Our podcast today was recorded in front of a live audience on August 24, 2021, at Bonner Park Bandshell in Missoula, MT. 7 storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme “Forward to Better”. Today we hear from 2 of those storytellers. Our story this episode comes to us from Rosie Ayers and Teresa Waldorf. Teresa Waldorf and Rosie Ayers build a common story using their different experiences during the pandemic. They call their story “March 22”.

Transcript : March 22

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

Teresa Waldorf: March 22nd.

I’m not flying to Phoenix

Marc Moss: back in 2016, I experimented with duo storytelling. I had an outdoor event at the peace farm. You know how, when you listen to two people who really know each other and they’re telling a story and they sometimes interrupt each other and say, wait, that’s not how it happened. Yeah, it was, it was supposed to be like that.

Some of the night was like that. We put a little bit of a spin on that idea with Theresa and Rosie’s story.

Rosie Ayers: I had stopped all theater productions, all classes. I had no answers for.

Marc Moss: Thanks. Once again, to our title sponsor Blackfoot communications, they deliver superior technology solutions through trusted relationships and enrich the lives of their customers.

Owners and employees learn [email protected] Announcing call first storytellers. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next. Tell us something storytelling live event. The theme is stoned. Which pretty much leaves things wide open. 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 February 7th, which leads me to tell you about the live event itself. We will be in person for the first time since August, 2021. We’re running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at the Wilma. Learn more and get your [email protected], Theresa and Rosie built a common story using their different experiences during the pandemic.

They call their story March 22nd. Thanks for listening

Teresa Waldorf: March 22nd, and I’m not flying to Phoenix. I’m in a long distance relationship with a man who I think is going to be the next great love of my life. But we’ve been having an argument on the phone. I’m saying I have to cancel my flight. My mom is crying and he’s saying things like, well, at our age, I don’t think we do what our moms tell us.

And I say, but you don’t understand all of my friends, every single person I know who had a flight for spring break has canceled it. He finally acquiesced. And a little bit of a dismissive way. And instead invites me to spend the week with him as the week progresses. He gets a little bit more distracted and a little bit more disengaged.

And I head home at the end of that week thinking, well, it’s just because he’s so sad. He doesn’t know when he’ll see me again. And two days later I got a phone call explaining that he wasn’t going to see me again. He was not going to be able to. Put up with that kind of distance for an undetermined amount of time, obviously.

And so he was seeing someone else that’s who I was talking to and my heart was broken into tiny bits. About two weeks later, I was at blue mountain and I was, uh, what was that weird kind of frenzy time? Do you remember when we were all like, I didn’t quite know how to behave yet. And when we met someone even outside, we made like a big 10 foot circle around them.

And, uh, there was a run going on and this young woman came flying by me down the path and about 20 yards in front of me, she fell and she hit her forehead on a rock and gashed her forehead wide open. And I ran to her as quickly as I could. And I got just to her and I stopped up short and I reached out and I said, Can I help you?

Can I touch you? And she said no. And she staggered to her feet and she took off running and I said, wait. And she turned around and she said, oh, am I bleeding? And I said, yes, you are. And she took off again. And I said, are you going to make it? And she looked at me and she said, I

Rosie Ayers: guess I’m going to have.

Teresa Waldorf: March

Rosie Ayers: 20 seconds. And my best friend was not going on vacation. And I had stopped all theater productions, all classes. I had no answers for anyone. My oldest child had COVID in another state. And we couldn’t go to them and they couldn’t see a doctor. All the hospitals were overrun and we’re FaceTiming them every day, trying to monitor symptoms of a disease that we don’t even understand freaked out more than three children had been sent home from school with their backpacks full to the brim at spring

Teresa Waldorf: break.

Having no idea

Rosie Ayers: if we were going back or what that was even going to look. And that morning, I woke up feeling lost and alone with no answers for anyone. And I packed everyone into the minivan and I took them out skiing. We got to the ski hill and they took off doing discovery and I made the loop at echo lake.

And at the end of that day, they closed the hill down. Wasn’t even going to be safe to be there. And everyone was drinking their beers and getting in their trucks and I’m piling up my kids and we start down the hill. And as we’re driving down that hill, I’m thinking, what are we going to do? Who are we, are we going to be able to see anybody after this?

What, how are we going to survive this? And as we’re headed down that hill, I noticed that the two cars in front of me, the one coming towards me and the one right in front of me are not moving. And I can see it happening just right in front of me, time slows down. And I yell at my. Brace for impact. And has the head-on collision in front of us, comes to a halt and we screech up close.

We stop six feet from those cars. And I tell my oldest to call 9 1 1 and to keep his brothers in the car and try not to look out the windshield. I’ve got to help. And I run to the first car and I opened that door and make sure she’s alive and she’s breathing. And she knows her name and she knows my name and to stay still help is going to come.

I’m not at, but we can. I run around to the other side, the passenger is already out. I cover with the blanket. I make sure that she is alive and breathing and I make sure that she knows her name and my name. And I run to the next car and I freeze. I can’t even understand what I’m looking at, but what I do know is that one more time, I don’t have the answers, then I cannot help.

I can’t even understand what I’m seeing,

Teresa Waldorf: but I know it’s.

Rosie Ayers: And in that frozen state, looking back at my children with the car, looking for help, where are they? When are they coming? How fast can this happen? I hear that noise from the back seat. We break the window and as we pull that little three year old out and I get to embrace him, I can carry him to Mike.

Put him in the backseat with my boys and they surround him and we ask him all the questions and we talk about pop patrol. And the only thing I can’t do is ask the answer. The one question he keeps asking

Teresa Waldorf: about his mom.

Rosie Ayers: And later, as I watched those three life flight helicopters take off. All I can think is I hope they’re going to make it. I hope

Teresa Waldorf: they’re going to be okay. Spring 2020. Okay. So you guys, I’m an extrovert. I’m not going to be okay. The extroverts please. Okay. Let me see if I’ve got this. I have to spend all of my time.

I I’ve hardly ever been alone in my entire life. I’ve planned it like that. Okay. I do a very not alone art form. Uh, my husband has died in the last six years. Um, my sons have moved out and I’m pretty alone. Okay. So I can’t be more alone than that. And whoever named this socially distancing, there’s nothing social about it.

Rosie Ayers: I’m not going to be okay. I am a. On this microphone, I’m not going to be okay. I live with four men, Theresa you’re taller than me. I have four penises in my house and I am never alone. We it’s constant. They’re constantly around me. The only time I’m ever alone is sometimes very occasionally in the bathroom.

And even then I feel like they’re putting their fingers underneath or knocking on the door.

Teresa Waldorf: Masks. Let me see if I have this right. We have to wear masks. Okay. Okay. I’m a rule follower. I can wear masks. So I find all the right material. I do all the research. I find out the exact kind of little filters to put inside.

I buy all the elastic. I get my mom she’s 93 to so masks. She can’t really see, but she can apparently so, and she looks like 70 and I mailed them to all my friends and I hand them out to my neighbors and I give them to all my family. And guess what we are stopped short because there is an elastic shortage.

Okay. What

Rosie Ayers: we have to wear masks. Okay. And the one that Teresa’s mom. So for me, it looks like a giant maxi pad stuck to my face. Jesus. And now I’m trying to convince these other people in my house that they have to wear a mask all the time. These are people that won’t even change their underwear that I’m in.

There are laundry baskets on a regular basis. I’ve been lecturing to them about washing their hands since the date they were born. I know how disgusting they are and there they are

Teresa Waldorf: wanting to touch me or be next to me

Rosie Ayers: all the time with their disgusting masks and their unwashed hands. Don’t touch me, someone, please

Teresa Waldorf: touch me.

You guys met, Christians

Rosie Ayers: are

Teresa Waldorf: great. You know what I’m saying? But when you want something really, really badly and you can’t have it, when somebody kissed me, I want to be caressed. I want to be hugged. I really want sex. That’s what I’m trying to say here right now. I need a man. And I cannot have one. Okay. I need less, man, because I want to have sex.

I can have sex all day long. He is here all day. Nobody’s

Rosie Ayers: leaving the house ever. And that’s the problem

Teresa Waldorf: because we’re only on the same floor. All of us

Rosie Ayers: are way too thin and the only place I’m alone in the bathroom. And I’m not giving that up. Sorry.

Teresa Waldorf: Sometimes I’m in the bathroom and I feel all alone. There’s no one to even get me toilet paper. If I run out of toilet. It’s up with the toilet paper thing. You guys needs like me,

Rosie Ayers: right? And we’re out of toilet paper. Why is it that we’re always out of toilet paper

Teresa Waldorf: and you have got to find us

Rosie Ayers: some toilet paper.

What Theresa is going to have to give us

Teresa Waldorf: some Twitter. Luckily,

Rosie Ayers: my husband is working a commercial remodel in the middle of all this, and he scores

Teresa Waldorf: the mother load.

Rosie Ayers: He’s remodeling that McDonald’s bathroom and he comes home one day with his

Teresa Waldorf: prize pig. It is the toilet paper where three times the size

Rosie Ayers: of my head, industrial

Teresa Waldorf: scratchy toilet paper.

Rosie Ayers: We don’t even have like a dispenser to put this in, so we just put it on the bathroom

Teresa Waldorf: floor. Okay. Have you ever lived with people with penises? It’s supposed to be able to just be used over the floor.

Rosie Ayers: So now we have a giant thing of disgusting toilet

Teresa Waldorf: paper on the bathroom floor.

Rosie Ayers: And now it’s summer.

Teresa Waldorf: you guys. I’m so excited. It’s summer. Here’s why I can date. I could date. Yeah, I have this figured out. I’m going to get on match. I could just meet people. We could stay six feet away from each other. We could have coffee, we could hike. We can walk our dogs. We could go biking. We could go swimming. We could go kayaking.

I’m going to buy a kayak. I’m going to learn a paddleboard God. But all my friends are making me feel so guilty. Like it would be so unsafe. I haven’t figured out. They just don’t get it fine. Fine. I’ll make my own fun. I’ll do. Yard work, oppress those seeds down in the soil with my finger. I’ll fertilize, my own petunias.

And I’m going I’m.

Just weeded.

Rosie Ayers: You cannot smoke weed. If I cannot smoke weed, you cannot smoke weed. I do not care that you are 19 years old, but home from college, we are

Teresa Waldorf: not slugging me. I got sober 25 years too early for this pandemic. Nobody’s smoking and everybody’s going outside. Okay. We can go hiking. You can go back and we have a kayak Pogo sticks.

Just get out of the house, please. God. Get out of my.

Rosie Ayers: I can’t have you in here anymore. Summer is not a time to bake inside. Please go outside. You know what you could do, you could

Teresa Waldorf: mow my lawn

or about this

Rosie Ayers: habit. You can just weed,

Teresa Waldorf: weed, the garden. And then the saddest thing of all. No summer theater camp for the first time in 24 years, there was not going to be a Theresa Waldorf summer theater day camp. We tried everything we could to figure it out. And a lot of parents called us to help us try to figure it out.

We just couldn’t. We were like, we, we could be outside. We could be in masks. We could sanitize. We could host down children. We, we just couldn’t do it. We just knew we couldn’t keep them.

Rosie Ayers: And we needed to keep it safe. We just need to keep them safe. We need to keep you safe when you keep them safe.

Everybody has to be safe. Okay. So we start be in safe. I have bought 695 masks. You know what? They’re even disposable. You don’t have to wash the many

Teresa Waldorf: more. We’re just putting.

Rosie Ayers: Okay. And we stopped seeing my parents. We stopped seeing my sister. We stopped seeing even the people that we used to stand in their driveways and wave at and talk to from afar.

We just stopped seeing everybody there’s no sleepovers, there’s no bike rides. There’s just us in this house together.

Teresa Waldorf: And everybody is safe.

Seven

Rosie Ayers: devices on my internet. I don’t have the bandwidth for this and you know what? I don’t have the bandwidth for this. Okay. In 10 minutes,

Teresa Waldorf: you’re on Microsoft teams in 10 minutes. Yes. You have to get our bed. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to put on

Rosie Ayers: pants, but my God it’s middle

Teresa Waldorf: school. Just keep your camera up.

Thank God.

Rosie Ayers: I’m good at technology. You guys,

Teresa Waldorf: I suck at technology. I mean, anybody that knows me knows that if there’s a problem, And now they want me to teach my U M creative drama class online. You know what you’re doing? Creative drama class. You touch everyone, you hold hands, you hug. You piggyback, you get in you form worms and caterpillars and machines.

And everything’s connected. And everyone is connected. Cause guess what connection is the point. But anyway, I’m going to need your help.

Rosie Ayers: Okay. Just find the on button. Nope. That’s inter it looks like a circle with a little tab. Nope. That’s cute. That’s a cure. That’s not, Nope. Okay. All right. It’s around the site.

You know what? Okay. Let’s move on to lesson two. Okay. Right. Click. No. Yeah, no, uh, it’s there’s two clicks. It’s a left click and a right click surprise. I know you should’ve learned that 17 years ago. Two different clicks. Okay. All right. So let’s just, uh, let’s just close the window. They’ll come back to your computer.

