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

Transcript : The Kindness of Strangers - Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to our Title sponsor – Blackfoot Communications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks, Steve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Maria

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

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

Stay with us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free from jail at 16, Stephanie faces a corrupt system and overcomes an inept foster parent. Stephanie calls her story “The Smartest Girl in the Jail”. We also talk about her band, her podcasts, and about how things in the system don’t seem to have changed much since she was 16.

Transcript : "Smartest Girl in the Jail" - Interview with Stephanie Hohn

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

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Stepahnie Hohn to talk about her story “The Smartest Girl in Jail”, which she told live onstage at The Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT back in October of 2012.

Stephanie: I’ve just had unusual experiences or, you know, bad experiences that people would like to pretend aren’t something happening in their community.

So I kind of wanted to tell that just to be like, Hey, just so you know, like, this is, this is what’s happening, you know, here that’s, this is what it’s like for people.

Marc: The theme that night was “Forgiveness”.

We also talk about her band, her podcasts, and about how things in the system don’t seem to have changed much since she was 16.

Thank you for joining me as I take you behind the scenes at Tell Us Something — to meet the storytellers behind the stories. In each episode, I sit down with a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. We chat about what they’ve been up to lately and about their experience sharing their story live on stage. Sometimes we get extra details about their story, and we always get to know them a little better.

Before we get to Stepanie’s story and our subsequent conversation…

We will be in-person for the first time since August 2021. We are running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at The Wilma. Learn more and get your tickets at logjampresents.com

Stephanie Hohn shared her story in front of a live audience at the Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT on October 9th, 2012 at the Top Hat Lounge in Missoula, MT. The theme was “Forgiveness”.

Free from jail at 16, Stephanie faces a corrupt system and overcomes an inept foster parent. Stephanie calls her story “The Smartest Girl in the Jail”. Thanks for listening.

Stephanie Hohn: So, um, I got out of prison when I was 16 and I’m here to go to college. I finished two years of high school in six months because I was the smartest girl who’d ever been at that prison, which is possibly not a compliment. Um, but it’s something that the program director told me when I left. And I got out of a van with no handles on the inside.

The good food store parking lot. So I could meet my foster mom and we could have small talk for an hour and then go to my parole meeting and pretend like we met before, which worked well. I got to sit there at a table with five adults that I’d never met before, telling me all of the ways that I could go back to jail.

Most of them seem to include Maureen, not liking me or me not being able to find a job. And I came out with $5 and the clothes that I was. And I think I also maybe had chapstick, um, cause that’s what I had when I had gotten arrested and that’s what I had. And when I moved here, so worrying took me to Ross or something to pick out some clothing so that I could have something professional to wear, to try to get a job and begin paying my way as soon as possible.

Cause she didn’t want to do it. Uh, and I was sitting in the dressing room, looking at my. And I could see like, so clearly what a big hole I was in, because I didn’t know how to do any of those things. I didn’t know how to tell them what they wanted here or how to get a job, or I don’t know how to make people like me.

So I stayed in there and I cried for as long as I thought I could get away with. And then I went back out there, but eventually I, I did manage to get a job. Start going to college and all of those things. But the main problem was Maureen, because she was very unstable. Um, she’d picked me up from work. A lot of the times really smashed, tell me a bunch of strange stories and then try to take me to bars and not understand why I didn’t want to go with her and be like, no, come in don’t you want a beer?

No. Um, I’m 16 and on parole Marine, I don’t go in the bar with you. Um, and then she would cheat at pool, which is not necessary when you’re playing pool with me because I’m horrible at pool and she would still lose. And then she would try to get me to drive her car home, and I still don’t know how to drive.

And then we would go home and she would spend the entire next day in bed crying until I had to call her sister to come and take care. So it was trying to talk to my parole officer about this. And I got halfway into the story and he stops me and he looks at me and he says, Maureen is more important to us as a foster parent than you are as a kid in our program.

And if there are any problems with her and you cannot live there anymore, I’m not going to find you another placement. You can just go back. So I took that to me in, Hey, Stephanie, shut the fuck up. So I did, um, and I didn’t tell them anything else about her and it seemed like things were going okay. Um, she decided that she was going to go to AA because every time that she freaked out, it seemed like she was drinking.

So she was like, oh, maybe there’s some connection between this. Um, But when I, we were supposed to go to a movie together and she decided that she didn’t want to go or that she wanted to go out drinking with a friend from out of town. Um, she’s like, you know, I’ll pick you up after movie, just call me. Oh, good.

So you’ll be drunk then and driving you. That’s awesome. Uh, but I called her after the movie and she comes and picks me up completely smash and grabs me by the arm. Like for emphasis of shock, Stephan, Stephan, I fell in love tonight. Um, and first they used to tell me about some girl that she met at the bar that she’s going to go back and steal away from her boyfriend.

Um, no previous lesbian tendencies there, but you know, whatever. Uh, the only problem is I have to work at eight o’clock in the morning, the next day. And my work is all the way across town. So I’m a little worried. It’s like, we’re gonna, are you gonna be okay to drive me home tomorrow? Cause it’s it’s two right now.

