Missoula

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.

This week on the podcast four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Lost in Translation”. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28, 2023, at The George & Jane Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : Lost in Translation - Part 2

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast. I’m Mark Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us something storytelling event. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is October 29th. I look forward to hearing from you. Tickets for the December 6th live Tell Us Something event are on sale now. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. We are excited to be partnering with Spark Arts to provide on site child care for humans with kiddos. There are a limited number of slots available for this service.

Three teaching artists will provide engaging art based learning activities at the Wilma while you enjoy storytelling for the evening. To learn more and to get tickets, go to tellusomething. org. Thank you to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Blackfoot Communications connects people, businesses, and communities.

[00:01:00] They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses. Connecting homes. Connecting communities. Connecting. Blackfoot Communications allows its users to utilize the latest technology in voice, broadband, network, and managed services. They keep people reliably connected. Blackfoot serves homes in western Montana and eastern Idaho as well as businesses of all sizes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

goblackfoot. com This week on the podcast La

[00:01:34] Ben Catton: abuela will come out and startle me. It’s like is she suspicious of me? What’s going on?

[00:01:39] Ren Parker: I asked him what he’s doing on the train and He says oh, yeah, I take this train and I go over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things I shouldn’t have in Thailand and then I get back on the train and Bring it back to Thailand

[00:01:53] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it But if any of you know in [00:02:00] the 80s A lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue with

[00:02:05] Linda Grinde: the girl in the next bed, says to me, said, you don’t see, I realized she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow.

[00:02:18] Marc Moss: For storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme lost in translation. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023. At the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Telesomething acknowledges that we are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples.

We honor their resilience and strength in the face of colonization and displacement. We recognize that the land upon which we stand is sacred to them and we are committed to working towards a more just and equitable future for all. We take this moment to honor the land and its native people and the stories they [00:03:00] share with us.

Our first storyteller is Ben Ken. As a tall man in Chile, he tries to connect with a deaf grandmother. And that culminates around a parakeet cage. Ben calls his story, Parakeetos.

Thanks for listening.

[00:03:17] Ben Catton: Hey! I’m in Santiago, Chile, having a terremoto. A terremoto is pineapple sorbet and white wine with some liquor drizzled on top of it.

Berries, depending on where you order one. And it’s as unfamiliar and, uh, interesting and as intoxicating as the rest of the three weeks that I’ve spent here so far. And I’m with my friend Paul, who I just met in the preceding semester here at the University of Montana, in some classes trying to prepare ourselves for this semester abroad experience.

And we’re checking in on, you know, how’s everything going and, uh, comparing notes on the incredible culture shock that we’re going through. [00:04:00] I’m mostly enjoying and laughing to ourselves about all the weirdnesses that we’re experiencing. We’re coming from Missoula, Montana. I guess you call us a city. Here in Montana we definitely are.

But now we’re in Santiago, Chile where there’s 5 million people. It’s a sprawling metropolitan area. I’m getting on a metro in the morning to commute to school, riding these buses. We’re sitting currently on this uh, kind of sidewalk patio. In t shirts and shorts, though it’s January, we’ve just come from 20 degree weather in Missoula, and we’re sweating while we’re enjoying our pineapple sorbet covered in alcohol.

And we’re just enjoying how bizarre everything is. We’re checking in on, uh, we’re comparing notes on the, the way that we stand out here now. I’m, I’m tall, but I’m kind of average tall here in the U. S. But in Chile I’m all of a sudden like basketball star tall. And so I get on the metro in the morning and everybody is packed.

You know, elbow to elbow, and uh, I [00:05:00] don’t feel that claustrophobic because I have all this head room. And I can look over the tops of everybody’s, you know, I just see a sea of hair instead of looking at everybody’s faces. Face to face. And we’re cracking up because the dogs are a real change. Um, Chile’s in this moment of policy.

Chaos about, uh, feral dogs in the city. We’re seeing this on the news and, um, if you take a walk during the quiet hours when there aren’t many pedestrians out, you can pick up a dog on, a dog on just about every block and by the time you reach your destination you have this pack that’s coming with you.

And everything’s gated, wrought iron gates to get into your apartment or to get into the university, so you kind of like, scrape your dogs off as you, as you get to where you’re going. And, and they must just disperse and go back to their block so that you can pick one up again everywhere you go. So this is cracking us up and, uh, the noise of everything as well.

Paul jokes to me while we’re having our terremotos that you could [00:06:00] fart anywhere in the city because it’s so loud and so chaotic and smelly all the time, nobody would ever know. So that’s bizarre and the overnight sounds. Um, it seems that every single car in Chile has a car alarm. A lot of them that you wouldn’t think would necessitate an alarm.

And they’re like aftermarket car alarms and they’re very sensitive. So these dogs that are roaming everywhere are setting off car alarms. And there’s sounds all the time throughout the night. On top of that, I’m telling him I have two parakeets that live. right outside of my window on, on the porch of the apartment and the host family I’m staying with.

And, uh, and by the time that the other noises of the city are kind of coming back on board overnight and traffic noise, et cetera, is kind of drowning out the dog noise and the car alarm noise, the, that’s also when the parakeets are, are starting to come to life too. So we’re asking each other about our host family situations and [00:07:00] Paul knows that.

When I was placed in my host family, um, one of my favorite human beings, a man that, that set this trip up for us through University of Montana, a professor here for a long time, Clary Loisel, who’s awesome, um, he came to me with this kind of coy smile after he’d gotten Um, correspondence through the university about who I’d been placed with and he told me, Ven a mi, vas a vivir con tres mujeres soteras.

You’re going to live with three single women. And then, then he laughed and said, Oh, it’s two sisters in their 40s and their mother who’s in her 70s. They have a couple of dogs, some parakeets, sounds very nice. Uh, and it really was. But I was also experiencing this moment of, um, a little bit of, uh, apprehension there, as explained to Paul, that I’m having a hard time communicating, especially with the mom.

The two sisters names are Gloria and Pilar. And the mother, uh, who I call the grandmother, la abuela, I still haven’t gotten [00:08:00] her name, I’m three weeks in, because I keep just completely, uh, struggling to communicate with her. And I’m embarrassed at this point to ask the daughters, uh, or her. So, it’s an epitome of just, you know, how our communication is going at this point.

And this is a little bit of culture shock as well. I’m living in this, uh, family that is, that is very different from what I’ve been up to for the last five, six years. Uh, I’m a mid twenties person going to college and on this study abroad now. And, uh, so, I’m telling him, yeah, it’s like, I, I try to ask her something, or she tries to ask me something, and we just, we never seem to be clicking.

This is stressing me out because we’re in January, which means it’s summertime in Chile. And we are in all day, eight hour intensive classes of Spanish, um, before the, what is their fall semester is going to begin. And I’m going to be in buried and more difficult classes, um, very soon. So the at home [00:09:00] element is also part of my training, part of my practice, and I feel like I’m kind of failing and flailing.

Um, so, yeah, I’m telling him, yeah, I’ll come home, announce myself, hola, buenas tardes, and, uh, Gloria and Pilar might be at work still, and, uh, I’ll go sit in the living room and then la abuela will come out and startle me. And it’s like, is she suspicious of me? What’s going on? Uh, distrustful? So… I have this great conversation, finish our terremotos, and, and say our goodbyes, get on the metro, ride home, tall, and uh, and uh, sure enough, I go into our 7th floor apartment building, we’re in a building that’s taller than anything we have in Missoula, it’s where we live.

And, uh, hola, buenas tardes, nobody answers, I walk into the kitchen and I almost like run right into la abuela. Hola! And we’re catching up with each other and, um, asking how her day was. And pretty quickly she’s asking me about the parakeets on the porch and do they bother me? Do they [00:10:00] sing too much? Um, do I like their sound?

I’m like, yeah, yeah, parakeets are great. But she doesn’t seem to get my assurance and next thing I know I’m kind of following her out towards the porch. And, uh, we go out there and as we’re going she’s telling me, Están enamorados, están casados, van a ser una familia. She’s really in love with these parakeets.

They’re in love with each other, they’re married, they’re going to have a family. And, uh, we get out. On the porch, there’s the parakeet cage that hangs from the ceiling, and, uh, she’s very short, like nipple high, and so right away we can see the blue parakeet, there’s a blue one and a green one. The blue one is sitting outside of its little house on a perch.

And, um, and it’s chattin away, and so she’s talkin to it right away, makin little kissing sounds, and, and, uh, she says, Dónde está tu amante? Dónde está el verde? Where’s your lover? Where’s the green [00:11:00] one? And, I’m kinda right behind her, and being tall, I can see the entirety of the cage, including the The plastic tray on the bottom that catches the droppings and the seeds and the green one is dead on the bottom.

So I’m standing behind her and I’m trying to gently call her attention to it. I’m like, Oh, he’s on

the bottom. I think he’s dead. It’s like, she’s ignoring me and I’m getting uncomfortable. Like. Am I being framed here?

Is

she thinking I did this to the parakeets? Uh, so finally she’s like up on her tiptoes a little bit and sees it and she just explodes. Dios mio! Esta muerto! Wailing runs inside and I’m feeling horrid.

Uh, but I’m also a little relieved because the intensity [00:12:00] of your reaction makes me think that this isn’t a frame, this isn’t a setup. So, gracias adios, thank god, Gloria, her daughter, arrives home pretty much in this moment and tranquila mama, she calms her down and kind of gets information from us and And I’m trying to explain, uh, you know, I was trying to draw her attention to it.

It’s like, it’s like she just never understands a thing I’m saying. Does she, uh, it’s not my fault. Gloria tells me, Benha, yo te dije muchas veces, ella es sorda. Ben. I’ve told you lots of times, she’s deaf.

It’s this lightbulb for me. I finally understand what she’s telling me right now, because I guess she’s told me this lots of times, but, uh, but I also feel really good in this moment. I get it. I understand what you just told me. I guess I am [00:13:00] making progress. So as bad as I feel for the parakeet, I’m having a hard time not smiling and, uh, grateful for the epiphany.

I think maybe I will survive my classes. .

[00:13:14] Marc Moss: Thanks

Ben. Ben is Missoula, born and raised, but spent the majority of his adult life elsewhere orbiting to Wyoming, Idaho, Wisconsin, Alaska, and Chile. In the midst of those orbits, he studied at the University of Montana to become a teacher, and he has taught high school English in Spanish. Currently he’s pursuing a master’s degree in public administration and is back at the University of Montana.

He and his wife, Jessie, are doing their best to raise two kiddos to be silly, adventurous, kind, and curious. Next up is Wren Parker, who loves slow travel. She prefers buses and trains and one day finds herself in a train to Cambodia, whose tracks end. Just across the border, friend calls her [00:14:00] story, slow travel.

Thanks for listening.

[00:14:10] Ren Parker: It is my last night in Bangkok. All the lights from the city and the exhaust from the scooters and the tick, uh, the tuk tuks is intense. It’s overwhelming my senses. I spent this last month in Northern Thailand in and out of temple stays studying. Meditation and this city was too much for my heartbeat as I’m walking, I go by an open window through it.

I see a woman in a beautiful art deco dress. She’s singing blue moon. And for a moment, I find stillness in the chaos. You see, I have spent the last year preparing for this trip. I taught myself how to code. I sold my food truck [00:15:00] and moved to San Francisco. I participated in hackathons and think tanks until I mastered the technology I thought was going to save the world.

And I got a job doing that, sold everything except for what could fit in my 40 liter backpack. And I just went to Southeast Asia. I had it all planned out that I was going to do it over land. I love slow travel. It gives me a moment to see moments between people that you know. You normally wouldn’t see if you go too fast, a mother braiding her daughter’s hair, farmers tending to their crops, laughter between friends from a hidden joke.

These are the moments that make me feel like I truly connected with the places that I visit. The next day I go to the train station, I’m getting my second train of the leg of my trip. The first leg I [00:16:00] started from Chiang Mai, Thailand, took a train I’m going to Bangkok where I was presently in Chinatown.

And this next one I was going to take from Bangkok over to the border of Cambodia. Now I had this plan all planned out. I was going to go to the border of Cambodia, cross it. And then I was going to get another train or maybe an overnight bus, whatever they had. And I was going to go to Simri, the home of Angkor Wat.

And that would be where I’d be for the next month. I make it to the train station. It’s old. It’s dark green. And I go up. To the ticket counter and get my ticket. There seems to be some confusion about the train I want. And I’m like, no, this is the one. And person looks at me, hands it and it’s unsure. And I go and I find my train it’s old and red peeling paint.

It has these giant windows on the side with no glass. So it’s just like an open air train. And when I go in, there are goats and [00:17:00] chickens. And I am the only foreigner. And I’m like, alright, this is the adventure I wanted, excellent. So I go and I find a little bench and curl up and put my chin on the windowless, um, area and, uh, it starts going and you hear this loud screech from the train.

And we’re off Now as we get going, I’m so amazed because there’s an entire city on the side of the train tracks. It’s like a city within a city. There are gambling halls and restaurants all built from tarps and things like that, and they’re just inches away from my face. So as we wa we weave out of this city, there’s this kaleidoscope of human experience that I, it just absorbs me and I’m, I’m just fascinated by it.

Pretty soon, maybe like an hour or two, we’re out of the city, and it becomes very regular. There’s a, uh, we’re going through the [00:18:00] countryside, and we’re stopping at little, little stops. People are taking their goats out, bringing other things in. There’s chickens, there’s all kinds of stuff. It’s really neat.

And, um, I’m also starting to notice there’s this air in there where, like, if I leave my bag, it will not be there in about two seconds. So I’m like, got it on my thing. But, um, pretty soon, I look up, and… There is this very large man that is walking through. I noticed him right away because he’s so tall and he looks down at me and he has this huge smile and sits right in front of me and he asked me if I would practice, uh, his English with him.

And I said, yes, of course, something to do, you know? So he pulls out this composition book and it’s old. It’s like the one you’d have in fifth grade. It’s very worn. He opens it up and there’s all this writing in it from different travelers. And so we sit down and we practice his sentences and his words.

Things like, where’s the train station? How much for this item? When we get to the end of it, I decide to give him some words [00:19:00] to, you know, add some more texture to his vocabulary. Things like creativity, friendship, joy. And then after we just start conversing and practicing in open forum and I asked him what he’s doing on the train and, uh, he says, Oh yeah, I take this train and I go, um, over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things.

I shouldn’t have in Thailand. And then I get back on the train and bring it back to Thailand. A lot of people here are doing that, and I’m like, oh, I’m on a smuggler train. . Good thing I made friends with one. And I’m like, oh. And he goes, well, what are you doing? And I’m like, oh yeah, I’m just, you know, I’m gonna go to Sim Reap for a while.

I’m gonna go there, get on another train and maybe, or maybe a bus. And, and he looks at me and he goes, the train track stopped before the border there. There’s no. And I’m like, Oh, well, overnight bus. He’s like, there’s none of those either. So I realized that I am stuck going to be [00:20:00] stuck at the border. And right about that time, I look out this, this train tracks, they’re screeching again.

We’re stopping. And I look and the train tracks just stopped just like he said. And I see this crowd of people coming up and they all want something from somebody and there’s yelling and it’s just chaos. And I just realized like, I am in definite danger. I definitely got myself. With my romanticized white girl ideas of like, what things are, you know, really naive.

So, I must have had the panicked look. And Nom, which was the man’s name, looks over at me and he says, You helped me, now I help you. And just like that, he scoops me up and starts walking on the train. And he’s so tall, my feet aren’t touching the ground. And I just cling to him like a little baby primate, like, Please, God, yes, help me.

And he just… He walks out, and as all the people come, he’s all pshh, pshh, pshh, just like partying the way, just slapping them out of the way. And I’m [00:21:00] just like, press my face into his chest, and I’m just like, okay, here we go. And before I know it, he’s tossing me into a tuk tuk, and I feel myself land on somebody.

And I look down, and it’s Grandma. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. And he’s like, sit back down, there’s no room unless you’re on Grandma’s lap. And I was like, okay. So, we get to the border. We jump out, and I’m like, sorry grandma, and uh, there’s a big glass building, one side says customs, the other side has some tie riding, and we both, we enter, I enter the customs, he enters that, and we look at each other through the glass, and I give him a very deep bow, that’s usually reserved just for monks, because he saved me, and that was the last time I saw him, he gave me a big smile and walked away, and I got through customs, and um, I was in a very, uh, And I was like, well, I better get some food because I don’t know what’s going to happen and I should eat.

[00:22:00] Maybe my last meal. And, uh, so I find a Thai restaurant and I’m just missing Thailand and I order my favorite Thai dish which has got like some, um, chicken and basil on rice with an egg on top. And, um, I’m eating and I look over and I see the cutest little girl. And she’s got this gingham dress to her knees and these little, these little pigtails and a shy smile.

And, uh, I start playing with her, you know, peek a boo, and the watchful eyes of her mother look down. She looks happy that I’m playing with her daughter. So soon I’m, like, hanging out, and I go to the mom, and I’m like, Taxi, some reap? And she looks at me like, Girl, what? And then she holds her finger out to say, like, One moment, please.

And she walks to the phone. It’s one of those old phones, you know, that you had to, like, move to the numbers. And pretty soon she’s, like, having an argument. And then she looks. It’s really like, ah, hangs it up and grabs one of the other waitresses who spoke better English. And she said, her [00:23:00] brother was going to take me.

He’s delivering rugs to some rape. And I thought, Oh, thank you so much. So in a little bit, a very grumpy brother shows up like, I cannot believe that you’re throwing this at me, you know, and, uh, I go over in there, uh, into the van and the back is all full of. these rugs and I crawl up on top of the rugs and they’re scratchy and smell like goats and must from the, wherever they have been stored, but I was safe and I felt so happy about that.

And right as I curl up, um, to fall asleep before going to SIM rape, the last thing that crosses my mind is I love slow travel. Thank you.

[00:23:57] Marc Moss: Ren Parker grew up in Hawaii and lived on [00:24:00] sailboats she restored on the Pacific for seven years. She gave up her nomadic ways and moved back to Missoula three years ago to be close to family and has been growing roots here ever since. Ren loves to dance and hike with her faithful dog, Poet, and she spends time with her remarkable Missoula friends.

She found her passion for storytelling in the winter of 2022 in a weekly open mic. Coming up after the break.

[00:24:25] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it. But if any of you know, in the 80s, a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue.

[00:24:37] Linda Grinde: And the girl in the next bed says to me, C’est du dansin! I realize she’s asking me if I want to go dancing. Wow.

[00:24:49] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th. You can learn how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellusomething. org. Thanks again to our title [00:25:00] sponsor, Blackfoot communications, helping us with the heavy lifting of the expense of producing our evening.

Thanks to our stewardship sponsor, Jana Lundquist consulting, helping us to provide free tickets to populations. That might otherwise be unable to attend tell us something events. Thank you to our story sponsor parkside credit union helping us to pay our storytellers Thank you to our accessibility sponsors the kettle house allowing us to hire american sign language interpreters at the events In order to be a more inclusive experience and thanks to our artist sponsor crowley fleck attorneys pllp You are listening to the tell us something podcast I’m your host, Mark Moss.

Our stories in this episode are recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023 at the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Next up is Abe Kurian, who shares his story of woe in which his Indian father mistakenly puts sugar daddy on the back of his van, thinking it means.

One who gives candy to loved ones, Abe calls his story, [00:26:00] Middle East meets the Midwest. Thanks for listening.

[00:26:08] Abe Kurien: An hour south of Chicago, a little town called Bourbonus, Illinois. Now the representatives there, they wanted to vote it and go back to the French pronunciation because of the spelling, to Bourbonay. I’m not French, I grew up there as a kid, I still call it Bourbonus. Now. Bobonis has a university called Olivet Nazarene University, and that is a private Christian conservative school.

And it is The community of Bourbon is kind of just like the University of Montana. Everybody in the community kind of gathers around that university. Well, that is, uh, where my parents met. My mom, she’s from Superior, Montana. Now, that is about an hour west of here. [00:27:00] Small community, and, uh, my mom grew up in the northwest, graduated from Superior High School, and because her brother lived outside of Chicago, he introduced her to Olivet.

Now my dad. He’s from India. And so he comes over, he was encouraged to come over, and by some of the friends that he had in India that were already here in the States. My dad was a proud man, still alive today, and I will get to that, but he was a proud man with a few dollars, a couple suitcases, and he makes his trip to Burbonas, Illinois to go to Olivet.

Now my parents met there, and… And, you know, going back through this, my dad comes here and he ends up getting his bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in counseling from another university outside of Chicago, and in that community of Burbonas, he became very well known. And actually, [00:28:00] if you know me and how outgoing I am, I have to thank my dad for that.

But he was known with organizations. He was in very, various clubs and also very known, um, as being a very Christian man. Now, my dad was also very proud with the work that he did in providing for his kids. Myself, I’m the oldest of five. I have three sisters and a brother that are younger than me. And one thing that my dad wanted to do was always take us on a summer vacation or a vacation somewhere.

And just like the Griswolds and that station wagon, we’re gonna go to the 70s. The 70s… Everybody traveled in a station wagon. And so, we would load up the station wagon, head out to my grandma’s house in Superior, Montana, making little stops along the way. And you gotta remember, my dad, you know, he’s [00:29:00] seeing new sights as he’s leaving the Midwest and coming out towards here to meet and see the…

the west. And so we go, and one of our favorite stops, and if any of you know this, the home of the Corn Palace is in Mitchell, South Dakota. Oh, yeah, we got it. There we go. So now the Mitchell, South Dakota Corn Palace, if you don’t know what it is, they have these murals that are up on the walls and of the exterior of the building that are made from the agriculture from the South Dakota area and surrounding areas with corn, wheat, beans, all that kind of stuff.

But, you know, us kids, we anticipated what the theme was going to be that summer, was we come around the corner. Another great thing about the Mitchell South Dakota Corn Palace is they had a huge gift shop. And if you’re a kid, and you’re traveling, you want what’s in those gift shops. And you know, most of the stuff in there was probably made in India.

So now, we end up continuing our trip to [00:30:00] Superior, Montana to see my grandma. But now, we’re going to move on to the 80s. And in the 80s, we ended up, my dad worked even harder, us kids were growing, and the station wagon wasn’t going to cut it anymore. So we ended up with the conversion van. Now if you know what the conver does everybody know what a conversion van is?

If you don’t, let me describe it. It is slicked out. It is… Silver gray, blue pinstripes, captain chairs, so you know, now that we’re older and, you know, outgrown, the station wagon, but the back seat was a, it turned into a bed. It was pretty sweet. And then, the best thing about the conversion van was it had cable, or not cable hookup because it wasn’t But it had a hookup for TV.

