LBGTQ

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

Transcript : Close to the Edge - Part 2

Marc Moss

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

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

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

Kathleen Kennedy

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

Susan Waters

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

Annabelle Winnie

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

Amanda Taylor

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

Marc Moss

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Kathleen.

 

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

 

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

 

Susan Waters

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And this is all I’m wearing. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Susan.

 

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

 

Coming up after the break,

 

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

 

Annabelle Winnie

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

 

Marc Moss

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

 

Amanda Taylor

 

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

Marc Moss

 

Stay with us.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Annabelle Winnie

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

03a p2 Annabelle Winnie.wav

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s true. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Marc Moss

Thanks, Annabelle.

 

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

 

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

 

Amanda Taylor

 

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

 

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

 

Um, and I would just hit love on those posts 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Woo! 

 

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

 

And, um,  It was. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And she said nothing. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Um, 

 

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

 

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

 

exfoliating my face. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Marc Moss

 

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

 

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

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Neighbors". Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a packed stadium on June 16, 2023 at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field in Missoula, MT in collaboration with Missoula Pride. You'll hear stories about a verbal love letter to his grandmother, leading with love, making compassionate choices, and a lifechanging hike to Hop Lake in the Big Hole Valley of Montana.

Transcript : Neighbors - Part 2

Neighbors Part 2

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We’re currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. This week on the podcast.

[00:00:29] Devin Carpenter: Uh, I noticed that there is a woman standing outside my bedroom, tapping on the window and holding this white bag in the air. And then I get excited because I realize this is not just some woman.

This is Mimi. This is my grandma. And what I need to do is go very quietly, let her in the house. And I go let Mimi in the front door and we sit down and we open up this white bag. And we share a couple glazed donut holes, just the two of us before we go wake up everyone [00:01:00] else and then share with them as well.

[00:01:02] Sarah Black: The best explanation that I have for this is that it’s like I was walking down this path and it’s nighttime. And queerness is like a house, with the lights on, and I can see the people inside, and I want to go in, but I don’t know those people, and I don’t live in that house, and the door is closed. And then I met Louis.

[00:01:31] Whitney Peper: And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride? And Tracy’s

[00:01:34] Cathy Scholtens: like, yeah, get in the car. And I’m like,

[00:01:37] Whitney Peper: whoa, no, no, no, no. And I, I like, barricade the door and trap him inside. And Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me. And I go, JP, call the cops. And JP’s like, no, we’re not calling the

[00:01:51] Cathy Scholtens: cops.

And we see this hawk coming up the North Ridge, and she’s floating on those drafts, and just floating and floating, [00:02:00] and pretty soon, she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity boogity, new age, woo woo, mystical girl, I’m not, look at me, oh my god, okay?

Our

[00:02:18] Marc Moss: storytellers share their true personal story on the theme, Neighbors. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience June 16th, 2003 at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field in Missoula, Montana. We are proud to have partnered with Missoula Pride for this event, which featured six queer voices and two allies.

At the event, I acknowledge that Tell Us Something has a lot of privilege. We welcome all respectful voices and at this event. We used our privilege to elevate marginalized forces. And if I say that I must in good faith, give up the microphone. So I did two members of the Missoula queer community took over the MC duties for the evening to honor and respect the work that they did.

They will follow up each [00:03:00] story on today’s podcast. Cara Rivera and Devin Carpenter were the MCs that evening.

Tell us something acknowledges with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations. Their profound connection to the earth and its resources has left an indelible mark on the landscape we now call home.

In recognizing their enduring legacy, we are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving its ecosystems, and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve this precious land for future generations, fostering a harmonious coexistence with nature that celebrates our shared heritage.

We take this moment to honor the land It’s native people and the stories that they share with us. Our first story comes to us from [00:04:00] Devin Carpenter, who shares a verbal love letter to his grandmother, who taught him to be a good neighbor and to be bold, he calls his story Mimi on my Shoulder. Thanks for listening.

[00:04:17] Devin Carpenter: So it’s about eight o’clock in the morning on a typical Saturday and seven year old me is fast asleep. And into my dreams, I start to hear this sort of subtle yet persistent tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And as I wake up, I noticed that there’s a woman standing outside my bedroom, tapping on the window and holding this white bag in the air.

And then I get excited because I realize this is not just some woman. This is Mimi. This is my grandma. Uh, and what I need to do is go very quietly, let her in the house. Uh, and so I very carefully creep down the wooden bunk bed, [00:05:00] uh, so I don’t wake up my little brother Austin, who’s sleeping below. I sneak past my little brother Zachary’s bedroom, past my parents bedroom, and I go let Mimi in the front door.

And we sit down and we open up this white bag and we share a couple glazed donut holes. Just the two of us before we go wake up everyone else and then share with them as well. And this is just one of the many silly little things that my grandmother and I would do together as a kid. Um, I am extremely close to Mimi.

You see, I’m the oldest of seven grandchildren. So by default, I’m the favorite. Um, and, uh, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really realized, uh, just how profound of an impact Mimi has had on my life, and how I choose to show up in the world. Um, and what it really boils down to, are two lessons. The [00:06:00] first is to be a good neighbor.

Uh, you see, I grew up in the same small town, Lompoc, California, where Vandenberg Air Force Base is, that my mom and her two sisters grew up in. And so Mimi and Papa have lived in the same place for almost 50 years and have really built a community of people around them. Uh, their house sits up kind of on a corner, raised above everyone else’s, and as you stand at the kitchen sink, you look out across the lawn that my grandpa zero scaped over the years and past the hedges where the blue bellied lizards, you know, the ones that if you try to catch them, their tail rips off, um, where they would sun in the summertime, and you can see kind of the whole neighborhood out where everything is.

And what I noticed over sort of observing my grandmother is just how Very small interactions can lead to really meaningful relationships. And things like Mrs. Pickles next door coming over to bring over the Sunday paper because they would share it among [00:07:00] all kinds of ladies in the neighborhood so they could get the most coupons because they all use different brands and so they were maximizing their coupons.

Or if it was Mimi sending me across the street to go visit Ruthie because she could see me go all the way across the street and so I’d go hang out with Ruthie and she usually had some kind of sweet treat to give me. Or is my grandmother making jam from her boysenberry bushes and giving it to the other neighbors?

Um, and these sorts of small interactions can lead to a type of community where you are sort of forced to rely on other people, but it’s a two way street. You’re, you’re also providing something to others and that builds into something larger. The second lesson was… It’s to live boldly. And boldness can take shape in many forms.

Uh, Mimi was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, um, and as she started to lose her hair, rather than letting that sort of demoralize her, she decided to be silly about it. And so she would [00:08:00] hide costumes around the house and would wear them at the most inopportune times. Um, so you’d be sitting at the dinner table and next thing you know she’d pull out a pair of Groucho Marx sunglasses with the big nose and the mustache.

Or she would wear one of those furline trapper john hats to church. Um, or she would bring, uh, boa, uh, feather boas to her exercise class so that everyone could wear one and be a little silly. Boldness is also sassy, too, and so one particular time, this was in Colorado, we moved there when I was 10, we’re at the commissary on base and this woman, uh, is not using good grocery store etiquette.

Uh, so Mimi nicknames her the General’s Wife because the only person with the audacity to act like that must be the General’s Wife. And she, General’s Wife leaves her cart in the middle of the aisle and wanders away, and so Mimi takes it. And hides it a couple aisles in the other direction. , uh, and I mortified running the other direction as well, [00:09:00] and it’s this kind of boldness that I really have taken with me as well.

Uh, 2008 was a big year for my family. Not only did the cancer happen, but we were also moving to Montana. Um, I was starting college and my family was. being stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Um, and so this was really the first time where I was forced with figuring out how I wanted to exist. I was moving out on my own, starting college.

It’s when I started really exploring my sexuality. It’s when I figured out how I wanted to take up space and use my voice for social justice and activism. Um, and I also had to decide what kind of friends I wanted to have and how I wanted to build that community for myself. Um, and so I really found my friends in the music scene here, and the best way that I can explain this is, again, through a series of seemingly small interactions that cascade into larger things, and so it can be as simple as being in the pit at a concert, and you see someone who had one too many mushroom chocolates, and you offer them water, and then [00:10:00] you talk to them, and you add them on social media, and then Months later you’re looking for a ride to go to a mountain party in Billings and they know someone who’s going and so you hop in the car with these strangers and talk for the next six hours as you drive to Billings and then you spend the weekend surviving at a rave in the forest and you get to know them through those interactions and not only is that being a good neighbor but it’s also quite bold to do those kinds of things and so this really comes to a head for me.

Uh, in one particular moment, it was a typical Saturday, uh, I was in the alleyway behind the Badlander, um, and I wasn’t, uh, none of my really close friends were there, but people I knew, some of these acquaintances were there, and I noticed that there were these people who were talking about me, they were actually, they were making fun of the clothes that I was wearing, it’s actually this jacket is what they were talking about, um, and they were using some not so nice words about how flamboyantly I was dressed, um, and so.

I did the thing that [00:11:00] Mimi would do and I yelled back at them. Um, and next thing I know, I, there’s a semi circle of men standing around me, uh, demanding that I apologize to them. And, uh, the people around me were encouraging me to apologize. Um, and I will never forget the moment. Where I consciously decided I would rather get beat up in this alleyway than apologize to these

[00:11:29] Whitney Peper: people.

