didn't see that coming

Because storytelling is an art, I’ve always hired local artists to design a poster for each event. The posters of Tell Us Something are amazing in their own right, and I thought that it would be fun to sit down with some of the artists to chat about their process and see what makes them tick. What inspires them, how they work, and how they came to design the poster that they designed for Tell Us Something. So, this week on the podcast, join me as we go behind the scenes with local artist Courtney Blazon. Courtney designed the poster for the June 2019 show. The theme that night was “What Are the Chances?”

Transcript : Interview with Courtney Blazon

welcome to the tell something podcast

00:01
i’m mark moss i know what i’m doing but
00:04
if somebody wanted to know how do you
00:06
become an artist i’d be like
00:07
you just work hard since around july of
00:10
2020
00:11
i have been interviewing tell us
00:13
something storyteller alumni about their
00:15
experience sharing a story on the
00:16
telesumming stage
00:17
why they chose to share a story and what
00:20
they’ve been up to
00:21
since having shared their story i have a
00:23
lot more of those interviews to share
00:24
with you
00:25
this week though i’m going to introduce
00:27
you to one of tell something’s poster
00:29
artists
00:30
for me it was important for my life and
00:32
especially
00:33
important for my work that i had a
00:35
studio at home where i could shut the
00:37
door
00:38
where like at a certain time at the end
00:41
of the day
00:42
i’m not looking at that piece of work
00:43
anymore because storytelling is an art
00:46
i’ve always hired local artists
00:48
to design a poster for each event the
00:51
posters of tell us something
00:52
are amazing in their own right and i
00:55
thought that it would be
00:56
fun to sit down with some of the artists
00:59
to chat about their process
01:01
and see what makes them tick what
01:03
inspires them
01:04
how they work and how they came to
01:06
design the poster
01:07
that they designed for telesomething so
01:10
this week on the podcast join me
01:12
as we go behind the scenes with local
01:15
artist
01:15
courtney blazon courtney designed the
01:18
poster for the june 2019
01:20
show the theme was what are the chances
01:24
i kind of knew pretty quickly what i was
01:26
gonna do for it
01:28
and i usually settle on an idea pretty
01:32
quickly
01:33
and i don’t know if that’s just because
01:35
i’m generally like
01:37
this is the time i have allotted for
01:39
this you better snap to it
01:41
courtney blaizon is an artist and
01:43
illustrator living and working in
01:44
missoula montana
01:46
she graduated from parsons school of
01:48
design where she earned her bfa in
01:50
illustration
01:52
she’s shown her work in missoula at the
01:54
brink gallery
01:55
dana gallery allez gallery and the
01:58
missoula art museum
02:00
outside of montana she has shown work in
02:02
seattle portland
02:03
new york philadelphia san francisco and
02:06
most recently at the center for the arts
02:08
theater gallery in jackson wyoming
02:12
hello good morning hi how are you
02:16
um well how are you doing good thank you
02:20
good thanks for agreeing to talk to me
02:23
today
02:24
courtney’s work has been featured in new
02:26
american paintings the western edition
02:28
studio visit magazine and juxtapose.com
02:32
she is a past recipient of a montana
02:34
arts council artists
02:35
innovation award courtney is represented
02:38
by radius gallery in missoula montana
02:40
big thanks to our title sponsor the good
02:42
food store and thanks to our enduring
02:44
sponsors
02:45
cabinetparts.com and blackboard
02:47
communications
02:48
thanks to our champion sponsor trufood
02:50
missoula and a very special thanks to
02:52
our blue ribbon sponsor
02:53
joyce of tile courtney blaizon’s pen and
02:57
marker drawings reference
02:58
fields of science history cultural
03:01
studies myths and fairy tales
03:03
her images take us someplace between the
03:05
known world
03:06
and a dreamscape a surreal marriage of
03:09
naturalism and fantasy the results can
03:12
be simultaneously whimsical
03:14
and grotesque witty as well as
03:17
disturbing
03:18
the tension of these unions suggests our
03:20
own struggle
03:21
to achieve balance in a chaotic world i
03:24
caught up with courtney blaizon last
03:25
summer
03:26
we chatted about the historical context
03:28
much of her work references
03:30
life as a professional artist and some
03:32
of the large-scale works
03:34
that she has done recently before
03:36
finally talking about the poster that
03:37
she made for tell us something
03:39
in june of 2019 i’ve also been thinking
03:42
about these interviews as a record
03:45
of a specific time in our collective
03:46
pandemic history
03:48
they shared glimpses into the moments of
03:50
life during quarantine
03:51
how we were coping and how we are
03:53
somehow continuing to go about
03:55
our daily lives
04:00
i just moved to a new place so that was
04:04
really nice
04:05
yeah lots of very i mean different than
04:09
a normal summer
04:10
like yeah for sure yeah um
04:15
yeah like our maid fares aren’t
04:17
happening
04:18
this summer in the same way so that’s
04:22
weird
04:23
are you doing a online version of the
04:25
maid fair
04:27
i mean somewhat but we’re basically just
04:30
posting everybody who would have been in
04:32
the maid fairs
04:33
page and sort of letting them offer
04:36
discounts if they want
04:38
but we’re not doing anything like
04:40
virtual
04:41
with video or yeah i
04:44
i just i feel like that kind of bubble
04:49
where that was like at the beginning of
04:52
sort of quarantine
04:53
like there was a lot of live events and
04:55
i felt like they were really popular
04:57
and like really necessary and i feel
04:59
like now
05:00
now that it’s summer especially and
05:02
we’ve kind of gotten used to the
05:05
the whole thing like i don’t know that
05:07
we’d be able to capture an
05:09
audience in the middle of summer inside
05:13
you know like i feel like that was the
05:15
way that we are all connecting
05:17
at the beginning of this and i don’t
05:20
know if now people feel like they can
05:21
just be together outside
05:24
distance that it’s just like
05:27
oh yeah it’s interesting it just doesn’t
05:29
seem like
05:30
it didn’t it ended up not seeming worth
05:32
our time
05:33
and a lot of our major artists didn’t
05:35
want to
05:38
extend their time towards trying to do
05:41
something special so
05:44
summer in montana is pretty short
05:48
take advantage of it yeah especially now
05:51
because
05:53
who knows what the winter is going to
05:54
look like right yeah
05:56
exactly yeah we just want to be outside
05:59
and
05:59
doing stuff as much as possible right
06:03
yeah i know some of the art fairs around
06:05
the state have still
06:06
happened and that’s another thing we
06:09
struggled with
06:10
but we just felt pretty worried about
06:16
like if if an outbreak had been traced
06:18
to our event we would have felt
06:20
really irresponsible right and and we
06:23
wouldn’t
06:24
uh we’re not even in a phase where we
06:26
would have been able to allow that big
06:28
of a crowd anyway
06:29
with missoula county so yeah so we just
06:32
decided to be
06:34
preemptively just cancel it and then
06:37
hope that we can recoup with
06:39
some of the other events that we have
06:43
i’m lucky that i don’t have all my eggs
06:44
in that basket though
06:46
so i’ve got other ways that i can still
06:49
make money and stuff
06:50
have you been talking to a lot of
06:52
artists and writers and
06:54
creatives i talk to
06:58
only one other tell us something poster
06:59
artist in the way that we’re talking
07:02
you’ve heard this idea on the tell us
07:03
something podcast before that
07:05
replicating
07:06
the in-person live performance vibe that
07:08
a traditional tell us something brings
07:10
is very difficult yeah i just feel like
07:13
certain things like in our
07:16
experience like in our in our creative
07:19
experiences
07:20
can translate to online and can be
07:23
just as successful if not more in some
07:26
ways
07:27
and then other things we’re just i think
07:29
we’re finding just can’t
07:31
you can’t duplicate it right yeah
07:35
yeah you just have to kind of roll with
07:37
the
07:37
[Music]
07:39
because it’s an unstable profession to
07:41
begin with like
07:42
yeah it’s gonna be unstable in any
07:46
way and i think like creative people who
07:48
are self-employed
07:50
already feel that instability or already
07:53
kind of know
07:54
how to chart those waters if they’ve
07:57
been doing it long enough
07:59
so it it becomes i mean at least for me
08:02
became pretty easy to adapt
08:04
to because i was pretty used to
08:08
feeling some moments of floundering
08:13
financially or or you know so yeah
08:16
for me at least it was kind of like
08:19
yeah no i wouldn’t say easy i if i said
08:22
easy i
08:22
don’t think that’s the word but it it
08:24
was a an experience i was kind of
08:28
equipped for because i i’ve had periods
08:31
of good
08:32
stuff happening in periods where i’m
08:33
like i’m never going to get a job again
08:36
you know kind of feeling you have
08:39
just built your career around saying yes
08:41
basically
08:42
yeah and i don’t it’s interesting
08:44
because over the past
08:47
two years i’ve been in the process of
08:50
saying no to more things and
08:51
cutting more things out of my life as
08:54
i’ve it’s become more clear to me what i
08:55
really want and then also i’ve been
08:57
getting enough work
08:58
where i’m able to say no to things like
09:01
it was really just last
09:02
year or two years ago that i quit doing
09:05
summer markets
09:07
um i basically except for the summer
09:09
maid fairs have given up vending
09:12
all together and i only do the summer
09:14
made the majors in missoula basically
09:16
just
09:17
because that’s how i started really
09:19
getting known i feel like if people came
09:22
to my booth
09:23
at market and so i still want to keep my
09:25
toes in that a bit
09:27
i’ve given up doing private kid lessons
09:30
because it just wasn’t something i
09:31
wanted to do
09:32
i feel like i’ve been in the process of
09:34
shedding a lot of those things that i
09:36
said yesterday
09:37
at the beginning of my career in favor
09:40
of things that
09:42
really made me fulfilled and
09:45
so it’s been interesting to have been
09:47
saying no to things that then would have
09:49
been pretty hard to do
09:50
anyway um it was like um
09:55
an interesting interesting timing to
09:57
have been
09:58
paring those things down um
10:02
yeah but you’re right i absolutely and
10:03
like i know a lot of
10:05
artists who wouldn’t go that route of
10:07
like just say yes but for me it just
10:10
was the right way to go about things so
10:12
i i had a really large
10:15
pool and then it made
10:18
when one part wasn’t working i could
10:21
always rely on another part to
10:23
pay my bills and so it’s always been
10:26
like
10:27
i’ve never felt too insecure because
10:29
i’ve always had something that
10:31
i could put my hand in and be able to go
10:34
okay i can make money this way
10:36
if commissions aren’t working right now
10:38
or but it’s only you know 10 years on
10:40
and i’ve
10:41
finally been like i it’s time for me to
10:43
i need to drop something or i’m never
10:45
gonna sleep
10:46
um you know so like i don’t
10:50
i don’t want to spend the next 10 years
10:52
making products
10:54
for for me like that’s not fun or joyous
10:57
or i’d rather take that energy and
11:01
try to build more clients for my
11:03
illustration work
11:05
so yeah it’s been like i’ve been in a
11:07
period of sort of
11:09
reconfiguring and growth and
11:12
it almost gave me sort of some time to
11:14
just like slow down and be quiet
11:17
and i was getting a lot of family
11:19
commissions during
11:20
this whole period and i i think because
11:23
people are home
11:24
and they’re thinking about their spaces
11:26
more
11:27
so that was really good for me or it
11:30
gave me a focus
11:32
yeah yeah and do you
11:35
draw everything on an ipad or like a
11:38
tablet or how do you how what’s your
11:39
question
11:40
not my family commissions like the
11:43
portrait commissions i do for families
11:45
are all
11:45
pen and marker on paper and then all my
11:48
illustration work
11:50
that is for like but i do a lot for big
11:52
sky brewing company and that’s all on
11:54
the ipad because they often want
11:56
corrections or
11:58
they’ll the packaging is not just the
