in decades.  But you remember in third grade and sixth grade, I didn’t understand what was happening. I just didn’t get it. It was terrible. It’s still kind of like that, I just fake it,  but I don’t understand what’s going on. 

 

This is when information about women and autism was just hitting the mainstream media. Because of my job, I had to read about it and I had to understand it. And the more I read first person narratives and interviews, the more I identified. It was starting to tear me up in part, apart, inside.  I tried talking to family, friends, even some close colleagues.

 

For the most part, I felt like, I felt like I got this look that said,  I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Annabelle, but I don’t see it.  And, and this  just  hit me in a very painful way.  I am a therapist,  and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback pretty consistently about my work. And yet I was understanding myself in this new way that made so much sense to me.

 

It just organized so many struggles I’d had.  But at this point, I was like, well, If I’m autistic, does that mean I can’t have empathy for other people or I can’t understand other people’s internal world? Here I was, I couldn’t understand my own internal world. I was starting to spin out. It was coming out sideways with my kids.

 

I was behaving with them in ways that I knew weren’t good for them. And so when this latest therapist suggested, as I myself had done already a couple of times, she is. Suggested that I get assessed, and I agreed. 

 

03a p2 Annabelle Winnie.wav

 

 It was kind of like a drug deal.  I had to cross state lines and it was a cash only  kind of a transaction.  I couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the idea of going to someone that I might interact with professionally and there’s no way this was going to be on my medical record. So I found a clinic in Denver, I went, I poured my heart out, they talked to my family, I took their tests and then I waited. 

 

I’m in my car behind my work building when I get the call, I take it right away.  Okay,  email, assessment, next week, talk, thank you.  They diagnosed me with mild autism. It’s still really weird and it was kind of painful.  It made so much sense. For the first time as an adult, I had a sense that there was a rhyme and reason to the ways that I had so consistently struggled. 

 

I read the assessment further. Yeah. Yeah.  Turns out,  I’m actually really smart. 

 

This really surprised me because  I knew I was very good at a few things, but I struggled with a lot of things that I didn’t hear people talking about as struggles. 

 

I’m not very smart visually. So I have a very high discrepancy between my verbal capacity and my visual capacity.  And again, I started to wonder, is this why not once, but twice as a child, I ended up in the emergency room because I kept walking into telephone poles and concrete pillars.  I wondered if maybe my brain just didn’t know what to do with visual social information. 

 

It’s like, who cares? Words are so much more interesting.  And then maybe my brain doesn’t put energy into my own nonverbal cues,  visual cues. So sometimes I may seem a little flat or wooden. And  I started to think about myself as a plant.  And this was very, very hopeful for me. 

 

We do share over 60 percent of our DNA with bananas. 

 

It’s true. 

 

I imagined, I really had hope, like autonomously as an adult, I had hope for the first time.  Like a plant, if I could just figure out  what are my sensory needs, what do I need to process a little more fluidly? What do I need to learn social, emotional  information or experiences? It’s not intuitive for me.  I imagine that if I understood this about myself and I could develop a deep acceptance, a radical love, that like a plant, I would just  grow. 

 

Nowadays, I feel more like a dog.  And like a dog shakes off excess water and mud, I just want to shake off preconceived notions, labels.  I just want to be myself.  There is a Maori.  A  linguist and educator who created a dictionary of mental health and addiction terms in the Maori language.  Some of the words he had to create because they didn’t exist in his language.

 

Takiwatanga is the word that he created for autism and it means in a person’s own time,  in a person’s own way.  He created this definition based on his experience of having been friends with a man with autism from as children and through adulthood.  I do wonder if what we think of as traits for neurodivergence, if they’re really adaptations, there are ways that the body adapts. 

 

Behaviors adapt, and even the brain itself adapts to a world that often feels too, too bright, too loud. It’s just too much. 

 

I’m in my late twenties. I’m in an intensive care unit. My grandfather just had bypass surgery. He’s on a ventilator. He can’t speak. His arms are restrained to the bed. My aunt and my mom are there. It’s a mess. I’m holding my grandfather’s hand. He’s he’s looks terrible.  This is my grandfather, a very quiet man. 

 

His humor was so subtle and so dry, if you sneezed, you might miss his jokes.  He was a physicist and he was a researcher and it wasn’t until after he died that his family, we knew how, um, accomplished he was cause he just didn’t talk about it.  He would reference chaos theory to try to motivate him to do housework. 

 

I’m going to go make some order out of the chaos, he would say, and rub his knuckles together in this very rhythmic, um, familiar way.  As he would go upstairs to work in his office. So I’m standing there with him, I’m holding his hand, he’s squeezing my hand, I’m squeezing him back, he’s squeezing my hand, and it comes to me in a moment, this is my grandfather who was a telegraph operator, that was his first job out of college.

 

He’s giving me SOS, I look at him and I say, you’re giving me SOS, and I wonder if he thinks he’s dying. I explain to him what’s happening, he’s on a vent, it’s going to pass. He’ll be able to talk again. And I, I do wonder if these questions of identity become so important for us as humans because it orients us toward where we belong and to whom we belong. 

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Annabelle.

 

Annabelle Winnie has lived in Missoula since 2011. You might find her walking or biking around town, acting as chauffeur for one of her 2 kids, or taming the wild raspberry patch in her backyard. 

 

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast is Amanda Taylor, who learns that the path to love isn’t always smooth, and Amanda and Heather learn that the most powerful relationships can exist outside the box. Amanda calls her story “Heather”. Thanks for listening.

 

Amanda Taylor

 

 I Always thought that I needed to be perfect to be loved  and then I met Heather and Heather is almost six feet tall. She casually looks like an athletic supermodel without trying  she has naturally like white blonde hair and incredible calves  We first met at a Griz game, which is funny because I am not sporty at all. 

 

And we met at the game, and, you know, we stayed in touch afterwards via social media. And this was about 13 years ago.  And I would see her posting about going on runs, like the Missoula Marathon, or the RUT, which is a, if you don’t know, it’s a race in Big Sky where people pay money to run up a mountain where there’s, like, off the sides and they say that it’s fun. 

 

Um, and I would just hit love on those posts 

 

and I would run into her around town and she would say, Amanda, you have to come running with me. And I said, yeah, totally.  It’s like, I, I won’t be running with you.  And then about seven years ago I went through a breakup.  And I decided to reinvent myself as a trail runner.  And I remembered Heather. And so I reached out to her and I said, Hey, would you be up for showing me some trails around town?

 

If you just show me a few, like you, you don’t have to keep going with me, but if you just go with me like twice and show me where to go, then I can go alone and I’ll stop bothering you.  And she said, sure. And within five minutes, we had plans to meet up that week to go run at waterworks. And we did a loop around waterworks and talked about our jobs.

 

And I probably talked about dating like I always do.  And she, uh, you know, we didn’t share a whole lot. And then, um, she asked if I wanted to go on a steeper run and I said, sure, if we can go slow and she said, yes. So then we met up a few days later and went up Sentinel.  And as we made our way up, and my calves are burning, and my lungs are burning, and I’m trying to be sporty, um,  We hit this ice field.

 

It’s like a 3×3 ice field.  And I was like, ah, I’m scared.  I’m like, frozen. And she steps across the ice field with her giant calf.  And she reached across the ice and helped me across. And I was so embarrassed. I figured she would never want to go on an adventure with me again.  And then we got to the top and she went to give me a high five.

 

And I just did, you know, Cause  I’m not sporty.  And, um,  and then things kind of escalated after that. The next thing I knew, we had a workout schedule Monday through Saturday. 

 

With, um, runs and weights and yoga and Pilates. And, uh, we were texting each other every day, morning to night. We called them play by plays, which I also loved cause it made me feel sporty.  I’m like, yeah, we’re sending play by plays.  Um.  And then, um, you know, over time and many miles and,  and hours in the woods and up and down mountains and many pairs of shoes, I started to sense that there was something sad about her. 

 

And you can’t really approach someone and say, why is your soul sad?  So I thought,  I’m going to crack this nut, um,  I’m just going to share everything I can with her.  And then maybe she’ll tell me why she’s sad.  And so,  you know, and we had tons of time out there. Um, so I just shared everything about my life, a bunch of things that I will not be saying into a microphone tonight. 

 

Um, and things that were really shrouded with shame. And she would take all of them and say, Oh yeah, I could totally see how like given your life and what you’ve been through, like that totally makes sense that you would do that.  I was like, Oh, okay. She’s still here. Cool. Um,  and then she began to share a little bit about the relationship she was in.

 

And basically the conclusion that she had come to was that it wasn’t really love, like big love that makes your heart explode. It was just okay.  And he was a good person and they had a good life. So that’s what she was going to do.  I was like, ah, that’s where it is. Um, And so also why we were running all these miles is because she had gotten into a 100 mile trail running race and for some reason she thought I should pace her in it. 

 

And so we were training for this and I was going to pace her for the last 20 miles.  And we went to Idaho for this race, and, uh, during the race, at one point,  you know, she’s at mile 80, and I have fresh legs, so I can keep up, and, um, oh, if you’ve never been to a 100 mile trail running race, it is a spectacle.

 

Um, So, um,  Everyone starts out super pumped, they’re like full of smiles. And then you meet them at aid stations along this hundred mile route, up and down mountains, through the woods, through the night.  And as they go to aid stations, the life just slowly leaves  their faces.  And their, like, bouncy running becomes like a zombie shuffle. 

 

And they just look more and more sad every time you see them.  So I was there with her, mile 80,  and by this point she was having a lot of pain in her knees, and we were on a ridgeline, and I just remember watching her moving in pain. And behind my sunglasses, I’m crying. Because it’s so painful to see her in pain, but I’m supposed to be the strong one, like watching my clock, making sure we make the cutoff so she can finish.

 

So I did my job, I kind of held it together, and you can’t like, when you’re a pacer, you can’t touch them, you can’t hold their hand, you can’t hug them. So I just had to watch her suffer, and it was awful. But I kept saying, we got it, we just have to keep moving.  Eventually, we did get to the end, and, uh, she was the only female finisher of that race. 

 

Woo! 

 

And then on the way home, we sat in the back of the car for a lot of the ride, and she slept with her head on my leg. And I remember just wanting to cry about how much I loved her.  And I just thought, gosh, this is a really intense friendship. 

 

And, um,  It was. 

 

And then we got home and a couple days later we went for a walk to the river and we sat by the river and debrief the race and how she won and um,  and then she got serious and she said, Amanda, I have to ask you something. I was like, okay. And she said, what do you think about my relationship?  And I said, do you really want to know?

 

Because this is going to be hard. And she said, yes.  And so I said,  I don’t think that you’re happy and I love you so much that it  causes me pain to know that you’re not happy and that you’re not giving yourself a chance to live your happiest life.  And I said, I can’t.  I don’t think there’s any way I could sit.

 

Oh, I think I forgot to say, at some point in there they got engaged. So pretend I said that.  Boop! Little rewind. Um, so they were engaged and I said,  I don’t think I can sit at your wedding and watch you knowing that you are not happy. Like, that would break my heart.  And then we just sat there and stared at the river for a while. 

 

And then in  classic Amanda form, just blurting out things I feel uncomfortable about, um, I just said,  also,  I want to make out with you. 

 

And she said nothing. 

 

So I thought, great. I just made the greatest friendship of my life really weird.  Made it weird again. Okay. Bye.  And, um, I said, Oh my gosh, did I just ruin everything? And she just grabbed my hand, and we stared at the river, and she said, You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re fine. I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. 

 

Which is such an easy task, right? Um, so,  um, I said, okay, and we parted ways. And then later, or a few days later, we met up to go for a run, because a hundred miles wasn’t enough.  Um, and I got to the trailhead, and she said, get in the car. And I said, okay. And, uh, and then she said, Amanda, I’m just gonna tell you everything.

 

Mm hmm.  And she said, I have loved women since I was four.  And I have loved you from the time that I helped you across the ice.  The timer doesn’t count if I’m trying not to cry.  Okay. 

 

Um, 

 

and she said,  I was dying when you wore that black dress to the trail running festival. And I was dying when you hung out in a swimsuit and a flannel all day.  And this whole time I have just been trying to be respectful and not see you like that, because I love you so much.  Whoo,  and then for the first time in my life,  I kissed a woman. 

 

And her Her hands were soft, and her face was soft, and her lips were soft, and there was no like, scratchy hair 

 

exfoliating my face. 

 

And we were basically together after that. And then,  you know, we were late for everything because we were in bed. And um,  And then the bliss wore off  and I was still the person I was with my issues and she was still the person she was with her issues  and the romantic part of our relationship did not work. 

 

But  we made a deal to be friends and to not give up on one another. And after that was a year, a very tumultuous year, or maybe a little longer of the most difficult conversations I have ever had that I never want to have again.  But,  um, 

 

now, um, she is the greatest, one of the greatest cheerleaders of my life. And she is living her happiest life with her girlfriend. And. And I am living my life knowing, even though I forget for moments, sometimes I know in my bones that I can be imperfect and loved.  Thank you.

 

Marc Moss

 

Thanks, Amanda. Amanda Taylor is a lover of laughter and of love. After sharing a story at Tell Us Something one year ago, she finally followed her dream of trying stand-up comedy. Now she is a local stand-up comedian, even though she feels like an imposter saying that. Amanda is on a lifelong journey of living in alignment with herself, and is forever grateful to each person who has loved and continues to love her along the way.

 

Please remember that our next event, in partnership with Missoula Pride is on June11 at the Glacier Ice Rink in the Missoula County Fairgrounds. The theme is “Going Home ”.  Learn more about Tell Us Something and get tickets for the next event at tellussomething.org.

Sometimes adventure is chosen, sometimes it's thrust upon you. In this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, we delve into the journeys of four remarkable people: A mother and daughter in Belize work together to navigate the challenges of entering the country with an expired passport, a determined diver confronts the depths of the ocean swimming against sudden swells and learns some harrowing news the next day when she returns to the water. An artist wrestles with self-doubt and the meaning of success. And a woman on a wilderness adventure faces a grizzly bear encounter, wolves and swarming bees on her ordeal to get out and help with a family emergency.

Transcript : Close to the Edge - Part 1

Marc Moss: We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Going Home”. This event is a collaboration with Missoula Pride and we will favor folx in the LBGTQ+ community as we listen to story pitches. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected].

 

The pitch deadline is May 4th. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Another important date is on the horizon, too. Missoula Gives & Bitterroot Gives, is an initiative of the Missoula Community Foundation, is a 26-hour celebration of the Missoula and Ravalli communities. It connects generous Missoulians and Bitterrooters with the causes they care about. Causes like Tell Us Something. It is a day to celebrate and support the role nonprofits and donors (like you) play in making our Missoula & Ravalli communities great. Mark your calendars for May 2nd and 3rd and tell your friends about this opportunity to support Tell Us Something during Missoula Gives. May 2nd and 3rd.

 

Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast. Tell Us Something is a nonprofit that helps people share their true personal stories around a theme live in person and without notes. I’m Marc Moss, your host and Executive Director of Tell Us Something! We acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional lands of the Salish, Pend Oreille, and Kalispel peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout the generations.

As spring unfolds its vibrant colors and rejuvenates the earth, we recognize the interconnectedness of all life, and the importance of honoring Indigenous knowledge and practices.

In this season of renewal, let us commit to fostering a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture and history. Take time to learn about the traditional ecological knowledge of the original inhabitants of this land, and incorporate sustainable practices into our daily lives.

Together, let us strive to be mindful stewards of the land, fostering harmony and respect for all beings who call this place home.

A tangible way that we can do this is to practice leave no trace principles when we are outside recreating. Pick up our dogs’ waste when we are out hiking — don’t “get it on the way back” from your hike, get it when it happens, and carry it with you. Pick up trash where you see it, observe wildlife from a distance and avoid feeding them. By practicing some of these leave no trace principles, we can be stewards of the land that we claim to love so much.

We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people, and the stories that they share with us.

 

Sometimes adventure is chosen, sometimes it’s thrust upon you. In this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, we delve into the journeys of four remarkable people:

 

A mother and daughter in Belize work together to navigate the challenges of entering the country with an expired passport, a determined diver confronts the depths of the ocean swimming against sudden swells and learns some harrowing news the next day when she returns to the water. An artist wrestles with self-doubt and the meaning of success. And a woman on a wilderness adventure faces a grizzly bear encounter, wolves and swarming bees on her ordeal to get out and help with a family emergency.

 

Traci Sylte: He opens the door and said, you’ll need to go to the U. S. Embassy right away. And talk to the consulate.

 

Ren Parker: I fight like hell to get up. Everything starts going really fast. I’m breathing air out as fast as I can, and I’m moving and swimming as hard as I can to get to the surface.  When divers dive, they need to decompress as they go to the surface.

 

Mark Matthews: And I  admitted for the first time that I’d given up the thing I loved. I’m Because I thought I was a failure, because I couldn’t make a living from it.

 

Kat Werner: I enter Pain Cave. Which is really just  alright, like, suck it up. Full on autopilot,  and I just, you know, one paddle stroke and one step at a time  trying to make it out of there. 

 

Marc Moss: Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Close to the Edge”. Our stories today were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on March 26, 2024 at The George and Jane Dennison Theatre.

 

Remember this: Tell Us Something stories sometimes have adult themes. Storytellers sometimes use adult language.

 

Our first storyteller is Traci Sylte. An expired passport throws mother-daughter vacation into chaos! Listen to their dramatic encounter with immigration and how they turned a mishap into an unforgettable experience. We call her story “The Trip of a Lifetime”. Thanks for listening.

 

Traci Sylte: Descending from 30, 000 feet comes the following across the loudspeaker. Good afternoon. This is your main flight attendant speaking. Soon we will be coming through the aisles to pick up any unwanted items.

 

Please also have your, your custom form and your declarations formed, picked, filled out because we will be picking those up as well. Thank you for flying with us. We will be landing in Belize City in approximately 30 minutes. Beside me sat my daughter Becca, and it was just the two of us. She was 14 at [00:01:00] the time, and that was five years ago.

 

Old enough to begin filling out the customs form herself. And so I gave her her own form and she started filling it out. I began filling out the declaration form, making sure we had no, no unwanted fruits, no unwanted plant parts. Certainly nothing over 10, 000 in cash that we were bringing in. And then I started looking down at Becca and she was hesitating.

 

And, um, she’s sitting right here to the side of me and I’m, she’s, like, not filling out her form. And I look down and I said, Sweets, what’s wrong? And she says, Mom, my passport has expired. Yeah, right? And I say, that’s not true. Uh, let me see it. I look down, and sure enough, it had expired four months prior.

 

Four months prior, thirty minutes before we were to land in Belize City. Yeah. [00:02:00] And so I thought for a moment about like this, and I looked down at her, and I said, Okay, Becca, I need you to follow my lead. Can you do that, sweets? Just follow my lead. And she goes, Yeah, Mama, I can, I can do that. So we land, the customs line is long, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because it was long enough for me to think about all the different things I could do to get us through this.

 

And it came down to one thing. I needed to be an actress, and I needed to be Meryl Streep. And I, oh, no, Jodie Foster. Jodie Foster is really hot right now, don’t you think? Yeah, Jodie Foster. So I had to be my best Jodie Foster. And so we are, we are coming up, and here’s the, up to the time where the, you see the official.

 

And I give the passports to her, and she looks at mine, asks me the questions, and then she hands it back, stamps it, and hands it back to me, and then she looks at Becca’s. And she looks at me and she says, Ma’am, her passport [00:03:00] is expired, did you know this? And I said, that can’t be. And, and I said, that’s just not possible.

 

And she says, it’s expired. And I said, that can’t be. Can I see it? So she hands it back to me, and I immediately start sobbing. And if, if, and I’m not an actress, but let me, and you guys probably like me watch movies, how do they do that? Let me say it’s possible you can, you can cry, you can cry. So I’m crying and I’m saying this is not true.

 

It can’t be, but it is. I don’t know how this has happened. Her dad just gave me the passport last night. We’re divorced. They went to, I didn’t think he’d laugh at that, that part, but yes. Okay. Yes. But yeah, we’re divorced. There’s, there’s clunky things, right? He, he handed me the passport last night. I’m telling the woman this.

 

And. They just went to Costa Rica last year. Passports don’t, they need to be renewed every ten years, right? And she’s not old enough. And she goes, ma’am, ma’am, [00:04:00] ma’am, calm down, calm down. Passport, and I’m crying, um, Passports need to be renewed for children under 18 years old every 5 years. And I said I didn’t know that.

 

And then she looks at me really sternly. And then she looks at Becca. And the interrogation begins. Who is this? This is my mama. What are you doing in Belize? We are in spring break. Where’s your dad? Why is your passport expired? Bang, bang, bang, bang. She asked Becca all these questions and Becca did not look up at me.

 

She just very calmly addressed this woman and after her interrogation the woman signals for another assistant to come and he comes and asks us the same exact freaking questions. Same thing, same response and I’m, I’m still trying to cry although the tears are starting to go away and Same thing, and Terry gets back, uh, and then he makes a phone call, [00:05:00] and he says, come with me.

 

And so we follow him down this long corridor, and then it turns, and I’m thinking all this time about spy movies and corrupt governments, and And cartels, drug cartels, and, and how vulnerable we are to these people at this time. And then we get to this door, and the door says, Director of Immigrations. And the door opens, he knocks, and the door opens, and this gentleman, let’s call him Raul, um, Raul, um, opens the door, and then he gestures for us to come in.

 

and sit down at these two chairs that were by his desk, and then he sits behind his desk and he looks at me, and I’m looking at him and I can see on the wall behind him, literally, no joke, there’s a picture of Jesus, and then on top of his file cabinets there are praying hands and I thought, I hope this works in my credit, or to my benefit, but drug cartels and corrupt governments, they’re religious too, so how is this going to work out?

 

So, he starts interrogating me the same questions, and I answer all of [00:06:00] those, and I’m not crying at this point. And at the end of these questions, I add. I said, I know it seems really stupid. Her dad and I were reasonably smart people, we just made a mistake. And I can tell you this also. Look at all of the consent forms, look at, we’ve got everything in line, and I can tell you that on the customs form it says, it asks you for the date of issue.

 

Thank you. Not the date of expiration. I never looked at the date of expiration. Neither did her dad. So then he turns from me to Becca. And he starts interrogating her, literally, with all the same questions. Who is this? And, and, and, then it comes, they think that I’m trying to smuggle my daughter in. It’s like, I just want to go out on the island and be with the sun and the sand.

 

And, and, I look at her and I think. She’s, she’s not looking at me, and she’s answering his questions with such poise and such grace, and it’s like, wow. She’s doing better than I am. And when she’s done with her interrogation, he looks back at [00:07:00] me, and his eyes had changed. At that point, I thought, Or maybe I knew that I was looking into the eyes of a father or perhaps a grandfather.

 

He literally, he turned and he went to a stack of papers on his desk. Oh, I forgot to tell you, at this point he was on the corner of his desk and he was looking over his eyeglasses like this at me. But he turned and he grabbed this, this, this piece of paper. And he literally ripped, I’m not joking, he ripped off a quarter of that piece of paper and he said, and then he put some of Becca’s passport information on it, he signed it and then he stamped it.

 

He said, this is your 14 day visitor pass to Belize, don’t lose it.

 

Yeah, he opens the door and said, you’ll need to go to the U. S. Embassy right away. And talk to the consulate, and don’t lose that piece of paper. So, I [00:08:00] also have to say that in my defense, I had this trip choreographed to the hour. I had two days on the mainland before we went out on the five day island excursion, two days afterwards, and I had to cancel all of that.

 

All of the mainland excursions that we were going to go on. And in that time, we got the passport application renewal, we got passport pictures, which is not easy to find all this stuff in Belize City in a third world country. It took a little bit of time and it was great for Becca and I, we really got to experience Belize City trying to find these things.

 

We called, we called her father, um, and got the, um, the, her birth certificate. FedExed overnight, we got, we got out on the island, we had a lovely time out on the island, did a lot of things, Becca snorkeled, and then she learned to dive out there. And while we were in the dive shop, the host of the dive shop said to us, I’ve never heard of such a story.

 

I can’t believe you’re here. And he said, you are likely going to have trouble getting back into the country.

 

[00:09:00] And he said, and just know that you can demand with the U. S. Embassy a 24 hour emergency passport. Just remember that. So, fast forward, I don’t have time to tell you all the things about the U. S. Embassy, that would take another ten minutes or more, um, but it was about as daunting. There were long lines, there were glass doors that I swear were three to four inches thick, um, There was, at one point, we heard a gentleman yell and say, if somebody doesn’t do something, somebody’s gonna get shot.

 

And we are getting the full, full experience here, this 14 year old here listening to all of this. And I also have to tell you that I put my mama bear on, and I, I had to, and I asked for a supervisor and another supervisor, and I demanded that emergency passport, and we needed it. It was, it was daunting.

 

But I’m here to say that the, but, and we got a private, we had a private host that helped us getting back and forth between [00:10:00] the, the, um, the consulate or the American embassy in Belmopan, which is an hour and a half away from Belize City, and we had to go back and forth several times, but we got to go in caves and visit his family and experience things that we normally would never have experienced.

 

And we made it. To our boarding gate 30 minutes before departure. Now we got on the plane and then we fly back in and we’re getting back into Missoula. And a lot of you guys can probably attest to this. The smell and the clear, the clear, cool air of Missoula was just really welcoming. And on our drive home, we were talking and reminiscing about the trip.

 

And, and Becca said to me, she goes, mom, that was the best trip that we’d ever been on. And, and she said. I think it was probably the trip of a lifetime. And I said, well, it was for me. You’re only 14, but yes. [00:11:00] It was a trip of a lifetime. It was epic. And she said, Mom, I gotta tell you something. Can I tell you something and have you not get mad at me?

 

She’s like, oh, here we go. She has a way of diffusing me before she even says something. And she said, Mom, I knew that the passport was expired before we left.

 

Thank you.

 

Marc Moss: Thanks, Traci.

 

Traci Sylte is a civil engineer and hydrologist who has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 34 years, and is currently the watershed program manager for the Lolo National Forest. She has a passion to maintain healthy watersheds, valley bottoms, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Traci is the product of two very loving parents.Her father taught her to operate a chainsaw and her mother facilitated dresses and piano lessons for her. The love of her life is her daughter, Becca, who is currently in her first year at the University of Washington. Traci continues to grow deeper in love with Missoula each year, because if one wants to learn to weave a basket with pink polka dots on a Tuesday, there’s someone probably doing it here. When Traci is not working, she is grounded by spending time with beloved family and friends, all things water, fly fishing, hiking, playing hockey with amazing Missoula women, fireside guitar serenades, sunrises, sunsets, all things music, and leaving things better than she found them.

 

In our next story, Ren Parker embarks on what was supposed to be a relaxing dive off Catalina Island that takes a terrifying turn. After fighting for survival in a desperate ascent, Ren knows that she must get back into the water the next day, and is met with devastating news upon surfacing. Ren calls her story “Deep Blue”. Thanks for listening.

 

Ren Parker: I am anchored on a small boat on the backside of Catalina Islands.  I’m getting ready to do a salvage dive with the two Johns.  And we’re standing there and looking around. It’s a beautiful sunshiny day.  Um, and we peer down the thing about the back side of Catalina Island is it’s open ocean. And for those of you who haven’t experienced open ocean, there’s nothing to stop the energy from the ocean.

 

When you are on the shore and you see a wave,  That is stopping all this force, but in the open ocean, it’s just there.  But everything seemed good for the dive that day, and we were about to drop down and get a lobster trap for a friend who had lost it during the lobster season.  As I slip into the ocean and slowly start ascending, descending into the depths, I look around and orient myself. 

 

On the backside of the island, there’s a shelf that’s about 120 feet.  There are these pinnacles that are about 60 feet that rise up like needles.  It’s very beautiful. If you look out the shelf, it drops down. And often when we speak of the depth, we use the word miles instead of feet. That’s how deep it is there.

 

You can see shadows moving and you never know what they are.  And as I go down, it gets a little darker and I touch the bottom of the ocean floor. It’s Sandy there.  We have only a few minutes to tie off the flotation device to get our lobster trap up. And, uh, that’s because the deeper you dive, the less time you have on the floor.

 

So we get that going and we, we, uh, light it up and it starts going up and up and then suddenly the surge hits.  I’m thrown 30 feet back and forth. I’m dodging pinnacles. I’m trying not to get smashed with rocks. I’m completely absorbed in the moment of trying to right myself and find some sense of balance.

 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with surge.  It’s like an underwater  river, but it goes back and forth and it’s very hard to swim against it. And this one was extremely strong.  By the time I had my wits about me and I’m trying to move around, I realized I’ve been breathing much heavier than I normally would.

 

And I’m starting to run out of air.  So I look around, I see the Johns. We all make the sign. We need to get out of here. And we start ascending up.  But it’s been really hard to swim and I’m exhausted and I look and I still have quite a ways to go and I’m almost out of air.  I look five minutes, five. Five, four, three, two,  and it’s gone. 

 

I fight like hell to get up. Everything starts going really fast. I’m breathing air out as fast as I can, and I’m moving and swimming as hard as I can to get to the surface.  When divers dive, they need to decompress as they go to the surface.  Air expands and gases expand in your system as you start going up. 

 

And if you don’t have enough time to off gas it out of your system, the ones that are stored in your tissue and your lungs, then it can create bubbles in your bloodstream and in your arteries and affect your organs.  I knew all this because I had worked at the hyperbaric chamber. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it is a capsule that you go in when you get, um, decompression sickness from going up too fast or not fully getting the gases out of your system. 

 

And they put you back in pressure at depth so they can slowly bring you back up and you can off gas it the way you’re supposed to.  Um, I, this is in my mind, I break the surface  and there is foam and waves and I’m getting thrashed everywhere and I just keep dipping down and there’s no air in the, my vest and my BC.

 

So I just keep going under and I’m fighting to breathe and to get to the boat and somehow I do.  And I’m thinking about all these things and realize that I may be in some serious trouble.  But I wasn’t. I had done the emergency ascend apparently good enough that everything was okay. And, uh, I didn’t have to go into any sort of treatment.

 

And the next day, being a good cowgirl, I knew you gotta get back on that horse. And that’s how I was always raised. If something scares you, you go back and you try it again.  So I had decided I was going to go to the front side of the island where it was much calmer, where I had a lot more experience and just drop, drop down about 20 feet, just feel it and then drop back up and get the nervousness out of my system. 

 

So I walked from the back Harbor cat Harbor over to the front Carver. There’s a little isthmus there.  And as I’m walking there, I run into my friend, Linda.  There’s only about 40 of us that live on this part of the island year round. We’re all really tight. Linda was one of them. And was a good friend of mine.

 

She was witty and had this fierce sense of humor. She always had these beautiful long nails. Like, we were in the middle of nowhere and that girl looked fierce. Like, no matter what. And she would roll, she rolled the best joints with those long nails. She’d be like, oh, I got it. Just like, fabulous, you know.

 

I could never.  So I see her, and she’s looking fabulous, and she’s going, and she’s going to, um, get on her paddleboard, and we give, I give her a hug, I tell her what she’s doing, she’s all crazy girl, and I go.  So I get in my dinghy, and I motor out into this little lagoon,  drop the anchor, I have one of the johns in the boat to keep an eye out for me,  and I, I slowly go down into the water.

 

This area is about 25 feet, and it’s full of kelp, and it’s beautiful. And as you drop down, it’s the, the lighting becomes like a cathedral, or a redwood forest. It’s all dappled, it’s stunning.  And I get to the bottom, And the minute my feet touch the ground,  something is wrong.  I can feel it so deeply. It’s, it’s very upsetting.

 

So I immediately come back up and shake it off, you know, like I’m probably just still got the nerves.  And I come back and get back in the dinghy and we head to shore.  As I get to shore, I see the dock and.  I see my friend Lori running down it. She’s screaming and crying and she’s so upset. She keeps tripping and I had never seen anyone look like that before. 

 

So I quickly tied my boat up, walked up to her as fast as I could, and kind of caught her. And she was saying these things to me, but I, I didn’t understand what she was saying.  I kept repeating, what are you, what are you talking about? Finally, she said someone had died,  and I couldn’t understand the name, and finally she grabbed me, and she said, Rin, Linda has died. 

 

I had just seen her. 

 

Due to the  respect  I have for the,  for her life, I’m not going to go into details  of her passing, but one thing I will say, I worked in her ritual and I had to be a part of all of it.  So about 30 minutes later, everyone, all 40 of us were gathered  On the shoreline, in silence, nobody knew what to say, looking out at the ocean where we had lost our Linda. 

 

A woman started walking from the back. She was a local artist. She was slowly taking off her clothes to her bathing suit, and she had a handful of flowers. She started swimming out into the ocean and scattering them, and silently, we all started doing the same.  We got out there together.  And we all just swam in a circle  and spread flowers  and some people came from their boats and started pouring liquor into the water.

 

I’ve never heard silence like that before.  The next few weeks were a blur.  There was a lot of preparations and plans and trying to figure out this and contacting family and transportation.  I’ve always been the mother hen of everyone around me, and so I was just looking after, looking after, cooking for everyone, checking on everyone, but I had forgotten to check in with myself. 

 

And I got a call from my friend Chelsea. She had heard what happened,  and she said, Do you need to get out of that town? And I said, Yes. She said, Get on that ferry, and I did.  And she met me in Long Beach.  Got in her car and started driving up highway one up towards Big Sur. And slowly  I started my emotional decompression, which took a long time. 

 

And looking back, as I tell this story,  I realized that this was this moment, this critical moment in my life that took my trajectory and threw it into this chaotic space that I didn’t know was coming.  But when I look back, I see that that was the thing that brought me here. That was the thing that brought me  to many places within myself and in the planet. 

 

And I think that moments like that are only truly valued in retrospect.  And when I think back now to that time, what I remember  is how close we all were, how beautiful Linda was and how much we all love the sea. Thank you.

 

Marc Moss: Thanks, Ren.

 

Ren Parker is passionate about fostering a sense of community, and brings that enthusiasm to all of her endeavors. Ren grew up in Hawaii and lived on sailboats that she restored on the Pacific Ocean for seven years. She gave up her nomadic ways and moved back to Missoula to be close to family, and has been growing roots here ever since. Ren loves to dance and hike with her faithful dog, Poet, and spend time with her remarkable Missoula friends. She is a regular storyteller at the weekly storytelling event Word Dog, and hosts a weekly storytelling radio show on KFGM Community Radio where she is station manager. Her show is called Once Upon a Radio Wave.

 

Coming up after the break:

 

Mark Matthews: And I  admitted for the first time that I’d given up the thing I loved. I’m Because I thought I was a failure, because I couldn’t make a living from it.

 

Kat Werner: I enter Pain Cave. Which is really just  alright, like, suck it up. Full on autopilot,  and I just, you know, one paddle stroke and one step at a time  trying to make it out of there.

 

Marc Moss: An artist’s life takes a dramatic turn on a snowy night and a woman stranded in Alaska, grizzly bears on one side, a father in crisis on the other.

 

Stay with us.

 

Thank you to the Good Food Store who, as the Story Sponsor, helped us pay our storytellers. Learn more about them at goodfoodstore.com. Thanks to Spark Arts who provided childcare for the performance. You can learn more about Spark at sparkartslearning.org. Thanks to our Stewardship sponsor, Blackfoot Communications, who helped us to give away free tickets to underserved populations. Learn more about Blackfoot, celebrating 70 years, at goblackfoot.com.

 

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Going Home”. This event is a collaboration with Missoula Pride and we will favor folx in the LBGTQ+ community as we listen to story pitches. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected]. Learn more and get your tickets for the June 11th event at tellussomething.org.