Be to work at eight. She’s like, no, no, no, it’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. Cause there’s another lady in the sheets. Me congratulate me. She actually did the finger guns. So not, I didn’t have that. I was like, oh God, you not want to see that at all. So I wake her up the next morning they got alone and she takes me to work and it seems like it’s fine.

I mean, she’s a little drunk still, but it’s like Sunday morning. There’s no other car. She asked me what she should bring me when I’m going to get off work. So I was doing a double shift. I had to go to the other store. It was like, coffee should bring me coffee. She was like, okay, let me bring you coffee.

It seems fine. I get about halfway through my shift and I get this phone call. Um, and it’s Marine just speaking really fast. And it sounds like she’s like outside or something like the phones all crackling. And she just starts like speaking all in a rush. It’s like Stephanie, Stephanie said. I have to go see my mom.

If she go see my mom right now, I was like, like, like now, now she’s like, I don’t know. I’m on the way to the airport. I’ll call you back. Click, like looking at the phone. I’m like, yeah, I’m going to jail. I am going to jail. I’m going to fail college and get fired and I’m going to go to jail. Um, so I look at the phone for like, you know, a couple of seconds decide there’s not really anything I can do about it, but it back and go back to work.

Um, I get about halfway through. And Maureen’s boss and her best friend, Jocelyn calls me and she’s like, Hey, it’s Ryan picking you up today? It’s like, I don’t think so. She’s like, yeah, me neither because her mom just called me from Indiana. And she says that she’s there. And, um, I don’t know where her car is also the dog.

Um, so yeah. What do you want to do about that? I was like, oh, well, if you could just give me a ride to work, that would be cool. Uh, so that happens. And so about a month ago I was walking down the street and I’ve run into her and we made eye contact and then couldn’t take it back. So we had to talk to each other and she, she seemed eager in a strange way to sit down and have coffee with me.

It didn’t seem like it was coming from her. So I kind of got the impression that she was on the ninth step, but, um, I sit down and I have some coffee with her and it’s about like, I thought she starts telling me about how every night in her room, she was drinking by herself and she never mentioned it to anybody.

You know, she’d had like a history of mental problems. I was like, I’m shocked. Um, but. She she’s asking me if I could forgive her, but even as she’s saying it, she’s almost taking it back. Cause she’s like, oh, I feel like I wasn’t a very good big sister to you. I’m like, oh, I like how you’re minimizing your responsibility in this situation, even as your attempt to take some sort of responsibility.


so I mean, she seemed, she seemed to need it. So, so I gave her my forgiveness, but I don’t think that it meant anything. Um, So what actually happened was, uh, she didn’t ruin my life. She actually ruined hers because a Marine was a social worker here in town and she could no longer get a job after that here.

So she had to move in with her parents and spend five years going to nursing school, which I thought was a poor career choice for somebody like her, because. Um, people die in hospitals and I don’t know how well that would work for her, but regardless, that was her, her decision. Um, after that I was kind of my parole.

Officer’s like golden girl. He got like copies of my sat scores and my college transcripts and like put them on his wall. Like there was some child’s crayon drawings or something. And we tell everyone about what a success I was is if he had been some kind of assistance to me instead of a constant hindrance, uh, I got to sit down at those meetings with the five people that I didn’t know and be asked like, well, why didn’t you tell us, why didn’t you tell us that she was so unsealed?

I did. I told you, you told me not to tell you anything else. So I didn’t, um, and I think maybe guilt was his motivating factor for trying to be nice to me after. Uh, I ran into him a while ago and he said that he mentions my story in the talks that he gives about being a parole officer as if, you know, he played some role.

Uh, something interesting that Maureen did tell me was that I’m apparently the only person who went through that program, who didn’t go back to jail, which they recognized as not a flaw in their program. But as the rest of them being worthless criminals, and I’m the only redeemable one. But I think that when you’re constantly told that you are the disposable factor in a situation that you become, that if you’re not a stronger willed person or the smartest girl in the jail.

So, you know, I guess, I guess that’s the whole.

Marc: Stephanie Hohn, raised by wolves, is an activist, artist and traveler.

I caught up with Stephanie in July of 2020.

A quick warning for sensitive listeners, towards the end of our conversation, Stephanie describes assault with frank language.

Marc: Are you practicing via zoom with your band?

Stephanie: So my band all works at our shop aside from our singer, who is the sister of one of our band Pampers. And so we’ve been meeting in person because we already are around each other all day at work. Anyway, it’s like at that point we’re already pretty exposed.

So we might as well.

Marc: And are you performing?

Stephanie: We did some live streams when quarantine first started to happen for us, like when we were laid off from our jobs, but shelter in place hadn’t been put into effect. And then when shelter in place happened, we all took it pretty seriously. Everybody stayed home, you know, for that amount of time.

And then once, you know, The places that we were working at opened back up again, we were like, well, at this point we might have sold to start practicing it person. We are hoping to record an album this year. We have enough music for it, and we’re kind of ready to go on that front, but it’s just a matter of like that being something we can do.