[00:11:35] Devin Carpenter: And I didn’t know it then, but I know now that Mimi was standing behind me saying, those are not good neighbors. Be bold. And thankfully two people who I knew a little bit, maybe not super well, Nico and Tiffany. And,

[00:12:00] as luck would have it, we’ve actually become great friends. Nico has tattooed Mimi’s handwriting on my body, and Tiffany, who’s here, I just spent the night in the emergency room with her when she broke her collarbone a couple weeks ago. And so we are still very good friends. And I wish that the story ended here, uh, but there was one more lesson that Mimi had to teach me.

Um, I mentioned that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, um, and that continued over the years with different kinds and strokes and things and just this past February I got the call that I have been dreading for over a decade. And my mom told me that I should get on a plane and I should pack a suit.

And so I went with the intention of being there for two weeks. Um, my parents from Denver, me from Montana, my aunt Karen from DC, my aunt Julie from Northern California, all arrived in that same driveway that we [00:13:00] spent our childhood in with the hedges and the lizards within a matter of moments. And seven hours later, as we were arguing over who was going to stay awake to give Mimi her medicine, she died.

And in the chaos that ensued in the days to come, I found myself standing in the kitchen, trying to look at anything besides anyone else’s face. And so I did the logical thing and just started reading everything that was on the refrigerator. And I came across a magnet that said, Angels are sometimes disguised as neighbors.

[00:13:54] Kera Rivera: I’m not crying, you’re crying. Devin Carpenter is a Colorado [00:14:00] Tannin who has lived in Pennsylvania and New York and is joined tonight by his mom, Patty, and his dad, Jeff, who did not know he was telling this story. Growing up on a military base and moving throughout his life has greatly influenced the way Devin sees the world and how he approaches relationships with others.

Devin calls Missoula home and has been deeply involved in building communities through activism and social engagement since he arrived here to start college at the University of Montana in 2008. Devin left Montana in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Penn State and found his way right back to take on his current role as the director of new student success at UM.

In his free time, Devin is likely listening to his record collection, cooking a meal from scratch, drinking a shady at the former Kettle House Southside with his friends, dancing in the dark, or some combination of all

[00:14:55] Marc Moss: four. Our next storyteller is Sarah Black. [00:15:00] Sarah leaves her husband for another love and another life.

Her parents hear the news with a lot of questions and a lot of grace. Though, she isn’t as graceful when her spouse brings unexpected news to her. When she leads with love, she knows she’s hearing the news the best way that she can. Sarah calls her story, Lead with Love. Thanks for listening.

[00:15:27] Sarah Black: There’s a path that I was supposed to follow. Um, I was supposed to marry a cisgender man. They don’t specify cisgendered, but it’s just assumed that that’s what they’re talking about. Cause there’s no other kind, right? I was supposed to have kids, eventually grandkids, and me and this man were supposed to grow old together.

I wasn’t sure if this was the right path for me. [00:16:00] Um, I thought it might be, because I did, actually, fall in love with, and then marry a cisgender man. But I was also queer. Um, it didn’t complicate things right away, because I didn’t know what that looked like for me. Um, I… I didn’t have a lot of role models when I was younger, and, um, the ones that I had I couldn’t really relate to.

The best explanation that I have for this is that it’s like I was walking down this path, and it’s night time, and, Queerness is like a house with the lights on and I can see the people inside and I want to go in, but I don’t know those people and I don’t live in that house [00:17:00] and the door is closed. And then I met Lewis and the door opened and it turns out that I do live there and I do know those

[00:17:13] Whitney Peper: people.

[00:17:21] Sarah Black: So then it got a little complicated because, um, I still loved this man that I married. Um, but I was also falling in love with Louis.

I, um, I felt like my marriage was unraveling. I would have kept the both of them if I could, but that wasn’t an option. Um, So, um, I had to kind of start letting him go. And I felt like no matter how you [00:18:00] told the story, I was the villain. And not like a sexy villain, more like the kind of villain who loses everyone close to them and then proceeds to make terrible life decisions.

And I didn’t want to be that. villain. So, um, I reached out to a friend, the one person that I could think of who had been through something sort of similar, because I thought he might understand. And he did more than understand. He listened to me fret endlessly. And then he said, look, you can’t do this wrong.

I was like, I can’t do this, right? He was like, no lead with love and you can’t do it wrong.[00:19:00]

So I came out to a few more friends that went pretty well. And then I had to come out to my parents. I had to tell them that my marriage was ending. I’m in a new relationship. And I’m bisexual, like in all in the same conversation, right around Christmas time. Merry Christmas.

My mom had a lot of questions. I don’t blame her. That’s a lot. And I didn’t really have all the answers, but I felt like I owed it to her to try. It was a hard conversation. And then my dad, who had been kind of [00:20:00] quiet through all this, spoke up and said, The most important thing is that we love you.

So let me just go back real quick and tell you about Lewis and how I met him. We worked at a Starbucks together in New York. And this particular Starbucks… It had a walk in freezer that was an absolute nightmare. I don’t think they make them like this any I really hope they don’t make them like this anymore.

Um, you open the door, and the first compartment is a refrigerator, and then there’s a second door, and you have to go through that to get to the freezer. And there’s no other way into this freezer, it butts up against the wall. So… [00:21:00] Every time that door is like hanging open, condensation builds around the door frame so that when you close it, it freezes.

And that makes it very difficult to get into the freezer and it also makes it very difficult to get out of the freezer. So it was just this terrifying exercise. Um. Because we would prop it open and it would just build up more condensation and then it would freeze.

Some kind soul had left his red soccer warm up sweatshirt on a hook right outside the freezer for anyone to use whenever they went in there. And I love that sweatshirt. Um. I felt a connection to the person who owned it even before I knew who it [00:22:00] was. Um, and I loved having access to it because I get cold real easy.

[00:22:11] Whitney Peper: Um,

[00:22:15] Sarah Black: and that’s just kind of who Lewis is. Um, he just provides you with the thing you need before you even know that you need it.

So, um, turned out. I kind of liked him, he kind of liked me, we eventually did get married, we have an awesome daughter, um, and we moved back to Montana to be closer to my folks. And um, then about 10 years into our relationship, he says, I’ve taken this body as far masculine as I can and it’s not far enough.

I need to transition. He gave me [00:23:00] permission to tell you this, by the way.

Now, as someone who has come out and faced clumsy reactions to it, I would like to tell you that I handled this very gracefully, uh, but I cannot. Um, I loved him and I knew that it wasn’t going to break us up, but it didn’t break us. I was a little scared about how the hormones would change him. Like, I don’t know, he was going to become a big grumpy Hulk monster or something.

I don’t know what I thought was going to happen,

but he did change. Um, but not at all in the ways that I was afraid he would on the outside. He’s a little different, but on the inside, he is exactly the same person he always was. [00:24:00] Except that now he’s a little more comfortable, well a lot more comfortable in his body and in his life than I have ever known him.

And gender congruency has been just, that’s where your insides and your outsides match. Um, has just been such a huge relief for him that he now has more capacity for the bullshit of the world. And more capacity for the bullshit of his wife, which is good news for me. So, I guess I went a little bit off the path that I was supposed to be on.

But, I wouldn’t take it back, ever. I mean, once you get to be yourself, it’s, you just have so much freedom to keep going. [00:25:00] Um, And I don’t know where we’re going next with this. Uh, hopefully Hawaii. I kind of want to check out three tables now.

Um, all I know is lead with love and you can’t do it wrong. Thank you.

[00:25:23] Whitney Peper: Sarah

[00:25:23] Kera Rivera: Black grew up in Helena, Montana. After high school, she moved around several times and is happy to reside in Missoula and live closer to family. She is fascinated by wellness, art, the outdoors, social justice, storytelling, and all the ways they intersect.

[00:25:41] Whitney Peper: Coming up. And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride?

And Tracy’s like, yeah, get in the car. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. And I, I like barricade the door and trap him inside and Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me. And I go. JP, call the cops. And [00:26:00] JP’s like, no, we’re not calling the cops.

[00:26:05] Cathy Scholtens: And we see this hawk coming up the North Ridge and she’s floating on those drafts and just floating and floating and pretty soon she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity boogity new age woo woo mystical girl. I’m not look at me.

Oh my God. Okay.

[00:26:32] Marc Moss: Those stories after a word from our sponsors, stay with us. Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, university of Montana summer office. Thank you to our story sponsors, AXIS Physical Therapy and Hindu Hillbilly. Thank you to our accessibility sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Our next story comes to us from Whitney Pepper.

Whitney and his partner make compassionate choices to the news that there is a strange man under his mother in [00:27:00] law’s bed. Whitney calls the story, The Right House. Thanks for listening.

[00:27:18] Whitney Peper: It was spring of 2022, just over a year ago, here in Missoula, Montana. It was a cool morning, crisp air, and we had the doors flung open in our house to let that beautiful spring warmth start coming in because our windows are all painted shut. But this was not just any day. This was, this was the sun coming back in a time of celebration.

Cause what had just taken place six months prior, leading up to this moment, was a ridiculous home renovation extravaganza. Which I took on and told my [00:28:00] partner we got this. Which I did not know how to do. And so, over six months we had completely gutted and completely renovated and torn apart this house involving every single person that I met on the street, anywhere.

I’m like, you wanna help? And we’re down to the details at this point. So it’s really a time of celebration, it had been chaos. And on this day… We were sleeping in, which was really nice. You know, we, I think we slept in that day. Um, oh, I should back up the, the context of my house. I’m living with my partner who grew up here in Missoula and my partner’s mother.

