healing

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Laura King to talk about her story “My First Pregnancy”, which she told live onstage at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. The theme that night was “The First Time”. We also talk about podcasting, a new podcast that she’s working on with her cousin in California.

Transcript : "My First Pregnancy" and Interview with Laura King

[music]

 

Laura King: Yeah, so actually I’m super excited about the project itself and gathering these stories. My cousin and I have two great uncles who are pretty interesting historical figures and lots of glass, , both lawyers, , and I’m a lawyer.

 

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

 

This week on the podcast, I sit down with Laura King to talk about her story “My First Pregnancy”, which she told live onstage at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. 

 

Laura King: We can hear the heartbeat, which sounds great. The gestational SAC, which is what the baby starts out with. Looks good. So I left feeling reassured.

 

The theme that night was “The First Time”.

 

We also talk about podcasting, a new podcast that she’s working on with her cousin in California.

 

Laura King: So that’s kinda fun. one of them was very conservative and the other one was very liberal. So we’ve got a guy who is an FBI and involved in propaganda. , supporting Japanese internment, on the one hand. And then we’ve got, , the other guy who was, , a criminal defense attorney and, very active in, , you know, abolition of criminal punishment and, , the efforts early, early efforts to legalize marijuana.

 

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 Laura’s story and our subsequent conversation…

 

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

 

Laura King shared her story in front of a live audience at Free Ceramics in Helena, MT in April of 2017. The theme was “The First Time”. Laura King, a 32 year old married to her high school sweetheart, becomes pregnant and has to juggle that with the stress of being in law school. Her first ultrasound is an internal ultrasound at five weeks and goes well. She returns home and has to go back to the hospital after complications arise. Thanks for listening.

Laura King:

This story is about a pregnancy, and you might notice that I’m pregnant right now. It’s not about this pregnancy, but it’s about my first pregnancy, which occurred when I was in my last year of law school. I was a third year law student at Harvard law school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was 32 years old.

My husband not. Uh, our high school sweethearts. So at that point we had been together for 16 years, married for eight. So this was a long time in coming, but we had put it off and put it off. And we’re finally feeling like, well, there’s no time. Like the present, let’s just dive in. I got pregnant easily. I was thrilled to be pregnant.

I very much wanted this, but as much as I wanted it, That level of anticipation also seemed to create an equal level of nervousness and dread about what might go wrong. So I think it was because I was so nervous that I was ear for reassurance, and it’s unusual to have an ultrasound at five weeks pregnant, but at about five and a half weeks, I organized two.

Go in and have an ultrasound. And at that point they can’t do an external ultrasound. The baby is too tiny, tiny, so they do an internal one, which means putting a wand up inside and getting as close as possible to the baby. And they did this and found a heartbeat. They said, your baby’s doing just fine.

We can hear the heartbeat, which sounds great. The gestational SAC, which is what the baby starts out with. Looks good. So I, I left feeling. I went home couple hours later started bleeding. So I was extremely frightened. I called them right away. I’m bleeding. What’s going on? Oh, that’s probably okay.

It’s a common response. When you have an internal ultrasound, have a little bit of bleeding, the cervix is sensitive. So I took a deep breath and all right, well, would you like to come back in? And I did. So I came back in, they did another ultrasound internal again, this time they said we can’t find the heartbeat.

They gave me a little cup. They said it’s Columbus day weekend. The clinic will be closed. If you do have a miscarriage, please collect the specimen in this cup, keep it in your refrigerator over the weekend. Bring it to us. I was crushed. It was so clinical, this passing of the cup to me, I was in tears. I went home.

I got a bee in my bonnet that I should take. Herbal miscarriage prevention T and I looked online to see what combinations I might create. I called it my husband. He had the car, we had one car. He had the car at work. I said, can you take me to get these herbs? I really need them. I’m bleeding. I think I’m miscarrying.

He said, I can’t leave work. I’m busy. So I decided I’d take matters into my own hands and take away. I wasn’t used to taking buses in the city. I was so close to school that I usually walked. So I figured out the schedule, I found myself on a bus, still bleeding, and also on my lap was my law school work, which I was having this crisis.

And at the same time, I thought, well, maybe it’s not a crisis. Maybe I just have to continue doing this routine of, uh, preparing for my advanced environmental. So I’m reading a Supreme court case on a recent Supreme court case on environmental law. As I’m on the bus to whole foods to get these herbs, they don’t have them at whole foods.

My husband comes home. He takes me to another store. We finally get the herbs and I’m doing cups and cups of tea. And in the meantime, hoping that nothing will come out to fill this other cup that I’ve been given. I call people in my. Family who could help me? I call my mother-in-law who had four miscarriages during law school, no seven miscarriages during law school.

She also bled through one of her pregnancies. And so she told me maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s something you just have to wait and see, I called my sister and my mom. Had miscarriages and, um, they didn’t have much reassurance to offer. My sister said, oh, maybe it’s just implantation bleeding. I said, oh no, that would have happened two weeks ago.

That’s when the baby burrows in and implants, this is much later. Well, the bleeding didn’t stop. It got worse. Despite the tea, the tea seemed to do nothing but a fuel. The liquid that was coming out, I was in bed. For the next three days, as things got more bleak and the pain got intense, it was worse than my birth experience with my son, which was unmedicated.

12 hours and ended in a C-section. So maybe I didn’t get to the point where it really hurt, but in any case, this miscarriage was painful and it did end, um, with, uh, a little person coming out and I put that little person in the cup and put the cup in their refrigerator. Well, a couple months went by and I let my.

He’ll a bit and we decided to try again and again, I got pregnant easily and I wondered am I going to be like my mother-in-law with seven miscarriages during law school? During this stressful time, I was so worried and I ordered online a relaxation, CD pregnancy relaxation. And I remember lying on my bed, the same bed where I.

I felt this pain and all this resistance to having this, to losing this baby and the ma the relaxation CD instructed me to think of a place that I felt comfortable. I imagined myself on a beach. It instructed me to imagine myself holding my baby, which I did. I imagined myself walking from the sand, into the.

Letting the waves lap against my feet and holding my baby up in the air. And it was really nice. It was really peaceful. And then I had an experience that I’ve never had before, since I felt a true communication coming through. And I, I heard or felt my baby say to me, mama, I’m coming. I’m coming. And I felt this wave of relief.

And after that, I didn’t worry. And the months went on and he did come and I have a beautiful three-year-old boy. And one of my friends later said, you know, if you hadn’t had that miscarriage, you wouldn’t have Jeffrey, your beautiful son, but I don’t think of it that way, that other little. Person was important too.

I don’t think it’s worth discounting that, that other little being who didn’t quite make it to the finish line. Okay. .

Marc Moss:

As the mom of an 8-year-old boy and his four year old brother, Laura King gets the chance to tell two or three stories a day, mostly about spiders, fairies, and superheroes. She was, at the time she shared her story, also a lawyer with the Western Environmental Law Center in Helena. There she told stories about arbitrary and capricious government action (and weaves in spiders, fairies, and superheroes where possible). She has since moved to California to focus on a story that will take a long time for her to tell. We’ll get into that more during our conversation. Thanks for listening.

I caught up with Laura in June of 2020.