So we had a TV that we would take along, but if you were [00:31:00] stopped, you could get those three channels with the rabbit ears. Otherwise, in the 80s, it was snow and static. So we took this same trip and came out and did our thing in the 80s. Well, in the 90s, we grew up as kids and kind of left the house and, but my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it and was really proud of it.

But if any of you know, in the 80s, a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they had a paint issue with like GMC and Chevrolet and so the van started to get peely and blistery and paint was, you know, coming off in chunks and it just looked bad. And my dad was like… You know, well one, I called to check in on him, I didn’t live anywhere near the, the house at that time.

I call him up and I said, hey dad, I said, uh, you know, one thing I didn’t explain about my dad, let me actually back up and I apologize for this. But my dad, [00:32:00] his character, has anybody seen The Simpsons? So I didn’t explain this, my dad being from India. is a spitting image of a poo. And I apologize I didn’t bring this up earlier.

I just kind of, I got lost in that translation. So, but here’s, had pun intended. So what ended up happening was my dad That would sound like, would you like to buy a soda pop in a candy bar? Thank you. Come again. And that was my dad’s accent with a poo. But now the best thing about it, he’s in his 80s now and he is a mix of a poo and if you know the boxing promoter, sorry about the pops, the boxing promoter.

Don King. My dad has gray hair that stands up like this. And Don King was outlandish and a little bit of a character, but my dad had his hair. But the look and sound of a poo. And [00:33:00] so, when I called my dad and said, Hey dad, you know, hey, how things going? He’s like, you know, I would like to, uh, With his little accent, he goes, I would like to get the van painted.

The van, it’s all not looking good. And he goes, I think I would like to have that done. And I said, that sounds great, dad. And he goes, you know, in the back of the van, there’s a, there’s a wheel well with a tire cover. And he goes, I would like to put a saying on there, like number one dad or something like that.

Now my motto is keep smiling. So that’s what I would have. And if you guys see jeeps out here in the Northwest, they all have sayings on them. Like, you know, if I’m upside down, we’re having a good time. So, um, I told my dad, you know, dad, I think a great name to put on the back is

I mean, come on. How would that not be perfect? With a conversion van, with a couch that turns into a bed. So, you know, I just laughed it off. I’m thinking that in the back of my head. That’s where [00:34:00] my mind went. And he says, you know son, that sounds like an idea, but we’ll think. So he goes on, and uh, I don’t think anything of it, and uh, I end up visiting, sorry, I end up visiting him about a year later.

About four or five months later, and he comes out and he says, you know son, come see the Vaughn. Come see the Vaughn. I got it repainted. It’s beautiful. So we’re looking at the Vaughn, and the van, because I say van, he says Vaughn. But uh, we come around the back of the van, and I said, hey dad, what happened to your tire cover?

And he goes, you know son, you could, you break your daddy’s heart. You break your daddy’s heart. Basically worked very hard, and I put money into this van, and you tell me to put sugar daddy on the back of this van, and I was actually biting my tongue to not laugh, hysterically. But what [00:35:00] ends up happening is, I said, well, what did you think it was, dad?

And he said, you know, I thought it was a daddy that gave out candy. That makes it even better with the whole van. But, so, you know, I look at it and go, The sugar daddy story, and my dad, I, with all the stuff that he’s done, I’m proud of him, and he worked hard to give us a whole lot of stuff, and I apologize for having him go through that whole thing with the, the repainting of the back of the van.

My biggest regret, is that I never saw him cruising around town in burbonis in a sugar daddy van. I’d like to, uh, thank my beautiful wife, who is the interpreter tonight. And thank you, and keep smiling.

[00:35:55] Marc Moss: Thanks, Abe. Abe Kurian is married to his best friend, Bonnie Kurian, [00:36:00] who was the American Sign Language interpreter when Abe performed his story. They have four children and two grandchildren. He has lived in Montana for the last 24 years. After moving here from outside of Chicago, Illinois, Abe has worked for over 30 years in the film and television industry.

For over 10 years, he has been the camera operator for Grizz and Cat’s football games for the broadcasts on Root Sports, K Pax with Scripps Sports, and the playoffs on ESPN. He also worked on the TV shows 1883, 1923, and currently working as the dailies coordinator for the show Yellowstone, which is shot right here in Missoula, Montana.

His motto is, Keep smiling and his goal is to leave everyone with a smile on their face after meeting them. Closing out this episode of the podcast, Linda Grindy shares her story about a time she was lost in translation. Invited to a disco by French speakers, she ends up breaking into her own hostel to get back in.

Linda calls her story Dancer in a Strange Land or Disco Damsel in [00:37:00] Distress. Thanks for listening.

[00:37:03] Linda Grinde: The boom from the disco floor was so loud that I had to stand up so that the table full of people would even know that I was speaking. C’est très important de, j’ai, j’ai fait partie maintenant. Nothing I tried again.

Um,

I need your help. Still nothing. It was three o’clock in the morning. I’m somewhere in the south of France at a disco with a group of strangers and nobody speaks English. And I have ten kids sleeping in a, in a hostel. An hour or more away, thinking that I’m there and [00:38:00] I’m going to get up in the morning and take them on a 50 mile bike ride in the heat of August in the south of France during high tourist season.

I need to sleep. I want to sleep. Um, je voudrais coucher ce soir. Yeah, that sets off a lot of rapid fire French all around. Punctuated by the occasional English phrase, um, I love you, my darling. Do you want to sleep with me tonight? To be fair, you know, if I was back in the States and there was one French person, I’m sure you would hear, Voulez vous coucher avec moi?

But I’m really stuck. Rewind. Ten hours. I’m 21 years old. I’m leading a bicycle trip through Europe. Scandinavia, Southern [00:39:00] France. For the American Youth Hostels. I have 10, 15 year old kids from Manhattan that I am the guide for. The only adult. We have been already six weeks. on the trail. We’ve cycled over the fjords of Norway.

We have cycled through the farmland of Denmark and, and, and Sweden. And just this morning, we got on a plane in Copenhagen and flew to Milan, got on a train and came to the south of France to Antibes, Cat Antibes, one of the biggest tourist towns on the French Riviera. We’ve bicycled up from the train station, and as we come to the hostel that we’re going to be staying in tonight, I realize it’s a chateau.

To me, it looks like a castle. It’s got [00:40:00] round towers and turrets and arched windows that look out over the Mediterranean Sea, which is right across the street. As we push our bicycles into the courtyard, all cobblestone, we go past these eight foot iron gates with spikes on top. The only thing that’s missing is the moat.

Well, I get the kids settled in their dormitories, they’re tired, and I find my room, which is on the second floor, up a stairway into one of those round rooms, there are five beds, and I, I barely slip my saddlebacks off my shoulder when the girl in the next bed says to me, Fais tu danser? I realize she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow, I have spent the last six weeks with kids. It would be fun to have some adult time. They’re all settled. Why [00:41:00] not? Oui! I say oui! I reach my hand down to the bottom of my saddle bag and pull out the only dress I brought and slip on some sandals and follow her downstairs. So the first surprise… Is that there were two cars waiting outside, packed with her friends.

We’re not just walking into town for a couple of hours, we’re going somewhere. I climb inside, and after a Very brief conversation about who I am, uh, American, and then I’m on a velo, I’m riding, I’ve exhausted my, my vocabulary. And they pretty much ignore me. And we’re driving further and further away from town and into the countryside, and it’s getting darker.

Finally, we pull into a parking lot and up to a building that is like, Like a [00:42:00] birthday cake, each floor a different color, and it’s pulsing with the sound of disco music, this is the 70s. We enter this amazing structure and start by dancing on the first floor, we have a few drinks, it really is fun. And then move to the second floor, and different tone, and different feeling, and I’m starting to look at my watch because it’s getting close to 10 o’clock, and the rules of a youth hostel is that they close and lock those doors at 10 o’clock.

And I’m looking over at the girl I came with, and she doesn’t seem to be concerned, so I figure, well, I guess we’re gonna break in together. But I do start drinking water. We go to the next floor and continue this rising up through all levels. And now it’s [00:43:00] getting on close to midnight and I really am tired.

I’m ready to go and I, but I figure I, I’m in for the trip. So I have to wait till the bars close at two. And then two o’clock comes, and passes by, and things aren’t slowing down, they’re actually revving up. And that, that girl I came with, she is nowhere to be seen. And suddenly I start to, I start to panic.

I, I don’t even know how to use a French phone, or how to call a taxi, or where I am, or what the name of that hostel was, or, oh, I only have a few francs and a lot of American traveler’s checks, so that’s not going to work. Um, and then I, and then I think, oh my god, what happens if my kids wake up at six o’clock?

I’m not there. They don’t know where I am. I don’t know where I am. [00:44:00] There’s no way to get in touch with anybody. There are no international phones at the time. Or there might be at a post office in some town. There’s no, there’s nothing they can do. I’m I’m freaking out. So, let’s go back to that table. I’m standing there and I’m getting a little crazy.

I keep saying, I have to go, I have to go, in whatever method I can. And finally, a tall, sandy haired guy steps forward. Let’s call him Francois. He wiggles his keys. I think he must have drawn the short straw. Because I had become what you would call a real pain in the derriere. They just wanted to get rid of me.

Relief is tinged by a little unease as we head into the dark parking lot towards his car. I’m following a stranger out into the [00:45:00] darkness and… What else can I do? He’s my only hope. We get to the car, and he walks around to the passenger side and opens it for me, but then pushes me against the door and tries to kiss me.

I push him off. I’m having none of that. He just shrugs and climbs in the car. We have a very long, quiet ride. But we get there, I see the Mediterranean, and that castle, and I’m back. He stops, I jump out, Merci! Close the door, and he speeds off. And then I’m facing the fortress. That big gate now is locked with a big padlock.

And I have to get past it. But I realize that The gate is connected into [00:46:00] these large boulders, and, and they look like they’ve got a good grip, so I managed to get up the boulders and then carefully step over those spikes on the top and hang down and drop into the courtyard, and I figure, okay, I’m in, I can sleep on a bench, I guess, till morning, but I don’t know.

I don’t know. I noticed that there’s a window that’s slightly ajar on the hallway that goes up to my room and there’s a ledge and there’s a vine. I think I can do this. It must be adrenaline that’s driving me. I slip my sandals onto my wrist and climb up the vine and then inch my way along to the window and thank God it opens easily and I slip in and get into my bed.

And I get two solid hours of sleep. Six o’clock in the morning comes fast and I hear the bell of the breakfast ring and I splash my face with water and as I [00:47:00] gather my stuff I realize that girl never slept in that bed. She never made it back. Well, I did the 50 mile ride, got my kids safely to the next campground, they never knew what happened, I’ve never even told this story.

But I have to tell you, in recounting it, I started thinking about that guy, Francois. So many things could have gone wrong. He was drunk, we could have crashed, he could have left me in the parking lot, he could have taken me anywhere. But he didn’t. He left his friends. He left that party. He drove this crazy American off into the night.

He did the right thing. After all these years, I’d just like to say, Merci beaucoup, François.[00:48:00]

[00:48:05] Marc Moss: Thanks, Linda. Linda Grinde keeps trying to reinvent herself, but just keeps coming back to another version of theater. She recently appeared in a multimedia memory piece, Intangible Objects, at the Westside Theater in Missoula, Montana. Originally from New Jersey. She has a master’s degree in theater and has danced professionally in New York and Germany, acted in and directed plays in London, Seattle, Dallas, Hawaii, and all around Montana.

Linda will be traveling to Thailand next year to you guessed it. Teach theater.

Thanks for listening to the tell us something podcast. And thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events. net, Montana public radio, and Missoula broadcasting company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh 3. 3 check FM and Missoula source for modern hits. You want a 4. 5 thanks to float Missoula.

Learn more [00:49:00] at float msla. com and Joyce of tile. Learn more about Joyce at Joyce of tile. com. Remember that the next tell us something event. is December 6th. You can learn about how to pitch your story and get tickets at tellussomething. org.[00:50:00]

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

This week on the podcast four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Lost in Translation”. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28, 2023, at The George & Jane Dennison Theatre at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : Lost in Translation - Part 1

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us something storytelling event. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is October 29th. I look forward to hearing from you. Tickets for the December 6th live Tell Us Something event are on sale now. The theme is The Kindness of Strangers. We are excited to be partnering with Spark Arts to provide on site childcare for humans with kiddos. There are a limited number of slots available for this service.

Three teaching artists will provide engaging art based learning activities at the Wilma while you enjoy storytelling for the evening. To learn more and to get tickets, go to tellusomething. org. Thank you to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Blackfoot Communications connects people, businesses, and communities.

[00:01:00] They know that strong connections matter. Connecting businesses. Connecting homes. Connecting communities. Connecting. Blackfoot Communications allows its users to utilize the latest technology in voice, broadband, network, and managed services. They keep people reliably connected. Blackfoot serves homes in western Montana and eastern Idaho as well as businesses of all sizes throughout the Pacific goblackfoot.

com This week on the podcast I

[00:01:33] Chris Hallberg: hear dr. Steve before I see dr. Steve his His loud American accented Spanish is echoing off the clinic walls He looks to be in his mid to late 50s like kind of washed up surfer vibe about him

[00:01:49] Philippa Crawford: I really tried to avoid him next thing. I know we’re paired up in an exercise that we do with our eyes closed Touching each other’s hands getting to know each other with just [00:02:00] our hands

[00:02:01] Richard Thornton: And the boy just smiles real big and he, and he nods his head and then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

[00:02:10] Nita Maddox: And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface and I thought, I’m going to organize a naked bike ride.

[00:02:18] Marc Moss: Four Storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Lost in Translation. Their stories were recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023. At the George and Jane Dennison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Telesomething acknowledges that we are on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples. We honor their resilience and strength in the face of colonization and displacement. We recognize that the land upon which we stand is sacred to them and we are committed to working towards a more just and equitable future for all.

We take this moment to honor the land and its native people and the stories they [00:03:00] share with us.

Our first story comes to us from Chris Hallberg. who shares his story in which Dr. Steve, an American doctor, gives a Salvadorian patient a pizza cutter as a gift. Chris calls his story Pizza Cutter Medicine.

Thanks for listening.

[00:03:26] Chris Hallberg: So it’s about six in the morning and the sun is just coming up. I’m on a bus in rural El Salvador headed out of Chalatanango into Nueva Trinidad. And even though it’s just break of dawn, the bus drivers got reggaeton music on full blast. And the bus that we’re on is this old repurposed school bus. I’m wedged into my seat.

My knees are pressed tightly up against the vinyl of the seat back in front of me. There’s diesel smoke that’s blowing through the cabin as the bus driver just [00:04:00] tears around

It’s about 15 years ago, and I’ve been living in El Salvador for about a year now, working on a few different, um, health related projects with some grassroots organizations there. And although I have a U. S. passport and know that I can leave at any time, I really try to do everything that I can to live as an average Salvadoran would.

So I shop at local Marcets and avoid touristy areas. I wash my clothes by hand. Um, I eat the street food. I drink the water. Um, And when we, uh, when the, or I guess the bus that I’m on is headed out to this rural country area, um, there’s a group of U. S. doctors that’s, that’s, uh, volunteered to come down and, um, myself along, and along with a few other people we’ve been asked to, um, help interpret for the doctors.

So we, um, we pull up at the clinic and there’s already a line of Salvadorans outside the tall whitewashed [00:05:00] walls of the clinic compound and I kind of go to make my way inside and the tile floors of the clinic are just spotless, there’s white floors, they’ve been freshly cleaned, this is the sweet smell of fabulosa, this cleaning product is kind of lingering in the air for those of you that know fabulosa.

The staff is all standing in a large circle, kind of at attention. The, uh, nurses are there, and the community health workers are there, and the janitors are there. And, uh, uh, everyone is just dressed immaculately, even though the staff lives in near poverty themselves. So the women are all wearing these like white pressed dresses.

Men are wearing, uh, dress shirts and slacks. And everybody has got on these, um, dress shoes that are polished and totally clean even though there’s, um, dirt, muddy streets, uh, throughout the town. Uh, and then off in one corner, the, the U. S. physicians are kind of mingling amongst each other. And I’m trying to size them up because I’ve, uh, volunteered to interpret for these groups before.

And some of the doctors are definitely a little bit more culturally sensitive [00:06:00] than other ones. And from the looks of it. This group seems to be pretty appropriate. They’re, you know, talking in gentle tones. They’re all professionally dressed. Except for one.

Dr. Steve.

Now I, I hear Dr. Steve before I see Dr.

Steve. His, his loud American accented Spanish is echoing off the clinic walls. He looks to be in his mid to late 50s. Um, like kind of washed up surfer vibe about him. He looks like he was born in Southern California and had never left. He’s got, uh, shoulder length, uh, curly, graying hair. Um, he’s wearing an old faded t shirt.

He’s got on gym shorts and flip flops. Um, and his, his, uh, he kind of reminds me of that one wild uncle that we all have that just talks a little too loudly and has no sense of personal space. So the clinic manager gets us all together and she starts Um, making pairings, assigning each of us interpreters with one of the physicians, and I start to get nervous, because I [00:07:00] just do not want to get stuck with this joker all day.

And so she starts calling off names, and she says, you know, Jen and Dr. Anderson. And I feel my knees get a little bit weak, because I just, I know what’s coming. And then she says, Nadia and Dr. Garrett, and I just know it’s happening, I can feel that the pit in my stomach is getting tighter and tighter. And she proceeds through all of the, the pairings until, um, uh, in a moment that feels a lot like middle school gym class to me, there’s only two of us left.

And she says, Chris and Dr. Steve. So Dr. Steve makes his way across the, uh, clinic waiting area to me and he’s got this giant clear plastic. Garbage bag in hand and there’s these brightly colored plastic objects in it. He kind of looks like a beach bum Santa. And so he makes his way over and as he gets closer he holds his hand up in the air and says, what is up my dude?[00:08:00]

Look,

I brought plastic pizza cutters from a pizzeria in my hometown back in Southern California to give out to the people here. Um, uh, they don’t cut too good, but I feel like the people could use them to cut their tortillas. Like, fantastic. You brought injection molded plastic. Pizza cutters to give out to subsistence farmers who have absolutely no use for them whatsoever.

This is, this is great. And so we start our clinic day together and uh, uh, Dr. Steve tells me really early on that he won’t be needing my interpreting assistance because he dated a Spanish woman a couple decades ago and is basically fluent.

Dr. Steve’s clinical skills are fine but his Spanish language skills, on a good day, I’d put somewhere in the neighborhood of, could competently order off of the Taco Bell [00:09:00] menu. Yeah, anything beyond Chalupa is really going to challenge this guy. So I try to do my best to jump in when things really get off the rails, but the Salvadoran staff cue into what’s going on pretty quickly and um, just direct, you know, really straightforward cases to us.

Um, coughs, colds, rashes, stuff like that. Every single patient that sees us leaves with a plastic pizza cutter in hand and a very confused look on their

face.

There is one patient that was particularly confused by the plastic pizza cutter. This patient came in and he was having abdominal pain and diarrhea and he left with a bottle of Imodium and a pizza cutter. And we thought that was going to be the last we’d see of him. But about ten minutes later, he comes shuffling back into the clinic, and he’s clearly kind of nervous, he has this sheepish air about him.

He shuffles in, gives Dr. Steve this black plastic bag, and then kind of shuffles out. And Dr. Steve’s really [00:10:00] confused. He’s like, what is this? Is this a gift for the expert medical attention that I’ve been providing? And so he slowly starts to peel back the corners of the bag. And the most horrendous, putrid smell comes pouring out of the bag.

And he keeps peeling it back and peeling it back. And eventually this neon pink pizza cutter emerges and it’s absolutely covered in poop.

Now at this point I should say, GI issues are really common in El Salvador and it’s not unusual for doctors to request that their patients bring in stool samples to help aid in diagnosis. And best we can piece together, what had happened was the patient thought that the pizza cutter was this sophisticated tool from the U.

S. that should be used to collect a stool sample. So, he took the pizza cutter out to the pit toilet behind the clinic, and like, delicately and expertly, and in a manner that totally defies all Newtonian physics, pooped all over the [00:11:00] pizza cutter.

Now, at this point, the Salvadoran staff is really struggling to keep their composure. I, I, I’m just laughing, I’ve like totally lost it. And Dr. Steve is just… Totally, totally dumbfounded.

In that moment, in that small clinic, in that small Central American country, through the hands of a farmer, the universe served up an epic dose of cosmic justice to all the Dr. Steves of the world. It is an absolute honor to be there to bear

witness.

Now, some 15 years later, I think about Dr. Steve on occasion. Dr. Steve was a, uh, was a fine clinician, but he missed some major, major cultural miscues. He makes me wonder about my own cultural ineptitudes, [00:12:00] um, both as a physician and as a human. Makes me wonder about what pizza cutters I’ve given out over the years.

Makes me wonder, um, You know, about for all of us how our unconscious biases shape the way that we understand ourselves and those around us. And ultimately, it reminds me that we need each other as a community to help us recognize our own individual and collective blind spots to help us all, um, recognize our own inner Dr.

Steeves. And for that lesson, I have to say, thanks, my dude.

[00:12:49] Marc Moss: Thanks, Chris. Chris Hallberg is a family medicine doctor who’s worked with patients in rural Alaska, Montana, the Caribbean, and Central America. He enjoys cooking, making music with [00:13:00] friends, and poking around remote corners of Montana with his girlfriend Charlotte and their dog Sydney. Our next storyteller is Philippa Crawford, who leaves her busy life working at an ad agency in San Francisco.

When she falls in love with the man of her dreams. Philippa calls her story, Love Found

Home. Thanks for listening. Yes.

[00:13:26] Philippa Crawford: What? Fire? I scrambled across to get to the bay, running down in my heels on California Street, getting to the ad agency. The fire was small, but I had to make sure that the mechanicals and the artwork were in good condition so that I, as print production manager, could get them to the printer and satisfy the client’s deadlines.

The cortisol was palpable. It was high energy. It was crazy. It was fun. We were adrenaline junkies. I was standing on the corner one day, and a bus whooshed through. [00:14:00] And I was taken back to New Hampshire as a child and remembering being mesmerized by how the ants would take dirty, I mean dirty dry soil and turn them into these beautiful sandy mounds.

And then remembering the glistening dirt in the dust in the sliver of sunshine coming through the barn after I’d climbed around on the hay bales. I wanted to get back to the country.

Ad

agency was crazy. And over time it just really wasn’t as fun as it seemed to be. I wondered who I really was. It seemed so superficial.