Who’s name is Tracy. My partner is JP. My partner’s name, uh, JP’s mom is Tracy. And Tracy moved back from Arizona to move to her hometown, Missoula, to move in with us. So this house renovation project involving ex husbands and family members and cousins and strangers, um, [00:29:00] has been a big deal. And Tracy…

Sleeps on the main floor in the small bedroom. It’s a very small house. You walk in and it’s just one space. There’s a little bedroom and then downstairs there’s the basement. That’s where JP and I sleep. So this morning we wake up. We’re down in the basement. We can hear Tracy getting up in the bedroom above us going off to the farmer’s market or to go grab lunch or something.

And we wake up this day and we’re down to the details. I’m planning to install smoke detectors, which is really exciting. Hmm. And, we put on music, I think it was the Bahamas, you know, like, Doom, doom, doom, is there some way, trick to being happy? Doom, doom, doom, most days I’m feeling like a half me. It’s, it’s a blissful morning.

And we’re out there, you know, JP’s cooking us breakfast or something. I’m working, smoke detectors, getting my stuff, getting my tools. And, uh, I go into Tracy’s room, which is on the main floor. JP’s, you know, [00:30:00] cooking breakfast and we’re grooving. I’m on the stool and I walk in though and I see that there’s a, a, a camel cigarette on Tracy’s bed.

And I think, that’s weird. Tracy doesn’t smoke. But… She is a spiritual woman, and I thought, you know, she’s got some native indigenous friends, and I thought, I know that tobacco is something used for ser I, my mind was just like I went about, I went about my business. Installed the smoke detector. And then I worked my way downstairs, and I’m in our bedroom.

I can hear the music. You know, JP’s dancing all around. And, uh, at some point, Tracy comes back. And I hear her come in, and our, I forgot to mention that our other housemate is a geriatric dog named Bayrock. He’s 18 years old. He’s a terrier. He’s a terrible guard dog. He’s more like a piece of furniture. And, um, I hear Tracy come back and I hear Bayrox shuffling his little, his nails on the [00:31:00] floor.

Shook, shook, shook, shook, shook, shook. And then, I hear Tracy going, Hey! Get out! Get out right now! What are you doing? Get out of there!

[00:31:10] Cathy Scholtens: And I’m thinking, what did he do?

[00:31:12] Whitney Peper: We don’t ever talk to Bayrock like that. And then JP screams down the stairs, Whitney, come upstairs. There’s a man under my mom’s bed.

And I run up the stairs, and I walk in, and there’s chaos. Tracy is in this tiny little bedroom where she’s got furniture not arranged appropriately, and you have to, you know, squeeze past, and there’s a man who’s emerging, a grown human man, Coming out from the bed. And what had happened is Tracy had gone in there and been like, Oh, why is Whitney’s shoe under my bed?

And she grabbed onto the shoe and there was a leg attached to it. [00:32:00] And the leg had a body attached to it and the body was moving. And Tracy’s response was Get out of there! What are you doing under my bed? And so I walk up and she’s like swatting him with a magazine. She’s a small woman. But she’s got this real sternness that I’ve never seen before.

And she’s swatting him, get out, get out! And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride? And Tracy’s like, yeah, get in the car! And I’m like, no! No, no, no, no! And I, I like, barricade the door and trap him inside and Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me and I go… J. P., call the cops. And J.

P. ‘s like, no we’re not calling the cops. And I was like, shit, I just failed my test.

you want something to eat?

Eh, we give him a sparkly water. Sparkly water? Fizzy water. Spindrift. And [00:33:00] like a granola bar. And we’re sitting there and I’m like, what are you doing? He’s like, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t. This is the first time I’ve ever done this. And I was like, what’s your name? And he goes, I’m Steve. We’re like, damn it, Steve,

[00:33:19] Cathy Scholtens: what are you

[00:33:20] Whitney Peper: doing here?

Why are you under my mother in law’s bed? He’s like, goes on this whole story that there was, you know, his ex wife has this abusive husband and, and he was trying to like help her out cause he’s abusive and then the guy was being attacking him and then there’s a car chase and he gets out of the car and he busts his ankle and, you know, it’s this whole story and I’m sitting there, you know, barricading the door just like, Oh, okay, Steve.

And finally, you know, Tracey leans over my shoulder at one point and she goes, You didn’t steal anything, did ya? And he’s like, No, no, no, I did not. And I looked down and I was like, Steve, you’re wearing my shoes! And he’s like, [00:34:00] I’m sorry! And it’s sad, you know? But then I remember, earlier that day, I could not believe that this had happened.

And I forgot, earlier that day, at our neighbor’s house next door, I had looked out the window, when I’m like, dancing and eating and And having a great time, celebrating. And there was like a whole SWAT team coming in on the house next door. And my neighbor, the person who owns the house, had called me and been like, hey, the cops are looking for somebody, he’s on the run, and they think he’s hiding out in our house, which was vacant.

And I was like, that’s terrible, that’s terrifying. And it was really frightening though, you look out and it was like. It’s like, police with assault rifles, you know, it’s just not expected. It was frightening. And then nothing happened and they went on and we danced and I was installing smoke detectors and now we’re here and I’m looking at this guy.

And at a certain point I go, Steve, you [00:35:00] lucked out because the background, you, you, Tracy is a nurse who works at St. Pat’s in the behavioral health unit. clinic, and has a lot of experience caring for people in various situations. She’s got experience. J. P. has an entire career in criminal justice reform, working with people who are incarcerated, doing embodiment work, and meditation work, and helping people heal, and you got, and then you got me, and I’m just a nice guy.

And so, Steve’s got the dream team, and I’m like, Dammit Steve! You picked the right house. This could have gone so poorly for you. Do you understand that we’re in Montana? Seriously, Steve? I mean, finally, I finally, like, stopped barricading. I was like, I don’t even know why I’m doing this. I’m trapping him in the bedroom that we’re like, Get out!

But I let him come out, and I would [00:36:00] offer him a chair, but we’re hippie people, and we don’t have chairs, we sit on the floor. And he’s got this busted ankle, and he, so he gets down on the ground, and we got his fizzy water, and You know, he’s asking, will you give me a ride? And we’re trying to figure out what to do.

And I’m like, no Steve, we can’t give you a ride. And I’m trying to be like, how do I not get in? Is this the guy that the police were looking for? Is it not? I have no idea. I just don’t know if we should get involved. And the three of us are kind of just, me, Tracy, and JP, we’re just looking at each other.

Partially trying to strategize and also being

[00:36:30] Cathy Scholtens: like, Is this really

[00:36:30] Whitney Peper: happening?

And finally, you know, we let him use our phone, call somebody, they don’t answer, and so we just, you know, we say, Steve, I’m sorry, we can’t help you. You gotta go. You can keep the shoes. And we send him on his way. You know, he, and he’s got this busted ankle. And inside, you know, we’re sitting there looking at him.

He was not a scary man. He was not a scary man. He was a man who was down [00:37:00] on his luck. You know, and this is what we Is that Steve in the audience? And, uh, this is a guy who’s down on his luck. And what I I’m just a nice guy, but what I know from being in partnership with JP is how poverty and incarceration and all these things can make some people’s life disproportionately miserable.

And I’m sitting here looking at this guy, and I’m like, I don’t know if his story’s real. I don’t know. But, I certainly don’t want to participate in further. Traumatizing this person. And so we sent him on his way, and, you know, we went about our day. And, uh, every once in a while we’d look at each other, like, Did that really happen?

And, you know, we were like, maybe we should lock our doors, you know. Or fix the windows or something. Um, and now it’s a bit of a joke. You know, Tracy has a good friend, Wish, who lives on the north side, that some of you maybe know. And, um, Wish will always say, Is [00:38:00] Steve back? You seen much of Steve? And we’re like, no, we haven’t seen Steve.

But truly, I mean, Where I end up, Nobody thinks this stuff’s gonna happen, but… I think housing in Missoula has raised, the cost of housing for renting has raised like 40% in 6 years or something. I mean, it’s astronomical. So, any one of us could be in Steve’s shoes. And the real question though is like, we all got these great signs that say like, We love queers!

And science is real! What do you do though when someone shows up under your mother’s bed? Not that queers and science have anything to do with that, but you get what I’m saying. Virtue signaling, what do you do? The question I leave you with. What would you do?[00:39:00]

[00:39:00] Devin Carpenter: Barron Whitney Pepper is an award winning architect based in Missoula, who helps homeowners create new spaces and transform old ones in a way that welcomes nature, community, and health into our lives. He is also co facilitating an emerging coalition of community members to support the city and re imagining how we can together address housing affordability.

And he would love to talk to you about it. Our final

[00:39:25] Marc Moss: storyteller of the evening is Kathy Schultens. Kathy hikes to Hope Lake in Montana with her best friend, Becky, where they work out their complex feelings for one another. Kathy calls her story, friendship, hope, and wisdom. Thanks for

[00:39:40] Whitney Peper: listening.

[00:39:41] Cathy Scholtens: Missoula pride.

Woo.

Well, it was. Late September, and my best friend Becky and I decided to go to Hope Lake in the Big Hole. We’d never been, and we wanted to go. The [00:40:00] map said it was seven miles. So we start up. The weather had been terrible. We start. We have a canine companion, Katie, the Wonder Dog, and she’s with us. She’s a three year old golden retriever and she’s up for anything.

So we start up and about the 30th switch back, we realize, Oh shit. Yeah, it’s seven miles, but it’s six miles straight up to the continental divide. Over the top and down another mile. Well, you know, we’re up for it. We’re best friends. I’d met Becky about seven years before that. And she was fantastic. She was funny.