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Hello? Hello, Laura. Hi mark. How are you? Good morning. I’m well, how are you? Good. So I’m recording this right now by line. I have to say that

Marc Moss: I listened to your story this morning. Yeah. I haven’t listened to it a long time. Have you listened to it? I

Laura King: haven’t. No.

Marc Moss: Well, before we get into that, how are you?

Laura King: I’m doing really well. I’m um, yeah, just at home, working on some writing and I’ve got my dog here at my feet to beautiful day here in

Marc Moss: Helena.

Marc Moss: And your kiddos six now.

Laura King: Yeah, I’ve got Jeffrey has six and Nate who’s two.

Marc Moss: Oh my gosh.

Laura King: And they’re actually in school. We have a. They go to a private Montessori, [00:01:00] which reopened. So I have a little free time every day. It’s a shorter schedule, but, , they’re in

Marc Moss: school. Are they going to be in school for the entire summer?

Laura King: Yeah, I think so. We’re gonna be taking some time off, , going to California and a couple of days, but for most of the summer they’ll be in

Marc Moss: school. Yeah. What’s happening in California.

Laura King: So one thing that I wanted to talk to you about is happening in California, which is I’m doing an audio storytelling project with my cousin, , which I’m excited about.

Laura King: And it involves interviewing my dad and his dad. , so that’s one reason we’re going, we’re just also going to see our families

Marc Moss: cool, like Northern health.

Laura King: It’s Southern California LA areas.

Marc Moss: Yeah. , have you figured out how logistically you’re going to do the recordings? Like what equipment you’re using and stuff?

Laura King: That is [00:02:00] a great question. So my cousin who I’m doing this project with, , is a podcaster and, and we’re thinking of this as a podcast, he recommended. Eh, so I have a little recording device because I’ve been doing, , interviews, but not, , you know, just for my own, like I take a transcript of them. Yeah. , so I have a little recording device and he recommended getting just a simple external microphone. , but then I was also talking to a friend who is a, a guy who’s done PRX. , Pieces. And he was like, no, that’s not adequate. So I don’t know if you had any recommendations. I’d love to hear them.

Marc Moss: I mean, it sounds like your PRX friend is going to have better recommendations than me, but it is interesting.

Laura King: Thank you.

Marc Moss: Yeah, but I love this idea for the project. What, is the impetus for this?

Laura King: Yeah, so actually I’m super excited about the project itself and gathering these stories. My cousin and I have two great uncles who are pretty interesting [00:03:00] historical figures and lots of glass, , both lawyers, , and I’m a lawyer.

Laura King: So that’s kinda fun. , one of them was very conservative and the other one was very liberal. So we’ve got a guy who is an FBI and, , involved in propaganda. , supporting Japanese internment, , on the one hand. And then we’ve got, , the other guy who was, , a criminal defense attorney and, , very active in, , you know, abolition of criminal punishment and, , the efforts early, early efforts to legalize marijuana.

Laura King: I’m in California. So I kind of two interesting figures who are also connected the movie industry. Um, my family has connections to Warner brothers and the conservative guy became the head of, um, security for, for Warner brothers. So I think we’ve got some interesting stories that we can, uh, in our, both of our dads.

Laura King: [00:04:00] Um, my cousin and I, um, our dads are getting older. So now we feel a good time to go get their stories and tell these stories, which, um, really have not been very well recorded, but we think maybe of interest more broadly than

Laura King: I’m already fascinated. I’m going to subscribe to this podcast when it comes out.

Laura King: And you have so many directions that you could take.

Laura King: Yeah, that’s true. And we don’t know all the stories yet either. Um, one of the other interesting stories is that, uh, our aunt, um, niece of these two great uncles was Joan Anderson. Who, um, do you know that Joan Anderson letter, Neil Cassidy’s, uh, Joan Anderson letter.

Marc Moss: Anyway,

Laura King: because she was part of the beat movement [00:05:00] and I’m kind of involved in that scene. There’s a possibility that she was the Joni Anderson and the letter. We kind of don’t think she was, but, um, you know, my husband and I were talking about creating kind of a citizen Kane framework where you kind of build up these interesting, uh, Ideas that might turn into something and maybe they don’t need to anything at all, but it’s, if that’s the hook and it gets the listener interested in hearing the stories and also creates a platform for telling other stories that kind of branch off from, from the main hooks

Marc Moss: Rosebud.

Laura King: Yes.

Marc Moss: Background or training in how to collect stories like this. Cause it seems fascinating. And I, I, I really would love to hear what direction you want to take this. Cause I’m, I’m trying not to like plant seeds where I want to see you take it. Cause.[00:06:00]

Laura King: Lance, my cousin brought the project to me. And I think in part, because he thought, you know, I’m a lawyer and I can help him do the foyer requests, but I also got really interested in just the storytelling aspect of it. Um, And yeah, I don’t have, you know, I’ve been doing for the past six months, I’ve been doing interviews and writing profiles.

Laura King: Um, so there’s that piece of it that I’ve had, you know, just a little bit of experience with, but, um, this is all pretty new and exciting

Marc Moss: for me. It’s yeah. I mean, you might have more than one project on your.

Laura King: Yeah, well, his concept is that we would do like a series of, they would turn into like six to eight episodes, um, that we’ll see how it shapes how ha how it takes shape as [00:07:00] we gather the stories from our dads.

Marc Moss: Yeah. Have you thought about like what potential directions you could take it as far as, I mean, do you have any sort of story about.

Marc Moss: Well, I’m just thinking like, there certainly is the family aspect and getting some family stories and family history. There’s also the law aspect of historical perspective of law stuff that, that both of those men dealt with most interested in hearing how they feel about what’s going on. Right. With like defunding the police and the Brians and all of that stuff.

Marc Moss: I mean, it seems like, and maybe they’re all in maybe can time altogether, but it seems like there’s also some standalone storytelling options with each one of those subjects that I just mentioned. And those are the only the ones that come to mind off the top of my head. [00:08:00] And I don’t even know these men.

Laura King: That’s interesting. Okay. So yeah, I guess, yeah, it does. Um, it would make sense to once we have all the stories, figure out how they fit together and how they can be told, um, whether it’s, you know, each episode as a standalone or is there a, are there larger themes that we can also connect to present time?

Marc Moss: One thing that I think about as far as storytelling and being a responsible storyteller is if you’re a good storyteller. One of the things that you do is you anticipate questions that your listeners might have, and you try to, you try to answer those questions while you’re telling the story. So the questions that you have.

Marc Moss: Are important. And then think about the questions that [00:09:00] other people might have to answer and try to answer those or, or dismiss them and just acknowledge like, yes, these are, these are things that you might want to know about, and we’re not going to talk about them.

Marc Moss: I can’t wait to hear this.

Marc Moss: Do you have a target date for releasing?

Laura King: No. And so, as I mentioned, , we’re also putting together, FOYA requests for information from the FBI about both of these men. , so it may be that it takes a while to get that information, you know, it could be a year or two years. , so I have a feeling that we’re, you know, we’re going to get audio.

Laura King: Now we’re going to start working in this up, but it may be a slow walk to process as we wait for the other information to trickle on. Right.

Marc Moss: Well, I don’t know how I can help, but if there’s any way that I can help, please tell me. [00:10:00] Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else that you wanted to tell me about stuff that you have going on or projects that you’re cooking up?