Cause I don’t really know if people are doing that right now,

Marc: Matt. Oh,

Stephanie: well, that’s good to know.

Marc: I’m pretty sure. Yeah. And he’s, I’ve worked with him before. He’s

Stephanie: yeah, we, um, we’ve been working on some merchant. I’ve made some shirt designs and I’m screen printing those myself and stuff. So we’ve got like a lot of, a lot of things.


Marc: do you have your own screen printing setup or do you use?

Stephanie: I have my own right now. Yeah. I have used the Zack in the past and I think if I was going to do something. More complicated or, or trying to do a lot of shirts that I would probably use their setup. But, um, since we’re kind of doing like print to order, I just have a small setup and we’re doing simple designs and we just have three shirt colors, and three ink options.

And I mean, , I feel like, um, what I’ve been doing, it has actually been hand adding second color details myself, just with like a brown.

’cause you can do, you can do wet on wet with like a water-based ink. And so I’ll just do the whole, like, if it’s like a black shirt and I’m putting a white design on it and I wanted like some yellow accents, I’ll just do the whole thing in yellow and then the whole thing in white. And then I’ll go in and add the yellow on top of it by.

And I, I feel like that’s like been a good result, but that’s only for a few things. If I was trying to do a whole bunch, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.

Marc: Right. And it’s fun too.

Stephanie: If you’re just, if you’re just kinda messing around and like having fun.

Yeah, for sure. And because I, I do the t-shirt section at my job now, it’s pretty easy for me to get blank shirts at a lower cost. So it’s not like terribly expensive on our. You know, once you have all the supplies, so hopefully, yeah. Hopefully people are into it. It’s been kind of weird. Cause I haven’t felt like it’s something that I should be promoting right now.

I mean, even like thinking about live streaming or a band practices, it’s like, we know why it’s okay for us to be meeting, but that I feel like that might be hard to communicate as like setting a bad example for other people. You know,

Marc: that makes sense. But, I mean, I’ve seen all of the band members except for the one you mentioned at the shop and you know what I mean?

It makes sense that you’re allowed

Stephanie: to get together. Yeah. I mean yeah, Claris do sister, so they obviously see each other at their house. So it’s not, yeah, there’s, there’s a, there’s a point at which it’s like, I mean, if one of us got COVID at this point, we would all have to quarantine regardless.

Marc: Where can people

Stephanie: listen? I actually have it up on streaming, right? So it’s called the spooky town radio show. And it’s, it’s on like Spotify and apple podcasts and stuff it’s available there.

Marc: So anybody could subscribe to the spooky

Stephanie: town radio show. It’s all people from. Yeah, just voice actors from here in town.

And all the fully sound effects are things that we made ourselves for the most part. So, you know, when you hear like a door shutting or whatever, those are all real sounds that we recorded to

Marc: that’s fun. Do you find yourself watching around when you are out and about recording? I’ve

Stephanie: tried a few things.

Usually there’s like a specific sound effect that I want to use. And I’ll try to like, write a scene around that. Like if I, if I get a really good like door creaking noise or something like that I also recently have come across a. Some like, you know, compilations of different sound effects for like cheesy horror movie things.

So I’ve been using that to add like background music to scenes. But a lot of it, , there’ll be like, like a dun dun duh, on a piano. And like most of the time, like we’ve actually recorded that on the piano or, you know, something like that. Right.

Marc: Yep. I mean, I I’ve started since I’ve started editing audio, I paid attention to sound more and like, Walking across a wooden floor.

That’s like a deck, a wooden deck in your bare feet versus walking across the same floor and a pair of Dansko shoes versus walking upon across the same floor in a pair of combat boots. You know, like the sound is different, even performing the same activity. And I, I think it’s fun to play with. A sense of place

Stephanie: using sound.

Yeah, we haven’t done this as much yet, but we’re hoping later to maybe go to locations and just record a lot of ambient noises to use those like background noise for different scenes, like so that if, if people are in like a convenience store to just go and record some sound in a convenience store or something, and just use that as some, as some like flavor.

But we’ll, we’ll see, like what is available it’s so it’s, it’s a horror comedy podcast. It’s based loosely off of a role-playing game called monster hearts, but

Marc: pretty nerdy

Stephanie: stuff, stuff. Yeah. I’ve been, I’ve been doing a lot of role playing games. Um, I had a D and D group for a little while that was, uh, Doing discord games and everything.

Well, both things were shut down. So we were still calling each other and doing stuff. I recently wrote a little tabletop game where you play as a shop cat.

Marc: Um, uh, are the cats in the game named after the shop? The

Stephanie: shop. As S as illustrative examples. Yeah, it’s, it’s called perfect crimes with the P P U R O

I feel like I I’ve had a little bit more time to explore like those weird little creative projects. I learned how to, sew I’ve been working on that which is something I always was interested in making clothes, but I never, you know, really sat down and like really tried to make myself do it.