I felt superficial. I wanted more from life. I wanted to discover my heart. I was pretty bound up. And my marriage was sliding downhill. I felt lost. Um, so I went on the adventure to find what I could do about that. And I came across Lifespring. [00:15:00] I joined the course, courses, and it was that human, experiential human empowerment course.

It was provocative, it was intense with these creative exercises that get you to look deep and to see who you were and who, what the possibilities were to be something else. Um, on the last course. I walk into the room and get to find my seat and I feel this gentle presence walk in and I look and there’s this man with dark, dark curly hair that tickles the collar of his outdated jacket and as he walks across the room, I just feel the sensitivity and this humbleness.

Oh no, we’re not going to go there. I really tried to avoid him. Next thing I know, we’re paired up in an exercise that we do with our eyes closed. touching each other’s hands, getting to know each other with just our hands.[00:16:00]

His

hands were not soft, but they had a kind and an intensity about them that said, let me get to know you and I’ll let you get to know me. Sort of like a namaste moment. It was really very moving. The course, uh, was three months, and so we, uh, groups were formed, and there was Lori laughing. Lori, who was just outrageous, vivacious with her, her heart and her laugh, and then there was Handsome Hands.

His name, his name was Scott with a single T. We all hung out together as we were supposed to deepen our experience, but he and I spent a lot of nights, late night in cafes, drinking old coffee, talking Philosophy, spirituality, trying to figure out life, you know, where can we find meaning? Uh, he talked about Sweet, his dog, and Simon and Duncan, his boys, he loved [00:17:00] his boys.

And he was from Montana. The course ended, we went on, my marriage dissolved, I changed jobs. And, um, but a couple months later, I get a call laughing, Lori, wouldn’t it be a blast if we went to Montana and saw Scott? Sure. I didn’t even know where Montana was. We get on the road, and we chitchat, and then she says, I’m a Jack Mormon.

I grab the door handle, my buttcheeks clench, I don’t know what that means, but it terrified me. And she said, it’s okay, it just means that I’m a Mormon, but that I can’t live with all the tenets of the religion. And as she shared her heart, my hand slipped and I relaxed. And I am so grateful because that wall of…

of judgment and ignorance crumbled away and, um, she opened her heart and she’s still my dear friend today. We arrive at this, [00:18:00] um, weathered old law cabin, greeted by Sweet, who’s a great Dane Lab Cross. And as we enter what I would define as a, the coyote den, um, there’s Scott and his beautiful smile and his deep embrace for both of us.

And I think she had a crush on him, pretty sure. The next day we pick up the boys, um, from their mom and we go to this beautiful reservoir and these jewels shoot out into the sky. They were called the mission mountains and it was stunning and a little creepy because no one else was there but us. I couldn’t.

I get that. On the last night, Laurie, Scott, and I stood on the back porch, and um, as only Big Sky can deliver, there was this kaleidoscope sunset with colors and textures as far as the eye could see, and then also were these dark clouds shocked white with [00:19:00] lightning and rolling thunder, both happening at the same time?

And I knew at that moment, my life was forever changed. We got back to our lives a couple years past and Scott and I would, um, talk on the phone for hours, sharing our stories and how we’d grown or not grown. And, um, he had such a, uh, kind humor and, uh, fun wit, so I really felt comfortable and our friendship just continued to deepen.

One New Year’s evening, I had a feeling he would call. And he did. Hi. Hi. Do you want to come up for a visit? Sure. I was so excited. So I arrive a month later, and again, we just deepen our friendship and something else. And we share where we are, and just again, just have these great deep talks. I [00:20:00] could feel my heart opening, and it was just lovely to be there.

And as I was getting ready to leave, he said, you know, I really love my life with my boys. I said, yeah, they are amazing and wonderful. And I see how you respect who they are, letting them be who they are and the love that you share. Oh, and I love being a single San Francisco woman.

Cried on the way to the airport. And when I got back to the apartment, I looked around and there was a picture of Scott. On the wall. And then in my book by my bedside table, he was the bookMarc. And I realized I really had deep, deep feelings for this man. I didn’t know what to do about it, but I was feeling things for sure.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you, he was handsome. Damn handsome

So,

um, a month later I received this [00:21:00] handwritten letter. By Duncan and Simon, Duncan’s 14 and Simon’s 18. And it reads, Dearest Flipout, This is supposedly going to be a very convincing letter. You must marry our

dad.

He is the best man in the world and the most loving man I know. And he loves one woman, you, Filippa Learned.

I read on, This leads to you being a happy, proud, married mom of two awesome young men who love you very much. I, my breath, I I felt so many feelings, I was excited my hairs were on end I, I was thrilled and also really confused. I call up Scott and I said, you know about this? Yeah? You wanna do something about this?

[00:22:00] Yes. Will you move up here and be with me? Yes, yes, yes! I love you Scott. I love you too. Four months later, I move into the Coyote Den in Arlie on the flooded Indian Reservation. And it was a transition. Um, Um, The dogs helped me by leaving slimy things that my feet would step on that would be a deer leg.

And this other dog that we got, uh, puppy Jackpot, thought she had won the lottery by chewing up all my Italian leather heels. Except one memento. A pink toe cleavage. leather stiletto CFM. Come

fuck me, bum. And I said, have at it. I am done with that life. And, um, three years later, in the yard, Duncan and Jack pawed his Masters of Ceremony. [00:23:00] Uh, I became a mail order bride. And three years after that, we welcomed our son, Nicholas. Yes. And I was embraced by this beautiful, eclectic community, and this beautiful, loving, loving, blended family.

And two brave boys with big hearts, open hearts, and two dogs, and this most… Loving man, uh, my heart found home. Thank you.

[00:23:36] Marc Moss: Thanks Filippa. Filippa Crawford is East coast born. She thrived for eight years in London, enjoyed 10 years in the Bay Area and found home in delicious Montana 35 years ago. She is a tapping practitioner and an intuitive coach. These days, she dares new experiences outside her comfort zone. She enjoys finding peace and fascination in nature, animals, including reptiles [00:24:00] and insects.

Dancing is her go to along with her big, loving, extraordinary family. Coming up after the

[00:24:06] Richard Thornton: break. And the boy just smiles real big and he nods his head and then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

[00:24:15] Nita Maddox: And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface and I thought, I’m going to organize a naked bike ride.

[00:24:22] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th. You can learn how to pitch your story and get [email protected]. Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications, helping us with the heavy lifting of the expense of producing our evening. Thanks to our stewardship sponsor, Jana Lundquist Consulting, helping us to provide free tickets to populations.

That might otherwise be unable to attend tell us something events. Thank you to our story sponsor parkside credit union helping us to pay our storytellers Thank you to our accessibility sponsors the kettle house allowing us to hire american sign language interpreters at the events In order to be a more inclusive [00:25:00] experience and thanks to our artist sponsor crowley fleck attorneys pllp You are listening to the tell us something podcast I’m your host, Marc Moss.

Our stories in this episode are recorded live in person in front of a packed house on September 28th, 2023 at the George and Jane Denison Theater at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. In our next story, Richard Thornton hires a kid to capture an anteater, but the kid comes back with an unknown monster.

Richard calls his story, I get a pet. Thanks for listening.

[00:25:39] Richard Thornton: Many years ago, I was a surveyor with an outfit called the Ethiopia U. S. Mapping Mission. They, uh, they had a treaty to make topographic maps of the whole country. I was surveying in the Agadon Desert region, and the Agadon is pretty much what you think of as a high desert, mostly dirt and gravel, and it was filled [00:26:00] with like half, half alive Akasha trees, and it had this Vine that was called the camel thorn nothing had thorns as long as your fingers and they were so sharp and strong that they could puncture a car tire.

I’d even seen birds impaled on the ends of these things. They also had these termite mounds, giant termite mounds. They were tall and symmetrical. Actually, I thought of more as termite towers because things went up like 20, 25 feet and they were all over the place. Well, once, while we were driving some trucks on this long, straight stretch of dirt road on the way to a little village to set up a temporary camp, I saw what I thought was an anteater cross the road way up ahead and It was a stranger looking animal, but it just ran into the camel thorns that lined the road.

It was gone by the time we got to that place where I’d seen it. I was kind of excited to stop the truck, but even [00:27:00] standing on the hood, I couldn’t see it because of all the brush and termite mounds. I felt a little disappointed and got back in the truck and went on driving towards the village. But I couldn’t get that animal out of my head.

I kept thinking about it. And somewhere along the line, I got, I got the idea that it would be really cool to have an anteater as a pet.

I mean, an anteater would be much better than our half wild camp dogs to live with us. And, you know, what better animal than, than that to show off my manliness, you know, and you know how I could train animals and, you know, I even thought, envisioned myself walking my eater on a leash across the camp over to a nearby anthill or a termite mound where he’d eat his fill.

Now, I didn’t say anything about this to the guys in the truck with me. In fact, I didn’t even know if there were anteaters in that part of Ethiopia. We’re all Africa [00:28:00] for that matter, but I wanted one as a pet anyway, so I was going to see if I could try to get one. When we pulled into the village, the center of the village, excuse me, now the village was basically a bunch of, uh, Uh, rectangular mud buildings with, uh, big wooden doors and wooden shutters in the windows.

And as soon as we stopped, all, all these, all the kids in town all just came running around our trucks and they were jumping up and down and laughing and, and smiling at us and, you know, all except… All except for the littlest of them. And those guys just sit there and stared at us in amazement. Cause we’d be the first people with white skin they’d ever seen.

But anyway, pretty quick, they, they, uh, you know, got brave and came over and touched us on the hands or on the legs, you know, and they started jumping up and down and welcoming us too. Now, the adults weren’t so [00:29:00] excited to see us, but they did send a couple men over to talk about where we could set up a safe place for camp, and, but I wasn’t part of those talks, so I kind of drifted off to the side to some kids, and I saw a boy, he was about 10 years old, And I went over to him and I asked him if he, if he knew about anteaters, you know.

Well, first I had to ask him, first I asked him if he knew any English and he did say yes, a little. You know, but then it turned out that as soon as he, as I started asking the question if he could catch me one, it became quite obvious that he had no idea what I was talking about. Well, so what I had to do is I got G’Day, one of our Ethiopian surveyors, To try to explain to the kid what I wanted.

Now, that turned out to be pretty tough too, because Gday had never heard that term and he did it before. So I had to kind of try to describe this thing [00:30:00] to him. and , of course, that took a lot of gyrations and sounds on my part, you know, when I started talking about it’s a big tale and how it had really funny hair and a beaty little eyes, you know?

And oh, it had these big claws that dug in the ground and sed. Ants and termites and Well anyway, by then all the kids are just laughing like crazy and And G’day, G’day says something to the kid for a few seconds And the boy just smiles real big and he, and he nods his head And then he looks at me and in English he says, how much?

So I dug into my pocket, and I pulled out some, some money, and it was about two dollars, Ethiopian. And his eyes just lit up, and he took off running, and he just ran around one of the buildings, and he was gone. G’day said that he told the boy to catch the animal that eats [00:31:00] termites. Well, Uh, you know, G’day and the boy might have been a little confused as to what I wanted the animal for.

Cause nobody in Nogginon kept any kind of animal as a pet. I mean, there were goats, but they were for milk and meat. And there were always lots of dogs around, but they were for warning of strangers and, you know, mainly keeping hyenas away. We had dogs keep hyenas away too. And some of us did try to treat some of our dogs as pets, but that was always a risky business.

Well anyway, at that point I went out to our camp, excuse me, I went out to our camp area, and just to see if it was clear of these big camel spiders and scorpions and deadly snakes, and set up our tents. And after a while I went back to the village. And maybe I was looking to see if they had a bar, and I wasn’t there very long, [00:32:00] and I heard a commotion.

And that kid that I’d sent off for the antutu came around the corner of one of the buildings, and he had a, he had a blanket in his arms. And that blanket was making a growling, screechy kind of noise. And, yeah, and it was moving around, you know, like it was, something was punching and pushing and scrolling around, you know, like a mad monster trying to get out.

And this kid was just… Coming at me, you know, with the, this staggering over towards me, trying to hold this thing down. But what happened about that time, the adult all yelled, screamed, and they grabbed up all the children, and they ran them all into all the buildings, and they shut the door. Suddenly I was all alone, with this, with this kid coming at me, with, just grim faced, and, and.

He was, anyway, I got lost here for a second, I’m sorry.[00:33:00]

Laughter Anyway, he was still, he was staggering on towards me and I’m thinking, Dear God, if this is an anteater, I want no part of it.

Laughter

Well, about that, he stops right in front of me, and just then he reached up to try to hand it to me, and the whole thing went just wild and crazy, and the blanket flew out of his hand, and, and a real, a monster did fly out.

Now, all I saw was a blur, but this thing just ran across and it leaped up onto one of the doors of the building, and it scratched at it and bit at it. And it jumped down and unbelievably it ran to the second door and jumped up on it and screeched and then it jumped down and ran off, off into the brush and it was gone.

Now, I, I still didn’t, never found out what that thing[00:34:00]

was. I suspect it was a mongoose of some sort.

Oh,

well.

Anyway, the boy who was just standing there, looking kind of dejected at the blanket at his feet, and, you know, maybe he thought he had failed me for losing the animal, so I praised him for his bravery, you know, and I told, I told him he’d really earned his money, and I gave it to him, and that cheered him up a little.

Now he’d come out of it with a, just a few scratches. And now he’s looking pretty pleased with himself. But about that time, the adults came out of hiding. And they all came over at us. And they just, they just warmed around this kid. And they just, and they started yelling at him. And the women started slapping him all over the place.

And, you know, I don’t think they, I didn’t think [00:35:00] they were really trying to hurt him. But, I took that chance to beat it back to camp

and hide out. Yeah, I wanted to

hide out in case they decided to find out who caused all this. And wanted to smack me around, too. After that, I, I decided it would be much better to make friends with Chichu, our least, our least wild camp dog.

It was a long time, though, before I found out that I, I had terrorized an entire village and traumatized a poor kid for nothing. Because there are no anteaters in Ethiopia.

Or all

of Africa, for that matter.

Thank you.

[00:35:53] Marc Moss: Thanks, Richard. Richard Thornton grew up in Southern California. 40 years in the TV and motion picture business. [00:36:00] Mainly as a sound boom man, he is an army veteran who served as a topographic surveyor, making maps in Ethiopia and the Great Southwest of New Mexico and Arizona. During the after strike of 1980 Richard and his wife came to Montana looking for a home during one of those idyllic September weeks.

He bought a lousy log house and stayed. Richard retired to Kettlespell in 2005, where he lived the carefree life of a 63 year old with three school age daughters at home to raise. Our final storyteller in this episode of the podcast is Nita Maddox, who organized for a mass naked bike ride in Missoula, Montana, and received death threats because of it.

It was, she says, quite a lot. Nita calls her story, Bear as you dare. Thanks for listening.

[00:36:49] Nita Maddox: Breathing deeply. This is the only tool I have right now to deal with the pain. I’ve never been in pain this bad. I’m on a beach in the [00:37:00] Philippines that’s been absolutely destroyed by a hurricane and my body is wracked with malaria. Somewhere in the fever and all of it. The Spanish paramedics show up and they’re with the someone from the aid agency that I’m working for.

This is 2014, and I’ve gone to the Philippines to work at a for an international aid agency and now I’m sick and they’re saying to me, we’re sending you home. I’ve been traveling for about three years and in this kind of fevered pain, I’m not really sure where home is. And then it kind of rises to the surface.

Oh, I’m going back to Montana. The place where I’d been born and raised, generations of my family. The land that holds so many ancestors, ancestors buried here longer than it’s even been the United States. On the way home, there are a few stops along the way because I have to get medical treatment and I’m [00:38:00] exhausted.

One of those stops is in Portland, Oregon. And I’m visiting one of my oldest friends since we were teenagers. When I show up, he and his wife are a little surprised at the condition I’m in. Not only am I physically recovering from the malaria, but I have just worked at the very first… super typhoon that had ever occurred and the human devastation I had seen was weighing really heavy on me.

So these friends have the idea that I should go to the world naked bike ride with them. They think this is, this is a great idea and I don’t think this is a great idea. If I could describe it, I’d say I’m not necessarily the first person naked at a party. Like I’m, comfortable with nudity, but I don’t, I’m a little cautious with it.

But they explain that the world naked bike ride and the biggest ride happens to be in Portland, but it happens all over the country in the world is really about [00:39:00] bike activism. It’s about getting people to see bicyclists because it’s hard to miss thousands of naked bicyclists. I really appreciate this idea having just seen the effects of global climate change.

And when my daughter was nine and my son was six, we were hit in a crosswalk on Higgins by a truck. And I painfully intimately knew what a motor vehicle could do when it hit a basically naked human body. So I thought, I’m down with this. Let’s go do it. And it was interesting because it didn’t feel awkward, the nudity.

It actually felt Playful and innocent and radically inclusive. There were older folks. There were people with mastectomies. There were transgendered people. It was this act of human beauty and it was all this [00:40:00] spectrum of people and it was stunning and no one looked like the cover of a magazine. Then I was back in Montana, and I was sitting with some friends and they were talking about all the struggles they’d been having trying to organize a pride parade.

And I kind of jokingly said, you should shoot for the moon and do a naked pride parade. They were like, yeah, you know, good luck with that. And this effervescent thing kind of rose to the surface. And I thought. I’m going to organize a naked bike ride. So the next day I went to John Ingram’s office and I said, Hey, what do you think about this?

And he’s like, I think it’s a great idea. That sounds like a total Missoula thing. He laid out this grocery list of all the different things that I was going to have to do to do it completely above board. So I go down the list. I mean, the. The downtown council, I meet with the city engineer to plan the route, and I’m finally at the last [00:41:00] thing on the list, which is I’ve got to get the police department to sign off.

And I decide to go to the city attorney and say, Hey, this is what I’m doing. If you want to come and make an appointment and meet with me and one of the police officers, I can answer any questions. Said an appointment for about three days later. During that time, I compiled together kind of a list of all the legal challenges that have happened to these naked bike rides around the country so I can show up prepared.

And I know I’m going to be talking to people so I’ll just put together a few of these sheets and just carry them around in my bag. Day of the meeting happens, I put on my little black suit, I ride my bike down to the city chambers. I’m expecting to meet with the city attorney and maybe an officer. There are about five officers.

there. There’s a sheriff’s department, all these folks, and at the moment I felt really little and they seemed really big. We sit down, and at first, [00:42:00] it felt like they were coming at me with questions kind of aggressively, but then I began to realize, well, these are really genuinely good questions. And I begin to address each question one at a time, the temperature, the room seems to go down a bit.

I remember I have my little sheets and I hand them all out and everyone’s starting to kind of be like, okay, all right, we’re kind of good with this. And they start to stand up and there’s one sheriff’s deputy who’s sitting directly across from me and he’s just staring at me with these really angry eyes.

And he says, What are you going to do if you’re naked and then there’s a big angry naked man? How are you going to handle that situation?

And I

knew exactly what to say to him. I stared him in the eyes. I didn’t break eye contact. And I said, I used to be a professional dominatrix, and I know exactly how to handle that [00:43:00] situation.

They sign the paper, I leave the room. I’m thinking to myself, wow, I know some feminist thea thea uh. Feminist philosophers that could do a lot with what just happened in that room. I’m heading back home. I’m walking my bike across Higgins street bridge when it used to be about this big and I run into Kayla Spaler.

She’s one of my oldest friends and she’s like, Oh, you’re back in town. What are you doing? And I tell her about this weird exchange I’ve just had and about the naked bike ride. And she’s like, Hey, I’m the political writer for the Missoulian. Now you mind if I write about this? And I was like, sure. That’s a great idea.

I just told the officers we would publicize. the route and the time so people would know. Well, that was the beginning of a biblical level shitstorm. On that parade permit, I had to have all of my contact information and I [00:44:00] proceeded to receive thousands of death threats. of graphic sexual violence. It was crazy what came at me.

Now some of it was actually kind of funny. There was a letter to the editor that said, What? Now Missoula’s going to become this place where everybody’s just going to naked garden and hula hoop? And I was like, I don’t know, it doesn’t sound so bad. There were a couple of really bewildering moments. I’d been camping with friends and on the way back into town, and Here we were in the majesty of Montana nature and on the way back in on the radio we heard about a city council meeting that had just blown up with criticism.

So we rush over there and I’m all messy from camping, got flowers in my hair still, and I’m confronted with questions from the press that kind of involve discussions of. Genitals. And you know, I [00:45:00] understand that exposure to genitals at the wrong time could be something that could be kind of challenging, but I kind of think we all have some sort of a configuration of genitals.

The thing that was the most bewildering for me was that this didn’t jive with my Montana. And for an example of what my perceptual bias of Montana was, my grandfather is a good example. Gone to Butte to work in the mines during the depression era when he was 14 and he told me stories about when Missoula was this place where the international workers of the world, the wobblies were here, labor organizing, talking about the rights of working people there were on every street corner for a while, these free speech places, and he had always believed in the rights of people to just be who they were.

Yeah. And so things were a little confusing for me, but in the end, on the [00:46:00] actual day of the bike ride, it was a wonderful day. There was Chuck with his long gray dreadlocks being ridden in a rickshaw with his oxygen tank. There were older people, younger people, trans people. It was a wildly, beautifully playful, diverse day, and there were no protesters.

And nobody gave me any death threats on that day. So in the end, it ended up being a day that was really good for people who showed up with curiosity instead of contempt. And in the end, I think it was a good day for kind of a, a wild ride. For those who dared to bear.

[00:46:51] Marc Moss: It’s Nita. Nita Maddox is an adventurer in the world. She is born and raised Montanan who lives a bit of a feral life on this planet Earth. She currently works as a [00:47:00] social worker and hopes one day to be a published author. Thanks for listening to the tell us something podcast and thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events.

net, Montana public radio and Missoula Broadcasting company including the family of ESPN radio the trail 103. 3 Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits U one of 4.5. Thanks to float Missoula. Learn [email protected] and Joyce of tile. Learn more [email protected]. Remember that the next tell us something event is December 6th.

You can learn about how to pitch your story and get [email protected]. Tune in next week to hear the concluding stories from the Lost in Translation live storytelling event. La

[00:47:44] Ben Catton: Buela will come out and startle me. And it’s like, is she suspicious of

me? What’s going on?

[00:47:49] Ren Parker: I ask him what he’s doing on the train.

And, uh, he says, oh yeah, I take this train and I go, um, over the border and I get whiskey and cigarettes and things I shouldn’t have in [00:48:00] Thailand. And then I get back on the train and bring it back to Thailand.

[00:48:04] Abe Kurien: But my dad still kept that van because he worked really hard for it. and was really proud

[00:48:08] Richard Thornton: of it.

