tellussomething

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.

Some bad decisions on a New Years Even lead to a wrongful conviction, a young woman joins a cabaret show in Hamburg, Germany, and must escape once she learns that she may be working for Nazis and a 3rd grader learns an important life lesson from an inmate in the Montana State Prison.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming Part 2

[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 “Letting Go” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please, call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you.

[music]

He’s like, “I want that gun.” He’s like, “and I want you to go take me to get it.” And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so I said, “yes”. I took him to go steal the gun.

[Marc Moss] This week on the podcast…

[Linda Grinde]
I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done.

[Marc Moss] …three storytellers, share their true personal story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”.

[Raymond Ansotegui] And as we come in, he says, “We’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.”

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot Communications over at blackfoot.com.

[insert land ack from live event here]

Our first story, comes to us from Katie Garding. Some bad decisions on a New Years Even lead to a wrongful conviction and 10 years in prison for Katie Garding. Katie calls her story “The Paths We Take”. Thanks for listening.

[Katie Garding] Do any of you remember what it’s like to fall in love at a young age? And maybe a lot of you are going through that right now, but when it feels like nothing else matters, except for that person and that you guys would be together forever. That’s how it felt. The night that I met James, he had walked into the store that I was working at on a night that I should have never been working.

So that’s, that’s how I knew it was meant to be. Um, he was a smooth talker. He always knew what to say. And he made me feel wanted by, from the moment we met, we went out new year’s Eve night. And at this point we’d been going strong for about four weeks. And honestly, how well can you really know somebody in four weeks?

If you would’ve asked me, then I would’ve said, oh, I know everything about this guy. You couldn’t tell me any different. I was in love. I was dumb. Um, if you would ask me now, I’d obviously tell you, you know, nothing about a person in, in four weeks. Um, so pretty typical new year’s Eve night, we’re out drinking.

It’s Missoula. I had just turned 21 we’re bar hopping, having a good time. Um, at some point throughout the night, um, a guy had approached us looking for a party. He was new in town and didn’t really know anybody. And so of course we invited him along. yeah. Um, so yeah, we, we wound up partying with him all night long.

We close the bars down and at this point we’re, we’re pretty wasted. And James and I live out in Bonner and there’s no way we’re driving home. So this guy offers us his couch to stay out with a stipulation. We’d be up the next morning at like 6, 6 30. He was going skiing with his buddies. So we stayed the night on his couch and the next morning.

He took us back to my truck and we parted ways a little while later, James and I were having a very lovely breakfast at McDonald’s and, uh, he goes, Hey, you know that house we just left. And I was like, well, yeah, I mean, we literally just left it. So it’s pretty, um, he goes, yeah, that guy, he, uh, he left a 3 57 Magnum sitting on his counter and me at the time, knowing nothing about guns was like, oh nice.

he’s like, yeah. He’s like, I want that gun. He’s like, and I want you to go take me to get it. And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so if I said yes, I took him to go steal the gun later on James and I are driving around Missoula and we get pulled over. Um, you would think it would was because we had stolen a gun, but it was because I had a cracked windshield.

And, um, the, the night before there was a fatality and they were looking for a vehicle that was involved in a hit and. and so that’s why they had stopped us. And during this traffic stop, James had actually wound up going to jail surprise . Uh, he was up here on the run for 12 felonies outta Missouri, um, went to jail and, uh, that was the first time he had deceived me.

So shortly after his incarceration, um, we had lost contact. We had kind of quit talking to each other and about a year and a half later, I got a random phone call from a lawyer. And I don’t know if any of you have ever been in trouble, but when you get in trouble, the state plays this game called well, let’s make a deal.

If you testify, I’ll give you this. If you plead guilty, we’ll give you that. And this lawyer says to me, he’s like, Hey, the state wants to charge you. And, um, I was a little shocked and confused and didn’t really know what was going on. And he said, the state’s looking to charge you with negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence.

And I’m stunned at this point. And, uh, I didn’t really know how to respond. And he said, this is a really good deal. And I think you should take it. And I immediately said, no. I said, I’m not gonna take this deal. Um, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Um, I’m not gonna plead guilty to a crime. I didn’t commit.

And he says to me, you’re never gonna get an offer like this again. Um, and you know, when we make life changing decisions, we never really realize in the moment how life changing. They are looking back. Now, I always wonder what it would be like if I would’ve taken that deal. Um, but instead I said no, and before I get too ahead of myself, um, I wanna tell you why this lawyer called me.

So the day that James had went to jail, he knew that they were looking for a hit and run suspect. And because he was on the run from Missouri, we’d also been charged with the burglary charge. And so he was looking at ti doing time in Montana as well. He was looking at being charged with a persistent felony offender, which could land him up to a hundred years in prison.

So while he was in jail, he had concocted a story to get himself out and put me in. Um, I trusted and believed it believed in our justice system. And I believed that everything was gonna turn out normal and fine. You know, I was like, the state has nothing to prove. I’m not gonna be found guilty. Like if you would’ve asked me now, I was like, people don’t go to prison that didn’t commit crimes.

Like everybody in jail is guilty. That’s what, that’s what they’re there for. And, um, I realize now how naive I was. And, um, after five days of trial, I was found guilty by a jury of my peers. And shortly after I was sentenced to 40 years in the Montana women’s prison, if I would’ve taken that deal, I would’ve only spent five years in prison maybe.

Um, and I don’t know if you guys know how often. Innocent people are incarcerated, but in the United States, over 3000 people have been exonerated. And 15% of those people that were incarcerated were incarcerated under false testimony, just like I was. Um, and I know we gave a shout out to the innocence project, but the Montana innocence project here in town had heard about my case, um, about a year into my incarceration and they had done some investigating and they had done some research and they decided to take me on as a client, um, their amazing group of people that spend their lives saving others.

And they’ve been fighting for my freedom for the past 12 years.

And I know that I’m standing here in front of you guys today, but I want you to know that I’m still not free. Um, I had to ask permission to be here tonight with you all cuz after. So they’ve been fighting for my freedom for the past 12 years and 10 of that was spent in prison before I was paroled out.

So I’ve been out for almost two years now. Um, and I would never say that I’m thankful for this kind of an experience. I would never wish this upon anybody, but I have gained so much from this experience and so much knowledge. And I understand now what’s important to me and how I wanna live my life and how I wanna honor those that have fought for my freedom and that have stuck by me this entire time.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss]

Thanks, Katie. Katie Garding is a humanitarian at heart. She believes in the connection of all things. Katie is a lover of art and the simple beautiful things this life has to offer. To get links to video interviews with Katie, updates about her case and to learn more about the Montana Innocience Project, visit tellussomething.org.
Next up is Linda Grinde. Linda Grinde joins a caberet show in Hamburg, Germany and must escape once she learns that she may be working for Nazis. Linda calls her story “Last Can-Can in Hamburg”. Thanks for listening.

[Linda Grinde]
It’s 1975 late summer. And I am in a, a cabaret in Hamburg, Germany. No, no, no, not, not the musical cabaret. I am in a real honest to God, German cabaret theater performing at, uh, the Salam theater actually, which is where the Beatles supposedly got their international start. I am with a company of 30 performers that were hired in New York city to come and join this theater.

We’ve been in rehearsal for three weeks and we have a Broadway choreographer. Who’s putting a, a, um, a full modern ballet to Gershwin’s American in Paris on us. We are learning the, the authentic CanCan with cartwheels and hitch kicks and drop to the floor splits. They’ve hired a specialist from Paris to come and teach us this.

It, it has been wonderful. I mean, the experience has been as sunny as the weather, we all have been given our own apartment in a building that’s within walking distance of the theater. They’ve hired a costume to build the costumes for us, not just pull them out of storage. We have all gotten special shoes for the CanCan because when you do a drop to the floor from a, from a Cartwheel, those heels will just fly off unless they’re reinforced.