She was smart and we became best friends immediately. She was a tomboy. She wasn’t into shopping and makeup and pedicure. She was into. Fishing and camping and hiking. And so was I. So it was perfect. We had a lot of [00:41:00] fun. She was also the kindest person I’d ever met. As a matter of fact, when we would go to Missoula and I would not drive, we, every stoplight with a guy with a cardboard sign, she’d go, Kathy.

Hey, Kathy, give that guy ten bucks. Hey, Kathy, you got twenty bucks? Give that girl twenty bucks. Look, it’s all coming out of my wallet. So I started to drive. Saved myself a lot of money over time.

So we’re hiking. And we’re talking, like best friends do. You know, but we’re not talking about what we’re supposed to be talking about. Because, yeah, we were best friends. But, in the past, you know, month or so, our relationship had kind of shifted a little bit. Okay, a lot, alright? Because we had become lovers.

[00:42:00] They don’t call her Bad Becky for nothing.

And we didn’t know what to do with that. Okay, because there was a lot of red flags, a lot of problems. Now, Becky was gung ho. She was ready to call up U Haul, get the trailer, go, you know, live with me the rest of my life. Come be with me. But me, I’m like, oh man, there’s like way too much stuff going on here.

There’s, there’s red flags. And let me tell you what they were, okay? One. We were both. In relationships already. I know. It wasn’t fair to them. And we felt pretty crappy about that. And we had to come clean. Two. Becky was a straight girl. All of you lesbians out there. You know what trouble straight girls are.

Are they not? They listen to every Katy Perry song. They just want to kiss a girl. And they’ll kiss you. But then they’ll break [00:43:00] your heart. And I was well aware of that. But the biggest problem, biggest problem, was me. Because I am a relationship loser. Okay? Every relationship I’ve ever been in… I left. I couldn’t stay.

I’d think I was in love, and pretty soon, I was gone. I could not keep a relationship going. And I knew that. And I didn’t want to break her heart. I didn’t want to lose our friendship. And so we needed to talk about this stuff. But hell no, we’re not going to talk about it, because that would make too much sense.

We’re just going to get up to the… The top, go to this lake. So we’re making promises to God, and we finally get up there, and we’re on the top of the Continental Divide. And now, on the Continental Divide, you guys, you can see forever, okay? It is awesome. I recommend it. [00:44:00] Except that what we saw that late September day.

Was snowstorms, thunderstorms, snowstorms, and to the west, the sun was going down. And we knew we’re not making the lake. We can’t make it. Why? Because we are responsible hikers. We know better. We know that we can’t be on that mountain in the dark. In late September, it was snow all around us, so we, like, responsible people say, okay, we’re gonna not make the lake, we’ll go down.

But let’s look at this for a minute. And it’s beautiful. It’s fantastic. And we see this Hawk coming up the North Ridge and she’s floating on those drafts and just float and float. And pretty soon she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity [00:45:00] boogity new age woo woo mystical girl.

I’m not look at me. Oh my God.

I ain’t no braids, nothing, but something magical happened with that Hawk. She’s right there. It’s a national geographic moment. And she is. And I’m like this.

And she’s talking to me, and I’m hearing crazy stuff. And I look at Becky to hear, to ask her if she’s hearing the same crazy bullshit I’m hearing. And just then, that hop goes phew! And goes over the side of that mountain towards Hope Lake. The message go to the Lake . I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re we’re like, duh.

So we like, what do you got in your pack? What do you got? Well, I had a water pump pretty good. I had some matches. I had a space blanket that’s useless. I’ll let you know that. [00:46:00] Um, it melts when embers hit it. Um, and I had a pound of trail mix that I was. already sick of. Now, Becky, Becky, being amazing, had an 8mm Glock on her hip, okay?

So butch. And, uh, she had a fishing pole and some worms and, uh, that’s about it, right? So, what we didn’t have was a tent, sleeping bags, warm coats, hats, gloves, food. You know, everything you need. So we decide to go anyways, because the hawk said to go. So, duh, we go. We go over the side, down to Hope Lake. And by the time we get there, it’s dark.

But Becky starts fishing right away. Why? Because Katie the Wonder Dog doesn’t eat trail mix. So she’s gotta catch some fish. And I’m over there, trying to start a fire. Because I know! Goddamn, we’re gonna die if I don’t get a fire [00:47:00] going! When I was a kid, I was a pyromaniac. I could start anything on fire, and did, and um, but I couldn’t get anything going because it’d been raining for days, I couldn’t find anything dry, nothing was working, I’m starting to freak.

And I look over at Becky, and every time she catches a fish, and that bobber goes down, Katie, the wonder dog, goes, AH FUN! YAY! And jumps in the water and goes for the bobber. And the fish would be gone. So, both of us are striking out. And I’m starting to freak. I’m like, Oh, we’re gonna die. We’re gonna die.

Gonna die. Stupid hawk. So, Pretty soon here comes Becky and she’s managed to wrangle a few fish out of Katie’s grasps and she has a couple fish and she says, what’s going on? And I go, Oh man, I can’t start this. I don’t have anything dry. And she goes, I got something for you. And she reaches in her jacket and pulls out a bunch of love letters that she’d hidden there that I had written to her over the [00:48:00] past month.

Now these love letters. Of course, we read them out loud because we’re gay girls and, uh, we had to share the moment and, uh, they’re full of, like, how I think she’s fantastic and she’s adorable and I am madly in love with her and what a loser I am and how I’m going to screw the whole thing up and, you know, I’m going to mess it up and I, I can’t do relationships and what are we going to do?

Well, she’s reading them and she’s just wadding them up, shaking her head, putting them in. We finally get a fire going, we get a good fire going, and she’s got the fish on a rock for Katie, cooking. And we’re sitting there, she says, Look at that smoke, Shultz. Look at it. It’s just going up. That’s from your letters.

All that angst and, I can’t do it, I’m horrible. All of that, up in smoke. There it goes. It’s gone. And I said, Oh yeah? [00:49:00] Well, what about all the love in those letters, baby? And she said, Oh, the love. Love goes higher. Love goes up to the universe. And the universe is listening. And the universe has us. I’m like, whoa, okay, whoa, okay.

[00:49:17] Whitney Peper: Whatever,

[00:49:18] Cathy Scholtens: Becky. And,

[00:49:19] Whitney Peper: uh,

[00:49:21] Cathy Scholtens: So we spend the night freezing our ass off, trying to be with the fire, you know, following the fire, following the fire, and talking. We start talking. And we really are mixing it up, trying to figure things out. But every once in a while, Katie the Wonder Dog keeps things really interesting by looking off into the dark woods and growling a growl that I’ve never heard any dog growl, let alone a golden retriever, okay?

And I would shit my pants. I’d be like, aaaah!

Really maintaining the butch aspect. And Becky though, Becky would whip that Glock off [00:50:00] into this commando like mode, like, and she’s ready to shoot the shit up at anything that’s gonna bother us. And I’m like, oh, I’m in love. I’m in love with this girl. So we spend the night talking, freezing, talking, freezing and come the early light of dawn when we can finally see something we see Here comes the snow, and it’s coming fast and heavy and hard.

And we’re like, we gotta get the hell out of here. So we pack up our stuff, and we start heading up to the divide. And I stop, and I take one last look at that little campsite. And I think, what the hell did we just do here? What we did was we did something really stupid, and really dangerous. But what we did was we trusted each other, and we worked together, and we made it happen.

We survived the night with nothing, and was that much [00:51:00] different than what Becky was asking me to do with her? To lean out of my comfort zone, to believe in us, to trust her, to trust myself, and to have a life together. And I figured… If I listen to a goddamn bird I’d never met before, I could surely listen to my best friend.

So up at the top of the divide, I told her I took her hand, so romantic. And I said, yes, yes. And we were on cloud nine. We ran down that mountain. Snow, no snow. We just ran down. We didn’t even stop at the camper. Cause we had to find a payphone. We had to call the people who needed to know. So we jump in the truck and we drive to Wisdom, Montana.

And we get on the payphone at Leddy’s and we call home. What used to be home and we both say we’re not coming [00:52:00] back, we’re not coming back because home, home then was in my Becky’s arms and that’s where I wanted to be. You guys, this September. It’ll be 26 years ago.

I’m still, still madly in love with her and she’s still my best friend. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Kathy Schulten.[00:53:00]

[00:53:02] Devin Carpenter: Living her best life amidst the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley, Kathy Scholtens is an out of shape adventure enthusiast. She loves the mountains, waterways, back roads, and most people of Montana. When she first came to Montana in 1976, she saw the Milky Way in all its glory for the first time. The wonder and magnificence of the night sky continues to knock her socks off.

Kathy’s heart also lies with a ragbag group of friends and family, her family of choice. She remains forever grateful for the craziness, the love, and the laughter they bring into her life. Pretty

[00:53:40] Marc Moss: great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme, Lost in Translation.

The Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration by calling 406 203 4683. [00:54:00] You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail 103. 3, Jack FM, and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104. 5, Float Missoula. Learn more at FloatMSLA. com and MissoulaEvents. net. Next week on the podcast,

[00:54:26] Stephan Tucker: the world starts to come into clear focus. And I can hear the dog still barking, and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks, like something is wrong.

[00:54:35] Sandy Shepherd: To do my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right, one old man on the left, and the patient.

I’m a little nervous.

[00:54:49] Jolyne O’Brien: And I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is.

Eyes big and sure, mom! [00:55:00]

[00:55:01] Candice Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I want to try it in the most simple way possible. I can use interventions later if I want to. But I want to start simply, okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work

[00:55:15] Marc Moss: for storytellers from the Creative Pulse graduate program at the University of Montana, share their true personal story on the theme out of my shell, thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast, find them at cash for junkers band.

com to learn more about tell us something, please visit, tell us something. org.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Neighbors". Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a packed stadium on June 16, 2023 at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field in Missoula, MT in collaboration with Missoula Pride. You'll hear stories about an ode to neighbors, a man crashing a wedding in Vietnam, a hike to pick Black Locust flowers and a trans man feeling comfortable in his own skin for maybe the first time.