That’s not the real window. It’s, it’s a square. It’s at the top. You know what? I’m just going to come over. You know what? I can’t come over. I just have to get through one more zoom with the kids. Okay. We’ve made it through almost an entire semester of school with these children online. Okay. And guess what?

Nobody knows how to do eighth grade math in my entire house. And that’s okay. Because who needs math? Turns out. We don’t need math because you know what, we’re not seeing my dad. We don’t have to tell him he is a math teacher, but you know what? Gus, Gus, all right. Gus, Gus, he’s 10. He’s made it through almost all of fourth grade.

All he has to do is one more paragraph in the weather report. He wakes up that morning and I say, all right, buddy, I’ve got all day’s zooms for suicide prevention. I cannot miss them because

Teresa Waldorf: people actually. So, all you gotta do is just finish a paragraph on weather and it starts to sob

and

Rosie Ayers: he says, I haven’t done

Teresa Waldorf: my homework for fun. Theresa, I’m going to need your help. Okay. Do you know how to work? That thing? That computer. Okay. Good. That’s your part? Here’s my part. I am not interested in your learning to spell it. Grammar, punctuation. How to form a paragraph. I’m going to talk, you’re going to type, here we go.

Capital H I C N E space, H R E. S spaced. Boom. I excavation bull. I hit submit. Okay. Next paragraph. Tsunamis T S oh, it starts with a T T.

And then it was winter, the winter of our discontent

Rosie Ayers: and my mom called she needs help. I can’t, I’m not supposed to. She has COVID. My sister has COVID. The whole family has COVID. My dad has COVID so I send all the packages. I, I bag all the people in Helena to drop things off in gloves and run away from their porch and we get scared.

But we get hopeful too. We also say, we’re going to make it through this. We get positive or we’re going to get to the other side. And here’s the great news is that if you get through this, then we get to see

Teresa Waldorf: each other. Again, we get to hug each other. We get to spend the holidays together. Your antibodies will be all up and we’ll buy the biggest

Rosie Ayers: Turkey.

So that’s what I do. I go to Costco. I buy that biggest Turkey ever. Right. I buy all the things. And the day before Thanksgiving, my mom calls and says dad’s in the hospital. Three days

Teresa Waldorf: later.

Rosie Ayers: I go to Helena and I sit with my mom and we talked to the doctors and we make signs and we hold them up to the ICU window and we put our hands.

Teresa Waldorf: He’s too tired to talk on the phone. If we wait and miraculously

Rosie Ayers: three

Teresa Waldorf: weeks of ICU. And he’s one of the very few people to walk out of there. And we set up that oxygen with the long lead and he’s not the same. But we get to hug each other and I go

Rosie Ayers: home and I wrap every present and I buy an even bigger Turkey at all the food for Christmas.

And I wake up Christmas Eve morning feeling like

Teresa Waldorf: shit,

Rosie Ayers: and I go get that COVID test.

Teresa Waldorf: And there I am quarantining

Rosie Ayers: from my family. Where did he hit the top of the stairs, trying to peek down, just to see my husband’s making the breakfast, that I, that I bought all the ingredients for and handing it out to the neighbor and my children are opening their presence and FaceTiming with the neighbor.

And I’m just, could you send, can, I’m up? Can you see me? I’m up here? I’m all

Teresa Waldorf: go back in my room and I’m all, I’m all alone. I’m all alone.

And I watched first seasons of the crown and it was delightful.

And it’s the holidays you guys, and I’m getting really good at this whole watch. 10 seasons of the bachelor. I like Claire. I don’t know why nobody likes Claire.

Rosie Ayers: Oh, we got

Teresa Waldorf: 30 seconds to bad.

Rosie Ayers: So we start getting good at this COVID thing. Right. We start getting better and better. We are, we are adjusting to COVID.

Yes. Ma’am. I started walking by mirrors and saying, yeah, Katko myself.

Teresa Waldorf: That 19 looks good on you. I start exercising while I’m watching the bachelorette.

Rosie Ayers: I take a cross-country skiing again. I start drinking alone.

Teresa Waldorf: I start eating alone. I buy really cool new patio furniture. Did you guys all try to do that?

You know, when you could still buy it. And then one of those really cool heater things for my friend,

Rosie Ayers: we sat around our fire pit and we accidentally burned

Teresa Waldorf: some of our new patio furniture. And then all of a sudden, you guys.

I think we made it, we made it. I think we made it. We might’ve made it. We made it. And guess what? We made it without falling prey to F O M O Nope. Nope, Nope,

Rosie Ayers: Nope. You just say FOMO, you don’t have to spell. You don’t have. The FOMO fear of missing out.

Teresa Waldorf: And we also didn’t end up with Jomo, the joy of missing out.

Don’t miss it. Instead. We’ve landed on something new. We call it. Gomo the gift of missing out

Rosie Ayers: because now we know we appreciated it. Even more

Teresa Waldorf: being here with you being

Rosie Ayers: outside every moment now feels like a gift. This is a brilliant gift.

Teresa Waldorf: It is for sure. And when we started planning this, um, like six weeks ago, we were going to end it differently, but tonight we decided we should say so I think that was probably the dress rehearsal.

The great news is we know how to do this. If we have to do it again,

Rosie Ayers: we’re going to

Teresa Waldorf: do it even though.

Marc Moss: Rosie EHRs and Theresa Waldorf were related in a former life. They met this time when 13 year old Rosie babysat Theresa son, Sam, then two years old. They crossed paths again, some seven years later at university of Montana, a school of theater and dance where Rosie was a student and Theresa wasn’t.

Working on plays together. They built a friendship that led to the creation of a team that has brought the following productions to downtown Missoula parallel lives. Wonder of the world, the three sisters of weak Hawkin and five lesbians eating a quiche. They also make up the comedy team Lucinda and the.

The home shopping girls who most recently performed from Zilla gives selling their own products, emotional baggage suitcases filled with embarrassing memorabilia to get your children to move out. And the Cougar kit for moms who want to travel alone to France, we’re not sitting around together. Laughing.

Rosie can be found at United way of Missoula county, where she is the project tomorrow, Montana. Or goofing around with our partner, Michael and their four kids. Teresa just retired from the Montana repertory theater and university of Montana at school of theater and dance, and cannot be found on the next telesummit podcast tune in to listen to a conversation that I had with Missoula author and rock and tear, Jeremy and Smith.

If

Jeremy N. Smith: it’s a trick with Marcela has on and I’m like, I’m going to make the thought and couldn’t take me awhile. Why don’t you guys make the pie? The good thing. If you’ve got a couple that’s visiting three. If they could make pasta from scratch to get the really good

Marc Moss: tune in for that conversation. Along with a story Jeremy told live on stage at a Telus, something he meant in 2014, thanks to our title sponsor Blackfoot communications.

Since 1954 Blackfoot communications at fostered, a reputation based on exceptional customer service and community involvement. They deliver superior technology solutions through trusted relationships and enrich the lives of their customers, owners and employees learn [email protected] Thanks to cash for junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at cashforjunkersband.com . Thank you to our in-kind sponsors.

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Marc Moss: Missoula broadcasting company learn [email protected] Float Missoula. Learn [email protected] Remember to subscribe to the podcast, stay safe, get vaccinated, take care of yourself, and take care of each other.

 

Stories of the difficulty of being gluten intolerant while traveling in China, being reminded of the magic in life, the complex feelings of a new mother, learning to ride the bus in a new country, and the journey to fix a botched tattoo. Note that the quality of the sound is not as perfect as we would like it to be. These stories are really worthwhile and we want you to hear them. Thank you.

Transcript : Forward to Better - Part 1

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

Sasha Vermel: With a package on the way we get on a 30 hour bus ride from lumper bond vows to convene China, where you muck around and coming in Hiller package arrives, we get it. We bring it back to our hospital and it is like Christmas morning.

Marc Moss: This week on the podcast, five storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Forward to Better”.

Sara Close: Talking about kids, about love…

Marc Moss: Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on August 10, 2021 at Bonner Park Bandshell Missoula, MT.

Paul Mwingwa: I saw the bus number two, live in the stations. Where does the bus come from?

Jen Certa: And I just felt this pressure, like it was now or never.

Marc Moss: Next week, we’ll hear the final story of the night, told in tandem by two storytellers. More on that later.

Marc Moss: We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support not only financially, but also for providing volunteers to help staff the event. Volunteers screened guests for COVID, verified ticket-holders and welcomed guests as they arrived at the performance space. Thank you so much to everyone over at Blackfoot Communications for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Marc Moss: Our first story comes to us from Sasha Vermel. Sasha calls her story “Pieces of Home in Far Off Lands”.

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

Sasha Vermel: So I’m walking into a post office, including China. It’s a sleepy little college town of 6.6 million people that you’ve probably never heard of. And with my husband in between the two of us, we know about five words of Mandarin. So we are armed only with a first-generation iPhone and a determination to walk out of here with our package.

Sasha Vermel: So we load up the beta version of Google translate. Do you have our package? The words show on the screen, the woman reads them and she speaks into the screen and we wait as the words come up and it says. Where is the chamber of secrets?

Sasha Vermel: I don’t know is that where our packages we’re able to work it out. And she arrived out in the warehouse with our great big package and we legally take it back to our hostel. Now I have always had a strong sense of wanderlust. I was the kind of insufferable 17 year old would sit at the back of break espresso with my best friend, Kendra and Friday at 4:00 PM.

Sasha Vermel: We would read the independent and talk about how much we wish we were growing up in Paris or Tokyo or Seattle. Cause it was the nineties. Now I come by this honestly, there’s these stories that we get from our parents. And this is the story that I got from my mother. Sh e thought that getting married men liberation from her father’s house, she thought it meant travel.

Sasha Vermel: Seeing some places, maybe move into Boulder. But the truth of the matter is they were 20 and 21 years old and they didn’t have any money to travel. And then by the time they did, she was so debilitated by chronic migraines and depression that she didn’t get out of bed two days a week. So the idea of traveling and of going anywhere just really stressed her out.

Sasha Vermel: So when I came into my own, my form of rebellion was to say that I was not going to live my mother’s life. I was going to do all the traveling and all the adventuring that she wasn’t able to do. So now I’m 22, I’m at the iron horse, having a beer with my aunties. I am explaining to them that I have no interest in white picket fences or literally gangs.

Sasha Vermel: They looked at me like, what, what, what, what do you want? I looked at them and said, I want the world. Fast forward. I’m 30 years old and I’m newly married. My husband run that’s, it’s run like DMC. Some of you’re old enough to get that reference. Um, so he’s sort of a six foot, one Israeli J Gillen hall. And he looks at me and he says, I’m ready to have babies only.

Sasha Vermel: I’m still grieving. My mother committed suicide two years before this. And all I wanted was to run away. So I look at him and I say, I’ve never been to India or Thailand. Now the man I married is not one to back away from a challenge. So he says, no, no, no, no, no. You’re thinking too small. What if we just put everything we have into storage and just go traveling and to help, we don’t want to travel anymore.

Sasha Vermel: So a couple of months. We are off. We go to Israel, Jordan Egypt, we live in a beach in India and do yoga for a month. We go to Northern Thailand on motor scooters and travel across it. We attend a rocket festival in Laos. After six months of this, we get to a crossroads where we can’t go on the path that I was planning and run really wants to go to China.

Sasha Vermel: Now, China was the one place that actually scared me. This felt like a little bit far off the backpackers trail that we were on. I mean, we didn’t speak Mandarin and I didn’t really expect people in China to speak English. Um, and then on top of that, I’m gluten intolerant. This means that I can eat anything that has wheat in it, including soy cells.

Sasha Vermel: So if I lose, I get sharp stabbing pains for about two days. And then for the next two weeks, I just feel bloated and constantly hungry. It’s a big deal for my body. So I’m just thinking, how on earth do we go to China where I can’t eat. Or sauce. So I’m not going to back down from this challenge though. So we agreed to contact my dad and Missoula, and he puts together a package of gluten-free food from the good crackers and tasty bites and, uh, some instant oatmeal and a jar of peanut butter, along with a couple of pairs of hiking boots to supplement the flip flops we’ve been traveling in and new underwear.

Sasha Vermel: So we can replace the four pairs that we have been rotating through for the past six months with a package on the way we get on a 30 hour bus ride from long Cavon vows to convenience. Where you muck around in coming until her package arrives, we get it. We bring it back to our hospital and it is like Christmas morning.

Sasha Vermel: We pull out the things I try on the shoes they fit. I leave, leave, throw away the old Fred bear underwear. And I hold a lock, my jar of peanut butter that represents freedom insecurity. And the next day we’re off to our next adventure. We head towards the intersection of Tibet and Shangri-La, which in this case is an actual city.

Sasha Vermel: We’re going to do something called the tiger. Leaping Gorge Trek. We arrive at tiger leaping Gorge at 8:00 AM on a Misty morning in may. Um, it is sort of heavy gray clouds against the blue sky. As we start our ascent below us is a big river, just heavy with spring rock and along the path we see these houses.

Sasha Vermel: And they have shutters and flower window boxes like a Swiss chalet, but they also have the sort of curved Chinese roots, you know, it’s it’s rice patties and this was else it’s sort of disorienting. And I think, oh my God, I can’t wait to tell my mom about this. And then there’s that, that green that comes up when you have a thought that you really want to show with someone who, who isn’t there to receive that anymore.