So we’ve been taken care of

the, the shows are so fun. Um, there’s a Judy Garland impersonator, and I’m one of the three Andrew sisters, you know, The trio from world war II. It’s been fabulous. It’s the night before opening and our producer, Ms. Duran has invited us all to dinner and it is extravagant. We step out of the apartment building and there is a line of Mercedes-Benz waiting to take us to the Argent, the Argentine steakhouse, which he has reserved the whole thing just for us.

He says, order whatever you want. Then after the dinner, he stands up. Now, miss your Duran is German, but he uses his French name. He is a cross between a young Salvador Dolly with a little mustache and GOE, and one of the three Musketeers he’s got long black curly hair in my memory, he’s wearing a big hat with a plume, but that’s just my imagination.

And he tells us. Our show is going to be added to the show that’s already there. And he is effusive with his praise, how wonderful we are. He knows how to win over a room of actors. So the next night is opening night and I’m in a small dressing room with a five other performers. I, I mean, small, if somebody has to get up to pee, we all have to pull our chairs in, so you can open the door.

I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done, but so it turns out. Our cute little song and dance numbers are gonna be sandwiched in between live porn.

you know, in reality, it’s goofy. It’s actually comic. Imagine the Andrew sisters waiting off stage while the S and M guy still in his mask and leather thong is scrambling around the floor, picking up his whips and chains and leather straps. We pick our way to the front of the stage and begin our number who’s love and daddy with the beautiful eyes.

What a pair lips. It, I could try emphasize, right.

Well, it turns out with the new material. Each show runs about two and half hours and we do three shows a night with a break in between. That means we get to the theater between six or seven and we don’t get out till three or four in the morning. and we do this six nights a week by now. It’s late October.

So that means if you get some sleep, by the time you wake up, you may have two hours, a daylight, all thoughts of traveling around Europe on my time off forgotten on Saturday on Sunday, I barely have enough time to buy groceries and do my laundry. Well days roll into weeks. We are, we are into the routine.

My best friends are the other Andrew sisters, um, Elizabeth and Claire in their other life. They are Showgirls from Las Vegas, but out of costume, they are as down home as farm girls. One night we’re, we’re sitting in the dressing room and somebody says, is this the second or the third show? Nobody knows we’re living in this like murky blur well, by late November, the Americans are kind of homesick it’s it’s Thanksgiving back home.

And this year Duran invites us all to his house for dinner. We’re so excited for a change, a break in the routine. We get dressed up and I remember standing in the entryway, taking off our coats and talking, and then somebody swings the front door shut. And that’s when I see it right behind the door in a prominent place, a portrait of ADLF Hitler,

my brain freezes. I mean, I, I really can’t recall anything else about that dinner, but I do know that a. The Andrew sisters came to my apartment and we sat down, we started putting the pieces together. We’d been so busy working. We hadn’t really thought about it. You know, miss you, Duran has always seen with a couple of big beefy guys around him.

They’ve decided to pay us in cash because that would be easier. This extravagant lifestyle that, that he’s been showing us, can’t be paid for by this little theater. You know, I’m from Northern New Jersey and these girls have worked in Vegas. You know, we’ve rubbed elbows with organized crime. We don’t know what’s going on, but we gotta get out.

So so, um, you’ve seen the movies, right? You don’t walk away from the mafia. So, um, we, we have to come up with a plan and, and we have to keep it secret because we don’t wanna start a stampede. If the rest of the company knows we’re going. And we also don’t wanna. Have them make us stay . So our plan is this first we have to get our passports back.

Oh, they’d taken our passports about a month ago and we hadn’t heard anything about them. It was no concern until we realized we have to get them back. So we decided something close to the truth would be best. And we said to the front office that we wanna go to Copenhagen on our day off and we pass her and we pastor and we pass her.

It takes them days. But finally we get our passports. Now in those days to buy a ticket to New York, you had to go downtown to a travel agent. So we have to carve out some time in this crazy schedule to go down there and buy a ticket. We get that done. Finally, we have to figure out how do we get our baggage out of the building?

I mean, you can’t walk out the front door, you know, so. I live on the first floor. So there there’s a little balcony in the back that goes, drops down onto a street. The girls bring their luggage down to my apartment, and while they go get a cab, I take those suitcases and throw them over the balcony one at a time.

So they can take them in the suit, in the, in the cab. And I’m wondering if anybody back there, they probably see this all the time. so they take the suitcases down to the bus station and they put them in a locker. Now we’re ready. It’s into December. And we decide that we’re gonna go on a Saturday night because no one is gonna miss us until Monday call.

So we go through the first. We go through the second show. We’re excited, but nobody knows anything. We go finish our CanCan kick drop to the floor. We jump up, run to the dressing room, change into street clothes. While the rest of the company is taking the final bow. We dash out the back door into a cab to the bus station, grab our suitcases from the bus station to the train, the train to the airport.

And I don’t exhale until we are on that flight off the tarmac, headed back to New York city. My friends go back to Las Vegas, that Christmas, I got a postcard from my friend, Elizabeth in full showgirl attire, feathers, and all, but I never heard from any of those people again, you’ve heard of the last. The last tango in Paris.

Well, this is the last CanCan in Hamburg.

[Marc Moss]
Thanks, Linda. Linda Grinde is an amateur philosopher and a professional garden beautifier. She leads nature rituals and wild women camping retreats. Linda learned to swim this winter and just last week she competed in the backstroke event at the Senior Olympics. She also competed in the putting and cornhole events. Her team won the gold in the cornhole event. She will be playing Maureen for the Missoula Backyard Theater production of “Rent or Die” this September.

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast is Raymond Ansotegui.

Raymond learns an important life lesson when he’s in 3rd grade from an inmate in the Montana State Prison. Raymond calls his story “Fruit for Vegetables. (A Fair Trade)”. Thanks for listening.

[Raymond Ansotegui]

I had just finished my second year of formal education and it was tough. Math was okay. Phonics. They’re great. Sitting still being quiet, not so good for this kid. I still had the ability to focus and I did really good. I got the grades in second grade, but I got the good grades. And in return, my parents offered that I could do one thing.

I wanted to do anything for a day.

Definitely the biggest life choice I had made at this point. And without the slightest hesitation, I said fishing, my parents knew I wasn’t a Disney world kid, so I’m ready. I’m gonna get my day to fish. Two hours later, my dad comes in and says, Hey, I’ll trade you. If you do a little cowboy in, you could go fishing for five days.

Oh lottery, but he said, we’re gonna, so we’re gonna go to deer lodge if you’re up for going. Yes. And by dear lodge, he means we’re going to Montana state prison. You see my father’s a professor at Montana state and taught animal science. And in the process of his PhD, because MSU is a land grant school, the prison is also a state run facility.

They can work together. And for most people don’t know the prison has their entire cattle herd. They have their own dairy and it surrounds the entire tight incarceration area. So, but where we’re specifically going is a place that Thomas Quain wrote about some young actors. Jeff Sam slim made very famous in a 1974 film called Rancho deluxe.

Rancho deluxe is the Premo housing facility for inmates at the prison. It’s several log cabins. It’s outside the main secure area. And these guys are Cowboys. They could get on their horses and ride off at any point, but they don’t. So we’re gonna go there. I can’t wait. The truck is loaded. The canned ham can, we’re pulling behind and I’d spent enough of my childhood.

I was potty trained at the prison, but in this phase, I don’t remember the gate. I know there was a gate. I remember guards, but I do remember that crossing over the hill and dropping down into Rancho deluxe. There’s these cabins, this huge roundabout corrals barns. And as we pull in I’m in my fishing heaven and right out comes a gentleman.