 

The pitch deadline is May 4th. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Another important date is on the horizon, too. Missoula Gives & Bitterroot Gives, a 26-hour celebration of the Missoula and Ravalli communities. Mark your calendars for May 2nd and 3rd and tell your friends about this opportunity to support Tell Us Something during Missoula Gives. May 2nd and 3rd.

 

You are listening to the Tell Us Something podcast where people share their true stories around a theme live in person without notes. I’m Marc Moss. Storytellers in this episode shared their stories in front of a full house on March 26, 2024 at The George and Jane Dennison Theatre in Missoula Montana.

 

Our next storyteller is Mark Matthews. Mark’s life takes a dramatic turn on a snowy night. He’s a struggling sculptor with seemingly nowhere to go. Listen to Mark’s story of passion, resilience, and rediscovery of the thing that he loves. Mark calls history “Thanks for This Wonderful Gift”.

 

Mark Matthews:

Um, on January 1st,  1992, I abandoned a career in art.  About a decade earlier, when I was 30 years old,  I started sculpting full time after quitting a job in Boston and moving to a small coastal village in Maine where everything was wicked good. 

 

I started my career carving wood, and I loved it. The entire process I would walk through the forest looking for broken limbs from trees or I would salvage a log that was destined for the firewood pile.  I carved many images of dancers. Ballet dancers, uh, dressed in, uh, tights and leotards. Modern and flamenco dances with, um, flowing skirts.

 

Couples doing a contradance swing or, um, the Cajun two step.  I also did musicians playing fiddles, violins, accordions, and guitars.  Sometimes I would liberate a figure from a single piece of wood, and over time I started constructing  sculptures. For instance, I would carve one leg, the torso, and the head out of one piece of wood, attach the arms in different attitudes, and the other leg could be jutting out in any angle. 

 

I had a lot of luck showing my work in galleries, and in fact, the gallery owner said,  your work entices people to come in.  And sometimes I witnessed that  after delivering a new piece, I would hang around talking to the director,  and people would come in the gallery and go from sculpture to sculpture saying, look at this, look at this.

 

And then they’d come up to the owner and they’d say,  We want to buy that painting, it fits the decor of a living room.  And I realized early on that not many people know how to live with sculpture.  But I made enough money, uh, to keep out of the starving artist, uh, category.  And many a day at the end of,  many times at the end of the work day,  I would just say thank you for this wonderful gift. 

 

In 1989,  I moved from Maine to Montana.  And, at that time, Missoula was a soft landing place for artists, writers, dancers, musicians. There weren’t many jobs, but the rent was cheap. For instance, you could rent a room, uh, a studio apartment at the Wilma Building for 150 a month. 

 

And, when I started exploring the Rocky Mountain West and the Pacific Northwest, I got my work into galleries in Seattle, uh, Kalispell, Big Fork, Truchas, New Mexico, and Palm Desert, California.  And also, um, a lot of my work was, uh, rather large, from five feet, uh, and I had one ballerina that was on point with her hands overhead that was eight feet tall, but they were very thin. 

 

But I had to transport them in a, uh, cargo  trailer.  And I wanted to make things that I could just put in the back of my Ford Ranger pickup.  and deliver it to a gallery. So I enrolled in a one credit independent study in ceramics at the university.  In fact, many people enrolled in one credit independent studies in a lot of subjects at that time so that they could get the health insurance. 

 

Um,  Where was I?  Oh, so I took my portfolio to Beth Lowe and Tom Rapone, and they looked at it and said, Oh yeah, you can work here as much as you want, uh, use as much clay as you want, as long as you mix it yourself. And it was a beautiful community of people, welcoming, supportive people. Uh, Bill and Cheryl West were there from Idaho, working on their graduate, um, degrees.

 

Uh, Joe Batt, was also working on his graduate degrees. He was the, um, lead singer in stand up Stella and, um,  Glenn and Amy parks was frequent, uh, visitors to the studio as was Jeanette Rakowski. We used to work at the downtown bakery before it burned down. 

 

There was one thing wrong though. The galleries weren’t selling my work  by the fall of 1991.  I found myself sleeping. And the camper on the back of my Ford Ranger pickup truck is one of those campers with the fold up doors.  And I would park just off campus. It was illegal to park without a sticker. And get up early, shower in the men’s, the old men’s gym, and cook my meals on a camp stove in the ventilated kiln room. 

 

But still, life was wonderful. I was making art.  And the weather was beautiful. No snow. Uh, no freezing temperatures all winter long.  Into the fall. In the early winter.  And, at the end of the day,  especially when I finish the piece, I would say thank you for this wonderful gift.  Oh, I forgot one little story.

 

Uh, Tom Rippon invited me to  sit on his sculpture class.  And, you know, I wanted to make these small things. And the first thing Tom said in class was, Everybody’s going to make something over six feet tall this semester.  I ended up making a statue of Hank Williams playing his guitar, seven foot tall, and a Lady Grizz basketball player holding a ball on her hip, and a couple of other pieces. 

 

So, um,  during winter break, my parents sent me a plane ticket to go visit them, and I got back to Missoula the afternoon of January 1st, 1992. Phew.  You deplaned on the tarmac at that,  at that time. And I walked out into warm sunshine, still no snow in the valley, and  thought, what should I do? For the rest of the afternoon.

 

Um, I didn’t feel like going to work at the studio. Uh, I usually camped up in, um, Deer Creek on the weekends and I didn’t feel like going up there. I thought I’ll go see a matinee movie.  So I went to the old triplex cinema at the end of Brooks, just before you head out to Lolo. And I chose to see dances with the wolves  about 20 minutes into the film. 

 

The screen went blank, the house lights came on, and an usher came down the aisle, and he said,  You may want to head home. There’s a wicked winter storm blowing up the Blackfoot. We’re going to get about two feet of snow and freezing temperatures.  I walked out into the lobby, and the wind was blowing so hard it was holding the exit doors open, and I could see the snow blowing parallel to the parking lot. 

 

Reached the Ford Ranger, got some winter clothes out of the back, and got in and instinctively drove to the ceramics studio, which shares the Quonset Hut with the Grizzly Pool,  intending to sleep there overnight.  I parked right in front of the door, even though I had no parking sticker.  Grabbed my sleeping bag out of the back. 

 

Reached for the door handle and for the first time in two years it was locked.  Got back into the Ford Ranger. Slowly drove off campus. Came to the intersection of Madison Street and there was a pickup truck.  Just sitting there in the middle of the intersection.  And I left the ranger idling and I went out and, to see what was going on.

 

And a woman rolled down her window and said, I can’t see anything. And the ice was encrusted on her front, front um, windshield. About a half an inch. So I took her scraper, uh, cleaned her window off. And as I’m doing that, I’m thinking, Hmm. How can I get this woman to take me home for the night? 

 

I couldn’t think of anything, so I handed the scraper back to her and she thanked me profusely  and drove off.  And I got back into the Ford Ranger and just sat there.  And when you’re homeless, you kind of lose contact with your friends.  And I’d heard of the Parvarello Center, but I didn’t know where it was.

 

And, and I didn’t feel right. My motto had always been, artists make art, they don’t wait on tables. So I had gotten myself into this situation.  And then I heard a voice. And it wasn’t inside my head. It was coming through my ears.  And it was the voice of Jeanette Rakowski. And she had said, If you ever get in trouble, you can stay at my place. 

 

So I made it over to her humble abode on the west side  and grabbed my sleeping bag and knocked on the front door and Jeannette came to the door, wrapped up in her bathrobe, opened the door and said, what the hell are you doing out there? Get in here.  She made me dinner. We chatted a while.  She went off to her bedroom to read and sleep.

 

And I spread my sleeping bag out on the sofa.  And for a while, I just stared at the ceiling.  And came to the conclusion that I can’t do this anymore. And I gave up. Heart. 

 

Twenty years later,  I’m working as an adjunct professor at, uh, Montana College of Technology when it was out by the, uh, county fairgrounds,  uh, teaching English comp and creative writing.  And I used to go over to the old Salvation Army store, which was also across the street from the fairgrounds.  And I’m going through the VHS  tapes, and I see Dances with the Wolves. 

 

I said, I’ve never saw the end of that film.  So I take it home and watch it.  Stopped it about half an hour in. And went downstairs to get a snack. And halfway down the stairs, I started weeping.  I’m like, what the hell is going on? The movie isn’t even sad.  And at that moment, all those memories of January 1st, 1992 came descending upon me. 

 

And I  admitted for the first time that I’d given up the thing I loved. I’m Because I thought I was a failure, because I couldn’t make a living from it.  And as abruptly as I gave up art, I decided I would take it up again.

 

Marc Moss: Thanks, Mark. Throughout his adult life Mark Matthews has worked as an artist, author, freelance journalist, wildland firefighter, and dance caller and instructor. He currently shows his sculpture and oil paintings at the Roosevelt Arts Center in Red Lodge, and at Manifestations Gallery in Eureka. Over the past dozen years he has visited scores of schools across the state of Montana, for Humanities Montana, teaching children of all ages how to contra and square dance. For more information about Mark’s art, and to hear an epilogue of Mark’s story, visit tellussomething.org.

In our final story, Kat Werner is stranded in Alaska, grizzly bears on one side, a father in crisis on the other.  In the face of fear, and with the help of her hiking crew, a community rallied and shared burdens. Kat calls her story “The Arctic Pain Cave” Sensitive listeners be aware that Kat’s story discusses someone who has suicidal ideations. Please take care of yourselves.  Thanks for listening.

 

Kat Werner: Kat Werner

I am on the Koyukuk River in the Arctic Circle in Alaska.  I’m with my husband, Curtis, and my friends, Samson and Cody.  For the last four days, we hiked hauling 80 pound packs to get to our river put in.  And it’s our first day on the river,  and we’re about two miles down. And when I look ahead,  everything happens really fast. 

 

I see a giant grizzly bear covered in blood,  and it’s charging at Samson, who’s the first in line.  And before I know it, something catches my eye on the left, and I look over, and there’s a wolf.  And as I start screaming,  the grizzly bear must get confused because it backs, backs off, and it hauls a massive caribou caucus. 

 

up the shore,  which gives us a much needed break to get the hell out of there,  take a deep breather,  because that was a close call.  And it was one of seven grizzly bear encounters in a 24 hour period. 

 

It’s our third morning on the river, and it’s one of those beautiful, sunny camp mornings.  And it’s, you know, it’s, I vividly remember it because the sun is shining, everybody always says, oh, Alaska, there’s all these bugs and it’s raining, but it was just beautiful, and I’m in a tank top, I’m hanging out with my friends, we’re really not in a rush, because we’re in the Arctic, and we have 24 hour daylight.

 

So we’re just hanging out, we’re sharing stories, we’re drinking tea,  and eventually, we’re like, alright, we should probably get going, it’s like noon.  And so, as we start packing up our stuff, I’m thinking, oh, I should turn on my Garmin inReach. And check if I got any messages.  And so if you don’t know what a Garmin inReach is, it’s a communication device.

 

It’s a satellite communication device that allows you to send and receive messages and it has an SRS function, but you’re not able to make or take calls.  And so I turn on the inReach and it takes a couple minutes to connect to the satellite  and within quick succession, I get two messages.  The first one is from my mom. 

 

And it says, bitte ruf mich an,  please call me.  The second one is from my mother in law Michelle.  Cat has to call home. It’s an emergency.  And my stomach just drops.  And I wish I could tell you  that the story I’m sharing tonight is just a good old adventure story.  You know, it’s really challenging physically and mentally, but overall, it’s a really good time. 

 

And that’s not the story that I’m telling. 

 

And so, to give a little bit of context to those text messages,  I have to look back at that year, and my dad, back in Germany,  who was having a really challenging year.  Despite any prior mental health issues.  He, pretty suddenly, and within a really short period, developed a really deep and severe depression. 

 

And so the morning of the day before we were set to leave for Alaska,  I remember calling both of my parents  and they didn’t answer.  And I got this standard, you know, Apple text message that just says, we’ll call you right back. And I’m, I’m already like, that’s weird. Like something’s going on. What’s going on?

 

I don’t know.  And so,  when my mom FaceTimes me, a couple hours later,  my dad is sitting right next to her and, you know, he doesn’t look, he doesn’t look at me at all, and he’s just in a pile.  And my mom says, you know, we just spend  some time with a crisis therapist who assessed your dad for suicidal thoughts. 

 

And, right away in my mind I’m thinking,  I can’t go on this trip, like,  what am I going to do?  And my mom says, you know, it’s, it’s okay. We have the support that we need, and we have the services, and you should go on this trip. 

 

And I do. And Kurt tells Cody and Samson what’s going on, and they’re great.  And the next morning, like 5am, red eye flight out of Missoula, before we leave, last minute I grab my passports, my German and my American passport, just in case.  And so, we head out, we get to Fairbanks,  and I’m just in a really weird headspace going into this trip. 

 

I’m really, yeah, I’m really just struggling to stay present and, you know, engage with my friends and soak up the beauty that is the gates of the Arctic National Park, one of the most remote places in the world.  And I’m really just worried the whole time.  And then I get those text messages.  Your dad tried to end his life today  and he’s at the hospital. 

 

And I respond to my mom and I say, I can’t call you.  At a minimum, I’m five days out from calling you.  And that’s five days of  hard, hard, hard back breaking work, trying to make it back to Coldfoot, the last truck stop, about six hours away from Fairbanks.  And so I’m like, well, alright, what do I do? I can’t curl up here on this sandy shore.

 

I can’t call a heli evac. I have to keep moving.  And, at that point, I enter  what my husband refers to as the pain cave. Which is really just this, like, alright, like, suck it up. So like, just go inside, and And just full on autopilot,  and I just, you know, one paddle stroke and one step at a time  trying to make it out of there. 

 

And I don’t talk, and I don’t engage, I just function.  And we all come together that morning on the river, and we basically brainstorm. How can we get out of here as fast as possible?  And we put in a massive day on the Koyukuk that day.  We finish the next morning,  and we make it to our exit, the Rock Creek exit. 

 

And,  I wonder if anybody has ever planned a trip following a blog post?  Especially if that blog post said,  This is not recommended.  It’s actually strongly discouraged.  That was the Rock Creek exit.  And it started out with a hike, well, a hike up a flowing creek.  My left little toe was literally numb for six months after that trip because the water was so cold. 

 

And you know, eventually the canyon gets really narrow and we get forced up the bank, um, this left, shitty side hill slope, the thickest alder bushes you can imagine, um, we labeled it the schwagadoom because it was, it was such thick alder and it’s hot and it’s humid and, um, We are hauling these heavy packs, and really, any time you needed a break, all you had to do was just go, uh  huh. 

 

Because it was so thick, you couldn’t go anywhere.  There is miles of muskag, so we’re just sinking into the slimy, muddy water. There’s bugs, there’s bees nests on the ground.  At our best, we’re moving a quarter of a mile an hour.  It was a full on sufferfest. I’m in my pain cave.  We make it. We get to Coltsfoot. 

 

I call my mom.  And I knew the whole time, really, that I’m, I need to go. I need to get home.  And so, you know, this whole time I’m just consumed with worry. Am I going to lose my dad?  And so after, you know, a pretty long, restless night, the next morning I flagged down the first person that walks.  Out of the Coltwood truck stop, and it happens to be a German dude, and I’m just like hey Can’t make mid name in each most of the house.

 

I have a problem that I’m yep. All right jump in the car I Get I get to Fairbanks There’s a six hour stretch from Coltwood to Fairbanks where you do not have cell phone reception I get to cell phone reception my phone blows Up hey, did you take the rental car keys with you by chance?  Yep, yeah, I did So I get to Fairbanks Leaving my crew stranded, but it is a trucker route, so thankfully, I’m just like, telling the German guy, hey can you pull over, I need to flag down this trucker, trucker takes the keys back up the road, that all worked out. 

 

I sleep at the Fairbanks airport, I get to Seattle, I fly to Frankfurt, I jump on a train, I get to my hometown of Nuremberg, my friend picks me up, I get to the hospital, I see my dad.  And the first thing he says, he’s just like, well.  What can I even say?  I just say. I don’t have to say anything.  I just give him a big hug and just,  Hey, I’m just so thankful I get to see you. 

 

And so when I look back at that experience in Alaska, but really that whole year,  it’s safe to say that that was the closest to the edge I’ve been in my life  physically and mentally and emotionally.  And here is what, over and over again, pulled me back from that edge.  It’s my oldest childhood friend back home who dropped everything  that weekend and that night to be with my mom and support her. 

 

And it’s my friend here in town who hand bedazzled these solar shields, if you know what they are. They’re these giant grandma sunglasses you can put on over regular glasses.  They’re styling.  Because I was so stressed out that I had a really bad eye infection,  and it’s my friend who left a care package with a note on my patio that said, this fucking sucks. 

 

I’m here for you.  And my therapist, who reminded me that there’s a lot of hardship and grief that can’t be solved,  but it can be shared.  And Curtis, who keeps planning these miserable epics,  despite everything.  And really, there’s a dozen more people and a dozen more acts of love and support.  And I think, for me, that’s really the beautiful thing about this story, that it’s my story,  and it’s my dad’s story.

 

And this community of people. that came together for me to rally around me.  That’s my community,  but it’s also my dad’s community.  And you know, his path,  um, wasn’t, wasn’t straightforward. It actually got a lot harder before he got to a better spot, but he is planning his next visit to Missoula this spring. 

 

Yup. 

 

He loves Missoula.  Ever since he first came here, he loves going to the break to read his German newspaper.  He loves taking his Harley with a German flag on the back to the locks a lot for a late breakfast.  He loves having a blue moon. I know there’s better beer, but he loves blue moon.  Having a blue moon on the patio with me. 

 

And so,  if you see him this year, wandering around,  Downtown Missoula, likely wearing some German shirt with like some German phrase or reference to the German national football team.  Please say hi, welcome him back, give him a high five, and tell him, Archie, you’re awesome. Thank you. 

Marc Moss: Thanks, Kat. Kat Werner was a German high school exchange student in South Dakota — some of you might remember her last Tell Us Something story about that experience and meeting her husband there.She has called Missoula home for almost 15 years. Kat is a licensed clinical social worker and faculty member at the University of Montana School of Social Work. Things that fill her soul are: any outdoor or wilderness activity, traveling the world, genuine human connection, cooking and eating good food, and creating and checking off a good to-do list.

 

Tune in next week to hear the concluding stories from the Close to the Edge live storytelling event 

 

Kathleen Kennedy: And I was simultaneously indignant  and sympathetic. 

 

But I also had this I was feeling like I would love for squatters to come there and, and light a fire and burn it down, like problem solved.

 

Susan Waters: And the voice said, do you want to stay or do you want to go?  And without even thinking about it, I said, if I still have work I need to do here, I want to stay.  And the voice said,  okay.

 

Annabelle Winnie: I do wonder if what we think of as traits for neurodivergence, if they’re really adaptations, there are ways that the body adapts. 

 

Behaviors adapt, and even the brain itself adapts to a world that often feels too, too bright, too loud. It’s just too much. 

 

Amanda Taylor: we were texting each other every day, morning to night. We called them play by plays, which I also loved cause it made me feel sporty.  I’m like, yeah, we’re sending play by plays.

 

Marc Moss: Listen for those stories at tellussomething.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Remember that the next Tell Us Something event is June 11th. You can learn about how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellussomething.org. 

 

Thanks to our media sponsors, missoulaevents.net, and The Trail Less Traveled, Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM, and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5 

 

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When you patronize these businesses, thank them for their support of live storytelling in Missoula.

 

Please remember that our next event, in partnership with Missoula Pride is on June11 at the Glacier Ice Rink at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. The theme is “Going Home ”. You can pitch your story by calling 406-203-4683, and we encourage our friends in the LBGTQ community to pitch a story.

Learn more about Tell Us Something including how to pitch a story and get tickets for the next event at tellussomething.org

Strangers unite to save lives in Missoula in the aftermath of an avalanche, a kind act leads to housing an unhoused person and closure for a family, 9/11 witness finds hope in unity, and shared grief fosters empathy and beauty in life's poignant moments.

Transcript : The Kindness of Strangers - Part 2

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 “Close to the Edge” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected].

The pitch deadline is February 17th. I look forward to hearing from you.

This week on the podcast… “”I immediately get off of the exam table, and I get to the ground.” “Sometimes, a small act of kindness and compassion, as simple as buying a stranger a sandwich, can change someone’s life, and maybe even their death.” “Never forget. On 9/11, we leaned into each other, recognizing our shared humanity.” “Death. It’s final, it’s in your face, it’s unforgiving.”

…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “The Kindness of Strangers”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on December 06, 2023 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Winter is traditionally a time when we slow down. Our indigenous friends, during winter, share stories that they don’t share at other times of the year. Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are gathered on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Ponder eh, Salish, and Kootenai peoples.

Traditionally, storytelling is reserved for the winter months for many tribes. This was a practical choice given the fact that during the other seasons, people were busy growing, gathering, and hunting food. It is in the winter, with the long dark evenings, the snow and wind blowing outside, that telling stories is used to entertain — and teach the children. Another reason for winter storytelling, is that many traditional stories contain animal characters. To be respectful, people wait until the winter when animals hibernate or become less active so they cannot hear themselves being talked about.

We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

Thank you to our Title sponsor – Blackfoot Communications.

connecting people, businesses and communities. They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses, homes. communities. Connecting with each other. They keep people reliably connected.

To learn more, visit goblackfoot.com

Sensitive listeners be aware that Tell Us Something stories sometimes have adult themes and storytellers sometimes use adult language and profanity.

Our first storyteller is Erin Scoles, a mother, who, watrches in shock as a terrifying avalanche burries her young son. Strangers and community come together in Missoula to save lives in the midst of chaos. Erin calls her story “Found”. Thanks for listening.

Erin Scoles: It’s short enough.

Um, I’m not a huge fan of winter, and it’s partly due to the fact that I can’t feel some of my toes. I permanently damaged them years ago while searching for my missing son. It was February 28th, 2014, and Missoula had declared it a snow day. All schools were closed, um, and I was a college student at the time, so I was at home.

with my 8 and my 10 year old. It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon when they come into my bedroom and ask if they can go outside and play. I of course said yes. Um, I could hear them in their shared room next to mine getting ready and I hear my 10 year old daughter Coral telling my 8 year old son Phoenix to put on an extra layer of clothes because of how cold it was outside.

He of course listened to his big sister. Um, at this time, my partner at the time, Casey, just got home from work. He was able to ski to work that day because of the large amount of snow that had fallen. The kids finish getting ready, and they go outside to play, and I’m in my bed, and I’m watching a show.

And to the right of me is a huge window, and I can see my entire backyard, and I can see my kiddos playing. Um, about ten minutes passed, and I actually start to feel my house shake and I didn’t register what it was. Um, I knew Missoula had earthquakes before. I had, like, have, I have felt them before. And I knew this was not an earthquake.

I then heard it and then I look out. That huge window, and I saw it. And, I don’t know why my brain did this, but it did. And it was two screens, so it was like a split screen. And one screen was this huge white wave. And it was cascading into my backyard. And I couldn’t see my garage anymore. It wasn’t there.

And my neighbor’s house wasn’t there either. On the other split screen, I see Coral and Phoenix. And they’re turned around. They’re looking at this white wave coming towards them. The avalanche. And they start running. I see it hit Phoenix. And I see the avalanche pick him up. And Phoenix gets tossed around a bit.

I remember seeing his orange coat and his black boots. And then I see nothing because the avalanche hits my house. And it knocks me off my bed. And all of a sudden I’m, I’m on my floor and it’s dark and it’s silent and I still can’t register what just happened. I get off the ground and I, I run out of my bedroom in the kitchen and Casey runs right in front of me and we don’t make eye contact.

We don’t even, we don’t even say, we don’t say anything to each other. And I later learned he knew exactly what it was and he went downstairs to grab his avalanche probe and his avalanche shovel. Um, I continued to go through the kitchen to the side door, which is the quickest way to my backyard, and I can’t open it.

There is so much snow, and there’s a canoe in the way, and there’s part of someone’s roof. Um, I turn around and I make my way out to my front door, and I run down the front steps, and I go to open the gate to my backyard, but there’s no gate. And there’s no 12 foot fence either that surrounds my house usually.

At this moment I start screaming, My babies, my babies. And I enter my backyard and Coral runs up to me. She was in the runoff of the avalanche and was able to free herself pretty easily. She was pretty shooken up though, of course. I asked her where her brother was and she had no idea. I started screaming again, and I’m screaming my baby.

My baby, I go more into my backyard and I don’t see Phoenix and all of a sudden there’s like a dozen people, strangers, neighbors in my yard. And they’re asking me, who is Phoenix? And where did you last see him? And I explain these things to these people and they just know what to do. They start digging.

And some of these people have Avalanche shovels. We’re in Missoula, right? Um, and some people have normal snow shovels and I don’t know how much time has passed, maybe five minutes, maybe eight, and a neighbor comes up to me and makes me go inside my house, and I hadn’t realized at this time, but the entire time I was outside, the only thing I had on was a very flimsy, thin, cotton robe with no tie, because that had been lost in the chaos, and it was just flapping in the wind, And so I was completely naked.

Um, You’re welcome Missoula.

Sorry Coral. Um,

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Um, So I was completely naked, I had no shoes on, nothing. Um, thankfully she makes me go inside and helps me get dressed. She tells me to stay inside, and I don’t listen. I go back outside and And somebody hands me a shovel, and I start digging. That’s what everybody is doing. I, I look around and there’s like 75 plus people in or around my yard.

And at this time, it’s also learned there’s two missing people, more missing people, Michael and Fred, my neighbors who live behind me, whose house I saw that was missing. So we’re digging for three people at this time. And I look around more, and I, I see people with shovels, and the Avalanche shovels, and normal shovels, and people are using parts of my broken fence, and people are using, like, garbage can lids, like, really anything they can find.

And I start to panic, because I realize I could be standing over Phoenix, or Michael, or Fred, and I wouldn’t be able to get to them soon enough. So I drop my shovel, and I start screaming. Uh, that same neighbor comes over to me, and now a firefighter comes over to me, and they tell me I have to leave the scene, that there’s an ambulance waiting for me down the road, and it has Coral and Casey, and we all have to get checked out at the hospital.

Um, they each put an arm around me, because it’s really hard for me to walk. My feet really hurt. So we’re walking down the road to the waiting ambulance, and at this exact moment is when a photographer takes a photo of me, and The very next morning, it’s on the front page of the Missoulian. We get to the ambulance and there’s three EMTs and there’s Coral and Casey and we start making our way to St.

Pat’s Hospital. Coral’s checked out. She’s got bumps and bruises. They’re warming up my feet and the the EMT that is warming up my feet. I remember he had really soft blue gray eyes and long gray hair and He was really trying to comfort and reassure me that there were so many people looking for my son.

And, it wasn’t helpful at that moment. Um, and I looked at him very seriously and I said, If they do not find Phoenix, or if they do not find him alive, Do not let me out of your sight. He knew exactly what I meant when I said that. What he didn’t know was that 11 years prior, I had lost a child. And I knew I could not live through losing another.

We get to the hospital, they put us in a room, they check out my feet more in Quarrel, and in that hospital room are two police detectives. Quarrel, Casey, a friend, a doctor, a nurse, that same EMT. Um, a few minutes pass and that EMT comes up to me and I’m sitting on the exam table and he puts his hand on me and he says, They found Phoenix.

He’s alive. He’s not awake. I immediately get off of the exam table, and I get to the ground. And I get as low as I can get. And I don’t know why I did this. I am not a religious person. At all. Sorry.

And, While I’m doing this, I am explaining it. I need to be in the most humble position possible. That’s all I knew I had to do in that moment. I get to the ground. I’m explaining that. Everybody in that room does the exact same thing. Even the two police detectives. Which I kind of laugh about, which is like really great, but I don’t think I’ll ever experience that again.

We stay in this position until someone comes into that room and says that Phoenix is in the hospital. And he’s receiving fluids, and he’s getting warmed up, and he’s getting looked at, and we can see him really soon. It’s also explained that, when he was found, his body temperature was so dangerously low, that they have to slowly warm him up, as to not cause any more shock to his system.

So they warn us of all the heating pads and blankets that will be surrounding his little body, all of the tubes and the wires, and the neck brace. Coral, Casey, and I walk into the room where Phoenix is at, and we start approaching the bed, and I’m not ready to see it. I’m not ready to see Phoenix like this, because his cheeks and his lips are still slightly bluish.

And that was probably the hardest thing for me to see. I scan his face more, and I, I see dried blood, and I see a black eye, and I see a really long cut. Where the black guy is, and that’s where the avalanche probe found him.

Coral, um, approaches the bed even closer and she grabs his hand and she won’t let go. And she starts saying his name over and over again. Phoenix. Phoenix. And I shit you not, it is just like the movies, you guys. Phoenix opens up his eyes and he looks at his sister. And then he looks at us. Uh, a few minutes later, they’re able to take off the neck brace and the tubes out of his mouth, and he’s, he’s having a little bit of a hard time talking, but he can talk to us, and he remembers everything.

Um, Phoenix was hit by an avalanche just plain in his backyard at almost 120 miles per hour. He walked away with a lacerated spleen, a bruised lung. Nasty concussion, a black eye, and one hell of a story that he now tells ladies in college because he’s doing great. Um, we, it happened ten years ago and we knew this day was coming and he’s, yeah.

Sorry Phoenix. Um, so we stay in the hospital for two more days and we had a lot of visitors at this time. Um, and. One of the visitors was the man who found Phoenix. He actually happened to live across the street from us. We didn’t live in that house for more than five months when it was hit by the avalanche, so we didn’t know our neighbors too well.

He had a son, Phoenix’s age, and when he heard the avalanche, he looked out his window, saw what happened, grabbed his tools, and just ran out there. He put himself in so much danger to search for three people. Those 75 plus other people put themselves in so much danger. That is amazing. That’s Missoula, right?

Um, unfortunately I can’t remember this man’s name. Trauma fucks with your head in a lot of different ways. Um, but I will forever be grateful to him. And not just for saving Phoenix’s life, but for saving mine. Thanks.

Thanks, Erin.
Erin Scoles is grateful to have lived such a full life. She’s given birth to 5 children, hitchhiked across the country, lived in a school bus before it was cool, endured huge loss and loved big. She’s most proud of her Irish heritage and how badass & compassionate her kids are. Erin looks forward to the day where she can focus on just one project at a time and for her kids to finally and truly admit she’s the funniest person that they know. For a link to the Missoulian article and to see the photograph of Erin from the front page that day, visit tellussomething.org.

Next up is Jen Certa

Jen shares her story about how a simple act of kindness helped eventually house an unhoused person, led to closure for a family, and reaffirmed her hope in humanity. Jen calls her story “Life, Death, and Teaspoons of water”. Thanks for listening.

Jen Certa: Sometimes, a small act of kindness and compassion, as simple as buying a stranger a sandwich, can change someone’s life, and maybe even their death. I know that sounds kind of strange, but I can tell you that it’s true. It was a crisp fall afternoon several years ago and my favorite co worker, Rebecca, and I were in the middle of our Friday afternoon ritual, what we refer to as get shit done time, and we were getting ready to kind of start wrapping up for the day when we were interrupted by three strangers who had just walked in the door of our office.

The strangers were a retired couple in their late 70s named Gingy and Pete, and a gruff, middle aged man named Michael, whom they had just met on their weekly lunch date. Gingy and Pete had noticed Michael sitting alone, not eating. He appeared to be carrying all of his worldly possessions in his backpack.

And so, um, They decided to invite Michael to join them for lunch, struck up a conversation, and learned that Michael was currently living in a tent in Greeno Park. He’d been having a really difficult time finding a job, getting a job, because he didn’t have an ID. And in order to get an ID, he needed a copy of his birth certificate, which he also didn’t have.

He had explained that recently he’d actually been scammed by someone in town who had claimed they could help him get his birth certificate for a fee, and then disappeared with Michael’s money. So, Gingy and Pete thought maybe we could help. And I’ll be honest with you. For a minute, I did consider passing the buck.

Sending Michael to somebody else that could help him. Because, technically, it wasn’t actually my job to help a random stranger get a birth certificate from another state. And I did have other slightly more urgent shit to do. But the expression on Michael’s face told me everything that I needed to know.

I could see that he didn’t really trust other people. And he definitely didn’t have much faith that I would be any different than anybody else who had already tried to help him with his predicament. Now, something you need to know about me is that I am pretty competitive and definitely stubborn, and I was not willing to be another person that let Michael down.

And besides that, if someone even so much as hints that they think I can’t do something, then to that I say, challenge accepted. Hold my pile of work I’m supposed to be doing instead, and watch this. I quickly found the number for the Minnesota office of vital records, and dialed, hoping not everyone had gone home for the weekend already.

And miraculously, Debbie answered. Hi, Debbie. My name is Jen, and I’m a social worker in Missoula, Montana. I’m here with Michael, and he has been having a heck of a time trying to get his birth certificate. He really needs it so he can get a job. And Debbie, he has just been given the runaround. Gosh, I just know, Debbie, there has to be something that you and I can do together to work this out today.

I’m really hoping you’re gonna be our gal. Now, Debbie did deliver. She directed us to a form that Michael needed to fill out, and some other bureaucratic hoops to jump through, since Michael didn’t have a permanent address. And it was all hands on deck that afternoon in the office. Anyone who was still there was running around, scrambling, trying to help Michael compile everything that he needed, get it notarized, get it to Debbie before it was 5 p.

m. in Minnesota. And finally, Debbie did let us know that Michael’s birth certificate would be arriving in about a week or so. I took the form that Michael had filled out with his information and tucked it away into a folder, just in case he needed it again, and we parted ways. Shortly after that, Michael did get his birth certificate, and then finally that ID.

And over the next several months, his life began to look a little bit like the opposite of a country music song. He got a job, he got a bank account, saved some money, he made some friends with coworkers, he kept in touch with Gingy and Pete, and eventually, he did move out of his tent in Greeno Park into more permanent housing.

And I wish that I could tell you that that is where the story ends. But on another Friday afternoon, almost about a year later, get shit done time was again interrupted. But this time, it was St. Pat’s Hospital, and they were calling to tell us that Michael was in the ICU on life support. When My co workers and I arrived at the hospital, confused, a short time later, the doctors told us that Michael had gone into cardiac arrest and collapsed, and that there really was little hope that he would ever recover brain function or wake up.

They had found Rebecca’s business card in his wallet, along with his ID, which is why they had called us. And they wanted to know if we had any idea how to contact Michael’s next of kin. Because someone was going to need to make some decisions about end of life care for Michael. And soon. Outside the hospital, buckets of rain poured over my windshield, pounded on the roof of my car.

As Rebecca and I sat inside it. We were absolutely gutted by the thought that Michael could die alone without anyone in his family having any idea what had happened. But he had never really said much to any of us about his past. We didn’t know anything about his family. Except, I still had that form that I had tucked away.

And on it, were his partents’ names and birthplaces. So, armed only with that information, and our phones, we started Googling.

We found his mother’s obituary, which did tell us that Michael had four sisters. Pam, Sue, Jane, and Michelle. And judging by the order of the names in the obituary, it was safe probably to assume that Michael was the youngest and all of them were older than him. That was the good news. The bad news was that it appeared that all four sisters were married.

No Last names were mentioned anywhere in the obituary, nor were any locations of where they might have lived. So, to recap, we’re now looking for four middle aged women from the Midwest with the names Pam, Sue, Jane, and Michelle, who may or may not still be living somewhere in the state of Minnesota.

Didn’t really narrow it down a whole lot. But somehow we found a phone, a list of phone numbers with people with those first names and we just started calling down the list. I left dozens of the same message over and over again. Hi, my name is Jen. I’m a social worker in Missoula, Montana. I’m looking for the sibling of Michael Smith.