Laura King: So I quit my job as a lawyer, I was working for a nonprofit Western environmental law center, which is an awesome organization. And I’m now working as a freelancer for them doing not law, but writing and storytelling. And I’m, ,

Laura King: Doing these profiles, kind of new Yorker style profiles of the attorneys. And what I love about it is they’re just giving me free reign to do it in the way that I want to do it. , so I’m having a lot of fun with that.

Laura King: I have been trying to as much as possible, you know, have like kind of a general idea of some things I am interested in asking them about, but I also try to just be present to the conversation and let it move in the way that it wants to move. , and, and just be present to them as they are. [00:11:00] You know, like I, I have Lily’s asked about their childhood, , and that often yields interesting, , stories that they, for example, I was interviewing someone recently and she said, well, you know, I haven’t thought about that in a long time, but that is an important part of my personal story.

Laura King: And, , so cool, cool. Things like that and just, you know, trying to keep it to, to, , The story of why they care about the environment and, , you know, why now what’s, what, what are the big issues that are, , bubbling up in your mind and your heart right now? And how are you facing them or, , bringing your energy to them.

Marc Moss: Why do you care about this work that you’re doing?

Laura King: I think that’s a great question. Yeah. I really feel like these, , you know, in some way it’s like, oh, profile’s about lawyers. That’s so boring. I’m like, you know, and their lawyers who deal with science and [00:12:00] that’s so boring, but you can humanize it, you know, because they do care passionately about what they’re doing and to tap into that, , can be really powerful.

Marc Moss: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that’s awesome. When and how are those being used? Are they just being pushed out on, on the website for the attorneys? Yeah,

Laura King: yeah, yeah. I’ve got it. I’m the communications director is doing the visuals and he’s doing a nice job with that. Cool.

Marc Moss: Let’s talk about your story that you told us.

Marc Moss: Tell us something. What was that like for you to tell that story? I mean, it’s pretty much.

Laura King: Yeah. You know, it was cathartic and I’m glad that I told it. I, um, when I had a miscarriage afterward, I was sharing it with some close girlfriends and suddenly it became clear to me that having a miscarriage is a really [00:13:00] common experience, but it’s one of those things that people don’t talk about.

Laura King: And I felt, um, good. About making the decision to go and share that story in public, because I feel like it’s a topic that needs to be talked about and doesn’t need to be a shameful topic that we, you know, hide. And it’s just a female topic and we can’t talk about it in public. Um, so yeah, it was, it was, uh, a powerful experience for me.

Marc Moss: What was the response of people in your community after they heard that?

Laura King: you know, I remember a couple of people coming up to me afterward and thanking me for telling me, telling the story. , I definitely felt a sense of yes. That, you know, this is something that we share and we appreciate you coming out with that.

Marc Moss: Yeah. I mean, it’s, [00:14:00] it was a brave story to tell. , and it’s, I asked you. , to tell a story, not knowing anything about you, because Aaron Parrett said that you’d be good at this. Yeah. , and so I didn’t know where, where you would go. , and then when you said, this is what you wanted to do, I was like, absolutely because this story, I’ve never heard that story, you know?

Laura King: Yeah. And it’s one of those topics that there are so few stories told about it that it’s like a blank slate, like, well, what was my experience of it? , you know, there’s no like set idea I have about how I should have reacted to it. So that was an interesting angle to come

Marc Moss: at it. Yeah.

Laura King: Yeah, well, it says there’s some, you know, there’s kind of the protocol and you get pregnant that you don’t say anything for three months until the day he is solid. , I love that idea. Well, you know, I’m pregnant and you know, whether or [00:15:00] not it comes to term, this is what’s happening and, and I’m going to be public about it.

Marc Moss: I like that. Yeah. It’s, it’s incredible.

Marc Moss: Anything else you want to say about your story?

Laura King: No, I just, I really appreciated the opportunity of that, that you gave of having a platform to tell it. So thank you for that.

Marc Moss: Oh, you’re welcome. I mean, that’s what I’m doing.

Laura King: Well, yeah. And it was just really fun, you know, it’s fun having these events and hearing everyone’s stories in the community, , it connects you to people in a way that is not always available when you’re just socializing,

Marc Moss: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Laura.

Laura King: Thank you so much. This was really fun to talk to you. Yeah.

Marc Moss: And seriously with your new project. If, if there’s anything that you think that I might be able to have. Please call me or text or email, whatever, and let me know how I can help.

Laura King: Awesome.

Marc Moss: All right, well, [00:16:00] have a fantastic morning. You bet. Bye bye.

Marc Moss:

Thanks, Laura. And thank *you* for listening today. 

 

Next week, I catch up with Neil McMahon

 

Neil McMahon:  Get some kind of, uh, go into some kind of line of work. That’s a lot more conducive that’s not the right word, but, , you know, what that means would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s, uh, like Michael Connolly was a journalist, a lot of people have done that.

obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever, uh, something besides swinging a hammer, Uh, you know, which I did for much of my life….

 

Marc Moss: 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

 

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of tile. If you need tile work done. Give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my [email protected]

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was a little broadcasting company. Learn more at missoulabroadcasting.com. Float Missoula. Learn more at floatmsladotcomandmissoulaevents.net podcast production by me, Marc Moss. Remember to get your tickets for the next in-person tell us something storytelling.

I live at the Willma on March 30th, tickets and more information at logjampresents.com. To learn more about tell us something, please visit tell us something.org.

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

Transcript : March 22

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

Teresa Waldorf: March 22nd.

I’m not flying to Phoenix

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

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

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

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

Owners and employees learn [email protected] Announcing call first storytellers. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next. Tell us something storytelling live event. The theme is stoned. Which pretty much leaves things wide open. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is February 7th, which leads me to tell you about the live event itself. We will be in person for the first time since August, 2021. We’re running at 75% capacity, which allows for listeners to really spread out at the Wilma. Learn more and get your [email protected], Theresa and Rosie built a common story using their different experiences during the pandemic.

They call their story March 22nd. Thanks for listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: guess I’m going to have.

Teresa Waldorf: March

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

Teresa Waldorf: break.

Having no idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: but I know it’s.

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: about his mom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay. What

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: touch me.

You guys met, Christians

Rosie Ayers: are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: and you have got to find us

Rosie Ayers: some toilet paper.

What Theresa is going to have to give us

Teresa Waldorf: some Twitter. Luckily,

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

Teresa Waldorf: the mother load.

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

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

Rosie Ayers: of my head, industrial

Teresa Waldorf: scratchy toilet paper.

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: paper on the bathroom floor.

Rosie Ayers: And now it’s summer.

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

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

And I’m going I’m.

Just weeded.

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: mow my lawn

or about this

Rosie Ayers: habit. You can just weed,

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: more. We’re just putting.

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: And everybody is safe.

Seven

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: school. Just keep your camera up.

Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and

Rosie Ayers: he says, I haven’t done

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

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

And then it was winter, the winter of our discontent

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: Turkey.

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

Teresa Waldorf: later.

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

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

Rosie Ayers: three

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

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

And I wake up Christmas Eve morning feeling like

Teresa Waldorf: shit,

Rosie Ayers: and I go get that COVID test.

Teresa Waldorf: And there I am quarantining

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

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

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: Oh, we got

Teresa Waldorf: 30 seconds to bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: being here with you being

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: we’re going to

Teresa Waldorf: do it even though.