12:00
can but it’s the bottle
12:01
it’s the bottle it’s the can it’s the
12:04
box that the
12:05
cans would come in plus the box that the
12:07
bottles would come in and
12:09
there’s a lot of different iterations of
12:12
one design
12:14
so the ipad makes it super easy to
12:17
do all those changes and then for my
12:20
personal work i
12:22
mostly do that on pieces of paper
12:27
with real materials and this summer too
12:30
i had a residency
12:31
at the historical museum and that was
12:35
six weeks so i had a studio on site
12:38
and i was able to just dive into
12:41
um historical research about missoula
12:44
and that was re that was another like
12:47
really
12:48
awesome thing to have during this period
12:53
i was going to just say when are we
12:54
going to get to see that that sounds
12:56
awesome
12:56
yeah so i am working on
13:00
it so i did this body of work that
13:03
showed at the missoula art museum
13:04
could be without a summer it was like
13:06
very very
13:08
huge drawings with lots of detail
13:11
you want to talk about a rabbit hole
13:13
head to courtneyblazon.com to see
13:16
courtney’s exhaustive process
13:18
for this project learn the history of
13:20
volcano tambora
13:22
see courtney’s early sketches for the
13:24
work and read the notes that she took
13:26
during her research and i’m doing i’m
13:29
doing something similar with this body
13:31
of work i’m
13:31
going to recreate the period of time in
13:35
missoula which was like
13:37
1890 to 1905 roughly
13:42
on west french street where that section
13:45
of town was called the badlands
13:47
and it was a really i mean it was a it
13:49
was
13:50
where all the brothels were we had a
13:51
chinatown
13:53
so i i’m going to create that i’m hoping
13:56
it probably won’t be for a year
13:58
when i do bodies of work like this i
14:00
think i spend
14:02
about half the time doing the research
14:04
getting the sketches ready
14:06
and then the second half of the time is
14:08
actually doing the work
14:10
so right now i’m still in research and
14:12
development phase but i’ve been able to
14:14
talk to
14:15
so many amazing missoulians who have so
14:18
much knowledge about
14:19
this period of time until march 2021
14:24
you can check out the historical mural
14:26
courtney is talking about
14:28
in the alley next to radius gallery
14:30
called allez
14:31
gallery for a video teaser of the mural
14:33
and a link to the allez gallery website
14:36
visit tellusomething.org
14:40
well i mean it took you a long time to
14:42
do that
14:43
piece at the zack which is beautiful
14:46
and it has like that all of that yeah
14:52
that was about that was about 300 plus
14:55
hours and it was just a lot of work and
14:59
i was i was at the time in a studio that
15:02
was
15:04
that was a lot of work and i was working
15:06
in a really really
15:08
really small space
15:11
so i could only work on four of those
15:12
panels at a time
15:14
[Music]
15:15
this is a little different just because
15:18
in the piece
15:18
for the zax i could kind of just draw
15:22
whatever i wanted
15:23
i didn’t have to try to be true to
15:26
history at all
15:28
so this one will be a little bit more i
15:30
want to honor
15:31
sort of real historical things while
15:34
still keeping my sort of
15:36
surrealistic point of view and
15:40
stuff like that but i love that i love
15:42
that i have pieces that are just like
15:44
sort of
15:46
stream of consciousness and then pieces
15:47
that are more researched and
15:50
right now my my sort of workload and my
15:52
life my work life feels really balanced
15:56
between work that yeah
15:59
like because some of my work i mean it’s
16:01
work right like doing a family portrait
16:03
is work
16:04
because you don’t want to get anything
16:06
wrong and it’s going to be something
16:08
that will be in their home
16:10
and hopefully be passed on to their
16:13
children or
16:14
so those that i take really seriously
16:16
and they feel more like work
16:18
but that mural felt like a lot of work
16:21
but also like really playful
16:23
yeah it seemed like you were having fun
16:25
with it yeah absolutely
16:27
and i just i didn’t really have to
16:31
as long as it wasn’t inappropriate for
16:33
children i really had
16:34
so much freedom i think
16:38
i’ve been really fortunate during this
16:40
period of time to
16:43
have a number of things that have kept
16:46
me afloat
16:48
i don’t suffer from lack of
16:52
creativity i think i just like
16:56
can kind of force myself to do things
16:59
even if i’m not
17:01
feeling it just because it’s like a
17:02
muscle and i’ve already well developed
17:05
go to work yeah it’s a job
17:09
it’s a job like i i don’t feel like i
17:12
have the
17:13
the freedom to not do it just do it
17:16
and that extends to my even my personal
17:20
work even when i don’t want to show up
17:21
and do something for myself like i still
17:23
just
17:24
go just do it you’ll feel better
17:27
so that’s kind of that discipline i’ve
17:30
built over the years has really
17:32
served me and the other side of it is
17:35
like
17:35
my life changed like zero percent in
17:38
terms of
17:38
how i conducted my daily life when we
17:41
were in quarantine my life remained
17:43
exactly the same because i’ve already
17:45
been working from home for a decade
17:47
so nothing changed i was still home
17:50
alone
17:52
right you know like it’s more like just
17:54
a half an hour that you’re actually on
17:56
the zoom and then the rest
17:57
that by seeing friends and stuff like
18:00
that was really
18:01
and i did some virtual you know drink
18:04
dates with friends
18:05
and that was really nice and even like
18:08
how the zac
18:08
did their mini auction online and like
18:11
it was all on
18:12
zoom and it was just you could see
18:14
everybody
18:15
in it that was so cool
18:18
yeah that was a good example of how an
18:21
online event can
18:22
have success but it fell at the right
18:25
time because people were
18:26
so like people were just like what is
18:28
going to happen
18:29
and it felt like so it was so new
18:32
the experience of being like oh we can’t
18:36
we have to stay home and so seeing all
18:38
the faces of the people
18:40
you love in the community online and
18:43
like then seeing people bidding on
18:45
things
18:46
because i think they almost made as much
18:48
as they would of
18:49
having the event which was like what a
18:53
what a great
18:56
it just makes you feel like mozilla is a
18:59
great place
18:59
in that way it is but it definitely is
19:03
yeah it
19:03
it definitely is i just also think that
19:06
experience
19:07
has kind of it it couldn’t be recreated
19:10
again because i think now we’re so used
19:12
to this
19:13
i don’t know i maybe i’m wrong but it
19:15
just seems like
19:16
we’ve kind of gotten used to what it
19:18
means to be staying within our circle
19:20
and we’re all kind of changed because
19:24
of it and both negatively and positively
19:28
yeah you’re talking about zoom meetings
19:32
and you’re only on the call for the time
19:34
that you’re on the call and that’s it
19:35
and you can go back to work
19:37
yeah that’s been my experience too and
19:39
it’s like i kind of don’t
19:40
want to have coffee meetings again
19:44
i know i’d like to just go like let’s
19:46
just do zoom
19:47
like this is great i don’t need to go
19:50
out and spend that extra time
19:55
you know like i it doesn’t it feel like
19:57
this is gonna kind of change how people
19:59
operate
20:00
i think so i mean certainly certainly
20:03
for me you know i had somebody say hey
20:05
do you want to go have a socially
20:06
distant coffee and i was like no i don’t
20:08
actually
20:09
yeah because because i’m working and
20:12
if i leave the house that means that’s
20:15
you know half an hour to get to wherever
20:17
we’re going to meet
20:18
the time that we’re meeting and then
20:20
another half an hour to 45 minutes to
20:22
get home oh wait i
20:24
i actually i can go yeah i do need to
20:27
get
20:28
a loaf of bread or you know like no
20:30
exactly
20:33
yeah let’s have a half hour meeting and
20:35
like that’s the end of it and now i’ll
20:36
go back to work
20:38
yeah i love that too it’s actually
20:40
that’s become something that
20:42
i feel like is going to be really
20:44
beneficial
20:45
for me just be like let’s just do this
20:48
online
20:49
and that’s going to be so much easier
20:51
for everybody
20:52
i think if you’re somebody who needs
20:54
people you’re going to want to do that
20:56
anyway but
20:57
i kind of like being just in my zone
20:59
when i’m in the middle of work i just
21:01
want to stay there and that
21:03
needing stuff just breaks it up too much
21:06
yeah for sure you kind of come back
21:08
feeling unfocused or you’re like
21:10
you end up running a bunch of errands
21:12
just because you’re already out
21:14
yep so yeah going back to
21:17
work and art yeah i bet you if i had
21:20
asked you you know this year to do
21:22
something you might say no because
21:23
you’re
21:24
paring that down so thank you so much
21:27
for
21:28
making no not in that way actually i was
21:32
more just talking about like
21:34
vending oh yeah it was more just like
21:37
vending and then yeah but stuff like
21:39
that i still love doing any opportunity
21:41
i
21:41
have where i’m actually just drawing i
21:44
can’t say no to that
21:46
it’s like more just like i like to draw
21:48
and any excuse to draw
21:49
it was just like the things in which i
21:51
wasn’t actually just doing the thing i
21:53
want to do
21:54
i don’t want to do the peripheral stuff
21:56
i just want to do the art
21:58
i know what i’m doing but if somebody
22:01
wanted to know
22:02
how do you become an artist i’d be like
22:03
you just work hard
22:05
there’s no secret you’re just
22:08
you work hard you’re tenacious you
22:12
you want it more than the other person
22:14
who would want it i don’t know
22:17
um you’d be nice be nice to people but
22:20
also
22:20
be honest or not that honesty and nice
22:24
mister
22:25
but i mean be transparent if you want
22:28
comp
22:28
amount of money for your work say it
22:31
make a contract i mean there’s just so
22:32
many things that like and maybe those
22:34
are
22:34
valuable things to tell people now that
22:37
i’m thinking about
22:37
like these aren’t obvious for me i
22:40
always think
22:41
be an easy person to work with but don’t
22:43
be a pushover
22:44
and that feels like the best advice that
22:47
i was given was
22:48
be tough but always be fair and
22:52
keep record keep track of every
22:54
interaction you have
22:55
just in case somebody says you didn’t
22:58
tell me that right
23:00
or whatever right maybe it’s not obvious
23:03
it feels obvious to me
23:05
but because you’ve been doing it for 10
23:07
years
23:08
right right and isn’t it funny it’s like
23:11
you can do it as many years as you want
23:13
it still feels new like oh what if i
23:16
what if i can’t do it anymore
23:19
yeah for me it was important for my life
23:22
and especially important for my work
23:24
that i had a studio at home
23:26
where i could shut the door where like
23:29
at a certain time
23:30
at the end of the day i just said i’m
23:32
not looking at that piece of work
23:33
anymore
23:34
in my little place in the basement it
23:36
was there all the time
23:38
and it was making me crazy
23:42
the mental things just be like i’m
23:44
shutting the door on that
23:46
and i’m moving on to another part of my
23:48
day
23:49
and i yeah i mean i work more than
23:52
i should but i’ve been working really
23:55
hard also just on like
23:56
i gotta sleep more i need to find
23:59
some other hobbies not really but i mean
24:03
you know yeah i also need a little
24:06
balance in my life
24:08
it’s been nice also i’ve been finding a
24:10
lot of solace and
24:12
hiking this period
24:16
of times it’s been like yeah it’s just
24:20
remembering that that’s one of the great
24:22
reasons to live
24:23
in missoula is that you could every day
24:26
of the week you could go to a different
24:28
hiking spot
24:30
has been very very very beneficial for
24:34
my brain
24:35
yep after the unexpected and refreshing
24:38
business advice workshop
24:40
we started talking about the poster that
24:42
courtney produced
24:43
for tell something so i wanted to ask
24:45
you about
24:46
the poster that you made for us yeah
24:50
did you immediately know what you were
24:53
going to draw when i asked you to do it
24:55
and you knew what the theme was or
24:58
um i actually did some research
25:02