Because there’s just, yeah, there’s not like. At least I don’t feel comfortable, you know, going out and doing activities that much for right now. Yeah. I’m trying, I’m trying to minimize the number of like places I’m going and things that I’m doing. And then I just have a few things, like, you know, having band practice, because I feel like.

Those are reasonable, but yeah, I’m, I’m really, I haven’t been to a restaurant. I’m probably not going to one for, you know, the rest of this year.

Marc: Right? Exactly.

Stephanie: I’m really surprised at how people are just, you know, not, not wearing masks. Not really. It seems like they just got sick of taking precautions and or if they ever did it in the first place, you know?

Marc: Right. Well, we’ll see how this winter goes. I think it’s going to be pretty, pretty brutal.

Stephanie: I. At the beginning of the year, I had signed up for a CSA share. And so I just started getting that. But I remember like when we were having, you know, some grocery store shortages and stuff, like thinking about how good it was that I signed up for that, cause it’s just a local farm.

There’s no supply chain issues at all. They’re like, you know, and it was already paid for and they were doing just fine as, you know, a small group of people on their farm. So maybe, you know, considerations like that will make people kind of pivot to more local options.

Marc: You told your story in the first year of telephoning, it was October 9th,

Stephanie: 2012. It’s definitely a long time.

Marc: It’s been a long time and that was the same night. The former owner of the top hat said goodnight and goodbye to essentially her dad. So that’s how long ago it was.

It was before the remodel. It was still a dive bar. What was that experience like for you?

Stephanie: Well I think, I mean, if you’ve listened to it, I think you can tell that I was pretty nervous. I was, you know, I was pretty young also at that time and I just had a lot of like stage, right. I was in college at the time and I guess I still have this experience, but I have it a lot.

Or I had it a lot. Then when I was talking to people my own age, that like everybody’s life experiences were so different from mine, that when I would tell stories about my life, people would legitimately like not believe me, or would think that that sounded like fake and made up. And I, I honestly. I feel like that still does happen because I’ve just had unusual experiences or, you know, bad experiences that people would like to pretend aren’t something happening in their community.

So I kind of wanted to tell that just to be like, Hey, just so you know, like, this is, this is what’s happening, you know, here that’s, this is what it’s like for people.

Marc: Yeah. I mean, I thought that’s was the power of your story. People have. Perception of our town as being liberal and we take care of everybody.

And, but no, I mean, people are expendable in the eyes of the system and you certainly were. I mean, I think that somebody in your, you even said in your story, like somebody told you, like, I’m not going to try to place you in. If Maureen disappears, you’re going right back to jail.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. His name was Brett Gordon and his, his wife was my assigned therapist, so there was no real and I was required to go to therapy.

So it’s like there was no real confidentiality which is one of the things that I think about now when people are wanting to kind of pivot more towards a more social workers and away from police is how intertwined those systems are for us. Social workers and cops who were canned in hand. I I’ve had, you know, some pretty bad experiences with caseworkers when I was a kid too.

So I don’t know if that’s like 100% going to solve all of our inequality issues.

Marc: I wonder if better training would be helpful with that

Stephanie: too, or, or them. Not as, as a meshed into the system. I mean, the main, the main issue in Montana is funding. We have some of the highest, like reported cases of child abuse of like any state it’s very high here and we have some of the lowest funding.

And so there just aren’t enough places for kids to go if they’re in dangerous situations. And so the. Wants to place people back with their parents, if they can justify it at all. And the number of people that I was in group homes with, or that, or that I was in, in prison with, who went back to households that were very, very clearly unsafe and were causing a lot of the problems that were supposed to be addressed by incarceration, you know, it was ridiculous.

Marc: One of the things that you did in your story that was so heartbreaking and beautiful and kind towards the end, when you were talking about, and you didn’t name the guy, but they just named it now, but you said that he talks about you and his programs and the T know as your sort of success story. And you said that as if he had any role in that and all of the rest of the.

People in the program all went back to jail and you were the only one who didn’t. And that the beautiful thing that you did was you said, you know, something about they didn’t have self enough self-awareness and then this is these, aren’t the words that you used, but they didn’t have enough self-awareness to think that maybe there was a problem with their program and it wasn’t the girls and the fact that you were just giving that love to.

Even just in that little tiny sentence was so cool.

Stephanie: Well, some of the, some of the people that I think about the most well, , if we’re talking about, you know, systemic inequality, at least half of the, of the girls that I was in prison with were native American and they’re not half the population.

And there there’s a reason for that. And it’s because of the. That things are covered on reservations. Reservations are not legally part of the state. They are part of our country, but they don’t have to abide by state laws, which means that federal law enforcement and tribal police are the only people who are able to help with issues on the reservation.

So if you get in trouble and you’re from the reservation, it’s immediately a federal. So the level, the level of incarceration that they experienced when there are problems is extremely high,

Marc: that’s so messed up.

Stephanie: And there was one girl I remember who was very clearly mentally ill. Like she had schizophrenia, she had like hallucinations that she would respond to like visual and auditory hallucinations, and she was repeatedly. Getting put in jail. I think when I was there, she was 15 and she had been there three times already.