Sasha Vermel: We, we continue on the trail. We do the 29 switchbacks to get to a place called the knock seat guest house. We’re doing this hike, nicest load. So it’s early afternoon and we’re going to call it quits from the day and just stay there overnight. And so I sit down at a chair, overlooking the courtyard. I hope that my backpack, I pulled out the jar of peanut butter.

Sasha Vermel: I opened the lid, locked the seal cause I haven’t had any yet. And I grabbed my spoon and I take them. And it’s smooth and again, a little, a little crunchy and it’s sweet and salty, and it tastes like comfort. It tastes like home. And as they go to take another bite, we hear that. It sounds because there’s construction going on.

Sasha Vermel: Now. My husband is really up for adventure, but he is not up for construction noises. So he comes over to me and he’s like, let’s go, I’m hungry. And I’m tired. Obviously I’m really bloated for being Chinese food, but it’s not rich having a fund. So I grabbed my backpack. He grabbed the bag of peanut butter and it’s an, a paper bags as he lifted up that glass jar of organic peanut butter shoots out the bottom and splats on the flagstones below is just the butter. Right. But we continue on 10 feet apart in silence because I’m not ready to talk to him.

Sasha Vermel: Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that

Sasha Vermel: softening, but I’m not quite ready to let it go. So as we were almost getting to the next guest house and another sensation comes up in my body because I really have to be, and on one side of me is the mountain. And on the other side of me is a sheer cliff. So this isn’t actually like a real great place to just go.

Sasha Vermel: So we hustle up the last little bit until we get to the halfway guest out, which is at the summit of this particular trip we walk in and it kind of looks like bizarro world, like McDonald lodge right there. And I follow the infographic signs down through the hallways, out to the edge. And then there’s this bathroom stall.

Sasha Vermel: I opened the door and looked down and there’s the two ceramic footpads and the hole in the ground and a squat toilet. There’s a wall on this side of the. At a wall on this side of me and in front of me, where there would usually be a wall. There’s nothing like sky and mountains where the apex of this hike.

Sasha Vermel: And as I undo my button and like go to squat, like I feel kind of dizzy. The view looks like I’m at an elevator right in front of the mission mountain. And if you’ve ever been on a really good hike, you get to the top of the mountain. And there’s this moment where the mountains across from you seem so close.

Sasha Vermel: It’s like, you can touch them. It’s like communing with the divine was AP. I started to laugh. I did it. I felt the most beautiful squat toilet you in the world. I’ve traveled 10,000 miles. And now that I’ve gotten here, it kind of looks like Montana.

Sasha Vermel: So I think to myself, what are you still trying to prove? You’ve been running all the way around the room all the way around the world, and running’s not going to bring your mom back. Maybe, maybe you just have to make peace with the fact that she chose her own ending. Maybe, maybe it’s okay to not try to rewrite the story anymore or just continue to live hero. Thank you.

Marc: Thanks, Sasha.

Sasha Vermel passionately believes that we all have a basic need to hear and tell stories. By day, she is a real estate agent with a sewing and design habit. Born and raised in Missoula, MT she earned a BFA from U of M. In her former life she worked in theater costume shops across the West and frequently performed on stage at Bona Fide and Bawdy Storytelling events in San Francisco.

Marc Moss: Our next story comes to us from Sara Close.

Marc Moss: Sensitive listeners please be aware that Sara’s story mentions suicidal thoughts.

Marc Moss: Sara calls her story “A Lesson in Magic”

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

Sarah Close: Okay. So this whole story starts on my bedroom floor. Years ago, I was sitting in my room with my back against my dad, basically my dresser, our house was yellow and the walls in cyber yellow. And so the light was coming in from the south and kind of like bouncing off the walls. And it was really beautiful.

Sarah Close: Um, my two-year-old was feeding across the house soundly and it was just really quiet, maybe big car passing by outside. So for all intents and purposes is beautiful fall day. And then sitting there and I looked down at my hand and I’m holding my phone and shaky and I feel a little panicky. And I’m not really totally sure where to begin just suicide hotline.

Sarah Close: So obviously like I’m up here on stage. This is not a sad story. Like this whole thing turns out. Okay. Um, and so not still the punchline before we get there, but I won’t tell you about a couple of years prior to that there was a phone with a woman that I really respected. I was interviewing her to be a speaker at a conference that I helped to create to this bigger score.

Sarah Close: And she’s a professional storyteller. And so I’m, I’m interviewing her and asking her about all these different, amazing things with it, for work. She’d also just become a mom. So we worked, we kind of sidetracked into more like life land and not work land and was asking me because I’d known her for a really long time.

Sarah Close: And she finally said this to her, like, do you ever, like, have you ever thought about telling your story? And I. Honestly in thinking back on this limit, like, I don’t really remember what came out of my mouth. I just remember that my hand had been through scribbling notes through this whole thing. And I looked down at, at what I was writing and I wrote the words I believe in magic.

Sarah Close: And I do the hot thing, not the kind of like pull quarter out of your ear magic, which my daughter would be super stoked about. And I still haven’t figured it out, but, but like synchronicity, you know, and those, those moments about goosebumps and those sort of like moments of connection in the work in the world is sort of like universal whacked upside the head.

Sarah Close: Not because those things happen to me all the time, but because when they do, I kind of know that I’m on the right path and honest to God magic has helped me turn some of the hardest moments in my life into moments of beauty. And so just to give an example of what I mean by that years ago, um, I lost my partner in an avalanche.

Sarah Close: It’s definitely the hardest, probably most significant moment I’d had with grief to date. I was 24 years old. And for some reason, I, at 24 years old, got tasked with buying and earn, I don’t know, like how many 24 year olds have to go through the process of buying a Fern. But because I knew that was going to be hard.

Sarah Close: I enlisted the friend, didn’t come with me to make sure that I didn’t end up in some sort of like sad person puddle on the floor. Like whatever kind of store sells earns, because I didn’t know what that was at that time. So we’re in the car and we’re driving and he turns to me and he was like, Sarah, like, what do you think the Aaron’s going to look like?

Sarah Close: I was like, well, Johnny, or is that his spirit animal is a tiger. So I bet it’s going to have a tire on it. I was like, kind of joking about, but kind of also like, felt serious about it. We pull into the parking lot, get out of the car and we’d go into the store and we open the doors and walk in, literally there’s the shelf right in the center of the store.

Sarah Close: And you guys have not even joking. There is like one wooden box on the shelf with the tire on it. And I was like, okay, that feels kind of magical. And about six months later from that, uh, I went home with my parents for the holiday. It was my first holiday I had spent without my partner in a really long time.

Sarah Close: And I was so thankful obviously for the parents, for taking me in, um, beyond like, I didn’t really want to be there. You know, like I just, I didn’t want to be there. Like I wanted to with this person and put in, um, and my parents were so amazing. My mom at one point went downstairs to the basement, she friends back on the shoe box and it’s full of those.

Sarah Close: Um, like CPS heathered old photos, and then we start going through them. They’re all these pictures of beds. Is there a way I can go grab a pen? Like you just never know when one of us, isn’t going to be around to tell you who’s in these photos, like, I’ll tell you, you write the names on the back, like, great.

Sarah Close: So we did, this is perfect whole beautiful complete evening. And my dad has to be like, no, I didn’t know. And that was hard, you know, but still it was magical. It was like the universe. This is setting me up to have this experience that I needed to have. I know, like, even though I didn’t know it at the time, so anyways, before I like moved the heck out on you guys, to going back to that moment on my floor, in my bedroom, like there was not a lot of magic happening in that moment.

Sarah Close: I. I just, I was so profoundly sad that it actually physically hurts. Um, and like mark said, I teach yoga. So like any good yoga teacher does, you’re like how you can grab it to be my way out of this. So I’m like trying to pull all these moments of like the things that I was thankful for all these pieces that I was thankful for, because maybe one of them would help me pull myself out of this and it just wasn’t happening.

Sarah Close: So I closed my eyes and I found the number at the top of the Google search and I hit call and the phone rang, and then this message hotlines was closed. I mean, right. Like suicide hotline. Anyway, that’s like a whole different conversation, but the hotline. So I am sitting in there like, holy hell, this was like a really big move.

Sarah Close: And now you’re, and I didn’t know what to do. And this little voice comes on and it’s like, if you’d like to be transferred to our sister hotline press, and I’m like, well, why the hell not like bunches, Crestline? So we’re here. So I press one and it transfers me. And then I kept this God awful, whole music, like the kind of like really annoyingly, upbeat, even if you’re not like a suicidal, depressed person calling for help, it was like the worst.

Sarah Close: And I’m waiting and waiting and waiting. And then this worst picks up at the end of the line. I’m like, oh, thank goodness somebody is here. Somebody is going to help. And she has the thickest. Yes. Jamaican accent. I have ever heard in my entire life. And I literally was like, oh my gosh, customer service.

Sarah Close: Feel like I’m all sure you even know what to do with this. I was so frustrated. But she started talking and she had this like warm speak tone. And so I kind of hung on and she started asking me all these questions, like the right ones that you’d expect somebody to ask, like, do you have a plan? No. Are you in immediate danger? No.

Sarah Close: Is there anybody else in the house to hang up the phone? Cause there was somebody in the house and it was the very person that I took every breath for that. I take everybody for that. I never want to leave this world ever. And for was. So decently across the house with zero idea what was happening first of all, and if I said, yeah, my daughter’s here like a bad mom.

Sarah Close: I could give a reason the child, if she can hold tight services. And for, I would like in this whole thought process in my head and the words came out, yes, my daughter’s here and Jamaican woman transformed an instant into Jamaican mama. I will spare you guys, my Jamaican accent, as I’m going through all these things with her, she was like, oh my gosh, how old is she?

Sarah Close: What’s her name? And we spent the next, like 20 minutes talking about kids about love, about how hard those early childhood years are about our philosophies on everything, being a fades about motherhood, about our moms. And I swear, I could’ve just hung out in that space with her in my room. Forever. It felt like sitting with my mom until eventually we had to both realize like, okay, like I called you and you’re the person.

Sarah Close: And I like, this is a suicide hotline. So she’s like, Hey, it’s holiday weekends, everything’s closed, everything’s closed. And let’s just like, steer you in efficient, getting help. Where are you? And I’m like, where I’m in Missoula. She’s like, well, where’s that? How do you spell it? Cause like everybody asked that, when did you say this word to everybody?

Sarah Close: It’s not here. So I’m like, oh, am I like, I’m in Montana? Where are you? She’s like, oh, I’m in Washington DC. And I said, well, what side? Cause there’s two for anybody that has been there, there’s a marijuana number. Then you decide, she said, I’m on the Maryland side. And I was like, okay, well where in their lens?

Sarah Close: Oh, our county, do you know it? And I literally started to feel the hair come up on the back of my neck because he didn’t know it. And I kind of knew where this was going. And I said, where in Harvard. She said I’m in Columbia. And I’m like, where I’m at Howard county, general hospital. You guys like to make an mama, Jamaican lady, whatever you want to call her was not in Jamaica.

Sarah Close: She was literally working in the hospital where I was born, like on the other side of the country. And she could have probably like my mom’s house was across the street and I was probably in the house we were talking. She probably could have hugged the rock out the window, my parents’ house. And I didn’t know anything else to say other than I, I think you’re my angel, you know, it was just, uh, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more held in my entire life and I, would’ve never connected with.

Sarah Close: Jamaican mama angel, which she doesn’t know that I called her this, it might make a mama angel, had I not Googled or pressed one or waited through that awful holding music or like resisting the shame storm or any of those cases, you know, like there was so many moments along the way to let your stigma and shame and should took the wheel and just lost.

Sarah Close: Um, and then coming out of that experience, I think about my daughter was talking about this earlier today, which she always tells me you’re a calm things can be sad and happy. And I think I was just stuck in this dichotomy of being lost and that really had nothing to do with it. It wasn’t about being lost or about being found, but remembering that we’re always, and in all the ways, connecting to each other, you know, in sometimes.

Sarah Close: Universal hotline.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Sara. Remember, You are not alone. Reach out. | Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255 | projecttomorrowmt.org | “text MT” to 741-741

Marc Moss: Sara Close is a strategist and convener of good ideas and good people. Director by day, yoga teacher by night, but a mom all the time, she’s happiest on the water, on trails, or on the trampoline… but definitely not on snow and is still trying to figure out how to do winter in Montana right.

Marc Moss: Lauren Gonzalez is up next, with a story that she calls “No Girls Allowed”.

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

Lauren Gonzalez: All right. Um, where did I start? Do I start now? Okay. All right. Where to begin? Um, I had never wished so hard in my life. To see a penis. Wait, let me back up. Let me back up a little bit. I didn’t always want kids, but when I finally decided my clock is ticking down at the time, my husband and I went ahead and had one and we were delighted, not just because it was a healthy baby, but because it was a moment he got the boy that he could name after his brother who had passed several years previously.

Lauren Gonzalez: And I got the boy that I wanted because girls are mean, and they’re manipulative. I’ve lived the experience. And I know, but also because when I was about eight years old, I got my first babysitting gig and I was tasked with babysitting this girl named Hannah, who was about three years old and somehow our activities together devolved into her throwing toys at me and blocks and like hard matchbox cars like toys hurt when they hit.