about like where’s my i thought i would
25:05
grab
25:05
my fingers i gotta grab it to look at it
25:09
because
25:10
so it was um because i think i like
25:13
i kind of knew pretty quickly what i was
25:15
gonna do for it
25:17
and i usually settle on an idea pretty
25:21
quickly
25:23
and i don’t know if that’s just because
25:24
i’m generally like
25:26
this is the time i have allotted for
25:28
this you better snap to it
25:31
how many events have you had in posters
25:35
at the beginning i was having
25:39
an artist design like a 24 by 36
25:42
screen print and we would just use that
25:45
same just
25:47
yeah and like with the idea being we
25:49
would sell some and nobody actually
25:51
wanted to buy anything that big
25:53
so i have you know lots of those if you
25:56
want one
25:58
um but we would just like
26:02
change the color scheme each for each
26:05
event to
26:06
differentiate it from each other
26:09
right and then
26:12
i decided you know that’s not okay
26:15
uh let’s make it really special and
26:17
let’s highlight different artists in
26:19
missoula
26:20
so then i don’t know when i made that
26:22
choice but
26:23
it was like maybe the fourth year that
26:26
we were going
26:28
right and four different artists every
26:30
year and that was
26:31
pretty awesome and and so before covet
26:34
hit
26:35
i got marlowe to frame i
26:39
had him printed on nice paper
26:42
and she framed every single poster that
26:45
we’ve ever had and we were going to have
26:46
an art show the art of tell us something
26:48
[Music]
26:50
because of our 10-year anniversary right
26:53
and so
26:54
i’m counting them now one two three four
26:58
five six i don’t know there’s like
27:02
50 something like that that’s amazing
27:06
yeah and so i paid her to frame the
27:09
posters and then coveted came and i was
27:11
like well we can’t have an art show now
27:13
and so i’ve got all these
27:15
sitting in my living room oh my gosh
27:19
yeah but she did it
27:24
uh it was going to be a quiet coffee
27:27
it’ll happen at some point i hope so you
27:30
know when we’re allowed to get back
27:32
together again
27:33
yeah so i i
27:37
i kind of like because i like i have a
27:39
hard time
27:40
hooking into being excited about a
27:43
project until i can
27:44
find some intellectual
27:48
excitement in it so i tend to just look
27:51
like if the word was
27:52
chance so i just started to look up like
27:55
chance
27:56
and then like what it was historically
28:00
and then like like the roman gods of
28:03
trance
28:03
and i think like i was kind of just
28:06
that’s the way i can get kind of excited
28:08
about it if i feel like it has a back
28:10
story
28:11
i always think it’s like an actor who
28:14
who needs a backstory for their
28:15
character even if
28:18
even if nobody knows it but it gives
28:19
them uh
28:21
a way to be really excited and invested
28:24
in what they’re doing
28:26
so i kind of knew as soon as i picked
28:29
that one and i think it was because the
28:31
word
28:31
because you gave me options i think of
28:34
two or three
28:36
yeah ones yeah and i think i picked
28:39
chance
28:39
right away because i knew it would have
28:41
like i could come up with something that
28:45
had a narrative behind it yeah
28:48
and that because because until or you
28:51
know mentally that’s just what i need to
28:53
like
28:54
get myself invested so i think like
28:58
the chance like i looked up like chance
29:01
meaning and then like kind of what it
29:04
would have meant in like
29:05
the roman period or the greek period and
29:09
then like luck of the draw and
29:12
and the dice are kind of obvious but i
29:14
use little sort of ancient
29:16
looking dice and
29:20
yeah okay so for tuna is that your name
29:25
yes for tuna yeah so i kind of knew
29:28
right away
29:29
what like that it would go that route
29:32
and then i would kind of try to figure
29:34
it out in that
29:37
but i didn’t want her to be like
29:39
blindfolded or anything
29:41
because she’s both greek it was like
29:43
yeah
29:44
i had an artist i was working with for a
29:47
show
29:48
in helena the theme was didn’t see that
29:51
coming
29:52
uh-huh and she and she without me asking
29:55
her to
29:56
she provided me three proof of concept
29:59
drawings and said you know which one do
30:01
you like yeah and one of them
30:03
featured a girl in a blindfold and i was
30:05
like
30:07
you know i get it i get it and also
30:10
like think about how people will feel
30:14
when they see that and she was like oh i
30:15
never even considered
30:17
yeah right
30:20
yeah yeah thanks for not putting a
30:22
blindfold on her
30:24
yeah so the thing on her head is
30:26
supposed to be her blindfolded
30:28
blindfold pulled up as if she’s seeing
30:32
yeah i mean and that’s just something
30:33
that i did like that you know because
30:35
then i was including what would have
30:36
been in the original representation but
30:39
it was in a different format because
30:41
like i don’t think it’s a good idea to
30:42
have
30:43
a blindfolded person because you don’t
30:45
no
30:46
yeah it just doesn’t make you’re right
30:49
it doesn’t make people
30:50
feel comfortable and if that’s your aim
30:53
but for a poster it’s not
30:55
did she have other concepts though that
30:57
made
30:58
oh yeah yeah she did a great she did an
31:00
awesome job and it was fun you know it
31:02
was fun to have somebody
31:05
ask me right right i know like
31:08
that’s not always the case right some of
31:11
us don’t
31:11
necessarily sketch out concepts and then
31:14
you just go for it
31:16
yeah and i do like it because when i do
31:20
um
31:21
like for the beer labels i have to have
31:23
concept drawings
31:25
yeah and when i’m doing something like
31:28
that i guess
31:29
yes you did give me the choice and i was
31:31
like oh well i’ll just i’ll just dive in
31:33
which is cool yeah yeah it’s
31:36
but it is it’s also nice to have that
31:38
option
31:40
i think sometimes and also like what if
31:41
she had chosen the blindfolded one you
31:43
would have been like
31:44
oh yeah i would have paid her and then
31:47
like
31:47
done something else you know like right
31:50
i would have been like well here’s your
31:52
money i can’t use this
31:54
but we had an agreement and you and you
31:56
and you met your side of the agreement
31:57
and i didn’t give you clear enough
31:59
instructions
32:00
my fault you know has it been
32:02
interesting working with artists
32:04
do you find that they’re all kind of
32:06
similar
32:07
in a way and how they approach work
32:10
or they taught me a lot about about
32:13
communicating right
32:14
right the the guidelines that i gave you
32:18
once you said you wanted to do it exist
32:20
because
32:22
some artists didn’t hit any of those
32:24
points and that was like
32:26
well they didn’t because i told them to
32:28
do whatever they wanted and they did
32:31
and then they gave me a piece of work
32:33
that i couldn’t use
32:34
and it’s because right so that’s why i’m
32:37
like okay it has to have
32:39
some sort of living thing in it you know
32:42
and it has to be
32:43
easy to read and you know all that stuff
32:45
yeah
32:46
and some you know some artists gave me
32:48
like a really beautiful piece of art but
32:49
it doesn’t have
32:51
the information that is necessary to
32:53
promote an event on it you know yeah
32:56
yeah and i think so like really good
32:58
that you provide
33:00
provide those now because i think
33:02
artists even if they think they don’t
33:04
want them they for this case they need
33:07
to have
33:08
some guidelines for sure
33:12
yeah and i i mean yeah i made
33:15
assumptions right
33:16
oh i’m hiring courtney blaizon she knows
33:19
how to do this stuff
33:21
and then courtney blazon gives me a
33:22
piece of work that it’s like beautiful
33:24
but the lettering is such that i can’t
33:27
read it you know like i’m
33:29
using you just so that i’m not pointing
33:31
out you know anybody else but
33:33
and i’m not saying that you did that you
33:35
definitely didn’t you gave me
33:38
a beautiful poster that it was easy to
33:40
read and we sold out the wilma
33:42
you know oh good i thought it looked so
33:45
good when i saw it like around the
33:48
around the town you know when it’s
33:50
because you just suck some up
33:52
right oh yeah they were everywhere yeah
33:55
yeah it was just exciting to see it i
33:57
was like that was
33:58
good yeah it does it looks great
34:02
and it was fun too like even from the
34:04
street you could tell what it was
34:06
if you were just riding your bike down
34:08
the road you might not be able to read
34:10
it because you were going fast but
34:13
yeah it was it was a great position yeah
34:16
it’s funny i i’m always telling stories
34:19
to people and they’re always like
34:20
particularly i have like a pretty
34:22
interesting life with my dad
34:24
and people are always saying you should
34:26
try to do something for tell us
34:28
something
34:29
and i feel like that would make me want
34:30
to vomit just the thought of
34:32
standing up in front of a crowd i mean i
34:36
know i could do it probably and
34:39
because i’m kind of also a cam
34:43
you know like i i like to chat
34:46
but i’m sure i could but do people want
34:49
to vomit
34:50
it’s kind of scary so
34:54
telling a story is scary and
34:58
also really fun and if you can take that
35:01
nervous
35:02
energy and turn it into you know it’s
35:03
energy so you can manipulate it to your
35:05
will
35:06
yeah and so take that nervous energy and
35:09
turn it into an
35:10
enthusiasm or excitement or whatever
35:13
you need to get through the story but by
35:16
the time you hit that stage
35:18
you’ve practiced your story enough and
35:19
you’ve gotten enough feedback from
35:22
not just other storytellers but me you
35:24
know i’m like that’s part of my job is
35:26
to
35:27
help you crash because you don’t go up
35:28
there and tell a story you like practice
35:31
and you
35:31
you people tell you what is working and
35:34
what isn’t working
35:35
and stuff like that yeah i mean in the
35:38
early days
35:39
it was just get up there and do it and
35:42
thankfully
35:43
people did great at that but as things
35:46
started progressing
35:47
i realized that i need to also step up
35:50
my game and
35:51
help them craft their story somebody
35:54
might tell me a story and it’s like
35:55
three minutes long and it’s like that’s
35:57
not your full story let’s think about
35:59
this and
36:00
and then by the time they get on the
36:02
stage it’s a beautiful piece of art you
36:03
know
36:04
wow yeah that’s amazing yeah that’s a
36:08
gift that you’re giving the community
36:10
to and hopefully like you feel
36:13
appreciated by
36:15
the you know the community i
36:18
feel really lucky really like that like
36:21
i i’m always cutting a deadline right to
36:23
the end
36:24
myself it gives you a
36:28
fire under your butt but it’s like it’s
36:31
just like a mental exercise of
36:33
i don’t care if anybody listens this is
36:36
what i do yeah yeah
36:39
i mean because i’m the same way like
36:41
i’ll force myself to finish a piece of
36:43
work that’s for me but i’m like
36:45
literally nobody but me cares
36:48
but it’s important for my mental
36:51
well-being to just stay
36:53
somewhere in that realm of
36:56
holding myself accountable i’m sure for
36:58
some people it’s other things like
37:01
exercise and sleep and what you’re
37:03
eating
37:04
for some of it’s related to like i just
37:06
need to do this to stay
37:09
accountable to myself and
37:12
like i like to dress up every day
37:13
whether i’m leaving home or not
37:15
and it’s just my way of saying like okay
37:17
you’re working now
37:19
and yeah yeah stuff like that
37:23
i don’t know i like i like the act of
37:25
changing out
37:26
of my sleeping clothes into something
37:28
that is
37:29
about being present and
37:33
focused and yeah
37:36
yeah well courtney thank you for talking
37:39
with me today i’m speaking of work
37:41
i like i do have to go to work okay well
37:44
have a good day mark and thanks for
37:47
chatting with me
37:48
thank you courtney you have an awesome
37:50
day as well and uh maybe i’ll see you
37:52
around in the neighborhood
37:53
sounds good bye all right bye

This week on the podcast, Mike Calucchia talks about the dogs that he had in his truck for his story. We also learn about his aspirations to be a painter and hear about how he learned to cook from his Italian grandmother. After our conversation, you can hear the story as he shared it on the Tell Us Something stage.