And it was for things like minor drug offenses non-violent things when, obviously what she needed was mental health help. And instead they just kept putting her back into her household, uh, which had a lot of its own dysfunctions. And that’s, that’s just going to, or as far as I know, that was her second.

You know, the whole rest of her life when she was at least a teenager is just being on parole, getting a parole violation for some minor offense, going back to jail over and over and over again, when really what she needed was, you know, mental health support.

Marc: Yeah. I mean, that’s, I think that’s been the case for decades, right? Yeah.

You did some nervous, but you also sounded like I need you to hear this. Like that was sort of the attitude. It sounded like you were confident in that way.

Like, and you told the story in such a compelling way. And I was. So I’m still so grateful that you wanted to share it.

Stephanie: So I’m not in college now, but w when I was going to school, I wanted to do creative writing and I feel like people always wanted me to do memoir. And then also when I did it, I sort of felt like, I dunno, like a, like an object.

To them, because it’s like the things that I was was trying, the stories that I was trying to tell them were so out of the norm for them, that it didn’t, it seemed like affection. It didn’t seem like a real story that had really happened to them. Um, but I’ve been trying to work on doing that more just because of, you know, thinking about some of the different people that I was around.

Who probably never, were able to either get out of that cycle or have never , been able to tell their story because it was too hard for them to say, you know, so I don’t know but that’s hard work because it’s just, it’s upsetting, you know?

I’ve always been more interested in like speculative fiction because it’s easier for me to do, but I kind of feel like people, I don’t know, I probably have stories that it would be good for people to hear.

At the same time. So I’ve been, I’ve been trying to do more of that kind of stuff.

Marc: Beyond the nervousness of telling your story, was there anything afterwards after that event was over, did you have any buddy come up to you and say anything?


Stephanie: there was one lady, like right after I got off stage, who I think said something to me along the lines of, oh, I always wonder it’s like what, what the deal with you was? Or like, something like that. So it kind of sounded like she’d seen me around town and like noticed me or thought I was weird or something was just wondering like what, who that person is.

I found kind of like a strange comment. I was like, I don’t really know how to respond to that, but

I imagined that sh that, that, like, it made her confront whatever assumption she’d made about me. And she was like, oh, I’ve learned something. But it, I, I definitely took it as like, oh, I’ve seen you as a local weird. And I was wondering like, why is that girl dressed like that or whatever? Yeah, I definitely, I remember that one specifically.

I think that I had maybe one other person recognized me, , and like want to be my friend after that, but it was like, It was kind of a, it was kind of an odd individuals. I don’t think that really went anywhere, but well, and I don’t know, cause I, because I was a minor when all of this happened my record has been expunged and so I, I guess I.

I am open about that with people that I know well, but it’s not necessarily something that I like would open up with talking to people, like normally like on like a day-to-day basis. I’m not like, by the way I was in prison when I was a kid, like but it’s something that is definitely really present in my mind with political issues.

Like I do. I don’t know. I do consider myself. To be an ex-con, even though that’s not how I think most people perceive me or what they are that they think about that. And so I, I definitely like it’s, it’s impacted the way that I like think about all of those issues and probably will for like the rest of my life.

Marc: Sure.

Stephanie: . I mean , our whole outlook towards imprisonment I think has, has gotten worse over time for sure.

And I think. I think, I mean, hopefully, you know, this moment that we’re in right now, when people are looking at the role of police, I think the natural next step is to look at the role of prisons and to, to ask if like they’re accomplishing the goals that we claim we want them to accomplish. Um, because I think it’s at least from my experience, I don’t think anyone was helped by.

You know, I don’t, I don’t think that most of the girls that were there were truly a danger to the community. I think that they needed, they were people who were at risk at, in their homes and they didn’t have another place to put them there. Wasn’t another option for them. And that’s the say nothing of the situation, you know, of boys.

Way worse. I mean, the, in Montana, the, unless things have changed since then, they very well could have, it’s been quite awhile, but Riverside in Boulder is the girl’s prison here in Montana. And it can only hold about 20 girls, pine Hills as the boys. And it can hold 120 boys. So I’m sure that their situation is worse.

Yeah. From what I’ve heard, it’s much more violent there. So yeah, I mean, you’re taking people out of an abusive situation and putting them into a much more abusive situation. How is that going to help them improve their behavior? It’s only going to make them more likely to respond to threats with violence because that’s, those are the only tools that have.

I mean if, what we actually wanted to do, if we’re like, oh, , I’m concerned that these children are committing crimes in the community. I’ll just give you some examples of some of the, some of the crimes that people were were in there for that I personally knew there was a girl who was in there for check fraud because her mother had abandoned her and their other siblings for a second.

And so they had just, they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have anyone else to contact. So they were just writing checks to the grocery store and I’m sure for also frivolous things, but they were writing checks off of her bank account. And when her mom finally showed back up, she decided that she wanted that money back.

So she reported her daughter for this crime so that she could get, you know, restitution fees from that. And when she was done with her stay in prison, that girl was put right back.