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

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

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

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

If

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

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

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

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

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s

Joyce from

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Tell us something, learn [email protected]

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

 

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

Transcript : Forward to Better - Part 1

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

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

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

Sara Close: Talking about kids, about love…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc: Thanks, Sasha.

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Close: Universal hotline.

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lauren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: No.

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: Where does it come from?

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: I just said, okay,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: Thank you for that.

Marc: Thanks, Paul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen Certa: And I said, yes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And thanks to all of our in-kind sponsors:

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

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

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

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

 

Bonnie Bishop talks about what it was like to be the first person in Tell Us Something history to share her story in a live-streamed setting. We talk about the pandemic, about collective grief and about what it means to begin returning to life beyond quarantine. After our conversation, you can hear the story as Bonnie shared it on the Tell Us Something live-streamed stage.
In this episode of the podcast, I chatted by phone with Arthur Weatherwax, a Native of the Blackfeet tribe, about his story, and the experience that he had telling it. Arthur has a traumatic brain injury, and listening to a guy who had to re-learn everything about life, I mean everything...it’s really something. His perspectives made me reflect on how I live, and reminded me to seek out joy, celebrate gratitude, and to laugh. I hope you’ll reflect some too, after listening to us chat.
In this podcast episode, you’ll hear stories about an unpleasant ear discovery in the middle of the night, an unlikely savior as our storyteller falls out of a tree, and the very first open adoption in the state of Montana.