But if any of you know, in the eighties,

a lot of the manufacturers for vehicles, they

had a paint issue with,

[00:48:16] Linda Grinde: and the girl in the next bed says to me, stay do dancing. I realized she’s asking me if I want to go dancing.

Wow.

[00:48:27] Marc Moss: Listen for those stories at tellusomething. org or wherever you get your

podcasts.

Three storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell Part 2

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is 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. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s you can also get digital tickets at tellussomething.org

we acknowledge 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, [00:01:00] preserving its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast,

[00:01:17] Charlene Brett: the thunder starts rolling and it’s echoing off all of these walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all, we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain instantly starts pouring.

[00:01:33] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going and I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too. And it’s gonna be really, really dark. And boy, was

I right!

[00:01:48] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:01:59] Marc Moss: Three storytellers [00:02:00] shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023 at Bonner Park Band Show. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop Refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities as well as those of their students.

The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Charlene Brett, who takes her two children and two Golden Retrievers into the backcountry for a backpacking weekend and survives a terrible overnight thunderstorm.

Charlene calls her story, A backcountry weekend adventure. Thanks for listening.[00:03:00]

[00:03:02] Charlene Brett: I’m a music teacher, and I love what I do. But… But as all teachers do, we live for summer. And I live for adventures in the summer. And this particular summer, I was talking with my oldest daughter Abby and my middle son Craig about going on a backpacking adventure. And we were going to leave my husband and my youngest son Tyler behind.

Now Abby is 15 and Craig is 12 and, and what you need to know about them is, is Abby is very independent, sort of headstrong daughter. of mine who’s like, yes, mom, let’s go. We can do this girl power and, and my son Craig is like, he likes to do that stuff, but he will always kind of step back and observe first and think about it and before he just jumps right in.

So I have two different personalities, but they’re both good. They’re like, yeah, mom, let’s plan this trip. So All week long, we’re [00:04:00] thinking about where we should go and we decide we’re going to go to Baker Lake, which is down in the southern end of Darby and sits in a circ at the base of Trapper Peak.

Trapper Peak sits at about 10, 100 feet in elevation and Baker Lake is about a thousand feet underneath that. And like I said, it sits in this cirque. So we’re like, hey, that looks cool. It’s only a mile and a half into it. And since we’re going to leave on a Friday late afternoon, that would be a good hike for us to get into and get into that lake and get set up.

I talked to my husband. He’s like, yeah, you can do this. You can do this. I’ll stay home with Tyler. All is good. You go for it. Well, all week long, on social media, and on the weather reports, they were calling for major thunderstorms that weekend. Ah, Montana weather. Montana’s bipolar. Look, it’s a blue sky, it’s beautiful right now, it’s going to be like that on this weekend too.

There’s not going to be a big thunderstorm. [00:05:00] All week long, social media. Better not do anything, there’s going to be a big storm. So we decide we’re going to wait until Friday and we’ll make that decision as to whether we should go or not. And Friday comes along, it’s the afternoon, the kids get off their job and we’re like, hey, what are we going to do?

I look outside, blue sky, not a cloud in the sky. Let’s go. So we throw our backpacks in, my little Toyota minivan, the mom van, and we hit Highway 93 and we head down to Darby and we hit the trailhead. And we start hoofing it up the switchback. It’s about a thousand foot elevation gain like in the first half mile.

And we’re huffin and puffin and we got two Golden Retriever dogs are with us, the ones that love going hiking, Bailey and Finley. And we get up to this beautiful overview and we’re looking at the valley below where we drove up the road and the sun is, you know, the sun is setting behind us and it’s casting this beautiful golden color over that valley and it’s [00:06:00] just gorgeous.

And we’re kind of looking at each other like, so glad we’re doing this, this is really cool. And for me, it was like a moment of. This weekend, this backpacking trip is a moment of, like, empowerment for myself that I can do this. I can take my kids on a backpacking trip on my own and it’s going to be okay.

Alright? So we’re providing some sort of, like, I don’t know, extra security or something that I’m proving to myself I can do this. Then we finish on the trailhead and we get to the lake. And we jump up to, or we climb up and there’s the head of the lake and it’s that first view of the lake when you finally get there.

It’s just gorgeous. It’s calm. The water is calm and the sun is setting behind all these ridges that um, circle around the lake and you can see Trapper Peak up off to the left and there’s a campsite right there that’s not taken. So we’re looking at this campsite and thinking, well, yeah, you know, it will be okay.

My dad. Always taught me to look around at the different options [00:07:00] before you choose one. It’s okay. There’s these rolling granite boulders, big boulders, because you’re up in the high country. And they’re colored, these beautiful colors coming down, it’s just gorgeous. These rolling boulders that go out to the lake that would make a perfect spot for the kids to jump off or dive off and swim in the water.

And I’m looking around and I see this one little patch of dirt. Where obviously other people have put a tent and right behind that is a really big tall dead tree a dead snake and I think Mom always said don’t put your tent under a dead tree in case a windstorm comes along We don’t have a choice if we’re going to take this campsite and those rolling boulders come right down to that and I’m thinking well if there is a thunderstorm then That rain might come down to our tent Let’s look for another spot.

Well, kind of look across the lake and you can tell that there’s this glorious campsite across the lake. It’s already [00:08:00] taken. Lucky ducks got the really cool spot. They’re set up over there and, and kind of look to the left and to the right of the lake and, and there really isn’t anything else. So this is our spot.

And it’s starting to get dark and we haven’t had dinner yet. So we set up our tent. I had a brand new tent from REI. I loved it. Little four person backpacking tent. Got the footprint to go with it. Smart. Set that baby up. It went up so easy. Made dinner, cooked some popcorn, I always pop popcorn on my backpacking trips.

Watched the fish jump in the lake, did a little swim to get all that sweat off from the hike. Watched the stars come out, it’s beautiful. When you’re up in the backcountry and you don’t have the light pollution, the stars just shine so much brighter. So we’re telling stories, pretty soon we are off to bed, it’s kind of a cold night.

No sound of rain or anything over the whole night. The morning we wake up, that sun is [00:09:00] coming into the tent. And if you sleep in a tent and you’ve ever had the sun coming in the morning, you know that feeling of warmth that comes. You’re just kind of snuggled in and just like, Oh, but I got to get up. So we finally get out of bed and we’re talking about different things that we’re going to do for the day.

Of course, I love to fly fish. I’m going to be fly fishing most of the day. My kids love to swim. And then they’re fishing a little bit too, but they’re spending more time swimming in the water and throwing sticks for the dogs and whatnot. And we’re walking around the entire lake, we’re checking out the stream at the back of the lake, we’re looking at the wildflowers.

And I’m looking at the sky again and I’m thinking, what an awesome weekend. There’s not a cloud up there. Bipolar weather in Montana, right? And during this time, this day, there had been some day backpackers that had come up to the lake. And spent some time, there were two different groups, and of course there’s this other campsite, and they’re doing fishing, and me, I’m thinking, I’m up here with my kids, but [00:10:00] there was a sense of security knowing I wasn’t the only adult up there.

So the day goes on, those day packers head out, and I’m kind of looking across the lake, and I notice that the other group of backpackers is packing up. And I’m thinking, hmm, starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable, you know, ah, we’re good. I got this. I can do this. There’s not a cloud in the sky.

Looking up at the peaks. It’s beautiful. Trapper Peaks. Amazing. I want to hike it someday. Don’t know if I can. Those backpackers head out and we have the lake to ourself. And there’s something about that, too. Like, it’s ours. We can be as loud as we want, we can do whatever we want up here. We’re not going to disturb anybody else.

So we head back over to our campsite, and we’re kind of settling in a little bit, getting ready for dinner. And the wind, just like right now, is picking up. Remember I said this lake sits in a circ at the base of Trapper Peak. [00:11:00] And that wind is coming in and it’s picking up really, really fast. And it’s starting to circle around the lake.

And I look up at the ridge tops. And the darkest, blackest clouds are just coming over the ridge in all different directions up there. And I thought, oh shit, here it comes. And it looks like it’s going to be a doozy. And when you’re up there at 9, 000 feet and you’re in a thunderstorm in the mountains and you’re all by yourself, you’re thinking, What the heck am I doing up here?

Maybe I shouldn’t have come. Maybe I should have like listened to my parents and stayed home. The thunder starts rolling and it’s echoing off all of these walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent, please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all, we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain.

Instantly starts pouring. The dogs are snuggled up next to me and they’re whining, they’re looking at me like, Mom, what are we going to do? And my [00:12:00] kids are kind of terrified and we just break out in laughter because what do you do when you’re freaked out? You start laughing. And so we’re laughing at each other and I’m sitting there praying, Oh my god, I hope we make it through this storm.

I hope that dead tree behind us doesn’t fall on us. The wind is really bad. In fact, the wind becomes so bad that the tent poles are starting to cave in on us. And so the next thing you know, my brand new tent, right? I’m not going to let this windstorm mess it up. We’re playing Twister in the tent. And we’ve got arms and legs stretched out, and we’re pushing out on those tent poles, and we’re trying to hold it, and I’m trying to keep the dogs calm, and I’m looking at my kids going, it’s going to be okay, we’re going to make it.

In my head I’m thinking, what if something happens to me? Do they know how to get out of here? Are they going to know what to do? Do they know where I put the keys to the minivan? Can my daughter drive down that hill?

Plane twister, hole in the nose, and finally my daughter [00:13:00] looks down and she sees these major ripples and bubbles in the bottom of the tent. Flowing from one end to the other. And she goes, Mom, look. And I went, Oh, crap. We’re going to have wet sleeping pads. We’re going to have wet sleeping bags. We’re going to have wet clothes.

It’s going to be a cold night. What am I doing? What am I doing? And then we laugh, and we sing, we have this crazy song that we sing, it goes, Sunshine and happy days, blue skies are all around us. And it’s meant to be off pitch because it’s like supposed to break the tension, right? So we’re singing that in the tent.

My daughter zips open the tent door, and pulls it back open, and we look. And there’s a five foot wide by about two inch deep river of rainwater running underneath our tent. And out the other side. I was like, [00:14:00] crap. We’re going to be wet. We’re going to be soaked. And we laugh, I’m trying, and happy, you know, and it goes on.

The storm finally subsides, and I assess the situation. Things are dry. Close up the tent. In fact, it subsides a little bit. We get out and we’re kind of checking things out. The tree is still standing. I close up the door. We settle in for the night because we’re not going to pack out in the dark. And I just tell him, okay, if we make it to the morning, we’re going to throw everything in our backpacks.

I don’t care how it’s organized. It’s just. I always organize my backpack really well. I don’t care how it’s organized, and we’re going to get out of here. We sleep. Well, they sleep. I kind of wake up off and on. You can hear the pitter patter of the rain, and every now, thunder boomer, and rain, and thunder boomer, and then finally the morning comes, and I open up the tent door, and it’s just a drizzle, and I’m like, hey kids, let’s go, back it up, we’re getting out of here.

So we’re stuffing things in, and getting ready to hike out, and on the hike [00:15:00] out, I’m thinking, Maybe it would be wise to invest in some sort of like S. O. S. satellite telephone or Garmin device. But then I was thinking, everything was okay. We did it. We had a great adventure. I have a story to tell and I live to do it and I’m more powerful for it.

And we made it home and we told our story.

[00:15:31] Marc Moss: Thanks, Charlene. Charlene Brett is a K 5 teacher in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana and has been teaching music for 14 years. She’s a fan of the great outdoors and enjoys escaping into various high mountain lakes in both Montana and Idaho in the summer to fly fish. When not backpacking with her family or her three mom friends, moms of the traveling backpacks, You can find Charlene hiking on her property with two female golden retrievers and her tortoise shell cat, who thinks she is a dog.

On those [00:16:00] cold Montana evenings, she enjoys working thousand piece outdoor image style puzzles. Our next storyteller is Jessie Novak. Jessie is an indoor person who goes on an outdoor adventure with her sister, Stephanie, in Lewis and Clark Caverns. Jessie calls her story, Finding Joy. Thanks for listening.

[00:16:20] Jessie Novak: I’m a quadruplet. That means that my parents had Four babies, on the same day, at the same time. I know, they’re blessed. Lucky them. The first thing I get asked when people find out that I’m a quad, is your siblings must be your best friends in the world, right? They obviously don’t have siblings. I will say, my sister Steffi, who’s in front of me, is my favorite person in the world.

We are polar opposites. Two sides of the same coin. She’s taller. I’m short. She is very outdoorsy. [00:17:00] I’m an indoor girl. Step has every credential under the sun. She collects them like they’re candy. Again, I like to stay inside step and I decide that in the summer of 2022, we were going to go on the great Mid Eastern Montana Road trip.

We were going to create, or recreate, a trip that we went on when we were little. Lewis and Clark Caverns. Now, we hop in the car in August. It’s hot, it’s sunny, surprisingly not smoky. We got very lucky. But, it’s August in Montana. It’s construction season. This drive that normally takes three ish hours. I’m a passenger princess, I don’t drive.

Don’t correct me. Took [00:18:00] six hours. In the heat. Stop and go construction the whole way. For those of you who have never been to Lewis and Clark Caverns, you drive up a mountain. And you hit the lodge. That’s home base for all of the tours going through the caverns. You have to check in there. They give you a wonderful little ticket.

And they tell you, if you can’t make it up that trail in 30 minutes, you don’t get to go on your tour. Because you’re not in physical, enough physical shape to go up and down the stairs in the caverns. Well we figured, we did this when we were 6 years old. We’re 23, we’ve got this. We’re gonna go do this, and we’re gonna rock it.

Steffi is the most prepared person I’ve ever met in my life. To the extent where she’s a little bit of a hoarder. She has water, sunscreen, snacks, band aids, extra snacks. [00:19:00] I show up. With snacks. No water.

No hat. Just food.

So we’re starting to hike up this trail. You gain about a 150 feet or so in elevation in a very short time span.

It’s hot, there’s no trees, and there’s nowhere to sit down. I’m dying. This is not what I remember. This is not what I signed up for. And Steffi’s walking next to me, like this is the best day of her life. She’s having so much fun, she’s singing songs, and I’m getting passed by six year

olds. It was perfect.

We made it up to the entrance to the caverns in 29

minutes. We

got to go on our tour. That’s money saved. When they take you [00:20:00] into the caverns, it gets very cold very quickly. And when you’re like me and you’re sweating like crazy, you get freezing. I’m not prepared. I didn’t bring a jacket. I stole Steffi’s.

It was great. When you go into the caverns, the first thing you remember if you go as a child is there is a natural slide. It takes maybe 30 seconds to get down, but it is the coolest thing in the whole wide world. Especially when you’re six. When you’re 23, 24, It’s a little less exciting, unless you’re Steffi.

Then it is the coolest thing in the world, bar none. She looks at me, and she says, Jesse, we are going down this slide. I say, absolutely not. I’m an adult. I’m not prepared for this. She says, we’re going. No way in hell. [00:21:00] So Steffi goes down the slide, and I can hear her giggle the whole way down. And I can picture the look on her face of pure joy.

I’m a party pooper, I took the stairs. Yay! More stairs! When you get to the very bottom of the caverns, they tell you a story about a man who was stuck down there for three days. Without electricity, and with a teeny tiny oil lamp. Oil lamps, if you don’t know, don’t put out much light. That’s okay. It’s the 21st century.

We have electricity. So we thought, We’re getting told this story. Our tour guide’s super into it. Very dramatic. He’s acting it out. And he says, we’re gonna reenact this. I’m gonna turn out the electric lights. And use this oil lamp to light up this huge[00:22:00]

Cavern. So you know exactly what it was like to be stuck down there for three days. I’m terrified. I don’t do heights. I don’t do the dark. In the caverns, if you fall, you fall for a thousand feet. And it is dark. There is no natural light. Steffi thinks this is the best. She is nerding out. She’s doing a little happy dance over in the corner.

I’m frozen. I don’t want to move. I don’t know where I’m

going.

Power goes out. And the oil lamp lights. Puts out more light than you think it does. Which isn’t saying much. As they’re finishing the story, they’re saying three days this man was stuck down there. Three. And I know where this is going, and I don’t like it one bit.

My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s [00:23:00] going to be really, really dark. And boy was I right. He blows the oil lamp out, and I am frozen. Not

breathing, not blinking.

And in the dark, I feel Steffi’s hand grab mine. And stay there for the longest two minutes of

my life.

Our tour guide turns the electric lights back on and tells us have a wonderful day after that traumatizing experience, you’re on your own.

Be free. Go up this flight of stairs and enter the real world again. So we do. There’s nowhere to go. You can’t turn around. Steffi is doing her little happy dance. This is so cool. This is so much fun. I’m terrified still. Absolutely traumatized. Walking up these stairs trying not to touch anything, trying not to look over the edge.[00:24:00]

Steffi almost bonks her head because she’s too busy looking at me and laughing rather than watching the stairs. When you exit the caverns, there’s an airlock system so you don’t let the bats out. One door opens, you go inside a hallway, and the other door shuts. And then another door opens, And you go outside.

Steffi held my hand all the way through that door. She knew that I was terrified and shaking like a leaf the entire time. Stepping out into the sunlight was probably the most freeing moment of my life. It’s bright, it’s warm again, which I complained about earlier. Never again. And Steffi’s right there beside me.

We snap our obligatory selfie, cause I went outside and I need to prove it. And we [00:25:00] continue walking back towards our car. Steffi is not ready to go home. I’m over it. This is already not what I signed up for. And she decides, we’re going to keep going on our adventure. We’re going to go hike to the Ringing Rocks.

And now every single summer, we go on a trip. She hasn’t picked this summer yet, but she’s going to. And I know that no matter where we go, she is going to be with me, holding my hand, and it is going to be amazing. The best.

[00:25:35] Marc Moss: Thanks, Jesse. Jesse’s an art teacher, quadruplet and enthusiastic dog mom growing up outside Missoula with her three siblings and father. She realized that the only ways to control the chaos of life was living in a small town, and teaching. So, she decided to do both. She relocated to Billings, Montana, received her teaching credentials, and quickly moved to the other end of the state, to a tiny town called Noxon.[00:26:00]

In a town where everyone knows everyone, she teaches K 12 art, hikes, attempts to grow a large garden when there isn’t six feet of snow, and spoils her fur child Peggy Sue rotten. Coming up after the break.

[00:26:13] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling really queasy.

[00:26:24] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next Tell Us Something live storytelling event? You can get your tickets online at tellusomething. org. Better yet though, why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets? These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters.

Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rooties. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rooties or get the digital version at tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. [00:27:00] Closing out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast is Sidney Holt.

Sidney lands a student teaching gig in India and an unfamiliar green sauce causes her great gastrointestinal distress on her first day of student teaching. Sydney calls her story, green sauce. Thanks for listening.

[00:27:21] Sydney Holte: I’ve always loved to travel. I love being in uncomfortable moments when I’m traveling out of my element. And a big part of loving traveling is I love to try new foods. I love to try foods that I’ve had before, maybe with a different spice or cooked in a different way. But I also just love trying new foods in general.

That’s a big part of why I love to travel. I was 21 and I was trying to decide where I was going to do my student teaching. And I was presented with an amazing opportunity to do my student teaching in India. And of course, being the person [00:28:00] that I am, I said yes, and I got on a plane in February to fly to India for four months, and I land in New Delhi.

It’s in the middle of the night, midnight 1:00 AM somewhere in there. And. I’m overwhelmed in the best of ways. I step out of the airport and instantly I smell incense. But I can also smell a lot of garbage. And I can also smell street food with spices that aren’t my normal spices, like turmeric. And I can also smell a lot of urine.

So, it was an overwhelming amount of smells in the best of ways. I could… Here, in the middle of the night, the mosques and bells going off, I could hear people chanting prayers over what seemed like a giant megaphone. And they did not tell me how the traffic would be in India. There are these roundabouts in [00:29:00] New Delhi that have like six or seven lanes, and there’s lines on the ground like there are here.

They’re just suggestions for where to drive.

So, people would go in these roundabouts and hit each other like real life bumper cars. And, uh, they would just continue on. Uh, so, it was overwhelming in the best of ways. I was in New Delhi for about three days, and then I traveled to where I was going to be doing my student teaching.

I had to travel about seven hours

on a train north of New Delhi, and then it was like a switchback up this mountain in a taxi. And… I’m, I’ve always been a little prone to getting car sick, so this, I, I had to tell the taxi driver several times to slow down, please. Um, so we get there, and it’s this, on top of this gorgeous mountain, it’s in the Himalayas, it’s these beautiful, [00:30:00] huge trees like this, and I met by my mentor that’s going to show me around campus.

And she shows me around campus and shows me where I’ll be living for the next four months. And the houses that the employees stayed in were anywhere from really close to campus to Three quarters of a mile away. My house that I was going to be staying in was about a half mile from campus. So half mile walk in and half mile walk after school.

And I had been at Woodstock International Boarding School for about two or three weeks and I was starting to get to know people a little bit, and I was invited to a party. I was like, great, I’m starting to get to know people, I’m feeling pretty good about it. And so I go to this party, and there’s food, and drinks, and there’s a new food that I have not tried before.

It’s fried, but it’s not pakora, I had tried pakora, [00:31:00] and there was… This green sauce next to it. So I try one, and I don’t know how I like it yet. It’s not, it doesn’t taste like cilantro. It doesn’t really taste like parsley. It has some different flair to it. So I try another one, and I try another one. I’m still not convinced if I like it or not.

So about four or five I tried, and then I finally decide that I don’t like it. And my stomach is feeling a little upset from eating it. And I don’t, I don’t really think much about it. I carry on. The next morning was a big day for me because I was going to be teaching my first lesson without any help from my cooperating teacher.

So I wake up and I’m feeling really queasy. I’m feeling really nauseous, really anxious about. Teaching this lesson, but I think, okay, I’m feeling queasy. It must just be because I’m anxious. So I continue getting ready. I start my half mile [00:32:00] walk into campus and I’m gradually feeling more and more. Yucky. My stomach really doesn’t feel good.

And I get up to the classroom and I’m doing a lesson with 7th and 8th graders on xylophones, and I start teaching, and you, normally, for me at least, when I’m doing the thing that I’m nervous about, I, The feeling goes away, but this time the feeling in my stomach did not go away. I was still feeling really queasy, and I get this urge to sneeze.

Oh shit, I just shit my pants.

And I shit them big. Poop is

running down my legs. And I was wearing tight pants that day, thankfully, and they were black, but I am…

Clenching my butt cheeks so that my poop doesn’t run onto the floor as [00:33:00] I’m teaching 7th and 8th graders. And I

don’t want to excuse myself

to go to the bathroom because I don’t want my cooperating teacher to think that I don’t care about teaching this lesson.