In this episode of the podcast, I chatted by phone with Arthur Weatherwax, a Native of the Blackfeet tribe, about his story, and the experience that he had telling it. Arthur has a traumatic brain injury, and listening to a guy who had to re-learn everything about life, I mean everything...it’s really something. His perspectives made me reflect on how I live, and reminded me to seek out joy, celebrate gratitude, and to laugh. I hope you’ll reflect some too, after listening to us chat.
Stories of an American tourist’s encounter with the secret police in 1970s Iran, overcoming hate in the grocery store, An Eastern African girl’s first experience in America and an American tourist in Paris just trying to find some relief.
In this week’s podcast you’ll hear about a young woman’s journey to find her birth parents and the complications that result from that discovery, you will take a drunken ride in a car on homecoming night on a fateful drive near Browning, MT, you’ll buy a car in the heat of a Tennessee summer and finally, you will learn how to cook a the signature dish of a beloved chef, veal scaloppine alla marsala.
In this week’s podcast, you’ll hear the brief history of a time our storyteller lunched with a famous physicist, a young girl’s history of being lucky in love and the story of an adventurous young woman who crosses the Atlantic on a freighter ship.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming - Part 2

00:08
welcome to tell us something
00:10
jerry spencer first came to montana in
00:13
1979
00:14
when he got a summer job as a desk clerk
00:17
at a lodge in glacier park
00:20
that is where he met the love of his
00:22
life and partner janet
00:24
who is also with us tonight jerry is a
00:27
serial
00:28
entrepreneur he helped found kiss
00:32
which plays a role in this story and
00:34
janet helped found
00:36
tidbits for paper which is currently
00:38
published in over 180 locations
00:42
jerry is managing a project to
00:43
revitalize an old iron foundry in
00:45
indiana and splitting his time between
00:48
indiana and montana
00:49
please welcome jerry spencer so i didn’t
00:52
see that coming
00:53
a little bit of background uh before
00:56
this story occurred
00:57
a friend of mine rick uh used to work at
01:00
uh spring metal resources and and farm
01:02
in the dell
01:03
worked with the residents there and and
01:05
he enjoyed that he
01:06
he got to help them out and and uh one
01:09
of the the residents was was ricky
01:12
and ricky had some kind of an endowment
01:14
or some extra money that allowed him to
01:16
do
01:17
to take events and to to go to different
01:19
places and do things so rick and ricky
01:21
went out
01:22
quite often and i i saw them
01:23
occasionally i went went with him a
01:25
couple of times and i
01:26
got to know ricky a little bit he was
01:28
really sharp and
01:29
and very witty yeah you know just
01:31
physically handicapped was in a
01:32
wheelchair
01:33
and and pretty bad off that way but real
01:35
sharp and and uh
01:37
was good with his computers and sure
01:40
enjoyed his gadgets ricky had a lot of
01:42
gadgets
01:43
um so back in the 90s uh my partner bill
01:46
crane and i started the company uh keep
01:48
it simple systems that he mentioned and
01:49
we made solar power for portable
01:51
computers
01:52
a whole lot of fun we uh we took the
01:54
ride
01:55
yeah i would say in late early silicon
01:58
valley
01:58
uh we we went around and just had a heck
02:02
of time with
02:02
solar power for portable computers but a
02:04
small company
02:06
just bill and myself and we hired two
02:07
other people that did the computer
02:09
consulting
02:10
so in 1994 uh august 1994
02:14
we scraped together our nickels and and
02:16
barely made enough money to
02:18
and put it all into uh getting a booth
02:21
at the mac
02:21
world expo at that time was a real big
02:23
deal we’d never been one of these and we
02:25
couldn’t afford to take a lot of people
02:26
so it was just bill and i
02:28
and we showed up the day of the expo and
02:31
we went there
02:32
and our booth was in the back you know
02:34
and we didn’t know what to expect but
02:36
boy that thing started going and the
02:38
crowd was just crazy
02:39
it was just amazing we just couldn’t
02:41
take a break it was just
02:42
non-stop people coming up and it was
02:44
very exciting and and
02:46
it was just bill and i you know so we’re
02:47
not going to see the show we’re not
02:49
going to go to the to the workshops or
02:50
any of that kind of stuff
02:52
we’re just working our asses off and uh
02:55
went along for quite a while and then i
02:56
finally said bill i
02:57
i got to take a break so i went went
02:59
down and i left him in the booth and i
03:01
went to the little commissary and got
03:03
you know the chicken salad chicken
03:05
caesar salad in in the in the
03:07
plastic device and so forth and what sat
03:10
down at this table with a couple other
03:11
fellas we didn’t say anything or
03:12
anything they got up and walked away
03:13
after a little while so i’m sitting
03:15
there at the table by myself
03:17
and then come came along a fellow
03:20
pushing another guy in the wheelchair
03:21
reminded me of rick and ricky it was a
03:24
very disabled fellow in a wheelchair
03:26
with lots of neat gadgets hanging off
03:27
the wheelchair and
03:28
his assistant excuse me is this table
03:30
taken no no go ahead and sit down
03:34
and now i gotta admit that
03:38
later after thinking about this i should
03:41
have been in montana mode
03:42
you know in montana somebody sits down
03:44
at your table you’re going to talk to
03:46
him
03:46
you have a little bit of conversation
03:47
and just you know say hi how you doing
03:49
what do you think of the show or
03:50
anything like that
03:52
but no no i i was in big city mode
03:55
in big city you can sit at the table
03:57
people come up you don’t even have to
03:58
talk you just
03:59
you respect their space so maybe that’s
04:01
what i was doing i was giving them a
04:02
chance to just
04:03
eat their lunch in peace and i ate my my
04:06
lunch and piece and i
04:07
shoveling stuff in my face food in my
04:09
face and one point i did look around the
04:11
room and i
04:13
kind of weird just seemed like everybody
04:15
was looking at our table
04:17
okay that’s fine so i finished up my
04:20
lunch
04:22
i mean just you know kind of packed up
04:24
and
04:25
said pleasantries to the guys and walked
04:27
away
04:28
taking my my thing over to the trash and
04:30
somebody comes up to me man
04:32
well how was that what’d you guys talk
04:34
about
04:35
what what what’d you do man and i said
04:38
what
04:39
what are you doing do you know who
04:40
you’re just having lunch with
04:42
that’s stephen hawking he’s given the
04:44
keynote speech today
04:47
i didn’t see that susie holt
04:51
melta met the love of her life in new
04:54
york city
04:55
but wasn’t positive she was ready to
04:58
spend her life with him when he returned
05:00
from a trip around the world
05:02
he was emergency man and he wanted her
05:04
to move to montana
05:06
she also loved to travel and ran away
05:09
from him to have her own adventure
05:12
while she figured it out after four
05:15
months of hitchhiking across europe in
05:17
1964
05:19
she got a little more of both than she
05:21
bargained for
05:22
when she headed home please welcome
05:25
susie holt
05:27
well i’m 22
05:30
i’m in athens greece and i’m ready to go
05:33
home so i bought a trader
05:37
one of those that takes 12 passengers
05:39
and first five
05:41
cabins it takes 10 to 12 days to cross
05:44
the atlantic
05:46
only problem is not coming smooth
05:49
for another month and i’m really ready
05:52
to go home
05:54
so i kept bugging the shipping agent
05:57
can’t you find something that’s coming
05:59
through sooner please
06:01
and one day he said yes
06:05
is um one briefly stopping briefly and
06:08
tweet
06:09
and it’s leaving after tomorrow but
06:12
that’s okay we’ll fly you there
06:14
and you can catch it so then here i am
06:18
on the dock next to this big black ugly
06:21
framer but is that how like star
06:23
um painted on the bow it’s the right
06:26
ship
06:27
it’s the right day it’s the right time
06:28
where is everybody
06:31
where are the other passengers who’s
06:34
going to take my ticket and show me
06:35
where to go
06:36
but then a young seaman came by headed
06:38