If, if you know Michael, please give me a call back as soon as possible. Now. Um, honestly, I don’t know if either Rebecca or I truly thought that we would actually find any of them that way. But the next morning, I answered a phone call from a Minnesota area code. And on the phone, on the other end of the line, was Michael’s twin sister, Michelle.

She hadn’t seen her brother in 20 years, and she told me she’d been waiting for him. A long time, dreading getting a phone call like this. Michael’s four sisters all found last minute flights to Missoula, and arrived at the hospital the next day. They spent a long time with Michael, talked to his doctors, and made some really difficult decisions.

And the next afternoon, Michael died, with all four sisters of his sisters by his side. The day after that, Pam, Sue, Jane, and Michelle met us for breakfast. Though we had been strangers just a few days before, we now gathered together for a meal to celebrate Michael’s life. Gingy, Pete, my co workers, and I shared what we knew of Michael’s last year of his life in Missoula with them, and they shared stories with us about the brother that they had known.

And though it was clear there had definitely been some hurt and relationship rupture over the years between Michael and his sisters, there was also very clearly a lot of love. The sisters expressed their gratitude that they got to have some closure, that they knew with certainty what had happened to their brother, that they had had time to say goodbye and anything else left unsaid.

And that they knew Michael was not alone at the end of his life. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. In this particular moment of our collective history, when we are all witnessing, experiencing, enormous amounts of pain and suffering as human beings on this planet. And I don’t know about you, but I have been finding it really hard to not feel like I’m losing my faith in humanity right now.

To Not fall into despair or wonder if anything that I do actually matters in the grand scheme of things. Or if it’s basically the equivalent of trying to put out the massive raging dumpster fire that is the world right now with a teaspoon of water. And maybe it is, I don’t know. But then I also think about how it’s also true that Gingy and Pete saw a man sitting alone offered to buy him a sandwich.

And because of that That stranger didn’t die alone. In the story of Michael’s life and his death, Gingy and Pete, for me, really embody the words of humanitarian Albert Schweitzer when he says, Each of us can always do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end. They remind me that Even a small act of kindness can have vast ripple effects that expand outward further than we can even imagine.

And that, that’s what gives me some amount of hope for the rest of us and our teaspoons of water too. Thank you.

Marc Moss:

Thanks, Jen.
Jen Certa is originally from New York, and accidentally began a love affair with Montana in 2009. She is a social worker and currently works as a therapist with kids and families, which basically means she’ll help you process your feelings after she beats you at Uno. When not at work, Jen can most often be found traversing the trails around Missoula with human and dog friends, guessing people’s Enneagram numbers, and/or running late for something.

Coming up after the break: “Never forget. On 9/11, we leaned into each other, recognizing our shared humanity.” “Death. It’s final, it’s in your face, it’s unforgiving.”

Stay with us.

Remember that we are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Close to the Edge”. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected].

The pitch deadline is February 17th. I look forward to hearing from you.Thank you to our Title Sponsor Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about them at goblackfoot.com. Thank you to our Story Sponsors who help us to pay our storytellers. Missoula Electric Coop , a member-owned rural electric cooperative that serves electricity to members in parts of Montana and Idaho. You can learn more at missoulaelectric.com Thanks to our second story sponsor, The Kettlehouse who strives to match the quality of their beers to the quality of the Montana outdoor experience. Learn more about them at kettlehouse.com. Thank you to our Accessibility Sponsor, Reep Bell and Jasper allowing us to hire American Sign Language interpreters at this event in order to be a more inclusive experience. Learn more about them at westernmontanalaw.com

Thanks to our media sponsors, missoulaevents.net, and Missoula Broadcasting Company learn more about Missoula Broadcasting Company and listen online at missoulabroadcastingcompany.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors: Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com and Joyce of Tile – learn about Joyce and the work that she does at Joyce of Tile.com.

Alright, let’s get back to the stories. You are listening to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

Next up is Jennifer Robohm. Jennifer recounts her 9/11 experience, witnessing the tragedy, offering help, and cherishing acts of unity amidst chaos and despair in NYC. Jennifer calls her story “As the Dust Settled”.

Thanks for listening.

Jennifer Robham: It was a beautiful Tuesday morning, and I soaked in the sun and the clear blue sky on my way into work. I was already at my desk by a quarter to nine, drinking coffee and chatting with a colleague when we heard a truck backfire really loudly outside. It was so loud that it made us both jump. And then we laughed at ourselves like you do.

We thought nothing of it. Until we noticed the sirens. I called a friend who worked in finance because she had a news feed at her desk. Hey, what’s going on by City Hall? She told me a Cessna had just crashed into the World Trade Center.

My office building was three blocks from where the tower stood. I sat at a cubicle on the 11th floor, but I’d go to a small office to make private phone calls. I loved that part of my job because I’d lean back in my chair and I’d look out the window at those unbelievably tall buildings. They were incredible.

But on the morning of 9 11, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The North Tower was in flames, cut in half by the jetliner. Dark plumes of smoke billowed up into the sky and reams of office paper fluttered downward like falling leaves.

I called my parents and we were just trying to make sense of what was happening when the South Tower was hit. By then, my dad was watching on TV, but I couldn’t see the plane. I thought a fireball had exploded from the first building to the second. My father was six foot four, but his voice sounded small when he begged me to find safety.

But daddy, I don’t know where to go. So I stayed, bearing witness. I was still at my post close to an hour later. No, no, no, no, no, no. Fucking God. Fucking God! Fucking God.

There was a low rumbling, and then the South Tower collapsed under its own weight, pancaking to the street below. A huge cloud of dust and debris engulfed the pedestrians who scattered like ants. The, the cloud overtook them one by one, and then slammed in my window and shook our building. And then everything went dark.

I turned to run and nearly tripped over a Latina woman who was watching over my shoulder. She was now crumpled on the ground, being consoled by a friend. Her boyfriend worked in that tower. We all thought we just watched him and thousands of people die.

A garbled voice over the PA system evacuated us to the basement. We were down there for several hours in shock. I was so rattled, I actually asked if we were going to have our staff meeting.

There were no windows, but that’s where we learned that the North Tower had collapsed. We also heard that the Washington Monument in Las Vegas had been destroyed. I guess imaginations run wild when they’ve seen the unimaginable.

An African American woman burst in through the door from the street. She was covered in dust, her hair, her face, every inch of her clothing. And she was absolutely hysterical. I remember thinking, Jen, you’re a psychologist, do something. So I walked her to a quiet corner and helped her lie down and try to slow her panicked breathing.

Her eyes were wide, but sometimes she’d clench them shut. The images that must have been seared there. She grabbed my hand as she told me about being evacuated from her building and then having to run when the second tower collapsed. And then she collapsed into sobbing.

An older woman knelt beside us. She stroked the traumatized woman’s hair. She whispered as she cleaned the dust from her face. It’s okay, baby. Everything’s gonna be okay.

Eventually, they told us we could leave. But the dust covered woman was too afraid. I was desperate to get out of there. The phones were down and I wanted to go and find my partner. But we stayed until we could convince her it would be safe. And then a police officer escorted the woman back out to the street, where it now looked like several inches of dirty snow had fallen.

Um, the older woman and I. We were complete strangers, but we kissed on the lips and we hugged for several seconds before going outside. We were the last ones to leave and I never saw either of those women again.

Back outside, it was chaos. The air was acrid and smoky and the sirens were relentless. The police, uh, sent us toward the Brooklyn Bridge. I changed into volleyball sneakers and ran. I was terrified that another plane would come at any second to take out the bridge or the thousands of people who were streaming across it with me.

Some of them were walking, slowly. They stared straight ahead toward Brooklyn, where the sky was still that gorgeous blue. But others stopped, like I did, and looked back over their shoulders. Where the towers used to be, there was nothing but dust and smoke and debris.

If there is a hell, I know what it looks like. It’s been over

20 years now. I’m getting old.

What I remember most vividly about that fall morning are small gestures of kindness and courage. The man who carried my co worker down the stairs to the basement because she was too grief stricken to walk. My companion who comforted the dust covered woman lying in tears on the floor. The teenagers who sheepishly offered us water on the far side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

And neighbors who lined up late into the night to donate blood, none of which was needed. My first responders were ordinary people. No special training or equipment, just the impulse to do something, anything to make a shitty day just a little bit better for someone else.

After 9 11, I couldn’t cry for days. Not until our sonogram on the 14th made me weep with conflicted joy. We were gonna have a son. I love you, Jack.

It was several weeks before we could return to our office building, and many months before the piles stopped burning and the subways were restored. It was well over a year before we weren’t evacuated constantly due to bomb threats and anthrax scares. And maybe two years before I could hear a low flying airplane without flinching.

Whenever I’d leave New York City, I was surprised to discover that everyone else had moved on. I guess because it was no longer happening to them.

But New Yorkers continued to be kinder to each other. We hugged more. We made more eye contact. We gave up our seats on the train. And when we asked other people how they were doing, we actually slowed down to hear the answer. Honestly, those are some of my fondest memories of the city.

They say, never forget. I wear a subway token around my neck to remind me. I think about that day every September, of course. But I also thought about it a lot during the pandemic, and I think about it now when I despair about climate change and war and the existential threats we’re facing. I can’t help but wonder which version of us is going to show up.

If you’re looking for hope, maybe I can offer you this. On 9 11, we leaned into each other, recognizing our shared humanity. We worked together despite our differences because we needed each other to survive. We understood that looking out for ourselves meant looking out for other people. And we rose to the occasion, even when really hard things were happening.

In my darkest moments, that’s what I choose to remember. About that horrible, and yet beautiful, Tuesday morning. Thank you.

Marc Moss:
Thanks, Jennifer.
Jennifer Robohm moved to Montana from the East Coast to be closer to her twin sister and to have an adventure. That adventure turned into a life! Jen is a clinical psychologist who’s been teaching at the University of Montana for close to 20 years. She lives in Missoula with her partner, Nadia; her son, Jack, is a UM senior. Jen loves the Missoula community and the Montana outdoors.

Closing out this episode of the Tell Us Something, podcast, Linds Sanders recounts a series of encounters in which strangers share their deep grief with her, painting profound connections amid loss, teaching empathy, and illuminating the beauty in life’s small, poignant details.

Linds calls her story “Peanut Butter & Peonies”

Thanks for listening.

Linds Sanders: Okay.

Eat the mic. That was from our storyteller workshop.

When I was 18, I worked at the KOA call center. People would call in asking for directions to campsites, change their campsite reservation, But most often, they call to get their password changed for their online account. Back then, you couldn’t get a password reset email, you had to call the 1 800 number, and that was me.

I took dozens of these calls a day, and I assured people, I will not remember your password. One afternoon, a man called in, he must have been in his 70s or 80s, to change his password. Took about two minutes, I don’t remember his password. I asked him, is there anything else I can help you with? And almost in response to that question, he let me know this was the first time he was traveling since his wife died.

They started traveling when they had kids. But then their kids grew up and became adults and had families of their own, but they just kept traveling because they loved it so much. She would make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their road trips, and she’d kiss him on the cheek when they crossed state lines.

He’s trying to make those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It should be pretty simple, he says, but they just don’t taste the same. And that’s everything since she’s been gone. Maybe it should be straightforward, but he just can’t seem to do it. He laments that he should probably let me go now, and he hangs up the phone.

There’s this flat screen television above my head, listing my name and my co workers names, tracking the duration of our phone calls. My name is in red, highlighting inefficiency. The 38 minutes.

Fast forward a couple years and I’m a student at the University of Montana. I’m doing an art assignment drawing outside under the shade of a cedar tree. And, uh, there’s a football game apparently. It has concluded. Someone won. And now there’s this ocean of people dressed in maroon and gray leeching out of the stadium in all directions.

I am feeling so grateful that I chose this, like, meandering path that is off of the main arterial sidewalks that leads to the parking lots. Still, a woman straggles from the crowd, comes down my pathway. I don’t look up from my drawing, I figure she’ll just keep walking by. But then I feel her presence next to me.

She says to me, do you know what this building is? Now, there are a lot of beautiful buildings on campus. This is not one of them. It is this anonymous brick rectangle. I tell her, I don’t. She says, this is where my husband worked for 18 years. He was a botanist studying ferns and he died recently. I’m paying attention now.

This building is important. She says to me, my whole garden is ferns now. I tore up all the flowers, it’s all ferns. And when they erupt from the ground and spring and unfurl their leaves, I think of him and I miss him every day. And she’s starting to cry now. And just as abruptly as she’s come into my life, she turns and she leaves, walking down the path, rejoining that ocean of maroon and gray.

Now, maybe this would be strange if it weren’t for this reoccurring phenomenon in my life of strangers telling me their grief stories. Sometimes they last for 38 minutes, sometimes for 2 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours, like it did last summer. I just finished hiking Mount Sentinel, the mountain behind our campus.

Um, I live nearby, so the trailhead is walking distance from home. When I was on the top, there had been a summer thunderstorm that rolled in, and I had to bolt down and gain cover under trees. But now, the thunder had moved on, the rain had subsided, the clouds were still hanging in the air. I came down the trailhead, trekking poles in hand, my headphones in, I’m listening to my audio book, I pass by a man chatting, and he’s talking to me.

I, uh, put on my headphones, what? He asked me, have you seen the peony garden? The man, he’s in his 60s, dark wash, denim jeans. buttoned shirt. Baseball cap on. And the peony garden he’s referring to is the memorial peony garden, with over a hundred varieties of peonies. And they are in bloom and their flowers are the size of ice cream scoops, and they are white, and pink, and yellow, and, I tell him, in fact I have, and it’s one of my favorite places of Missoula.

He says to me, Peony are my wife’s favorite flower, and today is our 40th wedding anniversary. She died two years ago. And this is always how the conversations start, with this blunt admission of death. And that’s death. It’s final, it’s in your face, it’s unforgiving. And he’s seeing how I’m going to respond.

Am I going to ignore what he said? Oh, yeah, you know, there’s a western peony in this garden? Am I gonna put up a wall of sympathy? Oh, I am so sorry for your loss, that’s terrible. Or will I lean in? Which is what I try to always do. I learn not only were peony her favorite flower, but turtles were her favorite animal, and he would call her my little turtle.

I learned about the life that they built together, that she was a teacher, that she fought cancer, and I learned of how she died when the cancer returned, and that their back porch was her favorite place to watch sunsets, and how his friends and family rallied behind him when the grief first happened, but now that it’s been a couple of years, he feels embarrassed and like he can’t really lean into their support anymore.

Now, I want to keep talking, but my legs are really tired. I just hiked that mountain. But these transitions are tricky. We can transition deeper, and it’s also a chance to transition out. So I kind of edge towards a bench, and I invite him to sit down, and he does. And there’s this mutual trust between us that we both are enjoying this conversation, and we both want to continue.

And so we do, we keep talking as the clouds turn yellow and orange and underline in pink, leading us to another transition. It will be dark soon. So I offer to walk him back to his hotel. He’s just passing through. This area of town, everything is nearby, and it’s cleaved in half at the Clark Fork River, along which is the bike path.

And so we walk along it together, and we’re talking about poetry and travel and the West Coast, and it might sound like we’re not talking about grief anymore, but that’s the thing about grief. It’s like the central nervous system of a body. If you take away the skin, the bones, the muscle, and leave behind just the nervous system, you will still see a perfect outline of the human body down to the intricacies of a fingertip.

That’s grief. It holds us all together, and some days it threatens to tear us apart. But tonight, I like to believe it held us together and bound us to one another. I say goodbye to him in the parking lot of his hotel and begin my walk home alone, trekking poles in hand, headphones around my neck. And it might sound like I’m the kind stranger in these stories, but I disagree.

It is them who have taught me the importance of buildings that some people just walk on by. How complicated a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be. And the real beauty of a peony flower. They have taken the time to introduce me to the most beloved people in their life. This world could not afford to lose, but lost anyways.

The thing is, I have my own grief. A grief that has me with one foot firmly planted on this stage and another foot in the land of what if. A grief that has me looking for something I lost and I just can’t seem to find it. A grief that has me against all odds wishing that there was one person in this audience sitting next to one of you.

And I know that she’s not.

That grief can be pretty isolating sometimes.

But as I walk home in the dark, streetlights coming on, I feel a glow. I feel gratitude. And thanks to the kindness of these strangers, I don’t feel so alone.

Thanks, Linds.
Linds Sanders is a Montanan who has a habit of saying “yes” to experiences that scare her such as saving house spiders, learning to rock climb, working with preteens, and–most recently–sharing a story at Tell Us Something. It’s much easier for her to pursue the passions she loves such as poetry, art, traveling, and spending time with friends and strangers alike. Currently, she is in graduate school pursuing a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an interest in grief work. She works as a counseling intern at Tamarack Grief Resource Center where she has the honor of holding close the stories of others. Learn more about Linds at tellussomething.org.

Remember that the next Tell Us Something event is March 266th. You can learn about how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellussomething.org.

A child, traveling alone, encounters hotel trouble, a young woman begins her healing journey thanks to a sexual assault victim's advocate, a woman recovering from open heart surgery finds respite with a a gruff nurse and post-avalanche, Missoula unites.

Transcript : The Kindness of Strangers - 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 “Close to the Edge” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected].

The pitch deadline is February 17th. I look forward to hearing from you.

This week on the podcast…”But it had the corkscrew off ramp. Which in a wheelchair is amazing! Wind blowing in your hair. Like you’re like going so fast you don’t know what’s going to happen.” “…I finally decided that I needed to do something. I didn’t have my phone, so I couldn’t call anybody…” “And I calmed down eventually and he says, is there anything else?” “I had shown up right before they had pulled a car under 50 feet of snow and a house was being dragged apart as this car was being towed out.” …four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “The Kindness of Strangers”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on December 06, 2023 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Winter is traditionally a time when we slow down. Our indigenous friends, during winter, share stories that they don’t share at other times of the year. Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are gathered on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Ponder eh, Salish, and Kootenai peoples.

Traditionally, storytelling is reserved for the winter months for many tribes. This was a practical choice given the fact that during the other seasons, people were busy growing, gathering, and hunting food. It is in the winter, with the long dark evenings, the snow and wind blowing outside, that telling stories is used to entertain — and teach the children. Another reason for winter storytelling, is that many traditional stories contain animal characters. To be respectful, people wait until the winter when animals hibernate or become less active so they cannot hear themselves being talked about.

We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

Thank you to our Title sponsor – Blackfoot Communications.

connecting people, businesses and communities. They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses, homes. communities. Connecting with each other. They keep people reliably connected.

To learn more, visit goblackfoot.com

Remember that Tell Us Something stories sometimes have adult themes. Storytellers sometimes use adult language. That is especially true for this episode. Our second storyteller speaks frankly, though not graphically, about rape and the justice system. Sensitive listeners, please take care of yourselves. This episode may not be appropriate for children.

Our first story comes to us from Steve Rosbarsky. Steve journeys alone to the Junior Nationals tournament in Minneapolis. The absence of parental guidance sets the stage for a misadventure leading to trouble at a hotel. Stranded without a coach, an unexpected savior, Martin Martin, rescues the young athlete from a precarious situation. A series of escapades involving hotel ice baths, wheelchair races, and rooftop pool revelry culminate in a disciplinary showdown with the coaches.Steve calls his story “Three days, Two Coaches, One Martin Martin”. Thanks for listening.

Steve Rosbarsky: Taxi cabs kind of have a unique smell. When I was sitting in there, I wasn’t sure if it was me, I wasn’t sure if it was him, I wasn’t sure if it was all the people that had been there before me. The plane ride had a familiar smell to it, because it smelled like cigarettes. Just like the bus. Because back then you could smoke in the airplane.

So as I was riding in the cab, I was watching the little mechanical device sitting on the dashboard just roll through numbers. And it reminded me of Back to the Future. I had no idea what the numbers meant. I just knew that I had told him where I needed to go. And we’re on our way there. And when we got there he told me the total, which I don’t know how it added up.

And I filled out my traveler’s checks and signed it and handed it to him. And I got out of the car. And the cities are kind of a foreign world to somebody born and raised in Missoula, Montana. The way that the sidewalks are black and the light reflects off them and I walked into the lobby and the woman was super helpful, helping me check into the hotel.

She was so sweet. And she says to me after I, she gives me my key and tells me where the room is and tells me where the pool is. She goes, and don’t forget honey, you can leave the TV on all night if you want. Now the reason she said that is because I was 13. So, but I also looked like I was 10. So, she was, it was, she was super sweet.

I did leave the TV on, by the way. So, I was on my way to Junior Nationals. So, for us at the time, it was called the Junior Olympics. It was about a 3, 500 kid event that happened. And this time, it happened in Minneapolis. So, here I was, in my hotel room, by myself, with the TV on, which happened to have HBO, which was a bonus.

And then, the next morning I got up. I couldn’t eat that morning because I knew I had to weigh in, but the plan was, I was taking this trip on my own to get to St. Paul, and then I was going to meet my coach at registration. So this is long before cell phones, this time did exist. It was long before the internet, and so as I rolled in there, It was a hope and a prayer that I would meet him at registration, I guess.

I didn’t realize how much of a prayer it was. So I rolled up to registration and I sat there and I checked myself in and at that point for Montana I was a fairly successful athlete. So people from Montana kind of knew me, but I was traveling on my own and I went and I made it through weigh ins and I sat in registration and lunch came and I could eat so I did go eat.

Didn’t have a lot of parental supervision, so I’m sure it was hot dogs or nachos or something fun. And then, it was getting darker, and it was getting later. And my coach had not arrived yet. So I don’t remember being super panicked about this, but I do remember being like, Hmm, I think I’m going to have to go back to my hotel room soon.

So I think it’s four blocks that way. I remember in my head, I was like, I’m pretty sure it’s four blocks that way. Well, in walks this guy, with his t shirt tucked in his sweats, and his belly just slightly protruding from the waistband, and this bold mustache, and he goes, Hey Stevie! What are you doing? I said, Oh, I’m waiting for my coach.

And he goes, Ah, that’s great. Who’d you travel with? I’m like, Oh, I’m by myself. He goes, No, no, no. Like, Who’d you come with? And I go, No, I’m by myself. And no, like, Where are your parents? And I go, no, I came by myself. And he goes, no, you did not. And I go, no, I did. And he goes, no, you didn’t. And he goes, come with me.

And we went to a payphone, which, for you guys that are younger, there used to be this little booth that you would open and walk in and put a dime in, at that time. Dimes are these little silver coins that we, I’m just kidding. So, anyway, using an AT& T calling card, which that’s too much to explain, I called my mother and this person picked up the phone and he goes, Hello, Mrs.

Rosbarski, which was not her name since she very proudly is not a Mrs. Rosbarski anymore. He said, I am Martin Martin out of Butte. He goes, if you want to call a sheriff’s office and find out who I am, you can call them. I do work with them, but I am, your son is staying with me for the rest of his stay here.

And given this was 1989, she went, okay. So what was amazing about this was that Martin took me to my room. We took everything out. We checked out of my room. We checked into his room and he had this whole team of kids, but they also had a lot of rules. Like, you couldn’t swim before you fought, and you had to eat well, and he watched everything they did, and I was like, oh my god, this is so, so impossible to deal with.

But I also held this deep gratitude for it at the moment. I was like, how interesting is this? And he took care of me and included me in this team from the start. From the moment he picked me up in registration, I was part of that team. And everything they did, every practice they had, I was, he just brought me in.

And I didn’t know him very well, but he just brought me in. Well, then it came to be the fight day. When fight day showed up, my coach miraculously appeared. And so my coach showed up for that, and I had I think five to seven fights that day. I had taken bronze the year before, and so I was, I was set on winning this one.

My semi final match was really hard, and back then the referee used to come out and hold your hands like this, and there was no scoreboard. So you just sat there with your hand like, being like, I don’t pray much. But this is my moment, like, please raise my hand. And then you heard people clapping, and your hand was still down.

And you’re like, Okay. But I did get a bronze medal. So I was like, alright, not so bad. No, no, no claps. Hehehe. I was like, okay, not so bad. Um, I will say that one of my dear family friends when I came home said, Didn’t you get that last year? So, so It wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I was really disappointed about it, but also grateful I had something.

Like I said, that was a 3, 500 kid tournament. I felt something great. And then my coach said this. The magic words. This coach that was masterful at using withholding. He was masterful at making you sing and dance and do all the things to try to get any sort of approval. He goes, Stevie, you get to stay in my room with me.

I was like, okay, I’ve made it. And so I went in this room, also staying in this room with us, was actually a future Olympian in Taekwondo. And so I was really excited, like, these are like the people I look up to. And the very first job I had, getting in there, was to fill a bathtub full of ice. Which I kept doing, I had to go to the third floor, and the second floor, and then the fifth floor, to get enough ice to fill this bathtub.

And the part I was nervous about was I was like, I, this was well before Wim Hof was popular, but ice baths did exist, and I was like, Oh God. I really don’t hope I have to sit in here. However, it slowly got filled with these golden bottles of elixir. The champagne of beers, they say. Miller Highlight. So, as it was getting filled with beer, and this huge party was starting to take way, I got to do the one thing that I wasn’t allowed to do up to this point, which was go onto the roof, because there was a pool on the roof.

Which, for anybody from Azula, first, a pool’s amazing. But two, the pool was on the roof. So I got up there, and I don’t know how long I was there, it was blissful. I was just swimming, just taking it in, and when I came back down to go to the room, the hallway looked like the biggest party ever had happened.

There was wheelchairs tipped over, beer cans, no one to be found. And so I steered my way around all of this and made it back to the room. The room also was in the same state of disarray. And I was like, What the hell happened here? Right? Now, given I’d grown up around this tech model group where I’d been at a lot of parties at way too young.

So, I mean, I knew that it was a party, but I was like, this is a party. So I sat down on the bed, and about two seconds later, the door flings open! And these two kids come in, who I didn’t really know, but, you know, I was 14, 13, and they were 17. And they come in, they go, oh my god, Stevie, you missed this, it was the biggest thing ever.

Our coaches were like racing wheelchairs, and they tipped over, and they fell down, and all these things happened. And We should take the wheelchairs to the parking garage. And I was like, deal. Because the parking garage door is right outside the hallway. So we get on the wheelchairs and we’re wheeling down.

Now this parking garage is great. It’s like a Fisher Price parking garage because it Fisher Price were these toys that we Just kidding. But it had the corkscrew off ramp. Which in a wheelchair is amazing! Wind blowing in your hair. Like you’re like going so fast you don’t know what’s going to happen.

You’re trying not to go backwards. And then when we hit the bottom, we were just grabbed. This huge security guard just scooped us up. And we were like, oh, crap. I’ve been in trouble before, so I was like, oh, no. So he picks me up, and he takes us into the, and I didn’t know they had these in hotels. It was like an interrogation room.

It’s a pretty bare, bare table. He’s asking us what we’re doing. We’re like, uh, this thing. And, you know, I don’t know. We didn’t have any supervision. We’re trying to make as many excuses as we can, but in came my coach. And they were pissed. Now, I’ve been yelled at before by them, but they were really mad. So they came in, and we’d go up to the parking garage.

So here’s the unique thing about the parking garage, is that when we got back up there, these are the same people who were racing wheelchairs. They start really digging in at me. Now, I’ve been yelled at enough times that it eventually turns into that Charlie Brown teacher, wah wah, wah wah, wah wah. But at one point, we were stuck doing Pago.

So if you guys have never done Taekwondo, or hopefully you’ll never see this if you do Taekwondo, but there, there is this punishment, corrective behavioral practice that we do in Taekwondo called Pago. So I’m going to show it to you. Pago looks like this.

So Pago provides this amazing time for your coaches to really yell at you. And so I was looking over at this 17 year old boy that was with me, and he’s panicking. Like, I can see him physically panicking. And, and I remember looking at him, and the coaches had gone off to, like, laugh or talk, whatever they’re doing.

And I said, you have to stop crying. And he looks over and he goes, because it only gets worse. And he was like, just deep panic. So then there, my coach’s wise decision then, after they let us up out of Pago and we went through all this, was, you can sleep on the fire escape. So that’s where we slept. And then in the morning I was allowed to come in the room and get my stuff, and I got back in the taxi, back on the bus, back on the plane, made it back to Missoula.

I was kicked out of Tijuana for three months because of that whole event. But here’s where it gets interesting, this guy Martin Martin, coming back to this person. So, I lost track of Martin Martin for about 13 years. We didn’t go to the same tournaments. I had started at that, you know, shortly after that, going to U.

S. team trials and just a different experience. But then in 2003, I finally divorced this Taekwondo family that I’d had for a really long time. I was very loyal to them, so it was a very hard shift. So when I went onto this new organization, who was part of it? Martin, Martin. And so, as I was navigating this, like, Am I not being loyal?

Am I dishonoring this like heritage that I have? Can I do it on my own? The one thing that came back was this guy, and so the very first term I saw him, he came back with his T-shirt with tucked in his sweats and his belly protruded just a little bit further than it did before. His mustache was a little gray and his hairline was gone.

It was high when I met him, but it was gone. Um, but Martin, Martin was one of these people who when he showed up at this moment. That I didn’t know I needed him, he was there. And when I was all of a sudden opening my own school 13 years later, this guy, Martin Martin, that’s his real name, from Butte showed up and he was there again.

And I’m forever grateful for those lessons. My beautiful kids are sitting there. None of what I have would have been possible without people like him. So, so I go. Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Steve.

Steve Rosbarsky was born and raised in Missoula Montana. He has two beautiful children, Lydia and Eddie. He is so grateful to his partner Gwen and the joy that he feels being the long term parental type figure to Evani and Cecelia. Steve is also proud of his beautiful granddaughter Ronnie. He owns and operates a Taekwondo School here in Missoula. Steve is a sustainable project coordinator for Missoula Habitat for Humanity. He holds gratitude for all the moments this life has provided. Learn more about steve at tellussomething.org. https://www.missoulatkd.com

Remember that at the top of the show I mentioned that our second storyteller speaks frankly, though not graphically, about rape and the justice system. That story is next. It is about 12 minutes long. If you have children listening, you may want to skip through this story.

Maria Merkley’s traumatic encounter, guided by Sammy’s support, led to resilience and empowered her to begin the journey of reclaiming her life after assault. Maria calls her story The Advocate. Thanks for listening.

Maria Merkley: All right. So in the story, Oregon, my favorite red ale is still to this day. Um, they’re, they’re right from buoy. Sorry, from buoy buoy. Um, and the bartender just told me that they were switching out the keg. So I was going to have my second beer. Um, I was alone at a bar, which was usual. Um, I had been divorced for a year.

Uh, when I got divorced, I had told myself like, all right. Whenever I want to go do something, doing it, like, an excuse not to do it, being alone, like, I can’t do it. So, if that’s the only reason to go and not do something, was being alone, like, I had to go and do it. And, I loved it. So, the very first concert that I went to, uh, was a band called Kaleo.

They were actually kind of like part of why I got a divorce. And, um, I know, music is really powerful. Um, and, uh, But their opening band, I’d never heard of them, and they were named Judah and the Lion. And, uh, so that was like my first concert, you know, so ironically, a year later, Judah and the Lion is their opening, like, own headliner.

They’re playing at the Roseland Theatre, downtown Portland. A week before that, I was actually at this same bar, uh, because I had gone with a group of friends to see another band, Iration. I went and saw concerts, like, regularly. Um, and, uh, I, uh, I don’t know if I finished my second beer. Um, I woke up and I was face down naked in a hotel room.

An overwhelming, like, smell of smoke. Like what I would imagine it was what it was like back in the 50s when people just smoked everywhere. Cause it was like, it was horrendous. Um, I saw my clothes. I saw a man I’d never seen before. And I just, like, I had to get out of there. I had to get out of there. Uh, I, as I’m putting my clothes on, they are just vomit all over.

And the smell is just awful. And then my pants were also damp. So I’m putting these clothes on and I just am trying to get out of there. Uh, I get out of there and I’m walking downtown Portland. And I can’t feel anything. I don’t know what I’m doing. All I have is my wallet, and I’m like, okay, like, what can I do?

A snowflake falls, and I’m like, well, fuck, I can’t, like, stand around and walk around downtown Portland. You know, in this condition, it’s gotta be cold. There’s snow. So I get a very expensive taxi ride back to Longview, Washington, which is where I lived. I end up getting with a family friend who had suggested going to my primary care doctor.

And at the time, that sounded, uh, reasonable. Um, this primary care doctor continued to tell me that since I didn’t know what happened, he was labeling it as risky sexual behavior, and then continued, uh, to perform an exam on me. Uh, this exam, after the fact, he realized there was so much trauma to my body that he then suggested that I go to the hospital to see a sexual assault nurse, the same nurse.

I went home, um, because I was distraught. I didn’t know what happened. It was the most horrific appointment I’ve ever had. Um, I don’t remember my rape, but I remember that, that doctor’s visit. I finally decided that I needed to do something. I didn’t have my phone, so I couldn’t call anybody, and I was like, well, you know what?

Okay. What would my older sister do, like, and I was like, okay, she would tell me, like, to go, to go to the hospital, but I was terrified of having the same experience that I had just had. I got there. The nurse was really nice, and she brought in, uh, a sexual assault victim’s advocate, Sammy. This girl didn’t look much older than me, but she had just this kind, understanding empathy on her face, and she I sat through that whole interview with the police officer, and that police officer, to this day, Officer Bestman, he told me words, because I was trying to figure out, like, man, like, I only had two beers, I can drink a lot more than two beers, and like, remember, like, from 6.

30pm to 4. 30 in the morning, there’s nothing, like, nothing, like, that’s never happened before. And he said, Maria, you can go out and have one beer. You can go out and have five beers. You can go out and have 10 beers. That is your right. But no one has the right to take advantage of you. I tell myself those words over the past six years, um,

a lot, um, those words really mean a lot to me, um,

Sammy, uh, my victim’s advocate was just incredible, um, She’d been through most of the process already, so she was able to walk me through it, and was that, like, guiding hand and that shoulder to cry on, and was just able to be everything that I was needing. Uh,

One part of the process, so the officer that, um, made that statement, he was a local officer in Longview, but the crime happened in Portland, so I was dealing with the Portland, um, detectives. And they had told me to try and strengthen my case, um, a good thing to do would be to give a hair sample. Uh, I don’t know if they didn’t know necessarily what that entailed or not.

Sammy had never gotten to a point with another victim where they’d gotten to that point, so she didn’t really know, you’d think, just a couple plucks. We made the 45 minute drive to Portland, Sammy and I, because she came with me to every appointment with my detective. And they had me flip over my hair. I had hair about, like, down to here at that time.

And, uh, they just kept snipping and snipping and snipping. And when I finally, like, lifted my head up, I looked at Sammy and I could just, I knew, I knew that it wasn’t what either of us had thought that it was going to be. And they had taken about baseball sized, like, chunks out of my hair.

That 45 minute ride home, I could just feel it, I could just feel it, like my hair was gone.

And Sammy got me to an amazing hairstylist, Carlina, um, and she gave me the cutest buzz, um, buzz cut, and like it was a bob, and it was so cute. And so then when I touched my hair, I didn’t think about what had happened, and I wasn’t re traumatized.

At the same time, I was facing troubles at work, um, which was really hard for me because I was living in a town where I didn’t have family, and so like, my work was like, my family. Um, and it was Sammy who had told me, like, Maria, that’s not okay, like, they can’t be treating you like that, like, you have rights, and encouraged me to stand up.

She did the same thing about my encounter with a doctor. She told me, Maria. Maria. He had no right to talk to you like that. That is not okay. You can do something about it. I did, um, it took years, uh, but something had come of those complaints. To this day, that hair has not been sampled, um, and the man in the hotel room was not charged.

After that, I was afraid to, like, go places. I was afraid to be alone. I have tattoos. I wore long sleeves because I was afraid to, uh, be able to be identifiable, um, from people. My mental health finally, like, dropped enough that I came back home to Montana.