Transcript : "Tipping Point" Part 1

00:00
welcome to tell us something
00:11
annabelle winnie who moved to montana
00:14
nine years ago
00:15
in part because allegedly she only lives
00:18
in states
00:19
that start with the letter m
00:22
previously she lived in maine
00:24
massachusetts
00:26
and new mexico she currently works as a
00:30
clinical social worker in private
00:32
practice
00:33
past jobs have included research
00:34
biologist
00:36
waitress and burrito roller please
00:39
welcome
00:39
annabel winnie
00:49
thank you okay
00:55
last august i was blissfully asleep
00:59
when i became aware of something
01:01
happening in my left
01:03
ear i rolled over
01:06
put my left ear down on the pillow and
01:09
waited for the water to drain out of my
01:11
ear
01:13
when i was growing up i spent a lot of
01:15
time in pools and the ocean and lakes
01:17
and i was always getting water in my ear
01:20
i sat up in bed when i realized that i
01:23
didn’t go to the river that day
01:25
and i don’t even think i took a shower
01:26
before i went to bed
01:28
and the sensation in my ear was
01:30
increasingly becoming
01:32
more agitating it was like i was a deep
01:36
sea
01:36
diver coming up from the bottom of the
01:39
ocean
01:40
as i became more and more awake and
01:42
realized that something really weird was
01:44
happening in my left ear
01:46
i sat up and tried to shake it out
01:51
i’m a very logical person and when the
01:54
sensations in my ear
01:56
didn’t match what i expected to happen
02:00
i got really agitated i shook again
02:03
i expected there to be water in my ear
02:05
and i thought it should
02:07
slosh up on the left side
02:11
but that didn’t happen it was
02:13
unpredictable and chaotic
02:14
and it burned a little bit and it was
02:16
really starting to freak me out
02:18
i wondered if maybe climate chaos was
02:20
affecting my left ear what if my brain
02:22
was melting and i might actually be
02:24
dying
02:26
and then it occurred to me i was alone
02:29
my family was away even the dog was gone
02:34
for the first time in almost 20 years i
02:36
was having a crisis in the middle of the
02:38
night and i was by myself
02:41
it flashed in my mind in my pajamas with
02:44
this insane chaos in my ear
02:46
i could get in my car and drive to the
02:47
emergency room no
02:49
i’m not gonna do that i got up walked
02:52
out of the bedroom to figure it out
02:55
but before i can tell you that story
02:58
i need to tell you this story
03:02
why did i do that i could have called an
03:05
ambulance i could have called 9-1-1
03:08
in moments like this when our field of
03:10
depth is so
03:11
thin we have our animal instincts
03:15
and we have those paths already laid
03:17
down in our brain
03:20
really i think i did what i did because
03:22
i’m from boston
03:23
yeah i’m from new england i’m a mass
03:25
hole oh yeah
03:27
oh yeah and you know we’re tough
03:30
you know
03:31
oh yeah that’s what i’m talking about
03:33
right we take care of
03:35
right because when i learned how to
03:38
drive
03:38
i learned how to drive in a city where
03:40
the pedestrians not only thought
03:42
they owned the sidewalk but also the
03:43
street
03:44
so i’m driving a stick shift the road’s
03:47
probably icy and somebody’s going to
03:49
step out in front of my car in any
03:50
moment
03:51
i am tough man you know the few times i
03:55
skied really i could have just brought
03:57
my ice skates
03:59
i could have gone to the top of the ski
04:01
hill laced them up and just skated down
04:03
the hill
04:04
because that was so icy you know
04:08
what you call snow out here
04:12
that’s styrofoam oh yeah
04:15
this at home right that’s like
04:18
cheesecake
04:19
because the ocean’s right there it’s
04:21
really dense right so when i was a kid
04:23
we get a big dump of snow
04:25
it’s like your car ensconced in two feet
04:28
of cheesecake
04:29
right by the time you shovel that
04:32
off your car
04:33
and you clear out the spot that is
04:35
yours
04:36
you own it for the whole winter
04:39
oh yeah god forbid you actually have to
04:42
get in your car and drive somewhere
04:44
it’s the land of the law you can put a
04:46
trash can
04:48
or a lawn chair in your spot it’s yours
04:54
i mean why else does anybody own a lawn
04:57
chair
05:00
right hey jimmy
05:03
you better go down to the hardware store
05:04
and get me a lawn chair winner’s coming
05:06
they’re going to sell out right
05:11
yeah my neighbor man when i grew up
05:15
one day i saw her somebody took a spot
05:19
she left the can there they moved it
05:21
they took her spot
05:22
oh she was so pissed when she got back i
05:25
watched her
05:26
she when that guy came to move his car
05:28
she stood out on the porch
05:30
she gave him the evil eye and then she
05:32
told him exactly what she
05:34
thought of him right to his face
05:35
right because that’s what happens in
05:37
boston people will tell you to your
05:39
face that they don’t like you
05:43
i’m not going to get in my car and drive
05:45
myself to the emergency room
05:47
no way the thing is though
05:50
we’re really more like m ms you know we
05:53
got this hard exterior
05:55
but inside it’s all soft chocolate
05:58
right so i’m gonna take care of this
06:01
on my own
06:02
but inside i am a mess i am so
06:05
panicked
06:08
i leave my room and i need my phone
06:11
right because it’s got my flashlight so
06:13
i get my phone go in the bathroom turn
06:15
on the light
06:16
flashlight nothing it’s just an ear i’m
06:19
freaking out
06:20
i’m really freaking out and it’s kind of
06:22
starting to hurt i take a picture
06:24
i expect to see blood or maybe like an
06:27
alien tentacle it’s nothing it’s just my
06:30
ear
06:31
oddly i get this strange picture like
06:35
it’s like the scream what am i going to
06:37
do jesus christ what’s going on
06:38
i got a little basket i got earplug i
06:41
don’t have earplugs i have nail clippers
06:43
and i have
06:44
tweezers and i start to go from my ear
06:46
thank god
06:48
for sanity no tweezers in eardrums not a
06:50
good idea what am i going to do what am
06:51
i going to do
06:52
and then i see the bottle thank god my
06:55
kids
06:56
had lice
06:59
thank god it was august because every
07:03
august
07:04
my kids get lice right
07:08
so there’s this bottle of rubbing
07:10
alcohol on the counter because my kids
07:11
have lice
07:13
why because it makes me feel better
07:16
rubbing alcohol does nothing for lice
07:19
nothing
07:20
it doesn’t stop them for a
07:22
second
07:25
so i got my paper towel but it makes me
07:27
feel better i got my paper towel i put
07:28
the rubbing alcohol and i
07:30
comb my kid’s hair for over and
07:33
then i clean it off
07:34
on the rubbing alcohol makes me feel
07:36
better and in my head i’m still like
07:37
water pool
07:38
water pool because i’m very logical
07:41
so when i was a child i always had my
07:43
little bottle half rubbing alcohol
07:46
half vinegar i put it in my ear and the
07:48
pool water would come out
07:49
right so i like get a cotton ball and
07:52
i’m squeezing then i just got the whole
07:54
goddamn bottle like
07:55
what the and i’m show i’m
07:58
shaking my head
08:01
oh my god it stops this insanity
08:05
in my ear it
08:06
stops i’m not gonna die
08:10
my children won’t be motherless
08:15
oh jesus christ i look in the sink and
08:18
it’s like crawling around it’s got like
08:20
a little
08:21
segmented body parts and it’s like
08:24
brown and reddish and it’s got these
08:26
08:27
pinchers on its head
08:49
it’s an
08:56
for christ’s sake so what do i do
09:01
booyah i kill it with my thumb
09:04
i smush it it’s dead
09:08
oh my god i do find some earplugs i’m
09:12
not playing
09:14
i get some cheap dime store earplugs and
09:16
you know like three hours later i fall
09:19
back asleep
09:24
it took that long
09:29
a couple weeks later early september i
09:30
go to two back-to-back shows
09:33
right here at the wilma so fun but you
09:36
know
09:37
i’m middle aged so i have my expensive
09:40
earplugs in my expensive rock concert
09:44
ear plugs in
09:45
so i go i have fun the day after the
09:47
second show
09:48
i take my earplugs out and i got a
09:50
little buzz in my ear you know that
09:51
happens whatever
09:54
a couple weeks later it’s still there
09:55
that’s kind of weird a month later
09:57
it’s still there and i’m like what is
10:00
going on and then it occurs to me
10:02
it’s that earwig
10:06
he up my ear damn
10:09
what am i gonna do i could go to a
10:10
specialist i could pay a lot of money
10:12
he’d look in my ear and say
10:13
yeah you had an earwig in your ear
10:18
your hearing’s damaged you know what let
10:21
that go
10:24
so i do i keep going it’s only recently
10:27
that i even
10:28
thought to stop and listen
10:31
it’s still there i have a little funk in
10:33
my left ear
10:35
because i had an earwig in it but i got
10:38
it out
10:40