Blue pants, blue shirt, blue vest. And he’s coming quick with a smile from ear to ear. And this man’s skin is the perfect tone of mahogany, but blended in our scars all over his face and not acne pop marts. These are cuts blades wounds, but as he approaches and he’s saying hi to my father, whose name is also Ray, the spaces between his teeth are as beautiful as the teeth that he’s carrying.

And this love is coming from this man. He says, hello to my father and gets his head inside the truck and says, hello, sir, who are you? And I’m Raymond. And he shakes my hand and he says, you must be the fisherman. And he looks back over his shoulder and he’s like, whose bike is that? In the back of the truck?

I was like, that’s my huffy Wrangler, dark brown, tan stitching chopper bars, banana seat. Third grader’s dream. He says, well, if you’re here to fish, I’d probably be willing to make a trade with you, cuz I’d really like to learn how to ride a bike. I just finished second grade. I haven’t been riding a bike long, so I’m probably gonna be pretty good at teaching him how to ride a bike.

So we haul the bike out. My dad leaves to go do adult things, Chico and I start and I’m telling you, I must have been the best bike coach ever. Cuz this guy rode a bike. Like he’s probably ridden a bike a few years in the past, but he’s wobbling it. He’s doing the show. We’re out there for hours. And as we come in, he says, we’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my, my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.

that’s big, but it is the greatest life lesson, but I have to do it before dinner. He reminds me after dinner tonight. No go can’t start and do a five, four and a half day. I’m pretty good at taking my fork at home and I can stab almost all the vegetables in one round and get ’em in sometimes two. So what’s four.

I could do four of those for this life lesson about then the truck pulls over with the food and we shake cuz it’s a deal. And we go in and sit down.

He quickly puts his vegetables on my plate and it’s this big, but I know we’ve all seen it. It was the Lima bean, kidney bean green bean chop. That’s held together with like the end of a really good lung cold when you really get the, and that’s like there, and they’re all watching cuz every one of these inmates is loving this one other problem.

If you heard my reference of how I like to get vegetables on my fork, you can stab other things with a fork. So forks are gone. No knives. I got a shitty little spoon. I gotta wel these things in. So my for fork plan went to a lot. We get through Chico grabs this big apple reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pocket knife.

which confuses me a little and he sits down and Chico with these scarred face. And these kind eyes just started whittling the Michelangelo, marble Chico, apple. This guy carved a face. So beautiful. So intense. The eyes looked at you. The nose was so strong. The lips were perfectly pursed and this hair tied it on a string.

Hung it up.

That was the end of the evening. I don’t think I slept a lot. The next day we went and did cowboy stuff. Chico wrote up and said, Hey, come here, pulled out a can old empty can of peanuts showed me the best spot to get these big fat worms. We finished doing cowboy stuff. Came back, ate lunch. Oh, looked at this apple not much changed.

Beautiful that afternoon. I fish. I fish every day for the next four days, pretty much minus riding for a couple hours in the morning. I had peas that were holding shape beyond physics because when they touched your mouth, they just stopped and went creamy and they tasted horrible. And then I looked at this apple and there were some lines by the eye and little lines were shown by the mouth and the apple wasn’t that same perfect color of an apple.

It was starting to change. He wouldn’t say a word, go through more projects, eat more bad vegetables. Julian carrot should have texture and not just appearance. And I watch, and this apple, the nose is starting to curl back and sink, and it’s really shriveling. It’s physically changing its size and, and the presence that it was holding.

I got some awesome fish. I also gotta spend a ton of great time with my father. but I kept my eye on Chico cuz these vegetables were bad.

so we get to the end of the, this process, which is our last lunch. I choke down another round of veggies and I look at this beautiful wrinkly face. I’m standing by my dad. No one says a word. Everyone says goodbye. And I’m crushed. Like I can’t imagine what my third year old face was and we got ready to leave and Chico was like, Hey, we made a trade.

Do you wanna know what your life lesson is? I would also like to know what that face looked like, cuz I’m sure it was pretty, pretty good. Chico comes up and he takes the apple down and he just hands it puts it right in front of me says remember, no matter how beautiful or handsome anyone is. In the end, they’re gonna get old wrinkly and ugly.

What the, and in my third grade, lexicon fart, knocker, jerk. I don’t know, but I was pissed, but I was silent. I got in the car with my father. And as you can imagine, I’m a talker. I didn’t say a word from dear lodge to Livingston, but in that time I chose not to take Chico’s words. I didn’t know what a sacred clown was.

Then I still wonder today, but I chose not to take that. And now I look at wrinkles. I look at blemishes, I look at noses changing ears growing, and I remember that lesson, but the lesson I take from it is that no matter what. As we go, those are our stories. That’s what we carry. And our last day on this planet in this form is our most beautiful day.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss]
Thanks, Raymond. Raymond Ansotegui was born and raised in Montana. He is a reclamation scientist and spent a decade as a rodeo bullfighter. His wife is a world-renowned artist that shares her life with him on their piece of paradise overlooking the Yellowstone River and the Crazy Mountains. He loves people and the bond of storytelling that holds us all together.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right? I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Leting Go” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 27. You can pitch your story on the theme “Letting Go” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our Accessability Sponsor, Garden Mother, who subsidized the American Sign Language interpreters at this event, allowing us to support our friends in the Deaf community.

Garden Mother is devoted to the love and health of our community through holistic education and resources. All plants are grown with healthy soils that you can taste and feel. Learn more at Gardenmother.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

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

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

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

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, we’ll hear the from Missoula author Rick White…[Rick White: It’s way back there, in the heart of the Selway Bitterrroot National Forest. So, yeah, we were at the end of the road and off grid for three weeks. Looked like me, scribbling, furiously, in a yellow legal pad. And then transcribing on to a hundred dollar typewriter that I’ve got at the antique mall beforehand, so that I could kind of translate it into print.].

[Marc Moss] Tune in for that conversation, and the story that Rick shared live on the Tell Us Something stage, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.

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

To learn more about Tell Us Something and to hear stories from the past 11 years, please visit tellussomething.org.

A young human takes us on a hike up Waterworks Hill in Missoula, MT, where they finally find the mother they’ve always wanted, a middle-aged woman is loaded into a cargo plane for a life flight to Seattle, to get a new liver, A man from Togo sees a cute girl across campus and is persistent in his pursuit of her, a lesbian woman goes on a hike to Hope Lake, in Montana, with her best friend, a straight girl, who has listened to Katy Perry one too many times.

Transcript : Didn't See That Coming - Part 1

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

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme, is “Letting Go” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please, call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you.

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[Marc Moss] This week on the podcast…

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[Marc Moss] …four storytellers, share their true personal story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”. Their stories, were recorded live in-person, in front of a sold-out crowd on June 27, 2022 in Bonner Park, in Missoula, MT.

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot Communications over at blackfoot.com.

[insert land ack from live event here]

Our first story, comes to us from Rae Scott
Rae takes us on a hike up Waterworks Hill in Missoula, MT, where they finally find the mother they’ve always wanted. Rae calls their story “Good Mom Hunting”. Thanks for listening.

[Rae Scott]

Okay. I think that every good love story begins with a heartbreak. The end of my eighth grade year, my biological mother. Kind of went a little crazy. , she ended up leaving with my three siblings and I had no idea where she went and I had no idea if she was coming back. I was really scared and disappointed, but I think I knew that that was coming a few months later driving to the China buffet.

I saw her Subaru or her suburban. I could tell because the back window was busted out in the suburban was there. She sat, my siblings were playing around at little Caesars. I haven’t seen them for months. And I was so absolutely happy to see them. And when I saw my mom, she didn’t even get out the car to say hi to me.