for the ship and he saw me
06:41
and he didn’t speak english but he came
06:43
over and
06:44
kind of like can i help you and so i
06:48
handed him my ticket
06:50
and he kind of puzzled over it and just
06:53
you know indicated i should wait and he
06:56
disappeared onto the ship
06:58
i’m leaving he came back gave me
07:01
a smile picked up my little red
07:04
plastic suitcase and led me up the
07:09
wobbly gangplank into the ship down a
07:12
dark narrow passage to a door
07:15
that said when you operated
07:20
[Music]
07:22
so i go inside and it’s definitely not
07:24
first class but it’s
07:26
you know it’s compact it has everything
07:28
i need okay this is fine
07:30
so i started putting my things away and
07:34
then i could feel that we were moving oh
07:37
man i’m so excited i’m going to
07:39
stay across the atlantic on a ship and
07:42
um so i poked my head out
07:45
you know thinking i’d catch up with some
07:47
other
07:48
passengers
07:51
come on you’re seeing this coming right
07:55
so uh dark nothing
07:59
no signs to show me where to go so now
08:02
i’m really confused and i go back into
08:04
the cabin and sit on the bunk
08:06
and uh wonder what’s next
08:09
and then uh taso that’s the name of that
08:12
first young seaman he came
08:13
knocked on the door took me to the
08:15
captain’s office
08:17
the captain’s office is nice and
08:18
spacious it has a big old desk
08:21
and a short boyish looking
08:26
man behind it and he explains
08:30
how surprised he is that i have a ticket
08:33
on his freedom
08:35
he said this freighter doesn’t carry
08:38
passengers
08:45
[Music]
08:49
liberty ship its top speed is 10
08:52
knots will be a month
08:56
going across and we have one stop in
09:00
naples
09:02
a month only passenger
09:06
and we’re already outside of land
09:10
so that night i have dinner with the
09:13
captain in his private dining room
09:17
and we shared some things about
09:20
ourselves he said
09:22
this was his first trip across the
09:24
atlantic
09:30
he’s 35 and
09:34
not married and he’s been thinking about
09:38
it
09:39
and he knew that it was destiny
09:42
that put me on his ship now there’s
09:45
nowhere
09:46
to be his wife
09:50
i don’t love you
09:53
marriage comes first thankfulness love
09:56
but it was a good thing he felt that way
09:59
because the tall
10:00
dark and very handsome first mate
10:03
started putting moves on me right away i
10:06
said
10:07
oh no i’m gonna wait until i’m married
10:11
he said leaned over me and said i can’t
10:14
wait five minutes
10:21
i think the captain must have called him
10:24
off because he didn’t bother me like
10:26
that
10:27
again so we pull into naples
10:30
uh very crowded port ships from all over
10:33
the world
10:35
and it’s dirtier and it’s noisy
10:39
and the cruise starts loading six
10:41
thousand tons
10:42
of canned tomatoes
10:46
the captain takes me out into the city
10:48
though
10:49
and he takes me to a very elegant
10:52
private dining hall
10:55
i’m feeling a little awkward the best i
10:58
have
10:58
left is a very worn
11:02
faded red sleeveless
11:05
shift and yellow rubber
11:12
flip-flops
11:16
hiking around um
11:19
but he wasn’t faced he said really
11:22
it’s so good to not have to pay
11:26
for my companion
11:28
[Music]
11:35
i knew i wanted to learn how to play the
11:37
guitar so he ordered to buy one for me
11:39
i said no that’s too much i also knew i
11:42
was an artist
11:43
he said well what if i set up a room for
11:45
you to paint
11:46
you know we’ll fix everything you need
11:48
to do a painting and we can tell you
11:50
okay that’s good so we sail out of
11:53
naples
11:54
through this strait of gibraltar out to
11:56
the open ocean
11:58
we’re going to be there three weeks
12:01
but i didn’t have worried because i was
12:04
such a novelty
12:06
such a break in the monotony
12:09
they treated me like a pampered princess
12:13
i had the run of the ship
12:16
i explored every inch of it from
12:20
from bottom to top and from stem to
12:23
stern
12:24
my favorite was up in the crow’s nest
12:27
you may
12:28
know that that’s the very top of the
12:30
ship and
12:31
from there you have a 360 degree
12:34
view of the ocean out to the horizon
12:38
and it was just magic being up there
12:40
watching for ships or watching the
12:42
luminescence in the water or um
12:45
it was especially magical at night in
12:47
the moonlight
12:48
i spent a lot of time up there
12:52
then then those magical waves
12:56
started messing with us started tossing
12:59
us around
13:01
and i thought it was very exciting i ran
13:04
down to the bow of the ship and going up
13:07
and down with it you know
13:09
and it just exhilarated by the
13:12
the spray of the waves that were
13:15
crashing over the bow
13:17
captain came down pretty quick i said
13:19
that wasn’t such a good idea
13:23
that evening at dinner the storm was
13:26
building up
13:28
[Music]
13:30
and the plates on our
13:34
dining table just flew off the table and
13:38
smashed against
13:39
the wall um
13:44
that night the storm really got going
13:46
and i
13:47
the creeks and grunts of the ship were
13:49
really freaking me out
13:51
so i went to find some and i found them
13:53
the officers all huddled
13:55
together in the wheelhouse at the helm
13:59
singing boisterous and it made me think
14:02
of cub scouts out in the
14:04
out in their first camping trip you know
14:07
in the wild so i
14:11
knew this was bad and i went back to my
14:14
cabin and strap my
14:18
life preserver all over my clothes and
14:21
lay down in my bunk and just held on to
14:24
the hell by preserver
14:26
hoping the ship wouldn’t break up well
14:28
it didn’t
14:29
um
14:32
that bugs me
14:36
how am i gonna finish it didn’t break up
14:38
i went down to the
14:40
to this my studio and the paints had
14:43
come unsealed
14:45
and splashed over the walls
14:48
it was absolutely clean the next day
14:50
though
14:51
[Music]
14:53
so then oh i wanted to build a kite i
14:56
have to tell you about the kite
14:58
the captain and i built one and it
15:01
didn’t fly
15:02
but the next day there was one flying
15:04
and the crew had made it
15:05
and it was octagonal and it had two
15:10
black circles with glasses and little
15:12
nose and
15:13
two little ponytails
15:14
[Music]
15:16
the crew kept that flying for two weeks
15:20
so so okay we’re coming up to the
15:23
atlantic coast
15:24
and we have to find our way up to new
15:26
york and in a fog with broken radar
15:30
but we make it and the last night
15:34
the crew the captain unlocks
15:37
the beer sets it down to the deck for
15:40
the crew
15:41
the guitars come out the the zuki come
15:45
out
15:45
the singing and dancing starts and i i
15:48
can’t resist i head down to the deck
15:50
and i dance greek style you know
15:53
into the wee hours with the kite still
15:56
falling
15:57
so who could have expected any of that
16:01
and i but i still wonder if that
16:04
shipping agent
16:05
knew what he was setting me up for
16:09
so our next storyteller
16:12
is me uh we had a dropout so i’m gonna
16:14
tell you mine
16:16
didn’t see that coming story my name is
16:19
mark moss yeah he didn’t see that coming
16:22
my name is mark moss i’m from cuyahoga
16:24
falls ohio a little town right outside
16:26
of akron
16:27
i moved to montana in 1997 ended up in
16:31
gardner in 1999 which is where this
16:33
story
16:34
starts how many people have ever seen
16:37
bruce springsteen an e street bank yeah
16:40
so it is like it is like a gospel
16:42
revival isn’t it
16:44
you know he opens with a strong song and
16:46
it’s a lot of celebration and it’s a
16:48
party and then
16:49
and then he plays some of these songs
16:51
that are a little more heartbreaking and
16:53
a little more sort of working class and
16:57
maybe i’m not getting my dreams coming
16:58
true anymore
17:00
and then he celebrates again
17:03
and it’s a big party and he’s just
17:05
celebrating the
17:06
the joy of rock and roll and and of love
17:10
and of
17:10
snags and it is
17:13
incredible well in 1984
17:17
uh born in the usa came out and i bought
17:20
the tape
17:21
and i was 13 and
17:24
we were in i think atlantic city or uh
17:27
ocean city maryland when he came through
17:29
cleveland so we didn’t get to see him
17:31
and then when i got back to cleveland
17:33
the closest that he was coming was
17:35
pittsburgh which wasn’t that far away
17:36
but i’m 13.