So as I’m going around helping these kids on xylophones, I’m just squeezing my butt tighter and tighter so that my poop doesn’t… End up on the floor.

I finished the lesson, and waddled my way back to my house,

and changed my pants, and all is well. But thinking back to this experience, I can’t help but think, if I can teach my very first lesson with poop running down my legs, then I can probably teach in most situations.

[00:33:56] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sydney. Sidney Holt was born and raised in [00:34:00] Minnesota and now teaches elementary music in Billings, Montana. She enjoys camping and fly fishing whenever she can with her husband, Jacoby. Singing and musical theater have always been a large part of her life, too. She loves canned goods, peeing in lakes, and drinking coffee before the sun rises.

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 by calling 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3.

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. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or you can get your tickets online [00:35:00] at tellussomething. org. The Tell Us Something podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits. You want to 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the telesumming podcast.

Learn more at float msla. com and thanks to the team at Missoula events. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at Missoula events. net. Next week in the podcast, I catch up with local author, Rick White. Just way back there

[00:35:39] Rick White: in the heart of the subway, Bitterroot National Forest. So, yeah, we were at the end of the road and, um, off grid

for, for three weeks.

And it looked like me scribbling furiously and, uh, on a yellow legal pad and then transcribing onto a, uh, a hundred dollar typewriter that I’ve sent at the [00:36:00] antique mall beforehand so that I could… Translated into print.

[00:36:04] Marc Moss: Rick and I chat about the story that he told live on stage at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana in December, 2019.

[00:36:11] Rick White: So I had a few letters behind my name. Those letters and what they signify to

what I had earned or what I thought I had earned

mattered less to my students than did the name preceding them, which was not so shield.

[00:36:25] Marc Moss: The theme that night was tipping point. We also talk about podcasting, writing his artist residency. And storytelling. Tune in for his interview and listen to his story. 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 tell us something.org.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell - Part 1

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is 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. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s, you can also get digital tickets at tellussomething.org. We acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendelle 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 [00:01:00] its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast.

[00:01:17] Stephen 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. To do

[00:01:27] Sandy Sheppard: 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.

[00:01:40] 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,

[00:01:51] Candace Haster: mom. 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 [00:02:00] to, but I want to start simply. Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:02:06] Marc Moss: Four storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023. At Bonner Park Band Show, the storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop, refine, and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities.

As well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Stephen Tucker. Stephen Tucker accidentally learns who his favorite cat is when his apartment complex catches fire.

Stephen [00:03:00] calls his story Midnight Mayhem. Thanks for listening.

[00:03:06] Stephen Tucker: In May of 2013, I graduated from the University of Montana with my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. And I got my first teaching job teaching fifth grade in the Bitterroot Valley. And so it was time to finally move out of my college apartment and get a place of my own.

And I knew the first thing that I wanted to do was I was going to replace my college roommate with two cats. I wanted to get two cats in particular because I wanted them to be able to keep each other company when I was gone for the long days of teaching. So I went to the Humane Society with my mindset on finding and adopting two kittens.

And I went into the room with all the kittens, played with them, and there just really wasn’t much of a con Excuse me, much of a connection building and I walked out of the room feeling a little bit disappointed and I walked down a corridor going towards the back of the Humane Society where they have some more enclosures and some bigger cages and that’s when I saw this bigger cage that had these two cats in there.

They [00:04:00] were older cats, eight years old. Uh, their names were Sunshine and Pepper Ann and I took them out and I cuddled with them and in that moment I knew right away. That these cats were going to be my girls. So Sunshine, she’s a Himalayan with this beautiful thick white fur with these golden hues in her ears and in her paws.

And she has these mesmerizing blue eyes that when you stare into them you just can’t help but fall in love with her. And just want to pick her up and hug her and squeeze her. And, which kind of sucks because she hates being picked up more than anything. But, doesn’t stop you from wanting to pick her up and hold her and hug her.

And Pepper Ann. She is a stubborn cat and she’s got these beady yellow eyes. She’s a tortoise shell cat. And the thing that I love so much about her is that she loves to talk to you. And when you stroke her in just the right area, right behind her ear, she’ll cackle at you. So I moved into a small cabin for my first year of teaching down in the Bitterroot Valley.

And when I say small, I mean it was really small. 350, 400 [00:05:00] square feet, lacking a lot of amenities. So after the first year, I knew we needed to find something different. So I moved into a brand new apartment just right behind the Lolo Peak Brewery. And when I say brand new, I mean this apartment was literally brand new.

They had just finished constructing it. You could still smell the fresh paint and the new carpet when you walked in. And this wasn’t just any apartment. This was one of those ones that they built as a luxury apartment. So it had the 18 foot vaulted ceilings, the fancy countertops, the high end appliances.

It didn’t really feel like living in an apartment. It felt like living in a resort. So Sunshine Pepper and I, Pepper Ann and I, we got settled in. Pepper Ann immediately claimed dominion over the guest bed. She covered that thing with so much thick fur, I don’t even remember what color the comforter was, cause she spent all her time there.

I made a mistake, I think I said Sunshine did that, that was Pepper Ann. Sunshine, she found her [00:06:00] happy place on my balcony. And she loved to sit out on my zero gravity chair like a little princess basking in the sunlight. And my favorite thing to do was when I’d go out there and grill and she’d be out there with me and I called her my little grilling partner.

So like I said, we’d been settling in quite well. Beautiful brand new apartment complex. Really quiet as well. Hadn’t even met the neighbors, um, and this was about a month after living there. It’s late. August in 2014. It’s the middle of the night, probably like 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’m fast asleep. And in my sleep, I hear the sound, a muffled sound of a dog barking, ARF, ARF, ARF.

And it, uh, starts to wake me up a little bit. I’m not sure if this is something going on in a dream, or in real life, and it continues. ARF, ARF, ARF. ARF, ARF, ARF. And this goes on for about two or three minutes, all the while I’m slowly starting to wake up but still in that deep sleep fog. And I’m starting to realize, like, this is real life, and I’m getting really confused because I know [00:07:00] it’s three, four in the morning.

And I’m like, why is this neighbor letting their dog bark and bark and bark? And as I’m thinking about this, then I suddenly hear this soft pounding sound. And so now I’m really getting curious and getting a little bit perturbed, starting to wake up even more. I pull out my earplugs, and 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. So that gets my heart rate pumping. And then all of a sudden I hear the pounding again. Pew, pew, pew. And it was the wall of my bedroom shaking. And then I hear, Sheriff’s Department, the building’s on fire, everyone get out.

So again… You know, I’m not fully awake at this point. I’ve got the 3 a. m. brain. And so the first thought that goes through my mind is, well, the building can’t be on fire. It’s brand new. They just finished building it. And I realize that logic makes absolutely no sense. But at 3 a. m. it makes [00:08:00] perfect sense.

So I get out of bed and I go to the front door and I pull it open and as soon as I pull open the door, the smoke immediately starts billowing in. I can smell the burning, um, the burning plastic and the burning wood. And the other thing is I hear the sound of a smoke detector from one of the apartments on the other end of the complex.

It’s beeping. Beep! Beep, beep. And with all of that evidence confronting me, I look down at the sheriff’s deputy who’s down the hallway still pounding on the walls and I say, is there really a fire? I don’t think he heard me because he didn’t say anything in response to me, but that was the moment that it kind of finally clicked and the adrenaline kicked in.

So I ran into my room, changed out of my pajamas and came out into the family room and did what everyone probably would do at that point. In that moment, and I started walking around in circles. So you know how sometimes you have that fight or flight response? You can also have that freeze response. And I could not make a decision about what to do next.

A million [00:09:00] questions were racing through my mind. What, you know, how much time do I have? Do I have time to grab things? What should I grab? Should I grab my computer? Do I, should I grab my documents, my birth certificate? What about the cats? And that’s when I noticed them. They’re just sitting there, without a care in the world, looking up at me.

Wondering what’s going on, why I’m walking around in a panic. And so I realized I gotta get my cats and I gotta get out of here. But again, not that easy making decisions in that moment, still a million questions racing through my head. Well, do I have time to go get their carriers out of the storage closet on the balcony?

Uh, if I come back in, I mean they’re in front of me right now, what if they run away when they see the carriers? You know, then I have to find them, I don’t know how much time I have. So maybe I should just scoop them up. And just carry them out of the apartment. But, you know, things racing through my mind.

What if they get scared, start squirming? I don’t want one of them to get away. The last thing I want is one of them to disappear and to lose one of them. So, again, I can’t make a decision. And then, just suddenly, without [00:10:00] thinking, I grab Sunshine and I run. So I’m carrying her out the door, across the balcony way, down the stairs.

She’s digging her claws into me, squirming. Uh, and get down to my car, open it up, toss her in, and then turn around. And I can kind of assess the scene and take in what’s going on. And there is an apartment that’s on the complete… The opposite end of the complex, as far away from mine as it could possibly be, and on the balcony, there’s flames that are building up, they must be like 5 or 10 feet tall.

It’s a pretty raging fire. But I can see that it’s contained in the balcony really far away from my place. So I realize, okay, it’s safe, I’m gonna go back in. I’m gonna go get Pepper Ann now. So, same story, she’s digging her claws into me, probably a little bit extra hard because she’s like, what the heck, why’d you leave me?

And, got her in the car, and then that’s when I really had the time to start breathing, taking the scenario, I realized, all my neighbors are out there with me as well, these people I’ve never met, what a weird way to Get to know your neighbors standing out watching the building burn at three [00:11:00] in the morning.

And you know, like me, there’s some of the neighbors, they’re out there with their pets. We’ve got a neighbor who’s with their dog, and we get to chatting with each other, and one of the neighbors tells the story of what happened. They said we were asleep in our beds and we heard this loud, huge explosion.

It shook the whole apartment and we looked out the window. The next door neighbor’s balcony was on fire. So we called 9 1 1 and reported it. And when we gave him the address, They didn’t know where we were. Remember that part where I said that the building was brand new? Apparently it was so brand new that 911 didn’t even know that it existed.

So they had to give them directions. Um, but all the while, while we’re having this conversation, the fire department’s there, and I hear, it sounds like Niagara Falls, like thousands of gallons of water that they’re using to douse this fire on this balcony, and it’s pouring over the edge. And it was probably about an hour or so before they had it completely mopped up and we were able to go back inside.

And I remember thinking, man, how the heck am I going to fall asleep now? So what you don’t know is, the next day is basically the [00:12:00] first day of teacher orientation returning back to school. So, you want to talk about back to school nightmares, I pretty much lived one of those. So, I don’t think I did get back to sleep, but went to school the next day, everything went well.

Came home and talked to that same neighbor and they had talked to the landlord, the landlord had figured out what had happened. And so apparently the people who live in that corner apartment, they were smoking a cigarette earlier in the afternoon and they put it out in a dried flower pot on their balcony.

And then they up and went out of town. And that thing smoldered in the flower pot all day and all night until the middle of the night when a flame caught. And then that lit the dried plant on fire. And then that flame spread to the gas tank of a lawnmower that they had on their balcony. And that detonated and that caused the whole incident.

And I remember taking away two things. The first one was thinking to myself, who the [00:13:00] hell lives in a second floor apartment and has a lawnmower on their balcony? And the second thing was, I think I might have just accidentally figured out which of my cats is my favorite. I’m sorry, Pepper Ann.

[00:13:18] Marc Moss: Thanks, Steven. Steven Tucker is a third grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley with ten years of experience. As a teacher, he has a passion for science, technology, and coaching Lego robotics. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and spending his days on the lake with his pedalboard. When he is not teaching or enjoying the outdoors, Stephen spends his time watching way too much YouTube and indulging in his unhealthy obsession with Taco Bell.

Our next storyteller is Sandy Shepard, who details her ordeal of becoming the first woman optometrist in Montana in the 1980s. Sandy calls her story, I Will Rise Up, or It Takes a Little Time. Thanks for listening. [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Sandy Sheppard: Hello, Missoula!

It’s

so nice to be here with you. Thanks for coming. But in 1982, this was a different state. Summer of 1982, my husband and I moved from the University of California at Berkeley because he was taking his dream job at the University of Montana. He was teaching fire science, and he was close to the fishin and the huntin So, it was my job to find my place in this new state, this new town.

Being a practicing optometrist, I knew what I had to do first. I had to go to Helena, Montana, a new city for me, and take the board exam. Uh, several people come once a year, and um, you take a written test, A lab test and then you examine a real live patient. [00:15:00] Well, my lucky day, I had a six year old in my chair and I knew this was gonna be a piece of cake.

I go to the right eye, I scope ’em, I say, which is better? One, two. I go to the left eye, which is better? 1, 2, 1. Done. Well, I walk out to the mom, I tell her my results, I predict her son’s future, and I ask, do you have any questions? And then, I leave with my husband because it’s time to go home. Job done.

Check. Well, I have to wait two or four weeks to get my little acceptance letter.

And guess what? I failed.

I failed because I didn’t go and ask the mother if she had any questions. Oh, I was so naive. I trusted the system. I [00:16:00] trusted that the board would know I went out and asked the mother or if they knew I needed to they would have followed me.

But I didn’t go and say, Hey, I just asked the mom questions and here’s what we said. I was baffled and I was angry. I got myself an aggressive woman attorney. And she went to the board and she told me, hey, they’re going to do you a favor. They’re going to give you a I passed

the first one. She said, Sandy. You can either take this special test or you can wait till next year. I didn’t have a choice, so my husband and I go to a new city. Great Falls, Montana.

And

we enter this old optometrist’s office, which is fine because I love old equipment. [00:17:00] And guess who my patient is this time?

The old optometrist. Who happens to be a member of the board. So, 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. In fact, the tension is so strong you can cut it with a knife. I gotta prove myself. So I scope the right eye.

Pretty easy. I scope the left. Well, I’ll do the right first. Which is better? One, two. Which is better? One, two. Okay. I go to the left eye.

Guess what? This eye’s a whopper! It’s off the charts!

If I [00:18:00] weren’t so nervous,

I would’ve figured it out. I would’ve taken that faropt away and I said, You were born with a bum eye, weren’t you? But, I was reduced. I had lost. And I went to the car and said to my husband, Let’s go, I failed again. Well, this is a little Japanese American guy, a great debater, a great professor, internationally known.

He’s not gonna let this stop us. So he goes back into the building, talks to him, comes out, Sandy, you gotta go in and talk to him. They wanna talk to you. Oh my God. So I do. I go back in, and guess what they say? What do you have to say for yourself? I’m reduced to a four year old Navy [00:19:00] brat who doesn’t have a place at the table.

I can’t defend myself, I just buckle. I crumble. And I walk out. I don’t say a word. Well, I looked at my husband, guess who gets my wrath? My husband. I didn’t realize that he didn’t understand what we were up against. That we were up against men who were narrow minded, who weren’t ready for the first woman optometrist, let alone from California.

Who could have been racist. He was Japanese. I didn’t know that, but I sure was mad at him for throwing me into a snake pit. So we’re driving home. I’m fuming and I’m just so full of shame. I flunked twice that I just [00:20:00] wanted to throw myself out of the speeding car. But I didn’t. Thank God. And we went home.

My plan was I’m going back to California. I’ll wait a year and come back and take the test. I did so well in California. I stayed with my step grandparents. My adopted grandparents. We had martinis every night. I found two awesome jobs. And one time she said to me, Sandy, I just know when you’re going downstairs, you’re just crying in your pillow because you miss your husband so badly.

I said, yes, I do. I couldn’t tell her that I was going downstairs, snog her into my, my pillow. So it was lovely being with them again. And then I went home. It was July. It was July the next year,

[00:21:00] and I went

to take my test. Lo and behold, I

didn’t have to hardly take

any test, and they passed me. I can’t even remember what little test I had to take.

What shocking, what a shocking situation. Why did they make me wait a year? But, the point is, I came home, I started my own business, I bought my building, I retired at 60, and… I love Montana. I love Missoula. My husband is not my husband anymore, but I sure am grateful that he brought me here.

Thank you.

[00:21:43] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sandy. Sandy Shepard was a Navy brat. She lived in oceans, bays and islands. She is thrilled now to be living on the Clark Fork River. Who would have guessed that she would have landed in Missoula, Montana and would have stayed for 41 years. Sandy believes that her first three years [00:22:00] may have been happier landing on the moon.

Coming up after the break

[00:22:03] 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.

[00:22:15] Candace Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I’m going 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.

[00:22:30] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event. You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org better yet though. Why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets?

These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters. Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rudy’s. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rudy’s or get the digital version at [00:23:00] tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. Jolene O’Brien shares her story about what people never told her about pregnancy. Jolene calls her story, No One Told Me, or The Fourth Trimester. Thanks for listening.

[00:23:17] Jolyne O’Brien: Good evening, thanks for coming out tonight. Um, it all, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2020.

Four beautiful, huge, bald heads, eight arms, eight legs, came through this body. And no one told me.

I remember the summer of 2014. It was shortly before I gave birth to my second child. I was super pregnant in my third trimester. And my husband was [00:24:00] leaving for Phoenix to go for a business trip. And I thought, I’ll tag along. Winter was coming in Missoula, and I needed all the vitamin D that I could get.

I should have been traveling on an airplane at that time, but I went ahead and went anyways. And while we were in Phoenix, my husband was off doing his business thing, and I decided to research some really great things to do. So I came across this taco truck event. That was about 200 taco trucks all in one area.

If you love tacos, raise your hand. You are my people and we Couldn’t get tickets, they were sold out. So I went ahead and shenaggled and got us um, some free tickets through um, this marketing event that I told them that I would do which was take a picture of myself on Facebook really quick and then get free tickets and hop into the Docker Truck event.

Fabulous. So as we were at [00:25:00] this taco truck event, we walk in and I can smell the barbacoa, and I can hear the sizzling, and I see the fresh pico de gallo, but I do what all pregnant women do, and I scope out the bathroom scene. So I find it, it’s an amazing set of port o potties off to the side. I tell my husband I’m gonna go get in line, and he’s thinking for tacos, and I’m actually heading to the line of the port o pot, and I head over there.

My husband graciously and lovingly joins me in line because we know no one in this thousand person taco truck event. So I go to the restroom. Go get a taco, go back to the restroom, taco, back to the restroom, taco, my husband ditches me, I go to the restroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing that.

It was hot, it was hot, it was muggy. My, my event wasn’t as great as his, he had all the tacos he could eat, I spent my event smelling a port a [00:26:00] pot. So we leave, and the next morning, we go, um, to go to the airport, and my husband is super punctual, and I am on time if I’m 30 minutes late. We are running 30 minutes late.

So he is agitated, irritated, and we show up and it’s um, the part of the airport that’s under construction. So, there’s no bathrooms, there’s no restaurants, and there’s no um, like clothing and cute purses and bags that you normally would see when you walk through an airport. So that’s fine. So we get in line and I am doing again what all pregnant women would do.

I’m scoping out for the bathroom scene. And it is at, we are at the back of this huge line, and it’s on the other side of the TSA. Excuse me. So on the other side of the T ss A, so I am thinking to myself, well, if I can snaggle some taco tickets that are sold out, I can sure as heck get to that bathroom really quick.[00:27:00]

So I ditched the luggage and I start like weaving through the line. Like I know somebody at the front like you might do in Disneyland. There’s my partner up there you go. That’s for me. And I get to the front and I go through T S A. And my only focus at this point is to get to that bathroom. Well, the gentleman who’s running the TSA, 6’4 bald, 350 pound man, had a different agenda.

He pulls me over to the side and wants to search me because I look super suspicious with my belly looking like I swallowed two watermelons. I’m in a dress kind of similar to what I’m wearing tonight. So I said, Sir, I’m so sorry, but I have to go to the restroom. And he said, I’m not, no, that can’t happen.

Follow me. Well, I’m not really wanting to follow him. So I said, no, I really have to use the restroom. And he says, I’m sorry, you can’t. Please follow me into this room. And he walks me. Mind you, I just, all the people I just snuck in front of. Okay, don’t forget that. [00:28:00] I walk in front, or I’m walking a couple steps behind him.

And he takes three steps to his room. Which is a quadrilateral of four translucent… Help me with the word. Walls. Thank you. Where everyone is now watching me get searched by my new friend. So I’m the lady in Costco that when you want to come talk to me about how cute my belly looks, I don’t want you to touch me or rub you.

Or rub me. Please don’t do that. And I’m realizing I’m about to get searched. He asks for, put my arms out, put my legs out. And I’m thinking to myself, I’m not going to make it. So again, I plead. Sir, I really need to use the restroom. No, you may not. He is as serious as serious can be. And he’s not realizing the seriousness of the situation.

So my arms are out. He rubs, he has no wand, for whatever reason. And he rubs his arms across my arm, back under, down my… [00:29:00] Sides down my leg and over my shoe. Well at this moment I am like starting to panic. And I do what all beautiful third trimester women would do in this situation. And as he takes his hands to check up my legs, I pee on him.

Thanks friend. Well, he’s not chasing me down as I turn and rush myself beelining it for the bathroom. No one tells you. So I make it to the, by this time my husband had put the luggage through. We make it to the front of the door and I am sitting in urine clothes for the duration of this, of the ride home.

Flight home. No one told me. 10 years and not one time did this topic come up. No one told, no one told me. It was the summer. [00:30:00] I’m sorry, it was the winter. Of 2020, Missoula had about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was arctic freezing cold outside. It was this like arctic shifting wind, um, the kind that hits your face and you were like immediately boogers frozen.

So I had taken my daughter on a evening with mom, we do Wednesdays with mom at our house, and afterwards I needed to stop by WinCo to pick up… A few items before heading home. We had a brand new vehicle that we had just purchased. And my husband loves this thing. It’s now my car. It’s the family car. And as we’re walking out, I have a cart full of groceries.

Step and crunching in the snow. Niagara Falls come falling out of me with no warning. 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 [00:31:00] is, but she is sure on board to help mom, whatever it is. Eyes big and sure, mom. Whatever I can do. So I continue walking and I turn just to look behind me for a moment and notice that dog trail in the snow that I had just left.

I have a few steps to the car and I’m thinking, how am I going to get out of this because I’m not getting in my brand new car with soaking wet pants. So I do, I think what you would do, I took my pants off in the middle of the parking lot in Wingo. And I turn to my daughter and I say, I need your coat, sweetheart.

She is refusing to give her coat up at this point because it’s arctic cold outside. And I said, no sis, I really need it. I so am so sorry for the two gentlemen that were walking past at that moment.