I was about five years ago. I was 13 I’m 18 now. And I still haven’t seen her since about a little while after that. Um, my dad had gotten divorced for the second time and we were all really numb at that point. Women were coming in and out of our lives and we were all kind of defeated. My dad ended up coming home one day and saying that he had met a very lovely woman on match.com, not sponsored

, and he said her name was Angela. And I was really excited, but I was really, really nervous. Ugh. I had sad with myself for hours and hours and asking myself what was wrong with me. Why, why won’t women stay in my life? Why won’t women stay and love me for the person that I am

feels like maybe two weeks, but it was definitely longer than that, but she had ended up moving in with her two lovely boys, Alex and Aaron. and it was a bit of a rough start. , my older brother Connor and I, it had been a while since we started a new family, met new people. So we were all a little bit nervous after a long, long while of bonding, not bonding, fighting buckets, being thrown at younger siblings, I had hit a stopping point with Angie.

When you have similar trauma to somebody, you know exactly where to hit when it comes to fighting, he would always jab each other. And sometimes we meant it. Sometimes we didn’t, but nevertheless, it always really hurt.

once again, I had to sit down with myself and ask what is wrong with me? why won’t women love me? Why won’t women stay? Why don’t I have a mom? Why won’t this new mom love me? So I was ready to give up. I didn’t wanna keep trying, I didn’t wanna keep pushing for something that I didn’t think I was gonna get.

I was out and about downtown, , with some friends and I came across the artist workshop and there were the peace sign stickers, and I was like, oh, Angie would love this. Angie would love this. So I got her some and the cashier was like, oh, this is happening. There’s there’s um, a hike. That’s going up at waterworks.

For those of you who don’t know waterworks hill is a hiking path, , where the old peace sign used to be. There’s a huge peace sign, um, that when you drove into Missoula, you could see, , and they had a hike that was going on. And I was like, Ugh. And she would love that this is like my final chance to reconnect with this person, my final chance to, to really convince her that, that she should stay, that, that I am a good person.

And so that night I asked her, I was like, let’s go for this hike. You know, it’s mother’s day weekend. I would, I would love to do this with you. And she said, yeah. Okay. So the night before I’m laying in my bed, I’m like, okay, here’s all the stupid shit you don’t say to your mom. Okay. Okay. Okay. I’m prepping myself for this day.

It needs to go. Perfect. This is my last chance. It has to be perfect that morning. I wake up. Unbelievably nervous. And I’m like, okay, let’s go. Let’s go. We’re really excited. So we’re talking, we, we start driving up to the hill and a lot of people are there. And, um, I got to meet the previous, uh, I think she’s the founder of the JRP C anyway, very lovely people.

, but I remember it being so cold. We got, we were at the bottom, it was nice and toasty. It was warm. We hike up this hill, I’m wearing converse, which is a very poor foot choice. to go hiking. And, but I did it anyway because I have no fear. I walking up this hit with Angie and we were just talking, talking about anything in our lives.

Anything that we could grasp onto, I wasn’t trying hard to start a conversation. Didn’t wanna make it obvious. I was trying hard, but. So we finally get up to the top of the hill and they’re, they’re doing a presentation about the old peace sign and the people that were painting the peace sign. And, oh my God, it was stupidly windy.

It was so cold. It was so cold up there. And I had only brought in a, like a hoodie, a zip hoodie and nothing else, maybe a beanie, but I was so cold. Angie is really smart. She has a really good job of thinking ahead. And so she had ended up making us some bone broth wasn’t the best, but it was really warm and it was really lovely.

And she had also made me a cup of tea beforehand. It’s like, she knew it was gonna be freezing so amazing. So we’re out there, we’re listening to these stories. She’s listening to these stories. I’m trying to make this moment stay in my life. And I look at her and she’s paying attention so thoughtfully and so beautifully.

And I look at her and it’s so hard not to cry. Because at that moment, I realized how much I truly love this woman and how much I desperately needed her to stay in my life. So I look at her and I say, Angie, it’s so cold. And she unzips her hoodie, wraps it around me and just stands there with me. And she keeps me warm.

We go down that hill and I’m so relieved. I didn’t have to speak a single word to this woman. And she was my mom. I had never gotten prom dress shopping before no one had ever braided my hair or went on drives with me to talk about boys and eat ice cream. But Angela took me from dress shopping, Angela braided my hair.

She still does. And Angela takes me on car rides and talks to me about boys and eats chocolate with me.

Thank you, mom.

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Rae.

Rae Scott is a theatre nerd through and through. They enjoy animals, music, and is pretty sure that gingers will ruin their life. With an incredibly large family who puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional”, they have a lot of love to give. Rae looks life directly in the eye and observes before responding, with ferocious truth. Rae is an old soul, ready to share their truth on the stage, and in a variety of other to be discovered art forms.

Our next story comes to us from Ann Peacock. Ann is loaded into a cargo plane for a life flight to Seattle, to get a new liver. Ann calls her story “An Unexpected Plane Ride”. Thanks for listening.

[Ann Peacock] In the beginning of October of 2019, I woke up and I was exhausted. I was also a little nauseous and I had some slight tremors, but I just put it down to growing old. So then I found out that a friend of mine had been diagnosed with mono and she and I had been cheering a mic.

Well, let me rephrase that cuz my husband’s name is Mike. So , we, we had actually been sharing a microphone and, and so I went to get tested. So. No demo mono, but my liver function was off so two weeks and there are more tests and there’s more nausea and more Netflix. And I wake up and I am in the hospital with an IV in my arm.

It is nighttime. It is dark and peaceful and quiet. And I have no idea how I got there. So it turns out that my husband had come home from work and found me still in bed. And I was incoherent and slurring my words. So he rushed me to the ER, where I was diagnosed with dehydration and ammonia on the brain.

So the next day we’re in the hospital, the doctor comes in and he tells us that, um, I probably have acute liver failure and that I most likely will need a liver transplant. And he wants to life flight me over to the transplant center at the university of Washington in Seattle. didn’t see that coming.

really look, I was a 57 year old, healthy woman, you know, I tried to eat right. And exercise. And I had literally spent my life trying to avoid alcohol because my dad was an alcoholic and he died from his disease. I mean, I didn’t even like to take over the counter medication. So the leap from dehydration to liver transplant was pretty shocking.

So, so then the doctor tells us that, um, he sees that we’re kind of like deer in the headlights. And so he starts to try to dial it back a little bit and he sort of emphasizes, well, the might need a liver could possibly. And just in case, he is insisting that I get life flighted out to UDub. So my husband and I are like, well, can’t we drive?

I mean, life flight is incredibly expensive. I mean, we think it’s like around a hundred thousand dollars and our insurance. We’re not sure if it covers it. And it’s only eight hours and the doctor’s like, well, you, you might survive the drive over there, but you might not. And really, I mean, when you think about it, what’s your life worth?

It’s just a hundred thousand dollars. So I am life flighted out to UW about, get there about 11 o’clock at night. And I am in the UCU and I am immediately inside an episode of Grey’s anatomy, every single person in the room, except for me is a very attractive 30 something professional . And there’s like all this clever dialogue and snappy banner back and forth between the nurse.

So the ICU doctor is gorgeous. he has these soft, warm hands and these deep blue eyes, and this really. Great jawline. So my girlfriend nicknames him, doctor M dreamy . So he is also though caring and kind and reassuring and every single doctor and nurse and support staff that I meet in that hospital. The entire time I stay there is the same and I feel seen and I feel taken care of and I feel safe.

So, which is a wonderful feeling. And I am laying in the bed and I am overcome with this sensation, surrounded by all these wonderful people that I am so blessed and humble. And I have never really used that term before. I think of it as sort of like have a nice day, but. In that moment. I understood what being blessed and humble really felt like.