17:38
so so i didn’t get to go see him there
17:40
but in 1988 i saw him for the first time
17:42
and it was awesome and i decided i was
17:44
never gonna not see a bruce springsteen
17:47
e street band show again
17:48
and so i saw every single tour up until
17:52
maybe a couple years ago i’ve seen every
17:54
single tour but in 1999
17:56
i was living in gardner montana and i
17:59
didn’t have a car
17:59
[Music]
18:01
and bruce springsteen announced uh the
18:03
reunion of the e street band
18:05
and they were gonna do a world tour and
18:08
the closest they were coming to gardner
18:10
was fargo north dakota
18:14
but i bought tickets i bought four
18:16
tickets and i had no one to go with
18:18
and i had no car and no way to get there
18:20
and so i go down to recipe booster and i
18:22
sit there and jay todd pours me a beer
18:25
and i said hey jay todd
18:27
do you want to come with me to seafood
18:28
spring city street band in
18:30
fargo north dakota and he said yes how
18:33
are we going to get there and i said we
18:34
could take your card he says have you
18:35
seen my car
18:37
he drove like a 1986 beat up subaru with
18:40
three flat tires and maybe one turn
18:42
cycle that worked
18:43
and i said okay we can’t take your car
18:46
and he said i’m not going you should
18:47
talk to john
18:49
john dundee’s sitting next to me and i
18:51
said john you want to go to the see
18:53
bruce springsteen and
18:55
he’s like who are you do you play bass
19:00
no so john wasn’t coming with me
19:03
so i have to go up the hill to
19:04
yellowstone national park where i worked
19:06
and i’m asking everybody i know and i
19:07
finally find
19:09
a guy with a truck who’s willing to
19:11
drive to fargo north dakota
19:13
if i give him the tickets
19:16
so i have to give him the tickets and i
19:18
do
19:19
and it’s mark beale and carrick gunther
19:22
and carrie’s girlfriend at the time
19:24
christy and so it’s mark’s truck
19:27
gary and christy sit in the front
19:28
there’s only two seats
19:31
and so mark and i have to ride in the
19:32
back in the bed of the pickup truck
19:34
there’s a topper that doesn’t have
19:38
really good seals on the windows it’s
19:39
also november
19:44
so we pile all these blankets into the
19:46
back of the truck and
19:47
and mark and i get in the bed kerry’s
19:49
driving i can’t remember how
19:50
many hours it is to fargo it’s like nine
19:52
or ten hours it’s crazy
19:54
and but it’s cold and it’s you know
19:56
tangling around you can’t hear each
19:58
other
19:58
really well and we don’t have cell
20:00
phones in 1999
20:01
and so there’s nothing to do we didn’t
20:03
bring any books so we do as best we can
20:05
trying to sleep
20:07
and we fail a lot of that but finally we
20:10
get
20:11
to fargo and we get something to eat i
20:14
can’t remember what we had some
20:16
diner greasy spoon food and then we get
20:18
into the venue and we have the nosebleed
20:20
seats way up at the top
20:21
and the nosebleeds for those who don’t
20:23
know are those cheap seats and they’re
20:25
so high up in the
20:26
arena that you might get a nosebleed
20:27
from the altitude
20:29
and so we’re way up there but i don’t go
20:31
to the seats right away
20:33
they go up to the seats i get sucked
20:34
into the merch table
20:36
and i’m looking and i’m thinking about
20:39
the cold ride back to
20:41
montana and so i’m looking at the
20:43
hoodies but they’re 90 dollars
20:46
and i’m looking in my wallet i don’t
20:47
have any credit cards and i’m looking
20:48
through my wallet
20:49
how much money i have to get home but
20:51
also how much money do i have to spend
20:53
here at the merch table i’m not gonna
20:54
get a poster
20:55
because that’s gonna bend i’m not gonna
20:58
get it so anyway i get a key chain
21:03
and i’m trucking back up to the seats
21:05
and i get to the seats
21:07
and nobody is looking at me mark and
21:09
christy and carrie are all just looking
21:11
straight ahead
21:12
and i sit down and i say hey yo
21:15
what’s what’s going on and they don’t
21:18
look at me
21:19
there’s a guy sitting behind us he’s
21:20
like nine feet tall
21:22
he’s got like a black suit with a black
21:24
shirt that’s buttoned to the top
21:26
and creases that you can cut diamonds
21:28
with i mean the creases in his pants
21:30
were just
21:32
and and so i turned around and i said
21:33
what’s going on he says don’t look at me
21:35
i spoke
21:35
[Music]
21:40
and he says do you want to move to the
21:42
front and i said yeah what’s that gonna
21:44
cost he said please
21:45
don’t look at me i said okay so
21:49
what’s that gonna cost and there are
21:52
these people walking
21:53
up the steps off to the left
21:57
and and he shouts at them stop following
22:00
me and they
22:01
sit in their seats they don’t even look
22:02
at their tickets and see if they’re the
22:04
right seats and stick in their seats and
22:05
they say we’re not following you
22:08
well they knew something that we didn’t
22:09
know and that is this guy behind us
22:12
works for bruce springsteen but we
22:14
didn’t know that he’s a stranger to us
22:16
and he says do you want to move to the
22:17
front yes we do
22:19
he says give me your tickets so we give
22:20
him our tickets this is a stranger
22:23
and he gives us new tickets that haven’t
22:26
been torn
22:27
which i’m like are these fraudulent what
22:29
is this and then he says here’s a
22:31
wristband
22:33
don’t lose it don’t sell it you need it
22:36
to get to your seats and he puts it on
22:39
our wrists
22:40
and i turn around to look at him and
22:41
he’s like disappeared into the ether
22:44
he said okay
22:47
so we go down to the usher and i’m going
22:49
oh
22:51
and so get to the usher and she’s she
22:53
tears our tickets and she says
22:55
these are good seats and so it’s like
22:58
great
22:59
and so she sends us down to the next
23:01
usher
23:02
and and the next session looks at our
23:04
tickets and says these are great
23:06
seats and
23:20
and we’re looking at each other and
23:21
there’s by the way so so mark and uh
23:24
mark and i are sitting over here there’s
23:25
two other dudes in the middle
23:27
that we’ve never seen before also all in
23:29
black and very serious looking
23:31
and then carrie and christy are sitting
23:33
over here for whatever reason these guys
23:35
had
23:35
those seats and we come to find out that
23:37
they paid 800
23:39
for their seats at a charity auction
23:41
because when bruce goes to a town he
23:43
tries to
23:44
give to some charity in some way
23:47
apparently he had donated a bunch of
23:48
tickets
23:49
and they bought them and they were eight
23:50
hundred dollars a piece and they were
23:51
just pissed off
23:52
that all these poor rednecks were coming
23:55
down from the upper
23:57
chief seats and they didn’t have to pay
23:59
any more than you know face value and so
24:01
they’re all just
24:03
yelling at each other and not paying
24:04
attention but what’s happening
24:06
is we’re watching everybody’s like
24:10
walking
24:11
down from the cheap seats because we’re
24:13
not the only ones
24:15
and they’re like confused and as they
24:18
realize what’s happening
24:20
there’s this moment of joy
24:23
that just washes over their whole body
24:26
and
24:27
and then then we start talking about
24:28
what’s your favorite record
24:30
did you see
24:31
[Music]
24:34
you know whatever and we just formed
24:37
this community and it was incredible and
24:38
then
24:38
bruce comes on the stage and he opens
24:41
with the ties that dine you know right
24:42
off the river
24:43
and it’s a party right from the
24:44
beginning and
24:46
have you ever been to one of these it’s
24:48
three hours long it’s a
24:50
it’s a ordeal and it’s a party
24:53
and we’re dancing and we’re just
24:54
soaked in sweat and he leaves the
24:57
station and comes back for the encore
24:58
you know thunder
25:00
and then he plays hungry hard and then
25:02
he plays like one of my favorite songs
25:04
open dreams this train carries saints
25:06
and sinners
25:07
this train carries losers and owners
25:09
this train carries horses and gamblers
25:11
everybody get on board and
25:14
so we are on board and they’ve finished
25:17
the show
25:18
and they come and they’re slapping high
25:19
fives and i got high fives with bruce
25:21
springsteen
25:22
and clarence clements and his hands are
25:24
so big
25:31
so the story really is about the
25:34
experience of getting there not about
25:35
the show
25:36
i didn’t see it coming i couldn’t have
25:38
imagined i don’t remember getting home
25:40
it wasn’t because of his journey thank
25:43
you so much
25:57
[Music]
26:09
you
26:15
[Music]
In this week's podcast, you'll hear a forgiveness story about a young student’s misbehavior, a young woman’s survival story, the kindness of strangers on a train and a lifetime of love stories.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming (part 1)

00:08
welcome to tell us something
00:10
every tell us something event is focused
00:12
on a theme
00:15
tonight’s theme is didn’t see that
00:17
coming
00:20
aaron parrott is a professor of english
00:23
at the university of providence
00:25
he and his most recent book he he
00:29
has his
00:32
he’s an author and his most recent book
00:36
is maple and lead it’s a collection of
00:39
short stories with woodcuts by seth
00:41
robey
00:42
he also runs the territorial press in
00:44
helena montana
00:45
devoted to fine letter press editions of
00:48
handcrafted montana literature
00:50
please welcome aaron parrott i used to
00:53
be a really bad kid
00:56
uh and worse than that i hung out with a
00:59
lot of other really bad
01:00
kids and in eighth grade
01:04
it was sort of this perfect storm of
01:06
badness
01:07
and that we all ended up in the same
01:09
eighth grade homeroom and worse than
01:12
that the regular teacher
01:14
about a third of the way through the
01:15
year
01:17
i think she got sick or there was a
01:19
death in the family or something and she
01:20
left and so we got a substitute teacher
01:22
for the rest of the year
01:26
you can already see where this is going
01:30
um and we just treated this
01:33
poor teacher horribly miss
01:36
porzig was her name uh
01:40
and two things i remember really vividly
01:42
my friend rod storley
01:45
i think we all got into chewing
01:46
copenhagen around this time
01:48
and her strategy was the the worst kid
01:50
in the class she would put behind her
01:52
at her desk facing the rest of the class
01:56
but then she couldn’t see what that
01:57
person was doing
01:59
and so he’s sitting at her desk chewing
02:01
copenhagen and opening the drawers and
02:03
spitting into the drawers told you we
02:06
were bad
02:08
um and i ended up in the principal’s
02:11
office
02:12
because i think i discovered william
02:14
burroughs around this time also
02:17
and i would sit in my in my desk and
02:20
just
02:20
shake like this and say i need a fix i
02:22
need a fix
02:24
and so i ended up in the principal’s
02:26
office
02:28
but the thing was we go to the
02:29
principal’s office and the principal
02:30
says so what’s he doing
02:32
and then my teacher says i need
02:36
and it was so goddamn funny seeing my
02:38
teacher do this
02:39
but of course i laughed but the
02:42
principal didn’t think that was very
02:43
funny
02:45
and the really ironic thing is i don’t
02:47
remember what punishment i got
02:49
i do remember he called my parents and
02:50
that was probably
02:52
punishment enough but i don’t recall
02:56
what the punishment was relative to the
02:58
class
02:59
and that was really the last i
03:03
remembered of the class
03:04
those two highlights and then i went on
03:07
to high school
03:08
and became an even worse person
03:13
but then my biggest crime there was i
03:15
just skipped school a lot
03:17
and finally i got expelled or i was
03:20
about to be expelled
03:21
and instead of kicking me out i tried
03:23
the project for alternative learning
03:26
which changed my life it really
03:29
turned me around in the following way
03:32
the first day i went into this
03:33
project for alternative learning it was
03:35
on the may at the may butler
03:36
center on rodney street i sit in the
03:40
principal’s office there
03:41
and he says well what do you want to
03:43
what do you want to learn
03:45
and because i was kind of a smart ass i
03:48
said philosophy
03:50
and he said well we we don’t teach that