But Sammy, to this day, um, she actually just came, uh, and visited me and my daughter. And is still such a, like, huge part of my life. She encouraged me to start to do things alone again. I went to New York and went to a concert at Madison Square Garden, alone. I went to Iceland, alone. I went to Tulum, alone.

Every once in a while my anxiety gets the better of me, and I will miss something. But I’m hoping after today that that doesn’t happen again. Uh, that by telling my story of freed myself from this and freed myself from the guilt and the shame that other people put on me, that was not my fault. And there’s other people, this is the most unreported crime.

And I would do it all again because I still hope that one day I get a call from Portland. And they tell me that they actually decided to do something with my case. And that they actually decided to charge the bartender who had slipped something in my drink. Or charge the man who had been nice to give me a ride home.

And I hope that I get to call Sammy one day and tell her this happened and it was all worth it and it was all because of her. She was the best stranger that could have walked into that room that day. I just want to end with the other strangers that have helped me get to this point are my silent, my like, silently paid strangers, my therapists.

Um, I had a great one, Jana in Longview, who I don’t know how I would have managed everything without her. And then here I had Ellie. And then I had, uh, Nicole. And then I had Shelly, and, uh, now I have Liz, and I know that Liz is going to help me be the best mom that I can be for Sophia and teach her to stand up for herself and know that no one has the right to take advantage of her.

Thanks, Maria

Maria LaDonna Merkley is a proud full-time single mother to her beautiful 18-month-old daughter,
Sophia- LaDonna Merkley. Maria was born in Whitefish, Montana, and grew up in Hamilton, Montana, and has had the pleasure of calling Oregon, Arizona, and Washington states home. She is a full-time student at the University of Montana, working on her Bachelor’s degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in History, with a Secondary Education Iie-sen shure !!!!! . She hopes to share her love for traveling with her daughter and travel to all 50 states before Sophia is ten years old. Her long-term goal is to move abroad to live and teach anywhere there is a mild winter!

Coming up after the break, “And I calmed down eventually and he says, is there anything else?” “I had shown up right before they had pulled a car under 50 feet of snow and a house was being dragged apart as this car was being towed out.”

Stay with us.

Remember that we are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Close to the Edge”. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch. Our friends from the Deaf community are welcome to pitch by emailing [email protected].

The pitch deadline is February 17th. I look forward to hearing from you.Thank you to our Title Sponsor Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about them at goblackfoot.com. Thank you to our Story Sponsors who help us to pay our storytellers. Missoula Electric Coop , a member-owned rural electric cooperative that serves electricity to members in parts of Montana and Idaho. You can learn more at missoulaelectric.com Thanks to our second story sponsor, The Kettlehouse who strives to match the quality of their beers to the quality of the Montana outdoor experience. Learn more about them at kettlehouse.com. Thank you to our Accessibility Sponsor, Reep Bell and Jasper allowing us to hire American Sign Language interpreters at this event in order to be a more inclusive experience. Learn more about them at westernmontanalaw.com

Thanks to our media sponsors, missoulaevents.net, and Missoula Broadcasting Company learn more about Missoula Broadcasting Company and listen online at missoulabroadcastingcompany.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors: Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com and Joyce of Tile – learn about Joyce and the work that she does at Joyce of Tile.com.

Alright, let’s get back to the stories. You are listening to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.

Back in 2020, Mandy Northcott faced heart surgery complications. Feeling alone in a hospital amid COVID restrictions, Mandy tries to put on a brave face for her family and friends. Her emotions and feelings build inside her to a fever pitch. A gruff nurse, Keith, changed everything with empathy, teaching her to accept help and cherish human connection. Mandy calls her story “Open Heart”. Thanks for listening.

Mandy Northcott: I was diagnosed with lupus in 2005. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, um, and basically what that means is that your immune system that’s supposed to be protecting you attacks your own body and it can wreak havoc and it did, um, for about two years. And fortunately, I recovered from that, um, to the point that I could live a pretty normal life for the next 10 to 15 years, but it made me very aware of what was going on in my body.

Um, so then in 2019, when I started having strange heart rhythms, shortness of breath, light headedness, I couldn’t finish a workout without, um, having to take a break. I talked to my doctor about it, ended up at a cardiologist, and sure enough, my mitral valve in my heart, um, was not functioning properly and needed to be replaced.

Um, it may have been damaged in that initial lupus flare, not sure, but, um, it’s a pretty good culprit. So, at 43 years old, I was scheduled for open heart surgery. Um, I chose to have my surgery in Spokane, Washington. Uh, for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is, uh, my sister in law, Michelle, lives in Spokane, and she’s a nurse, and I knew I’d be in really good hands for that critical recovery period, um, when I got out of the hospital.

So, surgery was, uh, February 26th of 2020. Um, everything went as planned. It was five days in the hospital and back to Michelle’s house, house for recovery. Um, about a week later, it was clear that, uh, things were not going the way they were supposed to, um, I couldn’t breathe, I was nauseous, I couldn’t walk to the garage to get in the car, um, and so I was taken back to the hospital by ambulance and it was discovered that I had, um, fluid that had built up around my heart and lungs, which can happen after open heart surgery.

And it needed to be removed, so I had a second surgery, pretty major, on March 10th of 2020. Now, when I awoke from this surgery, I had, um, two big tubes coming out of either side of my body. And these tubes would continue to drain fluid off of my torso, down into these two big jugs. And these two jugs sat next to my bed for the next 10 days.

They were my constant companions. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without them. I couldn’t go for a walk without them. I had to have help. And, you know, things went pretty much as they do in a hospital. Nurses coming and going, doctors coming and going, Michelle bringing me home cooked food because I was on the, like, heart special diet, and the hospital, um, hospital food’s not great to begin with, and the heart diet is, like, The bottom.

So I was like living on, um, those chocolate protein drinks they give you. I think it’s Ensure. It was like the only thing I could palate. Um, so the food from Michelle was really welcomed. Um, but About halfway through the stay, you know, it’s March 2020. It’s COVID, right? So everything starts shutting down.

The hospital shut down to visitors. No more Michelle. No more home cooked food. March Madness was shut down. There was no more Gonzaga on the TV. And, you know, I kind of shut down. The nurses still kept coming and going. And I thought of them as Michelle, right? It was like all these Michelles coming and going from the room, and they were fantastic, but there was more and more of a barrier between me and the nurses.

Um, they were covered in protective gear, and they spent less and less time in the room for safety of me and themselves.

So about halfway through this stay, um, in comes my nurse for the evening, and it’s this old white guy. And he’s not a Michelle. And he does everything different than all the other nurses, right? He does everything wrong, in my opinion. And, um, like, one example is he had his own blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, and he took my blood pressure, whereas every other nurse would just hook me up to the machine that was, like, next to the bed, push the button, write it down, or put it in the computer and, and move along.

And so at one point I called him out and I said, you know, you’re doing everything different than all the other nurses. Like, I really am in this delicate part of my recovery. I’d like things to be consistent, and he looked at me and he said, Well, they do it wrong. I do it right. I get accurate readings. And that was that.

And I was like, okay, there’s no arguing with this guy. I’m gonna let him do his thing and move along, right? You be you. He left, and I hoped he would never come back. And of course, the following night, in comes the old white dude. But I know what to expect this time, so he goes through his routine. And, um, I’m waiting for him to leave so I can get back to, like, Seinfeld reruns.

And he says, let’s go for a walk. Now, at this point in the hospital, I had two jobs. One was to eat, because, like I said, I’d lost my appetite completely, um, from the procedures and the medications. I had no appetite. I was nauseous a lot of the time. Um, so eating was really important, hence the protein drinks.

And to walk. Walking would help facilitate that fluid off of my body, um, and just start to bring back my strength. Um, I had, I was really weak by this point. So, I let him load the tanks, right, my constant companions, onto a cart. We get the IV stand, I’m in my hospital gown, and we go shuffling down the hall of the hospital.

And we shuffle back, and there’s no conversation. And, um, we get back to the room, and he’s getting the bed situated so that I can lay down again. And I’m stopped in front of the sink. And if you’ve been in a hospital room, you walk in and there’s always a sink and a mirror. And I’m looking in the mirror for the first time, like really looking in the mirror at myself.

I haven’t had a proper shower in well over three weeks, so my hair is matted and bed headed and greasy. I’ve lost a ton of weight. Like, I’m kind of scary skinny, and the other time that I was like that was with that initial lupus flare. I got really skinny, and it was really hard to come back from that.

And so I was a little terrified at what I saw in my face. And I’ve got bandages, and, and scars, and wires, and tubes, and shit from my neck to my pelvis. I mean, I’m covered in crap. And I’m looking at myself, and I just go. I’m so fucking ugly. And he hears me, and he says, Let’s get you into bed. So I get into bed, and I’m settling in with my pillows and such, and he goes, What was that about?

And I was like, I, this sucks. I feel like crap, you know? Like, it, it sucks. I’m ugly, and, and this is hard. I’ve been here, and I know what it takes, and it just fucking sucks. And he goes, You know what I see? And so this is when I look at his name tag. It’s Keith. Keith says, I see a really beautiful young woman who’s been through two huge procedures and is having a hard time, but is doing her best.

Tell me what’s going on. And I was like, it’s okay, I’m fine. You can go. I know it’s crazy out there, like, I know you have more patients on the floor that you need to check in with. I’m fine. You can go. And he goes, no, you’re my patient right now. I’m here for you. Tell me what’s going on. And he pulls up one of those, like, 500 pound chairs that’s in the hospital room, and plops down next to me, and just looks at me.

And with him looking at me like that, I mean, I cracked wide open. I just cracked open and started bawling. And I realized how much I’ve been holding. Like, here I’m the patient, but I’m, I’m trying to protect all of my caregivers. You know, they, they’re doing so much for me already, and the world is crazy with COVID, and, you know, I don’t want to worry my parents.

They’re in Utah, and they would love to be there with me. Um, I don’t want to worry my husband anymore, or my five year old daughter, who’s about to be, like, removed from school because of COVID, from kindergarten. I don’t want to worry Michelle, who’s doing her best to smuggle me smoothies through her friends in the hospital.

And I’m, you know, I’m, I’m I’m crying and I’m raging and we’re laughing at some point and, and I realized that he’s holding my hand and that that was good and okay. And I calmed down eventually and he says, is there anything else? I said, no, you know, I feel a lot better. Thank you, Keith. Thank you. He goes, ‘Cause I do actually have to go check in with all the other patients on this floor.

I was like, yeah, you should do that. Um, and he, you know, he proceeds to gather up his blood pressure cuff and his things and walk, he’s leaving. He goes, you know, I’m here all night. Like, call me if you need me. I, I will come right back. And I said, you know, I believe you. Thank you. And he leaves. And I don’t call him.

And I never saw him again. You know, but I’m just so damn grateful for Keith. And him taking that moment, here’s this guy that I judged so harshly to begin with, and yet he was exactly who I needed, um, to, to get through where I was. And I take it as a lesson to myself, um, you know, one, the judgment part, like, come on.

And also just like, in the world right now, the way we are, like, Let’s ask each other how we’re doing. Ask your family and friends what’s going on. And then, listen. Thank you.

Thanks, Mandy.
Mandy Northcott is a mom, wife, pet parent, and general outdoors loving 47-year-old woman.
She left the flatlands of Iowa for the mountains of Montana 25 years ago and hasn’t looked back.
Mandy has been a farmer, tree planter, grocery store clerk, stay at home mom, non-traditional student, and now works as a medical coder and biller.

She loves hot springs, African drumming, dog walks, deadheading flowers, gazing at trees, and the quiet time in the morning before everyone else is up.

Currently, you will find her on the weekends cold dipping in the Clark Fork River and Rattlesnake Creek with like-minded souls. You can learn more about Mandy at tellussomething.org.

Closing out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Katrina Angelina Shull shared her story about a community’s resilience that shines after an avalanche. Strangers become neighbors, uniting in kindness and hope for Missoula’s strength to endure hardships. Katrina calls her story “Extraordinary Neighbors”. Thanks for listening.

Katrina Angelona Shull: Some neighbors are absolutely fantastic creatures. Like neighbors that let you borrow their chainsaw when you’re cutting down a stump. Some neighbors are surly and try to kill your dog when it gets out and chases the deer. Some neighbors are absolutely fantastic. Like the neighbors that gathered around the avalanche that hit on February 28th of 2014.

Neighbors that might not have known each other gathered after a once in a lifetime event happened in Missoula. A snowboarder triggered an avalanche on Mount Jumbo and hit the rattlesnake area. This avalanche buried two young children and two older adults, husband and wife. They were buried for hours, and on that night, neighbors came together to help save these people’s lives.

They probed with the avalanche probes that they had handy because they knew at one point that they might need them and They were digging despite gas leaks despite the negative 20 degree weather They kept digging until all four people were found Michael Colville and Fred Fred Allendorf were buried under their own home for several hours a Young boy Was buried for, for about the same time.

Michael Colville, unfortunately passed away several days later due to her injuries. And I, as a filmmaker wanted to go and capture how many people had shown up just to help these people still after the aftermath, they kept showing up first. It was 50, then it was a hundred and people like Amy Cosio. We love you, Amy.

Tarn Reen, Morgan Nelson, they gathered together and got volunteers, they got EMTs, they got bulldozers, they got police officers. They just banded together and got this whole community wrapped around these people who had lost their homes. And when I showed up three days later, Michael Colville had already passed away.

And I didn’t know how to help other than what I know how to do, and that’s to hold a camera and do my job. And so I created a documentary on this. And I showed up with my camera, and when I got to that scene, I was flabbergasted. I sat there with my camera to my side and was stunned. I had shown up right before they had pulled a car under 50 feet of snow and a house was being dragged apart as this car was being towed out.

This house, Fred Allendorf’s and Michael Colville’s, was completely toppled over. There was rubble everywhere. The house was absolutely destroyed. And I sat there and I clicked into filmmaker mode. And I put that camera to my eye. And I started capturing what I saw. Now, when you’re a filmmaker, you are taught to not be involved.

You are taught to be a fly on the wall, you capture what you see, and you don’t say anything to anybody. But as soon as I saw people working, as soon as I saw people banding together, my heart kicked in, as I’m human. And I busted into human mode. And I stopped and I looked at a woman who was shoveling vigorously after this car had been toned out.

She’s trying to gather some of their belongings. And I just quickly asked, so why are you here? And she asked, I just, she answered, I just want to help. That’s all I want to do is I just want to help. And that was the continual answer I kept on getting. They weren’t there for anything other than to just help.

And I was flabbergasted by this. And as I’m gathering footage and I’m gathering Lots and lots of images of this just avalanche snow is not the fluffy snow snowflake snow. It is compact. It is dense. It is like cement and people are digging furiously with sometimes they were using part of the houses to dig.

Sometimes they were using actual shovels and then there was a bulldozer involved, which did a lot of the work, but I look over and I see this young man who’s furiously digging on his hands and knees with his hands. In cement, basically. And he is digging. And he is digging. And I, my heart just exploded.

And I busted out of filmmaker mode. And went into helper mode. I was his neighbor at that time. I became his neighbor. I didn’t know him, but I saw that he needed help. Of some sort. So without speaking to him, I put down my camera. Might have gotten water damage. That’s fine. I got on my hands and knees and I started digging with my hands.

Because I didn’t show up with a shovel. I showed up with a camera. And I looked to him, and he looked at me, and we just had a moment of silence. And then he finally said, I’m looking for my mother’s last quilt that she was working on. Michael’s last quilt. She was a quilter. She was an artist. And so, I quickly got into adrenaline mode and said, We need to find this quilt.

We absolutely need to find this quilt. So I’m taking parts of the house, he’s taking parts of the house, and we are digging furiously. We had a bulldozer come and help us dig through, and finally we saw two needles, a bottle of buttons, and we knew we were on the right path. And it seemed like hours, but it must have been only about 45 minutes.

We found, we got enough of the quilt to gather it away, and he was so thankful. When I stood up finally, he said, You need to go to the hospital and I said, No, I don’t need to go to hospital. I’m fine. Everything’s fine. I looked down and my leg is profusely bleeding. I had knelt down on some glass. I couldn’t feel it at the time.

I just wanted to help. And as his neighbor at the time, I felt like that was the most important thing to do. But I was quickly shuffled off and said, You need to go see one of our volunteer EMTs. And I was I was asked to go to the emergency room to get stitches and I said, no, no, no. And they said, no, there’s a piece of glass in your knee.

You need to get that removed and go get stitches. And I said, no, no, no. Let this be a reminder. Let this be a reminder of the kindness of Missoulians. Because I was born here and I absolutely love Missoula. It would be such a shame to ever have to leave here. But Missoulians, we come together. Even if you weren’t born here, you’re still a Missoulian.

You’re welcome here. We have this Generosity, this heart to just help when it’s needed. And it was so evident in that moment. And as I stood up, I said, Oh my gosh, I need to finish this documentary. And so I interviewed Kjeldikot Dockum, that’s um, Michael Colville’s son’s name. And he was able to give me the most beautiful interview, and we made a documentary called Amplify Kindness.

Don’t look it up, it’s the worst documentary I’ve ever seen. But, the heart was there. And it was amazing to just capture everybody together looking for a solution. And Amy Kosio was so crucial in this. Her kindness, she had a quote in the video. It said like, when somebody stands up and they see a need and they fill that need, it just creates this ripple.

And that’s why it’s called amplified kindness. And you could be such a force of good in this world. If you just stand up for what’s right and do what’s right in front of you that you see needs to be done. And that soul will be gratefully, greatly missed in Missoula. But we can embody that greatness in our, in ourselves and in our children and what we do and when we go out from here, we can be kind.

And I know it’s been hard these last three years, but let’s embody that kindness that I saw that avalanche. And you’ll hear another story tonight about the avalanche in a very different perspective. But for me, seeing people in the negative 20 degree weather coming together to help people they didn’t even know.

That kind of neighbor is what belongs here in Missoula, Montana. Anywhere in the world, if we could take this, I would absolutely love to see this kindness be spread. But for me, as a filmmaker, I felt that that story needed to be told. And the biggest part of the story was how Fred, he moved on with his life, he has another, he has another life, he said, he quoted it and he said it’s like an addition, like a house has an addition, that house is now gone, it’s now rubble, but they built a new house in the spot where it used to stand, and he has a new life as an addition, and he says that the kindness of those people that helped him through that time was absolutely phenomenal, and I just hope that We can show that kind of kindness.

It can come in small little brilliant packages like Amy Cosio, or it can come in forms of 500 volunteers showing up to help neighbors dig out of a snow bank. But I feel like in any form, kindness is possible if we just try. Thank you.

Thanks, Katrina. Katrina Angelina Shull is a born and raised Missoulian who initiated Amplify Film Group in 2009 after studying at the University of Montana. She later worked as a news reporter for KTMF ABC|FOX, focusing on crafting impactful narratives in positive media. Katrina embraces projects with enthusiasm and enjoys aviation, hiking, fishing, and Jiu-Jitsu outside of work. Katrina is committed to visual storytelling, extending her efforts to creative copywriting, and has initiated Be the Light International, supporting communities in need through her team’s work. You can learn more about Katrina and her work at tellussomething.com.

Remember that the next Tell Us Something event is March 266th. You can learn about how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellussomething.org.

Tune in next week to hear the concluding stories from the The Kindness of Strangers live storytelling event, “I immediately get off of the exam table, and I get to the ground.” “Sometimes, a small act of kindness and compassion, as simple as buying a stranger a sandwich, can change someone’s life, and maybe even their death.” “Never forget. On 9/11, we leaned into each other, recognizing our shared humanity.” “Death. It’s final, it’s in your face, it’s unforgiving.”

Listen for those stories at tellussomething.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

This week on the podcast four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Lost in Translation”. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28, 2023, at The George & Jane Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : Lost in Translation - Part 2

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast. I’m Mark Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us something storytelling event. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is October 29th. I look forward to hearing from you. Tickets for the December 6th live Tell Us Something event are on sale now. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. We are excited to be partnering with Spark Arts to provide on site child care for humans with kiddos. There are a limited number of slots available for this service.

Three teaching artists will provide engaging art based learning activities at the Wilma while you enjoy storytelling for the evening. To learn more and to get tickets, go to tellusomething. org. Thank you to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Blackfoot Communications connects people, businesses, and communities.

[00:01:00] They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses. Connecting homes. Connecting communities. Connecting. Blackfoot Communications allows its users to utilize the latest technology in voice, broadband, network, and managed services. They keep people reliably connected. Blackfoot serves homes in western Montana and eastern Idaho as well as businesses of all sizes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

goblackfoot. com This week on the podcast La

[00:01:34] Ben Catton: abuela will come out and startle me. It’s like is she suspicious of me? What’s going on?

[00:01:39] Ren Parker: I asked him what he’s doing on the train and He says oh, yeah, I take this train and I go over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things I shouldn’t have in Thailand and then I get back on the train and Bring it back to Thailand

[00:01:53] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it But if any of you know in [00:02:00] the 80s A lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue with

[00:02:05] Linda Grinde: the girl in the next bed, says to me, said, you don’t see, I realized she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow.

[00:02:18] Marc Moss: For storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme lost in translation. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023. At the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Telesomething acknowledges that we are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples.

We honor their resilience and strength in the face of colonization and displacement. We recognize that the land upon which we stand is sacred to them and we are committed to working towards a more just and equitable future for all. We take this moment to honor the land and its native people and the stories they [00:03:00] share with us.

Our first storyteller is Ben Ken. As a tall man in Chile, he tries to connect with a deaf grandmother. And that culminates around a parakeet cage. Ben calls his story, Parakeetos.

Thanks for listening.

[00:03:17] Ben Catton: Hey! I’m in Santiago, Chile, having a terremoto. A terremoto is pineapple sorbet and white wine with some liquor drizzled on top of it.

Berries, depending on where you order one. And it’s as unfamiliar and, uh, interesting and as intoxicating as the rest of the three weeks that I’ve spent here so far. And I’m with my friend Paul, who I just met in the preceding semester here at the University of Montana, in some classes trying to prepare ourselves for this semester abroad experience.

And we’re checking in on, you know, how’s everything going and, uh, comparing notes on the incredible culture shock that we’re going through. [00:04:00] I’m mostly enjoying and laughing to ourselves about all the weirdnesses that we’re experiencing. We’re coming from Missoula, Montana. I guess you call us a city. Here in Montana we definitely are.

But now we’re in Santiago, Chile where there’s 5 million people. It’s a sprawling metropolitan area. I’m getting on a metro in the morning to commute to school, riding these buses. We’re sitting currently on this uh, kind of sidewalk patio. In t shirts and shorts, though it’s January, we’ve just come from 20 degree weather in Missoula, and we’re sweating while we’re enjoying our pineapple sorbet covered in alcohol.

And we’re just enjoying how bizarre everything is. We’re checking in on, uh, we’re comparing notes on the, the way that we stand out here now. I’m, I’m tall, but I’m kind of average tall here in the U. S. But in Chile I’m all of a sudden like basketball star tall. And so I get on the metro in the morning and everybody is packed.

You know, elbow to elbow, and uh, I [00:05:00] don’t feel that claustrophobic because I have all this head room. And I can look over the tops of everybody’s, you know, I just see a sea of hair instead of looking at everybody’s faces. Face to face. And we’re cracking up because the dogs are a real change. Um, Chile’s in this moment of policy.

Chaos about, uh, feral dogs in the city. We’re seeing this on the news and, um, if you take a walk during the quiet hours when there aren’t many pedestrians out, you can pick up a dog on, a dog on just about every block and by the time you reach your destination you have this pack that’s coming with you.

And everything’s gated, wrought iron gates to get into your apartment or to get into the university, so you kind of like, scrape your dogs off as you, as you get to where you’re going. And, and they must just disperse and go back to their block so that you can pick one up again everywhere you go. So this is cracking us up and, uh, the noise of everything as well.

Paul jokes to me while we’re having our terremotos that you could [00:06:00] fart anywhere in the city because it’s so loud and so chaotic and smelly all the time, nobody would ever know. So that’s bizarre and the overnight sounds. Um, it seems that every single car in Chile has a car alarm. A lot of them that you wouldn’t think would necessitate an alarm.

And they’re like aftermarket car alarms and they’re very sensitive. So these dogs that are roaming everywhere are setting off car alarms. And there’s sounds all the time throughout the night. On top of that, I’m telling him I have two parakeets that live. right outside of my window on, on the porch of the apartment and the host family I’m staying with.

And, uh, and by the time that the other noises of the city are kind of coming back on board overnight and traffic noise, et cetera, is kind of drowning out the dog noise and the car alarm noise, the, that’s also when the parakeets are, are starting to come to life too. So we’re asking each other about our host family situations and [00:07:00] Paul knows that.

When I was placed in my host family, um, one of my favorite human beings, a man that, that set this trip up for us through University of Montana, a professor here for a long time, Clary Loisel, who’s awesome, um, he came to me with this kind of coy smile after he’d gotten Um, correspondence through the university about who I’d been placed with and he told me, Ven a mi, vas a vivir con tres mujeres soteras.

You’re going to live with three single women. And then, then he laughed and said, Oh, it’s two sisters in their 40s and their mother who’s in her 70s. They have a couple of dogs, some parakeets, sounds very nice. Uh, and it really was. But I was also experiencing this moment of, um, a little bit of, uh, apprehension there, as explained to Paul, that I’m having a hard time communicating, especially with the mom.

The two sisters names are Gloria and Pilar. And the mother, uh, who I call the grandmother, la abuela, I still haven’t gotten [00:08:00] her name, I’m three weeks in, because I keep just completely, uh, struggling to communicate with her. And I’m embarrassed at this point to ask the daughters, uh, or her. So, it’s an epitome of just, you know, how our communication is going at this point.

And this is a little bit of culture shock as well. I’m living in this, uh, family that is, that is very different from what I’ve been up to for the last five, six years. Uh, I’m a mid twenties person going to college and on this study abroad now. And, uh, so, I’m telling him, yeah, it’s like, I, I try to ask her something, or she tries to ask me something, and we just, we never seem to be clicking.

This is stressing me out because we’re in January, which means it’s summertime in Chile. And we are in all day, eight hour intensive classes of Spanish, um, before the, what is their fall semester is going to begin. And I’m going to be in buried and more difficult classes, um, very soon. So the at home [00:09:00] element is also part of my training, part of my practice, and I feel like I’m kind of failing and flailing.

Um, so, yeah, I’m telling him, yeah, I’ll come home, announce myself, hola, buenas tardes, and, uh, Gloria and Pilar might be at work still, and, uh, I’ll go sit in the living room and then la abuela will come out and startle me. And it’s like, is she suspicious of me? What’s going on? Uh, distrustful? So… I have this great conversation, finish our terremotos, and, and say our goodbyes, get on the metro, ride home, tall, and uh, and uh, sure enough, I go into our 7th floor apartment building, we’re in a building that’s taller than anything we have in Missoula, it’s where we live.

And, uh, hola, buenas tardes, nobody answers, I walk into the kitchen and I almost like run right into la abuela. Hola! And we’re catching up with each other and, um, asking how her day was. And pretty quickly she’s asking me about the parakeets on the porch and do they bother me? Do they [00:10:00] sing too much? Um, do I like their sound?

I’m like, yeah, yeah, parakeets are great. But she doesn’t seem to get my assurance and next thing I know I’m kind of following her out towards the porch. And, uh, we go out there and as we’re going she’s telling me, Están enamorados, están casados, van a ser una familia. She’s really in love with these parakeets.

They’re in love with each other, they’re married, they’re going to have a family. And, uh, we get out. On the porch, there’s the parakeet cage that hangs from the ceiling, and, uh, she’s very short, like nipple high, and so right away we can see the blue parakeet, there’s a blue one and a green one. The blue one is sitting outside of its little house on a perch.

And, um, and it’s chattin away, and so she’s talkin to it right away, makin little kissing sounds, and, and, uh, she says, Dónde está tu amante? Dónde está el verde? Where’s your lover? Where’s the green [00:11:00] one? And, I’m kinda right behind her, and being tall, I can see the entirety of the cage, including the The plastic tray on the bottom that catches the droppings and the seeds and the green one is dead on the bottom.

So I’m standing behind her and I’m trying to gently call her attention to it. I’m like, Oh, he’s on

the bottom. I think he’s dead. It’s like, she’s ignoring me and I’m getting uncomfortable. Like. Am I being framed here?

Is

she thinking I did this to the parakeets? Uh, so finally she’s like up on her tiptoes a little bit and sees it and she just explodes. Dios mio! Esta muerto! Wailing runs inside and I’m feeling horrid.

Uh, but I’m also a little relieved because the intensity [00:12:00] of your reaction makes me think that this isn’t a frame, this isn’t a setup. So, gracias adios, thank god, Gloria, her daughter, arrives home pretty much in this moment and tranquila mama, she calms her down and kind of gets information from us and And I’m trying to explain, uh, you know, I was trying to draw her attention to it.

It’s like, it’s like she just never understands a thing I’m saying. Does she, uh, it’s not my fault. Gloria tells me, Benha, yo te dije muchas veces, ella es sorda. Ben. I’ve told you lots of times, she’s deaf.

It’s this lightbulb for me. I finally understand what she’s telling me right now, because I guess she’s told me this lots of times, but, uh, but I also feel really good in this moment. I get it. I understand what you just told me. I guess I am [00:13:00] making progress. So as bad as I feel for the parakeet, I’m having a hard time not smiling and, uh, grateful for the epiphany.

I think maybe I will survive my classes. .

[00:13:14] Marc Moss: Thanks

Ben. Ben is Missoula, born and raised, but spent the majority of his adult life elsewhere orbiting to Wyoming, Idaho, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Chile. In the midst of those orbits, he studied at the University of Montana to become a teacher, and he has taught high school English in Spanish. Currently he’s pursuing a master’s degree in public administration and is back at the University of Montana.

He and his wife, Jessie, are doing their best to raise two kiddos to be silly, adventurous, kind, and curious. Next up is Wren Parker, who loves slow travel. She prefers buses and trains and one day finds herself in a train to Cambodia, whose tracks end. Just across the border, friend calls her [00:14:00] story, slow travel.

Thanks for listening.

[00:14:10] Ren Parker: It is my last night in Bangkok. All the lights from the city and the exhaust from the scooters and the tick, uh, the tuk tuks is intense. It’s overwhelming my senses. I spent this last month in Northern Thailand in and out of temple stays studying. Meditation and this city was too much for my heartbeat as I’m walking, I go by an open window through it.

I see a woman in a beautiful art deco dress. She’s singing blue moon. And for a moment, I find stillness in the chaos. You see, I have spent the last year preparing for this trip. I taught myself how to code. I sold my food truck [00:15:00] and moved to San Francisco. I participated in hackathons and think tanks until I mastered the technology I thought was going to save the world.

And I got a job doing that, sold everything except for what could fit in my 40 liter backpack. And I just went to Southeast Asia. I had it all planned out that I was going to do it over land. I love slow travel. It gives me a moment to see moments between people that you know. You normally wouldn’t see if you go too fast, a mother braiding her daughter’s hair, farmers tending to their crops, laughter between friends from a hidden joke.

These are the moments that make me feel like I truly connected with the places that I visit. The next day I go to the train station, I’m getting my second train of the leg of my trip. The first leg I [00:16:00] started from Chiang Mai, Thailand, took a train I’m going to Bangkok where I was presently in Chinatown.

And this next one I was going to take from Bangkok over to the border of Cambodia. Now I had this plan all planned out. I was going to go to the border of Cambodia, cross it. And then I was going to get another train or maybe an overnight bus, whatever they had. And I was going to go to Simri, the home of Angkor Wat.

And that would be where I’d be for the next month. I make it to the train station. It’s old. It’s dark green. And I go up. To the ticket counter and get my ticket. There seems to be some confusion about the train I want. And I’m like, no, this is the one. And person looks at me, hands it and it’s unsure. And I go and I find my train it’s old and red peeling paint.

It has these giant windows on the side with no glass. So it’s just like an open air train. And when I go in, there are goats and [00:17:00] chickens. And I am the only foreigner. And I’m like, alright, this is the adventure I wanted, excellent. So I go and I find a little bench and curl up and put my chin on the windowless, um, area and, uh, it starts going and you hear this loud screech from the train.

And we’re off Now as we get going, I’m so amazed because there’s an entire city on the side of the train tracks. It’s like a city within a city. There are gambling halls and restaurants all built from tarps and things like that, and they’re just inches away from my face. So as we wa we weave out of this city, there’s this kaleidoscope of human experience that I, it just absorbs me and I’m, I’m just fascinated by it.

Pretty soon, maybe like an hour or two, we’re out of the city, and it becomes very regular. There’s a, uh, we’re going through the [00:18:00] countryside, and we’re stopping at little, little stops. People are taking their goats out, bringing other things in. There’s chickens, there’s all kinds of stuff. It’s really neat.

And, um, I’m also starting to notice there’s this air in there where, like, if I leave my bag, it will not be there in about two seconds. So I’m like, got it on my thing. But, um, pretty soon, I look up, and… There is this very large man that is walking through. I noticed him right away because he’s so tall and he looks down at me and he has this huge smile and sits right in front of me and he asked me if I would practice, uh, his English with him.

And I said, yes, of course, something to do, you know? So he pulls out this composition book and it’s old. It’s like the one you’d have in fifth grade. It’s very worn. He opens it up and there’s all this writing in it from different travelers. And so we sit down and we practice his sentences and his words.

Things like, where’s the train station? How much for this item? When we get to the end of it, I decide to give him some words [00:19:00] to, you know, add some more texture to his vocabulary. Things like creativity, friendship, joy. And then after we just start conversing and practicing in open forum and I asked him what he’s doing on the train and, uh, he says, Oh yeah, I take this train and I go, um, over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things.

I shouldn’t have in Thailand. And then I get back on the train and bring it back to Thailand. A lot of people here are doing that, and I’m like, oh, I’m on a smuggler train. . Good thing I made friends with one. And I’m like, oh. And he goes, well, what are you doing? And I’m like, oh yeah, I’m just, you know, I’m gonna go to Sim Reap for a while.

I’m gonna go there, get on another train and maybe, or maybe a bus. And, and he looks at me and he goes, the train track stopped before the border there. There’s no. And I’m like, Oh, well, overnight bus. He’s like, there’s none of those either. So I realized that I am stuck going to be [00:20:00] stuck at the border. And right about that time, I look out this, this train tracks, they’re screeching again.

We’re stopping. And I look and the train tracks just stopped just like he said. And I see this crowd of people coming up and they all want something from somebody and there’s yelling and it’s just chaos. And I just realized like, I am in definite danger. I definitely got myself. With my romanticized white girl ideas of like, what things are, you know, really naive.

So, I must have had the panicked look. And Nom, which was the man’s name, looks over at me and he says, You helped me, now I help you. And just like that, he scoops me up and starts walking on the train. And he’s so tall, my feet aren’t touching the ground. And I just cling to him like a little baby primate, like, Please, God, yes, help me.

And he just… He walks out, and as all the people come, he’s all pshh, pshh, pshh, just like partying the way, just slapping them out of the way. And I’m [00:21:00] just like, press my face into his chest, and I’m just like, okay, here we go. And before I know it, he’s tossing me into a tuk tuk, and I feel myself land on somebody.

And I look down, and it’s Grandma. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. And he’s like, sit back down, there’s no room unless you’re on Grandma’s lap. And I was like, okay. So, we get to the border. We jump out, and I’m like, sorry grandma, and uh, there’s a big glass building, one side says customs, the other side has some tie riding, and we both, we enter, I enter the customs, he enters that, and we look at each other through the glass, and I give him a very deep bow, that’s usually reserved just for monks, because he saved me, and that was the last time I saw him, he gave me a big smile and walked away, and I got through customs, and um, I was in a very, uh, And I was like, well, I better get some food because I don’t know what’s going to happen and I should eat.