and now if you ever wake up in the
10:43
middle of the night
10:48
and you think you’re going crazy
10:52
you will know just what to do
10:57
thank you
11:12
thank you annabelle susan you’ll
11:16
appreciate this
11:17
um susan told me stop reading so much
11:21
so i tried not to and i forgot to say
11:23
something that would have made
11:24
annabelle’s story
11:26
better for you tell us something has
11:28
adult themes in adult language
11:36
forgot to say that earlier
11:40
sorry
11:45
feather sherman took art classes since
11:47
she was six years old
11:48
at maryland institute of art then
11:52
eventually for two years at schuler
11:54
school of fine art
11:56
she earned her bachelor’s of science in
11:58
art education from towson university in
12:00
maryland
12:01
and a masters of arts in fine arts from
12:03
the university of montana
12:05
she is passionate about peace art
12:09
music rainbow gatherings her five
12:12
awesome kids and her grandbaby ryden
12:15
blue
12:16
please welcome feather sherman
12:36
yes
12:44
from my vantage point just below the
12:48
crown of a good-sized ponderosa
12:51
on the wild side of the clearwater river
12:55
i looked out as beautiful dawn
12:59
amber dawn gradually lit the sky
13:04
and the landscape below it was
13:07
so beautiful
13:10
i thank great spirit
13:14
the life-giving force of the universe
13:17
for the miracle
13:18
of this new day i took a deep breath
13:23
butterscotch
13:26
and then my son was had gotten up and he
13:31
was starting to fix breakfast
13:33
so i started climbing down the tree to
13:35
help him
13:36
and when i got about 20 feet above the
13:38
ground
13:40
i paused ah
13:43
that first cup of coffee is going to
13:45
taste so good
13:48
just then an unknown force
13:52
kicked my left foot off the branch it
13:55
was on as hard as you kick a football
13:58
and it kicked my right it jerked my
14:01
right foot off and suddenly
14:02
i was hanging by my hands
14:06
20 feet above the ground in midair
14:10
i was wearing my work gloves that had no
14:13
buttons on them
14:15
and they were beginning to slip
14:18
well i knew i’d have to think of
14:20
something pretty quick so
14:22
i decided uh i’m strongest on my right
14:25
side so i’m gonna
14:26
hang on with my right hand and then i’ll
14:29
let go with my
14:30
left and i’ll wrap my arm around the
14:31
tree and then my other arm
14:33
and then i’ll shimmy down till i get on
14:35
some good limbs down below
14:37
i thought yeah that’s the best that’s
14:39
the best plan
14:40
so i said okay here it goes and
14:44
i let go with my left hand and as i went
14:47
to wrap
14:48
my arm around the tree my body swung out
14:51
just far enough i could just graze the
14:54
side of the tree
14:55
i could not grab the trunk
14:59
and i realized that i was going down
15:04
in a matter of seconds
15:08
my right arm my right hand slipped
15:12
and i began to fall i thought
15:16
wow 110 pounds falling 20 feet
15:20
i’m going to be going really fast when i
15:22
hit the ground
15:23
but i’m not going to know how i can lan
15:26
how how to land
15:27
until uh i discover if i’m going to get
15:29
knocked around by the limbs so
15:32
uh i’ll just count 1 1 000
15:35
to 1 000. okay i’m
15:38
almost to the ground now how am i going
15:41
to land
15:41
let’s see um i don’t want to land on my
15:44
left side because i might burst my heart
15:46
so i’m going to roll to my right a
15:47
little bit and
15:48
i’m going to want something to get
15:49
around on so i’m going to put my foot up
15:52
and uh something’s gonna have to hit
15:53
first i guess it’ll be the other one
15:56
and i’m gonna tuck up a little bit i’m
15:57
like okay
15:59
this is the best position and then a
16:02
millisecond above the ground i went oh
16:05
in this position i’m gonna break my
16:09
neck
16:11
but there’s nothing i can do
16:14
i’ll just have to do my best because
16:16
here’s the ground
16:18
and i hit my body landed on the top of
16:22
the ground
16:23
i felt absolutely no pain but all the
16:26
rest of me kept going in the same
16:28
trajectory
16:29
down down down i flew
16:32
into the earth and eventually it was
16:36
like being on a trampoline and my speed
16:38
slowed
16:39
and then i hit bottom and then boom
16:42
i was back up in my body and
16:46
then i felt the pain i’d broken my foot
16:50
and my back and actually several other
16:52
parts but those were the main injuries
16:55
and i was laying there and i thought
16:59
this is a miracle i didn’t break my neck
17:04
this is the absolute miracle and then
17:07
i saw sparkles of silver and gold in the
17:10
air
17:11
and i felt this spiritual being behind
17:14
me
17:15
supporting my head neck and shoulders
17:18
i felt like a baby eagle tucked in the
17:21
breast of my mother eagle
17:22
so safe and warm and then
17:26
the spiritual being very gently laid my
17:28
head on the ground
17:30
and i’d landed on dirt and bunch grass
17:33
no rocks
17:35
just then my son came running over the
17:37
tree and he says mom
17:38
are you okay and i said yes i’m alive
17:42
and i didn’t break my neck i’m great
17:44
look i can wield all this and he’s like
17:46
wow i said well we’re gonna have to call
17:49
the helicopter
17:50
and uh i did break my back i know that
17:54
for sure
17:55
so pretty soon they made it pretty quick
17:58
in about half an hour
18:00
and as the emts came running over the
18:02
tree
18:03
one of them looks over and he goes hey
18:05
we thought we’d find a 10 year old kid
18:07
under this tree not a 50 year old woman
18:12
i said thanks a lot you guys i’m 64.
18:21
and i’m i’m not in shock and my vitals
18:24
are normal
18:25
and they said wow that’s great how is
18:28
your head and neck
18:29
and i said they’re fine look and i
18:31
wiggled all over again to show them
18:34
and they said well we’re going to bundle
18:35
you up and take you into the hospital
18:38
so then we got to st pat’s hospital and
18:41
they
18:42
did a beautiful job stabilizing my leg
18:44
and
18:45
getting me ready to have a clamshell
18:46
brace and
18:48
about three days later the doctor came
18:50
into the
18:51
to my room and he says where are you
18:53
living right now
18:55
and i said well uh temporarily i’m in a
18:58
friend’s basement
18:59
17 steps down and
19:03
in actuality i was going through a very
19:05
difficult time in my life
19:08
and going through a very hard breakup
19:11
with my husband of 16 years
19:14
so that’s why i was down in the basement
19:16
and
19:18
and he says well you know you have a
19:21
broken back
19:22
you can’t use crutches you can’t you
19:24
can’t go there
19:25
and i said oh my friends will carry me
19:27
up and down and he’s like
19:29
no uh you’re gonna have to find another
19:32
place to stay
19:33
or we’re gonna put you in a nursing home
19:36
and i’m like oh please not that
19:38
so i called everybody i could think of
19:42
and
19:43
no one had room for me anywhere and
19:47
i fell asleep and when i woke up i felt
19:50
like i was in the bottom of this
19:52
deep dry well and i was all alone and
19:56
there was no light and no
19:57
sound and i had never felt so alone
20:01
and so helpless before in my whole life
20:07
but then i cheered up a little bit and i
20:09
said okay feather what do you need now
20:12
and i said i gotta talk to somebody who
20:14
understands what i’m going through
20:16
so i thought oh i’ll call david milgram
20:19
up in flagstaff
20:21
he’s a wonderful healer and we worked
20:23
together with grandfather david menonge
20:25
of the hopies for 10 years during the
20:27
80s
20:28
so i called up david and let him know
20:30
what had happened and he goes
20:32
oh feather you really did it this time
20:36
but here’s the good news you’re going to
20:38
recover completely
20:39
and i’ll help you i’m going to help you
20:41
with vitamins and minerals
20:43
and when we get off the phone i want you
20:46
to call this number it belongs
20:48
to a very powerful lakota medicine woman
20:51
named susan and she works behind the
20:54
scenes
20:55
she lives in colorado so give her a call
20:58
and so i did i thanked david very much
21:01
and i called susan up on the phone
21:04
and i explained to her that i was a
21:05
friend of davids and what had happened
21:07
and she goes oh wonderful
21:10
wonderful she goes i see you
21:13
you’re way up in the air and surrounded
21:16
by fire
21:18
well i was on the fourth floor st pat’s
21:20
hospital looking down at the helicopter
21:23
pad
21:23
and seven and a half years ago we were
21:26
having a really bad fire season with
21:28
idaho on fire in southern montana
21:30
and the valley was full of smoke so
21:33
i knew she saw me and then she said
21:37
i’m doing a ceremony for you right now
21:39
and you’re in the center
21:41
i’m calling in the four thunder beings
21:43
of the west because they’re the most
21:45
powerful protectorate spirits
21:47
and then seven male warrior spirits and