03:52
here but let me enroll you down at
03:54
carroll college
03:56
and he got on the phone and literally 10
03:58
minutes later i was signed up for
04:00
classes at carroll college
04:03
the the most important one and the one i
04:06
really remember was
04:09
i think it was an ethics class or survey
04:11
of philosophy with dr barry first
04:14
and i loved it he he was a great teacher
04:17
and apparently i was a great student you
04:20
know 16 years old in a juvenile
04:22
delinquent at helen high but
04:24
put me in the right atmosphere and
04:26
suddenly i turned around and
04:28
i remember he invited me to his house
04:31
for dinner
04:33
you know i’m 16 or 17 years old and just
04:36
was amazed that you know somebody was
04:39
taking me this seriously
04:41
so my girlfriend and i go to
04:44
to his house and knock on the door
04:49
and the woman that answers the door is
04:51
my eighth grade teacher
04:58
but she was very gracious and invited us
05:00
in and we had a great dinner
05:02
great conversation and at the end of the
05:05
night i think i fumbled some
05:08
some muttered apology for what i’ve done
05:10
in eighth grade
05:12
and to her credit she just said oh
05:15
i don’t think it’s as bad as you
05:17
remember and you seem pretty bored back
05:20
then i’m glad to see that you’ve
05:21
turned it around and found something
05:24
that interests you
05:26
and i guess this story is really about
05:29
forgiveness but also the power of a good
05:31
teacher
05:34
elizabeth rivard grew up in a very large
05:37
family in buffalo new york
05:40
she fell in love with stories at the
05:42
family dining room table
05:44
where they were a regular occurrence
05:48
being one of the youngest siblings she
05:50
was mostly a listener
05:52
her family still shares stories when
05:54
they get together
05:56
it’s one of their favorite things to do
05:58
they’ve got some doozies
06:02
elizabeth has changed the names of some
06:04
of the characters in her story
06:06
a quick warning for some of our
06:08
sensitive listeners
06:10
victoria’s story addresses sexual abuse
06:13
with frank language please welcome
06:16
elizabeth rivard
06:17
oh sorry welcome elizabeth
06:22
as mark told you i’m from a large family
06:25
it’s a large catholic family you know
06:28
usually it’s catholic or mormon
06:30
so um
06:34
i was born in 1962 and i have
06:38
three older brothers six older sisters
06:42
and a little brother who’s five years
06:44
younger than me
06:46
so when i was growing up it was the 60s
06:50
early 70s for this
06:53
story and um
06:56
my older siblings were teenagers
07:00
and my brothers were eligible for the
07:03
draft
07:04
but luckily they had high draft numbers
07:08
um and they were all good liberals
07:12
and out protesting the vietnam war
07:16
occasionally getting arrested and
07:19
on friday nights my parents like to go
07:22
out they played bridge and belonged to a
07:24
bridge club so they would go out on
07:26
friday nights
07:28
and my siblings would put the colored
07:30
light bulbs in
07:32
and have parties at our house
07:35
with music and dancing and drinking and
07:38
getting stoned and
07:39
occasionally tripping and while they
07:42
were babysitting
07:43
me and my little brother and a few of
07:45
the other siblings and whatnot
07:47
so this is this is the environment that
07:49
i grew up in
07:52
it was a great family loving family but
07:55
there was a lot
07:56
going on and not only that but my
08:01
grandmother lived with us so that
08:02
at for a period of years there there
08:05
were 14 people living in our house with
08:07
one and a half bathrooms
08:10
and i was the lucky one that got to
08:12
share a bedroom
08:13
with my grandmother and she was
08:17
going blind from glaucoma and
08:21
senile and not only that
08:25
she suffered from depression um
08:29
after her husband had died a number of
08:31
years before
08:34
and twice she had attempted suicide
08:37
while we
08:37
shared a room together one time
08:41
she slit her wrist and another time she
08:43
overdosed on sleeping pills
08:46
and i do have some vague memories of
08:49
that
08:52
so it was frightening for me
08:56
um so
08:59
fast forward to when i’m about 11 years
09:01
old
09:03
and there was a neighbor an older
09:06
gentleman
09:06
who was a gentleman i used that word
09:08
loosely but
09:10
he was a world war ii veteran and
09:13
he used to sit out on his porch and
09:16
sometimes myself or two of my
09:18
girlfriends
09:20
sharon and julie for this story uh
09:25
we would go on the porch and talk to him
09:27
and
09:28
he would ask us to go and get the
09:30
newspaper for him or a
09:32
quart of milk or something we would go
09:34
to the store for him and he’d give us a
09:37
a quarter or whatever and we would buy
09:39
candy and in those days you could
09:41
get a decent amount of candy for a
09:43
quarter
09:45
and then we started going in his house
09:49
and cleaning for him sometimes
09:52
the house was
09:56
pretty dank the shades were always drawn
09:59
so it was kind of dark in there
10:02
and i remember the furniture being kind
10:04
of sparse
10:05
and there were no pictures i can
10:08
remember
10:09
on the walls but he was kind of fun
10:13
because he would let us smoke his
10:16
cigarettes
10:18
um he had penthouse forum
10:22
magazines there which i don’t know if
10:24
it’s even still made but
10:26
it’s about the size of a reader’s digest
10:30
and i don’t recall there being pictures
10:33
in it but
10:34
um there were dirty stories
10:37
and so we would read the dirty stories
10:40
and some of them were just ridiculous i
10:42
i do remember one specifically i think
10:45
it was one a reader submitted
10:49
and the reader had an ant farm and
10:52
he was sleeping and he woke up and
10:54
having the wet dream of his life and the
10:56
ants had all gotten out and were
10:58
crawling
11:03
so i think even at the time i thought
11:07
that was ridiculous
11:10
but anyway you know things kind of
11:14
progressed
11:15
and um
11:18
at some point he started touching us
11:22
and exposing himself to us
11:25
and we were not always all there at the
11:27
same time you know there could be
11:29
different configurations of the three of
11:31
us there
11:34
um and this went on for about a year or
11:37
a year and a half
11:38
and um you know got a little more
11:43
intense as things progressed and
11:47
um i was going to catholic school at the
11:49
time like i said i was about 11 and so i
11:52
was in about sixth grade
11:54
um so
11:57
[Music]
11:58
i knew that this was wrong and i
12:01
shouldn’t be doing it
12:02
but you know i was a kid and i think i
12:05
had curiosity
12:07
i um maybe some of it felt good
12:10
i was getting some attention which i
12:12
wasn’t really getting at home
12:14
so much because there was so much going
12:16
on with the older kids
12:20
but at a point i just i couldn’t do it
12:22
anymore because i was just
12:24
so anxious and i ended up
12:28
growing up to be an anxious young adult
12:31
i had some anxiety and depression i
12:33
think i you know i functioned quite
12:36
normally i went to school i had friends
12:38
i went out but on the
12:39
inside i i really struggled
12:42
a lot i had a lot of shame and guilt
12:47
and i felt like i had a big secret
12:50
that i just could never tell anyone i
12:53
didn’t tell anyone in my family i was so
12:56
ashamed and i just thought god nobody’s
12:59
nobody would understand nobody’s been
13:01
through this this is just really bad
13:03
what you know and he was eating me up
13:07
inside
13:09
to be quite honest and um
13:14
i even thought about suicide a couple
13:17
you know when i was really feeling down
13:20
that
13:20
i mean luckily i never attempted it or
13:23
anything but that’s
13:24
just the angst that it caused me it was
13:27
like all my emotions were
13:29
tied up in a big ball and i couldn’t
13:33
understand
13:35
them it was only until many years later
13:39
that i
13:39
started to work out the knots of that
13:43
ball
13:43
and and you know
13:47
separate out my emotions and and learn
13:50
to deal with them
13:51
but um
13:54
i was about 21 when i
13:57
one morning i i had an apartment with
14:00
some other friends
14:01
and i woke up one morning
14:05
and while i was in that in between state
14:08
of sleep and wakefulness
14:10
i had this like a voice
14:13
and it was like in my right ear
14:17
and it said all the beauty of the world
14:19
can be found in the human heart
14:23
and it was absolutely a profound
14:26
experience for me i mean it
14:30
came with a flood of feeling and it
14:33
at the time it felt like jesus was
14:35
whispering that in my ear
14:39
and it just totally warmed me and
14:43
because i was i was able to see beauty
14:45
around me in the world you know i would
14:48
ride my bike over the peace bridge to
14:51
canada to the beaches up there by myself
14:53
or
14:54
ride down to the waterfront downtown or
14:58
appreciate the flowers and people’s
15:01
yards and
15:02
whatever but i couldn’t see any beauty
15:04
in myself
15:05
i was just so knotted up with shame and
15:10
guilt
15:12
so it was a bomb for my soul
15:16
you know all the beauty of the world can
15:18
be found in the human heart it was just
15:20
profound like wow
15:21
that’s that’s in me and that’s in
15:24
in everyone and that was the beginning
15:29
of my healing journey
15:32
so thank you for listening
15:35
chelsea rice moved to montana in 2011 to
15:39
join her partner
15:40
and within a year was diagnosed with a
15:42
rare and aggressive bladder cancer
15:45
it was then that she this is
15:48
not what i’m supposed to be reading i’m
15:51
giving away the story
15:53
oh no that’s not true this is what she
15:54
gave me
15:59
she’s an advocate for cancer patients
16:01
teens and misfits is a lover of arts and
16:03
literature
16:04
and writes nonfiction she believes in
16:06
resilience is a survivor and is also a
16:09
crazy bird lady
16:10
please welcome chelsea rice in 2012
16:16
as mark said i was diagnosed with a rare
16:19
and aggressive bladder cancer
16:22
it was october and in the weeks before
16:26
my partner and i had been sitting in the
16:28
capital rotunda
16:30
watching a buddhist monk tap out
16:33
a mandala made of sand and we were there
16:37
for
16:37
multiple days in a row watching this
16:39
beautiful process
16:40
unfold and i’m sure that i don’t
16:45
i’m sure that there was a intention that
16:48
was set for that particular mandala
16:50
perhaps it was compassion but for me i
16:53
just kept thinking
16:55
about impermanence over and over and
16:58
over again
17:01
one of those days we were up there was
17:02
october 5th
17:05
and we were just about a 15th
17:09
dates are really hard to remember when
17:10
you’re about to learn you have cancer
17:14
and we went to go see a urologist over
17:18
at st
17:19
peter’s um
17:23
that day it was a friday at about 4 30
17:27
p.m right before my 35th birthday
17:31
about two weeks before and when a doctor
17:34
tells you to come in on a friday at 4 30
17:36
p.m
17:38
beware
17:42
so from what i remember there was
17:46
my partner and i sitting and waiting and
17:48
i already knew that this was going to be
17:49
a cancer diagnosis but
17:51
when she pulled up the pilogram which is
17:54
basically a
17:54
black and white x-ray that just pulls
17:57
out
17:58
one system of the body and this was my
18:01
kidneys
18:02
my ureters and my bladder and she pulls
18:05
it up on her computer
18:07
and my partner charlie who i’ve been
18:10
with at that time for about
18:12
a decade is sitting next to me
18:16
and before she can even start talking
18:18
about the system as a whole
18:20
i already can see the lump
18:23
the tumor on the side of my bladder and
18:25
everything just
18:26
goes dead silent kind of like charlie
18:29
brown’s teacher
18:29
just but i can
18:33
feel the only thing i can feel is my
18:35
partner’s hand holding my thigh
18:37
just kind of lightly tapping keeping me
18:39
present for
18:41
at least a little bit
18:44
i remember sitting in the parking lot
18:47
after that diagnosis
18:49
thinking how do i go home
18:52
and call my parents how do i
18:55
how do we and i think i even said to my
18:57
partner charlie how does somebody get
18:59
this
19:00
diagnosis and then get in a car and
19:02
drive home
19:04
like how do you do that so i did
19:07
sit on the back porch that day and i
19:09
called my parents and told them