[00:22:00] Maybe my last meal. And, uh, so I find a Thai restaurant and I’m just missing Thailand and I order my favorite Thai dish which has got like some, um, chicken and basil on rice with an egg on top. And, um, I’m eating and I look over and I see the cutest little girl. And she’s got this gingham dress to her knees and these little, these little pigtails and a shy smile.

And, uh, I start playing with her, you know, peek a boo, and the watchful eyes of her mother look down. She looks happy that I’m playing with her daughter. So soon I’m, like, hanging out, and I go to the mom, and I’m like, Taxi, some reap? And she looks at me like, Girl, what? And then she holds her finger out to say, like, One moment, please.

And she walks to the phone. It’s one of those old phones, you know, that you had to, like, move to the numbers. And pretty soon she’s, like, having an argument. And then she looks. It’s really like, ah, hangs it up and grabs one of the other waitresses who spoke better English. And she said, her [00:23:00] brother was going to take me.

He’s delivering rugs to some rape. And I thought, Oh, thank you so much. So in a little bit, a very grumpy brother shows up like, I cannot believe that you’re throwing this at me, you know, and, uh, I go over in there, uh, into the van and the back is all full of. these rugs and I crawl up on top of the rugs and they’re scratchy and smell like goats and must from the, wherever they have been stored, but I was safe and I felt so happy about that.

And right as I curl up, um, to fall asleep before going to SIM rape, the last thing that crosses my mind is I love slow travel. Thank you.

[00:23:57] Marc Moss: Ren Parker grew up in Hawaii and lived on [00:24:00] sailboats she restored on the Pacific for seven years. She gave up her nomadic ways and moved back to Missoula three years ago to be close to family and has been growing roots here ever since. Ren loves to dance and hike with her faithful dog, Poet, and she spends time with her remarkable Missoula friends.

She found her passion for storytelling in the winter of 2022 in a weekly open mic. Coming up after the break.

[00:24:25] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it. But if any of you know, in the 80s, a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue.

[00:24:37] Linda Grinde: And the girl in the next bed says to me, C’est du dansin! I realize she’s asking me if I want to go dancing. Wow.

[00:24:49] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th. You can learn how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellusomething. org. Thanks again to our title [00:25:00] sponsor, Blackfoot communications, helping us with the heavy lifting of the expense of producing our evening.

Thanks to our stewardship sponsor, Jana Lundquist consulting, helping us to provide free tickets to populations. That might otherwise be unable to attend tell us something events. Thank you to our story sponsor parkside credit union helping us to pay our storytellers Thank you to our accessibility sponsors the kettle house allowing us to hire american sign language interpreters at the events In order to be a more inclusive experience and thanks to our artist sponsor crowley fleck attorneys pllp You are listening to the tell us something podcast I’m your host, Mark Moss.

Our stories in this episode are recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023 at the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Next up is Abe Kurian, who shares his story of woe in which his Indian father mistakenly puts sugar daddy on the back of his van, thinking it means.

One who gives candy to loved ones, Abe calls his story, [00:26:00] Middle East meets the Midwest. Thanks for listening.

[00:26:08] Abe Kurien: An hour south of Chicago, a little town called Bourbonus, Illinois. Now the representatives there, they wanted to vote it and go back to the French pronunciation because of the spelling, to Bourbonay. I’m not French, I grew up there as a kid, I still call it Bourbonus. Now. Bobonis has a university called Olivet Nazarene University, and that is a private Christian conservative school.

And it is The community of Bourbon is kind of just like the University of Montana. Everybody in the community kind of gathers around that university. Well, that is, uh, where my parents met. My mom, she’s from Superior, Montana. Now, that is about an hour west of here. [00:27:00] Small community, and, uh, my mom grew up in the northwest, graduated from Superior High School, and because her brother lived outside of Chicago, he introduced her to Olivet.

Now my dad. He’s from India. And so he comes over, he was encouraged to come over, and by some of the friends that he had in India that were already here in the States. My dad was a proud man, still alive today, and I will get to that, but he was a proud man with a few dollars, a couple suitcases, and he makes his trip to Burbonas, Illinois to go to Olivet.

Now my parents met there, and… And, you know, going back through this, my dad comes here and he ends up getting his bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in counseling from another university outside of Chicago, and in that community of Burbonas, he became very well known. And actually, [00:28:00] if you know me and how outgoing I am, I have to thank my dad for that.

But he was known with organizations. He was in very, various clubs and also very known, um, as being a very Christian man. Now, my dad was also very proud with the work that he did in providing for his kids. Myself, I’m the oldest of five. I have three sisters and a brother that are younger than me. And one thing that my dad wanted to do was always take us on a summer vacation or a vacation somewhere.

And just like the Griswolds and that station wagon, we’re gonna go to the 70s. The 70s… Everybody traveled in a station wagon. And so, we would load up the station wagon, head out to my grandma’s house in Superior, Montana, making little stops along the way. And you gotta remember, my dad, you know, he’s [00:29:00] seeing new sights as he’s leaving the Midwest and coming out towards here to meet and see the…

the west. And so we go, and one of our favorite stops, and if any of you know this, the home of the Corn Palace is in Mitchell, South Dakota. Oh, yeah, we got it. There we go. So now the Mitchell, South Dakota Corn Palace, if you don’t know what it is, they have these murals that are up on the walls and of the exterior of the building that are made from the agriculture from the South Dakota area and surrounding areas with corn, wheat, beans, all that kind of stuff.

But, you know, us kids, we anticipated what the theme was going to be that summer, was we come around the corner. Another great thing about the Mitchell South Dakota Corn Palace is they had a huge gift shop. And if you’re a kid, and you’re traveling, you want what’s in those gift shops. And you know, most of the stuff in there was probably made in India.

So now, we end up continuing our trip to [00:30:00] Superior, Montana to see my grandma. But now, we’re going to move on to the 80s. And in the 80s, we ended up, my dad worked even harder, us kids were growing, and the station wagon wasn’t going to cut it anymore. So we ended up with the conversion van. Now if you know what the conver does everybody know what a conversion van is?

If you don’t, let me describe it. It is slicked out. It is… Silver gray, blue pinstripes, captain chairs, so you know, now that we’re older and, you know, outgrown, the station wagon, but the back seat was a, it turned into a bed. It was pretty sweet. And then, the best thing about the conversion van was it had cable, or not cable hookup because it wasn’t But it had a hookup for TV.

So we had a TV that we would take along, but if you were [00:31:00] stopped, you could get those three channels with the rabbit ears. Otherwise, in the 80s, it was snow and static. So we took this same trip and came out and did our thing in the 80s. Well, in the 90s, we grew up as kids and kind of left the house and, but my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it.

But if any of you know, in the 80s, a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue with like GMC and Chevrolet and so the van started to get peely and blistery and paint was, you know, coming off in chunks and it just looked bad. And my dad was like… You know, well one, I called to check in on him, I didn’t live anywhere near the, the house at that time.

I call him up and I said, hey dad, I said, uh, you know, one thing I didn’t explain about my dad, let me actually back up and I apologize for this. But my dad, [00:32:00] his character, has anybody seen The Simpsons? So I didn’t explain this, my dad being from India. is a spitting image of a poo. And I apologize I didn’t bring this up earlier.

I just kind of, I got lost in that translation. So, but here’s, had pun intended. So what ended up happening was my dad That would sound like, would you like to buy a soda pop in a candy bar? Thank you. Come again. And that was my dad’s accent with a poo. But now the best thing about it, he’s in his 80s now and he is a mix of a poo and if you know the boxing promoter, sorry about the pops, the boxing promoter.

Don King. My dad has gray hair that stands up like this. And Don King was outlandish and a little bit of a character, but my dad had his hair. But the look and sound of a poo. And [00:33:00] so, when I called my dad and said, Hey dad, you know, hey, how things going? He’s like, you know, I would like to, uh, With his little accent, he goes, I would like to get the van painted.

The van, it’s all not looking good. And he goes, I think I would like to have that done. And I said, that sounds great, dad. And he goes, you know, in the back of the van, there’s a, there’s a wheel well with a tire cover. And he goes, I would like to put a saying on there, like number one dad or something like that.

Now my motto is keep smiling. So that’s what I would have. And if you guys see jeeps out here in the Northwest, they all have sayings on them. Like, you know, if I’m upside down, we’re having a good time. So, um, I told my dad, you know, dad, I think a great name to put on the back is

I mean, come on. How would that not be perfect? With a conversion van, with a couch that turns into a bed. So, you know, I just laughed it off. I’m thinking that in the back of my head. That’s where [00:34:00] my mind went. And he says, you know son, that sounds like an idea, but we’ll think. So he goes on, and uh, I don’t think anything of it, and uh, I end up visiting, sorry, I end up visiting him about a year later.

About four or five months later, and he comes out and he says, you know son, come see the Vaughn. Come see the Vaughn. I got it repainted. It’s beautiful. So we’re looking at the Vaughn, and the van, because I say van, he says Vaughn. But uh, we come around the back of the van, and I said, hey dad, what happened to your tire cover?

And he goes, you know son, you could, you break your daddy’s heart. You break your daddy’s heart. Basically worked very hard, and I put money into this van, and you tell me to put sugar daddy on the back of this van, and I was actually biting my tongue to not laugh, hysterically. But what [00:35:00] ends up happening is, I said, well, what did you think it was, dad?

And he said, you know, I thought it was a daddy that gave out candy. That makes it even better with the whole van. But, so, you know, I look at it and go, The sugar daddy story, and my dad, I, with all the stuff that he’s done, I’m proud of him, and he worked hard to give us a whole lot of stuff, and I apologize for having him go through that whole thing with the, the repainting of the back of the van.

My biggest regret, is that I never saw him cruising around town in burbonis in a sugar daddy van. I’d like to, uh, thank my beautiful wife, who is the interpreter tonight. And thank you, and keep smiling.

[00:35:55] Marc Moss: Thanks, Abe. Abe Kurian is married to his best friend, Bonnie Kurian, [00:36:00] who was the American Sign Language interpreter when Abe performed his story. They have four children and two grandchildren. He has lived in Montana for the last 24 years. After moving here from outside of Chicago, Illinois, Abe has worked for over 30 years in the film and television industry.

For over 10 years, he has been the camera operator for Grizz and Cat’s football games for the broadcasts on Root Sports, K Pax with Scripps Sports, and the playoffs on ESPN. He also worked on the TV shows 1883, 1923, and currently working as the dailies coordinator for the show Yellowstone, which is shot right here in Missoula, Montana.

His motto is, Keep smiling and his goal is to leave everyone with a smile on their face after meeting them. Closing out this episode of the podcast, Linda Grindy shares her story about a time she was lost in translation. Invited to a disco by French speakers, she ends up breaking into her own hostel to get back in.

Linda calls her story Dancer in a Strange Land or Disco Damsel in [00:37:00] Distress. Thanks for listening.

[00:37:03] Linda Grinde: The boom from the disco floor was so loud that I had to stand up so that the table full of people would even know that I was speaking. C’est très important de, j’ai, j’ai fait partie maintenant. Nothing I tried again.

Um,

I need your help. Still nothing. It was three o’clock in the morning. I’m somewhere in the south of France at a disco with a group of strangers and nobody speaks English. And I have ten kids sleeping in a, in a hostel. An hour or more away, thinking that I’m there and [00:38:00] I’m going to get up in the morning and take them on a 50 mile bike ride in the heat of August in the south of France during high tourist season.

I need to sleep. I want to sleep. Um, je voudrais coucher ce soir. Yeah, that sets off a lot of rapid fire French all around. Punctuated by the occasional English phrase, um, I love you, my darling. Do you want to sleep with me tonight? To be fair, you know, if I was back in the States and there was one French person, I’m sure you would hear, Voulez vous coucher avec moi?

But I’m really stuck. Rewind. Ten hours. I’m 21 years old. I’m leading a bicycle trip through Europe. Scandinavia, Southern [00:39:00] France. For the American Youth Hostels. I have 10, 15 year old kids from Manhattan that I am the guide for. The only adult. We have been already six weeks. on the trail. We’ve cycled over the fjords of Norway.

We have cycled through the farmland of Denmark and, and, and Sweden. And just this morning, we got on a plane in Copenhagen and flew to Milan, got on a train and came to the south of France to Antibes, Cat Antibes, one of the biggest tourist towns on the French Riviera. We’ve bicycled up from the train station, and as we come to the hostel that we’re going to be staying in tonight, I realize it’s a chateau.

To me, it looks like a castle. It’s got [00:40:00] round towers and turrets and arched windows that look out over the Mediterranean Sea, which is right across the street. As we push our bicycles into the courtyard, all cobblestone, we go past these eight foot iron gates with spikes on top. The only thing that’s missing is the moat.

Well, I get the kids settled in their dormitories, they’re tired, and I find my room, which is on the second floor, up a stairway into one of those round rooms, there are five beds, and I, I barely slip my saddlebacks off my shoulder when the girl in the next bed says to me, Fais tu danser? I realize she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow, I have spent the last six weeks with kids. It would be fun to have some adult time. They’re all settled. Why [00:41:00] not? Oui! I say oui! I reach my hand down to the bottom of my saddle bag and pull out the only dress I brought and slip on some sandals and follow her downstairs. So the first surprise… Is that there were two cars waiting outside, packed with her friends.

We’re not just walking into town for a couple of hours, we’re going somewhere. I climb inside, and after a Very brief conversation about who I am, uh, American, and then I’m on a velo, I’m riding, I’ve exhausted my, my vocabulary. And they pretty much ignore me. And we’re driving further and further away from town and into the countryside, and it’s getting darker.

Finally, we pull into a parking lot and up to a building that is like, Like a [00:42:00] birthday cake, each floor a different color, and it’s pulsing with the sound of disco music, this is the 70s. We enter this amazing structure and start by dancing on the first floor, we have a few drinks, it really is fun. And then move to the second floor, and different tone, and different feeling, and I’m starting to look at my watch because it’s getting close to 10 o’clock, and the rules of a youth hostel is that they close and lock those doors at 10 o’clock.

And I’m looking over at the girl I came with, and she doesn’t seem to be concerned, so I figure, well, I guess we’re gonna break in together. But I do start drinking water. We go to the next floor and continue this rising up through all levels. And now it’s [00:43:00] getting on close to midnight and I really am tired.

I’m ready to go and I, but I figure I, I’m in for the trip. So I have to wait till the bars close at two. And then two o’clock comes, and passes by, and things aren’t slowing down, they’re actually revving up. And that, that girl I came with, she is nowhere to be seen. And suddenly I start to, I start to panic.

I, I don’t even know how to use a French phone, or how to call a taxi, or where I am, or what the name of that hostel was, or, oh, I only have a few francs and a lot of American traveler’s checks, so that’s not going to work. Um, and then I, and then I think, oh my god, what happens if my kids wake up at six o’clock?

I’m not there. They don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I am. [00:44:00] There’s no way to get in touch with anybody. There are no international phones at the time. Or there might be at a post office in some town. There’s no, there’s nothing they can do. I’m I’m freaking out. So, let’s go back to that table. I’m standing there and I’m getting a little crazy.

I keep saying, I have to go, I have to go, in whatever method I can. And finally, a tall, sandy haired guy steps forward. Let’s call him Francois. He wiggles his keys. I think he must have drawn the short straw. Because I had become what you would call a real pain in the derriere. They just wanted to get rid of me.

Relief is tinged by a little unease as we head into the dark parking lot towards his car. I’m following a stranger out into the [00:45:00] darkness and… What else can I do? He’s my only hope. We get to the car, and he walks around to the passenger side and opens it for me, but then pushes me against the door and tries to kiss me.

I push him off. I’m having none of that. He just shrugs and climbs in the car. We have a very long, quiet ride. But we get there, I see the Mediterranean, and that castle, and I’m back. He stops, I jump out, Merci! Close the door, and he speeds off. And then I’m facing the fortress. That big gate now is locked with a big padlock.

And I have to get past it. But I realize that The gate is connected into [00:46:00] these large boulders, and, and they look like they’ve got a good grip, so I managed to get up the boulders and then carefully step over those spikes on the top and hang down and drop into the courtyard, and I figure, okay, I’m in, I can sleep on a bench, I guess, till morning, but I don’t know.

I don’t know. I noticed that there’s a window that’s slightly ajar on the hallway that goes up to my room and there’s a ledge and there’s a vine. I think I can do this. It must be adrenaline that’s driving me. I slip my sandals onto my wrist and climb up the vine and then inch my way along to the window and thank God it opens easily and I slip in and get into my bed.

And I get two solid hours of sleep. Six o’clock in the morning comes fast and I hear the bell of the breakfast ring and I splash my face with water and as I [00:47:00] gather my stuff I realize that girl never slept in that bed. She never made it back. Well, I did the 50 mile ride, got my kids safely to the next campground, they never knew what happened, I’ve never even told this story.

But I have to tell you, in recounting it, I started thinking about that guy, Francois. So many things could have gone wrong. He was drunk, we could have crashed, he could have left me in the parking lot, he could have taken me anywhere. But he didn’t. He left his friends. He left that party. He drove this crazy American off into the night.

He did the right thing. After all these years, I’d just like to say, Merci beaucoup, François.[00:48:00]

[00:48:05] Marc Moss: Thanks, Linda. Linda Grinde keeps trying to reinvent herself, but just keeps coming back to another version of theater. She recently appeared in a multimedia memory piece, Intangible Objects, at the Westside Theater in Missoula, Montana. Originally from New Jersey. She has a master’s degree in theater and has danced professionally in New York and Germany, acted in and directed plays in London, Seattle, Dallas, Hawaii, and all around Montana.

Linda will be traveling to Thailand next year to you guessed it. Teach theater.

Thanks for listening to the tell us something podcast. And thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events. net, Montana public radio, and Missoula broadcasting company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh 3. 3 check FM and Missoula source for modern hits. You want a 4. 5 thanks to float Missoula.

Learn more [00:49:00] at float msla. com and Joyce of tile. Learn more about Joyce at Joyce of tile. com. Remember that the next tell us something event. is December 6th. You can learn about how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellussomething. org.[00:50:00]

Listen for those stories at tellussomething. org or wherever you get your podcasts.

This week on the podcast four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Lost in Translation”. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28, 2023, at The George & Jane Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : Lost in Translation - Part 1

[00:00:00] 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 The Kindness of Strangers. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is October 29th. I look forward to hearing from you. Tickets for the December 6th live Tell Us Something event are on sale now. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. We are excited to be partnering with Spark Arts to provide on site childcare for humans with kiddos. There are a limited number of slots available for this service.

Three teaching artists will provide engaging art based learning activities at the Wilma while you enjoy storytelling for the evening. To learn more and to get tickets, go to tellusomething. org. Thank you to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Blackfoot Communications connects people, businesses, and communities.

[00:01:00] They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses. Connecting homes. Connecting communities. Connecting. Blackfoot Communications allows its users to utilize the latest technology in voice, broadband, network, and managed services. They keep people reliably connected. Blackfoot serves homes in western Montana and eastern Idaho as well as businesses of all sizes throughout the Pacific goblackfoot.

com This week on the podcast I

[00:01:33] Chris Hallberg: hear dr. Steve before I see dr. Steve his His loud American accented Spanish is echoing off the clinic walls He looks to be in his mid to late 50s like kind of washed up surfer vibe about him

[00:01:49] Philippa Crawford: I really tried to avoid him next thing. I know we’re paired up in an exercise that we do with our eyes closed Touching each other’s hands getting to know each other with just [00:02:00] our hands

[00:02:01] Richard Thornton: And the boy just smiles real big and he, and he nods his head and then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

[00:02:10] Nita Maddox: And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface and I thought, I’m going to organize a naked bike ride.

[00:02:18] Marc Moss: Four Storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Lost in Translation. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023. At the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Telesomething acknowledges that we are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples. We honor their resilience and strength in the face of colonization and displacement. We recognize that the land upon which we stand is sacred to them and we are committed to working towards a more just and equitable future for all.

We take this moment to honor the land and its native people and the stories they [00:03:00] share with us.

Our first story comes to us from Chris Hallberg. who shares his story in which Dr. Steve, an American doctor, gives a Salvadorian patient a pizza cutter as a gift. Chris calls his story Pizza Cutter Medicine.

Thanks for listening.

[00:03:26] Chris Hallberg: So it’s about six in the morning and the sun is just coming up. I’m on a bus in rural El Salvador headed out of Chalatanango into Nueva Trinidad. And even though it’s just break of dawn, the bus drivers got reggaeton music on full blast. And the bus that we’re on is this old repurposed school bus. I’m wedged into my seat.

My knees are pressed tightly up against the vinyl of the seat back in front of me. There’s diesel smoke that’s blowing through the cabin as the bus driver just [00:04:00] tears around

It’s about 15 years ago, and I’ve been living in El Salvador for about a year now, working on a few different, um, health related projects with some grassroots organizations there. And although I have a U. S. passport and know that I can leave at any time, I really try to do everything that I can to live as an average Salvadoran would.

So I shop at local Marcets and avoid touristy areas. I wash my clothes by hand. Um, I eat the street food. I drink the water. Um, And when we, uh, when the, or I guess the bus that I’m on is headed out to this rural country area, um, there’s a group of U. S. doctors that’s, that’s, uh, volunteered to come down and, um, myself along, and along with a few other people we’ve been asked to, um, help interpret for the doctors.

So we, um, we pull up at the clinic and there’s already a line of Salvadorans outside the tall whitewashed [00:05:00] walls of the clinic compound and I kind of go to make my way inside and the tile floors of the clinic are just spotless, there’s white floors, they’ve been freshly cleaned, this is the sweet smell of fabulosa, this cleaning product is kind of lingering in the air for those of you that know fabulosa.

The staff is all standing in a large circle, kind of at attention. The, uh, nurses are there, and the community health workers are there, and the janitors are there. And, uh, uh, everyone is just dressed immaculately, even though the staff lives in near poverty themselves. So the women are all wearing these like white pressed dresses.

Men are wearing, uh, dress shirts and slacks. And everybody has got on these, um, dress shoes that are polished and totally clean even though there’s, um, dirt, muddy streets, uh, throughout the town. Uh, and then off in one corner, the, the U. S. physicians are kind of mingling amongst each other. And I’m trying to size them up because I’ve, uh, volunteered to interpret for these groups before.

And some of the doctors are definitely a little bit more culturally sensitive [00:06:00] than other ones. And from the looks of it. This group seems to be pretty appropriate. They’re, you know, talking in gentle tones. They’re all professionally dressed. Except for one.

Dr. Steve.

Now I, I hear Dr. Steve before I see Dr.

Steve. His, his loud American accented Spanish is echoing off the clinic walls. He looks to be in his mid to late 50s. Um, like kind of washed up surfer vibe about him. He looks like he was born in Southern California and had never left. He’s got, uh, shoulder length, uh, curly, graying hair. Um, he’s wearing an old faded t shirt.

He’s got on gym shorts and flip flops. Um, and his, his, uh, he kind of reminds me of that one wild uncle that we all have that just talks a little too loudly and has no sense of personal space. So the clinic manager gets us all together and she starts Um, making pairings, assigning each of us interpreters with one of the physicians, and I start to get nervous, because I [00:07:00] just do not want to get stuck with this joker all day.

And so she starts calling off names, and she says, you know, Jen and Dr. Anderson. And I feel my knees get a little bit weak, because I just, I know what’s coming. And then she says, Nadia and Dr. Garrett, and I just know it’s happening, I can feel that the pit in my stomach is getting tighter and tighter. And she proceeds through all of the, the pairings until, um, uh, in a moment that feels a lot like middle school gym class to me, there’s only two of us left.

And she says, Chris and Dr. Steve. So Dr. Steve makes his way across the, uh, clinic waiting area to me and he’s got this giant clear plastic. Garbage bag in hand and there’s these brightly colored plastic objects in it. He kind of looks like a beach bum Santa. And so he makes his way over and as he gets closer he holds his hand up in the air and says, what is up my dude?[00:08:00]

Look,

I brought plastic pizza cutters from a pizzeria in my hometown back in Southern California to give out to the people here. Um, uh, they don’t cut too good, but I feel like the people could use them to cut their tortillas. Like, fantastic. You brought injection molded plastic. Pizza cutters to give out to subsistence farmers who have absolutely no use for them whatsoever.

This is, this is great. And so we start our clinic day together and uh, uh, Dr. Steve tells me really early on that he won’t be needing my interpreting assistance because he dated a Spanish woman a couple decades ago and is basically fluent.

Dr. Steve’s clinical skills are fine but his Spanish language skills, on a good day, I’d put somewhere in the neighborhood of, could competently order off of the Taco Bell [00:09:00] menu. Yeah, anything beyond Chalupa is really going to challenge this guy. So I try to do my best to jump in when things really get off the rails, but the Salvadoran staff cue into what’s going on pretty quickly and um, just direct, you know, really straightforward cases to us.

Um, coughs, colds, rashes, stuff like that. Every single patient that sees us leaves with a plastic pizza cutter in hand and a very confused look on their

face.

There is one patient that was particularly confused by the plastic pizza cutter. This patient came in and he was having abdominal pain and diarrhea and he left with a bottle of Imodium and a pizza cutter. And we thought that was going to be the last we’d see of him. But about ten minutes later, he comes shuffling back into the clinic, and he’s clearly kind of nervous, he has this sheepish air about him.

He shuffles in, gives Dr. Steve this black plastic bag, and then kind of shuffles out. And Dr. Steve’s really [00:10:00] confused. He’s like, what is this? Is this a gift for the expert medical attention that I’ve been providing? And so he slowly starts to peel back the corners of the bag. And the most horrendous, putrid smell comes pouring out of the bag.

And he keeps peeling it back and peeling it back. And eventually this neon pink pizza cutter emerges and it’s absolutely covered in poop.

Now at this point I should say, GI issues are really common in El Salvador and it’s not unusual for doctors to request that their patients bring in stool samples to help aid in diagnosis. And best we can piece together, what had happened was the patient thought that the pizza cutter was this sophisticated tool from the U.

S. that should be used to collect a stool sample. So, he took the pizza cutter out to the pit toilet behind the clinic, and like, delicately and expertly, and in a manner that totally defies all Newtonian physics, pooped all over the [00:11:00] pizza cutter.

Now, at this point, the Salvadoran staff is really struggling to keep their composure. I, I, I’m just laughing, I’ve like totally lost it. And Dr. Steve is just… Totally, totally dumbfounded.

In that moment, in that small clinic, in that small Central American country, through the hands of a farmer, the universe served up an epic dose of cosmic justice to all the Dr. Steves of the world. It is an absolute honor to be there to bear

witness.

Now, some 15 years later, I think about Dr. Steve on occasion. Dr. Steve was a, uh, was a fine clinician, but he missed some major, major cultural miscues. He makes me wonder about my own cultural ineptitudes, [00:12:00] um, both as a physician and as a human. Makes me wonder about what pizza cutters I’ve given out over the years.

Makes me wonder, um, You know, about for all of us how our unconscious biases shape the way that we understand ourselves and those around us. And ultimately, it reminds me that we need each other as a community to help us recognize our own individual and collective blind spots to help us all, um, recognize our own inner Dr.

Steeves. And for that lesson, I have to say, thanks, my dude.

[00:12:49] Marc Moss: Thanks, Chris. Chris Hallberg is a family medicine doctor who’s worked with patients in rural Alaska, Montana, the Caribbean, and Central America. He enjoys cooking, making music with [00:13:00] friends, and poking around remote corners of Montana with his girlfriend Charlotte and their dog Sydney. Our next storyteller is Philippa Crawford, who leaves her busy life working at an ad agency in San Francisco.

When she falls in love with the man of her dreams. Philippa calls her story, Love Found

Home. Thanks for listening. Yes.

[00:13:26] Philippa Crawford: What? Fire? I scrambled across to get to the bay, running down in my heels on California Street, getting to the ad agency. The fire was small, but I had to make sure that the mechanicals and the artwork were in good condition so that I, as print production manager, could get them to the printer and satisfy the client’s deadlines.

The cortisol was palpable. It was high energy. It was crazy. It was fun. We were adrenaline junkies. I was standing on the corner one day, and a bus whooshed through. [00:14:00] And I was taken back to New Hampshire as a child and remembering being mesmerized by how the ants would take dirty, I mean dirty dry soil and turn them into these beautiful sandy mounds.

And then remembering the glistening dirt in the dust in the sliver of sunshine coming through the barn after I’d climbed around on the hay bales. I wanted to get back to the country.

Ad

agency was crazy. And over time it just really wasn’t as fun as it seemed to be. I wondered who I really was. It seemed so superficial.

I felt superficial. I wanted more from life. I wanted to discover my heart. I was pretty bound up. And my marriage was sliding downhill. I felt lost. Um, so I went on the adventure to find what I could do about that. And I came across Lifespring. [00:15:00] I joined the course, courses, and it was that human, experiential human empowerment course.

It was provocative, it was intense with these creative exercises that get you to look deep and to see who you were and who, what the possibilities were to be something else. Um, on the last course. I walk into the room and get to find my seat and I feel this gentle presence walk in and I look and there’s this man with dark, dark curly hair that tickles the collar of his outdated jacket and as he walks across the room, I just feel the sensitivity and this humbleness.

Oh no, we’re not going to go there. I really tried to avoid him. Next thing I know, we’re paired up in an exercise that we do with our eyes closed. touching each other’s hands, getting to know each other with just our hands.[00:16:00]

His

hands were not soft, but they had a kind and an intensity about them that said, let me get to know you and I’ll let you get to know me. Sort of like a namaste moment. It was really very moving. The course, uh, was three months, and so we, uh, groups were formed, and there was Lori laughing. Lori, who was just outrageous, vivacious with her, her heart and her laugh, and then there was Handsome Hands.

His name, his name was Scott with a single T. We all hung out together as we were supposed to deepen our experience, but he and I spent a lot of nights, late night in cafes, drinking old coffee, talking Philosophy, spirituality, trying to figure out life, you know, where can we find meaning? Uh, he talked about Sweet, his dog, and Simon and Duncan, his boys, he loved [00:17:00] his boys.

And he was from Montana. The course ended, we went on, my marriage dissolved, I changed jobs. And, um, but a couple months later, I get a call laughing, Lori, wouldn’t it be a blast if we went to Montana and saw Scott? Sure. I didn’t even know where Montana was. We get on the road, and we chitchat, and then she says, I’m a Jack Mormon.

I grab the door handle, my buttcheeks clench, I don’t know what that means, but it terrified me. And she said, it’s okay, it just means that I’m a Mormon, but that I can’t live with all the tenets of the religion. And as she shared her heart, my hand slipped and I relaxed. And I am so grateful because that wall of…

of judgment and ignorance crumbled away and, um, she opened her heart and she’s still my dear friend today. We arrive at this, [00:18:00] um, weathered old law cabin, greeted by Sweet, who’s a great Dane Lab Cross. And as we enter what I would define as a, the coyote den, um, there’s Scott and his beautiful smile and his deep embrace for both of us.

And I think she had a crush on him, pretty sure. The next day we pick up the boys, um, from their mom and we go to this beautiful reservoir and these jewels shoot out into the sky. They were called the mission mountains and it was stunning and a little creepy because no one else was there but us. I couldn’t.

I get that. On the last night, Laurie, Scott, and I stood on the back porch, and um, as only Big Sky can deliver, there was this kaleidoscope sunset with colors and textures as far as the eye could see, and then also were these dark clouds shocked white with [00:19:00] lightning and rolling thunder, both happening at the same time?

And I knew at that moment, my life was forever changed. We got back to our lives a couple years past and Scott and I would, um, talk on the phone for hours, sharing our stories and how we’d grown or not grown. And, um, he had such a, uh, kind humor and, uh, fun wit, so I really felt comfortable and our friendship just continued to deepen.

One New Year’s evening, I had a feeling he would call. And he did. Hi. Hi. Do you want to come up for a visit? Sure. I was so excited. So I arrive a month later, and again, we just deepen our friendship and something else. And we share where we are, and just again, just have these great deep talks. I [00:20:00] could feel my heart opening, and it was just lovely to be there.

And as I was getting ready to leave, he said, you know, I really love my life with my boys. I said, yeah, they are amazing and wonderful. And I see how you respect who they are, letting them be who they are and the love that you share. Oh, and I love being a single San Francisco woman.

Cried on the way to the airport. And when I got back to the apartment, I looked around and there was a picture of Scott. On the wall. And then in my book by my bedside table, he was the bookMarc. And I realized I really had deep, deep feelings for this man. I didn’t know what to do about it, but I was feeling things for sure.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you, he was handsome. Damn handsome

So,

um, a month later I received this [00:21:00] handwritten letter. By Duncan and Simon, Duncan’s 14 and Simon’s 18. And it reads, Dearest Flipout, This is supposedly going to be a very convincing letter. You must marry our

dad.

He is the best man in the world and the most loving man I know. And he loves one woman, you, Filippa Learned.

I read on, This leads to you being a happy, proud, married mom of two awesome young men who love you very much. I, my breath, I I felt so many feelings, I was excited my hairs were on end I, I was thrilled and also really confused. I call up Scott and I said, you know about this? Yeah? You wanna do something about this?

[00:22:00] Yes. Will you move up here and be with me? Yes, yes, yes! I love you Scott. I love you too. Four months later, I move into the Coyote Den in Arlie on the flooded Indian Reservation. And it was a transition. Um, Um, The dogs helped me by leaving slimy things that my feet would step on that would be a deer leg.

And this other dog that we got, uh, puppy Jackpot, thought she had won the lottery by chewing up all my Italian leather heels. Except one memento. A pink toe cleavage. leather stiletto CFM. Come

fuck me, bum. And I said, have at it. I am done with that life. And, um, three years later, in the yard, Duncan and Jack pawed his Masters of Ceremony. [00:23:00] Uh, I became a mail order bride. And three years after that, we welcomed our son, Nicholas. Yes. And I was embraced by this beautiful, eclectic community, and this beautiful, loving, loving, blended family.

And two brave boys with big hearts, open hearts, and two dogs, and this most… Loving man, uh, my heart found home. Thank you.

[00:23:36] Marc Moss: Thanks Filippa. Filippa Crawford is East coast born. She thrived for eight years in London, enjoyed 10 years in the Bay Area and found home in delicious Montana 35 years ago. She is a tapping practitioner and an intuitive coach. These days, she dares new experiences outside her comfort zone. She enjoys finding peace and fascination in nature, animals, including reptiles [00:24:00] and insects.

Dancing is her go to along with her big, loving, extraordinary family. Coming up after the

[00:24:06] Richard Thornton: break. And the boy just smiles real big and he nods his head and then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

[00:24:15] Nita Maddox: And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface and I thought, I’m going to organize a naked bike ride.

[00:24:22] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th. You can learn how to pitch your story and get [email protected]. Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications, helping us with the heavy lifting of the expense of producing our evening. Thanks to our stewardship sponsor, Jana Lundquist Consulting, helping us to provide free tickets to populations.

That might otherwise be unable to attend tell us something events. Thank you to our story sponsor parkside credit union helping us to pay our storytellers Thank you to our accessibility sponsors the kettle house allowing us to hire american sign language interpreters at the events In order to be a more inclusive [00:25:00] experience and thanks to our artist sponsor crowley fleck attorneys pllp You are listening to the tell us something podcast I’m your host, Marc Moss.

Our stories in this episode are recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023 at the George and Jane Denison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. In our next story, Richard Thornton hires a kid to capture an anteater, but the kid comes back with an unknown monster.

Richard calls his story, I get a pet. Thanks for listening.