21:50
seven
21:51
female warrior spirits are around you
21:53
right now
21:54
and they’re going to protect you and
21:56
help you to heal
21:59
and i want you to give a spirit offering
22:01
for them before you have your food and i
22:03
said yes i’ll be happy to do that i’ve
22:05
been taught that
22:07
by black elk’s great-grandson
22:10
and then she says feel free to call me
22:12
anytime
22:14
and just before she hung out the phone
22:16
she goes oh by the way
22:18
do you know who saved your life and i
22:21
said
22:21
i have a hunch and she goes you’re right
22:24
it was your father and he’s here with me
22:26
right now
22:27
and he’s laughing and he is so
22:31
happy that he was able to help and he’s
22:34
calling you gidget gidget
22:38
i completely forgot that when i was a
22:41
little girl
22:42
my dad called me gidget because i loved
22:44
the gidget goes hawaiian
22:46
and kitchen goes to summer camp movies
22:49
and i thanked her so much and hung up
22:51
the phone and then
22:53
my dad’s spirit came right into the
22:55
hospital room
22:57
and i raised up and we hugged each other
22:59
in a beautiful golden ball
23:01
of light and love and i was able to
23:04
thank him with
23:05
all my heart
23:28
thanks feather
23:34
how we all doing yeah
23:41
greg monroe of missoula is the father of
23:44
two adopted daughters who are now adults
23:47
with children of their own
23:50
in a long career as a trial lawyer
23:52
lawyer
23:53
including 30 years as a law professor at
23:55
the university of montana
23:57
he has made storytelling the core of his
23:59
advocacy
24:00
and is awed by this ancient and
24:02
beautiful communication
24:03
please welcome greg monroe
24:18
1983 was a time of great anxiety for
24:22
me and my wife we couldn’t get pregnant
24:26
we had tried everything she had told me
24:28
a couple years earlier that her clock
24:30
was running and
24:31
if we wanted to have children we had to
24:32
get at it
24:35
and the months were tough
24:38
we were making love according to formula
24:40
it was governed by
24:41
temperatures and the time of the month
24:45
each month was started with hope and
24:48
ended in despair
24:49
ultimately our doctors said why don’t
24:52
you consider adopting
24:54
so we went to the oldest adoption agency
24:56
of the oldest of the five institutional
24:58
adoption agencies in montana
25:00
in helena chodera that was part of
25:03
chodera children’s hospital
25:05
and started with them we met a wonderful
25:08
social worker there named becky jones
25:11
and we knew what to expect we’d seen the
25:14
movies and heard the stories and we knew
25:16
that
25:16
in infant adoptions through uh
25:20
institutional adoption agencies were
25:22
totally secret
25:23
the mother gave up her child to the
25:25
agency the agency picked the parents
25:28
place the baby and she would never know
25:30
what happened to the child
25:31
and the child as the child grew up would
25:33
never know what happened or who
25:35
where she came from or who her natural
25:38
parents were
25:39
some of the agencies at that time were
25:41
helping adult children
25:43
find their birth parents if the birth
25:45
parents consented
25:48
so becky took us through a
25:51
course in adoption and to prepare us and
25:54
then
25:55
and confirmed that this was all to be
25:57
completely secret
25:59
and then told us that okay you’re
26:01
expecting
26:03
i got the call in the middle of the
26:05
afternoon in january
26:08
from becky she said your baby’s here
26:11
i was ecstatic and then she said
26:14
something ominous she said
26:16
but there’s problems i thought oh my god
26:20
is the baby blind does she have a cleft
26:22
palate
26:24
uh are there legal problems
26:28
and becky went on and told me what had
26:29
occurred
26:31
they had gone to she and the doctor i
26:33
think went to
26:35
corey’s room cory was the birth mother
26:38
she was 15 years old
26:41
and becky said to this 15 year old
26:45
you were released you’re discharged you
26:47
can go back to the florence crittenden
26:49
home
26:50
now the florence crittenden home was a
26:52
home for unwed mothers
26:54
in helena and that’s a place where
26:57
when a young woman or a girl
27:01
was starting to show that she was
27:02
pregnant could go there
27:04
and stay for months and then have her
27:06
baby and then go back to school
27:08
and make up a story about where she’d
27:10
been
27:11
so becky said you can go back to the
27:14
florence kitten home then back to your
27:15
hometown
27:16
and corey said and you’re going to place
27:20
the baby today right
27:21
and she said no we’re not going to do
27:23
that and she said well when will you
27:25
place her and she said well two or three
27:26
weeks from now
27:28
and corey said what and she said with
27:30
two or three weeks from now
27:32
and corey said no no you gotta place her
27:34
today and she said no we don’t do that
27:36
the agencies keep the baby for two or
27:38
three weeks
27:39
where will you keep the baby well in a
27:41
crib here or
27:42
we’ll put her in foster care for two or
27:43
three weeks why would you do that
27:46
well it’s a cooling off period in case
27:48
you change your mind
27:49
i’m not going to change my mind look
27:52
you’ve got to place this baby with a
27:53
mother today
27:55
and if you don’t i’m going to take her
27:56
out here and parent her myself and i
27:58
don’t want to do that
28:01
becky said corey there’s something i
28:03
haven’t told you my mother died in north
28:05
dakota today
28:07
and my father is elderly and needs me
28:10
how about if i go to north dakota and i
28:12
take care of things with the family
28:14
and take care of him and i’ll come back
28:15
next week and we’ll place the baby
28:18
no you have to place the baby right now
28:21
it’s got to be placed today
28:25
and she was in a jam becky was
28:29
she said listen i’m going to have to go
28:31
talk to others in the adoption agency
28:33
here we’ll decide what to do we’ve never
28:35
been faced with this before
28:37
and corey said yes do that and while
28:41
you’re at it
28:42
i want to meet the parents i want to see
28:44
this baby
28:45
into the parent’s arms and
28:48
and i want it today and she said becky
28:52
said
28:52
we don’t do that no adoption agency does
28:54
that
28:55
you can’t meet the parents and she said
28:57
listen i’m going to take the baby out of
28:59
here.
29:00
so the agency had no choice she met with
29:03
them and they decided
29:04
they’d never been faced with this before
29:07
and
29:08
they decided that the only thing to do
29:10
was call us
29:11
so on the phone becky had two questions
29:13
of me one
29:15
can you come to helena right now and get
29:17
your baby
29:18
and two will you meet the birth mother
29:23
instantly i said you bet we’ll do both
29:24
and you to talk to my wife
29:26
and i hung the phone up called frontier
29:30
airlines
29:31
and as luck would have it they had a
29:32
flight leaving immediately
29:34
i picked the phone up to call my wife
29:36
and all the power and central billings
29:38
went out
29:39
and i couldn’t call her on our set so i
29:42
jumped in the car raced to her office
29:43
she was a cpa clear across town
29:46
ran in and said our baby’s here
29:50
and we we hugged we tried and uh
29:54
they were raised up to the hospital and
29:58
saint vincent hospital gave or
30:01
lent babies infant seats to
30:04
parents who were taking children out of
30:05
the hospital because that was back in
30:07
the days when people still drove around
30:09
in cars
30:10
carrying babies in their arms
30:13
so we flew to helena and we met uh
30:16
we went to the restaurant we’d agreed to
30:17
meet up near the airport
30:19
and becky was there and the
30:22
little girl corey was there cory was
30:25
carrying a
30:27
stuffed panda bear and in his arms
30:30
with a with a baby stuffed panda bear
30:35
and she and she handed it to us
30:38
and said this is for your baby
30:41
and we had a wonderful dinner i don’t
30:44
know how i got to dinner as you might
30:46
yes i’m very emotional
30:50
but corey was very engaging
30:53
self-confident we loved her it was
30:54
really great
30:55
and we had a very good time with her and
30:58
we uh
30:59
and the funny thing we asked her about
31:00
her interest and she said
31:02
i love riding horses and we said
31:05
well do you have a horse of your own she
31:06
said no i go to fairmont all the time so
31:08
we knew she was from anaconda
31:10
and so we agreed
31:14
to go where the baby was and take
31:16
pictures all together
31:17
and then we take her back to the
31:18
florence crittenden home which we did it
31:20
was really fun taking pictures
31:22
we went back to the floor and
31:23
straightened them home had left
31:26
corey went into the home and you can
31:28
imagine what you had to say
31:30
and the word spread like wildfire what
31:33
this 15 year old had done