She hands me her coat. I stick it on the chair. I take my coat off and I cover myself and I drive home naked. [00:32:00] Ashamed. Embarrassed, and so proud of my 8 year old. So I call my husband, and I tell him I’ve had an accident. And I need his help. And I need him to meet me at the door with some pants. Well his immediate response is that we need to call 911.

I don’t disagree, there’s a problem. But it’s not the car that’s broken, it’s me.

So I explain to him the problem and he meets me at the door with pants. And the reason I’m up here today to share this story with you is after 10 years when no one told me, I’m here to tell you there’s something called fourth trimester. And it’s something your body needs as a woman after having a baby.

And so if you are pregnant, if you’ve just had a baby, if you know someone having a baby, please do your research and tell them about fourth trimester. Nobody told me, [00:33:00] so I’m here standing here. Love yourself. Love your babies. I’m here to tell you. Thank you.

[00:33:11] Marc Moss: Jolene O’Brien is a wife of one husband, mom of two daughters and two sons. And a teacher of hundreds of children. Jolene is a woman, a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and a close friend. She is an artist, a portrait photographer, and an incredibly creative writer. Closing out this episode of the podcast is Candace Haster.

Candace shares her story of deciding to have a baby and the process by which she did so with a kind sperm donor. Candace calls her story. Well, that’ll be interesting. Thanks for listening.

[00:33:46] Candace Haster: Hi. Um, so my story begins with the moon, but before that there was a storm. I was 33 years old. I was in [00:34:00] France with my mom. We were on a walk. She’s over there. Um, we were walking and it starts to rain. It’s a downpour. We’re soaking wet. There’s nowhere to seek shelter. We are just wet. And we are laughing.

And if you know my mom, and if you’ve heard her laugh, then you know that her laugh is the kind of laugh that makes you laugh too. Her big laugh. Her belly laugh. Sometimes she bends over while she’s laughing, and sometimes there’s snorts. Um, so we’re walking in the storm, trying to get out of it, running, laughing.

And as soon as the storm, or as quickly, I should say, as the storm comes in, it parts. And we’re hungry. So we find a restaurant, and we sit down to eat dinner. And there’s sourdough bread, and there’s an Aperol spritz, and there’s wine. And there’s this [00:35:00] salad. And my mom still talks about this salad to this day.

Perhaps it’s her favorite salad that she’s ever had. By far, it’s the most unusual that I’ve ever had. Picture with me, if you will, um, a bed of butter lettuce greens and asparagus and apples. But if you’re picturing this right now, I guarantee that you’re picturing it wrong. So… Imagine with me a green apple, a whole one, a round one.

It’s cored, a cylinder through the middle. It’s sliced thin, so what you have are donut shaped slices of apples. Three of them, arranged on the plate, on top of the butter lettuce. Through each apple is stuck, vertically, a spear of asparagus. But the asparagus isn’t green. No. This is the kind of asparagus that is grown under a pile of [00:36:00] hay.

To deprive it from light. This is white asparagus. Why? Personally, I prefer my asparagus to be green. So anyways, you can picture it now. White asparagus. Stuck through slices of apples with holes in them. Arranged on a plate. It’s a great salad. We finish dinner. There’s more wine. We decide to go on a walk.

The town that we’re in, in the Burgundy region of France, is surrounded by what are called ramparts. These are old stone walls meant to protect the town. Along some of the ramparts you can walk, and on some of the ramparts you can walk on top of them. They’re so wide. So we’re walking on top of these ramparts because we want to get a glimpse of the moon.

This is something that we’ve always done. We’ve always gone to go catch glimpses of the moon. We’re walking, it’s still cloudy, but the clouds part, and the moon shows itself. But it looks weird. [00:37:00] Why is the moon shaped like that? Why is it that color? It takes us a while to realize this, but what we’re witnessing is an unexpected eclipse.

And we laugh. It’s amazing. It’s magical. And in that moment, I know that this full moon is going to trigger my period. And in that moment, I also know that two weeks from now, I will ovulate. And in that moment, I also know that I’m ready to get pregnant, to have a kid. So, step back with me in time about 11 years prior.

I’m about 22 years old now. I’m walking in the north hills of Missoula, again, with my mom. The moon is out, but it’s the daytime. It’s a pastel moon. And we’re talking. We’re talking about all different things. We’re talking about the flowers that are growing. We’re talking about what’s for dinner that night.

We’re talking about my [00:38:00] partner at the time. And my mom says to me, Are you a lesbian? I don’t know. Well, are you gay? I don’t know. Well, what do you think I should call you? You can still call me Candace, Mom. We keep walking and a little bit later she says to me, Do you want to have children someday? Yeah, I do.

Well, that’ll be interesting. Indeed mom, that will be interesting. So come on back in time, actually forward in time again, to right when I get back from France. And, uh, I’d had previous conversations with a midwife and I’d also gone to the library and checked out so many books that talk about how to women can get pregnant.

And what all of the books tell me is that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be expensive. You’re [00:39:00] going to have to use interventions. And my midwife confirms, yeah, it’s going to be hard. You’re probably going to have to use interventions and it’s going to be expensive and insurance won’t cover anything.

Not that I had insurance anyway. But wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. I remember in middle school, those VHS tapes that we watched, those sex ed VHS tapes featuring Patricia F. Miller. She told us that we could, I could, in fact, get pregnant in a hot tub without even having sex. Do you remember those stories?

Some of you remember those stories. I know you do. So what gives? Um, 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. [00:40:00] Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

But count it as practice, because what you’re going to need is a lot of practice. Okay. So previously, my partner and I had talked to our friend Seth, who had agreed to donate his sperm.

His partner Kenya was 100% on board. Kenya loves participating in weird shit. So… We make a plan. I give them this little plastic cup with an orange lid. Kenya helps Seth get his semen into the cup. She brings it to the house in her bra. It has to stay warm. And she knocks on the door. We have a secret knock.

Because there’s no need for chit chat in these moments. I open the door, Kenya hands over the semen. She [00:41:00] explains that during the process of getting the semen into the cup, there was a lot of laughter. Which I love. Um, she also said Seth is a little bit worried that it’s not enough. There’s not very much in there.

Like this much. Um, is it enough? I don’t know. I don’t have that much experience with semen at this point in my life. So, we go about the business. Put that up into me. Some of it slides out immediately. Scoop it back in. It’s okay. My midwife had previously told me that because I have a tilted uterus, which is not uncommon for women my size, that after the insemination, I should rest with my hips above my shoulders.

She suggested that I get down on all fours, but on my elbows. Rest that way. It’s not comfortable. She also told me how important it was to relax. I try [00:42:00] that. I try relaxing. And I decide that what I need to do is move my body because that’s what I am most comfortable doing. So we go backpacking. We get to this favorite spot.

Set up a tent, and these clouds roll in, and it’s a storm, it’s a full on thunderstorm. There’s thunder, there’s lightning, all of it, and in that moment, I feel this surge. It’s right here, right here, a little lightning bolt, and I know in that moment that I’m pregnant. Nobody believes me. You’re so weird, Candice.

Um, well 41 weeks and one day later. I’m in my kitchen. I’m making bread. My mom is there. Kenya’s there. I think they’re making dinner. The dough is sticky. I put flour on my hands. Knead the dough more, and I feel my contractions beginning. I hold that moment for myself for a while before I tell anyone. [00:43:00] Then at about three o’clock in the morning, my kiddo is born.

In my house. My mom and Kenya finished making the bread. And, a little bit later, a storm rolls in. There’s thunder, and there’s lightning, and the house smells like fresh made bread. Now, Things are a little bit different right now in my life. I have a different partner, and I have a little bit more experience with semen.

But, I still take time to look at the moon. And in fact, last night, my kiddo came to me right before bedtime and he said, Hey Ma, wanna step out on the stoop and take a glimpse at the moon? Hell yeah kiddo. Always.

[00:43:59] Marc Moss: Thank you. [00:44:00] Candace grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to and fell in love with Missoula in the 1990s. You can find her small scale ceramic and paper artwork tucked into nooks and crannies around town, in the woods, and possibly in your neighbor’s pocket. She has a parent, a Scorpio, an avid cyclist, and is way into tigers.

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 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. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or [00:45:00] you can get your tickets online at tellussomething. org. Join us next week.

[00:45:05] Charlene Brett: The thunder

starts.

Rolling

and it’s echoing off all of these

walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all

we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain

instantly starts pouring.

[00:45:22] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going. And I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s going to be really, really dark. And boy, was I right.

[00:45:36] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing

that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:45:46] Marc Moss: Join us on the Tell Us Something podcast next week for the concluding stories from the Creative Pulse graduate program. The University of Montana event on the theme out of my show, the telesumming podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting [00:46:00] Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits.

You want a 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the Tell Us Something podcast. Learn more at FloatMSOA. com and thanks to the team at MissoulaEvents. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at MissoulaEvents. net. Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at CashForJunkersBand. com. To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit 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.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “It’s the Little Things”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on December 15, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : It's the Little Things - Part 2

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tele Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss . We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is the first time. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is February 20th.

I look forward to hearing from you this week on the podcast,

Jim Harte: when we came into the Dark room, he had already had this projector and the roll up screen set. And as we sat there on our folding chairs, we started up the projector with that wonderful sound,

Abigail Gilbert: and she’s screaming, I’m looking around like, she, she can’t be screaming at me. I, uh, I just

Regina O’Brien: got here. I no longer felt the cold. There was no moon that night and there were so many stars. My mind went numb and the sky was so incredibly, absolutely unforgivably. Black.

Jeremy N. Smith: She says, what’s going on? And Josh says, he’s going around your desk a thousand times.

She’s like, okay, Einsteins this. I want to see

Marc Moss: four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme. It’s the little things. Their stories were recorded. Live in person in front of a sold out crowd on December 15th, 2020. At the Wilma in Missoula, Montana, our first storyteller is Jim Harte. Jim has always loved film ever since he was a boy.

When the distributors forget to send the second reel of Wild in the Streets, Jim gets creative in the way that he avoids giving refunds. Jim calls his story more than a movie. Thanks for listening.

Jim Harte: This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken to an audience in a movie theater, which the Wilma was. It’s the first time I’ve talked about talking about it in a movie theater

So before I moved to Missoula, the home of the Great Roxy Theater, I was film projectionist at George Eastman Museum’s Dryden Theater, where I projected everything from silent movies to modern independence to flammable nitrate. And before every film, somebody walked up to a podium at the front of the sta uh, stage and gave an introduction to the film.

And when they were done, I slowly faded out their spotlight and started raising the curtain to the screen and slowly fading out the lights to the theater. And then I started the projector at just the right moment. So the movie hit the. When the curtain was up and the lights were down, and it was just one of the little things that movie theaters do to give more than a movie, and one time between Christmas and New Year, I had to introduce the film and project the film.

I told the audience this was because our fundraising goal had not reached its goal and we could only afford one person. There was still time to make a donation, so this doesn’t happen next year. ? Well, my first movie theater was our New Jersey living room. Dad was really serious about his home movies, how he filmed them, edited them, and presented them.

When we came into the Dark Room, he had already had this projector and the roll up screen set up, and as we sat there on our folding chair, He started up the projector with that wonderful sound. Oh, and his homemade title came up on the screen, ocean City, 1964, and we laughed as we saw ourselves dancing and splashing in the waves.

There were no mistakes. Dad cut that all out. These were real movies starring. Dad helped me make my first film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I played the doctor, my brother and my friends played the other parts. Dad filmed it and did his wonderful narration. I showed it at the Boy Scout Hobby Show in the little room they gave me that I turned into my own movie theater and I won first prize.

Thanks, dad.

Our hometown movie theater was The Strand, like the Wilma movie Palace built in the twenties. It as a great theater, had really expensive popcorn . Now there’s an old saying in the movie business movies for Yucks, popcorn for Bucks, movies. Get the audience in the prophet. Is it the concession? So to avoid paying the high strand popcorn price, I walked down to the Woolworth store and bought a gigantic bag of popcorn for 10 cents and smuggled it in.

And I probably was responsible for the STR strand Closing 20 years later, . Now, back then, the only way to see a new movie was at a theater, and the only way to see an old movie was on tv. My mom and dad were really strict about what we were allowed to see, but fortunately there was the four 30 movie Monday through Friday.

Channel seven showed old films in series weeks. Science Fiction Week, monster Week, Western Week. and mom and dad figured what’s the problem? They’re old movies after school. Well, little did they know that they also had Crazy Lady Week with whatever happened to Baby Jane, which was definitely not a kid’s film and got an x-ray in England when it opened.

So I was learning about film and I was learning about life

And when I moved to New York City in the seventies to go to NYU film school, there were all these movie theaters that showed old films and they were called repertory theaters, and they were great. And after college, one of my first jobs was managing one of them, the Cinema Village, which is still. Down there in Greenwich Village and still owned by my boss, Nick Olou, the hero of independent theaters who is in the 2019 documentary, the Projectionist, which you should all see

It was a cash business. The customers paid their money, went through a turns style, and saw two films that changed every two days, and the beginning of one double feature on the first day. The first film was a 1968 film I’d seen on the four 30 movie Wild in the Streets. The plot was what would happen if 18 year olds got the vote, and what happened was a rockstar becomes president after his band dumps L s D into the Potomac River

And the Congress tripping their brains out passes a law that 14 year olds can vote, and the president sends all the old people over 30, including his parents, to concentration camps where they have to wear purple robes and drink acid and trip all day.

So about two thirds of the way into wildness streets. The projectionist calls me says, yeah, I thought you should know the film’s gonna end in 10 minutes. So I looked at the screen, I said, it’s supposed to end in 30 minutes. Goes, yeah, I know they didn’t send the last reel

Well, unlike today with digital projection where you press a button, it shows the movie straight beginning to end. With film projection, you had 20 minute reels, which you switched back and forth between two projectors to give the illusion of a continuing movie. So I told him, this is what I want you to do.

Before the reel runs out, close the lens to the projector so we don’t see white light on the screen, and mute the sound so we don’t hear snap, crackle. And raise the lights. I’m gonna talk to the audience. So I said, ladies and gentlemen, I’m Jim Harte, manager of the Cinema Village. I’m very sorry to tell you, they didn’t send us the end to the movie

So if you would like a refund, we’d be glad to give it to you as you exit the theater. If you like to find out how the film ends, you can stay, and I’ll tell you,

So they stayed and I told them the president stoned out of his mind as usual, is driving his Rolls Royce until he comes to a park and he gets out and he’s playing imagination games like a little boy until he comes to a pond with a small dock and he lies down on the dock and he sees a string going down into the water and he pulls the string.

There’s a crayfish on it. He holds it up to his face, and as he’s going to touch it, it bites him, , and he stands up and he stops on it. Three boys run up and say, what did you do? He was our friend, he was our pet. And the president scales down at them. It says, I killed it. What are you gonna do about it?

You’re not old enough to.

And as the president SAS off, one of the boys looks right in the camera and says, we’re gonna put everybody over 10 out of business. And the audience applauded and they were happy, and I was happy I had given them something more than a movie. Enjoy the show.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Jim. Jim Harte has worked in the film business for 45 years. He was raised in New Jersey and majored in drama at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York before moving to Manhattan where he received a BFA in film and television at New York. Jim lived in Manhattan in the 1970s and eighties before moving to Rochester, New York, where he was a filmed editor for Eastman Kodak Company and an archival projectionist at George Eastman Museum.

Since moving to Missoula, Montana in 2021, he has acted in several films produced in Montana. His favorite storyteller is Jean Shepherd. Next up is Abigail Gilbert. Abigail has to borrow a car when she’s traveling for her job in a super small town in Nebraska. She ends up accidentally stealing a car in the process.

Abigail calls her story, the Keys to success. Thanks for listening.

Abigail Gilbert: It’s the middle of March and I am in Sterling Nebraska, population 482. I am here because I am on tour with the Missoula Children’s Theater, and I have a wonderful tour partner named Michael. So our job as tour actor directors was to travel from town to town each week all across the country in a Ford F-150, and teach children a musical.

We would arrive in each town on Sunday, and on Monday we would cast the students in the musical Pinocchio. We would cast 52 60 of them. Then we would start rehearsal. We would teach them the show all week, and then by Friday or Saturday, they had a one hour long musical ready to perform for their community and their family and friends.

Michael and I would travel with all of the little pieces needed to put on this musical. In the back of our truck. We had the props, the set, the costumes, the lights, and then on Sunday we would pack it all up and drive to the next town and do it. This particular week in Sterling Nebraska, we were staying with a lovely woman named DeAnn who opened her home to us for the week.

It was Monday morning and we had a meeting at the school in town where we were going to meet the principal who was our point of contact for the week. Now, Michael and I had been on tour together at this point for about two months. So naturally I had already lost my set of. So to get into our Ford F-150, we would have to unlock the driver’s side door, and we didn’t have any automatic buttons to unlock or lock.

So we’d unlock the driver’s side door, reach across the cab, and then unlock the passenger door. So on this particular Monday morning, standing in deanne’s driveway, I decided that I was going to unlock the driver’s side door and throw the keys over the top of the car to. The moment the keys left my hands, I knew that they weren’t going to make it over the top of the truck.

Michael and I watched them fall between the cab and the topper, nowhere to be found. Uh, they didn’t fall through onto the ground. You couldn’t peer over the top of the car and see them. You couldn’t, uh, stick your hand in the grooves of the truck. They were lost. Deanne graciously offered for us to use her car to get into.

She drove a little black standard looking car with a push to start. Uh, so we headed into town and the town of Sterling was small. It was a restaurant, a few shops, the school we were working at for the week and a mechanic. Uh, we had just a little bit of time before our meeting, so I headed down to the mechanic to ask for help.

I walk in and the air is filled with smoke and there are two. Sitting in the back, dirty white tank tops, chain smoking. I walk in and I explain to them that I have stranded our truck in deanne’s driveway and can you help us? Uh, they said, oh, we know Deanne will head down there right now and get your car.

I thanked them profusely and headed back to the school. When Michael and I’s meeting concluded, I had a text on my phone from Deanne that said, Hey, they were able to rescue the keys. Is there any way that you can get my car back to me and come pick up your truck? She also shared with me that they were able to rescue the keys by laying on top of the truck and sticking a fishing line, uh, with a magnet on the end to get the keys.

Uh, I looked at the clock. I had just enough time to drive the 20 minutes back to Deanne’s house, get her her car back, get back in the truck, drive to the school, and be on time for the audition. So I told her I’d be on the way. I get out to the front of the school where we had left Dion’s car and I start driving back to her house.

When I arrive, I park in the garage. I meet her there, hand her her keys, she gives me the rescued truck keys, get in the truck, start my way back to the school, 20 minutes there and back. as I pull up back to the school, there is a woman standing on the sidewalk outside of the school and she is pointing at what appears to be me in my branded Missoula Children’s Theater, bright Red Truck.

And she’s screaming, I’m looking around like she’s, she can’t be screaming at me. I, uh, I just got here. I’m going through the list of everything I’ve ever done wrong in my entire life. And none of it involves Sterling Nebraska. I’ve only been here for 24 hours, , so I quickly parked the truck. I jump out and I, I can finally hear her and she’s screaming, you stole my car, stole my car.

And I’m still looking around. What does she mean? I stole her car? No, I drove deanne’s car here. And then I drove Deanne’s car back and DeAnn met me in her garage. I gave her the keys. She saw the car. What does she mean? I stole her car. I say, ma’am, I am so sorry, but I do not know what you are talking about.

And she said, my keys. My keys. They were in the cup holder and I have a push to start.

Mm-hmm. .

And then I realized that when I got into deanne’s little black Push to Start Car, I actually got into this woman. Janet’s pushed to start little black car parked in front of the school and drove it away. I stole her car,

I said, ma’am, um, if you just wait right here, I’m just gonna go get your car.

I race back to the truck race, back to Deanne’s house, 20 minutes, the longest 20 minutes of my entire life. I don’t cry very often in life, but when I say that I sobbed the entire way back to deanne’s house. I mean it, the Missoula Children’s Theater has been touring for 50 years. We’re celebrating our 50th year of touring.

Yes. Thank you. Across the world and the country. And the reason, one of the many reasons why people love to bring Missoula Children’s Theater back to their community over and over again year after year, is because of our incredible reputation.

And they hire tour actors who represent that image and represent that, uh, organization that’s bigger than themselves. Um, they hire people who are professional and kind and friendly and care about the mission of teaching life skills to children through the performing arts. Stealing a vehicle is not a part of that.

So I, uh, finally get back to Deanne’s house and I race into the garage and she meets me there cuz she hears me coming. And then she says, Abigail, why are you back here and why are you sobbing? I said, Dan and I pointed to the stolen car in the garage. I said, Deanne, this is not your car. And she took a long, hard look at the car and she said, you know what, Abigail?

Now that I take a closer look , that is not my vehicle, and Sweet Deanne, she put her arms out and I just melted into her, in, into her and, and she said, Abigail, I think you just need a hug. This woman that I just met 24 hours ago, just holding me in her garage next to a stolen car, . And I said, finally, I said, Deanne, I have to get this car back to the school.

I get in the stolen car, of course it pushes to start right away because sure enough, the keys are right in the cup holder drive back to the school. 20 minutes. I am white knuckling the entire way back because I’m in a stolen car and it’s icy and snowing Nebraska in March. Uh, when I finally arrive back at the school, Janet is sure enough waiting right where I left her and I hand her her keys and I said, I am so sorry that I stole your car.

And she said, I am so sorry that I yelled at you, and I am rethinking leaving my keys in the car . Now, at this point, I am very late for the audition that I’m supposed to be at. So, um, I at some point texted Michael who’s running the audition by himself because he’s amazing. Hey, uh, so I’ve had a little situation.

I’m okay. Everything’s fine. Uh, but I’m gonna be a little. I get back in Dion’s car, 20 minutes back to her house. I get back in the truck, 20 minutes back to the school. At this point, hours later, I have just barely stopped sobbing and uh, I get ready to go back in the school. I’ve got the truck, I’ve got the keys.

And I pace a smile on my face. And sure enough, I walk into the gym and Michael is perfectly beautifully running an audition with all of these children who are hoping to be a part of our cast of Pinocchio. And I look at Michael and I give him a nod that says, Hey, everything’s okay. Um, but wow. Do I have a great story for you later?

It’s the little things. Losing the keys. Throwing the keys, the push to start not recognizing the wrong car in the garage. Sometimes the little things have really big consequences. Thank you.

Thanks,

Marc Moss: Abigail. Abigail Gilbert is a professional actor, educator and director who originally hails from Duluth m. She is proud to work at the Missoula Children’s Theater as the tour marketing associate and social media specialist, and at Studio M as a teacher and vocal instructor on stage. She was most recently seen as Columbia in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and as Little Red Riding Hood in into the Woods at Missoula Community Theater.