Is that like, it’s not a real stuff. That’s true

Marc: in time of COVID, you know, sometimes the safest place for kids is in school and now they can’t go to school and they’re forced to be with their abusers for the entire.

Stephanie: Yeah. And they’re, they’re not able to receive, you know, if they’re a part of a school lunch program that’s gone now. I mean, the, the food bank has definitely been, you know, doing their best and working over time. But I definitely, when I was a kid, I had to steal food from the grocery store because my parents weren’t feeding.

Marc: That shouldn’t you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t end up in jail for that.

Stephanie: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s the problem is the problem there that something was stolen from the store or is the problem there that a 12 year old felt like they, that was the only way for them to get through.

I think it’s just easier for people to, to like, feel sympathy for younger kids, because when like a five-year-old acts out, everyone’s like pretty sure that it’s not their fault or at least like, they’re like, well, there’s probably problems at home. But when like a 14 year old is acting out, then people kind of are like annoyed by it.

And they feel like maybe this is just a bad kid. I don’t think we give kids enough, like leeway as they get older to understand that like they don’t have control of their situation. And that’s why they’re acting like that. Like when you see a, like a toddler screaming in the store, your first response is to think that like, oh, they’re over tired.

You know, whatever they, like, they don’t have control over their life. They’ve been pushed to a point that they’re acting like this, but we don’t, you know, we don’t give teenagers that same breathing room or that same like sympathy.

Marc: I see teenagers coming into the store and acting out. How do you respond to that?

Stephanie: I mean, I guess I haven’t really. Too many, like teenagers acting out in the store, there are definitely some kids shoplifting and I’ll just be really straight with them about it, where I’m like, I see what you’re doing. , I know what this looks like, and , I need you to stop doing this. That’s pretty much what I do cause I don’t have the ability to do too much more, but.

I had a, I saw a lot more of that kind of stuff. I used to work overnights at a gas station and there would be neighborhood kids that would try to come into the store and hang out, you know, at like midnight bunch of 12 year olds want to hang out in the gas station and mess around. And there was one girl in particular who would try to go up to cars outside and see.

Th they could get money from people just ask like people who were stopping to get gas, if they would give her a few dollars. And, and her, I did pull aside and I was like, do you realize how close we are to the interstate? And that no one knows where you are and that , somebody could, grab you.

If you’re out here at midnight, they know that there’s nobody paying attention to you. Do you realize how fast you would be gone? You need to seriously consider the danger that you’re putting yourself in right now.

Marc: What does she say?

Stephanie: She kind of like scoffed, you know, I think because when you’re in a survival situation, you’re like, well, I know this is dangerous, but this is, what I need right now.

But I didn’t see her doing it again, at least when I was working there. So hopefully she found some better options, but I was like, I, I know that there isn’t help for you. If I call the police, they’re not going to help that person. I don’t think there’s any community support for that person. She’s going to have to figure out how to help herself.

So I don’t know. Usually I just kind of, yeah. I mean, I don’t really think there’s anybody who can help those kids. I don’t know who to direct them to. I’ll I’ll I can do is like give them personal advice.

Marc: Do you ever weigh in with any of these opinions at places like. City council meetings or when they asked for public comment, you can type up an email or whatever and say, look, this has been my experience.

Or do you think that’s just not, it’s not worth it.

Stephanie: I guess I haven’t. I mean, I don’t really,

I don’t really know, like the. The, the, like the first issue is funding. For sure. We do not fund these services, you know, and people are happy to donate to like the Watson children’s home because it’s it’s children. But as you get older, they’re less inclined to want to help you. One of the big problems with finding placements for kids that have already been in trouble is that there are a lot harsher requirements to foster.

A kid that’s been in jail. You can’t have any other children in the home, for example. And I think it’s called something different. I, I think when I was doing it, it was called guide homes, but it might be different, but there, yeah, there aren’t like, there aren’t an adequate number of foster parents.

There’s not an adequate amount of funding for group homes. There’s like a lot more drug rehabs than there are any other types of shelters. Like every time. I got in trouble because I would say because I had an abusive home life, the, the amount of times that the cops were called to our house, because there was like physical fighting going on was probably dozens of times.

And I would just temporarily, you know, be in a group home for a little bit. And then they’d put me back with my mom and it just happened over and over again until eventually things escalated to a point. They put me in jail. And every one of those incidences, in my opinion, was a self-defense situation for me, where I did not initiate the physical altercation.

But in the state of Montana, it’s not illegal to hit your child with an open. That’s considered corporal punishment and it’s legal. So if your parents are like slapping you in the face and you hit them back, you did not defend yourself. That’s assault

as, as a really absurd example. Uh, one time I was being fish hooked, like I, my mom was dragging me across the floor by my face, and I bit her thumb because it was in my mouth and I got a ticket for my.