And it was incredible and it was not just the doctors and the nurses and the support staff. I mean, it was everyone, it was my family and my friends who all stepped up to the plate and did what ever needed to be done. And I was astonished by the amount of love and support that people gave me. And I told my husband later, I said, you.

I really need to work on being the person that all these people seem to think. I am so, which I’m, I’m still trying to do. So my husband and my best friend who are driving over from Missoula, get there about one o’clock. And by that time, I am deep into the process of getting registered on the, on the transplant transplant registry, hard to say.

So, because there are so many more people who need transplants, then there are organs available. You have to meet a certain criteria for them to accept you as an organ recipient. So, um, which is a little like standing before the Pearl gates. I have to admit , but everyone is very encouraging. And basically what you need to do is you just need to survive the operation and be able to take care of this amazing gift that they are giving you.

So we’re almost done. I’m like, oh, thank God. And then they say, we need to check your teeth. I’m like what? And they’re like, sure. So apparently if you have tooth decay, certain operations, you will release a flood of bacteria into your bloodstream and you can get a life threatening infection. So I am thinking, oh no, because I’m thinking of all the years that I haven’t flossed and I am thinking, oh my God, not flossing will kill me.

And, and my dentist is right. So again, they’re very encouraging. And obviously I, I manage to, you know, make it through and I get put on the registry. So now the ICU’s job is to keep me alive for as long. As they can until I find a match and I am so lucky because I have magical blood. It is a B positive, and I can match a, I can match B.

I can match a, B and O positive blood. I am a universal receiver. One of the things though, about three days in, they’re worried about as fluid building up on the brain. So they, to combat that they insert a catheter kind of through my neck and get it as close to my heart as they can. And then they pump this high sodium solution into me.

I’m not allowed to eat because I could go into surgery at any moment. I’m not allowed to drink because they’re really watching my fluids. So I am incredibly thirsty. So, and to make matters worse. Every time I try to trick the nurses or doctors into getting me ice chips, my husband, and my best friend who stay with me the entire time in the room, leap up and go, no, she can’t have them.

But then my back starts to hurt and the nurse offers me a cold pack and I have a choice between ice or gel and I choose the ice. So late at night, when everyone is asleep, I pride this ice bag open. And then I think, you know, really how sterile is the inside of a reusable ice bag at a hospital? So I compromise, I say, I’ll only drink half a.

Which I do, and it is the nectar of the gods. And then I immediately call the nurse in and have her take it away. So I am not tempted. And from then on, I only used gel packs, but one of the other things about being on the liver registry is that you have to let them know what level of liver you were willing to take.

So I found out that there are actually three tiers of, of organ donors. And that one of is the first tier is perfect. The second tier has some slight medical anomaly that they can fix with a minor surgery. And the third level is, uh, hepatitis C. So hepatitis C is now curable. And it’s really easy. You just take this one pill every day for 30 days, but it’s this hepatitis C group that is.

So tragic because most of the people in this group are young people who have died of a drug overdose and, and there is no way around it that I, I have to face that I am benefiting from someone else’s tragedy. So you’re not allowed to contact your donor family directly, but you can write them a letter.

And the social worker at the hospital will pass it on. And it has been two and a half years. And I have not found the right words to say because how do I thank someone for giving me back my future when they’ve just lost theirs, the bears. So spoiler alert, I got the transplant. It went well. I am here.

Thank you. and, and I wake up in the recovery room and it is nighttime and it is dark and quiet. And peaceful. I’m a little disoriented, but I look over and I see my husband’s bright orange water bottle just there on the table. And I immediately relax because I know that he is in the room with me. And then I think I’m also relaxed because I realize that I can have a drink of water whenever I want.

Thank you.

[Marc Moss] Thanks,Ann.

Ann Peacock escaped the enticement of Madame LaVoux in New Orleans, Ann honored her calling of embodiig truth via the alleged fiction of theatre. Ann has been a resident of Missoula since the late 80’s ( which she swears was just three weeks ago) She now calls Polson, MT her home, and is gradually adjusting to life outside of the big city.

Our next storyteller is Ablamvi Agboyibo. Ablamvi sees a cute girl across campus and is persistent in his pursuit of her. Ablamvi calls his story “Love Concretes Everything. Never Give Up”. Thanks for listening.

[Ablamvi Agboyibo] Thank you. Hi, uh, I think it is, uh, a privilege and an honor for me to be here and, uh, you know, to tell my story. Thank you so much for inviting me. Actually, it was one Friday afternoon, uh, after, uh, study at university, I was so tired and hungry as well. So I decided to walk out out of the campus to find a taxi and go back home busy with my telephone.

I was writing and reading messages

and suddenly a smell of a perfume drew my attention. Oh, it was the best smell over. The perfumed smell like a lilac. I was obliged to raise my hand and see who was passing by. Fortunately for me, I saw a young, beautiful lady passing by with a, a big bottle walking.

Hi lady, where are you going? and she say, go home. What is your name? Jane. She replied me. Oh, Jane, you are so beautiful. I love your body building. The sun used to see beauties, but the sun has never seen a girl beauty for like you definitely. I would like you to become my girlfriend so she pause for a minute for some seconds and say, I will think over it and let, let you know, after all, uh, can you give me your telephone number?

Uh, she said no problem. And she gave me her business card. Definitely. I told myself that the battle was half worn. If she gave me her, her number, it means that she will accept the offer. So when I went back home at night, I tried her number to make sure that she reached the home safe and sound, but I tried invent the number was not working.

I was frustrated. I was asking myself so many questions. Did she give me a wrong number? What happened with the, her telephone or I, myself, I didn’t write the number. Well, I went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep that night until midnight. I was standing right and left on the bed. So AF AF after midnight, I decided to try the number again.

And this time the telephone started to ring. I was half satisfied because for me, she will pick the. It kept on ringing, but she didn’t pick the call. Finally, I sent her a message and I went back to, to my bed this time I slept because you know, there is hope now that the number is working. the next morning she called me apologizing for the fact that she was not with her telephone.

And I told her, no, you never, you shouldn’t worry about that. There is no problem with that, but can you meet, can we meet together in the evening for dinner? She said, no problem. I was so excited to meet her in the evening because I would like to see the same beautiful girl I saw the, the night, the, the, the evening before.

And when we met during our, uh, over the dinner, she let me know that she welcome my idea of becoming my friend. I say, wow. And from that time I used to call her three times a day in the morning, honey, how are you? Did you have a good. At 12 o’clock I used to call her, what are you going to eat for lunch?

And then in the evening, did you have a good day? So sleep with a lot of love. This is how we started. After nine months of relationship, we decided to get married, have as many children as possible and people the whole world. And it was from there that I decided to know her parents, actually, her parents were divorced and both were they, they were living in their different villages.

I decided to meet her mother first because in my community, if your, your mother-in-law accept you, it means that the father in-law will accept you. That’s why I decided to meet the mother first. So we had two hours and half trip to visit the mother. When we went there after self greeting and self introduction.

She offers us a delicious meal. Even when I was at the gates, the smell of the, the, the meal made my mouth water. Wow. I say, what kind of meal is this? It was rice and taken. It was such a delicious meal after eating the meal. I thank her very profusely for the owner because the meal she offered to us was in fact, great.

And after that, after the meat, after eating the meal, we continue the discussion and she asked me, tell me, where are you from? And I told her, I am from Vogan village situated in the south of Togo. Are your parent also living in the same place? And I say, yes, she stood up and said, no, You cannot be with my girl.

Actually. I told her that in fact, I would like to get married with her daughter. That’s why I have come to see her. No, you cannot get, get married with my daughter. That one is not possible. And she left, quit the house and the room and left Jane and I in the room. Actually, the problem is that the highest personality of the country are from the north Jane and her parents are from the north.