Lauren Gonzalez: If you didn’t know. Um, and so I just ended up not knowing what to do. I so desperately wanted to do a good job. Um, and I didn’t want to admit that I needed any help. So I ended up just cowering in the corner and crying tears, streaming down my face and accrues to me. Now I could have left the room, but you don’t, you do what you do in the moment.

Lauren Gonzalez: Um, and it, it was traumatic. And I knew from then on, you know, if I ever have kids one day, no girls. Thanks. Um, so this was my life plan and I knew that it would work out because I just, I couldn’t envision myself mothering girls. So obviously I wouldn’t have any that’s how life works. Right. Um, so we had this baby, Joey, our first born, super mellow, easy baby.

Lauren Gonzalez: So I’m like, man, we’re good parents. Let’s go ahead and have like three to seven more right away. So we get pregnant right away, um, with the second and right away. Off, like I know evil is growing inside. Experience was like a cush Cadillac ride, like very comfortable. Very cool. The second experience was like a bumper car ride at the fair.

Lauren Gonzalez: I just felt like jostled and uncomfortable and nauseous and sick, but still I thought, you know, I held out, I was like my life plan, my life plan. It’s going to work out. We get to the gender reveal party in Demond, M spill out of the cake. And I’m still like food doctor’s practice, which means they can make mistakes.

Lauren Gonzalez: They’re practicing. So, you know, baby penises are cartoonishly small. It could just be, you can’t find it on that little screen. So every ultrasound I’m going and I’m staring at that little screen and I wishing for a penis I’m just wishing so hard and it just never materializes. And then finally the day of the birth comes and out, she comes June Pearl, and I stare into her little base and I just think.

Lauren Gonzalez: How are you and what do you want for me? Because honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot to give. I, I didn’t know how to mother, a girl, honestly, I don’t think I was strong enough. I thought you needed to be a strong woman to mother, a strong woman, and I didn’t have what it took. So I, um, I, we moved forward together.

Lauren Gonzalez: Obviously I took her home, my baby fed her. She still lives with me in case. Um, but I didn’t know what to do. I just felt so much, um, there was no passion, there was no joy in it. It was more like obligation. And I felt very resentful that she was taking my attention away from my first born, my boy. Um, and I felt super guilty because what mom feels this way about their kid.

Lauren Gonzalez: Um, wasn’t an experience I’d expected to have, and it wasn’t my life plan. Um, and so. We move forward. She keeps getting older. She keeps needing from me. She needs love. She needs attention. She needs affection, all these things. And she gets to age to age three, age four. Um, and I turned into this person. I don’t even recognize, um, I, this tyrant I’m yelling, I’m screaming.

Lauren Gonzalez: I don’t know how to control her. Um, she’s very, strong-willed some of you met her then, you know, um, she’s quite the reputation, but I am, I just turned into this tyrant and I it’s the only way I know how to get back control because I don’t want to be that girl cowering in the corner anymore. So I try being the, the, the bullying instead.

Lauren Gonzalez: And I ended up, you know, just trying to take control by being over the top. And I do, you know what it feels like to scream it until your oldest feels terrible? I would slam doors. I would run into my room and just cry out of my bed and think what have I become? I don’t even recognize. I was afraid to be alone with her really.

Lauren Gonzalez: And I’m sure my husband was afraid to leave me alone with her. I just was so angry. I’d never seen that level of anger come out of me before, but I had seen it before because as parents, we only know how to parent the way that we have been parented and in my house, any loss of control. I mean, my dad was known to throw staplers objects, slam doors, yell, and scream.

Lauren Gonzalez: Um, and it’s all I knew how to do. And so I just learned to live in this little box. I learned to be with the adults around me needed and, um, to live really small. And so that’s how I grew up and that’s how I live my life. And then June came around and man, she was born with a strong spirit. And I can tell you is this legacy of anger was my family story for generations, but it’s not our story because June came out with this fighting.

Lauren Gonzalez: And she would not live inside this little box, man. She just, she wouldn’t be controlled. I, I couldn’t get control. Um, and so at some point around age four or five, she and I together kind of learned to live in this strength that exists between the girl crying in the corner and between the bully, throwing the blocks, there’s the strength right in the middle.

Lauren Gonzalez: And she taught me that she taught me how to live there and how to be, to get, I don’t have to get control. I don’t have control over anything. And that, I don’t think I ever realized that, um, until she came along, um, and she has just grown into this amazing girl who wears a backward slip as a dress to the daddy daughter, dams at the Y and is a total creative.

Lauren Gonzalez: I mean, she just sees the whole world in color and learning to see it. Her way has been such an amazing. And then, um, you know, she squirrels away little pieces of trash in her room and this insane filing system that like, she knows if I’ve touched it, but she also, like, she knows where everything is. I’m getting on board, you know?

Lauren Gonzalez: And like, this is the experience that we’re having, we’re doing it together. So, um, you know, I went back when I brought her home from the hospital for the first time. I didn’t know how to process my feelings. And so as a writer, I just blogged about it because why would you not just write about it for millions of people to read on the internet?

Lauren Gonzalez: You know, they put all your feelings out there. Um, and so I did that and I remember my mom telling me, you’re probably going to regret this is how will she feel when she grows up and she reads, you know, your experience and everything that, how it happened. Um, and I can’t say for sure how she was. But I hope that if she has kids, if she has kids, she will know that you don’t have to be a perfect parent.

Lauren Gonzalez: When you start out, you just learn to be the parents that your kid needs. Um, and you make room, you just learned to make group. Um, and you, a lot of times, your healing is found in that process and on that jury. Um, and I hope she sees that as a mother, the experience doesn’t have to look in a certain way.

Lauren Gonzalez: It doesn’t have to feel the way it feels for everyone else. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy. Um, just follow the journey. I mean, you just, everybody gets there in their own way. Sometimes it’s fucked up, but you get there. And then if she doesn’t have kids, I hope that she sees that she was the beauty, that Tam cookies that I was when she first came home.

Lauren Gonzalez: And, um, I couldn’t be more grateful. Um, and she, because of that, she’s capable of. And I can’t wait to see what comes out of her and where we go together.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lauren.

Marc Moss: Lauren Gonzalez is a Southern-born thirty-something who writes/edits, climbs, (pretends to learn the) drums, sings, homeschools, and mothers two plucky kids (alongside her partner of 10 years) here in beautiful Missoula. Also seen in: the Good Food Store, being overly indecisive in the coffee aisle; the library, labeling it “me time” while the kids play completely unsupervised in the Spectrum area.

Marc Moss: Our next storyteller, Paul Mwingwa, is a refugee from Congo by way of Rwanda.

Marc Moss: We call Paul’s story “Riding the Bus”. Thanks for listening.

Paul Mwingwa: Hello? I wasn’t, they do something about

Paul Mwingwa: But before that, I will tell you how was writing in my country. maybe a city entrance to the big city, which is like low, low, and right.

Paul Mwingwa: The bus to get placed in that the bus. And for some people need to go through the windows to get to the bus and for the money. Then I crossed the border because look, the one I come in, the one down where I spent 18 years as a refugee. In one night, it’s kind of, pick the bus. And when we get up the pass station, they have to make light. He’s the first person to arrive at the bathtub, get in the bus. Then when we arrived here in Missoula, in November, yeah.

Paul Mwingwa: The organization will come refugees here. Tell us how to ride the bus. And this was in need to go to those or Walmart, the one office in stuff, one or two kids at school. And one of my son who was at the Sentinel high school and they tell us we was living close to Franklin elementary school. And from there we should take the bus number two.

Paul Mwingwa: Then the first day Volusia took my son out of school. And the second day I decided to take myself, my son and see where he picking class. Then we take the bus from Franklin elementary school. We were at downtown, all the people in the past to get out, you can drive, also get out. And we decided also to get out, when do we get the other day?

Paul Mwingwa: I asked him, I asked my son, how many buses did you take to come to school? We didn’t want to one bus.

Paul Mwingwa: No.

Paul Mwingwa: I you said, okay. I can ask someone. I ask someone for help. It’s okay to go, to get to certain the last school you missed the bus.

Paul Mwingwa: Number one, then you show the bus number one, getting the bus. Number one, I go to the office every day for my son, then all my way, go back at, at home.

Paul Mwingwa: I was thinking how it guy I boil for 16 years. Can we get you into the bus and they can attend the bus without knowing, and he get out of school. That was a finger about that. And we arrive at the Suffolk. Good for my, for my idea. I was supposed to get out of the dead bus, wait for the bus. Number two can take me to my place.

Paul Mwingwa: Then I get down to the bus and I see him that day. Getting my hand like this, I saw the advice. Number two, live in the session.

Paul Mwingwa: Where does it come from?

Paul Mwingwa: No, it said make it go. I pulled an interpreter. I explained him how the bus, I missed the bus. Oh, Paul, you many mistakes by school, the number and not from your house.

Paul Mwingwa: Don’t tell them the bus number to 10. The number from one from two. And from there, if I got stuff more, if I, the number from one to two, now that my son knows, right. Because when he

Paul Mwingwa: I just said, okay,

Paul Mwingwa: I get the lessons with the lady. I went there for 15 minutes, then another master I saw he’s always number one. Then they saw it and he said, he jumped the gun. Number two, I waited to get to the bus and they can I take, I get my job and the fourth day I was supposed to go work. And when we arrived, You know, a country didn’t have this normal.

Paul Mwingwa: And I felt that it was seeing my kids blend is blue. I did feel that is very cold.

Paul Mwingwa: Now I wake up in the morning. I go to south Suffolk it’s month, wait for the bus. I didn’t wear clothes, which skin protecting me. And I arrived there. I went to. What was it? 15 minutes.

Paul Mwingwa: And I was called, they’ve called the tenant from Corning, this filing my hands.

Paul Mwingwa: All the ears was binding. I assumed the bus number seven, but then I didn’t do that bus faster by sending me out to downtown. I was waiting for the bus number two or bus number one,

Paul Mwingwa: the bicycle riding. I was suffering myself. I was praying while your friends who I put my hands on my issue, they, I lose how it can be one, but they didn’t to get that.

Paul Mwingwa: I get in the bus quickly and they go to the bottom, crying in myself who can, how it can feel better. And finally, on my hand, my. We got, I didn’t know how we get the downtown and it was under the tone means I want to go my way.

Paul Mwingwa: And I explained to my supervisor what’s happened to me, so I miss it by and I knew

Paul Mwingwa: I very cool. We didn’t know that this, but I forget I’ve started to get them all. I said, then my sixth or eighth, I got my lesson from that. I learned how to let the all new you come. I threatened them. Right. Because I would get my gun every time I saw someone outside this door, I went in and when I I’m with him,

Paul Mwingwa: I tried, I have friends. Don’t play with this known by him.

Paul Mwingwa: Thank you for that.

Marc: Thanks, Paul.

Paul Mwingwa is the Refugee Congress Delegate for Montana. He is a resettled refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and came to the U.S. in November 2018. Mwingwa is studying Computer Network Design, Configuration and Administration Modules at Missoula College. Today, he works as a Swahili language instructor and private contractor at the Lifelong Learning Center and a food service worker at Providence St. Patrick Hospital. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and walking along the river.

Marc Moss: Jen Certa originally shared this story in 2020 during one of the Tell Us Something live-streamed events. It is such an important story that we thought she deserved a live in-person audience to hear it. Jen agreed.

Marc Moss: Sensitive listeners be aware that Jen’s story mentions sexual assault.

Marc Moss: Jen calls her story “How to Love This World”. Thanks for listening.

Jen Certa: So there’s this thing that used to happen to me every year when the weather would get bummed 45 and it was settled. Sandal weather in Missoula, standing in line at the grocery store, hang out in front of backyard, floating the river and of leaves. Someone would look down at my feet and they would ask me the question.

Jen Certa: I read it. Hey, what’s your tattoo? I hated this question and I hated it because every time someone would ask them this, I was just flooded inside with shame. 10 years ago, I was 24 leaving Montana. And what I thought would be a permanent move. And I was just heartbroken about leaving for the previous few years.

Jen Certa: Montana had been misplaced where I had felt the most alive, most fully myself that I had felt ever in my life. I was so afraid to lose that feeling. And I was just desperate to take with me some kind of a reminder of what this place had meant to me. So I made an appointment at a local tattoo shop like you do when you’re 24 and having a quarter-life crisis.

Jen Certa: And since this was going to be my first tattoo, I was more than a little nervous about how it was going to turn out. So I asked the artist who was going to be doing my tattoo, and you wouldn’t mind doing drawing part of the appointment for me to just kind of help ease my anxiety that I did, what I wanted it to be.

Jen Certa: And he said that he would. So for the six weeks prior to the appointment, I checked in diligently every week with him to see if the drawing that he had promised me was ready. And each week he kind of blew me off. He’d say you’ve been really busy that week and you’d get to it the next day. And that happened over and over again.

Jen Certa: I was starting to feel a little uneasy about it, but he had come really highly recommended by a friend. So I stuck with him finally, the day of the appointment arrived and I still hadn’t seen a drawing. I got there and he asked me to remind him what it was that I wanted. And talk to me. I told him pretty clear disinterest for a few minutes, and then he disappeared in the back somewhere.