31:37
skipping ahead we there were there were
31:39
legal problems as a matter of fact
31:41
corey had exercised her right of privacy
31:44
and refused to identify the father
31:46
frankly she told a story that was pretty
31:48
bogus
31:50
and so
31:54
about a year less than a year
31:58
after these events
32:01
corey wrote a letter to the agency to
32:03
becky
32:04
and penciled out this letter saying i
32:07
was just wondering
32:10
i need to see the baby and the parents
32:12
one more time to make sure
32:16
that she’s safe and secure so
32:20
and she said i know this might not be
32:22
possible and it’s okay if it isn’t
32:25
but if we can i’d really like to do it
32:27
around her first birthday
32:29
and she signed it and then across the
32:30
bottom of the letter she wrote
32:32
big letters please
32:37
and i said to the agency how would we
32:40
ever say no to that
32:42
so we drove to helena on a saturday
32:45
and we had all agreed to meet at show
32:47
there and we drove up to the curb and
32:49
there was only one car parked there
32:51
and that was from anaconda of course and
32:53
we went in and we met corey she looked
32:55
wonderful
32:56
and she was just great and she had
33:00
a boyfriend with her and he was blonde
33:04
he had a broad nose just like the
33:06
adorable nose my daughter had
33:09
and frankly i took one look at him and
33:11
thought this is the father of this baby
33:14
we had a wonderful meeting with him and
33:17
i suspected that we might hear more from
33:19
corey and by the way
33:21
we were advised before dinner and before
33:24
this meeting
33:26
that we wouldn’t identify use no last
33:28
names and would not talk about where we
33:30
were from
33:31
and because we had to maintain the
33:33
secrecy
33:36
so on that saturday
33:39
we met took pictures and all that and
33:42
then we did something
33:43
that was not scripted and i don’t know
33:47
to this day how
33:48
the agency felt about it but we agreed
33:51
with corey that we wouldn’t get together
33:54
again
33:55
and have no contact until andrea was old
33:58
enough
33:59
to ask questions and that the day that
34:01
she asked to meet her birth mother we’d
34:03
get back in touch with the agency we get
34:05
together
34:06
and that’s exactly what happened and i
34:07
think it was when andrew was about five
34:09
and a half years old
34:10
and we got together with her and both of
34:13
our daughters
34:14
had grown up knowing their birth mothers
34:17
and having
34:18
whatever contact they wanted to have
34:19
with them and
34:21
uh the word spread so fast
34:25
that all of the agencies were forced to
34:28
change
34:30
and today in montana adoption within
34:33
just a couple of years
34:34
it became policy that if you wouldn’t
34:36
meet the birth parents you went to the
34:38
bottom of the priority pile
34:39
or you didn’t get a baby at all and i
34:42
think that we’ve all learned
34:44
in the meantime that it is so much more
34:47
human
34:48
to have open adoptions and for all the
34:50
ups and downs it’s better to see the
34:52
road map
34:53
and better for children’s identity thank
35:00
you
35:17
thank you john
35:21
thank you to all of our storytellers so
35:22
far tonight
35:24
uh thank you to our american sign
35:26
language interpreters as well bonnie
35:27
curian and denise may
35:35
thank you to our title sponsor the good
35:37
food store and thank you to
35:38
all of our sponsors logjam presents the
35:41
wilma
35:42
cabinetparts.com missoula broadcasting
35:45
company
35:46
axis physical therapy clearwater credit
35:49
union
35:50
gecko designs enlightened labs
35:54
filthy design and missoula bone and
35:56
joint when you frequent these businesses
35:58
please thank them for their support of
36:00
tell us something and of live
36:02
storytelling in missoula and thank you
36:04
for being here tonight without you
36:07
tell us something can’t happen without
36:09
your loves
36:10
your open hearts and your open ears if
36:13
you are interested in potentially
36:14
joining tell us something
36:16
as a board member be in touch you can
36:18
contact us
36:19
via the website at telesumming.org
36:22
finally
36:25
the next tell us something event is
36:26
march 25th
36:28
the theme is lost and found we are to
36:32
yeah
36:34
we are taking story pitches for that
36:35
right now to pick your story go to tell
36:38
us something.org and click tell a story
36:40
you’ll get all the information you need
36:42
right now right there
36:44
we’re going to take a 10-minute
36:45
intermission grab a drink stretch your
36:46
legs
36:47
come back in 10 minutes for audience
36:49
participation thank you so much
36:58
welcome back
37:04
i would like to introduce you to my two
37:06
friends
37:08
lauren and ryder who are going to walk
37:09
us through the audience participation
37:11
portion of the evening
37:13
does one of you want to step over here
37:14
so i can get the mic
37:17
down right
37:20
got it angle you
37:24
all right so this is the first audience
37:26
participation story
37:29
tipping point or tipping over i woke up
37:31
in shivers after a night of drinking
37:33
tequila and eating masculine
37:36
i shook off a layer of frost and found
37:38
that i was chained to my motorcycle
37:40
what the i walked to the bar and
37:43
grill in
37:43
alberton and ordered breakfast the guy
37:46
behind the bar slid
37:47
slid my coffee down the bar soon
37:49
followed by eggs and bacon
37:53
how rude i thought i tossed in my money
37:56
and walked out
37:57
the ride home was freezing so when i got
37:59
home i curled up in bed until late
38:00
afternoon
38:02
upon rising i went to the bathroom after
38:04
peeing
38:05
i looked in the mirror it was shocked to
38:06
see that i had burrito puke in my bushy
38:08
beard
38:10
i no longer drink tequila
38:18
one day my husband said to me if you
38:20
can’t be passionate about me
38:22
and this life then you should leave
38:25
today
38:26
that was 20 years ago and i’ve never
38:28
seen him since
38:38
all right it was mid-august i was in a
38:40
large faded orange
38:42
orange colored raft from the 1970s named
38:44
marge
38:45
about to voyage down tumbleweed a rapid
38:48
in the alberton gorge
38:49
i forgot to mention it was my first time
38:51
rowing ever
38:53
i will let the pictures say the rest
38:59
i spent three years living in
39:00
minneapolis where it’s so cold in the
39:02
winter it hurts your face
39:04
my commute to work was about 45 minutes
39:07
in start and stop traffic
39:09
it was my third winter there and i was
39:11
driving home in the freezing snow
39:13
i called my boyfriend and told him i had
39:15
to make a change
39:16
i couldn’t do another winter there he
39:18
was on board we made a list of cities we
39:20
would want to move to
39:22
and started applying for jobs we both
39:24
got jobs in missoula within a week of
39:26
each other
39:27
having have lived here together for the
39:29
past two years and we’re getting married
39:31
here this summer
39:39
well i’m not comfortable sharing this
39:41
story on social media i do think it’s a
39:43
story that needs to be told
39:48
as a wayward but well-intentioned 17
39:50
year old i brought my girlfriend
39:52
now wife of 41 years home a half hour
39:55
later than
39:56
her curfew her father put her luggage on
39:58
the front porch
40:00
even i an obtuse rider of the
40:02
testosterone tsunami
40:04
figured out the message instead of
40:06
slinking however my wife and i went
40:08
in woke up my new in-laws and had it out
40:11
with
40:12
uh headed out with them regarding my
40:13
intentions
40:16
this month our nine and five-year-old
40:18
granddaughters will
40:20
join us at my father-in-law’s house for
40:22
christmas and i am attending tonight’s
40:24
tell us something with my daughter who
40:25
remains a golden light of my life
40:28
thanks
40:35
it was the eve of my birthday as i
40:38
tipped into my 30s i found myself
40:40
14 000 feet in the air strapped to a
40:43
heavily tattooed stranger
40:46
it was then that i realized that i had
40:48
passed the point of no return
40:50
this was my tipping point
41:01
seems more like a tip than a story but
41:04
moving the decimal one place to the left
41:06
that’s ten percent
41:08
double it for nice gratuity that’s my
41:10
tipping point
41:27
november 8 2016.
41:43
in high school my daughter used to put
41:44
her clothes in the dryer to warm her
41:46
clothes up
41:47
every morning i finally snapped and
41:49
started turning off the dryer breaker
41:57
i had forty dollars in my pocket and i
41:59
had not yet made my destination
42:01
having traveled from missoula to zurich
42:04
switzerland
42:05
it was 10 pm i was 19 and still had
42:08
miles to go
42:10
would i make it where would i sleep
42:20
when i had nothing more i could give you
42:22
and you couldn’t even give me the time
42:24
that was my tipping point
42:28
thanks guys
42:56
do
43:15
you