And then I am from the south and then the, the highest personalities of the north, most of them consider that those from the south as inferior to them. So Jane’s mother cannot imagine that her daughter can bring somebody from the south to her that she would like to marry with that person. And we were in the room for some minutes.

The mother was not coming back and suddenly. Jane started to cry.

if you don’t want me to, to marry Ablamvi, I’m gonna kill myself. I felt very sorry for her. I tried to console her, but she was uncontrollable. She kept on crying. And finally, I decided that we should leave, but the mother was not coming. When we went out of the room, the mother sat at the gates of the house.

I went to her and made her a firewall. In fact, before going, I brought her a nice gift. It was a nice, a nice necklace that I brought it to her. In fact, I would like to let her know that by that gift, I will take good care of her daughter in fact, but she refuse. No, I don’t want your gift go away with your gift.

I don’t want you to be with my doctor anymore. I felt very frustrated and I was sorry, but Jane kept on crying at that. And we drove back on our way back home. She kept on crying. I tried my best to, to convince her not to cry, but she kept on crying. I even told her that I didn’t take credit for what her mother told me that I continue to love her.

She has to believe in me. We, we have to continue tell the, when the, the, the end, but she didn’t believe me back home. The next morning, she felt very sick. When I called the people with whom she’s in the same room, they told me that she was very sick and she was brought to hospital. Wow. I went to visit her in the hospital.

And she told me that even if she died, I have to be convinced that she loves me and I have to keep it in my mind that there is a girl called Jane who loved me and who died for me. So I told her she shouldn’t say things like that, that she has to recover. And together we get married. She was there until she stayed in the hospital for a week.

And after that she recovered and she was sent back home. And from that time, she suggested to me that we should go now and see her father. I hesitated at the beginning because I was afraid that what happened with the mother may happen to me again, I didn’t intercept at the beginning, but she convinced me that we should go and we take two hours drive to visit his father.

And when we arrived at the gate, I told her to be in front. I would like to hide at. And then she was in. And we went into the room, the father welcomed us and offers us a drink. In fact, in my community, if you visit somebo some somebody, the first thing, the best gonna offer you is water. So he offered us water and we drink and he asked me what to win, blows me there.

It means the purpose of my visit. And I told him that, in fact, I love her do his daughter a lot. And I would like to get married here. And actually I have come to know him so that I see what I can bring as a do to him. And he said, great ideas. Oh, if you come to see me, it means that you love my daughter. I like your idea.

You should not worry. I was really surprised and I was happy and Jane was happy as well. She stood from her chair and comment and hugged me. And that day we even wanted to kiss each other in front of the father that is not allow. And, and then finally he gave me the list and then I went back after two months, I tried to buy everything that I need.

And then we went back, I invited my parents. We were together. We paid a Dory and we celebrated the traditional marriage. That day. Jane was too happy. I was too happy. The father was so happy. And as well as the whole members, they gave us some pieces of advice. Like Ablan, you have to love your wife. You have to take care of your wife.

And they told the Jane Jane, you have to be submissive to your husband. If there is a problem you have to discuss with, with him. And this is how we got married and we have two kids love, concrete, everything we should not give up. Thank you so much.

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Ablamvi. Ablamvi Agboyibo is an English Teacher at Blitta High School in Blitta, Togo, which is in Western Africa. Ablamvi is one of the participants of the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Global Scholars, or SUSI, which is a U.S. Department of State sponsored program for mid-career foreign scholars and educators designed to improve the teaching about the United States in academic institutions abroad. SUSI is a program of the Mansfield Center, part of The University of Montana.

Our final story in this episode comes to us from Cathy Scholtens. Cathy goes on a hike with her best friend to Hope Lake in Montana. They work out their complicated feelings for each other overnight and are now celebrating 25 years married! Cathay calls her story “Friendship, Hope and Wisdom”. Thanks for listening.

[Cathy Scholtens] As with any great adventure. There’s often complications. They can be logistical physical, and sometimes there matters of the heart. My best friend, Becky and I were hiking in the big hole to hope lake. We’d never been, we wanted to go, it was late. September weather was terrible, but we started up the map, said seven miles.

We could do that. What the map didn’t say we figured out about the 30th switch back was it was six miles straight up to the continental divide over the top and down another mile to the lake. So we’re making promises to God to just get up there. She’s my best friend. And we’re just talking like best friends.

Do we have a third companion, Katie? The wonder dog. She was a retarded three year old, uh, golden retriever. And, uh, she was, uh, didn’t belong to us, but we had her with us. Well, We were talking about everything except what we needed to talk about because I’d met Becky about seven years before that. And we immediately became best friends.

She was smart and funny. She was a tomboy and I was a tomboy go figure. And so, uh, we did all kinds of fun stuff together. She was the most caring and kind person I’d ever met. As a matter of fact, whenever we had to go into Missoula and we went together, I made sure I drove. Why? Because if you were in the passenger seat, every corner that a guy had a sign, she’d go, Kathy, Kathy hand, that guy, 10 bucks hand that guy 20 bucks and it come outta my wallet.

Right. I’m like, so I drove, saved myself a lot of money

so we were talking about all kinds of stuff except what we needed to talk about. And that was. Recently, our relationship had kind of shifted a little bit. Okay. It shifted a whole lot. We’d become lovers and we didn’t know how that happened, but there we were in the middle of a mad, passionate affair. And, uh, we didn’t know what to do with that.

Becky was gung ho. Becky had said, come be with me, let’s spend the rest of our lives together. And I was like, mm . I don’t know. Cuz there was some major complications. Okay. First we were both already in relationships. Wasn’t fair to them. And we were feeling pretty crappy about that. Two Becky is a straight girl and any lesbians out here, you know what trouble straight girls are?

they’ve listened to one too many Teddy Perry songs. They just wanna kiss a girl and they’ll kiss you, but then they’ll break your heart. And I was well aware of that, but the biggest complication was. I am a relationship loser. Okay. I had left every relationship I was ever in. I think I was in love and pretty soon I wasn’t in love and I was gone.

Okay, well, Vicky wants to have a relationship and I’m thinking, how can I do that? I’m no good at this. I’m gonna hurt her. And I’m gonna lose my best friend and I didn’t wanna do it. And so we had a lot of discussion to do, to figure out what we were gonna do. Neither of neither. One of us was very keen on that though.

So we’d like ignored it on the top of the continental divide. You can see forever. And it was gorgeous and we had made it to the top, but what we could see was thunderstorms, snowstorms, and most importantly, The sun was going down there. We on the top of the continental divide, sun’s going down. So we know we’re not gonna make the lake.

We’re not gonna make the lake. We can’t because we’re responsible. And we don’t wanna be caught on a mountain in September, in the dark. Okay. But we take a few minutes to look around and we watch this Hawk flying along the Ridge, just on the air. Current’s beautiful. And the next thing you know, that Hawk comes and she’s hovering right in front of us.

And I swear to God, you guys, if I had reached up, I could have touched her. Okay. And she’s looking at us and we’re like looking at her and you know, I’m not one of those bitter ho Getty, boogey. Woo. Mystical girls. I’m just not, you know, I’m pretty cut and dry, but. Something mystical happened with that Hawk.

Can’t explain it. She’s talking to us. And just as I turn my head to Becky to see if she’s hearing the same bullshit, I’m hearing the bird flies up over the other side of the Ridge and down towards where we think hope lake is, there was no discussion. We had gotten a message and the message was go to the lake.