Transcript : Neighbors - Part 1

TUS01301June-NeighborsPart1

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We’re currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. This week on the podcast.

[00:00:27] Katie Condon: Is that your dog? Fran, being Fran, I said, Why? And he said, That dog’s been coming down to my shop. every day this summer.

I’m

like, okay, so I’m about to apologize for something.

I’m not sure what yet, but, and then he says,

[00:00:55] Reid Reimers: he was like, I’d love to take you fishing at this place that I know, but unfortunately tomorrow I have to go to a [00:01:00] wedding so I can’t take you guys. And I jokingly and a little drunkenly was like, Oh, we’re not good enough to get invited to your wedding.

[00:01:08] Pascaline Piquard: Don’t give it.

to her like one flower after another because this is not polite, right? So you just show the plate and she’ll take whatever she wants.

Okay,

mommy, let’s go.

[00:01:24] Kaegan Bonstein: And so I go back out and then I make eye contact with one of the guys. So they definitely see me coming out of the men’s side. And then I go to just grab my bag and head on.

I’m like, okay, thanks man. And then it’s like, Whoa, Hey, do you want a beer or something? I was like,

yeah, sure.

[00:01:42] Marc Moss: Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme Neighbors. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience, June 16th, 2003 at Ogre Park at Allegiance Field in Missoula, Montana.

We are proud to have partnered with Missoula Pride for this event, which featured six queer voices and two [00:02:00] allies at the event. I acknowledged that TE US something has a lot of privilege. We welcome all respectable voices and at this event, we used our privilege to elevate marginalized voices. And if I say that, I must in good faith give up the microphone, so I did.

Two members of the Missoula queer community took over the MC duties for the evening. To honor and respect the work that they did. They will follow up each story on today’s podcast. Cara Rivera and Devin Carpenter were the MCs that evening. Tell Us Something acknowledges with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples, who have stewarded this land for countless generations.

Their profound connection to the earth and its resources has left an indelible mark on the landscape we now call home. In recognizing their enduring legacy, we are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving its ecosystems, and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability.

[00:03:00] May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve this precious land for future generations, fostering a harmonious coexistence with nature that celebrates our shared heritage. We take this moment to honor the land And it’s native people and the stories that they share with us.

Our first story comes to us from Katie Condon. Katie shares her story about an unlikely neighborly friendship. It’s an ode to neighbors, to Fran the dog, and to community. Katie calls her story the baloney house. Thanks for listening.

[00:03:37] Katie Condon: I met Fran in January of 2007. She had short, stubby legs. Dark brown eyes, the most expressive face, one black fingernail, and this band of black [00:04:00] in her hair, it looked like she was always wearing a headband,

long

velvety ears that dragged on the ground when her nose Caught a scent?

She

was the perfect representation of the Basset Hound breed. Which is why I was confused to find her at the pound. She was a year old. She’d been adopted and returned three times. And after 14 years with Fran, I considered returning her myself sometimes. Fran was notoriously naughty. You couldn’t keep her tied up.

I tried once, outside of Bernice’s bakery, right across the bridge there. She wiggled out of her collar, and found her way into the kitchen, and it was like a scene out of a [00:05:00] cartoon, like cookie sheets flying, and Parker House rolls rolling, and my wily hound dog, and seven different people chasing after her.

I was

mortified.

Fran made quite a reputation for herself among my community and beyond. So when I got the opportunity to go on a nationwide tour with my band, I knew I needed to find somebody specific to watch Fran. I’d heard through the grapevine that my old friend Lila was looking for some short term housing. I gave her a call.

Our dates matched. And she knew Fran well enough, so she took on the challenge. And I left with my band called Letter B. Thank you. I was in this [00:06:00] band with my little brother, Jordan Lane, and we just. Had the time. From here, all the way to Maine, down through the Carolinas, over to L. A., up to Seattle, and back home.

Over the course of six weeks, it was nuts. It was chaos. It was pure joy. A few weeks into the tour, I get a call from Leila, and she says, every day when I leave for work, Fran is inside. And every day when I come home from work, Fran is outside.

I think I just had a gas station hot dog for breakfast. I was probably hungover. My mind was spinning and I certainly couldn’t troubleshoot what [00:07:00] my hound dog was doing a thousand miles away. And I considered at this point in Fran’s life she had been to

And I thought, you know, Fran’s pretty savvy. She’s home when you get home. I think it’s okay.

So I get home from tour a few weeks later, and we’re having a neighborhood barbecue. And Fran’s checking in with me every once in a while. I had to honor the fact that Fran’s first priority was her nose, and I just… Pined to be her second priority. An older gentleman who lived down the road came up to me and he said, is that your dog?

Fran being Fran. I said, why? And he said, that [00:08:00] dog’s been coming down to my shop. every day this summer. I’m like, okay, so I’m about to apologize for something I’m not sure what yet, but and then he says I think she likes the cool floors. It’s been a hot summer.

Yeah, so then

I’m like, I gotta defend myself. I gotta keep my house cooler.

He doesn’t think I could take good enough care of her or something. And then he says she doesn’t like it. When I use the table saw. So I don’t use it when she’s around.

Uh, Uh, Okay.

Then he

says,

My wife gives her baloney. I hope

that’s okay.

Yeah, that’s fine, [00:09:00] and things are starting to come together in my head, and I’m realizing this is where Fran’s been going when Leila goes to work and when I was on tour.

And then I figured out some things in the house. She was busting into a bedroom. The door would quickly close behind her, and then she would jump up onto a chair, jump up onto a desk, and jump out. out the window and run down the road to the shop that we lovingly nicknamed the baloney house.

I tried

to

keep better track of her. I was kind of jealous and I didn’t think it was safe. So I tried to. build a fence, and that didn’t work, and I bought bologna. That didn’t work. I got to know the folks down at the bologna house because I was consistently going down there retrieving fran. And sometimes I would walk into the shop and Doug would be fixing something, anything.

And some days I’d walk [00:10:00] in there and he’d be building a birdhouse. And some days I would walk in there, and he would be painting illustrations of birds for the freaking Autobahn Society. Like, no wonder Fran

loved him.

One day Fran and I are standing at the end of our driveway, and we see Doug’s truck coming down the road, this big white pickup truck with a ladder on the back, and he stops Leans over, opens the passenger side door, and Fran runs over, jumps in, and they take off down the road. And I chase after him.

Wait a second.

And he stops.

And I open the door and I get my gun. dog out of the truck.

He says,

Judy [00:11:00]

went to McDonald’s.

She got egg McMuffins. She

got Fran one too.

That checks out. What am I gonna say, no? And don’t come at me with, you shouldn’t let your dog eat egg McMuffins. Because that dog had a stomach of steel, it was sewn into place, and we only had to pump it.

So I’m

like, yeah, okay. Enjoy your breakfast with Fran. And Doug gets this, like, mischievous grin on his old man face. And he looks over at my dog and he says, let’s go Franny. And he takes off and Fran’s chasing his truck down the road. Those little legs are going, those ears are flapping. It’s her version of a [00:12:00] sprint and I’m standing there literally in their dust and I’m frustrated.

I’m frustrated and I’m also filled with joy and I’m frustrated because this

is not something that

I was expecting to happen. This isn’t what normally happens. I’ve been spending Fran’s entire life protecting her from neighbors, or protecting neighbors from her. And this situation was something I didn’t understand.

And that made me feel frustrated.

And the joy… The joy was seeing Doug become a child, and my old hound dog become a puppy. And when they raced down the road, I thought, this is a dog’s life.[00:13:00]

This is loyalty and compassion and playfulness. These are the values that I revere as a dog owner. And then I realized, these are the values of great neighbors.

Doug and Judy are here

today,

and I just want to thank you guys for being so kind to Fran, to me, and to my family. I learned many lessons from Fran over the years, but I’ll leave you with this one tonight. Love thy neighbor, especially if they have baloney.

[00:13:58] Kerra Rivera: Katie

[00:14:00] Condon. Katie is a

humanitarian at heart. She believes in the connection of all things. Katie

is a lover of art and the simple beauty this life has to offer.

[00:14:09] Marc Moss: Our next story comes to us from Reed Reimers. Reed is recognized for his Montana accent during a trip to Vietnam and is then invited to a neighborhood family wedding.

Reed calls the story crashing a wedding in Vietnam. Thanks for listening.

[00:14:24] Reid Reimers: Uh, yes, as mentioned, I do love to travel. I became obsessed after a six week trip to New Zealand turned into almost a year. I’d lived in a van. I was a legal transient worker on a vineyard. I ended up with white boy dreadlocks because when I had hair, it was quite curly, not.

culturally appropriate if I just want to be clear. But my favorite time to travel is actually during February, February in Missoula in particular, always feels like a wake to me. Everybody walks around and just kind of nods at each other. Like, yeah, we’re all going through it, man. We’re all here. That little half rise smile at the grocery store is just [00:15:00] horribly depressing.

And so two very good friends of mine, Craig and Leah decided years ago to start what we lovingly and very appropriately call. Fuck you, February. And so we tried to travel for a couple months, leaving mid January, getting back mid March, and we’ve been all over the place. And one of those luscious fuck you February trips took us to northern Vietnam.