I got an assault ticket for doing that and it’s like, I was being assaulted when that happened. So I like, I really feel like the whole, the whole system, you know, is so. It’s so messed up that I don’t really, I mean, you’d have, you’d have to completely


Yeah. And people would have to consider it a priority and they’d have to, you know, I, I think that would be definitely like a step once people started considering, you know, their, their opinion toward incarceration injury. But yeah, I mean, there, there are whole towns, like deer lodge that are just based off of their prison.

That’s what everybody in that town does. So like that’s where all of their income comes from. So where are those people going to really question like their only source of income or is it easier for them to just decide that everybody who’s in that jail now

is there in Ohio? That’s how he feels. If you’re in prison, you did something to deserve to be there.

And I’m just like, dad, that is not true. You know?

Well, like 100% of people in jail definitely didn’t do it. Like that’s. I mean, even if you just like, think about regular statistics of anything, 100% of something, it’s not, it can’t possibly be. There’s, there’s gotta be at least one person, not one little outlier who didn’t do it. And it’s, it’s exponentially more than one person.

But even if we agree that the, every person who’s in prison committed the crime that they’re in prison for, we still, if our goal is to, to have people who have committed crimes reintegrate into society. And, and like be normal, productive members of it. We are not achieving that.

Marc: And so what’s the answer we don’t have.

I mean, there’s, we can’t solve this now. You and I can’t anyway, you know?

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m I mean, hopefully as people start to consider what role does. Should have in our society that they can also then look at like what role prison should have, because if you, if you don’t have police arresting as many people you’re still gonna have in your community, there are going to be people that are committing crimes,

There already are people that commit crimes that there really aren’t any consequences for. I mean, you know, sexual assault is the first thing that comes to my mind as far as people who, I mean, I know I can think of like probably five or six people just in the community, off the top of my head that have never received any, you know, any justice.

Marc: Yeah. And then that’s a whole new conversation to talk about why people don’t report and when they do report the victim blaming that happens and the retraumatization of the person who reports.

Stephanie: Yeah. The, the lack of testing, like the really low, like amount of punishment that people receive, even if they are convicted.

Yeah, I mean a whole, a whole other bag of worms, but there I, yeah, I don’t think that I don’t think that the police are effective at their stated goal. And I don’t even know if those goals need to be achieved, but we would have to build. Whole other institutions to deal with these issues and it could be done, but people would have to want to do it like collectively, that would have to be a priority for everyone to think.

Okay. When there’s a homeless guy on my property, you know, Spain gin for money, I want him to leave, but I don’t want to call the cops. Who do I. You know, and there are like homeless outreach things, but they don’t have very much funding. So we would have to, we would have to want to help, you know, the prov relo increase their staff so that they’d have somebody to come do that we would have to increase what shelters, so that people who had been drinking would have a place to sleep, regardless, you know, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Each one of these things, you know, there are other systems. That could probably more effectively help them, but we would have to prioritize doing that. Cause the, I mean, every, every situation, every dangerous situation is, is a cop, the correct person to come deal with this, or could somebody else do a better

Marc: job, somebody with different and better training for the state of situation.

Stephanie: Yeah, you shouldn’t be, you shouldn’t be getting the same person to come take care of a dangerous dog in your yard that you would call. If you were sexually assaulted, that you would call, if there’s a homeless guy that you would call, if your house got broken into, those are not the same problems and they can’t all be solved by the same tool.

Marc: is there anything else that you want to say about your story before we.

Stephanie: Um, well, if people like it, I’m, I’m glad that they heard that. I would say that I was an outlier, at least as far as my like, ability to like react the way that they want you to, to that situation. Cause I, I think a lot of people, if they were suddenly left on their own, you know, as. I don’t think they would just keep going to work.

Right. Which is what I did. They would probably freak out and, and it definitely occurred to me like, well, I’ve been told that if this, if there’s any problem, I’ll just go back to jail. So now that there’s been a problem, like I think a lot of people would just freak out at that point. Cause they already know that no one’s going to help them.

That’s been their experience that no one will help them. So I’m not, I’m not surprised that all the other people that they put in that situation had a bad outcome. Like they were set up to have that bad outcome. And I don’t really know that that situation has changed to my, to my knowledge. There hasn’t been, you know, any changes to those programs, but.

Marc: Most people would freak out in the same circumstance. How did you not freak out? How did you keep moving forward?

Stephanie: Well, I mean, I have really, I don’t, I don’t know if I want to say that I haven’t respected authority, but I like from the, like, I didn’t have babysitters after I was four. And so for the majority of my life, I’ve been pretty responsible.

My own safety and, you know, taking care of whatever I needed to do on my own. And so I think that like, that’s always been, my approach is like I have to solve this problem. Without generally thinking that like an adult would help me or I should be asking for permission from somebody. That was just my default.

And so it didn’t really occur to me at the time. You know, to tell anybody about what was going on or to ask somebody about it. I just continued to do what I’d been doing, because that was already the plan that I had in place. And I was like, well, I have no control over what she does or what they do about this.

But maybe if I just like continue doing what I’m doing. Everything won’t totally fall apart. Or if they do decide to like, put me back in jail, at least maybe like my boss will still give me a good recommendation or something like that. I don’t know. I like, I didn’t, I was like, I don’t have control over what they do.