So against everything we knew to be smart, we checked our bags and said, what do you got? What do you got? Well, I had a water filtration pump. We had a fishing pole. Becky had a nine millimeter Glock on her hip. So butchy, um,

We had a pound of trail mix that I was already sick of. I hated it. we had some matches and a pen light and we decided let’s go . So I don’t know. We go, and by the time we get down to that stupid ugly lake, um, it’s dark. Okay. So Becky starts fishing right away because guess what? Katie can’t eat trail mix

And I start looking around for something dry to start a fire with, because I know we’re gonna freeze our asses off and, and I’m watching Becky and every time she gets a fish on, of course she’s big cheater uses worms and Bob her, um, that Bob would go down and Katie be like all fun and she’d jump in after it.

And Becky would lose his fish. So, uh, I wasn’t doing as well either because. There’s everything’s wet and I can’t get anything started. And I was quite the pyromaniac as a child. I could burn down anything, but I was striking out, well, just then Becky’s coming up. She’s got couple fish that she saved and she sees my dilemma and I’m almost outta matches.

Okay. I’m starting to freak. And she says, huh, I got something for you. And she reaches deep inside her jacket and pulls out a handful of love letters that I’d written to her in the past couple months score we’re gonna live. So we take the time to read these letters cuz we’re in love. You know, we, we read these letters out loud to each other and they’re full of how much I think she’s great.

I think she’s fabulous. And what a shit I am and how terrible I am and how I’m gonna ruin the relationship, you know? And uh, I didn’t wanna do that. Lots of doubts and fears. And as we’re reading them, she’s shaking her head and she’s, crumping ’em up and putting ’em in the fire. And pretty soon we got that fire going and it’s ripped roaring now.

Right. And she’s cooking the fish for Katie, not for me. And, um, she, uh, says, oh, look at that, look at that smoke, going up, all your doubts, all your fears, all your misgivings up in smoke, Shelton’s all gone. I’m like, oh yeah. Well, what about the, uh, love that’s in those letters? She said, oh, the love goes to the universe and the universe that’s listening and we’re gonna be okay.

I just nodding my head. And we spent the rest of the night trying to stay warm, freezing our butts off. And every once in a while, Katie would make things interesting. By looking off into the woods, growling this growl that I’ve never heard of golden retriever it’s do. And I would shit my pants every time.

Right. Not Becky Becky like whipped that Glock off. They wanna just commando crouch. Right. Jim, ready to shoot up anything in the woods. I’m like, woo she’s badass. I love her. So we spend that night freezing and talking, freezing and talking, freezing and talking, and it starts snowing first light of Dawn, the snow’s coming.

So we get the hell out of there. Right. But I take one last look at that little campsite. And I think to myself, you know, what did we just do? We did something outrageously stupid, dangerous, something we’d really should have done, but we trusted each other. And we worked together really well and we made it happen.

And is that much different than what Becky’s asking me to do with her to lean out of my comfort zone to trust? And I figured if I trusted a bird I’d never met before, I could surely trust my best friend. so on the way down, I tell her yes, and we are on cloud nine. We run down that mountain. We don’t even stop at the camper.

We jump in the truck cuz we have to find a payphone, nearest payphone wisdom, Montana . So we go to wisdom and we call the people that need to know that we’re not coming back. And we tell ’em because that’s not home anymore. Home, home is in my Becky’s arms and that’s where I wanted to be. Well, I’m happy to tell you guys that trip that September, this next September, that will be 25 years ago.

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

[Marc Moss] Thanks, Cathy. Cathy Scholtens is an escapee from southern Florida, who has been living in and loving Montana since 1975. She and her wife are die-hard Eastsiders down in the Bitterroot Valley along with their two rescue dogs; Pepe le Pew and Jack Hammer. Recently retired after 32 years as a Pediatric Nurse, Cathy can now often be found strolling down mountain trails, taking an excessive number of photographs along the way.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right? I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Leting Go” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 27. You can pitch your story on the theme “Letting Go” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is August 7. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our Accessability Sponsor, Garden Mother, who subsidized the American Sign Language interpreters at this event, allowing us to support our friends in the Deaf community.

Garden Mother is a liscenced Medical Marijauana dispensary and is devoted to the love and health of our community through holistic education and resources. All plants are grown with healthy soils that you can taste and feel. Learn more at Gardenmother.com

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

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

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

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

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, we’ll hear the remaining stories form the “Didn’t See That Coming” live storytelling event in Bonner Park.

[Katie Garding] He’s like, “I want that gun.” He’s like, “and I want you to go take me to get it.” And of course I’m in love. So why, like, why wouldn’t I, so I said, “yes”. I took him to go steal the gun.

[Linda Grinde]
I step out into the hall. And the first thing I see is a six foot, two blonde Swedish goddess in nothing but high heels. , you know, I it’s a cabaret. I figured strip shows burlesque, you know, but in Europe they do the real thing. it’s live sex on stage artfully done.

[Raymond Ansotegui] And as we come in, he says, “We’re gonna make the trade for fishing, but have this one other trade.

If you wanna make it, it’s one of the greatest life lessons, but I can’t share it with you unless. You eat my vegetables and your vegetables, both meals a day for the whole time you’re here.”

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 cashforjunkersband.com

To learn more about Tell Us Something and to hear stories from the past 11 years, please visit tellussomething.org.

[Marc Moss] Hey there, storytelling fans, it’s Marc Moss from Tell Us Something. [Rae Scott] And so that night I asked her, I was like, “Let’s go for this hike. You know, it’s Mother’s Day weekend. I would, I would love to do this with you.” And she said, “Yeah. Okay.” So the night before I’m laying in my bed, I’m like, okay, here’s all the stupid shit you don’t say to your mom. Okay. Okay. Okay. I’m prepping myself for this day.”
On this episode of the podcast [Ann Peacock]

we hear from four storytellers

{Ablamvi Agboyibo] Hi lady, where are you going? And she say, “go home.” “What is your name?” “Jane,” She replied me. “Oh, Jane, you are so beautiful. The sun used to see beauties, but the sun has never seen a girl beauty for like you…” [Marc Moss] that shared their true personal stories on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!”.

[Cathy Scholtens] Becky is a straight girl and any lesbians out here, you know what trouble straight girls are!?

They’ve listened to one too many Katy Perry songs. They just wanna kiss a girl. And they’ll kiss you, but then they’ll break your heart. And I was well aware of that. But the biggest complication was. I am a relationship loser. Okay. I had left every relationship I was ever in.

[Marc Moss] Listen at tellussomething dot org or wherever you get your podcasts.

motherhood,journey,parents,family,hiking,peace,liver,transplant,cargoplane,lifeanddeath,Togo,Africa,love,courting,romance,marriage,in-laws,love,marriage,hiking,hike,Hope,lake,Wisdom,LGBTQ,lesbian,complicated,gratitude,tellussomething,didntseethatcoming,yourstorymatters,livestorytelling,Missoula,Montana,storytelling

innocence,mtinnocence,innocenceproject,prison,jail,newyearseve,feedom,nazis,nohate,Germany,caberet,eatyourvegetables,lessons,prison,apple,carving,beauty,ugly,gratitude,tellussomething,didntseethatcoming,yourstorymatters,livestorytelling,Missoula,Montana,storytelling

Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme "Stone Soup". A young woman visits New York City with her Papa, a Polish track athlete reflects on defecting from Poland in the 1980s, A woman runs out of gas in front of Costco on a busy Missoula street and an adventure guide with a dying cell phone, no water, and only a thin poncho is charged by a wild boar and end up drinking his own urine before his dramatic rescue.

Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 2

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 “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

This week on the podcast…

Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.

Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.

Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.

Marc Moss:…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Our first story comes to us from Rachel Bemis. Rachel Bemis visits New York City with her Poppa, who sleeps through much of the trip. She sees her Top Chef favorite and yells out the tour bus window, “I’m not your b*tch, b*tch!” at him and no one reacts. Rachel calls her story Sleepy New York” or “An Adventure with Papa”. Thanks for listening.