We arrived in Hanoi at, uh, dawn ish, and I’m sure any of you that have traveled from Montana to somewhere like that, when you step off the plane, it’s the thickest, thickest It’s not just the humidity. It’s not a temperature thing. It’s the fact that you’re near sea level and the air is full of oxygen. So even though you’ve traveled nightmarishly long to get there, there’s something invigorating about it.

And that’s what we found as we stepped off the plane in Hanoi early that morning. We knew it would be a dangerous mistake to try to sleep, even though we were exhausted. And so we decided to stay up, get [00:16:00] into the cycle of time, and ran around Hanoi, which is a beautiful city built by French colonialists, and now lived in by proper Vietnamese people.

The wide boulevards meant to be strut along and see and be seen became… Shops and restaurants and you walk in the damn street cause you’ll figure it out. It’s fine. It all works for them. And I really loved being there. At the end of our first night, as we got there, we had asked around, like what should we do?

We want to go get a little rowdy. We need to get a little messed up so we can get some sleep and start the cycle appropriately. And the answer from everyone was be a hoy. The be a hoy corner. Be a hoy is a low. Octane quick brewed beer that doesn’t have a long shelf life. So you kind of have to just chug it down.

Because of its quick process, it’s also quite affordable. So a single cup of Biahoy was about 20 U. S. cents. And you could buy an entire pitcher for a [00:17:00] dollar. She knows, you know, yeah. And Beahoy corner again, this beautiful built in the beautiful French style where three different streets come together is just a miasma of tiny plastic chairs and plastic stools and a bunch of people getting really sloppy on very, very cheap beer.

There was obviously a language barrier. I knew my please thank yous and excuse mes in Vietnamese, but that’s about it. But the lovely social lubricant that is alcohol, Instantly made us a ton of friends and the fact we didn’t mind dropping a buck 50 to buy a pitcher for the table next to us. So soon we were surrounded by all sorts of lovely folks, some students trying to practice their English, some locals that we couldn’t talk to at all, but as a teacher of mime, I’m really good, especially after a few beers, about explaining what I’m doing with frantic, throbbing hand gestures.

There may have been a couple beers spilled, but it worked out just fine. Um, and as we were sitting there though, So, this tall [00:18:00] white man, one of the only tall white boys we see, whenever we travel, we’re like tall white guy, we point him out, cause they’re not as common as you might think in a lot of places.

This guy comes up to us, and he’s like, asked me the weirdest question I’d ever imagined. He was like, excuse me, are you from Montana? And we’re like, yeah. And he was like, I grew up in Bozeman. Apparently the fact that we had dove in with both feet and we’re just chatting and gabbing with people openly had first caught his attention.

Then he heard our accent and he was like, that’s definitely Western, but Northern Western. We do say bag. You know, like he caught it all. And then my buddy actually I figured out later had a, uh, he runs a fly fishing shop and divide and he was wearing his hat. So the guy was like, there he goes. Uh, this lovely guy from Bozeman said we sat and had a couple of drinks.

He was like, Hey, you gotta meet my friend Ty. Ty was a local guy. He ran motorcycle tours up around the Northern part of Vietnam. It was just [00:19:00] an absolute treat. And so he was like, you gotta meet Ty. Come on over. And after that much be a hoy, things are a little fuzzy at this point. You’ll start going to see a pattern about this whole story.

Things get a little fuzzy after a while, but we went to Ty’s place. He was a consummate host. His English wasn’t super strong, but he was super excited to practice it. And that made us excited as well. And we’re sitting there and my friends are talking about fishing because they’re fly fishing guides and that’s.

All they talk about 90% of the time. And he was like, I’d love to take you fishing at this place that I know, but unfortunately tomorrow I have to go to a wedding, so I can’t take you guys. And I jokingly and a little drunkenly was like, Oh, we’re not good enough to get invited to your wedding? The entire mood shifts.

He stops everything, stares at me, and he’s like, Would you go? You have to tell me now if you want to go, you can go, but you have to tell me now and you have to promise to go. And we look at each other after this [00:20:00] crazy night. We hadn’t even been there for that than the country for less than a day. And we’re like, I think, yeah, right.

You don’t get that kind of invite every day. And so the next morning at 6. 30 a. m. found us dressed in our finest clothes. My buddy Craig, uh, is a Patagucci boy. So he had his fishing shirt and his fishing pants, kind of nice. I’m not. So I had this scrubby, like, sun shirt I brought along and my cargo pants.

Listen, I still support cargo shorts, but we all know. Cargo pants. And Leah, of course, that lucky duck had one of those tube dresses that can be like a hat or can be a scarf or she can just pull it over her luscious little blonde body and look absolutely fabulous wrinkle free. And I was like, you bitch.

So we’re standing out there on the sidewalk. Ty pulls up with his wife and his lovely little kiddo and we hop in a car and head out to this wedding. And again, as we travel through, you kind of see the old colonial built, uh, the French colonial built, uh, [00:21:00] Hanoi, slowly kind of break down into humbler structures, kind of hand built cinder blocks and corrugated metal that eventually gives way to just.

Emptiness of rice paddies. It was, uh, during a winter planting there, I assume. So there was kind of green about, but it’s mostly just kind of marshes as you’re driving down the road. About an hour later, we take a random right turn onto an elevated road through the paddies, heading toward this elevated part of land that had some houses and some trees poking up, just kind of rising above all of the, uh, paddies.

And as we pull up, Tai, in his best broken English, described that Vietnamese weddings last for six days sometimes. And we were there on day four. The groom’s family and the bride’s family have still not gotten together, so it’s just been the groom’s family for three days straight. And they are bored as all hell.[00:22:00]

So we pull up to this… much larger house than I expected. It’s a multi generational house. Probably 15 to 20 people lived there. Big house, all white tile on the inside and the outside. And we go in and Ty explains that as special guests, it was expected that we would take a shot of their kind of family made rice whiskey with the patriarch of the family.

Great. I don’t turn down shots even though it’s like nine 30 in the morning. I don’t mind. What we didn’t quite realize was that At a wedding, especially on the groom’s side, every male over the age of 25 considers himself a patriarch of the family. So instead of taking one shot with everybody, we ended up having a line of over 20 people waiting to come individually take shots with us as a welcome to their place.

Now Ty’s wife was pouring for us and they happened to store their homemade hooch in uh, reused plastic bottles. And so she [00:23:00] was… Usually giving us a shot, but every so often she was sneaking in water on ours. Because, I don’t know if you’ve ever taken 20 shots of homemade hooch before 10am on a head full of jet lag and general cultural confusion.

Listen, I can handle myself. But that was a lot. And from then on, I started being kind of nervous. I was like, Oh no, I’m going to be a sloppy jalopy up here. Like I’m going to, I don’t want to break any cultural norms. I don’t even know what the hell we’re supposed to do here. Everyone there was so excited and so inviting though.

And they ended up getting shit canned right along with us to the point that it just didn’t matter. And from that moment after our 20 pre 10 a. m. shots. Uh, everything again gets a little loopy jaloopy, but I do remember we snuck out with some of the kids to the Pomelo Grove next door and we’re stealing pomelos.

They’re like big grapefruits. Lady came out screaming at us and then she saw that there was like Three random white people in her yard. [00:24:00] It was like, oh, you must be here for the wedding. She gave us a crate of pomelos to take back. There was some really loud, terrible karaoke going on. I sang, oh, blah dee, oh, blah dah, which they didn’t recognize at all, but they found quite impressive.

There was huge trays of food that came out. My buddy Craig is allergic to peanuts, and usually he can kind of smell it, and he’s okay, but he… It into a bun and instantly stopped, set it down and ran outside to go spit it out. And he brought a whole jug of whiskey with him to rinse his mouth with. Well, little did he realize as he looked up when he was done, he was right outside where all the grandmas had been preparing all the food and he was there like seemingly puking it up out of a nightmare.

Uh, we got that explained. It was fine, but it was very, very awkward. Uh, At one point, Ty had brought his dad’s guitar, which hadn’t been played since the Vietnam War, because none of his family knew how to play. Craig knew how to pick a few things. And so they invited us up to sing a song. [00:25:00] And I was like, Craig, what songs do you know?

He’s like, not many. He’s like, what songs do you know? I was like, nothing you can play. So we decided on Wagon Wheel, which I knew almost none of the lyrics to. And I turned to him and I was like, man, I don’t know the ver I know the chorus. Everybody knows the chorus. I don’t know the verses. And he was like, they don’t speak English.

Nobody cares! So it turned into kind of like a heading down south to the watermelon place. And we’re going in to grab something for a face to see. Rum or Rack Me. Tire family gets so excited. At some point we need to go out to this, uh, temple that’s nearby. They were preparing for the Lunar New Year. And so we hop on scooters.

Craig jumps on his scooter, guns it, instantly shoots out from under him, and goes off the edge of the cliff into the rice paddies. Which was only met by like, Oh stupid drunk guy, ha ha ha ha ha It was fine, they knew how to do it, they totally back up. I hop on one and let me tell you, As a big awkward [00:26:00] asshole, I am much better on four wheels than two.

I did pretty well, but as I came around the corner, I skidded out, again to just cheers and guffaws from everyone. And I was assigned a driver, Which was a nine year old girl. It was quite capable about running a damn 50 CC scooter without any kind of issues. So, uh, the, the story continued. It was an amazing day.

We finally got back into Hanoi. We met up with the families there. And, uh, after the bride was hiding somewhere and the groom had to go find him in the family, find her in the family’s house and take her down. Um, we had a great party. We kind of ended at a fast food chicken joint. And we were walking back.