Jen Certa: And like, I swear, five minutes later, he comes back out and he hands me this piece of paper and it has a clip art picture on it. And sometimes in a font, but I would say was like a Microsoft word, scripty sort of font. And I didn’t love it. So I asked him if he would be willing to make a few. And he basically told me with the air of someone who’s being incredibly convenience, that it would just be a lot of trouble for him to make some changes to this divine right now.

Jen Certa: And if I wanted to get a tattoo that day, it was pretty much, it was too late. I had waited six weeks for this appointment and I was leaving Montana and another two weeks, and I just felt this pressure, like it was now or never. I don’t remember. It was a warm day and still the vinyl chairs sticking to the back of my leg.

Jen Certa: The air was just fit with this metallic by thing and a tall, pretty intimidating, somewhat annoyed man, towered over me and asked, ready. Uh, yeah, yeah. Ready?

Jen Certa: I said that even though I didn’t feel ready or good about this at all, second, the needle touched my skin. I knew, I knew this. Wasn’t what I wanted for my body.

Jen Certa: In this moment. I knew I was abandoning my intuition, my inner knowing.

Jen Certa: And I said, yes,

Jen Certa: There have been other times in my life where I felt intimidated powerless, where I’ve had a man do things to my body that I did not want. And a 24, no one was forcing me to get this tattoo. I was choosing this. I had power in this situation and I, the way I stayed frozen inside.

Jen Certa: I mean because of that, the hummingbird didn’t come out as soft and elegant. And as I was hoping that it would, and sort of the sort of rough looking like it’s feathers, it kind of in blown around in a wind storm and it was positioned in this sort of aggressive way. Like it was ready to dive on something at any moment.

Jen Certa: And then there was the line from the Mary Oliver poem that I love. There was only one question how to let this. And that Microsoft word fond. Yeah. How’s it turns out the side of your foot is in a great place for a tattoo. So over time, the words faded in such a way that eventually it just read one question.

Jen Certa: I used to tell people what they had asked me what the one question was, question tattoos,

Jen Certa: but the truth is what it looks, what it looked like is not. So you’ll reason why I. I felt so much shame when someone would notice it and why I tried so hard to hide it it’s because this tattoo was a literal physical reminder of psychological scars ones that I didn’t ask for that I profoundly disliked about myself for a long time.

Jen Certa: And that like-mind my, to, I fight really hard to avoid looking at things. Went on like that for about a decade until March 20. The pandemic happened and suddenly, like a lot of people, I was spending a ton of time alone without much distraction. And as the lockdown days turned into weeks and months, I was finding it harder and harder to avoid my own thoughts and to avoid looking at the things I had tried so hard to avoid.

Jen Certa: And of course it was also hard to avoid looking at my tattoo because I wasn’t leaving my house. So I didn’t have reason to wear shoes. And during that time I realized something. I realized that it was not a matter of if I would look at the stars, but a matter of how. I could continue to look at them with self-hatred and God as I have, or I can choose to look at them with some compassion for myself.

Jen Certa: I can’t change the experience that I had of getting that tattoo or of any of the other experiences that it reminds me of. But what I can do is take small steps to reclaim them. So earlier this year I made an appointment at a different local tattoo shop. The artist that I met with. Who I researched thoroughly beforehand, this time was kind.

Jen Certa: And she asked me thoughtful question. As I tried to explain the design that I was picturing in my head fire weed has a somewhat on parent name, but I think it’s beautiful. And it is one of my favorite and become one of my favorite wild flowers in my time as a Montana and even more important to me than that fire, we get 16 from sensibility to grow in burn areas, landscapes that have been traumatized by wildfires.

Jen Certa: It’s the first flower to bloom to reclaim a landscape after a fire scars. And now fire blues from one of my scars too. It’s a reminder that new road and fans forum, you’re going to play some terrible distraction. And also an answer to that one question of my original tattoo, how to love this world like this, including the joy and everything in between, and including me too.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Jen. Jen Certa is originally from New York, but accidentally began a love affair with Montana in 2009 and is grateful to have called Missoula home since. Jen works as a mental health therapist at an elementary school, where she spends her days debating the finer points of making fart noises with your slime and playing “the floor is lava.” When not at work, Jen can most often be found hiking with her dogs and running late for something.

Initially, I had hoped that they would each share a story individually. When they pitched the idea of sharing their story in tandem, I was skeptical. I thought, well, this isn’t a normal year. Why not?

Teresa Waldorf: March 22nd, and I’m not flying to be I’m in a long distance relationship with a man who I think is going to be the next great love of my life. But we’ve been having an argument on the phone. I’m saying I have to cancel my flight. My mom is crying and he’s saying things like, well, at our age, I don’t think we do what our moms tell us.

Rosie Ayers: I had stopped all theater productions, all classes. I had no answers for anything.

On the next Tell Us Something podcast, tune in to listen to them share their experience of a pandemic reckoning that they call “March 22”.

Thanks once again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. They deliver superior technology solutions through trusted relationships and enrich the lives of their customers, owners and employees. Learn more at blackfoot.com

And thanks to all of our in-kind sponsors:

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

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

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and my favorite place to find a dance party while driving U104.5 (insert Gecko Designs) Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Marc Moss: To learn more about Tell Us Something, please vistit tellussomething.org.

 

Bonnie Bishop talks about what it was like to be the first person in Tell Us Something history to share her story in a live-streamed setting. We talk about the pandemic, about collective grief and about what it means to begin returning to life beyond quarantine. After our conversation, you can hear the story as Bonnie shared it on the Tell Us Something live-streamed stage.
Tell Us Something believes that everyone has a story. We believe that all stories matter. We believe that storytelling brings us together as a community. We believe that stories connect us as community members, open our hearts, change our minds, change our community and change the world for the better. PLEASE, IF YOU CAN, GIVE GENEROUSLY DURING THIS YEAR'S MISSOULA GIVES. For the past 11 years, Tell Us Something has supported the community through the art of storytelling and reaches people through live events, storytelling workshops, podcasts, our YouTube channel, and now live streaming storytelling events.
This week on the podcast, we check in with Anna Haslund, the first Deaf storyteller to have shared a story on the Tell Us Something stage. We talk about her story and what it was like to share a story on the Tell Us Something stage. We also talk about her excitement to compete in the Miss America Pageant representing her state as Miss Montana. During our conversation, Anna also shares some of the unique challenges Deaf people face during the pandemic. After the interview, stick around for the story that Anna calls “Joe + Balthazar”. Anna's story takes us on a wild horse ride in which she performs a daring horse rescue on a forest service road in Montana.

Transcript : Interview with Anna Haslund

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

This week on the podcast, we check in with Anna Haslund, the first Deaf storyteller to share a story at Tell Us Something. We sat down in July of 2020 during the midst of the pandemic. And she shared with us what it was like to share a story at Tell Us Something, her excitement

to participate in the Miss America Pageant representing her state of Montana, as well as some of the unique challenges that Deaf people face during the pandemic.

All this, coming up. Big thanks to our Title Sponsor, The Good Food Store, and thanks to our Enduring Sponsors, cabinetparts.com and Blackfoot Communications.

Special thanks to our Champion Sponsor True Food Missoula. Each year across Missoula, nonprofits raise money during Missoula Gives for expanded programming, special projects or, sometimes, just to keep the lights on.

Tell Us Something looks forward to your support during Missoula Gives May sixth and seventh. Learn more at missoulagives.org. So, Anna,

[Marc] You’ve been coming to Tell Us Something for how long?

[Anna] Wow, I think it’s been about five years.

[Marc] So, how did you come to decide, that you wanted to tell a story?

[Anna] Good question. Let me see.

So, my interpreter Bonnie actually told me that there was an event called Tell Us Something, and I hadn’t heard about it.

And so I went and was in the audience. And then I felt that I could probably get up there too. And I know that there weren’t any Deaf people that had done it before, so I feel that would be really empowering for me to get up there and just tell a story.

And then the audience, oh my gosh, they were so supportive and so excited! And when I finished the story they were all applauding for me in sign language, and it was just such an honor and I, I like being representative for the community.

So, I felt inspired.

[Marc] And when you told your story.

What was it like afterwards?

[Anna] So, it just felt like a really big change for me.

I’ve always been a very, like, closed and personal person, but getting up there and telling the story, I felt, y’know, just some new emotions and I was able to get out of my shell some more and make some new friends.

And we all supported each other. It was great.

It feels like I’m part of a big family now [Marc] You are!

[Anna] Exactly.

[Marc] So you’ve done this twice. You’ve told a story twice.

Is there one that you enjoyed telling more than the other one?

[Anna] It’s hard to choose but I think the one that I told about the, the two horses, you know, Joe, and then the other horse. So, Yeah, I think those, that was my favorite one to tell. [Marc] Yeah. Everyone loves horse stores.

[Anna] Yeah.

And they know that when I was trying to make that sound, you know, for the kissing the horse? That the audience, looked like they really enjoyed that too. [laughter]

[Marc] Yeah. You told a story about heartbreak too

Did that guy,

did he get to listen to it?

[Anna] So yeah actually he did, and he contacted me, and you know he apologized for the whole experience. And so you know we’re friends, you know, once in a while we’ll see each other but just friends. [Marc] His loss

[Anna] Actually yeah! [laughter]

[Marc] So what have you been up to since then? I heard you have some news.

[Anna] So I am so excited to let you know that just last month,

I was in a competition for Miss Montana for the Americas, and I won!. Oh my gosh, it was my first time! And the first time that there’s been a Deaf woman, representing the state!

And so I think the first time going to be doing some kind of appearance is going to be in November of this year. And hoping that I can give speeches like in schools and different communities, and and really inspire people and empower — yeah so yeah. Montana’s

just my home and I am excited to represent it.

[Marc] That’s awesome.

So when is the pageant itself?

[Anna] So in October, sometime I’m going to be competing on the national level.

And I think next month I’ll get more information. But I’ll keep you updated! It’s on my Facebook page!

[Marc] Anna won the Miss Congeniality award during the Miss America Pageant. Ultimately, the crown went to Miss Virginia,

Camille Schrier.

[Anna] I know when I was in the pageant previously, I was given the award for Miss Congeniality.

You know we could always have more people around it, just everybody go together.

And I want to say, just thank you so much to my, my two directors they have been so nice and respectful, and professional and working with me and we all work together, so it’s been such a great support system.

[Marc] So, so proud of you. That’s amazing. Thank you so much for

letting us know about that.

[Anna] Thank you. You’re welcome.

[Marc] And so the next time you tell a story at Tell Us Something you’ll be Miss America, is that right?

[Anna] [laughter] Maybe! Is there anything else that you want listeners to know before we play their story, your story for them.

[Marc] Is there anything else that you want listeners to know before we play your story for them?

[Anna] So I think it’s important for people know, I wanted to share–

You know, with this coronavirus that’s happening, It’s been really hard for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to be able to communicate because of the mask requirement.

It covers most of your face.

So what’s been really cool is that there’s these masks with a clear window, that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use, I have a friend that actually makes them.

Emily, she’s from Washington State.

And there’s also a place of Darby here in Montana. And they worked really hard to provide the community with a way to be able to provide access for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

I know it’s hard like if you’re trying to communicate someone needs to read your lips, you have to remove your mask so for just for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people also it’s hard to communicate.

If they rely on reading lips. So, these masks are incredibly helpful. So that’s that’s a good idea.

[Marc] And, can you provide us a link to where we can order those masks?

[Anna] Oh absolutely, I’d be happy to give you that information for the contact.

[Marc] Great. Thank you so much.

[Anna] You’re welcome.

[Marc] And I don’t have any other questions. Is there anything else that you want to talk about?

[Anna] Oh, wow.

I don’t know! Let me see.

I could ask you about your experiences with your business. Maybe what do you think about inviting more Deaf people to tell stories?

[Marc] I mean, I’ve always wanted to do that, I don’t know how to encourage them. Do you have any advice on how I can be more inclusive?

[Anna] Good question.

So there’s a Deaf school in Montana that we could contact, and see if there’s anyone who will come and tell stories.

And they have interpreters there that we could put on video if we do do it remotely.

There’s always different access ways. And there’s —

I’d be happy to also myself just contact my Deaf and hard of Hearing friends and try to get them up here on stage to tell a story. I mean if I can do it, I think anyone can.

And I want to thank Bonnie, my interpreter and also Denise for interpreting. I know it’s hard to get interpreters for all the stories and all of your events and I know it can be frustrating and captioning is really frustrating and hard to get to look

just right. But the interpreting and the captioning is really important for people who aren’t completely Deaf but also hard of Hearing, and they can’t catch all the words.

So part of what I want to do is just help bridge communication gaps, and, um–

People, I know, are always fascinated with sign language, and they’re always watching the interpreter, which is great!

Like my best friend Erica, she got fascinated with sign language. And now she’s going into an interpreter program in Oregon to become an interpreter. So I’m so excited to see how she develops and I know when she’s done I’ll definitely be hiring her too!l

[Marc] Well, I can tell you this, that, I have a friend you this that I have a friend that knows ASL but she’s not an interpreter.