[00:25:39] Richard Thornton: Many years ago, I was a surveyor with an outfit called the Ethiopia U. S. Mapping Mission. They, uh, they had a treaty to make topographic maps of the whole country. I was surveying in the Agadon Desert region, and the Agadon is pretty much what you think of as a high desert, mostly dirt and gravel, and it was filled [00:26:00] with like half, half alive Akasha trees, and it had this Vine that was called the camel thorn nothing had thorns as long as your fingers and they were so sharp and strong that they could puncture a car tire.

I’d even seen birds impaled on the ends of these things. They also had these termite mounds, giant termite mounds. They were tall and symmetrical. Actually, I thought of more as termite towers because things went up like 20, 25 feet and they were all over the place. Well, once, while we were driving some trucks on this long, straight stretch of dirt road on the way to a little village to set up a temporary camp, I saw what I thought was an anteater cross the road way up ahead and It was a stranger looking animal, but it just ran into the camel thorns that lined the road.

It was gone by the time we got to that place where I’d seen it. I was kind of excited to stop the truck, but even [00:27:00] standing on the hood, I couldn’t see it because of all the brush and termite mounds. I felt a little disappointed and got back in the truck and went on driving towards the village. But I couldn’t get that animal out of my head.

I kept thinking about it. And somewhere along the line, I got, I got the idea that it would be really cool to have an anteater as a pet.

I mean, an anteater would be much better than our half wild camp dogs to live with us. And, you know, what better animal than, than that to show off my manliness, you know, and you know how I could train animals and, you know, I even thought, envisioned myself walking my eater on a leash across the camp over to a nearby anthill or a termite mound where he’d eat his fill.

Now, I didn’t say anything about this to the guys in the truck with me. In fact, I didn’t even know if there were anteaters in that part of Ethiopia. We’re all Africa [00:28:00] for that matter, but I wanted one as a pet anyway, so I was going to see if I could try to get one. When we pulled into the village, the center of the village, excuse me, now the village was basically a bunch of, uh, Uh, rectangular mud buildings with, uh, big wooden doors and wooden shutters in the windows.

And as soon as we stopped, all, all these, all the kids in town all just came running around our trucks and they were jumping up and down and laughing and, and smiling at us and, you know, all except… All except for the littlest of them. And those guys just sit there and stared at us in amazement. Cause we’d be the first people with white skin they’d ever seen.

But anyway, pretty quick, they, they, uh, you know, got brave and came over and touched us on the hands or on the legs, you know, and they started jumping up and down and welcoming us too. Now, the adults weren’t so [00:29:00] excited to see us, but they did send a couple men over to talk about where we could set up a safe place for camp, and, but I wasn’t part of those talks, so I kind of drifted off to the side to some kids, and I saw a boy, he was about 10 years old, And I went over to him and I asked him if he, if he knew about anteaters, you know.

Well, first I had to ask him, first I asked him if he knew any English and he did say yes, a little. You know, but then it turned out that as soon as he, as I started asking the question if he could catch me one, it became quite obvious that he had no idea what I was talking about. Well, so what I had to do is I got G’Day, one of our Ethiopian surveyors, To try to explain to the kid what I wanted.

Now, that turned out to be pretty tough too, because Gday had never heard that term and he did it before. So I had to kind of try to describe this thing [00:30:00] to him. and , of course, that took a lot of gyrations and sounds on my part, you know, when I started talking about it’s a big tale and how it had really funny hair and a beaty little eyes, you know?

And oh, it had these big claws that dug in the ground and sed. Ants and termites and Well anyway, by then all the kids are just laughing like crazy and And G’day, G’day says something to the kid for a few seconds And the boy just smiles real big and he, and he nods his head And then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

So I dug into my pocket, and I pulled out some, some money, and it was about two dollars, Ethiopian. And his eyes just lit up, and he took off running, and he just ran around one of the buildings, and he was gone. G’day said that he told the boy to catch the animal that eats [00:31:00] termites. Well, Uh, you know, G’day and the boy might have been a little confused as to what I wanted the animal for.

Cause nobody in Nogginon kept any kind of animal as a pet. I mean, there were goats, but they were for milk and meat. And there were always lots of dogs around, but they were for warning of strangers and, you know, mainly keeping hyenas away. We had dogs keep hyenas away too. And some of us did try to treat some of our dogs as pets, but that was always a risky business.

Well anyway, at that point I went out to our camp, excuse me, I went out to our camp area, and just to see if it was clear of these big camel spiders and scorpions and deadly snakes, and set up our tents. And after a while I went back to the village. And maybe I was looking to see if they had a bar, and I wasn’t there very long, [00:32:00] and I heard a commotion.

And that kid that I’d sent off for the antutu came around the corner of one of the buildings, and he had a, he had a blanket in his arms. And that blanket was making a growling, screechy kind of noise. And, yeah, and it was moving around, you know, like it was, something was punching and pushing and scrolling around, you know, like a mad monster trying to get out.

And this kid was just… Coming at me, you know, with the, this staggering over towards me, trying to hold this thing down. But what happened about that time, the adult all yelled, screamed, and they grabbed up all the children, and they ran them all into all the buildings, and they shut the door. Suddenly I was all alone, with this, with this kid coming at me, with, just grim faced, and, and.

He was, anyway, I got lost here for a second, I’m sorry.[00:33:00]

Laughter Anyway, he was still, he was staggering on towards me and I’m thinking, Dear God, if this is an anteater, I want no part of it.

Laughter

Well, about that, he stops right in front of me, and just then he reached up to try to hand it to me, and the whole thing went just wild and crazy, and the blanket flew out of his hand, and, and a real, a monster did fly out.

Now, all I saw was a blur, but this thing just ran across and it leaped up onto one of the doors of the building, and it scratched at it and bit at it. And it jumped down and unbelievably it ran to the second door and jumped up on it and screeched and then it jumped down and ran off, off into the brush and it was gone.

Now, I, I still didn’t, never found out what that thing[00:34:00]

was. I suspect it was a mongoose of some sort.

Oh,

well.

Anyway, the boy who was just standing there, looking kind of dejected at the blanket at his feet, and, you know, maybe he thought he had failed me for losing the animal, so I praised him for his bravery, you know, and I told, I told him he’d really earned his money, and I gave it to him, and that cheered him up a little.

Now he’d come out of it with a, just a few scratches. And now he’s looking pretty pleased with himself. But about that time, the adults came out of hiding. And they all came over at us. And they just, they just warmed around this kid. And they just, and they started yelling at him. And the women started slapping him all over the place.

And, you know, I don’t think they, I didn’t think [00:35:00] they were really trying to hurt him. But, I took that chance to beat it back to camp

and hide out. Yeah, I wanted to

hide out in case they decided to find out who caused all this. And wanted to smack me around, too. After that, I, I decided it would be much better to make friends with Chichu, our least, our least wild camp dog.

It was a long time, though, before I found out that I, I had terrorized an entire village and traumatized a poor kid for nothing. Because there are no anteaters in Ethiopia.

Or all

of Africa, for that matter.

Thank you.

[00:35:53] Marc Moss: Thanks, Richard. Richard Thornton grew up in Southern California. 40 years in the TV and motion picture business. [00:36:00] Mainly as a sound boom man, he is an army veteran who served as a topographic surveyor, making maps in Ethiopia and the Great Southwest of New Mexico and Arizona. During the after strike of 1980 Richard and his wife came to Montana looking for a home during one of those idyllic September weeks.

He bought a lousy log house and stayed. Richard retired to Kettlespell in 2005, where he lived the carefree life of a 63 year old with three school age daughters at home to raise. Our final storyteller in this episode of the podcast is Nita Maddox, who organized for a mass naked bike ride in Missoula, Montana, and received death threats because of it.

It was, she says, quite a lot. Nita calls her story, Bear as you dare. Thanks for listening.

[00:36:49] Nita Maddox: Breathing deeply. This is the only tool I have right now to deal with the pain. I’ve never been in pain this bad. I’m on a beach in the [00:37:00] Philippines that’s been absolutely destroyed by a hurricane and my body is wracked with malaria. Somewhere in the fever and all of it. The Spanish paramedics show up and they’re with the someone from the aid agency that I’m working for.

This is 2014, and I’ve gone to the Philippines to work at a for an international aid agency and now I’m sick and they’re saying to me, we’re sending you home. I’ve been traveling for about three years and in this kind of fevered pain, I’m not really sure where home is. And then it kind of rises to the surface.

Oh, I’m going back to Montana. The place where I’d been born and raised, generations of my family. The land that holds so many ancestors, ancestors buried here longer than it’s even been the United States. On the way home, there are a few stops along the way because I have to get medical treatment and I’m [00:38:00] exhausted.

One of those stops is in Portland, Oregon. And I’m visiting one of my oldest friends since we were teenagers. When I show up, he and his wife are a little surprised at the condition I’m in. Not only am I physically recovering from the malaria, but I have just worked at the very first… super typhoon that had ever occurred and the human devastation I had seen was weighing really heavy on me.

So these friends have the idea that I should go to the world naked bike ride with them. They think this is, this is a great idea and I don’t think this is a great idea. If I could describe it, I’d say I’m not necessarily the first person naked at a party. Like I’m, comfortable with nudity, but I don’t, I’m a little cautious with it.

But they explain that the world naked bike ride and the biggest ride happens to be in Portland, but it happens all over the country in the world is really about [00:39:00] bike activism. It’s about getting people to see bicyclists because it’s hard to miss thousands of naked bicyclists. I really appreciate this idea having just seen the effects of global climate change.

And when my daughter was nine and my son was six, we were hit in a crosswalk on Higgins by a truck. And I painfully intimately knew what a motor vehicle could do when it hit a basically naked human body. So I thought, I’m down with this. Let’s go do it. And it was interesting because it didn’t feel awkward, the nudity.

It actually felt Playful and innocent and radically inclusive. There were older folks. There were people with mastectomies. There were transgendered people. It was this act of human beauty and it was all this [00:40:00] spectrum of people and it was stunning and no one looked like the cover of a magazine. Then I was back in Montana, and I was sitting with some friends and they were talking about all the struggles they’d been having trying to organize a pride parade.

And I kind of jokingly said, you should shoot for the moon and do a naked pride parade. They were like, yeah, you know, good luck with that. And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface. And I thought. I’m going to organize a naked bike ride. So the next day I went to John Ingram’s office and I said, Hey, what do you think about this?

And he’s like, I think it’s a great idea. That sounds like a total Missoula thing. He laid out this grocery list of all the different things that I was going to have to do to do it completely above board. So I go down the list. I mean, the. The downtown council, I meet with the city engineer to plan the route, and I’m finally at the last [00:41:00] thing on the list, which is I’ve got to get the police department to sign off.

And I decide to go to the city attorney and say, Hey, this is what I’m doing. If you want to come and make an appointment and meet with me and one of the police officers, I can answer any questions. Said an appointment for about three days later. During that time, I compiled together kind of a list of all the legal challenges that have happened to these naked bike rides around the country so I can show up prepared.

And I know I’m going to be talking to people so I’ll just put together a few of these sheets and just carry them around in my bag. Day of the meeting happens, I put on my little black suit, I ride my bike down to the city chambers. I’m expecting to meet with the city attorney and maybe an officer. There are about five officers.

there. There’s a sheriff’s department, all these folks, and at the moment I felt really little and they seemed really big. We sit down, and at first, [00:42:00] it felt like they were coming at me with questions kind of aggressively, but then I began to realize, well, these are really genuinely good questions. And I begin to address each question one at a time, the temperature, the room seems to go down a bit.

I remember I have my little sheets and I hand them all out and everyone’s starting to kind of be like, okay, all right, we’re kind of good with this. And they start to stand up and there’s one sheriff’s deputy who’s sitting directly across from me and he’s just staring at me with these really angry eyes.

And he says, What are you going to do if you’re naked and then there’s a big angry naked man? How are you going to handle that situation?

And I

knew exactly what to say to him. I stared him in the eyes. I didn’t break eye contact. And I said, I used to be a professional dominatrix, and I know exactly how to handle that [00:43:00] situation.

They sign the paper, I leave the room. I’m thinking to myself, wow, I know some feminist thea thea uh. Feminist philosophers that could do a lot with what just happened in that room. I’m heading back home. I’m walking my bike across Higgins street bridge when it used to be about this big and I run into Kayla Spaler.

She’s one of my oldest friends and she’s like, Oh, you’re back in town. What are you doing? And I tell her about this weird exchange I’ve just had and about the naked bike ride. And she’s like, Hey, I’m the political writer for the Missoulian. Now you mind if I write about this? And I was like, sure. That’s a great idea.

I just told the officers we would publicize. the route and the time so people would know. Well, that was the beginning of a biblical level shitstorm. On that parade permit, I had to have all of my contact information and I [00:44:00] proceeded to receive thousands of death threats. of graphic sexual violence. It was crazy what came at me.

Now some of it was actually kind of funny. There was a letter to the editor that said, What? Now Missoula’s going to become this place where everybody’s just going to naked garden and hula hoop? And I was like, I don’t know, it doesn’t sound so bad. There were a couple of really bewildering moments. I’d been camping with friends and on the way back into town, and Here we were in the majesty of Montana nature and on the way back in on the radio we heard about a city council meeting that had just blown up with criticism.

So we rush over there and I’m all messy from camping, got flowers in my hair still, and I’m confronted with questions from the press that kind of involve discussions of. Genitals. And you know, I [00:45:00] understand that exposure to genitals at the wrong time could be something that could be kind of challenging, but I kind of think we all have some sort of a configuration of genitals.

The thing that was the most bewildering for me was that this didn’t jive with my Montana. And for an example of what my perceptual bias of Montana was, my grandfather is a good example. Gone to Butte to work in the mines during the depression era when he was 14 and he told me stories about when Missoula was this place where the international workers of the world, the wobblies were here, labor organizing, talking about the rights of working people there were on every street corner for a while, these free speech places, and he had always believed in the rights of people to just be who they were.

Yeah. And so things were a little confusing for me, but in the end, on the [00:46:00] actual day of the bike ride, it was a wonderful day. There was Chuck with his long gray dreadlocks being ridden in a rickshaw with his oxygen tank. There were older people, younger people, trans people. It was a wildly, beautifully playful, diverse day, and there were no protesters.

And nobody gave me any death threats on that day. So in the end, it ended up being a day that was really good for people who showed up with curiosity instead of contempt. And in the end, I think it was a good day for kind of a, a wild ride. For those who dared to bear.

[00:46:51] Marc Moss: It’s Nita. Nita Maddox is an adventurer in the world. She is born and raised Montanan who lives a bit of a feral life on this planet Earth. She currently works as a [00:47:00] social worker and hopes one day to be a published author. Thanks for listening to the tell us something podcast and thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events.

net, Montana public radio and Missoula Broadcasting company including the family of ESPN radio the trail 103. 3 Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits U one of 4.5. Thanks to float Missoula. Learn [email protected] and Joyce of tile. Learn more [email protected]. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th.

You can learn about how to pitch your story and get [email protected]. Tune in next week to hear the concluding stories from the Lost in Translation live storytelling event. La

[00:47:44] Ben Catton: Buela will come out and startle me. And it’s like, is she suspicious of

me? What’s going on?

[00:47:49] Ren Parker: I ask him what he’s doing on the train.

And, uh, he says, oh yeah, I take this train and I go, um, over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things I shouldn’t have in [00:48:00] Thailand. And then I get back on the train and bring it back to Thailand.

[00:48:04] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it. and was really proud

[00:48:08] Richard Thornton: of it.

But if any of you know, in the eighties,

a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they

had a paint issue with,

[00:48:16] Linda Grinde: and the girl in the next bed says to me, stay do dancing. I realized she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow.

[00:48:27] Marc Moss: Listen for those stories at tellusomething. org or wherever you get your

podcasts.

This episode of the podcast features an interview with Rick White who shared his story in front of a sold out crowd live at The Wilma on December 10, 2019. It was the last in-person Tell Us Something event before COVID struck. The theme was "Tipping Point". When I talked with Rick, we talked about the story that he told at The Wilma, about podcasting, about his writing, his artist residency and about storytelling. Rick’s story, which I play after the interview, is called “Mister”.

Transcript : "Mister"

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m your host, Mark Moss. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event? You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org. Better yet though, why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets? These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters.

Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rooties. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rooties or get the digital version at TellUsSomething. org.

[00:00:35] Rick White: Just way back there in the heart of the fell way, Bitterroot National Forest.

So, yeah, we were at the end of the road and… Uh, I’m off grid for, for three weeks, and it looked like me scribbling furiously on a yellow legal pad and then transcribing onto a, uh, a hundred dollar typewriter that I found at the antique mall beforehand so that I could [00:01:00] translate it

into print. This week on the podcast,

[00:01:03] Marc Moss: Rick White and I chat about the story that he told live on stage at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana in December of 2019.

The theme that night was Tipping Point. We also talk about podcasting, writing, his artist residency, and storytelling. 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 experiences, sharing their story live on stage. Sometimes we get extra details about their story and we always get to know them a little better. I caught up with Rick in September of 2020,

[00:01:44] Rick White: early on, and Covid got awarded a writing residency or an art residency through a local organization called Open Air. It’s been pretty cool.

[00:01:53] Marc Moss: Oh yeah, I know Stony. Yeah,

[00:01:56] Rick White: Stoney’s great. Her program’s really fantastic. So, yeah, I was fortunate I [00:02:00] got a three week residency in the Selway Bitterroot, you know, in a cabin down there, the Paradise Guard Station, um, to work on writing.

So, it was, yeah, that was the highlight of the summer for sure, right in the middle of July.

[00:02:12] Marc Moss: We are talking about a local non profit, Open Air. Open Air provides artist in residence programs for artists from all disciplines who are local, national, and international. Residencies last for four to six weeks.

Open Air believes that artists are critical to our community’s vitality and help to strengthen the creative capacity of Western Montana and foster dialogue and experiences that are culturally vibrant, healthy, and intellectually vigorous. You can visit Telesomething. org for a link to Rick’s open air talk.

So what did that look like?

[00:02:45] Rick White: That looked like my girlfriend and I and our two dogs living at the Paradise Guard Station, which was the Wanderer’s cabin attached to a campground that is where the people who float the Selway River, one of the premier… [00:03:00] rafting destinations and, and rivers in the country. The Wild and Scenic River, it’s, it’s the, the put in for that.

It’s at the end of a road about 48 miles down, uh, from Darby, Montana. Just way back there in the heart of the Selway. Bitterroot National Forest, so. Yeah, we were at the end of the road and… Uh, I’m off grid for, for three weeks, and it looked like me scribbling furiously on a yellow legal pad and then transcribing onto a, uh, 100 typewriter that I found at the antique mall beforehand so that I could translate it into print.

Uh, so it was very, uh, romantic, uh, uh, uh, maybe Hemingway or Faulkner esque, uh, if you’re thinking of those pictures, but the quality of the writing, uh, not close to that, but it was, it was wonderful. Um, yeah, uh, Stoney’s program was really fantastic. [00:04:00] Um, I think, um, kind of like Tell Us Something, just local organizations just doing tremendous things for, for artists and storytellers and, and creative folks.

Um, really just, just Super impressed with what she’s doing.

[00:04:15] Marc Moss: And so, I’ve seen some of the residencies that she’s had with visual artists. How will we get to see your work?

[00:04:24] Rick White: Yeah, that’s good. Um, so, in, we donate, uh, artists donate, um, One thing to them, so she’s planning a, uh, type of display, uh, maybe a traveling exhibit, depending on COVID, I think, uh, to show off different folks work, so I’ll be donating a poem that I wrote there, uh, and maybe some other things as, as needed.

She took a lot of great photos, and, um, we have some, some different, uh, resources from the Selway Bitterroot Foundation, uh, Drink Church Foundation, so I think that, that will be how [00:05:00] she does that. I also had a… Uh, reading that I gave, uh, at the, at the conclusion of the residency about two weeks later in August.

And she recorded that, Stoney recorded that, and we’ll put it up on YouTube. Um, she’s, she’s busy finishing up the, the residency season right now, but she’s working on uploading those to YouTube and then on their website, openairmt. com. Uh, org, I believe.

Yeah, and how it’s all shifting right now and shaping,

[00:05:30] Marc Moss: Yeah, I know, FreeFlow.

[00:05:32] Rick White: Um, I’m working with them on their podcast and doing, doing interviews and stuff.

[00:05:36] Marc Moss: We talked a little bit more about writing workshops before I asked Rick about his work with the FreeFlow institute.

[00:05:42] Rick White: Chandra was, um, you know, forced to cancel a lot of those. Those riding workshops that she does on the rivers, uh, the river trips.

Uh, we, like I was scheduled to go with David James Duncan down the Salmon River, which was going to be a spectacular trip, but that got postponed until next year. But they did a similar [00:06:00] thing, um, designed a five week, uh, riding workshop. Work, excuse me, workshop, uh, called Shift. Uh, which sounds kind of like the one that you took for ten weeks.

In which it was, you know, engaging with these themes of, of shift and transition. Um, yeah, it’s just been, it’s been interesting to watch how these circumstances have, have forced, um, evolution. Um, in some ways good, in some ways, uh, like… Man, how much Zoom can you handle in a day, you know? Totally. In your life.

It’s frustrating. Yeah. At that, at that level, certainly, and I think everybody. Cause, you know, the Zoom fatigue and everything is a real, is a real thing. Um, you know, if you can, if you can step back from it, there was a real blossoming of some really interesting, creative things that would not have happened otherwise, outside of [00:07:00] this year, you know?

[00:07:01] Marc Moss: Right. And I think. Once we get a vaccine and we are, it is shaped together in person again, the Zoom will also offer a balance.

[00:07:12] Rick White: Mm hmm. Exactly. That

we probably wouldn’t have otherwise embraced. Right.

Yep. Yeah, something, it will get winnowed down into the, hopefully the best of those things will rise to, you know, rise to the top and we’ll get to continue using those.

Well, both rats and mediums, you know? Yep.

[00:07:35] Marc Moss: So, can you talk about the podcast? Yeah, the Free Flow podcast? Or, or, uh… Yeah. Yeah, the Free Flow podcast. No, the Free Flow podcast.

[00:07:45] Rick White: Sure, I’d love to. Um, so we got interrupted, um, in February. I did, did the first, uh, Chris Latre, local writer who’s done local Tell A Something Storyteller, I think, a few times, right?

Yep, he’s done it [00:08:00] at least twice. Yeah, such a great guy, and a willing guinea pig for our, for our experiment.

Um, in February on a pretty snowy day, and talked about his first book, um, One sentence journal that won the Montana Book Award and um, some High Plains Book Awards as well. So we got to talk about that and a lot of that deals with grief and loss and creativity and everything. So that was a really, that was a really wonderful thing.

The idea behind the Free Flow podcast is to do, similar to the Free Flow trips, the river trips, is to kind of simulate an experience of being outside with… With a writer, um, so I get, you know, a lot of ambient, ambient sounds and structure it. Structure them as some, as sort of mini journeys. Um, so there’s, there’s a lot of heavy editing involved, uh, on [00:09:00] the back end, on the production side.

Um, but yeah, so I interviewed Chris and, and spent quite a bit of the time in, during COVID working that. That one episode up and editing it into a kind of pilot episode to pitch to potential funders, but was interrupted with COVID and unable to continue interviewing folks and funding requests were delayed.

So we’re still looking and searching for, for some funding for that. But, um, in the last month I’ve gotten to go interview Hal Herring, an award winning outdoor journalist who’s based up in Augusta. And then Just last week I, I sat down, um, with David James Duncan, um, on the Bitterroot River and then at a, at a little farm where he rents a, rents a cabin for his workspace, um, out in Target Range, and we have some other folks lined up on the docket, um, for the rest of the month of this [00:10:00] year, uh, in hopes of releasing the game.

Uh, a handful of episodes in the springtime, in the early springtime ahead of, uh, next year’s free flow river season, fingers crossed, if COVID allows, so. Yeah. Um, it’s been a really great project. Um, it’s really fun to, to kind of peer, we center it on the themes kind of of a free flow trip, which is, uh, the conversations about, about craft, about the writing craft and the storytelling craft, about conservation and, and their, Most of our, most of our writers, uh, or storytellers are involved in some way in, um, conservation, be it public lands or…

Free flowing river, or any, any number of climate change, any number of things, who’s not, who’s not involved in that these days, you know, I think we all are kind of, our hand has been forced to be involved in that, that writing, so, conversation about, uh, craft and conservation, and then the creative [00:11:00] life, so I get to talk to them, kind of about, especially working, working writers, it’s really fascinating for me to see, you know, how they construct their, their days, and how they, you know, David James Duncan’s been, um, He’s at 1200 pages on this manuscript he’s been working on since 2007 or 2008, I believe.

So, you know, how do you, how do you… What does it look like to work on a book for 12 years on a daily, monthly, weekly basis? It’s been really, really wonderful conversations and folks have been really gracious. Many of them will lead trips, river trips next year, um, that’ll be writing workshops for people interested in what they were, you know, if they’re writing, you know, if you’re a David James Duncan fan, you’ve got access to him that you don’t get otherwise.

Um, he doesn’t really do much. Pretty, pretty fantastic organization. It’s just really, um, you know, the Missoula community, it’s just, [00:12:00] it’s wild how supportive this community is of, of passionate creatives, um, and making those things happen. It’s, even, even during trying times, it seems like it’s a, it’s a priority here.

Um, so, it’s really just a wonderful place to, to be right now. Well, and you’ve got a powerhouse

lineup in, in your podcast roster. Um, and what a great… We what a great, uh, you know, first batter, so to speak, with Chris LaTray

[00:12:32] Marc Moss: that book. Oh man. One sentence journal. I mean it, you know, if you haven’t been outdoors for a while and you read one sentence journal, you can’t help but go outside.

I mean, yeah. You know, this is what it like. Yeah. It’s like, oh God. Uh, when I read it, it was winter,

[00:12:51] Rick White: which I think is Chris’s favorite time of year.

[00:12:53] Marc Moss: Yeah, exactly.

[00:12:54] Rick White: Uhhuh, most of the books said in winter, right.

And you, and you talk about loss and [00:13:00] grief, and I think… Darla the Wonder Dog died during that time, and, and, you know, I think my cat, one of my cats died, and I was like, oh, yeah, I get it.

[00:13:11] Marc Moss: Mm hmm. Man, what a great book.

[00:13:14] Rick White: Yeah, great book. And the chance to walk around with him at a place that he was taking Darla, you know, in those, in her last days, and just to, to see him experience, be able to narrate, like, you know, this is where she would do, she would… run around, or this is her favorite place to do this, and to get choked up when he read some selections from it, and got choked up talking about her, you know?

It’s just, it’s just a pleasure, and that’s the idea. It’s just to kind of get, get those authors out there, get people like Chris out there, um, where the ideas are being generated, and where his connection to his creative practice is really, really blossoming. Yeah.

[00:13:58] Marc Moss: Unrelated, did you, have you [00:14:00] ever seen his band, American Falcon?

[00:14:03] Rick White: I haven’t. No, I talked to him a little bit about his music. He was really wanting to talk about his book, but I made him talk about it. How’s American Falcon?

[00:14:10] Marc Moss: Um, I saw them play in the VFW like four years ago. And

Travis Yost is in the band as well. And I can’t remember who else. And I

went with Ryan Bundy. You know Ryan.

[00:14:27] Rick White: Mm hmm.

[00:14:28] Marc Moss: And I was like, Ryan, you like this kind of music? And he’s like, bring your earplugs, it’s gonna be awesome. And we went, and it was like Black Sabbath meets Kiss. I mean, it was ear splittingly beautifully grungy, and it was awesome. I try not to overuse that word, but it was like, what did I just experience?

And even with the earplugs, you know, my ears were ringing for [00:15:00] days.

[00:15:07] Rick White: Come from that, that genre authentically and just love it. It’s so wonderful. I haven’t gotten in a band, but…

[00:15:14] Marc Moss: Oh, and his kid was in the band too.

[00:15:17] Rick White: That’s awesome.

[00:15:18] Marc Moss: Yeah, and it was like, the energy in the room, it was like… Henry Rollins would love this shit. You know what I mean? It was so cool.

[00:15:28] Rick White: Nice. Nice.

[00:15:30] Marc Moss: Yeah.

[00:15:31] Rick White: So, it’s fun to watch him, too, like, highlight authors that he loves. And I’ve been reading, or listening to his, uh, poetry that he does on public radio. It’s

nice. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. But, anyway. Yeah, we spent a good half hour just talking about Jim Harrison. One of our favorites, one of our mutual favorites. Mm hmm, mm hmm.

[00:15:54] Marc Moss: So, when you told your story at Tell Us Something, Um, [00:16:00] you, did you

have the whole thing written out already, or was that part of, like, the workshopping process at Tell Us Something? Was that part of, like, how you got your final piece

written?

[00:16:15] Rick White: That’s a good question. Um, I had, um, speaking of workshops, I had engenerative workshops like you participated in.

I had, I guess it was that summer, last June, had gone down to Denver to uh, The Lighthouse Writers Workshop, um, for a week long generative workshop with, uh, Melissa Fibos, who now teaches over at Iowa. She was in, she was in New Jersey, uh, last year, but just got a job in, in Iowa. And she was doing a, an essay on the very, or a workshop on the very short essay.

So, I went down there looking to kind of learn and generate some short essays in the thousand word or less range. [00:17:00] And that was a first. piece that I produced. We had read a, she had us read Annie Dillard’s Weasel essay because it’s a famous, famous short essay on, on creative practice and singular focus.

And then, uh, Melissa, you know, gave us a prompt. And I chose to write that, that essay about teaching, um, because it was, it was a prompt about a time in your life, an experience in your life when you were singularly, Focused on one thing, um, one activity or one job. And for me, that was, it took me back to when I was teaching.

I went to high school as a first year high school teacher in a really challenging environment. Uh, high performing charter school for low income students, low income Latino students in inner city Denver. So, that came to mind and I, I pumped out a draft of that essay overnight in the first night of that workshop.

And, [00:18:00] yeah, something, something true came out of it and I got a good response. So, I kind of just held on to that. Um. And had it in my back pocket as a story that I wanted to try to publish, wanted to refine, but just kind of had it there. And I think when I pitched to tell us something, pitched a story for…

Um, for that event, I pitched another essay, uh, that, uh, about another story I had told in various formats and hadn’t really written down, um, but had told orally, and… Just did a terrible job on the pitch, just, just, I think you give a 10 minute thing and I think I rambled to 30 minutes on the phone. No, the

pitch, oh, well the pitch line is 3 minutes and then when we did the workshop, yeah, we did the first initial phone workshop, I think you did went [00:19:00] like 16 or 20 minutes long or something like that.

It felt like, it felt like a few hours.

Well, it didn’t slow the train down.

[00:19:09] Marc Moss: It sort of did feel long because the story was pretty brutal. And, and I don’t, at the time I didn’t know you at all, and I was like, how am I going to tell this guy he can’t tell this story?

Who is this guy?

[00:19:24] Rick White: Yeah, uh, it was a, you know, a story of, of slipping down a moral slope, you know?

And when, and um, uh, so, and it got necessarily brutal, and it was, yeah, I think, just um, Yeah, just not the story. Um, and learning from you, that’s one, one great lesson I’ve learned in the workshop process with you specifically, which was, you know, there’s a time and a place for certain stories, and sometimes you have to retire stories, um, [00:20:00] or just shift.

It’s not just as simple as, like, knowing your audience. Um. But just knowing, you know, what, where that’s, where certain stories, uh, belong in, in time. And it wasn’t, certainly wasn’t the right time, certainly wasn’t the right place. Uh, it had kinda, it was, the way I think I, I told it to you initially, it was still a very kind of personal inside story between people who, who kinda knew me and knew the character, knew my buddy Hayden, who was part of that story, and, um, so.

Yeah, it was, it was, that was, that was a challenging, challenging thing, but man, what a valuable experience to, to get to share it with you and have your feedback and, and kind of go through it. And then, by the time we got to, uh, workshopping it with the other storytellers, I had switched, I kind of realized that, for the theme, um, that was, [00:21:00] um, I’m blanking right now on the theme of that.

That, uh, tipping point is what it was, was that, that I, that I had that other essay in my back, my back pocket, which totally fit the theme, and that was about teaching, so, yeah, I had that to refer to, I had, so I guess I did have it written out. Um, but it wasn’t in its final form, so it allowed me to kind of keep working on that.

Um, and I, I guess since I had that script and had it all kind of written out already, it made it for easy reference. I’m kind of a visual learner, so it was nice to have that to, to sit down with and, and look through and kind of know the, the turns of the story. Um, and how to keep it going. Um, so, yeah. So I told it, told it orally for the first time without, without just reading it.

Um, to, like I did in the workshop. Um, to our, to our group over at your house. And then from there just kind of refined it. [00:22:00] And told it live on stage at the Wilmot. Yeah. Those were the days. Yeah, those were the days.

But you, it was, it was great the way you approached it because, you know, I asked you to sign a release form and you said, I will, and I want you to not publish this until after the written version is published.

Yeah, hoping that it would get published, you know.

[00:22:30] Marc Moss: Right. For sure. And I

really appreciate the way you approached that and how graceful you were with that. Um, and even if you would have said no, I don’t want you to ever publish this, that would have been fine too. Sure. I’ve worked with other authors who, after the fact, like after I had already done all the work and post production of publishing their story, then they call me and they’re like, Can you take that down?

And I’m like,

Why didn’t you [00:23:00] just tell me ahead of time, you know ?

[00:23:03] Rick White: Yeah, that’s tough. That’s tough. It’s such a, it’s such an interesting industry and I’m just on the front edge of it. Uh, hopefully, hopefully I get some, some more things published. Um, I’m in the MFA program now. I just started it this year here at Montana.

Um, so we’ll see what, what comes of that and how far I go. Just the, the early stages of this is complicated. It is really publication to publication on, you know, the first time rights and, and how, how long they get first time rights and how they get released. So, it’s just a whole, whole world to learn to navigate.

So, yeah, I was fortunate that, um, the, the spring, that story, the written version of that story, um, Got published at High Desert Journal, a really great online journal that’s doing, that’s publishing some [00:24:00] really important and really, really wonderful work from, from writers out West, writing about the West.

Um, but they published it and yeah, I’m, we’re pretty, we’re gracious in the, the thing. I think they just, they’re such a great publication, I think they want to get good work out there, and they’re not, not overly concerned with, You know, I think they, I think they’ll, they’ll love hearing a podcast version of it, you know, slightly different, of course, because it’s, I didn’t get, I, I just kind of recited a version close to it.

I think they’ll love seeing that version and, and the cross, cross genre work of audio and so, yeah.

[00:24:46] Marc Moss: I think it’ll be fun. I mean, it’ll be the first time many people will have heard the story. Um, many people who attend. Tell us something maybe weren’t there or you know, since then we’ve gotten [00:25:00] new followers So for anybody that wasn’t there This would be the first time they’ve heard the story and it’ll be certainly interesting for people who have read it to hear the difference Between a written story and a spoken

story

[00:25:15] Rick White: Yeah, and what a what a wild difference we were talking about that via the email Yeah It’s so interesting, I mean, to have, to, to listen to that, to any story, uh, orally, versus to read it on the page, and I’m still, I come from a tradition, I come from, from the South, I come from a, very much the, the person, my grandfather was the person I learned storytelling from, and he is.

Or was, uh, he’s since passed away in the last, last couple of years, but, um, he was just an oral storyteller, um, and certainly not illiterate, but not, not engaged with the written word in any way, um, in his storytelling. I learned, [00:26:00] I learned storytelling in, in the campfire kind of way, you know, um, but I, I just, my version of it generally is, um, I don’t know, some blend of that, that oral tradition and, And the written word, uh, that I gained later in an appreciation for, for storytelling on the page.

And I’m still trying to navigate that. I think, I don’t even know that I have to choose one or the other. It’s just really, really… It’ll be fascinating to see this in both places, you know, um, and, and who responds to it in different ways. I feel like I write in a voice, in an oral voice. I write in, in a way that is meant to be read aloud, um, rather than on the page.