She was recently voted Missoula’s. Best actor in the Mozillians. Best of Missoula, 2022 contest. Next up is Regina O’. Regina was unable to afford housing and was living in a tepe in the desert. Living in a tepe causes one to notice so many little things that others might miss. Regina calls her story.

Little things aren’t little. Thanks for listening.

Regina O’Brien: Thank you, . I lived in a Tepe for a year and a half in the Hammus Mountains in North Central New Mexico. . I had gotten a job in one of the little villages there, and housing was really tight and the tepee was a good alternative to nothing. and, uh, living a life like that, you’ll learn a few things now.

Most people know what a tepee looks like and what they know is the skin, and that is essentially a big umbrella. It keeps the rain off, but it’s really drafty. What makes it work is the canvas liner on the inside. It is connected to the tepee poles at about chest high, and it goes all the way to the ground.

This liner, basically, it keeps the draft from going into the living area and funnels it up to the smoke. It does not do a good job at keeping out the neighbors . The, you know, the, the ones who, who were there first? The mice, the rock squirrels. , the tarantulas , and knowing that I could have surprise visitors at any time, I learned to pay a lot of attention to my surroundings.

It’s one of the benefits of tarantulas, , tvb TVs have no windows, and I couldn’t look outside, and I found that, well, I don’t know if my senses became more acute or if I just paid more attention to. Or probably both, but I found that I could identify the birds flying overhead by the cadence and the sound of their wing beats.

I learned that the wind going through a pinon pine sound is different than the wind going through a ponderosa where a juniper. What I didn’t realize until I left the tepee was how integrated my senses were to my awareness. When I left the hammus and wound up in a real house, I felt safe. I had real walls.

I had windows I could look out of. I had a door I could lock, but when I went to bed that first night and I started going to sleep, , I had this strong sense that something was wrong, something something was wrong, something something was wrong. And I wound up going from room to room to room, trying to figure out what was wrong.

And I realized I was looking out of all of the windows. It was night, it was dark. I couldn’t see anything. And what was wrong was I didn’t know what was going on outside in the tepee, you have this constant flow of. Going through and that airflow let me know what the weather was doing. I could feel the temperature change, the, the moisture in the air.

I could smell the pinon pine. I could taste the dust. I could hear the coyotes in the cars from miles away and in the house. All of a sudden, my senses were confined to the inside of the house and I learned, I had to reassess what safety meant to.

When I first moved into the tepee, it was late summer, but I was at over 6,000 feet elevation, and I knew winter was coming pretty soon. So I went to talk to my landlady, Ariana, who lived like 50 yards away in a two room dirt floor shack. She was upscale. She had a wood stove, and I said, how much firewood do I need?

You know, how, how cold does it get? And she goes, you know, I got rid of my thermometer years ago. I, I did not need to know it was minus 20 inside my house.

Good to know. , I got some cinder blocks and I raised my sleeping platform. I had two rugs. My insulated, uh, sleeping pad, a winter weight sleeping bag, a queen size alpaca wool blanket folded in half on top of the sleeping bag, another blanket on top of that, and my coat, which doubled as my robe. My sleeping attire consisted of thermal under.

Heavy duty sweatpants and hoodie, at least one pair of socks, a knit cap and roll gloves, fingerless. So I could find and use the zipper in my sleeping bag in the long evening, hours between sunset and bed, I usually had a cup of tea On one particularly cold evening, I made the mistake of having two cups of tea,

And even though I used the chamber pot after I went to bed, nature called, and it was really nasty because I had to do more than Pee . I had to go outside and use the pit underneath my special tree.

The fire was out. It was dark, it was freaking cold, and I knew if I procrastinated, it would only get worse. So I unzipped my sleeping bag and I found my flashlight turned it on, and you have to bear in mind that this next part, I was trying to keep as much heat inside the sleeping bag as possible. So I pulled my coat up to myself, put it on, and I could feel my body heat going into the coat.

I checked my shoes to make sure that I was the only one in them . Got outta the sleeping bag, put my shoes on, and I could feel the cold seeping through my socks. I got up, picked up the, the flashlight, and was headed towards the door and something made me check my chamber pot and the clear fluid that was in it was now opaque and kind of slushy.

I realized that Ariana was right. There was some things you really did not need to know, . So I went to the door. I untied the Fong that kept the liner in front of the door, pulled that back, took a breath, ducked down because the opening was like this tall, pushed the drape outside, went outside, and I was transfixed.

I no longer felt the cold. There was no moon that night and there were so many stars. My mind went numb and the sky was so incredibly absolutely unforgivably black that it looked solid. The night sky. It was, it was. It didn’t just look, it was a black, solid dome, about 20 feet over my. The stars were not little orbs in the sky.

They were pinpricks. They were perforations in this solid black sky. And I remember thinking that if I had a ladder, I could climb up there and I would could push against the sky. And I, I was wondering what it would feel like.

I don’t know how long I stood there. I know that I visited my pits and made my tree happy, but I don’t remember doing that. And I remember beginning to shiver because even though I wasn’t aware of the cold, it was still affecting me and my brain kicked in and I know I needed to go back to my bag, but I don’t remember doing that either.

All I really remember is a phrase that I heard from a Celtic storyteller years ago, and at the time I didn’t understand it. He was describing something as having a terrible beauty. And when I looked at that sky, I was so intimidated and so amazed that sky it unfolded it like it. I was immersed in that sky.

I would just could just feel myself expand. And that sounds stupid even to me. I mean just, but all I could think of, I could feel that incredible beauty to my bones

later on. It was, it was my second, my second winter. It was February 1st, seven. I was doing my morning routine. The fire was burning well. My coffee was, was brewing. I was fixing breakfast and overhead. I heard this weird sound. It was a staccato, warbly, shrieky, mony, Rony sound. That lasted all of three seconds.

No idea what it was. I shrugged it off. Took care of my breakfast. I still had to make lunch and I’d get ready for. . And when I got to work a little while later, the ladies at the front desk were talking about the morning news and I said, that’s what that sound was. And they looked at me, they didn’t hear anything.

They were inside their house. And another woman who was standing there and goes, I heard it too. She was outside feeding her chickens. And that sound that I shrugged off so I wouldn’t burn my own meal was the sound of seven people dying. As the space shuttle Columbia broke up apart and its pieces and the bodies tumbled across the sky over my head

in a month and a half, that’ll be 20 years ago, and I can still hear that sound.

Little things that make a difference in your life. , the things that you ignore, you don’t acknowledge, uh, a piece of information you hear the, the movement of air against your cheek, a three second sound bite. Those kinds of things will change your perspective. Open your world, nail an instant to your heart for the rest of your life.

Those little things are not.

Thank you.

Thank you. Thanks, Regina.

Marc Moss: Regina O’Brien put herself through college, working a montage of odd jobs for 11 years. She graduated with two bachelor degrees and eventually got a career with a federal government. After years of seeing people staying in positions they hated so that they could have a secure retirement, having their security blood out by illness, death, or catastrophe, and feeling stressed out and ineffective in her own job, she quit.

She got rid of everything that did not fit into her mid-size pickup and started driving. Regina has been living around the edges of mainstream society ever since. Regina is a relative newcomer to Montana and currently lives in Potomac and works in Missoula as a massage therapist. Closing out this episode of the podcast, Jeremy and Smith in seventh grade, walks around his teacher’s desk all.

The lessons he learned that day have lasted 30 plus years. Jeremy, tell us his story 1000 times. Thanks for listening.

Jeremy N. Smith: 1990, mid-December middle school, it’s lunch period and my fellow nerd, Josh Engleman and I are hold up in our social studies. Teacher, Mrs. Fisher’s classroom, working on an extra credit project on if and where to locate a third airport for the city of Chicago. . The discussion is so intense I start pacing around Mrs.

Fisher’s wooden desk. Josh thinks this is funny, so he grabs a piece of chalk. And starts tallying my laps on the blackboard. 1, 2, 3, with a big X when I get to 10, because Josh thinks it’s funny. I think it’s funny, and I say, I’m gonna go around this desk 1000 times and 20 minutes later. When the bell rings lunch over, there’s already about a hundred marks on the board at this point.

Mrs. Fisher enters. She is a stern white-haired woman wearing her customary shapeless, sort of moomoo style polka dot print dress. I, we have never seen her smile, much less laugh, but she must have had a couple extra shots of something in the teacher’s lounge. retirement is on the horizon. It is winter break next week.

And so when she says What’s going on, and Josh says he’s going around your desk a thousand times, she’s like, okay, Einstein’s this. I want to see our classmates roll in. A few seconds after that, they say, what’s going on? And Mrs. Fisher points to Josh. Josh points to me, and he says he’s going around her desk a thousand times.

And they’re like, yeah. And so for the next 45 minutes, in 25, perfectly healthy, intelligent students. Instead of learning social studies, watch me go around in circles. 1 50, 200, 2 5300 times. And then the bell rings and people laugh and they clap and they leave. And we have science now. Josh and I, and I looked to him like, what are we going to do?

Right? We’re we’re extra credit kids. We don’t ditch class. We like stand at lunch to make an extra one . But then the next social studies class rolls in and they say, what’s going on? And Mrs. Fisher points at Josh and Josh points at me and he says he’s going around her desk 1000 times. And they laugh and they clap and they cheer and like I forget about the airport.

And extra credit. And for credit. And for the next 45 minutes, we ditch science and 25 more perfectly healthy, intelligent students. Instead of learning social studies, watch me go round a desk. 3 50, 400, 4 5500 times. Next is math class. Oh, well, we ditched that and then finally, fittingly, final period. We miss Jim

At this point, I have been walking with purpose for like two to three hours. I’m a chubby kid with glasses and my like ankles are, and calves are throbbing. My chest is hollowed out. My glasses are like coming off my sweaty head. I don’t know how this started like, but this is like, this isn’t just what I do.

This is like who I am now. Okay. I’m like, uh uh, like a marathon, desk circling machine and like the whole school knows about it. I’m legendary in progress, and I said that Josh was my fellow nerd, but. Josh actually doesn’t have glasses, and Josh is a relatively more athletic roller Blader and Josh has twice experienced something that I haven’t even dreamed of, which is having a girlfriend.

So this is it. This is my moment in the social spotlight. I can’t keep going, but I have to keep going and so I power on. I stumble forward and finally the whole class stands and they chant together the final steps of my journey. 9 97, 9 98. 9 99 a thousand just as the bell rings. Last class, last period, schools out.

I did it

and everyone’s the cheers, the applause. High fives louder than ever. And then, They shrug and they gather their stuff and they go , and then j Mrs. Fisher’s shrugs and gets her stuff, maybe goes back to the teacher’s lounge and goes, and then Josh shrugs and gets his stuff and goes to meet his girlfriend.

And it’s just me in the classroom with the blackboard with a thousand marks and the carpet I’ve worn circles in and like my great white whale of this desk. And I shrugged too and I get my stuff and I limp home. and I have had 20, no 32 years. To figure out what happened. and I’ve come up with these three lessons.

First, there is a reasonable debate people can have about whether 1000 of something is a little or a lot. It is more than 10 and a hundred. On the one hand, it is less than a million or a billion on the other. And I’m just here to tell you, I know , okay? I, I lived, I have the experience. If you do anything at all 1000 times, even walk around a desk, you will know that a thousand of anything is a lot

Number two, if you marry repetition to ambition, you can accomplish. Great things,

I have, uh, spent the last 20 years lurking as a writer. That means I’m basically professionally a desk. Circler. . And so I know intimately well that if you write one page in a day, that’s not very much. But if you write one page a day for a thousand days, wow. You have just written a whole book.

Third last, and most important, the reverse is true too. Even if you have done something a thousand times in a. Even if it’s how everybody knows you, for better or for worse, , if even if it’s not just what you do, it’s who you are. If it’s not serving you anymore, you can stop

I went to school the next day and I got a very stern talking to in science. I got a makeup test in math and limping, wincing. I was made to run laps for 45 minutes in gym, but before that, I went into social studies and there was the blackboard, fresh, clean, newly erased. There was the. Vacuumed carpet, not a trace in it.

And there was the desk eye, me saying, want to go again?

And I just shook my head and I stumbled forward and I went right to my seat, and it was just a little thing. But let me tell you something. So little has rarely.

So good.

Marc Moss: Thanks Jeremy. Jeremy N. Smith is a journalist, podcaster, and author. He has written for the Atlantic Discover Slate and the New York Times among other outlets, and he and his work have been featured by cnn, npr, R N NBC Nightly News, the Today Show and Wired. Jeremy is from Evanston, Illinois and has lived the last 20 years in Missoula, except for last year when he spent a family year abroad with his wife Chrissy and their daughter Raa in Puo, Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico.

His latest interest is in skateboarding and he is looking for someone to help teach him how to Ali. Learn more and make [email protected]. Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn [email protected]. Thanks to our storyteller sponsor Viga Pizza. You can find them and place an [email protected].

And thanks to our accessibility sponsor, grizzly Grocery, learn more at grizzly grocery dot. Thank you to our media sponsors, Missoula events.net, Missoula Broadcasting Company, and Gecko Designs. Thanks as well to our in-kind sponsors, Joyce of Tile and Float Missoula. Remember that the next tell us something event is March 30th at the Denison Theater.

You can learn more about how to pitch your story on theme the first time and get your tickets at tellussomething.org.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “It’s the Little Things”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on December 15, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : It's the Little Things - Part 1

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tele Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss . We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is the first time. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is February 20th.

I look forward to hearing from you

this week on the podcast.

Ean M. Kessler: Do you love your mailman?

Do you love the guy who changes the oil in your car, the fella you hired to fix the dishwasher when it breaks?

Hannah Harvey: The first frog I ever met was at Park Lake. On a camping trip with my parents when I was 10 years old, my dad had scooped it out of the water and placed it in my little cupped hands, and then, and there I fell in love.

Lori Chase: It’s been the next few days getting my application together and I get the application in and then I keep calling. Is it accepted? Is it accepted? You know,

Marc Moss: when you were in grade school or middle school and high school and you lean back in your chair? Braced against the desk. That’s sometimes how tall something feels like.

We’re just about to fall over. Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme. It’s the little things. Their stories were recorded. Live in person in front of a sold out crowd on December 15th, 2022 at the Wilma in Missoula. Our first story comes to us from Ian Kessler. Ian Wrestles with himself and his relationship to his father, whom he barely knows.

Ian calls his story shaken ground. Thanks for listening.

Ean M. Kessler: One of my earliest memories is when the dishwasher broke and the guy my mom hired to come fix it. This big burly guy comes to the door. Uh, he’s got a t-shirt, work jeans. He smells like cigarettes and coffee. He lays out his wrenches and he gets started.

I’m like three or four and I’m standing in the kitchen doorway and I’m just transfixed. I mean, I cannot peel myself away. When I was a kid, I always liked watching men work. My parents, um, they were never. Uh, they both wanted a kid. They each need the other to do it. But I was raised by my mother on the East coast entirely.

Uh, that was always the deal. So the memories that I have of my father are really scanned, but really deeply imprinted. Um, when I was really little, he’d send me postcards from the Great Plains, the Black Hills. Uh, you know, this part of the world, he’s seen and hiked and camped the back country, uh, more than maybe I ever will.

I have them, those postcards in a, uh, old shoebox and they’re dull things. Pretty tame stuff like, um, hi Ian, how are you? Or, uh, happy birthday, or Tell your mother I said hello. and all of them are signed the same. Sincerely, your father . It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I’ve never not known how to spell that word sincerely.

It was like it got imprinted in the back of my mind when I was 10. I spoke to him on the phone for the first time and that was my choice. Uh, my mom made it really clear that I always. . It just had to be something that I wanted, and it’s gonna sound funny, but turning 10 really sorta spun me for a loop. Um, I didn’t, I didn’t feel like a little kid anymore.

You know, I felt like a kid, but it did feel like some part of my childhood had shifted. It wasn’t something I could hide behind, you know? Uh, I had to talk to this man. I had to handle this thing. So my mom calls him sets. Uh, I’m sitting in the dining room and the light’s coming in from the kitchen, and I got the phone pressed up to my ear, and my mom told me years later that it was really, really, really clear to her that I was really, really, really nervous.

But the truth is I don’t remember any of it. I couldn’t tell you what was said, what we talked about. What I do remember is hearing his voice on the other end of the line for the very first time. , I’ve always loved my father’s voice. It sounds carved, you know, cured. I’ve always coveted his voice. I’ve always wished it was mine.

When I was, uh, 14, I went out to spend time with him alone for the first time. Uh, that was his idea. He was remodeling a house out in shaman Nebraska. Uh, he said I could go up. Work for him. I’d learned a few skills. He’d pay me be a good deal all around. My mom was really anxious, of course. I mean, I’d never spent time with him alone before, but I jumped at the chance.

You know, I, I, I mean, I was 14 years old even then. I didn’t think something was gonna shift between us or change, but what you have to understand, Is that my father comes from a farm in rural Wisconsin, right? He comes from a time and a place where if you work like a man, you get treated like one. And this just felt like my shot, a chance to stand alongside him.

It was summertime and we worked outside and my father works without a shirt on and he is so brutally thin. I mean, this man does not eat. He’s so skinny. There’s something almost. It feels diseased to look at him. You know, I remember looking at him and I felt like I could see every line of bone, every vein, every ligament.

Like I could see the insides churning in his belly, you know, that kind of skinny. I’m standing there and I’m watching him work in the yard. You know, he’s tearing out drywall or puttering with the car, and I can see the line of his back where he’d broken it when he was 15 and fell out of a hay. Or his sternum that was chipped years and years ago were the veins that just poured down his forearms.

It was the first time I’d ever seen his body up close. Now the truth is I was not very good at the work that he gave me. I did not take to it. No, not at all. Uh, my father has a temper and he’s not a man with patience for children. So mostly I just learned to keep quiet. Two weeks came and two weeks went.

There was no big moment between us. When it was over, he drove me to the airport and he shook my hand and I went home. I didn’t know him any better. We hadn’t talked much. I just sort of seen him up close. now. It’s funny to me at least because uh, I’ve told that story to people. Lots of people, people that I know and love and people that I don’t know as well, and without a shadow of a doubt, they always say some version of the same thing.

Well, he’s your dad and he loves you, and I’m sure that you love him.

Do you love your mailman?

Do you love the guy who changes the oil in your car, the fella you hire to fix the dishwasher when it breaks you don’t love men that you don’t know? I wish there was more that I could say, uh, about it. I wish there was some sort of finality I could put to it, but the truth is, as I stand here on this stage today, I’m 34 and I’ve met that man face-to-face maybe 20 times, and there’s far too much there and just not enough all at.

And if I’m honest, I don’t really know what to make of all that. We still talk and we’re still not close. Man, that’s probably not gonna change. But the older I get, the deeper those similarities seem to run. Mm-hmm. ain’t that growing up for you? We’re both reserved men and, uh, we both worked really hard and we both got more pride than we know what to do with.

And looking back. To borrow a phrase, it really is it, it is those little things, those bits and pieces that you don’t realize, that you don’t know. You know, the sound of your father’s voice or the cursive of his handwriting, or the way that his body catches sunlight and shadow when he works in the yard.

And the thing that I’m starting to realize, that I didn’t know when I was little with the postcards or or 10 on the phone or 14 out in Chadron, Nebraska, is that slowly you turn into a man that you don’t know, and that is really scary. That feels like I’m walking on shaken ground because still the same question rattles in my head.

How do you love a man that you don’t know? And the answer is, is I’m not.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Ean. Ean Miles. Kessler is a playwright, theater artist and storyteller. Originally hailing from the East coast, a recent transplant to Montana. Ian relocated to Missoula to enroll in a Wild to Ride Academy, a Mustang ranch and equine program. Where he learned the process of Gling wild horses. He’s proud to be a Level six graduate of that program and thrilled to be sharing his story with you.

Currently Ian is working on a debut novel. Our next storyteller is Hannah Harvey. Hannah finds herself with more than she bargained for when she moves in with her then boyfriend and the rest of his family ends up moving in with them. A big storm washes an injured frog into the yard and everything begins to.

Hannah calls her story, ""Frog Rescue" . Thanks for listening.

Hannah Harvey: The first frog I ever met was at Park Lake on a camping trip with my parents. When I was 10 years old, my dad had scooped it out of the water and placed it in my little cupped hands, and then in there I fell in love. I loved its smooth, soft. I loved Its tiny hands with fingers that looked just like mine, and I loved that when you looked at its chest, its thin, white papery skin showed the tiny rapidly beating heart inside.

It was like a little hummingbird heart. I remember holding that frog and thinking about how nice it felt to take care of it. To hold it to care about it. I let the frog go and watched it swim away, and while I don’t condone handling frogs because it is not particularly safe for the frog or the human, I will say that that experience stuck with me for a very long time.

I remembered that frog again many years later. In 2019, when I was living in Virginia, the house that I lived in was right by a little salt water inlet, and there were lots of water, reeds and grass that frogs like to hide in. And when I was falling asleep at night, I would hear the chorus of frogs singing.

Some people who I met in Virginia said that they found this sound annoying, but I loved it. To me, it was like white noise, except it was frog noise, , and hearing all those little voices singing often made me feel less lonely as I was falling asleep. And loneliness was a feeling that I had a lot when I was living in Virginia.

I had lived in Montana my whole life until moving. And I, like many others, moved across the country with no rhyme or reason except for the fact that I was in love with a boy. I had met this boy in Missoula at college, and when he returned to live back in his home state of Virginia, I went with him. I was so excited because he had this little quaint house there.

I was going to move in. We had it all planned out. We were gonna have our lives together. We were gonna do all those fun things that couples do when they first move in together. We were gonna build our relationship. We were gonna get married and have kids. It was all planned out. It was perfect. And then his family decided to move in

his parents and his brother. , myself and my boyfriend were all packed into this tiny house, and I grew up with a very demure, quiet family. We do not talk about our problems because we were all raised Catholic, so no problems here, no problems here. But my boyfriend’s family, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately in some cases, was not this way.

They were loud and rowdy and rambunctious. They took up a lot of space. They had fights at the dinner table, and I just could do nothing but sit there and watch, and I wanted to be the one calm presence in their lives. I dedicated myself to being the best girlfriend possible, to make them proud that their son had a partner like me.

I was quiet. I didn’t argue. My boyfriend’s mom even called me Mr. Rogers because I was so goddamn agreeable.

But the thing about being agreeable all the time is that you lose yourself, and I started to feel parts of myself slipping away. I stopped doing the things that I loved. I didn’t sing as loudly. I didn’t paint as large. I didn’t talk as much, and I slept all the time. When I wasn’t at work, when I was at home, the only things I wanted to wear were comfortable clothes, and the only comfortable clothes at my disposal were my boyfriend’s old pajamas from seventh grade.