So I’m just going to keep, keep doing what my original plan was and hopefully it’ll work out. But I got told that things, that I was the plants that I was making, weren’t going to work out and. I like basically made them work out through force of will, like over and over in the course of being in the system.

So I think I was kind of used to that being the outcome. When I first went to Riverside, which is the girls jail, their plan was that when I was done being there, that I would go back to living with my mom and that I would go back to high school and. Just with like the amount that, that situation had escalated over the last couple of years, I was like, if I go back to living there, like someone’s going to die.

Like it’s getting to the point where I feel like it’s going to like go somewhere really bad. So I was like, I can’t, I can’t do it. I can’t go back there. So what do I need to do to not go back? So I stopped communicating with my parents about. I yeah. At 16, I was like, I’m not going to, if I like refuse to have a relationship with her and I refused to talk to her and I’m extremely uncooperative with that, they’ll have to find, you know, their placement.

And then I basically did a year and a half of schoolwork while I was there so that I could graduate. And they told me from the beginning were like, you’re not going to be able to get enough credits to graduate. And. You’re you’re going to have to go back with my mom. Neither one of those things happened because I like made them not happen.

So I don’t know. I think like you just have to, whatever, like your goal is, like, you just have to focus on that above what anyone else is telling you, because. They’re probably they’re wrong if you like, if you dedicate everything towards one thing you can accomplish, I’m Stephanie

Marc: Hall and everybody

thank you so much for spending the time with me this afternoon.

Stephanie: Yeah, I have a band. I have a radio drama. I have a podcast where I review horse books. Yeah,

it’s called pasture med time.

Marc: Um, man, I love that about you, that you like puns as much as I do.

Stephanie: Well, my, my friend Melanie is a, is a big horse book fan. She’s been a horse girl, her whole life. And I am not a horse girl. Although now people think that I am because I have this and they send me horse things, but essentially she has all of her childhood horse books, like the things that she was reading when she was like nine, and then I read them and.

I’m like, Melanie, did you realize this book is just about domestic violence? She’s like now what?

Marc: I was just, I’m just going to subscribe as soon as we hang up, I want to be present with you right now, but I’m out to pasture. What does

Stephanie: that, is that what it’s past your bedtime, past your

Marc: bedtime. So their horse, their children’s horse bedtimes. That you, you deconstruct them.

Stephanie: Yeah. I just read the last the last season we read the full unicorns of ballon or series, and now we’re doing some like one shot horse books.

We also did a one episode on black lives matter and the protest horses, there’s been a lot of people that have been bringing their horses to protest.

The Compton Cowboys. There’s the fleet street writers’ club there’s nonstop writers in Houston and, um, Brianna noble, who I think a lot of people have seen pictures of her in Oakland with her, her horse Dapper Dan, I think the most interesting thing about all of those is like the immense level of training that an animal like that would require to be in a.

Every one of those people that you see bringing their horses to a protest, just like put in so much work and time for them to be able to be in that environment. It’s really impressive.

Marc: Thank you, Stephanie. I will talk to you again soon. I hope and stay safe out there.

Stephanie: I’ve just had unusual experiences or, you know, bad experiences that people would like to pretend aren’t something happening in their community.

So I kind of wanted to tell that just to be like, Hey, just so you know, like, this is, this is what’s happening, you know, here that’s, this is what it’s like for people.

Marc: Thanks, Stephanie. And thank *you* for listening today.

Though I was unable to find the podcasts that Stephanie hosts, for links to some of the podcasts she mentions in our conversation, head over to tellussomething.org

Next week, I catch up with Jim Beyer

Jim Beyer: Oh, it was the Sturgis adventure. Yes.

Marc: “Message from God”.

Jim: “Message from God.” Yeah. Yeah, because I practiced that for a week. while driving around Montana, I just tell it to myself over and over and over again so that it, , would be, um, shortened and, um, , yeah, nearer to perfect. So.”

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

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

I am so excited to tell you that the next in-person Tell Us Something storytelling event will be March 30 at The Wilma.

The theme is “Stone Soup”. 7 storytellers will share their true personal story without notes on the theme “Stone Soup”.

We are running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at The Wilma. Learn more and get your tickets at logjampresents.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

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

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

Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and my favorite place to find a dance party while driving U104.5

Float Missoula. Learn more at float m-s-l-a.com.

And Missoulaevents.net

Podcast production by me, Marc Moss.

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

This week on the podcast, Dagny Deutchman and I revisit the story that she shared about guiding a river trip on the Salmon River. In the story, she shared how she dealt with a client who inappropriately expressed his displeasure at having to use a groover. We talk about how she might handle that differently. Dagney shares how Tell Us Something changed her life and we talk about some of the sleep research she’s been doing as she pursues her PhD.
I spoke with Karla Theilen in late June from her temporary home in Tuba City, AZ on her day off from taking care of COVID patients in the Navajo Nation. After our interview, stick around to hear her story “Guardian Angel Obstacle Course”.
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.
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