And I don’t know what your experience reading it, um, reading that story on How Does It Journal versus… listening to it was, and how you responded, if that voice came through or not, but…

[00:26:59] Marc Moss: [00:27:00] Well, for me, I mean, it felt like, you know, if you see a movie before you read the book, then your reading of the book, your reading of the book is informed by how the movie was.

Sure. And so it was very similar like that for me, like… Interesting. I had seen you perform the story first, and I had seen a couple different iterations of it. Before you even performed it, and then once I got to the written word, I listened to it with my eyes, you know what I mean? Like,

I was reading it, but I was hearing your actual voice.

Yeah. So, it’d be interesting to talk to somebody who’s never heard it, after they listen to it, and see, you know, and see what’s the… What’s their experience?

[00:27:49] Rick White: Yeah. If they were like, oh man, , you could’ve done better on the page if you’d, uh, who knows? I mean, this, that, the other, who knows, right? Yeah. I mean,

[00:28:00] I, I don’t think you do have to make a choice of one or the other, and I think it’s valuable to do both.

[00:28:08] Marc Moss: And I’ve had, you know, Chris is an example of that. So is Mark, uh, Gibbons. They do readings and they have this blend of storytelling and then reading from the page and then the great banter back and forth with the participants who are there. And I think blending storytelling, oral storytelling with written, I think is key.

[00:28:39] Rick White: Yeah. My question for you would be, I mean, I know the spirit of Tell Us Something is to perform a story. You know, that’s been workshopped, uh, for basically to curate the listening experience and make sure, you know, you don’t do like I did on the, on the phone that day and, and take a 10 minute story and [00:29:00] drift to 20 or 30 and just ruin everyone’s experience.

Um. Uh, my question for you would be like, what is it, how do you feel about stories like that, that are, that are really carefully written out beforehand, and in my case, more or less just recited from memory, um, not to the word, but pretty close to the word, um, how, how do you, uh, Do other folks do that? Um, and, and, to what effect do you feel like it has, in, in, tell us something in a lineup of, say, eight, eight storytellers?

[00:29:38] Marc Moss: I would say that, um, you know, for a long time I said, avoid the temptation to write out your story. And I, I stand by that, um, because what you did is a hard thing to do. You wrote a story, and then you, you, you said just now that you recited it, but it didn’t come off that way. [00:30:00] Um, it came off fresh and like you were actually telling and sharing a story from memory.

Um, and that wasn’t, you weren’t trying to remember every comma and every pause and every word. Right. And, and that’s because you’re a writer and you’re a professional writer. And often people who aren’t writers, when they try to write out their story, then they try to memorize what they’ve written and they get up on the stage.

And they’re not sharing a story. They’re trying to remember what they wrote. So they’re not actually immersed in it anymore.

They’re, you know what I mean? And so,

[00:30:43] Rick White: it’s a tough balance. A safety blanket rather than a performance.

[00:30:48] Marc Moss: Yeah, and I can certainly see the value in writing it out ahead of time. Sure.

And so for people who are insistent on that. I try to compromise with them and [00:31:00] encourage them not to write it out like they would an essay. But instead to draw it, like make a mind map and just write, yeah, write bullet points instead. Um, so that, you know, if they forget something, they don’t get hung up on that and they can just keep going.

So, I mean, and everybody’s got a different process. Sure. Um, I’ve watched storytelling workshops by other professional storytelling organizations that say, you know, the first version of your story, you should let it out longhand. Then you should transcribe it. Then you should practice it. Then you should revise it.

And it’s always going back to the written form. And then by the time you’re done with your story, you then when you’re ready to perform it, you know it so well that you don’t need to try to remember what you’ve written. [00:32:00] And that’s a whole different way to approach it. And that’s not, you know, certainly not how I approach it.

[00:32:07] Rick White: Right. I think that’s just a very particular, particular process, um, for certain people. Uh, but I think your, I think your way is better for, for a community storytelling event. Um, that, something about that vulnerability up there on stage. Not that just, not that, not that standing up in front of 800 people and reading or reciting and like doing anything is not vulnerable, but there is some, some intimacy that’s really exchanged there when, when someone is off the cuff.

And, and true, true magic happens. I know in, in our, in our, performance there, um, there were a couple of stories that, that we had workshopped together at your house that I was, I was kind of concerned about because the story wasn’t really coming together or, um, you [00:33:00] know, it was rambling or, or whatever and then those guys and gals just crushed it on the stage and it was all these surprising little twists and turns came out and, um, yeah, you saw, you saw it.

People who were actually born performers and, and really thrived off the crowd energy. Uh, and, and responded to, to funny little asides that we hadn’t even heard in workshop. Uh, it was just, it was wonderful to see that. See that happen. You just can’t do that if you, if you write out a story ahead of time and, and it’s trying to recite it close to it, you know.

[00:33:37] Marc Moss: Yeah, I mean you, you do that. You write it out ahead of time and where you think the jokes are gonna land, sometimes they don’t land and then that throws you off or there are jokes where you didn’t expect them and then you’re thrown off and it’s like, you know, that’s one of the things like, like you say, the magic of the event, the evening.

Is the exchange that’s going on between the [00:34:00] storyteller and the crowd. Um, who I like to think of as participants in a, in a conversation or a dialogue.

[00:34:08] Rick White: And hopefully, hopefully, um, a good participant, uh, constructive. Yeah, I mean, certainly. Opposite that. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. That was a wild, wild time, um, really interesting experience, but yeah, I mean, your, your vision of them as the audience, as participants is.

100% the case. There’s just so many, you know, uh, noises made, expressions of, uh, uh, that just, uh, that was one wonderful thing about telling this story on stage, was just knowing when something that I was saying was, was falling as I intended it to, and vice versa, just because you could hear people sighing, or you could hear [00:35:00] people laughing, or, or whatever it was, and it really does feel like a…

A kind of a co constructive experience of storytelling and listening and, um, Yeah, it will, it will be interesting to hear it again, and hear it when it’s on, on the Tell Us Something podcast, to hear it versus reading it, and, you know, I’ve, my parents and, have shared it with people, you know, down south, the, the written version of it, and it’s kind of made the rounds around my friends, so, I’ve, I’ve gotten feedback on the written version, but it’ll be interesting to see, um, What it feels like to listen to it again and, and to hear, hear that.

[00:35:40] Marc Moss: Yeah, I’m interested to hear what you think of it once, once we hear it again. Cause I don’t know if I, did I send you a copy of it?

[00:35:47] Rick White: You did, you did, and I listened to it back then. I think that was, that was January or something. So it’s been quite a while since I listened to it. Yeah.

[00:35:57] Marc Moss: Is there anything about your story that, uh, didn’t come out [00:36:00] either in the writing or in the performance of it that you want to share with, with our listeners?

[00:36:07] Rick White: Uh, I haven’t thought about that. I don’t think so. Um. Yeah, I, you know, that experience was, was, it defined so much of my life for, for so many years as a, being a teacher. Um, there’s so many experiences I could have written, I could write. You know, 10, 000 words just on my first day of teaching. Uh, and what it’s like to stand up in front of a group of ornery 9th graders, um, who, you know, should be, should be ornery, and, you know, stand up there with most of them not having English as their native tongue and me not speaking Spanish well enough to really know what they’re saying under their breath.[00:37:00]

I can, I can, I can write for days about that, but I feel like just trying to channel my experience as a teacher, uh, and concentrate it down. Um, I feel like I succeeded to, to a large, a large enough degree in this story. It’s something I’ll, I’ll continue writing about different facets of and different experiences.

Um, but for what, what I was going for in the, in the tipping point as far as, you know, nearing my own tipping point of, Of, of breaking and not being able to maintain whatever control of the classroom, um, or, or whatever shorthand you want for that. Um, I feel like I, I feel like I told it all, uh, in the story and wrote it all out, so.

Yeah, I don’t, I don’t think there’s anything missing from it, um, it does require context of it being Denver in, um, the early 2010s, [00:38:00] so I think that was actually 2010, September of 2010, so, yeah, um, I don’t know if the time, I, I, I think I’m in the spoken version that tells something, I, I, I located that time and place, but, Just in case.

Um, yeah, it was two thousand, two thousand ten in inner city Denver. Um, that’s where I was teaching. So, a lot has changed since then, uh, in Denver and in the world. So, yeah.

[00:38:30] Marc Moss: Well, Rick, I appreciate you spending time with me today, and I appreciate you remembering that it was today.

[00:38:37] Rick White: Absolutely.

[00:38:38] Marc Moss: COVID, it seems like time is a weird construct.

[00:38:43] Rick White: It really is.

[00:38:45] Marc Moss: If I don’t remember to write it down, it’s… That’s not going to happen, so I appreciate you picking up my slack.

[00:38:51] Rick White: Absolutely, Marc, no problem. Um, yeah, I can’t tell you how many appointments I’ve missed. I got an email last night from someone who I [00:39:00] promised to write a blog post for, and by the end of September, look at that.

Today’s the end of September. Yes, sir. Exactly. You know, so it’s just wonderful. I have faith in you. Yeah, thank you, thank you, I appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for calling and talking. It’s fun to talk about this stuff. I’m excited you got your workshop. Well,

good.

[00:39:20] Marc Moss: I’m glad you appreciate it. And, uh, good luck with the writing today and have an awesome rest of your week.

[00:39:25] Rick White: Yeah, thanks, Marc. Yeah, enjoy the weather. It’s going to be a cool weekend. All right, Thanks, Marc.

[00:39:30] Marc Moss: All right. Thanks, Rick. Bye.

Coming up after the break.

[00:39:34] Rick White: So I had a few letters behind my name. Those letters and what they signified of what I had earned or what I thought I had earned mattered less to my students than did the name preceding them, which was not so shield.

[00:39:48] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next Tell Us Something live storytelling event? You can get your tickets online at tellusomething. org. Better yet though, why not pick up some limited edition printed [00:40:00] tickets? These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters.

Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rooties. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rooties or get the digital version at tellussomething. org.

[00:40:26] Rick White: Much of my first year as a high school geography teacher in inner city Denver, I spent debating whether or not to pick the stapler up off the desk and throw it through the classroom window. Would the violence of intentionally shattered glass regain for my students the attention that I had lost? Would it somehow assert the authority that the professionally framed master’s degree on the wall behind my desk did not?

Or would it just get me fired and likely jailed? Was prison really that much worse than teaching 9th grade?[00:41:00]

Laughter For the first 88 days of that school year, I arrived at school at 7 a. m., left at 7 p. m., drove to Chipotle, bought a chicken burrito, ate a chicken burrito, drove home, walked my lonesome hound dog around the block, graded papers for a few hours. Wrote lesson plans until I passed out on the couch, then descended into fitful nightmares as I slept.

In my dreams, I stood in front of the same whiteboard on which I wrote neatly bullet pointed lecture notes in real life. In my dreams, I addressed the same low income Latino students who I taught in real life. In my dreams, I wore some combination of the same five dress shirts. And the same five neckties that I wore to class in real life.

All while [00:42:00] being strangulated by a half Windsor noose, and slowly dying of the embarrassment of lecturing to my students while not wearing any pants.

I was a teacher. But if my students ever thought of me as such, not once in those first three sleepless months did they ever let me know. On good days, I was bapdom, or way, dude. On bad days… I was pendejo. Asshole. Cabrón. Bastard. Sometimes even puta. I was brutal at one point. At least I was those things until I let on to my students that I knew more Spanish than they thought I did.

They whispered and muttered their names for me amongst each other at their desks. But to my face, My students always called me the same thing, [00:43:00] Mr. Not Mr. White, like I had introduced myself to them, because it was my name. Not even Mr. Rick, which I would have accepted, and might have even preferred. No, just little M.

Mr. Like they were trying to bum some change off of me. The stranger strolling down the sidewalk of their lives. . Hey, Mr. Said Fernando. One day his voice at age 14 already an octave lower than mine. At 27, Fernando carried himself with a casual confidence of a botto who’d always been big for his age. He had a good 20 pounds on me and proudly sported a Tuf to stubble on his chin, which jutted upward.

when he spoke, which was usually just to crack a joke. Hey, mister! Although I had just concluded a rivi uh, was just finishing a riveting lecture on latitude and longitude, I was surprised by Fernando that day because his voice conveyed [00:44:00] a sense of genuine curiosity. Hey, mister! Then I was concerned because curious students in my classroom were a kind of endangered species.

Or, as we in Capital E Education might call, at risk. Yes, Fernando. I said, Hey mister, who do you think is better? Messi or Ronaldo? In case you’re wondering, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were not the world’s two most famous geographers, but the world’s two most famous soccer players. Mr. White, in the classroom, with a stick.

The expectation from the school administration that year was bell to bell instruction, so bell to bell instruction was what my students got. Four page daily [00:45:00] lesson plans, exit tickets at the end of every class to prove that my students had learned what I had tried to teach them. Six formative assessments and one summative assessment every other week.

This, the study said, would close the gap. This, my principal said, would get my low income Latino students to college. This, the wealthy founders of the high performing charter school network said, would deliver my students to the promised land, that mythical paradise. Co ed dormitories, and full ride scholarships, and all you can eat cafeteria buffets.

Mythical paradise that one enters as a timid, unsophisticated freshman, and exits with a bona fide college degree, that golden ticket to the joyride of the American middle class. Signed, stamped, and guaranteed to get you the job of your dreams. That job that gives you purpose and meaning in your otherwise purposeless and meaningless [00:46:00] existence.

That job with a six figure salary and good health benefits. And a supportive work environment governed by a boss who prioritizes work life balance over all other things. Or something like that. In that world, The world of higher education, I had been something. I had recently graduated summa cum laude. In my students world, though, or at least in that intersection where our latitudes and longitudes crossed, in that world, in my classroom, I was just a rookie in a room full of hardened vets.

Whiter than a saltine cracker and greener than the left side of the Mexican flag. Yeah.

So I had a few letters behind my name. Those letters and what they signified of what I had earned, or what I thought I [00:47:00] had earned, mattered less to my students than did the name preceding them, which was not Xochitl. Name of both a Toltec queen and a feisty freshman girl with thick black eyeliner who sat in the second row of desks.

Xochitl. Girl whose name even her Spanish speaking friends had trouble pronouncing. Much less her white bread teachers, so she shortened it, she said, in the sixth grade, around the time that her cousins and uncles started getting gunned down in Mexican border towns. Casualties of the escalating drug war there.

No, my name was not Xochitl. My name was not Rogelio, either, and my father had not been deported in September for failing to signal for a left turn. My last name was not Guerrero, not Alvarez, not Trejo. And the status of my U. S. citizenship was so secure that I could not have even told you where my Social Security card was, much less would I [00:48:00] have needed to.

The name on my student, or my school, ID badge It was not Alicia Martinez. And though I did not go to the house parties that my non teacher friends invited me to each weekend, because I spent every minute of my so called free time, including weekends, grading papers, and writing lesson plans, Or dreaming about grading papers and writing lesson plans.

I could have gone to any of such house parties on any given Saturday without fear of being murdered and dismembered and stuffed into plastic garbage bags in some pendejo’s garage. I must have missed that lecture in graduate school, the one in which my professor explained the proper classroom management technique to employ on the Monday in class when every kid has just seen the picture of their friend and classmate, Alicia Martinez, on the Sunday evening news.

No. My name was not Xochitl. It was not [00:49:00] Corahelio. It was not Alicia Martinez. My name was Xochitl. Mr. What, Fernando? Mr., I’m serious.

Messi or Ronaldo?

Fernando, I said.

Your question cannot have less to do with today’s lesson on latitude and longitude. For that matter, not Lino Messi of Argentina. Not Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, not even Javier Chicharito Hernandez of Mexico. Has anything to do with the subject of geography at all. None whatsoever. But the answer to your question, sir, is messy by a mile.[00:50:00]

And if you’ll open your textbook to page 456 of the world map, and give me the coordinates of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lisbon, Portugal, Mexico City, Mexico, I’ll give you, in every other way, in class, a perfect score on today’s exit ticket. And we’ll call it good for today, how about that? And that’s when the nightmares ended.

That day in early November, just after Dia de los Muertos, the day I learned to meet my students where they’re at, the day my education began. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank

you.

[00:50:41] Marc Moss: Richard Harrison White is a writer from Northeast Arkansas. He is the author of Can’t Go, Can’t Stay, a yet to be published memoir of the year he spent on a grief journey with his rascal of a grandfather and a taxidermied raccoon. Once upon a time, he was a school teacher. Rick produces the podcast for Free Flow [00:51:00] Institute in Missoula, Montana.

Thanks, Rick, and thank you for listening today. For a link to the Free Flow Institute podcast and to learn more about Rick White, visit TellUsSomething. org. The Tell Us Something podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN Radio, The Trail 1033, Jack FM, and Missoula Source for Modern Hits.

You want to learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com thanks to float, Missoula for their support at the telesumming podcast. Learn more at float msla. com. And thanks to the team at Missoula events. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at Missoula events. net. Thanks to cash for junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at cash for junkers band. com. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event. You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org. Better yet, though, why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets? These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the [00:52:00] posters.

Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rudy’s. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rooties or get the digital version at tellussomething. org. To learn more about tele something, please visit tell us something.org.

Three storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell Part 2

[00:00:00] 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 lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s you can also get digital tickets at tellussomething.org

we acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendlay Salish and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations, their profound connection to the earth and its resources. Has left an indelible mark on the landscape. We now call home in recognizing their enduring legacy.

We are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, [00:01:00] preserving its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast,

[00:01:17] Charlene Brett: the thunder starts rolling and it’s echoing off all of these walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all, we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain instantly starts pouring.

[00:01:33] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going and I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too. And it’s gonna be really, really dark. And boy, was

I right!

[00:01:48] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:01:59] Marc Moss: Three storytellers [00:02:00] shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023 at Bonner Park Band Show. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop Refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities as well as those of their students.

The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Charlene Brett, who takes her two children and two Golden Retrievers into the backcountry for a backpacking weekend and survives a terrible overnight thunderstorm.

Charlene calls her story, A backcountry weekend adventure. Thanks for listening.[00:03:00]

[00:03:02] Charlene Brett: I’m a music teacher, and I love what I do. But… But as all teachers do, we live for summer. And I live for adventures in the summer. And this particular summer, I was talking with my oldest daughter Abby and my middle son Craig about going on a backpacking adventure. And we were going to leave my husband and my youngest son Tyler behind.

Now Abby is 15 and Craig is 12 and, and what you need to know about them is, is Abby is very independent, sort of headstrong daughter. of mine who’s like, yes, mom, let’s go. We can do this girl power and, and my son Craig is like, he likes to do that stuff, but he will always kind of step back and observe first and think about it and before he just jumps right in.

So I have two different personalities, but they’re both good. They’re like, yeah, mom, let’s plan this trip. So All week long, we’re [00:04:00] thinking about where we should go and we decide we’re going to go to Baker Lake, which is down in the southern end of Darby and sits in a circ at the base of Trapper Peak.

Trapper Peak sits at about 10, 100 feet in elevation and Baker Lake is about a thousand feet underneath that. And like I said, it sits in this cirque. So we’re like, hey, that looks cool. It’s only a mile and a half into it. And since we’re going to leave on a Friday late afternoon, that would be a good hike for us to get into and get into that lake and get set up.

I talked to my husband. He’s like, yeah, you can do this. You can do this. I’ll stay home with Tyler. All is good. You go for it. Well, all week long, on social media, and on the weather reports, they were calling for major thunderstorms that weekend. Ah, Montana weather. Montana’s bipolar. Look, it’s a blue sky, it’s beautiful right now, it’s going to be like that on this weekend too.

There’s not going to be a big thunderstorm. [00:05:00] All week long, social media. Better not do anything, there’s going to be a big storm. So we decide we’re going to wait until Friday and we’ll make that decision as to whether we should go or not. And Friday comes along, it’s the afternoon, the kids get off their job and we’re like, hey, what are we going to do?

I look outside, blue sky, not a cloud in the sky. Let’s go. So we throw our backpacks in, my little Toyota minivan, the mom van, and we hit Highway 93 and we head down to Darby and we hit the trailhead. And we start hoofing it up the switchback. It’s about a thousand foot elevation gain like in the first half mile.

And we’re huffin and puffin and we got two Golden Retriever dogs are with us, the ones that love going hiking, Bailey and Finley. And we get up to this beautiful overview and we’re looking at the valley below where we drove up the road and the sun is, you know, the sun is setting behind us and it’s casting this beautiful golden color over that valley and it’s [00:06:00] just gorgeous.

And we’re kind of looking at each other like, so glad we’re doing this, this is really cool. And for me, it was like a moment of. This weekend, this backpacking trip is a moment of, like, empowerment for myself that I can do this. I can take my kids on a backpacking trip on my own and it’s going to be okay.

Alright? So we’re providing some sort of, like, I don’t know, extra security or something that I’m proving to myself I can do this. Then we finish on the trailhead and we get to the lake. And we jump up to, or we climb up and there’s the head of the lake and it’s that first view of the lake when you finally get there.

It’s just gorgeous. It’s calm. The water is calm and the sun is setting behind all these ridges that um, circle around the lake and you can see Trapper Peak up off to the left and there’s a campsite right there that’s not taken. So we’re looking at this campsite and thinking, well, yeah, you know, it will be okay.

My dad. Always taught me to look around at the different options [00:07:00] before you choose one. It’s okay. There’s these rolling granite boulders, big boulders, because you’re up in the high country. And they’re colored, these beautiful colors coming down, it’s just gorgeous. These rolling boulders that go out to the lake that would make a perfect spot for the kids to jump off or dive off and swim in the water.

And I’m looking around and I see this one little patch of dirt. Where obviously other people have put a tent and right behind that is a really big tall dead tree a dead snake and I think Mom always said don’t put your tent under a dead tree in case a windstorm comes along We don’t have a choice if we’re going to take this campsite and those rolling boulders come right down to that and I’m thinking well if there is a thunderstorm then That rain might come down to our tent Let’s look for another spot.

Well, kind of look across the lake and you can tell that there’s this glorious campsite across the lake. It’s already [00:08:00] taken. Lucky ducks got the really cool spot. They’re set up over there and, and kind of look to the left and to the right of the lake and, and there really isn’t anything else. So this is our spot.

And it’s starting to get dark and we haven’t had dinner yet. So we set up our tent. I had a brand new tent from REI. I loved it. Little four person backpacking tent. Got the footprint to go with it. Smart. Set that baby up. It went up so easy. Made dinner, cooked some popcorn, I always pop popcorn on my backpacking trips.

Watched the fish jump in the lake, did a little swim to get all that sweat off from the hike. Watched the stars come out, it’s beautiful. When you’re up in the backcountry and you don’t have the light pollution, the stars just shine so much brighter. So we’re telling stories, pretty soon we are off to bed, it’s kind of a cold night.

No sound of rain or anything over the whole night. The morning we wake up, that sun is [00:09:00] coming into the tent. And if you sleep in a tent and you’ve ever had the sun coming in the morning, you know that feeling of warmth that comes. You’re just kind of snuggled in and just like, Oh, but I got to get up. So we finally get out of bed and we’re talking about different things that we’re going to do for the day.

Of course, I love to fly fish. I’m going to be fly fishing most of the day. My kids love to swim. And then they’re fishing a little bit too, but they’re spending more time swimming in the water and throwing sticks for the dogs and whatnot. And we’re walking around the entire lake, we’re checking out the stream at the back of the lake, we’re looking at the wildflowers.

And I’m looking at the sky again and I’m thinking, what an awesome weekend. There’s not a cloud up there. Bipolar weather in Montana, right? And during this time, this day, there had been some day backpackers that had come up to the lake. And spent some time, there were two different groups, and of course there’s this other campsite, and they’re doing fishing, and me, I’m thinking, I’m up here with my kids, but [00:10:00] there was a sense of security knowing I wasn’t the only adult up there.

So the day goes on, those day packers head out, and I’m kind of looking across the lake, and I notice that the other group of backpackers is packing up. And I’m thinking, hmm, starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable, you know, ah, we’re good. I got this. I can do this. There’s not a cloud in the sky.

Looking up at the peaks. It’s beautiful. Trapper Peaks. Amazing. I want to hike it someday. Don’t know if I can. Those backpackers head out and we have the lake to ourself. And there’s something about that, too. Like, it’s ours. We can be as loud as we want, we can do whatever we want up here. We’re not going to disturb anybody else.

So we head back over to our campsite, and we’re kind of settling in a little bit, getting ready for dinner. And the wind, just like right now, is picking up. Remember I said this lake sits in a circ at the base of Trapper Peak. [00:11:00] And that wind is coming in and it’s picking up really, really fast. And it’s starting to circle around the lake.

And I look up at the ridge tops. And the darkest, blackest clouds are just coming over the ridge in all different directions up there. And I thought, oh shit, here it comes. And it looks like it’s going to be a doozy. And when you’re up there at 9, 000 feet and you’re in a thunderstorm in the mountains and you’re all by yourself, you’re thinking, What the heck am I doing up here?

Maybe I shouldn’t have come. Maybe I should have like listened to my parents and stayed home. The thunder starts rolling and it’s echoing off all of these walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent, please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all, we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain.

Instantly starts pouring. The dogs are snuggled up next to me and they’re whining, they’re looking at me like, Mom, what are we going to do? And my [00:12:00] kids are kind of terrified and we just break out in laughter because what do you do when you’re freaked out? You start laughing. And so we’re laughing at each other and I’m sitting there praying, Oh my god, I hope we make it through this storm.

I hope that dead tree behind us doesn’t fall on us. The wind is really bad. In fact, the wind becomes so bad that the tent poles are starting to cave in on us. And so the next thing you know, my brand new tent, right? I’m not going to let this windstorm mess it up. We’re playing Twister in the tent. And we’ve got arms and legs stretched out, and we’re pushing out on those tent poles, and we’re trying to hold it, and I’m trying to keep the dogs calm, and I’m looking at my kids going, it’s going to be okay, we’re going to make it.

In my head I’m thinking, what if something happens to me? Do they know how to get out of here? Are they going to know what to do? Do they know where I put the keys to the minivan? Can my daughter drive down that hill?

Plane twister, hole in the nose, and finally my daughter [00:13:00] looks down and she sees these major ripples and bubbles in the bottom of the tent. Flowing from one end to the other. And she goes, Mom, look. And I went, Oh, crap. We’re going to have wet sleeping pads. We’re going to have wet sleeping bags. We’re going to have wet clothes.

It’s going to be a cold night. What am I doing? What am I doing? And then we laugh, and we sing, we have this crazy song that we sing, it goes, Sunshine and happy days, blue skies are all around us. And it’s meant to be off pitch because it’s like supposed to break the tension, right? So we’re singing that in the tent.

My daughter zips open the tent door, and pulls it back open, and we look. And there’s a five foot wide by about two inch deep river of rainwater running underneath our tent. And out the other side. I was like, [00:14:00] crap. We’re going to be wet. We’re going to be soaked. And we laugh, I’m trying, and happy, you know, and it goes on.

The storm finally subsides, and I assess the situation. Things are dry. Close up the tent. In fact, it subsides a little bit. We get out and we’re kind of checking things out. The tree is still standing. I close up the door. We settle in for the night because we’re not going to pack out in the dark. And I just tell him, okay, if we make it to the morning, we’re going to throw everything in our backpacks.

I don’t care how it’s organized. It’s just. I always organize my backpack really well. I don’t care how it’s organized, and we’re going to get out of here. We sleep. Well, they sleep. I kind of wake up off and on. You can hear the pitter patter of the rain, and every now, thunder boomer, and rain, and thunder boomer, and then finally the morning comes, and I open up the tent door, and it’s just a drizzle, and I’m like, hey kids, let’s go, back it up, we’re getting out of here.

So we’re stuffing things in, and getting ready to hike out, and on the hike [00:15:00] out, I’m thinking, Maybe it would be wise to invest in some sort of like S. O. S. satellite telephone or Garmin device. But then I was thinking, everything was okay. We did it. We had a great adventure. I have a story to tell and I live to do it and I’m more powerful for it.

And we made it home and we told our story.

[00:15:31] Marc Moss: Thanks, Charlene. Charlene Brett is a K 5 teacher in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana and has been teaching music for 14 years. She’s a fan of the great outdoors and enjoys escaping into various high mountain lakes in both Montana and Idaho in the summer to fly fish. When not backpacking with her family or her three mom friends, moms of the traveling backpacks, You can find Charlene hiking on her property with two female golden retrievers and her tortoise shell cat, who thinks she is a dog.

On those [00:16:00] cold Montana evenings, she enjoys working thousand piece outdoor image style puzzles. Our next storyteller is Jessie Novak. Jessie is an indoor person who goes on an outdoor adventure with her sister, Stephanie, in Lewis and Clark Caverns. Jessie calls her story, Finding Joy. Thanks for listening.

[00:16:20] Jessie Novak: I’m a quadruplet. That means that my parents had Four babies, on the same day, at the same time. I know, they’re blessed. Lucky them. The first thing I get asked when people find out that I’m a quad, is your siblings must be your best friends in the world, right? They obviously don’t have siblings. I will say, my sister Steffi, who’s in front of me, is my favorite person in the world.

We are polar opposites. Two sides of the same coin. She’s taller. I’m short. She is very outdoorsy. [00:17:00] I’m an indoor girl. Step has every credential under the sun. She collects them like they’re candy. Again, I like to stay inside step and I decide that in the summer of 2022, we were going to go on the great Mid Eastern Montana Road trip.

We were going to create, or recreate, a trip that we went on when we were little. Lewis and Clark Caverns. Now, we hop in the car in August. It’s hot, it’s sunny, surprisingly not smoky. We got very lucky. But, it’s August in Montana. It’s construction season. This drive that normally takes three ish hours. I’m a passenger princess, I don’t drive.

Don’t correct me. Took [00:18:00] six hours. In the heat. Stop and go construction the whole way. For those of you who have never been to Lewis and Clark Caverns, you drive up a mountain. And you hit the lodge. That’s home base for all of the tours going through the caverns. You have to check in there. They give you a wonderful little ticket.

And they tell you, if you can’t make it up that trail in 30 minutes, you don’t get to go on your tour. Because you’re not in physical, enough physical shape to go up and down the stairs in the caverns. Well we figured, we did this when we were 6 years old. We’re 23, we’ve got this. We’re gonna go do this, and we’re gonna rock it.

Steffi is the most prepared person I’ve ever met in my life. To the extent where she’s a little bit of a hoarder. She has water, sunscreen, snacks, band aids, extra snacks. [00:19:00] I show up. With snacks. No water.

No hat. Just food.

So we’re starting to hike up this trail. You gain about a 150 feet or so in elevation in a very short time span.

It’s hot, there’s no trees, and there’s nowhere to sit down. I’m dying. This is not what I remember. This is not what I signed up for. And Steffi’s walking next to me, like this is the best day of her life. She’s having so much fun, she’s singing songs, and I’m getting passed by six year

olds. It was perfect.

We made it up to the entrance to the caverns in 29

minutes. We

got to go on our tour. That’s money saved. When they take you [00:20:00] into the caverns, it gets very cold very quickly. And when you’re like me and you’re sweating like crazy, you get freezing. I’m not prepared. I didn’t bring a jacket. I stole Steffi’s.

It was great. When you go into the caverns, the first thing you remember if you go as a child is there is a natural slide. It takes maybe 30 seconds to get down, but it is the coolest thing in the whole wide world. Especially when you’re six. When you’re 23, 24, It’s a little less exciting, unless you’re Steffi.

Then it is the coolest thing in the world, bar none. She looks at me, and she says, Jesse, we are going down this slide. I say, absolutely not. I’m an adult. I’m not prepared for this. She says, we’re going. No way in hell. [00:21:00] So Steffi goes down the slide, and I can hear her giggle the whole way down. And I can picture the look on her face of pure joy.

I’m a party pooper, I took the stairs. Yay! More stairs! When you get to the very bottom of the caverns, they tell you a story about a man who was stuck down there for three days. Without electricity, and with a teeny tiny oil lamp. Oil lamps, if you don’t know, don’t put out much light. That’s okay. It’s the 21st century.

We have electricity. So we thought, We’re getting told this story. Our tour guide’s super into it. Very dramatic. He’s acting it out. And he says, we’re gonna reenact this. I’m gonna turn out the electric lights. And use this oil lamp to light up this huge[00:22:00]

Cavern. So you know exactly what it was like to be stuck down there for three days. I’m terrified. I don’t do heights. I don’t do the dark. In the caverns, if you fall, you fall for a thousand feet. And it is dark. There is no natural light. Steffi thinks this is the best. She is nerding out. She’s doing a little happy dance over in the corner.

I’m frozen. I don’t want to move. I don’t know where I’m

going.

Power goes out. And the oil lamp lights. Puts out more light than you think it does. Which isn’t saying much. As they’re finishing the story, they’re saying three days this man was stuck down there. Three. And I know where this is going, and I don’t like it one bit.

My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s [00:23:00] going to be really, really dark. And boy was I right. He blows the oil lamp out, and I am frozen. Not

breathing, not blinking.

And in the dark, I feel Steffi’s hand grab mine. And stay there for the longest two minutes of

my life.

Our tour guide turns the electric lights back on and tells us have a wonderful day after that traumatizing experience, you’re on your own.

Be free. Go up this flight of stairs and enter the real world again. So we do. There’s nowhere to go. You can’t turn around. Steffi is doing her little happy dance. This is so cool. This is so much fun. I’m terrified still. Absolutely traumatized. Walking up these stairs trying not to touch anything, trying not to look over the edge.[00:24:00]

Steffi almost bonks her head because she’s too busy looking at me and laughing rather than watching the stairs. When you exit the caverns, there’s an airlock system so you don’t let the bats out. One door opens, you go inside a hallway, and the other door shuts. And then another door opens, And you go outside.

Steffi held my hand all the way through that door. She knew that I was terrified and shaking like a leaf the entire time. Stepping out into the sunlight was probably the most freeing moment of my life. It’s bright, it’s warm again, which I complained about earlier. Never again. And Steffi’s right there beside me.

We snap our obligatory selfie, cause I went outside and I need to prove it. And we [00:25:00] continue walking back towards our car. Steffi is not ready to go home. I’m over it. This is already not what I signed up for. And she decides, we’re going to keep going on our adventure. We’re going to go hike to the Ringing Rocks.

And now every single summer, we go on a trip. She hasn’t picked this summer yet, but she’s going to. And I know that no matter where we go, she is going to be with me, holding my hand, and it is going to be amazing. The best.

[00:25:35] Marc Moss: Thanks, Jesse. Jesse’s an art teacher, quadruplet and enthusiastic dog mom growing up outside Missoula with her three siblings and father. She realized that the only ways to control the chaos of life was living in a small town, and teaching. So, she decided to do both. She relocated to Billings, Montana, received her teaching credentials, and quickly moved to the other end of the state, to a tiny town called Noxon.[00:26:00]

In a town where everyone knows everyone, she teaches K 12 art, hikes, attempts to grow a large garden when there isn’t six feet of snow, and spoils her fur child Peggy Sue rotten. Coming up after the break.

[00:26:13] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling really queasy.

[00:26:24] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next Tell Us Something live storytelling event? You can get your tickets online at tellusomething. org. Better yet though, why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets? These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters.

Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rooties. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rooties or get the digital version at tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. [00:27:00] Closing out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast is Sidney Holt.

Sidney lands a student teaching gig in India and an unfamiliar green sauce causes her great gastrointestinal distress on her first day of student teaching. Sydney calls her story, green sauce. Thanks for listening.