But what hit me as we were walking back home and sobriety started to rear its ugly, nasty head, I just thought, so many times when I travel, I feel like an outsider looking in. I feel like a voyeur in some ways. [00:27:00] As much as you can be invited into a place, you always feel like you’re outside of it. And what I realized is that those folks were just as excited to have us there to get their fourth day celebration going as we felt to be there.

And I just think that that touched me in a way I actually have trouble putting words to, which I probably should have prepared for, because I’m telling you all about it, but. I just love though, as a final thought, that somewhere above someone’s mantle is a beautiful professionally taken photo of all the bride and groom’s family and friends dressed in their finest, and randomly in the back is two scuzzy backpackers and a gorgeous blonde girl in a goddamn wrap dress.

Thank you.

[00:27:48] Devin Carpenter: Reed was born and raised in Missoula and has a master’s in theater from the University of Montana. You’ve probably seen him hosting numerous events around town, running [00:28:00] trivia nights or strutting his stuff on the stage in local theater productions, including Rocky Horror Live. He has a deep love for other cultures and climes, which has taken him to almost 50 different countries.

Because he travels on a tight budget, He has to get creative on those trips, which often leads to unexpected adventures. He also teaches theater to local kiddos, tends to his plethora of houseplants, and recently became a puppy papa to an adorable sociopath named Dewey.

[00:28:32] Marc Moss: Coming up.

[00:28:33] Pascaline Piquard: Don’t give it to her like one flower after another because this is not polite, right?

So you just. Show the plate, and she’ll take whatever she wants. Okay,

Mommy, let’s go.

[00:28:47] Kaegan Bonstein: And so I go back out, and then I make eye contact with one of the guys, so they definitely see me coming out of the men’s side. And then I go to just grab my bag and head on, and I’m like, Okay, thanks, man. And then it’s like, Whoa, whoa.

[00:29:00] Hey, do you want a beer or something? And it’s like, Yeah, sure.

[00:29:06] Marc Moss: Those stories after a word from our sponsors. Stay with us. Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, University of Montana Summer Office. Thank you to our story sponsors, Axis Physical Therapy and Hindu Hillbilly. Thank you to our accessibility sponsor, Blackfoot Communications.

Our next storyteller is Pasqueline Picard. Pasqueline takes the long way on a hike to harvest black locust flowers to fry in dough and make delicious donuts. A grateful neighbor unexpectedly receives the entire plate when offered. Pasqueline calls her story Mom’s Survival Plan with Le Beignet de Cacha.

Thanks for listening.

[00:29:51] Pascaline Piquard: Wow, very impressive. Bonsoir.

Alright, so most of my [00:30:00] life I have lived in big houses, surrounded with huge gardens, many trees, Once I got divorced, I decided I had to move to a smaller place. So I moved to an apartment with my two sons, Gaspar and Guillaume. And so we settled in this apartment, quite small for us. And um, in the springtime, we decided that We needed some snack around 4 p.

m. That’s a snack time in France. Yeah, for you guys sometimes it’s just dinner for us. It’s just snack time and then we have dinner like at 8, but anyway So I tell my sons. Okay, let’s go You know in the springtime you have this Trees in France, we call them Acacia and I think in English, it’s a black locust and it smells beautiful.

[00:31:00] It’s like this stem with like white flowers on it and it’s as big as grape. It smells delicious and it tastes delicious. And when I arrived here by the end of May, I had tasted some on your trees here in Missoula and so good. So anyway. I tell my son, let’s go and, uh, let’s grab some, uh, flowers so that we can make donuts out of them.

They love it. And my older sons, uh, Gaspar, he said, can we take a yacht? That’s his Turkish friend. Can we take him? Because I don’t think he knows. about these donuts. So I say, okay, let’s go. So off we go, and I don’t know about you, but me living with two boys, at that time they were seven and nine years old, always used to be in big houses, big gardens, and they were stuck in my apartment, so they were getting hectic, kind of.

So I needed them to [00:32:00] do some exercise and to practice, like just go and do some sport. So off we go, and I make sure that actually The walk will be very long, so that then when I need them to go to bed, I’m sure I’ll be on my own then. So we go, and we walk, and we take loops, and loops, and loops, and loops.

And the younger one, Guillaume, said, Maman, please, just, can we just go straight to the trees? Like, we can smell them, can we just go straight to the point? And then I was like, oh, no, no, that’s not good. That’s not good. Just one more, two more loops. So, we keep walking, we keep walking. And finally I decide after an hour that maybe time is off, like we should just get the flowers.

But they are small. And the trees, these acacia trees, the black locust trees, they are very, very tall. Very thin, very [00:33:00] hard wood. So I tell them to climb it. But it’s, they have to climb like 15 feet. So I take them and I put them on the tree and they grab the branches. And then they pick the flowers and they toss them on my head of course.

And then I pile them on my wicker. It’s a big wicker, like, very big one. And maybe it takes like 15, 20 minutes, and we have so many of them. So I said, okay guys, just calm down. And I could tell, like, looking at Elliot, my son’s friend, looking at his face, he was like, watering. You know, just imagine, these flowers, if…

If you were a bee, I think that would be the paradise for the bees because they smell so good and you just want to have all of them just for you. So we go back home, 10 minutes the walk

back,

and we get home, it’s [00:34:00] about 5. 30, 6, something like that, and we start to prepare the dough. And then we dip the flowers.

It smells so good. Once it’s fried, we put it on a plate, and as, as I was piling them up, I could see the plate going bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger. Because maybe we had like 40 flowers, so it’s kind of a lot for just four people. And my sons are like, oh maman, please, can we try one? No, guys. Wait for me to finish it, because otherwise, once I’m done with the cooking, there won’t be any left for me.

I know you. So, yeah, and it’s true, I have to help myself first, otherwise I don’t eat. So we have these huge plates, and they are so eager to eat. And then I remember, oh, Madame Mani, she’s my… One floor down neighbor, and she had told me [00:35:00] the very morning that, um, her son in law had just died. And, uh, and I could feel that she was very, um, emotional, very sad about this.

So, before we started eating the flour doughnuts, I told, uh, I told my sons, Okay, guys, you know what? You know Madame Mani, she just lost her son in law, so what about you go down and you give her, like you offer her the plate and then she can take some, but please don’t give it to her like one flower after another, because this is not polite, right?

So you just… show the plate, and she’ll take whatever she wants. Okay, mommy, let’s go. So the three boys go down one floor, and I start cleaning the kitchen. Two minutes later, not even, they come back. They ring at the door, I open the door, and I don’t know, like, they look at me, [00:36:00] and I can feel something is wrong, but I don’t know what.

And they are half laughing, half crying, like I know that they don’t know how they should feel. So I ask them, okay, so, where is the plate? Okay, mom. The thing is, we rang at the door, and Madame Mani opened the door, and we told her that she could have some… Of the doughnuts. Yeah, good, and? Okay, the thing is, she took the plate, put it in the kitchen, she went back to the door and said, Thank you guys, you are so lovely, and she closed the door on us.

And so I said, but did you say that she could have some? Yes mom, but what I was supposed to do? Like, ask her for a plate back and just give it to her? You told her she could take whatever she wanted and I guess the 40 doughnuts [00:37:00] was good enough for her. But you know, Madame Mani, she’s maybe 85 years old.

So, I don’t know, but 40 doughnuts, when you’re sad, It’s a lot, right? Even if you are not sad, actually. But, anyway. So, I look at my sons. It’s 7 p. m. No snack. Dinner is coming on, but I have nothing prepared. Because I was counting on these donuts. And my boys are still expecting to have some donuts. So, I guess we have to go back to the forest.

And surprisingly, it was just 10 minutes long. So we go back to the forest, but we had already picked all the easier flowers. So we had to go to the further one. So they have to climb again. And at some point I said, you know what? We don’t need 41, like, we don’t need 40. Just get maybe 15 to 20, that’s fine.[00:38:00]

So we get the 20 flowers, we go back, we hurry, I make the dough again, I dip the flour again in the dough, and I fry them and we eat them, but we’re just so tired, like, it’s 8pm, man, and, is that a dinner? But anyway, we loved it, Elliot loved it, he had never eaten fried flowers before. And you should try, I will give Mark the recipe, so.

And, still, you know, we, we have eaten maybe 20 donuts, we were the four of us, and that was a lot. We were like, ugh! So, we go to bed, still wondering how was Madame Mani doing. Because, you know, she’s 85 something, quite fit. She always tells me about her vegetables and the fruits she loves to eat. So, I don’t see how the doughnuts and the vegetables fit together, but anyway.[00:39:00]

And the following morning, I wake up wondering if I had missed the ambulance, or, just to take care of her, you know. And then, suddenly, I see her in the staircase going to the market, because it’s Saturday morning, and I also go to the market, that’s usually where we chat. So, she sees me, and I’m like, Oh, bonjour, Madame Mani.

With a smile that says more than what I could say. And she’s like, Oh, Pasqueline, thank you so much for the donuts. You know, I just love them. Oh, so she ate all of them. You know, I had my son on the phone, and I told him how lucky I was to have you as a neighbor. You are so thoughtful. And they were so good.

It was my first time. Thank you so much. Then I realized she had, she had eaten the 40 donuts. And she wasn’t even sick. So she had a very strong stomach, I guess. And you know what? The thing is [00:40:00] that was six years ago and she’s still my neighbor. I am still her neighbor and I’m here for two months and a half.

And she’s taking care of my plants back home. I hope she’s not eating them, but now every time I cook something because I like to give, I have like, I live, my building is mainly full of like widows and so I’m by myself with them. So whenever I cook a cake for my sons, I keep some for them, but then my son always tells me, okay mom, remember first.