And, even before I started bringing Bonnie and Denise on to help interpret,

I didn’t know that I needed to bring on certified interpreters.

And so, I was asking other people to do it, and they kept telling me “no”. But they didn’t tell me why.

And so I’d been working on getting interpreters, interpret the stories for a couple years, before

I finally talked to Bonni–er, Denise, excuse me. And I asked her, like, what why aren’t, why isn’t anybody saying “yes” to this? And she explained

The requirement for certification.

And so then, finally,

We developed this relationship. And, here we are.

[Anna] And it’s great that you’re more comfortable, you know, having the interpreters there, and just having them be a part of the whole thing, and….

I know, communication is so important. And I know people don’t always understand that sign language is a foriegn language.

[Marc] Right.

[Anna] And that writing back and forth with people is ok,

But because it’s foreign language, that can be difficult. So using a certified interpreter, who knows ASL, it’s just so important to match communication styles.

With this pandemic. It’s changed so much. There’s so many emotions that people are experiencing, having to realize, you know, what can happen with the pandemic. It’s really difficult.

I know that we’re not alone with our struggles in communication and everything else and–you know, I know eventually, maybe, COVID will be gone. It could be years, it could be five minutes, I don’t know.

You can only try your best, you know, and like I always tease my friends, my family.

You know, like right now we’re sitting six feet away.

And sometimes, you know, I sign larger, and then, say, we’re not six feet away [laughter] and I say, “Oh, excuse me! That’s too close!” So.[laughter]

Yeah.

[Marc] Well, thank you so much, Anna, for being here today. And… uh oh….

[Anna] You’re welcome. And thank you for allowing me, you know, giving me the honor to do this little interview.

[Marc] Yeah,

[Anna] It makes me

[Marc] I appreciate you being here.

[Anna] proud.

[Marc] Thank you.

[Anna] You’re welcome. Thanks.

[Marc] After the break, watch and share her story, live on stage, and she shared it in front of a sold out crowd at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana. In September of 2019.

Thanks again to our Title Sponsor The Good Food Store, learn more at goodfoodstore.com.

Thanks to our Enduring Sponsors, cabinteparts.com, and Blackfoot Communications. Learn more at blackfoot.com.

Special thanks to True Food Missoula. You can find them at truefoodcsa.com. And Joyce of Tile, you can find Joyce at joyceof tile.com.

Anna Haslund loves the community with her kindness. Loves to help the community with her kindness.

She is the one who breaks the barrier and and can do the impossible.

Watch out for her crazy skill with yaassss kicks!

Her nickname is Anna Banana.

Note, that Anna is Deaf, and her story will be voiced by Bonnie Kurian.

The way to clap for Deaf people is to wave your hands like this. [clapping in ASL]

So, after her story is finished, the house lights will come up, and we can all show our love for Anna together.

Please welcome Anna Haslund.

[clapping]

[laughter]

>>About four years ago.

Me and my best friend Erica were in Frenchtown at an organization called Heart, which is an equine recreation and therapy organization.

We were volunteering with those horses.

Erica asked me if I wanted to go up to Flathead to pick up four new horses for this therapy ranch. And I was so excited, I said, “Of course I do”.

So it was me and Erica, and her half sister, Selena.

We met the owner up there at this other ranch.

And he said, “Go ahead and pick your horse.” So I looked at all the horses, and I saw this beautiful perfect horse. He was huge. Brown and flowing mane.

And I felt a little nervous though. I knew it was important that we had to be able to trust each other.

So I offered him my hand and he sniffed my hand and let me pet his nose. And I asked the owner, I said, “What is this horse’s name?” He said, “Oh the horse’s name is Joe.”

And I said, “Well, that’s really funny. My mom’s name is Joe [laughter] so, apparently this is meant to be. This is a good connection.”

So I got on the horse. We’re riding along. And the way most people communicate with a horse is they make a clicking sound, well I can’t click, so I decided to make a kissing sound instead. [laughter] it worked great.

It worked great. He liked it.

[laughter]

So a few months later, Erica and I decided that we wanted to take these horses out on a trail ride.

And there were four of us. Again, it was Erica.

Selena, she was about seven at the time,

And the ex-wife of the owner. I’m not sure how she got in the group but.

[laughter]

So we’re riding along. We keep going.

We’re on this forest service road. Was a nice big road. Perfect for four people, four horses.

So we’re all riding along. We go on up a few miles, we were just going to go up and turn around and come back.

Everything was going on great.

And of course I was on the lead horse, which is ridiculous, because I’m Deaf!

[laughter]

But, here I go. About 10-15 minutes, I started feeling in my gut like, “Something’s not quite right.” I turned around and oh my gosh, Erica is waiting frantically!

And I knew quickly, that something had to be wrong. So I’m trying to kiss at my horse again to get him to stop.

I turn, we turn around and we see that the ex-wife was on one of the meanest horses. She yanked on the reins and he kicked her right off. And she actually broke her leg.

So I look over at Erica.

And we see Selena. It’s her first time on a horse. Now she is scared to death. She’s screaming hysterically. And we knew that we needed to calm her down so that her horse didn’t get scared and buck her off.

So trying to keep her calm. We don’t want her to scare the horse.

And now we are trying to figure out, “What are we going to do now?”

How are we going to get four horses down?

And oddly enough, these two men come walking up the forest service road. We thought, “Well this is perfect timing.” And they asked if they could help. We said, “Uh, yeah, that’d be great!”

[laughter]

So we said, “How are you going to help?” “So we have a truck right over here.” So they were able to pick up the ex-wife and put her in the truck. Helped her out.

We said, “Bye.”

[laughter]

So then Erica takes me to the other horse, and she brings me the reins to guide the other horse down the trail and the reins slipped out of my hand. And the horse.

He just kept trotting along like nothing was going on. And I thought, “Oh great! Now we have a runaway horse!” So I have to get next to this horse. I’m riding my horse. I’m trying to use my horse to guide the other horse, so that I could grab the reins.

And while we were going down the Forest Service road, it was really curvy. We finally get to a flat spot.

I look at my horse, I look at the other horse, and I have this incredible plan. I know it’s a little crazy, but it’s a great plan.

So I’m talking to Joe, and I’m saying, “Stay here. I have faith in you. Do not take off on me. Just stay with me.” So I go over sidesaddle, and Erica is looking at me. She knows exactly what I’m going to do. [screaming] She tries to tell me not to.

 

I jump off a Joe. I scream, I land. I kind of felt like, Zorro, actually. [laughter] I jump over.

I land on this horse, this mean one. His name is Balthazar.

[laughter]

 

And I feel, “This is incredible! I really should be in a movie! This was amazing! I should be a stunt person.”

So I grabbed the reins. I pull him back.

Everybody’s absolutely shocked. Erica says, “You are insane! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

I said, “Well, I actually can’t believe I did that myself! [laughter] But, look, everything’s everything’s great now there’s no more problems.”

[small laughter]

So the ex-wife was taken to the hospital. Yes, she broke her leg.

Selena got over her fear of the horses, and she’s fine.

And Erica and I are still best friends, thank God. Now we have a story we can tell our grandchildren for years to come. What crazy risk takers we are.

[laughter]

[large applause and clapping]

For a video of Anna and her friend Erica, visit tellsssomething.org. If you want to support what we do, recommend the Tell Us Something podcast, to just two people who have never heard it before, and rate us on your favorite podcasting app, it really helps get the word out.

Please, plan on donating to Tell Us Something during Misosula Gives May 6th and 7th. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

If you ever want to drop me a line, you can find me ar [email protected], that Marc, M-A-R-C @tellussomething.org.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors, Logjam Presents. Learn more about them out at logjampresents.com

Thanks to Missoula Broadcasting Company. Learn more at missoulabroadcasting.com

Float Missoula. Learn more at floatmsla.com.

GeckoDesigns.com

Missoulaevents.net, makers of Cheddarboard.

Podcast production by me, Marc Moss.

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

Stay safe, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, get vaccinated, and have a story-worthy day.

This week on the podcast we hear from storytellers of a corporate Tell Us Something storytelling workshop that I hosted for MEDA - Montana Economic Developers Association. Join these four storytellers for stories of work, and the importance of taking an active role in your local community through your vocation.