[00:27:21] Sydney Holte: I’ve always loved to travel. I love being in uncomfortable moments when I’m traveling out of my element. And a big part of loving traveling is I love to try new foods. I love to try foods that I’ve had before, maybe with a different spice or cooked in a different way. But I also just love trying new foods in general.

That’s a big part of why I love to travel. I was 21 and I was trying to decide where I was going to do my student teaching. And I was presented with an amazing opportunity to do my student teaching in India. And of course, being the person [00:28:00] that I am, I said yes, and I got on a plane in February to fly to India for four months, and I land in New Delhi.

It’s in the middle of the night, midnight 1:00 AM somewhere in there. And. I’m overwhelmed in the best of ways. I step out of the airport and instantly I smell incense. But I can also smell a lot of garbage. And I can also smell street food with spices that aren’t my normal spices, like turmeric. And I can also smell a lot of urine.

So, it was an overwhelming amount of smells in the best of ways. I could… Here, in the middle of the night, the mosques and bells going off, I could hear people chanting prayers over what seemed like a giant megaphone. And they did not tell me how the traffic would be in India. There are these roundabouts in [00:29:00] New Delhi that have like six or seven lanes, and there’s lines on the ground like there are here.

They’re just suggestions for where to drive.

So, people would go in these roundabouts and hit each other like real life bumper cars. And, uh, they would just continue on. Uh, so, it was overwhelming in the best of ways. I was in New Delhi for about three days, and then I traveled to where I was going to be doing my student teaching.

I had to travel about seven hours

on a train north of New Delhi, and then it was like a switchback up this mountain in a taxi. And… I’m, I’ve always been a little prone to getting car sick, so this, I, I had to tell the taxi driver several times to slow down, please. Um, so we get there, and it’s this, on top of this gorgeous mountain, it’s in the Himalayas, it’s these beautiful, [00:30:00] huge trees like this, and I met by my mentor that’s going to show me around campus.

And she shows me around campus and shows me where I’ll be living for the next four months. And the houses that the employees stayed in were anywhere from really close to campus to Three quarters of a mile away. My house that I was going to be staying in was about a half mile from campus. So half mile walk in and half mile walk after school.

And I had been at Woodstock International Boarding School for about two or three weeks and I was starting to get to know people a little bit, and I was invited to a party. I was like, great, I’m starting to get to know people, I’m feeling pretty good about it. And so I go to this party, and there’s food, and drinks, and there’s a new food that I have not tried before.

It’s fried, but it’s not pakora, I had tried pakora, [00:31:00] and there was… This green sauce next to it. So I try one, and I don’t know how I like it yet. It’s not, it doesn’t taste like cilantro. It doesn’t really taste like parsley. It has some different flair to it. So I try another one, and I try another one. I’m still not convinced if I like it or not.

So about four or five I tried, and then I finally decide that I don’t like it. And my stomach is feeling a little upset from eating it. And I don’t, I don’t really think much about it. I carry on. The next morning was a big day for me because I was going to be teaching my first lesson without any help from my cooperating teacher.

So I wake up and I’m feeling really queasy. I’m feeling really nauseous, really anxious about. Teaching this lesson, but I think, okay, I’m feeling queasy. It must just be because I’m anxious. So I continue getting ready. I start my half mile [00:32:00] walk into campus and I’m gradually feeling more and more. Yucky. My stomach really doesn’t feel good.

And I get up to the classroom and I’m doing a lesson with 7th and 8th graders on xylophones, and I start teaching, and you, normally, for me at least, when I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, I, The feeling goes away, but this time the feeling in my stomach did not go away. I was still feeling really queasy, and I get this urge to sneeze.

Oh shit, I just shit my pants.

And I shit them big. Poop is

running down my legs. And I was wearing tight pants that day, thankfully, and they were black, but I am…

Clenching my butt cheeks so that my poop doesn’t run onto the floor as [00:33:00] I’m teaching 7th and 8th graders. And I

don’t want to excuse myself

to go to the bathroom because I don’t want my cooperating teacher to think that I don’t care about teaching this lesson.

So as I’m going around helping these kids on xylophones, I’m just squeezing my butt tighter and tighter so that my poop doesn’t… End up on the floor.

I finished the lesson, and waddled my way back to my house,

and changed my pants, and all is well. But thinking back to this experience, I can’t help but think, if I can teach my very first lesson with poop running down my legs, then I can probably teach in most situations.

[00:33:56] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sydney. Sidney Holt was born and raised in [00:34:00] Minnesota and now teaches elementary music in Billings, Montana. She enjoys camping and fly fishing whenever she can with her husband, Jacoby. Singing and musical theater have always been a large part of her life, too. She loves canned goods, peeing in lakes, and drinking coffee before the sun rises.

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme lost in translation. The next tell us something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is lost in translation pitch your story for consideration by calling 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or you can get your tickets online [00:35:00] at tellussomething. org. The Tell Us Something podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits. You want to 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the telesumming podcast.

Learn more at float msla. com and thanks to the team at Missoula events. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at Missoula events. net. Next week in the podcast, I catch up with local author, Rick White. Just way back there

[00:35:39] Rick White: in the heart of the subway, Bitterroot National Forest. So, yeah, we were at the end of the road and, um, off grid

for, for three weeks.

And it looked like me scribbling furiously and, uh, on a yellow legal pad and then transcribing onto a, uh, a hundred dollar typewriter that I’ve sent at the [00:36:00] antique mall beforehand so that I could… Translated into print.

[00:36:04] Marc Moss: Rick and I chat about the story that he told live on stage at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana in December, 2019.

[00:36:11] Rick White: So I had a few letters behind my name. Those letters and what they signify to

what I had earned or what I thought I had earned

mattered less to my students than did the name preceding them, which was not so shield.

[00:36:25] Marc Moss: The theme that night was tipping point. We also talk about podcasting, writing his artist residency. And storytelling. Tune in for his interview and listen to his story. On the next, tell us something. Podcast. Thanks to Cash For Junkers who provided the music for the podcast, find them at cash for junkers band.com. To learn more about, tell us something, please visit tell us something.org.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell - Part 1

[00:00:00] 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 lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s, you can also get digital tickets at tellussomething.org. We acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendelle Salish and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations, their profound connection to the earth and its resources. Has left an indelible mark on the landscape. We now call home in recognizing their enduring legacy.

We are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving [00:01:00] its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast.

[00:01:17] Stephen Tucker: The world starts to come into clear focus. And I can hear the dog still barking and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks like something is wrong. To do

[00:01:27] Sandy Sheppard: my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient.

I’m a little nervous.

[00:01:40] Jolyne O’Brien: And I turn and look at my daughter, and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure,

[00:01:51] Candace Haster: mom. So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I want to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want [00:02:00] to, but I want to start simply. Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:02:06] Marc Moss: Four storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023. At Bonner Park Band Show, the storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop, refine, and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities.

As well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Stephen Tucker. Stephen Tucker accidentally learns who his favorite cat is when his apartment complex catches fire.

Stephen [00:03:00] calls his story Midnight Mayhem. Thanks for listening.

[00:03:06] Stephen Tucker: In May of 2013, I graduated from the University of Montana with my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. And I got my first teaching job teaching fifth grade in the Bitterroot Valley. And so it was time to finally move out of my college apartment and get a place of my own.

And I knew the first thing that I wanted to do was I was going to replace my college roommate with two cats. I wanted to get two cats in particular because I wanted them to be able to keep each other company when I was gone for the long days of teaching. So I went to the Humane Society with my mindset on finding and adopting two kittens.

And I went into the room with all the kittens, played with them, and there just really wasn’t much of a con Excuse me, much of a connection building and I walked out of the room feeling a little bit disappointed and I walked down a corridor going towards the back of the Humane Society where they have some more enclosures and some bigger cages and that’s when I saw this bigger cage that had these two cats in there.

They [00:04:00] were older cats, eight years old. Uh, their names were Sunshine and Pepper Ann and I took them out and I cuddled with them and in that moment I knew right away. That these cats were going to be my girls. So Sunshine, she’s a Himalayan with this beautiful thick white fur with these golden hues in her ears and in her paws.

And she has these mesmerizing blue eyes that when you stare into them you just can’t help but fall in love with her. And just want to pick her up and hug her and squeeze her. And, which kind of sucks because she hates being picked up more than anything. But, doesn’t stop you from wanting to pick her up and hold her and hug her.

And Pepper Ann. She is a stubborn cat and she’s got these beady yellow eyes. She’s a tortoise shell cat. And the thing that I love so much about her is that she loves to talk to you. And when you stroke her in just the right area, right behind her ear, she’ll cackle at you. So I moved into a small cabin for my first year of teaching down in the Bitterroot Valley.

And when I say small, I mean it was really small. 350, 400 [00:05:00] square feet, lacking a lot of amenities. So after the first year, I knew we needed to find something different. So I moved into a brand new apartment just right behind the Lolo Peak Brewery. And when I say brand new, I mean this apartment was literally brand new.

They had just finished constructing it. You could still smell the fresh paint and the new carpet when you walked in. And this wasn’t just any apartment. This was one of those ones that they built as a luxury apartment. So it had the 18 foot vaulted ceilings, the fancy countertops, the high end appliances.

It didn’t really feel like living in an apartment. It felt like living in a resort. So Sunshine Pepper and I, Pepper Ann and I, we got settled in. Pepper Ann immediately claimed dominion over the guest bed. She covered that thing with so much thick fur, I don’t even remember what color the comforter was, cause she spent all her time there.

I made a mistake, I think I said Sunshine did that, that was Pepper Ann. Sunshine, she found her [00:06:00] happy place on my balcony. And she loved to sit out on my zero gravity chair like a little princess basking in the sunlight. And my favorite thing to do was when I’d go out there and grill and she’d be out there with me and I called her my little grilling partner.

So like I said, we’d been settling in quite well. Beautiful brand new apartment complex. Really quiet as well. Hadn’t even met the neighbors, um, and this was about a month after living there. It’s late. August in 2014. It’s the middle of the night, probably like 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’m fast asleep. And in my sleep, I hear the sound, a muffled sound of a dog barking, ARF, ARF, ARF.

And it, uh, starts to wake me up a little bit. I’m not sure if this is something going on in a dream, or in real life, and it continues. ARF, ARF, ARF. ARF, ARF, ARF. And this goes on for about two or three minutes, all the while I’m slowly starting to wake up but still in that deep sleep fog. And I’m starting to realize, like, this is real life, and I’m getting really confused because I know [00:07:00] it’s three, four in the morning.

And I’m like, why is this neighbor letting their dog bark and bark and bark? And as I’m thinking about this, then I suddenly hear this soft pounding sound. And so now I’m really getting curious and getting a little bit perturbed, starting to wake up even more. I pull out my earplugs, and the world starts to come into clear focus.

And I can hear the dog still barking, and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks, like something is wrong. So that gets my heart rate pumping. And then all of a sudden I hear the pounding again. Pew, pew, pew. And it was the wall of my bedroom shaking. And then I hear, Sheriff’s Department, the building’s on fire, everyone get out.

So again… You know, I’m not fully awake at this point. I’ve got the 3 a. m. brain. And so the first thought that goes through my mind is, well, the building can’t be on fire. It’s brand new. They just finished building it. And I realize that logic makes absolutely no sense. But at 3 a. m. it makes [00:08:00] perfect sense.

So I get out of bed and I go to the front door and I pull it open and as soon as I pull open the door, the smoke immediately starts billowing in. I can smell the burning, um, the burning plastic and the burning wood. And the other thing is I hear the sound of a smoke detector from one of the apartments on the other end of the complex.

It’s beeping. Beep! Beep, beep. And with all of that evidence confronting me, I look down at the sheriff’s deputy who’s down the hallway still pounding on the walls and I say, is there really a fire? I don’t think he heard me because he didn’t say anything in response to me, but that was the moment that it kind of finally clicked and the adrenaline kicked in.

So I ran into my room, changed out of my pajamas and came out into the family room and did what everyone probably would do at that point. In that moment, and I started walking around in circles. So you know how sometimes you have that fight or flight response? You can also have that freeze response. And I could not make a decision about what to do next.

A million [00:09:00] questions were racing through my mind. What, you know, how much time do I have? Do I have time to grab things? What should I grab? Should I grab my computer? Do I, should I grab my documents, my birth certificate? What about the cats? And that’s when I noticed them. They’re just sitting there, without a care in the world, looking up at me.

Wondering what’s going on, why I’m walking around in a panic. And so I realized I gotta get my cats and I gotta get out of here. But again, not that easy making decisions in that moment, still a million questions racing through my head. Well, do I have time to go get their carriers out of the storage closet on the balcony?

Uh, if I come back in, I mean they’re in front of me right now, what if they run away when they see the carriers? You know, then I have to find them, I don’t know how much time I have. So maybe I should just scoop them up. And just carry them out of the apartment. But, you know, things racing through my mind.

What if they get scared, start squirming? I don’t want one of them to get away. The last thing I want is one of them to disappear and to lose one of them. So, again, I can’t make a decision. And then, just suddenly, without [00:10:00] thinking, I grab Sunshine and I run. So I’m carrying her out the door, across the balcony way, down the stairs.

She’s digging her claws into me, squirming. Uh, and get down to my car, open it up, toss her in, and then turn around. And I can kind of assess the scene and take in what’s going on. And there is an apartment that’s on the complete… The opposite end of the complex, as far away from mine as it could possibly be, and on the balcony, there’s flames that are building up, they must be like 5 or 10 feet tall.

It’s a pretty raging fire. But I can see that it’s contained in the balcony really far away from my place. So I realize, okay, it’s safe, I’m gonna go back in. I’m gonna go get Pepper Ann now. So, same story, she’s digging her claws into me, probably a little bit extra hard because she’s like, what the heck, why’d you leave me?

And, got her in the car, and then that’s when I really had the time to start breathing, taking the scenario, I realized, all my neighbors are out there with me as well, these people I’ve never met, what a weird way to Get to know your neighbors standing out watching the building burn at three [00:11:00] in the morning.

And you know, like me, there’s some of the neighbors, they’re out there with their pets. We’ve got a neighbor who’s with their dog, and we get to chatting with each other, and one of the neighbors tells the story of what happened. They said we were asleep in our beds and we heard this loud, huge explosion.

It shook the whole apartment and we looked out the window. The next door neighbor’s balcony was on fire. So we called 9 1 1 and reported it. And when we gave him the address, They didn’t know where we were. Remember that part where I said that the building was brand new? Apparently it was so brand new that 911 didn’t even know that it existed.

So they had to give them directions. Um, but all the while, while we’re having this conversation, the fire department’s there, and I hear, it sounds like Niagara Falls, like thousands of gallons of water that they’re using to douse this fire on this balcony, and it’s pouring over the edge. And it was probably about an hour or so before they had it completely mopped up and we were able to go back inside.

And I remember thinking, man, how the heck am I going to fall asleep now? So what you don’t know is, the next day is basically the [00:12:00] first day of teacher orientation returning back to school. So, you want to talk about back to school nightmares, I pretty much lived one of those. So, I don’t think I did get back to sleep, but went to school the next day, everything went well.

Came home and talked to that same neighbor and they had talked to the landlord, the landlord had figured out what had happened. And so apparently the people who live in that corner apartment, they were smoking a cigarette earlier in the afternoon and they put it out in a dried flower pot on their balcony.

And then they up and went out of town. And that thing smoldered in the flower pot all day and all night until the middle of the night when a flame caught. And then that lit the dried plant on fire. And then that flame spread to the gas tank of a lawnmower that they had on their balcony. And that detonated and that caused the whole incident.

And I remember taking away two things. The first one was thinking to myself, who the [00:13:00] hell lives in a second floor apartment and has a lawnmower on their balcony? And the second thing was, I think I might have just accidentally figured out which of my cats is my favorite. I’m sorry, Pepper Ann.

[00:13:18] Marc Moss: Thanks, Steven. Steven Tucker is a third grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley with ten years of experience. As a teacher, he has a passion for science, technology, and coaching Lego robotics. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and spending his days on the lake with his pedalboard. When he is not teaching or enjoying the outdoors, Stephen spends his time watching way too much YouTube and indulging in his unhealthy obsession with Taco Bell.

Our next storyteller is Sandy Shepard, who details her ordeal of becoming the first woman optometrist in Montana in the 1980s. Sandy calls her story, I Will Rise Up, or It Takes a Little Time. Thanks for listening. [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Sandy Sheppard: Hello, Missoula!

It’s

so nice to be here with you. Thanks for coming. But in 1982, this was a different state. Summer of 1982, my husband and I moved from the University of California at Berkeley because he was taking his dream job at the University of Montana. He was teaching fire science, and he was close to the fishin and the huntin So, it was my job to find my place in this new state, this new town.

Being a practicing optometrist, I knew what I had to do first. I had to go to Helena, Montana, a new city for me, and take the board exam. Uh, several people come once a year, and um, you take a written test, A lab test and then you examine a real live patient. [00:15:00] Well, my lucky day, I had a six year old in my chair and I knew this was gonna be a piece of cake.

I go to the right eye, I scope ’em, I say, which is better? One, two. I go to the left eye, which is better? 1, 2, 1. Done. Well, I walk out to the mom, I tell her my results, I predict her son’s future, and I ask, do you have any questions? And then, I leave with my husband because it’s time to go home. Job done.

Check. Well, I have to wait two or four weeks to get my little acceptance letter.

And guess what? I failed.

I failed because I didn’t go and ask the mother if she had any questions. Oh, I was so naive. I trusted the system. I [00:16:00] trusted that the board would know I went out and asked the mother or if they knew I needed to they would have followed me.

But I didn’t go and say, Hey, I just asked the mom questions and here’s what we said. I was baffled and I was angry. I got myself an aggressive woman attorney. And she went to the board and she told me, hey, they’re going to do you a favor. They’re going to give you a I passed

the first one. She said, Sandy. You can either take this special test or you can wait till next year. I didn’t have a choice, so my husband and I go to a new city. Great Falls, Montana.

And

we enter this old optometrist’s office, which is fine because I love old equipment. [00:17:00] And guess who my patient is this time?

The old optometrist. Who happens to be a member of the board. So, to do my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient. I’m a little nervous. In fact, the tension is so strong you can cut it with a knife. I gotta prove myself. So I scope the right eye.

Pretty easy. I scope the left. Well, I’ll do the right first. Which is better? One, two. Which is better? One, two. Okay. I go to the left eye.

Guess what? This eye’s a whopper! It’s off the charts!

If I [00:18:00] weren’t so nervous,

I would’ve figured it out. I would’ve taken that faropt away and I said, You were born with a bum eye, weren’t you? But, I was reduced. I had lost. And I went to the car and said to my husband, Let’s go, I failed again. Well, this is a little Japanese American guy, a great debater, a great professor, internationally known.

He’s not gonna let this stop us. So he goes back into the building, talks to him, comes out, Sandy, you gotta go in and talk to him. They wanna talk to you. Oh my God. So I do. I go back in, and guess what they say? What do you have to say for yourself? I’m reduced to a four year old Navy [00:19:00] brat who doesn’t have a place at the table.

I can’t defend myself, I just buckle. I crumble. And I walk out. I don’t say a word. Well, I looked at my husband, guess who gets my wrath? My husband. I didn’t realize that he didn’t understand what we were up against. That we were up against men who were narrow minded, who weren’t ready for the first woman optometrist, let alone from California.

Who could have been racist. He was Japanese. I didn’t know that, but I sure was mad at him for throwing me into a snake pit. So we’re driving home. I’m fuming and I’m just so full of shame. I flunked twice that I just [00:20:00] wanted to throw myself out of the speeding car. But I didn’t. Thank God. And we went home.

My plan was I’m going back to California. I’ll wait a year and come back and take the test. I did so well in California. I stayed with my step grandparents. My adopted grandparents. We had martinis every night. I found two awesome jobs. And one time she said to me, Sandy, I just know when you’re going downstairs, you’re just crying in your pillow because you miss your husband so badly.

I said, yes, I do. I couldn’t tell her that I was going downstairs, snog her into my, my pillow. So it was lovely being with them again. And then I went home. It was July. It was July the next year,

[00:21:00] and I went

to take my test. Lo and behold, I

didn’t have to hardly take

any test, and they passed me. I can’t even remember what little test I had to take.

What shocking, what a shocking situation. Why did they make me wait a year? But, the point is, I came home, I started my own business, I bought my building, I retired at 60, and… I love Montana. I love Missoula. My husband is not my husband anymore, but I sure am grateful that he brought me here.

Thank you.

[00:21:43] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sandy. Sandy Shepard was a Navy brat. She lived in oceans, bays and islands. She is thrilled now to be living on the Clark Fork River. Who would have guessed that she would have landed in Missoula, Montana and would have stayed for 41 years. Sandy believes that her first three years [00:22:00] may have been happier landing on the moon.

Coming up after the break

[00:22:03] Jolyne O’Brien: … and I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure mom.

[00:22:15] Candace Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I’m going to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. Okay. You should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:22:30] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event. You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org better yet though. Why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets?

These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters. Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rudy’s. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rudy’s or get the digital version at [00:23:00] tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. Jolene O’Brien shares her story about what people never told her about pregnancy. Jolene calls her story, No One Told Me, or The Fourth Trimester. Thanks for listening.

[00:23:17] Jolyne O’Brien: Good evening, thanks for coming out tonight. Um, it all, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2020.

Four beautiful, huge, bald heads, eight arms, eight legs, came through this body. And no one told me.

I remember the summer of 2014. It was shortly before I gave birth to my second child. I was super pregnant in my third trimester. And my husband was [00:24:00] leaving for Phoenix to go for a business trip. And I thought, I’ll tag along. Winter was coming in Missoula, and I needed all the vitamin D that I could get.

I should have been traveling on an airplane at that time, but I went ahead and went anyways. And while we were in Phoenix, my husband was off doing his business thing, and I decided to research some really great things to do. So I came across this taco truck event. That was about 200 taco trucks all in one area.

If you love tacos, raise your hand. You are my people and we Couldn’t get tickets, they were sold out. So I went ahead and shenaggled and got us um, some free tickets through um, this marketing event that I told them that I would do which was take a picture of myself on Facebook really quick and then get free tickets and hop into the Docker Truck event.

Fabulous. So as we were at [00:25:00] this taco truck event, we walk in and I can smell the barbacoa, and I can hear the sizzling, and I see the fresh pico de gallo, but I do what all pregnant women do, and I scope out the bathroom scene. So I find it, it’s an amazing set of port o potties off to the side. I tell my husband I’m gonna go get in line, and he’s thinking for tacos, and I’m actually heading to the line of the port o pot, and I head over there.

My husband graciously and lovingly joins me in line because we know no one in this thousand person taco truck event. So I go to the restroom. Go get a taco, go back to the restroom, taco, back to the restroom, taco, my husband ditches me, I go to the restroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing that.

It was hot, it was hot, it was muggy. My, my event wasn’t as great as his, he had all the tacos he could eat, I spent my event smelling a port a [00:26:00] pot. So we leave, and the next morning, we go, um, to go to the airport, and my husband is super punctual, and I am on time if I’m 30 minutes late. We are running 30 minutes late.

So he is agitated, irritated, and we show up and it’s um, the part of the airport that’s under construction. So, there’s no bathrooms, there’s no restaurants, and there’s no um, like clothing and cute purses and bags that you normally would see when you walk through an airport. So that’s fine. So we get in line and I am doing again what all pregnant women would do.

I’m scoping out for the bathroom scene. And it is at, we are at the back of this huge line, and it’s on the other side of the TSA. Excuse me. So on the other side of the T ss A, so I am thinking to myself, well, if I can snaggle some taco tickets that are sold out, I can sure as heck get to that bathroom really quick.[00:27:00]

So I ditched the luggage and I start like weaving through the line. Like I know somebody at the front like you might do in Disneyland. There’s my partner up there you go. That’s for me. And I get to the front and I go through T S A. And my only focus at this point is to get to that bathroom. Well, the gentleman who’s running the TSA, 6’4 bald, 350 pound man, had a different agenda.

He pulls me over to the side and wants to search me because I look super suspicious with my belly looking like I swallowed two watermelons. I’m in a dress kind of similar to what I’m wearing tonight. So I said, Sir, I’m so sorry, but I have to go to the restroom. And he said, I’m not, no, that can’t happen.

Follow me. Well, I’m not really wanting to follow him. So I said, no, I really have to use the restroom. And he says, I’m sorry, you can’t. Please follow me into this room. And he walks me. Mind you, I just, all the people I just snuck in front of. Okay, don’t forget that. [00:28:00] I walk in front, or I’m walking a couple steps behind him.

And he takes three steps to his room. Which is a quadrilateral of four translucent… Help me with the word. Walls. Thank you. Where everyone is now watching me get searched by my new friend. So I’m the lady in Costco that when you want to come talk to me about how cute my belly looks, I don’t want you to touch me or rub you.

Or rub me. Please don’t do that. And I’m realizing I’m about to get searched. He asks for, put my arms out, put my legs out. And I’m thinking to myself, I’m not going to make it. So again, I plead. Sir, I really need to use the restroom. No, you may not. He is as serious as serious can be. And he’s not realizing the seriousness of the situation.

So my arms are out. He rubs, he has no wand, for whatever reason. And he rubs his arms across my arm, back under, down my… [00:29:00] Sides down my leg and over my shoe. Well at this moment I am like starting to panic. And I do what all beautiful third trimester women would do in this situation. And as he takes his hands to check up my legs, I pee on him.

Thanks friend. Well, he’s not chasing me down as I turn and rush myself beelining it for the bathroom. No one tells you. So I make it to the, by this time my husband had put the luggage through. We make it to the front of the door and I am sitting in urine clothes for the duration of this, of the ride home.

Flight home. No one told me. 10 years and not one time did this topic come up. No one told, no one told me. It was the summer. [00:30:00] I’m sorry, it was the winter. Of 2020, Missoula had about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was arctic freezing cold outside. It was this like arctic shifting wind, um, the kind that hits your face and you were like immediately boogers frozen.

So I had taken my daughter on a evening with mom, we do Wednesdays with mom at our house, and afterwards I needed to stop by WinCo to pick up… A few items before heading home. We had a brand new vehicle that we had just purchased. And my husband loves this thing. It’s now my car. It’s the family car. And as we’re walking out, I have a cart full of groceries.

Step and crunching in the snow. Niagara Falls come falling out of me with no warning. And I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem [00:31:00] is, but she is sure on board to help mom, whatever it is. Eyes big and sure, mom. Whatever I can do. So I continue walking and I turn just to look behind me for a moment and notice that dog trail in the snow that I had just left.

I have a few steps to the car and I’m thinking, how am I going to get out of this because I’m not getting in my brand new car with soaking wet pants. So I do, I think what you would do, I took my pants off in the middle of the parking lot in Wingo. And I turn to my daughter and I say, I need your coat, sweetheart.

She is refusing to give her coat up at this point because it’s arctic cold outside. And I said, no sis, I really need it. I so am so sorry for the two gentlemen that were walking past at that moment.

She hands me her coat. I stick it on the chair. I take my coat off and I cover myself and I drive home naked. [00:32:00] Ashamed. Embarrassed, and so proud of my 8 year old. So I call my husband, and I tell him I’ve had an accident. And I need his help. And I need him to meet me at the door with some pants. Well his immediate response is that we need to call 911.

I don’t disagree, there’s a problem. But it’s not the car that’s broken, it’s me.

So I explain to him the problem and he meets me at the door with pants. And the reason I’m up here today to share this story with you is after 10 years when no one told me, I’m here to tell you there’s something called fourth trimester. And it’s something your body needs as a woman after having a baby.

And so if you are pregnant, if you’ve just had a baby, if you know someone having a baby, please do your research and tell them about fourth trimester. Nobody told me, [00:33:00] so I’m here standing here. Love yourself. Love your babies. I’m here to tell you. Thank you.

[00:33:11] Marc Moss: Jolene O’Brien is a wife of one husband, mom of two daughters and two sons. And a teacher of hundreds of children. Jolene is a woman, a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and a close friend. She is an artist, a portrait photographer, and an incredibly creative writer. Closing out this episode of the podcast is Candace Haster.

Candace shares her story of deciding to have a baby and the process by which she did so with a kind sperm donor. Candace calls her story. Well, that’ll be interesting. Thanks for listening.

[00:33:46] Candace Haster: Hi. Um, so my story begins with the moon, but before that there was a storm. I was 33 years old. I was in [00:34:00] France with my mom. We were on a walk. She’s over there. Um, we were walking and it starts to rain. It’s a downpour. We’re soaking wet. There’s nowhere to seek shelter. We are just wet. And we are laughing.

And if you know my mom, and if you’ve heard her laugh, then you know that her laugh is the kind of laugh that makes you laugh too. Her big laugh. Her belly laugh. Sometimes she bends over while she’s laughing, and sometimes there’s snorts. Um, so we’re walking in the storm, trying to get out of it, running, laughing.

And as soon as the storm, or as quickly, I should say, as the storm comes in, it parts. And we’re hungry. So we find a restaurant, and we sit down to eat dinner. And there’s sourdough bread, and there’s an Aperol spritz, and there’s wine. And there’s this [00:35:00] salad. And my mom still talks about this salad to this day.

Perhaps it’s her favorite salad that she’s ever had. By far, it’s the most unusual that I’ve ever had. Picture with me, if you will, um, a bed of butter lettuce greens and asparagus and apples. But if you’re picturing this right now, I guarantee that you’re picturing it wrong. So… Imagine with me a green apple, a whole one, a round one.

It’s cored, a cylinder through the middle. It’s sliced thin, so what you have are donut shaped slices of apples. Three of them, arranged on the plate, on top of the butter lettuce. Through each apple is stuck, vertically, a spear of asparagus. But the asparagus isn’t green. No. This is the kind of asparagus that is grown under a pile of [00:36:00] hay.

To deprive it from light. This is white asparagus. Why? Personally, I prefer my asparagus to be green. So anyways, you can picture it now. White asparagus. Stuck through slices of apples with holes in them. Arranged on a plate. It’s a great salad. We finish dinner. There’s more wine. We decide to go on a walk.

The town that we’re in, in the Burgundy region of France, is surrounded by what are called ramparts. These are old stone walls meant to protect the town. Along some of the ramparts you can walk, and on some of the ramparts you can walk on top of them. They’re so wide. So we’re walking on top of these ramparts because we want to get a glimpse of the moon.

This is something that we’ve always done. We’ve always gone to go catch glimpses of the moon. We’re walking, it’s still cloudy, but the clouds part, and the moon shows itself. But it looks weird. [00:37:00] Why is the moon shaped like that? Why is it that color? It takes us a while to realize this, but what we’re witnessing is an unexpected eclipse.

And we laugh. It’s amazing. It’s magical. And in that moment, I know that this full moon is going to trigger my period. And in that moment, I also know that two weeks from now, I will ovulate. And in that moment, I also know that I’m ready to get pregnant, to have a kid. So, step back with me in time about 11 years prior.

I’m about 22 years old now. I’m walking in the north hills of Missoula, again, with my mom. The moon is out, but it’s the daytime. It’s a pastel moon. And we’re talking. We’re talking about all different things. We’re talking about the flowers that are growing. We’re talking about what’s for dinner that night.

We’re talking about my [00:38:00] partner at the time. And my mom says to me, Are you a lesbian? I don’t know. Well, are you gay? I don’t know. Well, what do you think I should call you? You can still call me Candace, Mom. We keep walking and a little bit later she says to me, Do you want to have children someday? Yeah, I do.

Well, that’ll be interesting. Indeed mom, that will be interesting. So come on back in time, actually forward in time again, to right when I get back from France. And, uh, I’d had previous conversations with a midwife and I’d also gone to the library and checked out so many books that talk about how to women can get pregnant.

And what all of the books tell me is that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be expensive. You’re [00:39:00] going to have to use interventions. And my midwife confirms, yeah, it’s going to be hard. You’re probably going to have to use interventions and it’s going to be expensive and insurance won’t cover anything.

Not that I had insurance anyway. But wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. I remember in middle school, those VHS tapes that we watched, those sex ed VHS tapes featuring Patricia F. Miller. She told us that we could, I could, in fact, get pregnant in a hot tub without even having sex. Do you remember those stories?

Some of you remember those stories. I know you do. So what gives? Um, so I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple, I want to try it in the most simple way possible. I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. [00:40:00] Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

But count it as practice, because what you’re going to need is a lot of practice. Okay. So previously, my partner and I had talked to our friend Seth, who had agreed to donate his sperm.

His partner Kenya was 100% on board. Kenya loves participating in weird shit. So… We make a plan. I give them this little plastic cup with an orange lid. Kenya helps Seth get his semen into the cup. She brings it to the house in her bra. It has to stay warm. And she knocks on the door. We have a secret knock.

Because there’s no need for chit chat in these moments. I open the door, Kenya hands over the semen. She [00:41:00] explains that during the process of getting the semen into the cup, there was a lot of laughter. Which I love. Um, she also said Seth is a little bit worried that it’s not enough. There’s not very much in there.

Like this much. Um, is it enough? I don’t know. I don’t have that much experience with semen at this point in my life. So, we go about the business. Put that up into me. Some of it slides out immediately. Scoop it back in. It’s okay. My midwife had previously told me that because I have a tilted uterus, which is not uncommon for women my size, that after the insemination, I should rest with my hips above my shoulders.

She suggested that I get down on all fours, but on my elbows. Rest that way. It’s not comfortable. She also told me how important it was to relax. I try [00:42:00] that. I try relaxing. And I decide that what I need to do is move my body because that’s what I am most comfortable doing. So we go backpacking. We get to this favorite spot.

Set up a tent, and these clouds roll in, and it’s a storm, it’s a full on thunderstorm. There’s thunder, there’s lightning, all of it, and in that moment, I feel this surge. It’s right here, right here, a little lightning bolt, and I know in that moment that I’m pregnant. Nobody believes me. You’re so weird, Candice.

Um, well 41 weeks and one day later. I’m in my kitchen. I’m making bread. My mom is there. Kenya’s there. I think they’re making dinner. The dough is sticky. I put flour on my hands. Knead the dough more, and I feel my contractions beginning. I hold that moment for myself for a while before I tell anyone. [00:43:00] Then at about three o’clock in the morning, my kiddo is born.

In my house. My mom and Kenya finished making the bread. And, a little bit later, a storm rolls in. There’s thunder, and there’s lightning, and the house smells like fresh made bread. Now, Things are a little bit different right now in my life. I have a different partner, and I have a little bit more experience with semen.

But, I still take time to look at the moon. And in fact, last night, my kiddo came to me right before bedtime and he said, Hey Ma, wanna step out on the stoop and take a glimpse at the moon? Hell yeah kiddo. Always.

[00:43:59] Marc Moss: Thank you. [00:44:00] Candace grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to and fell in love with Missoula in the 1990s. You can find her small scale ceramic and paper artwork tucked into nooks and crannies around town, in the woods, and possibly in your neighbor’s pocket. She has a parent, a Scorpio, an avid cyclist, and is way into tigers.

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme. Lost in Translation, the next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration by calling 406 203 4683.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or [00:45:00] you can get your tickets online at tellussomething. org. Join us next week.

[00:45:05] Charlene Brett: The thunder

starts.

Rolling

and it’s echoing off all of these

walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all

we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain

instantly starts pouring.

[00:45:22] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going. And I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s going to be really, really dark. And boy, was I right.

[00:45:36] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing

that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:45:46] Marc Moss: Join us on the Tell Us Something podcast next week for the concluding stories from the Creative Pulse graduate program. The University of Montana event on the theme out of my show, the telesumming podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting [00:46:00] Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits.

You want a 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the Tell Us Something podcast. Learn more at FloatMSOA. com and thanks to the team at MissoulaEvents. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at MissoulaEvents. net. Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at CashForJunkersBand. com. To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit TellUsSomething. org.