19:10
and delivered this terrible news i think
19:13
what was even more terrible is that the
19:15
bladder cancer
19:16
was a rare cancer that only two percent
19:20
of the diagnoses
19:21
in the united states are the other
19:24
98 are commonly related to
19:29
lifestyle drinking smoking
19:33
working in chemical factories mine was
19:35
due to environmental toxins
19:38
arsenic in groundwater
19:41
that’s a different story though so in
19:44
order to determine a treatment
19:46
for my bladder cancer nobody here has
19:49
the skill really and there are no
19:52
studies to determine how you would treat
19:55
squamous cell carcinoma of the bladder
20:00
so we had to go to a tertiary
20:02
institution
20:04
and what we decided that fall was
20:07
to go over to the mayo clinic what eva
20:10
enzler calls
20:11
cancer town it’s okay you can laugh
20:15
cancer is kind of funny
20:21
we at the time i was teaching part-time
20:23
as an adjunct professor between helena
20:25
college and carroll college
20:26
my partner is a high school teacher so
20:29
we were
20:30
totally making lots of money
20:36
and i was fresh out of graduate school
20:38
so i did not have insurance
20:40
and this is 2012. so
20:44
we didn’t have a whole lot of money so
20:46
we drove on a month after the diagnosis
20:49
we drove up to haver on a frosty
20:52
november day
20:53
to catch the train to rochester
20:57
however have you all been to the haver
21:00
train station it’s
21:03
one room i don’t think this really
21:06
exists but i think that there’s like a
21:08
dilapidated um phone booth on the
21:11
outside maybe by the turning tracks
21:13
yeah and it’s like a clapboard
21:16
exciting that’s all weathered there’s
21:19
like one person who shows up for 30
21:20
minutes and then leaves
21:22
when the train comes in when you depart
21:25
so my partner and i get on the train
21:27
and um you know it boards about midday
21:31
so you drive through
21:32
you go through the night on the train
21:33
and i don’t know if any of you have
21:35
ridden a train lately
21:37
it’s just barely a step above riding a
21:39
greyhound
21:41
just barely it’s cold
21:44
it’s really cold when you if you have a
21:47
seat near the window and you lean up
21:48
against it you can feel the winter
21:50
coming through the vents and against
21:52
your face and
21:54
lots of families in bulk ride with lots
21:56
of kids
21:57
and so it often looks like there’s the
21:59
kids have been like
22:00
licking the glass and then like rubbing
22:04
their snot on it
22:06
it’s pretty spectacular for a sick
22:09
person
22:10
so when we got on i um happened to see
22:13
where the conductors would sit we were
22:14
in the very back train car
22:16
and i noticed that they had lysol wipes
22:18
so i kind of stole a couple
22:20
and like took them to my chair and wiped
22:22
things down i was terrified when your
22:24
immune system is compromised everything
22:26
is scary
22:27
um you know we drove through the night
22:30
and
22:32
it was a solemn ride
22:35
those seats are really uncomfortable
22:37
they don’t go back all the way
22:38
you kind of sit you know scrunched up
22:42
there’s people like yelling there’s
22:44
people getting drunk it’s very noisy
22:46
lots of clamor
22:47
and all i can remember passing through
22:49
the night was going through williston
22:51
and north dakota and seeing the oil
22:54
fields on the horizon
22:56
and they’re really beautiful
22:59
it’s hard to say that but they’re like
23:02
little
23:02
candle wicks like staggered at different
23:05
levels along the horizon they’re
23:06
beautiful
23:08
and the workers from williston were on
23:10
the train with us and i mean
23:11
i’m a liberal i’m crazy liberal of
23:14
course i have a
23:15
same-sex partner um
23:18
and you know i’m pretty just i’m pretty
23:20
concerned about uh
23:22
fracking and oil fields and the workers
23:25
were so pleasant and they were so kind
23:28
and they had these
23:28
really even-keeled conversations with us
23:31
and
23:31
they were just riding the train back to
23:33
their cities
23:35
just trying to feed their families and
23:36
it was really a profound moment talking
23:39
to them
23:40
that night my partner and i had to
23:44
wanted to eat dinner in the dining car
23:45
and if you’ve ever ridden an amtrak
23:47
train
23:48
you don’t get to just sit with you and
23:50
your person they fill the seats up
23:53
and so we sat on one side in the dining
23:56
car
23:57
and amtrak food is very cliche it was
23:59
like pieces
24:01
farmed salmon with like a stick of
24:03
poorly steamed broccoli over it
24:05
you know it was very bland food it
24:08
looked good but it was pretty bland
24:10
but before we started to eat these two
24:12
people they were bringing these two
24:14
people to us
24:15
and i’m not gonna lie again with a
24:18
little bit of judginess
24:19
um there was a tall disheveled looking
24:22
man wearing like
24:24
outdoor gear and a smaller
24:27
woman of some asian
24:30
descent with a gold cross around her
24:34
neck
24:35
and i was like oh man i might have even
24:38
leaned into my partner and said boy
24:40
this is going to be an interesting
24:42
dinner
24:44
and they came and they sat down and
24:46
quite honestly again i don’t
24:48
remember what we talked about it was all
24:49
very superficial
24:51
um but i do remember that
24:54
she had on this really bright floral
24:57
print with like a cardigan and he had on
24:59
a blue columbia coat
25:02
and um it was pleasant we had a great
25:05
meal
25:06
and right at the end he said
25:09
you know what what are you guys doing
25:11
why are you going to minnesota
25:14
i said oh you know i have cancer we’re
25:17
going over there to get another opinion
25:18
and find out what the treatment is
25:20
and she was just immediately like
25:22
empathetic
25:23
and softened oh my god we went
25:26
we went through something similar he you
25:28
know he had prostate cancer
25:30
and you know it was so hard and we just
25:33
will be praying about you we’ll be
25:34
thinking about you and
25:36
you know we’ll our hearts are with you
25:39
and we kind of just tided up dinner and
25:42
said thank you
25:43
and went our separate ways and charlie
25:46
and i we went to the back of the train
25:48
and
25:49
sat down and kind of tried to cozy up
25:51
with those flimsy little amtrak blankets
25:53
and
25:53
get cozy and about an hour passed and
25:57
then we see the two of these people
26:00
walking towards us
26:02
they’re like oh my god we’ve been all
26:04
over this train looking for you
26:06
and trains you know amtrak trains are
26:08
too level
26:09
right you have like upstairs and
26:10
downstairs so these people
26:13
they’re you know they’re up and down
26:15
they’re looking all over for us they
26:16
have their own room
26:18
lucky them you can get a room on an
26:21
amtrak train get one
26:23
but they walk up and say
26:26
you know we just wanted to come see you
26:28
and give you a hug and wish you well
26:29
again and
26:30
we’re like oh thank you you know we got
26:32
up and we gave him big hugs
26:34
and while we were in full embrace both
26:36
of us
26:38
one of the the man shoved something into
26:41
my partner’s
26:42
pocket and the woman shoved something
26:44
into my hand
26:45
and we both pulled back from the hug and
26:48
we knew they had given us money
26:50
i mean it was very clear that they had
26:52
shoved money into our hands
26:54
and we were like oh gosh no no we don’t
26:57
need this we don’t need this at all
26:58
thank you very much
26:59
you know we tried to turn it down once
27:01
right
27:04
generously just once because we really
27:06
we were in a bad spot
27:08
um but no no no
27:11
please take it they said and so we
27:13
thanked them and said we really
27:14
appreciate it you know this is going to
27:16
be a hard time
27:17
off they went and we sat down and
27:20
looked in our pockets and i had two
27:22
hundred dollars in cash and my partner
27:24
had
27:25
a three hundred dollar check in her
27:26
pocket
27:29
um that was one of my first experiences
27:33
during my cancer journey with strangers
27:35
reaching out to us and giving us way
27:36
more than we even thought
27:38
was possible i later because the address
27:42
was on her
27:43
check wrote her thank you card and sent
27:46
it off to seattle where they lived
27:48
and i don’t remember her name and it
27:50
doesn’t matter
27:52
she sent a note back that basically said
27:55
we are so happy to have been able to
27:57
provide for you and you do not have to
27:59
keep up this relationship because of it
28:02
and we wish you well
28:05
[Applause]
28:07
bob yost’s regular daytime career has
28:10
been working with taxes in indiana
28:13
oregon and montana nighttime gib
28:16
gay gigs were spent playing the drums in
28:20
in bands brand x
28:23
jack daniels sodbusters and the last
28:26
resort
28:27
his greatest joys come from his family
28:29
and raising three kids
28:31
please welcome bob yost
28:37
god i love that woman rebecca
28:41
we have great sex
28:45
we do have bizarre arguments
28:48
but really do have great kids i would
28:51
say they are
28:53
they’re very beautifully unique
28:58
as is their mother rebecca she couldn’t
29:00
be here tonight
29:01
she’s an oregon i’ve been married
29:05
38 years
29:10
pretty amazing um i first met rebecca
29:13
and i didn’t actually meet her
29:15
we were both state employees
29:18
and i was sitting just on the other side
29:20
of the cubicle from her
29:22
she was on the other side of the wall i
29:24
could hear her talking
29:27
and she was talking about the new guy
29:30
who had just started work me
29:34
and and it was not very flattering
29:37
whatsoever um
29:41
but just hearing that voice i was so
29:43
intrigued
29:45
she had no i mean there was no filter
29:48
whatsoever
29:49
in whatever she said i learned more
29:52
about my co-workers and my boss
29:55
than i ever would of meeting them
30:01
that was a monday
30:05
the saturday before
30:08
susan who worked downstairs in the same
30:11
department
30:13
she had lived with her parents all her
30:16
life
30:17
that saturday morning she moved into my
30:19
tiny
30:20
little duplex apartment
30:24
that saturday afternoon we were married
30:29
by a pentecostal preacher
30:33
and it was also her
30:36
dad um it was surprising her mom dad got
30:40
that wedding together pretty fast
30:41
we were in a big uh big ceremony
30:44
a lot like this beautiful building and
30:47
just to give you an idea about it
30:49
the four groomsmen and myself
30:53
we are dressed and i’m not exaggerating
30:57
shoe to this
31:00
head to toe in matching rittle
31:04
outfits
31:08
and i was drunker than a skunk
31:12
i mean to the wall because i did not
31:15
love her
31:18
that next saturday in my tiny little
31:21
duplex apartment the phone rings
31:24
now this is way back before any kind of
31:27
cell phone
31:28
you know facts all that stuff right i
31:31
didn’t even
31:32
have an answering machine so my one and
31:35
only
31:36
landline which is attached to the
31:38
kitchen wall
31:40
rings i still love it so funny when you
31:44
think of those old phones right
31:46
rotary it had two
31:49
real metal bells in it with a ringer in
31:51
between
31:54
so i pick it up hello is susan there
31:57
it’s a female voice i say no i’m sorry
32:00
she’s not
32:02
oh is this her husband why yes it is
32:06
oh i hear congratulations are in order
32:10
you’re a newlywed i say thank you very
32:14
much
32:15
she says well this is the nurse from dr
32:19
middleton’s office the tests
32:22
are still all negative
32:26
susan is not pregnant
32:30
yeah i’m an idiot i didn’t see that
32:31
coming i married her because she told me
32:33
she was pregnant
32:35
that evening i was to meet her of course
32:37
her parents
32:39
at her house i show up now this is all
32:42
kind of foggy now
32:45
but i do remember going in the kitchen
32:47
and they’re there with susan i take the
32:48
ring off i set it on the kitchen table
32:50
some things were said
32:52
because it’s come to known i guess they
32:54
knew
32:56
but i didn’t as i am leaving
33:01
susan chases me down
33:04
she goes i can’t believe you did that
33:07
you ruined my mom’s dinner
33:15
needless to say that marriage lasted a
33:17
legal
33:18
90 days
33:21
i’m going back to that little duplex
33:23
apartment to pick up my stuff
33:24
and my brother and my dad come with me