You give us some and you make sure it’s just one size, one person size of the cake. Thank you.

Pasqueline Picard

[00:40:55] Kerra Rivera: has been an English teacher in France for 15 years

and she is a [00:41:00] Fulbright grantee

attending a five week program in the U. S. about American history. Culture and politics. She is a lifelong learner, and she loves discovering new things, meeting people, and sharing experiences.

Her adventurous spirit and curiosity have brought her to

various places such as Jordan, Thailand, China, Italy, the UK,

and Ireland.

[00:41:22] Marc Moss: Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Keegan Bonstein, a short king, makes friends with a native Hawaiian family on the beach and feels safe and comfortable in his skin. Keegan calls his story, Short King, or Out of the Head and Into the Heart. Thanks for listening.

[00:41:42] Kaegan Bonstein: Out of the head and into the heart.

I’ve been in transition for about a year now. Um, been on hormones for the last six months and it has been a… Very revelatory experience. Just, uh, thank you. A lot of things, [00:42:00] thank you.

Um, Just a lot of things coming up and it becomes something where you just have time to look at all the things that you want to braid together about this part that hasn’t been expressed. And one of the things I was thinking about is the short king. Like, I want to be a short king, which is… Somebody of short stature that exudes confidence.

I’m like, alright, that’s aspirational. Let’s go for that. And so while I’m going through this process, I’m realizing, you know, I haven’t been out of town, like it had been since COVID, I hadn’t left or anything like that. So I’m like, I need something to like break up the rhythm a little bit and shake up the gumball machine.

And my friend, like about a year ago, was like, why don’t you go to Hawaii? And I was like, okay, I mean, you know, there’s so many places to go. And then I just kind of put that away, and then it starts showing up on people’s t shirts, and it’s coming up in conversation. I’m like, alright, universe, I hear ya.

And so, I book a ticket and go off to [00:43:00] Honolulu and land in Oahu. And I don’t know if any of you have ever been there, but when you land there, at least to me, the land is so… Vocal. You can feel it. And, so I I immediately went up to the north shore of Oahu, which is like the center of surf culture, and it was at the end of the surf season, it was mid April, and so there’s a lot of people there doing that, and I’m just kind of taking things in, and I end up in this little area called Pupukea, and in Pupukea is a beach called Three Tables.

And it’s just, it was awesome. It was this tiny little beach with two alcoves, one on either side, and one side has sand on it with some trees in the background, and then it slowly turns into like coral drop off and like cliffside. And so, uh, I spent some time there, and like, that’s where I ended up spending most of my time.

Um, I thought I was gonna island hop and everything, but I wound up staying put. [00:44:00] And as soon as I get there, there’s… At Three Tables, why it’s called that, there’s three stone slats out a little bit a ways. And I’m just watching the waves crash, and I’m just like… Fuck it. And I dive in and I’m swimming in this ocean and I start laughing hysterically.

And I’m just diving in and feeling this visceral give and take of the tide. And I grew up on the Atlantic Ocean and this was a whole other thing. Like it’s very vocal and wild and very clear that this is the biggest ocean on our planet. And when I was out there having this experience I was like, I don’t want to rehearse anymore.

I just want to dive in and get going and make each day matter more than I felt I had been at that point. So, I stayed in Pupukea, I made some really great friends, jumped off some rocks, and just had an awesome experience staying at a hostel, and then I prepared to camp there, because I brought my tent with me and [00:45:00] everything.

And so, at the end of my time staying at a hostel, uh, a friend of mine, we had gone on this hike, and had this very open hearted conversation, and I was, Really proud of myself that I had said how I felt. And he drops me off at the other side of Three Tables, which there’s a bridge. And then there are these stationary bathrooms there.

And he went off to meet another friend. So, I have my pack on me. And I see this Hawaiian family. And they’ve clearly been there for a little while. There was like, uh, tarp cover with a grill, couple blankets, a lot of folding chairs, and um, I was kind of like, alright, I’ll, I’ll ask these people while I use the restroom to watch my bag.

I didn’t really want to bring it in the bathroom, it was huge. So, um, and I was also, you know, kind of calling their bluff, like, people aren’t that nice. I don’t know. [00:46:00] It was a test. And, I went up to them and these two guys were sitting on the side in folding chairs and I go up to them and say, excuse me, would you mind watching my bag while I use the restroom?

And they go, oh yeah, sure, no problem. And I go in and I use the men’s side. And, while I’m in the bathroom I’m like, Alright, you know, just play it cool, if anything happens, just play it cool, cause like, being trans, in my experience, you learn to assess things very quickly, and you gotta figure out how to keep yourself safe.

And so I go back out, and then I make eye contact with one of the guys, so they definitely see me coming out of the men’s side. And then I go to just grab my bag and head on, I’m like, okay, thanks man, and then it’s like, woah, woah, hey, do you want a beer or something? And it’s like, Yeah, sure. Thanks. And he’s like, yeah, no problem.

Uh, what’s your name? And so, in an act of good faith, I introduced myself by my [00:47:00] nickname. Hey, I’m Finn. He’s like, hey, nice to meet you. I’m Uncle. This is Stan. And I was like, alright. So, making a little bit of chit chat, not too much, and I just slowly start to realize they’re like inviting me to sit down and enjoy for a while.

So I sit down, and I’m sitting down next to them while they’re in the chairs, and they’re just feeding me beautiful, perfect poke, beer, the biggest blunt I’ve ever seen. It, you know, I handled myself like a boss, but like, you know, it was something. Somewhere out there, Snoop’s proud. And I’m hanging there and they’re just like letting me be and like making a little bit of talk, but everything’s happening, you know, like the teenagers are giving flack to the young adults and like I’m watching Uncle help one of the aunties out with her chair that’s not working.

Oh, hold on. I’ll be [00:48:00] right there. Let me help you. And like, they’re just lovely hosts and up walks this guy and he’s like, Hey, I’m Brendan. Hey, Brenda, nice to meet you. He’s not much taller than me, and he holds himself with pride. Yeah. And we’re just having this conversation, and he’s just gently, but like, with some authority, advising me on how to Get my shit together And he’s telling me about like all these Certificates I can earn and just perspective changes and was a really awesome Generous gesture and at one point I look off to the side Where the sand is in three tables and I see like people on the beach, like surfers going in and out with the tide, people swimming and on the radio comes one love, one love, one [00:49:00] love, and the waves are perfectly in sync.

Boys thinking about life.

Yeah.

And I realized that these people created space. For me to create space for myself.

They made it safe to be here now, in this moment.

Yeah,

and I’m just totally blown away by the generosity and we all sit there and just slowly watch the sunset quietly, music’s playing, and as I start to realize it’s time to wrap [00:50:00] up I start to get my bag and then I walk over to the cliffside at the coral edge where there’s a bunch of trees. And so the drop off’s right there, two trees are crossed right over my head and right in the middle is the moon.

It’s a full moon. And I’m just holding my hands there and saying thank you to something I didn’t even know I needed. And as I’m leaving, one of the aunties hands me something. She’s like, here, take this. And it’s a loaf of bread of King’s Hawaiian. And as I’m walking off, I’m like, uncle, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

And he’s like, hey man, I’m with you.

Yeah.

And, at the end of it,[00:51:00]

they just gave me space to be, and showed me that there’s a strength in that. That you can be a short king. And a good king at that.

Thank you.

[00:51:19] Devin Carpenter: Keegan Bonstein is a lifelong performer excited to take a hand at storytelling tonight. He has 25 years of performance experience ranging from musicals to environmental theater to political demonstration. He is also a lifelong food service worker and energy practitioner. He’s very grateful to call Missoula home and for this opportunity.

[00:51:44] Marc Moss: Pretty great stories,

right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme, Lost in Translation. The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration [00:52:00] by calling 406 203 4683.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. Thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN Radio, The Trail 103. 3, Jack FM, and Missoula’s source for modern hits.

You won a 4. 5 Float Missoula. Learn more at FloatMSLA. com and MissoulaEvents. net. Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the Neighbors Live Storytelling Event.

[00:52:32] Devin Carpenter: And as I wake up, I notice that there’s a woman standing outside my bedroom tapping on the window and holding this white bag in the air.

And then I get excited because I realize this is not just some woman. This is Mimi. This is my grandma. And what I need to do is go very quietly, let her in the house. And I go let Mimi in the front door. And we sit down and we open up this white bag and we share a couple [00:53:00] glazed donut holes. Just the two of us, before we go wake up everyone else.

The best explanation that I have for this is that it’s like I was walking down this path, and it’s nighttime, and queerness is like a house with the lights on, and I can see the people inside, and I want to go in, but I don’t know those people, and I don’t live in that house. And the door is closed.

And then I met Lewis.

[00:53:36] Whitney Peper: And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride?

And Tracy’s like, yeah, get in the car! And I’m like, no!

No, no, no, no! And I, I like, barricade the door and trap him inside and Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me. And I go, J. P., call the cops. And J. P. ‘s like, no, we’re not calling the cops.

[00:53:57] Cathy Scholtens: And we see this hawk coming up the North [00:54:00] Ridge. And she’s floating on those drafts. And just floating and floating. And pretty soon, she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her.

Now I’m not. No hug. Itty boogey. New age. Woo woo. Mystical girl. I’m not. Look at me.

Oh my God.

Okay,

[00:54:24] Marc Moss: tune in for those stories on the next tell us something. Podcast. Thanks to Cash For Junkers who provided the music for the podcast, find them at cash for junkers band.com. To learn more about, tell us something, please visit, tellussomething.org.