I would put them on the sad plaid, ratty, tattered pants, and a shirt from an event that he participated in long before I came into the picture, and I would look in the mirror and see myself dressed as somebody else. My depression got worse and worse, and with it, so did the weather, the spring in Virginia.

Pretty tough. It rains a lot. It’s always dreary. And one night in particular, it poured, it was windy, it was rainy. There was thunder lightning. It was like a big storm from a movie. And in the morning while my boyfriend and I were sleeping in bed, his mother busts into our bedroom because that’s what happens when you live with your boyfriend’s family.

Family. Um, and she says, There is the biggest frog I have ever seen in our yard, and I don’t know what to do about it. That was the fastest I have ever gotten out of bed in my entire life. I put on my boyfriend’s crocs because of course, and I ran outside and I saw this giant frog by our dumpster. It was also the biggest frog I had ever seen about as large as my hand.

And I could tell immediately that it had a hurt leg and that it was missing one of its eyes. Perhaps it got caught up in the storm or got in a fight with a wayward cat, but the moment I saw that frog, something in my brain woke up, and that frog became my mission. I couldn’t care for myself. Some nights I couldn’t brush my teeth because I was so sad, but god damn it, this frog was worth saving.

when I would go to work in the day and when my boyfriend had the days off, he would be home, and the frog didn’t move. It was still alive. I could tell by that same tiny beating heart in its. , but it, it seemed just incapable of moving. It would look around with its eyes. It would shift slightly, but it didn’t move.

So when it was, when I was away at work, I would make my boyfriend water the frogs because I know that frogs need water. It’s kind of like oxygen to them in a way. It’s where they get all their nutrients, they breathe through their skin, and their skin needs to stay moist. So every day I made my boyfriend water the frog.

I would text him and say, okay, did you water the frog? And he’d say, yes, blah, blah. But after a few days of this, I tried feeding the frog. I tried doing everything, and it wouldn’t move. It was still alive, it was still breathing, still looking around, but it wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t move, wouldn’t do anything.

And finally, when I got home from work one day and I saw it sitting there, sadly, I went inside. I got a plastic salad container. I poked holes in it. I put a little bit of water in the. I put the frog in there, closed the lid. I called a wildlife rehabilitator and said, I have a frog. I’m bringing it to you,

She said, well, we don’t usually take frogs, but fine. And then I set off on my journey. The wildlife Rehabilitators place was in Chesapeake, which was about 45 mi minutes away from, um, where I lived. And it was another rainy night. It was stormy, it was pouring, it was thundering, it was lightning. And I am not a good driver, , but I put that frog in its little box in my passenger seat.

I buckled it in as tight as I. And then I just drove and I was driving like a maniac. It was insane. I felt like I was in fast and furious. I’ve never driven that fast. People were honking. I was doing stupid things probably. I was like, I don’t honk at me right now. This is an ambulance. There’s a baby in here.

I drove. I drove. I finally made it to the wildlife rehabilitated TA’s place. I unclipped the seatbelt. I picked up the box, I brought it into her. I said, here, here’s this rug. He has a herd eye. He has a broken leg. I named him Uno because he only has one eye. And I gave it to her and she went, okay.

And then I got in my car and I left. I asked her to text me to tell me what became of the frog, whether good or bad, but I never heard back from her. It’s possible that Uno just passed away. It’s also possible that the Rehabilitator gave him to one of her other creatures as food, which I guess either way somebody benefited from that.

So, but I moved away from Virginia shortly after that. I came back home. I had friends again. I had family again. I felt whole again. I was sad to end that relationship, but I was withering away in it. I like to think that Uno is out there. I like to think that he’s had lots of frog babies with lots of frog ladies

and I like to think that he’s happy now and that he’s better now. because I am.

Marc Moss: Thanks Hannah. Hannah Harvey is an artist and person living in Missoula, Montana, originally from Helena. Hannah is a University of Montana graduate. If you’ve ever visited the Missoula Art Museum, you may recognize her as the face behind the front desk. When she’s not at work, she can be found painting, drinking hot cocoa at.

And looking for creepy crawlies. In our next story, Lori Chase wins the housing lottery when she is selected as someone who can place an offer on a house. Now she has to navigate all of the twists and turns involving financing a house in Missoula, Montana. Lori calls her story Adventures in home buying.

Thanks for listening.

Lori Chase: In December of 2015, I moved out of the home that I owned with my husband and into the gold dust departments, a low income housing unit on Missoula’s North. The first night that I spent in that apartment, I had a mattress on the floor and it echoed, it was so empty. It was the first time in over 20 years that I’d actually lived alone.

I fell asleep that night to the sound of the train rumbling, clank. Whining and the sound of people honking their horns in the Orange Street underpass, please don’t do this. People live there,

In the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of a huge boom that rattled the entire building. That I later found out was the coupling of the trains, and I wondered how I would ever get used to that sound, but I did get used to it. I also got used to the thin black layer of cold dust that settled on everything, the North side spice.

Then later my kids came to stay. We borrowed more furniture. We settled. . When the kids were with me, the place was crowded. It was a very small apartment, but when they went to their dad’s, I was lonely. I really wanted to have a pet. But there were all these rules there. No incense, no candles, no smoking, no noise.

After 10:00 PM no pets, no nails in the wall. So I got lots of plants and I named them all . Always knowing that eventually I was gonna buy my own house as soon as the divorce was final, but when the divorce was final in August of 2016, I went to a lender. Who told me that I couldn’t buy a house because my debt to income ratio due to my student loan.

That didn’t work out. And also, I didn’t have the longevity of employment because before this time, I had been a part-time yoga teacher and a full-time stay-at-home mom. So that didn’t really count. So I went home disappointed, visualizing a bigger apartment where I could get a. and three years went by.

The kids kept getting bigger and the apartment kept getting smaller, . And then one day I went into work to the office where I sh that I share with my boss Molly. And Molly was sitting at her desk working and I sat down and I started looking through some mail and out fell this flyer and it was all about this affordable housing.

That was going up, brand new town homes, and it was everything that we wanted. It was two bedrooms, two baths, a garage close to downtown, our own laundry. I could get a pet. I was super excited. It was perfect for me and I was perfect for it. And the application deadline was in two days, and I had to get pre-qualified for a loan.

I had to get all these little things. and I looked at Molly and I said, there’s no way I can do this in two days. I have all this work to do. And she said, no, you have to do this. Forget about the work. I know a lender and she starts like writing down names and like all this stuff, getting to work. Okay, fine.

So I do it and spend the next few days getting my application together and I get the application in and then I keep calling. Is it accepted? Is it accepted? Finally it’s accepted. And then they say, but you know, actually, out of all the people who pre-qualified and got accepted, it’s a lottery. And so we’re basically gonna pick names out of a hat to see who gets to buy one of these seven lucky people get to buy one.

And so I waited, I had to wait like two weeks. It felt like a really long time. and then I got the call. I won the lottery. I was able to buy this place. Yes, but wait, this was only the beginning. I was able to, I had the opportunity to buy this place for a hundred thousand dollars less than what it was worth.

Amazing. And so I started jumping through all the hoops, like I had to take some classes and go to a lawyer and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’m doing all the things. And then my lender calls me one day and she says, well, you know, I’m really sorry to tell you this, but we just found out, you know, we figured out the HOA fees and you just don’t have a big enough of a down payment.

And I had already tapped out all my resources. My mom, my dad, my friends, like everybody. And I said, well, how much is it? Maybe I can still come up with it. And she said, $10,000. And it was like $10,000 . Like, where am I gonna come up with $10,000? I don’t know. But I was, I was thinking about it. True story. I went to the mailbox and I got a check in the mail from my dad for 10,000.

And he knew what I was going through, but he didn’t know this particular thing. And he said, I just had a feeling that you might need some more money for, you know, closing costs and moving and that sort of thing. And I was like, whew. I’m back in the games. I called the lender and I said, I got the $10,000.

She’s like, A little skeptical like , where did you come up with $10,000? No, no, no. Seriously. My dad gave it to me and she said, okay, but still you cannot spend any money. Your debt can’t go up, your savings can’t go down. You can’t spend any money at all for the next few months. This was in January of 2019, and so I was like, fine, I’m just gonna work as much as possible and not spend any money.

So I’m doing it. I’m doing all the. And then she calls and she says, you know what, I’m sorry. I just, they just figured out the taxes and you actually just don’t make enough money. And it was like, I’m working as much as I can. I don’t know what I can do. And, and I was distraught. I had already done all the little things.

And so I went into the office to work that day and my boss, Molly was there and she, Hey, how you doing? And. You know when somebody asks you how you’re doing, I just broke down and I explained the whole thing to her and she said, well, would it make a difference if I gave you a raise? And I said, well, probably, I don’t know.

And she said, how much? So I called the lender, found out, and she said, I’m so sorry. I should have given you a raise years ago. I’ve been meaning to do it. I’m just gonna give you a raise for that amount and then you can buy. And so she did. And so I was back in the running for the place and I was holding my breath, just waiting for the day that I could sign the papers and just waiting for something else to go wrong.

And then finally the day came and I signed the papers, and I moved into my place. soon after I got a cat, and that was great. And soon after, another one of the places where I worked the yoga fitness center closed. And I was sad mostly because that’s where I practiced. Uh, and then more time went by and I found out a couple years later, Katie, who owned the yoga fitness center, passed away.

She had. . And it wasn’t until after that that I found out that they knew what I was going through to get my place, and they waited to close their business until I signed the papers on my home.

So this morning I woke up. In my home, greeted by my cats, um, feeling, oh, so grateful for my home and all the little things that came together so that I could buy my place, but also, and most especially, so thankful for my friends and my family and the community that believed in. And helped me to buy my home, so thank you.

Thank you, Missoula.

Marc Moss: Thanks Lori. Lori Chase has two almost adult children, two cats and two jobs. She teaches yoga and works for Gather Board, aka missoula events.net, the best community events calendar in Missoula and also a longtime sponsor of Tell Us Something In her free time. She likes to do all the outdoor things and dance.

Argentine Tango. I shared a story. Next, I am the executive director of Tell Us something, a 5 0 1 organization and the podcast that you’re currently listening to, I Call My Story Journey. Thanks for listening. I am gonna tell you a story tonight about my journey with Tell Us Something, and it’s more than that.

It’s also a story about gratitude and joy and depression and teamwork and beauty and community.

I was sitting in the dark at the top. listening to a woman on the stage tell the story of when she was a little girl going with her mom to Belt Montana and she wasn’t allowed to come into the house because her mom and her grandmother were going up to belt to, and she didn’t know this yet. Brush her great-grandmother’s hair.

And her great-grandmother lived in a, basically a, a, a shack. And one afternoon she had to go into the shack for whatever reason, and now she learns why her mom and grandmother are there, because her great-grandmother, Anna’s hair is so long that it pools on the floor. While they, they’re brushing her hair and it’s white and it’s August, which is important because the shack is occupied by a, a hive of honeybees and there are so many of them that the walls bleed honey in the heat and.

She’s describing all of this and I’m looking around the room and everyone is transfixed and she did such a beautiful job of honoring her ancestors and the care that four generations of women were taking care of one another. And I. So honored to be in that room with some of you who were there, I’m sure, and that she was, her voice was shaking and she was there to honor her family.

Later, I’m sitting in that same dark room at the top hat listening to a member of the Crow tribe. Describe leaving the reservation and what a r. That drew between him and his father, and he would go back to visit occasionally, but never leave, never come back, you know, for good until his father got sick and he moved back for two years and took care of his dad.

After his dad passed, one of his dad’s friends said, your dad wanted me to give you this war bonnet, which is one of the highest honors to bestow on his. And I was again, humbled and honored to be learning about this part of the culture, and I was just floored. I’m telling you all of this to show that I fell in love with the stories and the storytellers, and I’m sitting in this dark room and I’m listening to a woman share her story about.

Sexually assaulted the United States Marine Corps and surviving that. And now she’s an attorney in town and she provides justice for survivors. And a woman that I don’t know is standing out on the sidewalk, another, another, tell us something, and, and. The show was sold out and she asks, do you have any tickets?

I said, I, I don’t have any extra tickets. And she handed me two envelopes and said, give one of these to Victoria, the storyteller from the Marine Corps. And I said, I will. And the other one was addressed to me. It was seven o’clock, so I had to come in and start working. She ended up somehow getting a ticket, uh, and was there, but.

Um, after I introduced the first storyteller, I go backstage and I start crying reading this letter because the letter said that she had been so depressed for years that every time she went over the Clark, uh, over the bridge, she wanted to jerk the wheel into the Clark Fork. And she said when she heard Victoria’s story about surviving that in the Marine Corps, She went home and wrote in her journal and sobbed and had an emergency appointment with her psychologist the next day, and she says that, tell us something saved her life.

And she gave me permission to tell you that when I first started tell us something. I had a job at a bank and when I worked at the bank, every minute I was spending there, I was thinking about how I. Make tell something better. And I got my first smartphone because I didn’t want to use bank equipment to do tell something work when I was on my breaks.

So I’m like doing like updating the website on this little Android phone.

And I’ve struggled with depression my entire life. So much to the point that I have a lot of coping strategies and I know when. See when an episode is coming and I can prepare for it and maybe shorten the duration of it. In 2015, I missed all the cues and I felt like a guy hit by a freight train with depression.

I couldn’t get out of bed. I was just feeling so sad, and I’m standing at the kitchen. in the kitchen at the stove with Joyce behind me, just bracing myself on the stove sobbing. I couldn’t stop crying and she was just, she didn’t say, it’s okay. She didn’t tell me to stop. And that night in the dark in bed, she said, what would make you happy?

And I said, Doing, tell us something full-time because it is a full-time job. And she said, then you should do that. And I said, what if it fails? And she said, what if it succeeds? And it was that little way to think about it that gave me the courage to quit my job. and I quit my job and I’ve been doing, tell us something full-time ever since.

And sometimes we hear stories like, I don’t know if anybody was in this room when Mike Colucci had told the story about sucking the crown up from his tooth up into his sinus cavity. It was a comedy, I mean, oh my. Or, or the guy who told the story, uh, about being the person who has to quarantine the losers from the amazing race

or the woman who just ran outta gas at Costco and how the community came together to help her. And you’ve been with me on this journey the entire time. You thank. , you have told your stories. You have come to support the storytellers, and for that, I am so grateful and full of joy. Tell us something. The entire thing is an act of trust.

I trust that when I put out in the call for stories, storytellers are gonna show up. I trust that when I put tickets on sale, y’all are gonna buy tickets and you’re trusting. To provide you with entertainment sadness, like ugly crying, and then huge laughter.

You are trusting the storytellers to share of themselves. Most of you know I don’t introduce the storytellers ahead of time because I want you to come together as a community and support one another as a community. You know when you were in grade school or middle school and high school and you leaned back in your.

braced against the desk. That’s sometimes how tall something feels like We’re just about to fall over and you, and you come and you support each other, and I’m just so grateful to you for that. It may seem like a little thing, but it to me is a big thing. The biggest part of the tell us something journey recently is that we became a nonprofit

and that is a big thing. I built out a board, I wrote the bylaws, I got an attorney, and he filed the paperwork in August of, of 2021, and we just got our nonprofit status in July of this.

I’m Mark Moss, executive director of Tele something, a 5 0 1 nonprofit organization. I live on Missoula’s historic North Side with my wife Joyce Gibbs, and our perpetual kitten, Ziggy.

Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn [email protected]. Thanks to our storyteller sponsor Viga Pizza. You can find them and place an [email protected]. And thanks to our accessibility sponsor, grizzly Grocery, learn more at grizzly grocery dot. Thank you to our media sponsors, Missoula events.net, Missoula Broadcasting Company, and Gecko Designs.

Thanks as well to our in-kind sponsors, joys of Tile and Float Missoula. Remember that the next tell us something event is March 30th at the Denison Theater. You can learn more about how to pitch your story on the theme the first time and get your tickets at tellussomething.org.

This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on July 8, 2010 at The PEAS Farm in Missoula, MT at an event that predates Tell Us Something. Missoula residents Jeremy N. Smith and Josh Slotnick hosted the event, which they called “Eat our Words”. 5 storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme “Leaving Home”. Jeremy Smith recently reached out to me because one of those storytellers recently passed away. John Engen has graced the Tell Us Something stage twice, and Jeremy suggested that it would be a nice way to honor him to share this story too.

Transcript : Eat Our Words - Leaving Home

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Something podcast. I’m Mark Moss. This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on July 8th, 2010 at the Peace Farm in Missoula, Montana, at an event that predates Tell something. Missoula residents, Jeremy N. Smith and Josh Slotnik hosted the event, which they called Eat Our Words.

Five Storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme. Leaving home Jeremy Smith recently reached out to me because one of those storytellers recently passed away. John Ein has graced the tele something stage twice, and Jeremy suggested that it would be a nice way to honor him to share this story too.

Eat Our Words was sponsored by Garden City Harvest. Garden City. Harvest plants seeds and grows together to create a healthy Missoula. On their over 20 neighborhood farms, schools, gardens, and community gardens. Learn [email protected]. Remember to get your tickets for the next Tell us something storytelling event.

The theme is it’s the little things tickets and more information are [email protected].

John Engen: Thank you very much Jeremy. So. Caroline pretty much took my story,

So now I have to come up with something else. And then I didn’t really understand the directions. My thing, it was an email thing. It said 30 seconds Haiku for

So I feel kind of stupid right now. , I am 45 years. And if I understand the currents in the gene pool correctly, that puts me at middle age . My dad is 88, my mom is younger than that. And if I say that in a microphone where it can be recorded, I will be in trouble.

I’ve lived. At 7 34 South Second West, 7 75 Monroe Street, the Alpha East

nine 10 Stevens Avenue, seven 13 Kern 40 50 Field Zone cross. And tonight for the first time, I’m going to sleep at 40 18 Lincoln Road. That’s 45 years. I’ve learned something at each one of those places. 7 34 South. Second, I grew up with a brother who’s eight years older than I am, Norwegian parents and a Norwegian grand.

And I learned there that if you have a problem with somebody, make sure you never tell them about it.

you tell someone who has absolutely no ability to fix that problem for you, , and you tell ’em until they won’t listen anymore.

And eventually the problem goes away,

I also learned that you take care of each other, and so when your mother is in a nursing home in North Dakota and none of the other brothers and sisters have it in them to do anything about it, you go. You bring her home, you put her in the spare bedroom and you make it work somehow. You make it work.

7 75 Monroe. I lived with Eddie Burn, ed and I were in high school together. Hellgate High School Best eight years of my life.

Many of you have heard that line before, but I use it again and I will again and again.

Ed had just returned from serving in the United States Army. The army was not at war at that time, so Ed learned a lot of things about jumping out of airplanes. He had a shocking number. Really dirty rhymes,

and apparently his extensive training in the United States Army did not train him for the circumstance in which after a party wherein you serve something he called sangria, which is a product of a lot of wine, a cooler, and oranges . That the proper way of disposing of said oranges is not to flush them down the toilet in the downstairs bathroom at 7 75 Monroe because it does not help your deposit

I learned a lesson there as well. . I then lived at nine 10 Stevens where I learned. The smell of cat urine is very difficult to remove from carpets and basements.

I had never had a cat before. This was not my cat causing this problem at nine 10. It was the person who lived there before and his or her cat

It made it difficult to have people over, especially for dinner,

so I fell in love and started spending a lot of time at seven 13 Kern, and it wasn’t all about the cat odor in my house. Lovely woman. Next week we’ll have been married 21. Well, the applause for her. Believe me.

At seven 13 Kern, I learned what it’s like to live with a woman who is not your mother or your grandmother. It is much different, . The expectations are much different, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to. And somewhere along the line we made it work. Then we went to 40 50 Fieldstone Crossing, which for us was a brand new home and felt very grown up when I was 28 years old and it was there.

I learned how to fix stuff cuz I had to ignore other stuff cuz I. Fix it later because I got caught ignoring it.

and learned how to take time to look at some mountains, read a book, watch a dog,

listen to our own cat, make really odd cat noises,

and it was there. I learned to settle in a. Now we’re moving into a house that happens on one floor, and some of that could be about my knees, but I prefer to think that it’s about those parents. I learned from back at 7 34 and the fact that every once in a while I’d like to be able to have my old man up for dinner.

And have him be able to go to the bathroom. It starts to be simple stuff at some point in your world. So I’ve lived all those places. Last month I moved my parents out of 7 34, saw Second West where they’d been for nearly 45 years. They left home, they moved into a place called the Clark Fork Riverside.

They have a million dollar. Of our city from the ninth floor on the south side, and I think they’re settling in. But the other day my old man said to me, when are we going home?

I said, mom’s here, pop. You’re home.

And tonight I’m gonna lay my head on a king size. Okay. At 40 18 Lincoln Road and see what that’s about. See what I learned there. And that’s sort of the, the micro version of leaving home. But the fact of the matter is, there’s another macro version of all this, and it’s a really short story. I’m 45 years old.

I was born in Misso. And I have never left home, and I’m pretty happy about it. Thanks.

Marc Moss: John Ingen was born October 27th, 1964 in Missoula, Montana. During his 57 years on this planet, John touched the lives of many people as a journalist. Friend, businessman, mayor, and all around great human. He died August 15th, 2022, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

To hear more stories from John, visit tell us something. Dot org. Thank you to Jeremy N. Smith and Josh Slotnik for providing the audio for this episode of the Tele Something podcast. I remember this, our words event as the first time that I experienced true personal storytelling live in person as a performance.

The evening was special held outdoors at Missoula’s beautiful peace farm on a warm July evening among an intimate crowd sitting on hay bas and engaging with each other as community. I am grateful to Jeremy and Josh for the opportunity to share this story from Eat Our. Next week on the podcast, I sit down with Rick White author and tell us something storyteller to catch up about what he’s been up to since sharing his story.

And tell us something

Rick White: just way back there in the heart of the subway Bitter National Forest. So yeah, we were at the end of the road and. Um, off grid for, for three weeks, and it looked like me scribbling furiously in a, on a yellow legal pad and then transcribing onto a, uh, a hundred dollars typewriter that I sent at the anti Kamal beforehand.

So that I could translate it into print.

Marc Moss: Tune in for that wherever you get your podcasts or stream at. Tell us something. Dot org podcast production by me, Mark Moss. Remember to get your tickets for the next Tell us Something storytelling event. The theme is, It’s the little things tickets and more information are [email protected] to learn more about, tell us something.

Please visit, tell us something.org.

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