Transcript : Live Storytelling with Corporate Workshop participants MEDA

00:00
welcome to the telesumming podcast i’m
00:01
mark moss they had just been
00:04
shafted by the company that had bought
00:06
their company
00:07
so i was buying them their beer
00:10
ironically
00:11
in a couple of years they would develop
00:13
a fully automated
00:14
company that without employees doing
00:16
about four and a half million dollars a
00:18
year in sales
00:20
today we feature four storytellers who
00:22
worked hard during a tele-something
00:24
corporate storytelling week-long
00:26
workshop
00:27
members of the montana economic
00:29
developers association
00:30
or media shared their true personal
00:33
stories from their homes and offices
00:35
during a corporate workshop hosted by
00:37
tell us something
00:38
the storytelling workshop helped people
00:40
harness the power of personal
00:42
storytelling
00:43
to talk about the work that they do
00:45
every day
00:46
why is that work important to them why
00:49
that work is important to those that
00:51
they serve and why that work is
00:52
important to the communities where they
00:54
live
00:54
and work across the state of montana
00:58
big thanks to our title sponsor the good
01:00
food store and thanks to our enduring
01:02
sponsors cabinetparts.com and blackfoot
01:04
communications
01:05
special thanks to our champion sponsor
01:06
truefood missoula and huge thanks to our
01:09
blue ribbon sponsor
01:10
joyce of tile the media members who are
01:14
sharing our stories with you today
01:15
know that it is with our stories that we
01:18
can reach people
01:19
with our mission they left the graphs
01:22
and pie charts at the office
01:24
they saved the data points for later our
01:27
storytellers today
01:28
used their true personal stories to
01:30
share the story of the important work
01:32
that they do
01:33
in communities across montana around 20
01:35
or so media members
01:37
joined me every day for a week during
01:40
our two hours every day
01:41
i taught them what i know about
01:43
storytelling we talked about techniques
01:45
and structure and helped each other
01:47
develop and improve our stories
01:49
i tailored the workshop specifically for
01:52
the media members
01:53
today four of those workshop
01:55
participants will share their stories
01:56
with you
01:57
we did the workshop over zoom and a
02:00
couple times there were
02:01
internet connectivity issues so you’ll
02:03
hear some of the participants drop out
02:05
a few times usually a telesumming event
02:09
is focused on a theme
02:11
we hadn’t discussed a theme for these
02:13
stories but listening to them
02:15
a theme emerged we can say that the
02:17
theme is
02:18
why am i here or why i do this call it
02:22
passion
02:23
whatever you call it you’ll see these
02:25
storytellers are personally bonded to
02:27
the work that they do
02:28
and that their passion really comes
02:30
through in the stories that they share
02:32
our first storyteller is gloria o’rourke
02:35
gloria
02:36
has been a meta member since 1995 and
02:39
self-employed since 2003.
02:41
she and her business partner mike share
02:44
an office and have been married for 44
02:46
years
02:47
mike and gloria enjoy spoiling their
02:49
four grandsons and then returning them
02:51
with sugar highs
02:52
to their parents we call gloria’s story
02:55
my desk do you know
02:59
how many sticky notes are in a pack
03:04
we all use them but do you know there
03:07
are 100
03:08
sticky notes in a pack i go through
03:12
about a pack a week
03:15
why i’m self-employed
03:19
that means i’m my own boss right
03:23
wrong i have a contract and i work for
03:26
meda
03:27
which stands for montana economic
03:29
developers association
03:32
meda has a membership of about as of
03:34
this morning
03:35
253 people and that means
03:40
i have 253 bosses
03:43
so at my desk here at my desk i like to
03:46
think of myself as the communication hub
03:49
maybe a federal partner or a state
03:51
partner has an urgent program
03:53
update and they’ll send it to me gloria
03:54
can you shoot this out and
03:56
or maybe a media member will send me
03:58
something saying hey we’re
04:00
putting on a training or oh we have this
04:02
to offer small businesses
04:04
would you shoot it out so i send it out
04:06
or maybe i’ll get a phone call
04:08
and it’s a business person saying i’m
04:10
trying to start a business in bozeman do
04:12
you know who i should contact
04:14
and so i look at myself as kind of the
04:18
communication hub
04:19
things come in i send them out right
04:22
but i’m not always at my desk one of my
04:25
favorite things to do
04:27
is what’s called immediate community
04:29
review
04:30
um once how it works is a community will
04:33
invite me to in
04:35
and i’ll first start with a small team
04:37
of maybe just three or four of us and
04:39
what we do
04:40
is we listen we listen to a community
04:43
for
04:43
hours we listen to them share about
04:46
what’s important to them
04:47
what problems they’re having what
04:49
challenges they’re having
04:51
and we summarize everything that we
04:54
heard from these hours and hours of
04:56
listening
04:57
then we go back to our desks and i start
05:00
tapping the shoulders of some of those
05:03
253 bosses
05:04
and they say hey i’m this this town
05:07
needs help with small business finance
05:09
or this
05:10
town needs help restoring a historic
05:12
building or
05:13
this town needs help with manufacturing
05:15
or this town is looking for a co-op
05:17
for a store so then we work together
05:21
to help that community take action on
05:24
their action plans
05:26
a perfect example of this is the
05:28
community of lockwood
05:30
several years ago big sky economic
05:32
development
05:33
and beartooth rcnd invited a small meta
05:37
team to come in
05:38
and listen to lockwood and so we
05:40
listened
05:42
and we listened and we heard three main
05:45
pretty heavy burdens the community of
05:47
lockwood had
05:48
um one was they felt like they were the
05:51
ugly stepchild
05:52
of yellowstone county they felt their
05:54
voice was not heard
05:56
another one was they realized they had a
05:59
large dropout rate
06:00
that they had these kids that grew up in
06:03
lockwood went to school in lockwood and
06:05
then suddenly
06:06
it was time to go to high school and
06:07
they were shuttled to different schools
06:09
in the big city
06:11
the third major problem they wanted to
06:15
address and it was quite tragic
06:17
was they had several deaths in their
06:20
community
06:21
because people had been killed there was
06:23
no
06:24
safe streets no safe sidewalk no good
06:27
lighting
06:28
for the people to walk on and so
06:31
the team after we listened we came back
06:34
to our desk we tapped shoulders of those
06:37
253
06:39
media members we worked again with big
06:42
sky eda and beartooth and we held a huge
06:44
town hall meeting
06:47
and as a result of that our
06:50
our media members bringing their
06:52
expertise to the table and
06:53
local people of lockwood stepping up
06:56
i’ll never forget this young dad stepped
06:58
up
06:58
and he said i want my boys to be safe
07:01
when they walk to school
07:03
so the people of lockwood came together
07:05
and
07:06
they really went to work on their action
07:08
items so
07:09
a few months ago we were back to
07:12
lockwood and we wanted to hear what
07:13
happened
07:14
and what we learned is lockwood has
07:17
incredible momentum
07:18
now they no longer feel like the ugly
07:20
stepchild
07:22
they through working through legislators
07:25
they change state law so that they now
07:28
had the right to vote onto whether or
07:31
not to build a high school in lockwood
07:33
and they now have their own high school
07:36
and
07:36
best of all they were the first
07:38
community to pass a levy
07:40
to pay for sidewalks and streetlights
07:43
and so this huge momentum monumental
07:46
shift has happened in lockwood
07:48
so back at my desk with my
07:52
my oceans of sticky notes
07:55
i’ve realized something and that is that
07:58
there is no self
08:00
in self-employed i can’t do it on my own
08:04
and i like to think you can’t do it as
08:07
well
08:07
without me and so working together with
08:11
my 253 bosses who really aren’t bosses
08:14
you are really my partners
08:16
working together we are making a
08:18
difference in our communities
08:20
and building a great place in montana
08:23
for people to work
08:24
play and live thanks gloria
08:28
to learn more about the montana economic
08:30
developers association
08:31
visit medamembers.org
08:36
our next storyteller is a world traveler
08:38
from a small town heather mccartney is a
08:41
fifth
08:41
generation montanan she works as an
08:44
outreach and consumer education
08:46
specialist
08:47
with the non-profit child care resource
08:49
and referral agency
08:51
family connections her passions include
08:54
hunting for a good decaf
08:56
long reads and connecting people to
08:58
great resources
08:59
she lives in shoto montana with her
09:01
conservation officer husband
09:03
her artistic and whimsical daughter five
09:06
freeloading chickens
09:07
three cats and a dog named bear green is
09:10
her favorite color
09:12
we call heather’s story family
09:14
connections
09:15
i am driving down 89. the sun crests the
09:18
eastern horizon
09:20
and the light is blinding so i pull my
09:22
visor down push it to the side
09:24
no need to start a migraine this early
09:26
in the day
09:28
light flickers off the refuge waters as
09:30
i look in my rear view mirror
09:32
my little passenger looks dreamily out
09:34
her window
09:36
look mama i see a dragon maybe a dog
09:40
i follow her gaze into the puffy clouds
09:43
uh-huh i see what you see i also see a
09:46
blue heron fishing
09:48
over there do you see it yes and
09:50
pelicans too
09:53
she explains her head back i’m tired
09:56
mama
09:57
she murmurs me too sweetheart
10:00
why don’t you pull your pillow over to
10:02
the door and have a little nap
10:04
she settles herself against the seat
10:06
ponytail flopping over as she leans into
10:08
her pillow
10:09
and pulls up her blanket
10:13
i count myself fortunate to live here on
10:15
the crown of the continent
10:16
our little bungalow sits in a tree-lying
10:18
town in the shadow of the rocky
10:20
mountains
10:21
the backbone of the world the
10:24
front actually known as a cornucopia of
10:26
flora and fauna
10:28
on a given day you’ll see silver-tipped
10:30
grizzly bears
10:31
grazing on black choke cherries next to
10:34
freshly moan hay fields
10:36
next to mountain streams that water an
10:39
otherwise arid plain
10:41
in the town of shoto the deer regularly
10:44
grazed down my sunflowers
10:46
and the elk bugle at the city limits
10:49
neighborhood children play from house to
10:51
house the schools are top notch
10:53
and as garrison keillor would say all
10:55
the kids are above average
10:59
60 miles later i pull into a quiet
11:00
neighborhood
11:02
slowing to go over a speed bump i see a
11:04
lively elementary school around the
11:06
corner
11:07
and gaze wistfully at a for sale sign on
11:10
a modest home
11:12
i stop as claire gathers her backpack
11:14
and hops out
11:16
i meet her on the other side of car we
11:19
kiss through our masks
11:20
love you mama love you too zugs i say as
11:23
i squeeze her in a hug
11:25
i climb back into the car and stare at
11:27
her back
11:28
and she heads into someone else’s
11:30
capable hands
11:33
15 minutes later i pull into the parking
11:35
lot in my company designated space
11:38
as i turn off the engine i feel the heat
11:39
of the day coming on
11:41
i hate my commute i hate all the hours
11:44
lost to transition when i’d rather be
11:46
relaxing
11:47
catching up with friends heck even doing
11:50
chores
11:51
anything but sitting in a car my back
11:53
and legs getting tight
11:55
i hate that clara strapped to a seat
11:57
belt for those same hours rather than
11:59
running with the sun on her hair or
12:01
climbing into a treehouse to exchange
12:03
secrets with friends
12:05
i especially hate that because my
12:06
commute to child care is so far
12:08
and high quality care is so expensive
12:11
that i will have nothing to show for my
12:13
eight hour day plus
12:14
two and a half hours of travel my entire
12:16
paycheck will have been cashed into
12:18
making sure my daughter
12:19
has great care and learning while i work
12:23
yet i’m doing exactly what i love
12:25
i’m an influencer for positive change
12:28
change
12:29
i deeply gratified helping people solve
12:30
problems and communities rally around
12:32
solutions
12:34
like you there really isn’t much i
12:35
wouldn’t do or haven’t done to help
12:37
these good developments along
12:39
i mean you know the drill cups of coffee
12:42
at community tables
12:44
op-eds to regional papers sitting on
12:46
boards
12:47
volunteering for anything on a saturday
12:49
and then biting your tongue as a group
12:51
moves in a different direction
12:53
leaving your hard work in the dust like
12:55
beer cans after a rodeo
12:58
but this this depleting of my personal
13:01
resources to care for my child
13:03
so that i can help other families and
13:05
communities care for their children
13:07
this is pulling at me like attention
13:09
wire fascinating me to two worlds
13:11
professional and personal sitting here
13:14
in the august heat reminds me of the
13:16
pressure cooker i’m in
13:17
i desperately want claire to have a
13:18
carefree childhood full of rich
13:20
experiences
13:21
and i’m also eager to work to help solve
13:23
montana’s child care crisis
13:26
i’m educated and employed and i’m at
13:28
risk of leaving the workforce
13:30
i live in a childcare desert and i am
13:33
digging wells for other communities and
13:35
their child care oasis
13:37
last night’s call from a panic provider
13:39
wondering how she’ll finance next
13:41
month’s expenses haunts me
13:43
families are desperate for child care so
13:45
they can work uninterrupted
13:46
yet with pandemic variables many have
13:48
pulled the kids home
13:50
taking precious cash flow with them if
13:52
she can’t put together financing
13:54
she’ll join the 10 that have closed
13:56
their doors this year
13:57
adding to the already 40 shortage we had
14:01
in the state
14:02
last week’s blowback from a county
14:04
commissioner’s meeting asking them to
14:06
allocate funds to develop child care
14:08
that had me ready to quit hot tears
14:11
stream down my face why don’t people
14:12
want to support families
14:14
would they rather not have staffing at
14:15
hospitals kids in schools
14:17
volunteers or even talk tax dollars
14:20
towards infrastructure
14:22
what the hell am i doing fighting for
14:24
others that they may enjoy
14:26
high quality affordable and available
14:27
child care for
14:29
which i’m not attained for myself this
14:32
is fraying the very fiber of my being
14:37
i am driving down 89 as starlight
14:39
illuminates the last of the night
14:41
grazers
14:42
my view is framed by oncoming headlights
14:45
in the highways
14:46
still slumbering at home clara dreams of
14:48
her day at school
14:49
full of friends and learning her dad and
14:51
dog will walk her down the idyllic fall
14:53
boulevard
14:54
kicking leaves and stopping to pick up
14:56
her favorite rocks
14:57
and what am i doing like you i’m going
15:01
to work
15:03
thanks heather to learn more about
15:05
family connections visit
15:08
familyconnectionsmt.org
15:11
russ fletcher is an old retired guy who
15:13
escaped from san francisco
15:14
25 years ago to live in missoula with
15:17
his retired attorney wife
15:18
alexis they have two children his son
15:21
lives in san francisco and works for
15:23
google his daughter has
15:25
come home to missoula from l.a and works
15:27
for hulu
15:28
russ spends a lot of his day looking at
15:31
a computer screen
15:32
drinking coffee and pondering the future
15:34
of montana
15:35
russ calls his story how i found my last
15:38
best job in a missoula dive bar it was a
15:41
dark and stormy night 20 years ago
15:44
there was a waiter listlessly clearing
15:46
dishes from the table where
15:48
the 10 or so people that i invited to
15:51
dinner
15:52
had finished eating our greasy burgers
15:54
and drinking bud light
15:56
i’d invited them there to ask a single
15:58
question
15:59
something that i’d found since i’d moved
16:00
from silicon valley it was what the
16:02
prison sheriff on cool hand luke stated
16:04
when they dragged paul newman back
16:06
from an escape attempt what we’ve got
16:09
here
16:09
is a failure to communicate why didn’t
16:13
montana communicate
16:14
we did in san francisco it was just me
16:17
and
16:18
and we’ll call them bud and lou we’re
16:20
left drinking our last can of bud
16:23
there probably was a wet dog laying by
16:25
that back door
16:27
they had just been shafted by the
16:30
company that had bought their company
16:32
so i was buying them their beer
16:34
ironically
16:36
in a couple of years they would develop
16:37
a fully automated
16:39
company that without employees doing
16:41
about four and a half million dollars a
16:43
year in sales
16:45
they would put a phone in their little
16:47
tiny office on higgins
16:50
that would go to the phone tree of all
16:51
the services
16:53
and bud had to go in occasionally to
16:55
sign checks
16:56
and sometimes he’d like to pick up the
16:57
phone so one day he’s in there and the
17:00
phone rings he picks it up and he hears
17:02
hi
17:03
my name is susan smith and i’m from and
17:05
let’s call it giganto corporation
17:08
he immediately slammed down the phone it
17:10
rang again
17:12
hi my name is susan smith and i’m from
17:14
gigento
17:15
he so calmly said thanks susan we’ve
17:18
already got all the computers we need
17:20
and he hung up the phone the phone rang
17:23
again immediately and he picked it up
17:24
now he heard in a rush
17:26
hi my name is susan smith i’m with
17:28
digento and we want to buy your company
17:32
time they got better attorneys and sold
17:34
it from mid-eight figures
17:36
now back to that uh back room with those
17:39
soon-to-be multi-millionaires
17:41
we’d had a few beers and we’re getting
17:43
down to the nitty-gritty
17:44
we’d all come from techy backgrounds in
17:46
silicon valley
17:48
and in that in that environment i had
17:51
always told my employees
17:52
please get out of the office at least an
17:55
hour a day
17:56
you have to get out you can’t just sit
17:58
in your office you’ve got to see what’s
18:00
going on
18:00
who are new competitors who might we
18:02
collaborate with
18:04
what’s the new technology i also had
18:07
told them that if they were over 45
18:09
i wanted them to find a 25 to 30 year
18:12
old
18:13
mentee not a men excuse me a mentor not
18:16
a mentee
18:18
someone who they could work with someone
18:20
who they could teach
18:21
who could teach them about what tensions
18:22
and technology were happening
18:24
they had to realize that it was they
18:26
were not the future
18:28
it were the it was the younger people
18:30
it’s all
18:31
and still is all about networking the
18:34
three of us lamented the fact that
18:35
missoula
18:36
wasn’t talking to bozeman wasn’t talking
18:38
to billings
18:39
wasn’t talking to great falls etc it
18:41
seemed like they all thought each other
18:43
was competing
18:44
it was the same for montana’s companies
18:46
they weren’t talking with each other
18:48
to see whether it might be collaboration
18:50
um
18:51
it wasn’t it wasn’t montana it was the
18:54
world how could i address this
18:56
they both looked at me in very calm
19:00
and humorous gazes said why don’t you
19:03
just build a website
19:05
i was running a company at the time but
19:07
i said hey let’s give it a shot
19:09
so i knew two guys they were brilliant
19:11
techies john and steve they founded mod
19:13
west
19:13
which was an incredibly successful isp
19:16
with i think clients in 56 countries
19:18
they agreed to build a website that
19:21
would become the montana associated
19:23
technology roundtable
19:24
matter because the economy does matter
19:28
i’ll never be able to thank them enough
19:31
john’s now
19:31
in uh truth or consequences new mexico
19:34
running a brew pub
19:35
so there is the career after technology
19:39
the site started modestly i started
19:41
holding monthly roundtables which i’d
19:42
done in silicon valley
19:44
people would get together we’d have a
19:45
topic or a panel
19:47
and people would just talk and they
19:49
seemed to be really
19:50
wanting to to get can get communicating
19:54
with each other
19:54
learn what was going on i really felt
19:57
great about these roundtables they were
19:58
a lot of work
20:00
but i enjoyed them we had one that i
20:03
think i’ll always remember
20:04
the t1 lines was taking 13 14 weeks to
20:07
get one installed for a new company
20:09
this was just you know inconceivable so
20:12
i said let’s have a round table
20:13
i got a call from senator baucus’s
20:15
office he said he would like to come and
20:17
speak because he’d heard about this
20:18
problem too when he arrived he
20:20
apologized he said russ sorry i can only
20:22
stay a few minutes after i give my
20:24
little speech
20:25
he ended up staying for over an hour as
20:28
he listened to the challenges
20:29
of the business community i would like
20:31
to think that this event had an impact
20:33
on him as he announced his first state
20:35
economic summit a few weeks later
20:37
matters all free
20:38
as you all know i rely on the huge
20:41
personal satisfaction i get from doing
20:43
matter
20:43
not the funding it generates it’s
20:45
certainly not the 34 cents an hour i
20:47
calculated i earned sitting on my butt
20:49
and answering the phone
20:51
while supporters and sponsors are
20:53
greatly appreciated
20:54
i’ve never focused on monetizing it in
20:56
spite of my wife’s concern
20:58
and frequent recommendations that you
21:00
should be charging for that
21:02
to me it’s all about montana an example
21:05
was a ceo i was talking to
21:07
he was having a hard time finding a
21:08
company to collaborate with they needed
21:10
some technology skills
21:12
i asked him have you walked across the
21:14
street he did
21:16
he found the company that fit his needs
21:18
that company didn’t have a sign on the
21:20
door
21:21
they competed for the contract they
21:22
didn’t get it but it really showed to me
21:24
the fact that we really needed to get
21:26
out of the office and talk to
21:27
our neighbors it’s been about 20 years
21:31
of updating the site
21:32
i produced three newsletters a week i
21:34
talked to thousands of wonderful people
21:37
and i have to thank montana and media
21:40
for helping me enjoy the best last job
21:42
i’ve ever had
21:44
i hope that if you haven’t already maybe
21:47
someday
21:48
in some dark back room of a dive bar you
21:50
can find your
21:51
dream job as i did maybe it just takes
21:55
communicating with the right people like
21:57
bud
21:58
and lou and john and steve and everybody
22:01
at mita
22:02
thanks russ to learn more about russ’s
22:04
passion project
22:05
montana associated technology
22:07
roundtables visit
22:09
matr.net teresa shriner is the
22:12
investment director
22:13
at the great falls development authority
22:15
she’s a former
22:16
butte rat who teases that she came
22:18
kicking and screaming to great falls
22:20
with her husband
22:21
although loves to sell folks on the
22:23
electric city teresa
22:24
just celebrated 10 years with her larger
22:26
than life husband casey
22:28
who equally challenges her efforts
22:31
together they have three scrappy and
22:33
smart little boys
22:34
that love to give them a run for their
22:36
money adam liam and finn
22:38
teresa calls her story nose down ass up
22:42
my dad has a small business in butte
22:44
it’s a dental practice
22:45
although i probably wouldn’t call it
22:46
small because as far as i remember it’s
22:48
been
22:49
probably the biggest practice see so my
22:52
dad’s practice let me tell you a little
22:53
bit about it
22:55
it is the practice that as far as i
22:57
remember we always had
22:59
the phone number listed from our house
23:01
in the white pages if you guys remember
23:02
the white pages
23:04
it’s the one because my dad remembers
23:06
what it’s like having a toothache
23:07
growing
23:08
up so he would always allow people to
23:09
call her home day and night
23:11
going to be ringing off the hook he’s
23:13
always the one that takes referrals from
23:15
the police department the er
23:17
any clinic indian health things like
23:19
that nature so he sees folks of
23:21
every stripe he’s also not a formal guy
23:25
just like his practice he’s unassuming
23:28
humble and larger than life
23:30
so people never call him doctor it’s not
23:32
even dr mike
23:33
he’s always been known by his high
23:35
school nickname beets
23:38
and my dad would always get home later
23:41
than
23:41
probably scheduled or he ever wanted to
23:43
be and
23:44
later than anticipated but he would pick
23:47
the four of us up
23:48
when he got off work he’d come rumbling
23:50
down the dirt road in this old beater of
23:52
a pickup truck and he’d lay on the horn
23:55
it was the signal for the four of us to
23:57
pile into this pickup truck
23:59
and go clean the office so we get in the
24:02
truck
24:03
we’d turn around and he’d head on back
24:05
to the office
24:06
he wouldn’t stay though because he would
24:08
just be dropping us off and he’d head
24:10
to doc’s place doc was his dad he’d
24:13
probably go have a beer and they’d
24:15
rattle off
24:16
war stories about some toothache that
24:18
day
24:19
and before we get out he turned to us
24:21
and he’d say
24:22
nose down kids ass up and i remember
24:25
thinking
24:25
that’s a strange way to clean because i
24:28
didn’t really know what it meant at the
24:29
time
24:30
but as i’d learn over the years he’d
24:32
tell us that all the time
24:34
it really meant nose to the grindstone
24:36
and do the hard work
24:38
now if any of you have kids grandkids or
24:40
even uh
24:41
you know nephews or nieces of your own
24:44
you probably know what it was like
24:46
when you would arrive back to a scene
24:48
leaving four rambunctious children
24:50
probably the oldest ten
24:52
uh to their own devices i don’t know
24:54
what my dad envisioned i don’t know if
24:56
he was picturing some sort of mary
24:57
poppins scene
24:58
leaving the four of us to clean the
25:00
office but really it was more like
25:02
something from one flew out of the
25:03
cuckoo’s nest
25:05
because what would happen my brothers
25:07
would haul out this really
25:08
large auric orange vacuum plug it in
25:12
and start it running then the two
25:14
brothers would start
25:16
i think negotiating who was going to
25:18
clean negotiating would escalate into
25:21
wrestling
25:22
wrestling would start yelling and then
25:24
somehow the two of them
25:25
would start deciding hey let’s have a
25:28
let’s have a water gun fight
25:30
so then they would go into the two
25:32
operatories or two of the operatories
25:34
they would take the dental squirt guns i
25:36
think you know what i’m talking about
25:38
and then they would start positioning
25:39
the squirt guns water would be splayed
25:41
out between operatory walls
25:44
my youngest sister would be lounged back
25:46
in a dental chair reading the latest
25:48
issue of highlights magazine
25:50
music would be blasting from the
25:52
laboratory usually it was doors my dad
25:54
was a big break on through album fan
25:56
and i remember myself really the
25:59
suffering middle child of it all
26:01
always the responsible one would be
26:03
clutched holding a broom or a mop
26:05
you know orphan annie style just
26:07
pleading with all of them
26:08
oh my god you guys help me he’s going to
26:10
be back soon
26:12
and he’d arrive probably about a half an
26:13
hour later to the scene
26:15
and even though everybody referred to my
26:18
dad as beats the four of us
26:19
affectionately called him beats a dead
26:20
horse
26:21
because he would follow us around the
26:23
office and he wouldn’t give in
26:26
he would just lecture us until we got it
26:27
done right
26:29
eventually we would learn that if we did
26:31
it right the first time
26:33
it would get done faster and the sooner
26:36
we actually got it done the sooner we
26:37
would be home
26:38
playing ninja turtles or street fighter
26:41
on our nintendo
26:43
now me being the suffering middle child
26:46
i
26:46
stayed with my dad on through college
26:48
and grad school and i worked with him
26:52
i remember throughout these years that i
26:54
was pretty embarrassed that we drove
26:56
these beater old trucks in all of these
26:57
old cars
26:59
and i asked my dad about it and i
27:01
learned that my dad because he takes
27:02
patients of all stripes
27:04
would tell me quite a few things in
27:06
addition to the nose down ass up
27:08
work ethic that my dad has he would tell
27:11
me more meaningful things too
27:13
he would often say that the
27:16
banker’s spouse takes care of the
27:18
widow’s heart condition
27:20
you see teresa beets would tell me that
27:23
a rising tide does lift all boats
27:26
it’s not about being the richest man in
27:27
the cemetery
27:29
after all you don’t see a hearse hauling
27:31
a u-haul
27:32
which is why he takes care of everybody
27:34
that he does
27:36
so my dad instilled in me this work
27:38
ethic but he also taught me
27:40
in this nose-down ass up attitude
27:43
that we’d better leave this place better
27:45
than we found it and my dad also taught
27:48
me that
27:49
throughout these years anytime i was
27:51
complaining about the social ills of the
27:53
world
27:54
i better be a part of the solution and
27:56
not the problem
27:57
so my dad’s diatribe continued to beat
27:59
through me like a drum
28:02
which matters because i think this is
28:04
why we are all doing what we do
28:07
and anytime i found myself progressing
28:09
throughout a career if i was unhappy
28:11
with it
28:12
i couldn’t go complain to my dad because
28:14
he would tell me
28:15
nose down ass up teresa go find the
28:18
solution
28:19
don’t be a part of the problem if you
28:22
find yourself being a part of the
28:23
problem
28:23
go find that solution so anytime i did
28:27
that i’d have to move up throughout this
28:29
progression
28:31
and i continued to ask myself what is
28:33
that man behind the curtain what is that
28:35
jack of all trades in the community
28:37
and i think we all know what it is it is
28:40
community development it is
28:41
economic development we are the end of
28:44
the yellow brick road
28:45
and now more than ever it is personal to
28:47
me
28:48
because about seven months ago my dad
28:50
actually called me
28:52
my dad who i have seen as this
28:55
true end of all being
28:58
called me at the beginning of the
28:59
shutdown
29:01
and he said i i don’t know what to do
29:04
i’m shut down
29:05
my dad hasn’t worked with a banker a
29:07
personal loan officer
29:09
since he’d opened his business he was
29:11
nearing retirement
29:14
and now my brother my younger brother
29:16
this man who i remember holding sport
29:18
guns
29:19
was looking at buying out his practice
29:22
but my brother had also seven hundred
29:23
thousand dollars in student loan debt
29:26
and had a baby on the way so
29:29
he didn’t know about the ppp loan he
29:31
didn’t know about the idle loan
29:32
wasn’t familiar with succession planning
29:35
he knew
29:36
what i did but didn’t know what i did
29:38
quite frankly
29:39
so because of the small business center
29:41
because of what we do as economic
29:43
developers
29:44
he’s been able to safely shut down he’s
29:47
been able to capitalize on ppp
29:49
loans and idle loans secure both of
29:51
those things
29:52
he’s been able to actually successfully
29:54
re-engineer his business and remodel his
29:56
business during the shutdown
29:58
and he’s been able to restore his
30:01
business
30:02
i can’t imagine what would happen
30:05
without my dad and my brother’s practice
30:08
in the community of butte so i want you
30:11
to remember that i want you to remember
30:12
the impact that we have
30:15
in the state of montana so i want to
30:18
leave by saying nose down people
30:20
ass up thanks teresa you can learn more
30:23
about the great falls development
30:24
authority by visiting
30:27
growgreatfallsmontana.org thank you all
30:29
for listening and supporting our
30:31
storytellers today
30:32
and thanks to all of the storytellers
30:34
gloria
30:35
heather russ and teresa if your
30:37
organization would like to learn how to
30:39
tell better stories
30:40
drop me a line at mark telesumming.org
30:43
that’s marc
30:45
tell us something dot org you can learn
30:47
more at
30:49
slash telesumming.org next week on the
30:52
teleslimming podcast we’ll hear from
30:53
nerma
30:54
dobre chanin a tell us something
30:56
storyteller who shared a story
30:57
in november of 2018 but
31:00
here there was nobody not even a car
31:04
to to go past i was thinking
31:07
what what is this resident evil or where
31:09
am i
31:12
i caught up with her last summer via
31:14
zoom to chat about her tell something
31:16
experience
31:17
and what it was like visiting the united
31:18
states from montenegro during her study
31:20
of the us
31:21
institute on secondary education through
31:23
the university of montana
31:25
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31:27
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