Rachel Bemis: It was the summer of 2007. I was 27 years old living in Missoula. I worked as a real estate lender and also served on a nonprofit board and I had a dirty little secret. I loved reality shows and my standards were very low

flavor

of love. Rock of love, project runway. We’re getting up there top chef, little better.

But after a long day, I absolutely loved watching a good show and reality stars became the new celebrities of our time. I had an upcoming trip planned. I had a work conference in Washington, DC, and I had traveled, you know, before, but I had never spent any time on the east coast. And I decided if I was going to be there for work for a week, I might as well add New York to the list.

Why not spend a few days in New York city checking out all of the sites. But the number one thing that was on my list is I wanted to meet a celebrity. And when I say celebrity, I mean a reality star. So the trip was planned. The tickets were purchased. Of course, I was going to go see the Lincoln Memorial Lincoln Memorial Lincoln monument, big priority.

I was certainly going to see the things that my mom told me I needed to see purchase the tickets. But of course, I also wanted to see a reality star. So like many of my trips, one of my weekly phone calls was to my wonderful grandfather. Papa Papa was 77 years old. We were 50 years and four days apart, he lived in Sacramento, California.

He loved hearing about my adventures. So I gave him a call, let him know what my plans were. I’m going to go to Washington DC. I’m going to jump on the Greyhound bus. I’m going to spend three days in New York and this was my plan. Okay, great. Super supportive. I felt very confident traveling on my own. A couple of days after I got off the phone with Papa, Papa gave me a call and said, I just want to let you know that I spoke with Ruth.

Ruth was his wife of six years. Not my grandmother. They were having some marital problems. And he said, I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

And

that I’m going to fly to New York to be with you.

And again, he lives in Sacramento, California, and I live in Missoula, Montana. And I said, okay, well, you’re more than welcome Papa, but you do know that I never had a travel companion. I feel completely comfortable, confident traveling on my own. And he said, Rachel, I need a break.

Okay.

I will meet you in New York city.

So the trip is

becoming very different. So first of all, I definitely checked some things off the bucket list spent the week in Washington, DC learned a lot. Did the work conferences did the sight? Seeing did all of the things my mom told me I should do. Then I went to art and soul, which has art Smith.

Oprah’s personal chef. I went to his new restaurant. I saw spike from season one or his restaurant top chef his burger joint, but I still had not seen a celebrity. So this is very much on my mind. And of course I knew I was going to New York, but a very different trip than I had planned as a 27 year old solo traveler.

Now my elderly grandfather is coming with me.

I get on the Greyhound bus on Friday afternoon from Washington DC to New York. Of course I had that trip planned as well. That’s who I am. I was going to be staying, or we were going to be staying at my cousin’s apartment in Harlem that my mom arranged. I’ve never met him and he wasn’t going to be staying there.

So I had the whole trip plan, very excited. So I get to New York city. My grandfather has been traveling all day. Of course, I’ve been in a conference all day and now I’m on the bus. And I arrived to see my 77 year old grandfather who loved every shade of green. And he wore them all at once. He was never too full for ice cream and he had beautiful salt and pepper hair.

We arrived and were exhausted. So we immediately went to the apartment in Harlem, which was great. It’s vibrant. We’re excited where these country bumpkins he’s from the suburbs. I’m in quiet, sleepy, Missoula. I’m in the big city and I’m going to see a celebrity I’m used to the magazines. You know, photographers are getting people walking out of restaurants with their dogs or, you know, something I’m going to, I’m definitely going to see somebody.

That was my focus. Of course, I’m enjoying my time seeing the sites, but that was my focus spent the night in Harlem. Wake up the next morning. How did you sleep? Papa? Terrible. We both slept horrible. It was loud. We weren’t used to it. It was great. It was vibrant. It was the city, but we were tired. Well, we had to push through.

We only have three days, so of course we had everything or I had everything planned and uh, we went on a boat tour, exhausted, pushed through. We said, we have got to go see a show. We’re in New York city. It’s sweltering. It’s 95 degrees. It would be really nice to go see a show and just sit into the suit, the air conditioning for a few hours.

So he said, let’s see Phantom of the opera. Okay. So we walk in air conditioning, we sit down and we woke up three hours later.

We slept through the entire thing.

And I don’t mean that peaceful, you know, with our head down on each other’s shoulders. I mean, you know, waking up snorting, you know, did anybody hear me?

Did anybody see, you know, head-nodding uncontrollably embarrassed and I’m still like, okay, we slept through it. It’s fine. We laughed about it for years. It was the best snap we’ve ever had. It was, it was the most expensive nap we’ve ever had. And I was like, okay, maybe this is the time I’m going to see someone.

I’m going to see a celebrity. Someone’s going to come to a matinee in the summer, right? No, nothing. Okay, fine. Continue on with the trip. We are walking central park. Not that big, by the way, if you haven’t been there, thought it was huge. It’s not times square, not that big, super shocked, but it was great. We had a wonderful, wonderful time still looking for that reality star.

So through our marital conversations and Papa’s venting and me trying to give advice to my 77 year old grandfather about marriage, when I’m not married,

we

decided on our last day, we’re going to go on one of those touristy bus tours where you drive by all of the sites. We drive by serendipity with the hot chocolate. We go by where the Macy’s parade is Rockefeller center, all these great things. So first of all, we get onto the bus. Again, air conditioning was our best friend.

At this point, it was so hot and he’s 77. He needs a break. He needs to sit down. We enter the bus, the air conditioning just blows on us. I sit on the window and he sits to the right of me with an aisle. The bus was fairly empty, which was kind of nice. I could comment on the, oh my gosh, serendipity. We should go there for hot chocolate.

You know, all of the things without worrying about other people judging or listening to our stories. So as we’re going along, we’re enjoying our time pointing to different things and the bus is moving. And then I

see him

walking the opposite direction of the bus. I see this platinum blonde hair. I knew immediately

who it was.

Okay. So pause.

So it’s season one of top chef. Okay. And there’s this feisty platinum blonde chef named Dave. And he is cooking with this fiery ginger red head named Tiffany. And she is assertive, not bossy. I don’t like that word because I relate to it very much. She is fierce and she is assertive. And he doesn’t like it.

Okay. And he says something to her, mind you, this is racing through my brain. As I see the platinum blonde. This is like two seconds of my life. Okay. I don’t really remember his name. I don’t really remember how I know him, but I remembered what he said to her

without a beat

I’m on the bus and I start panicking. Oh my God. Oh my God.

I’m not bitch. I’m not here. Batch batch. , I’m screaming this on the bus with my 77 year old grandfather next to me.

Okay.

Why? I didn’t yell. Dave. Don’t know why I didn’t yell top chef don’t know big fan. I’ve no idea. I just start screaming. Luckily the window was up and I looked to my right to explain why I have this outburst. And my grandfather is asleep.

I

had my grandfather for 13 more years. We shared many trips together, road trips, many memories. And I lost him in 2020. And that is the trip. I’ll never forget. That was the time that I screamed at a reality star on a bus and my grandfather slept

through the whole thing.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.

Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.

Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”

Thanks for listening.

Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.

And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.

I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.

And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?

And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.

Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.

He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.

My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.

And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.

I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.

Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.

And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.

And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.

He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.

And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.

If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,

She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?

And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel.

Rachel Bemis marks her 20th year in Montana! She is a 4th grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley where 1/3 of her students tower over her. She shares her home with her best friend of 21 years and 5 year old St Bernard Lorelai. She spends her free time binging Gilmore Girls, The Great British baking show, 90 day fiancé or any trashy reality show she can stomach. You can find her getting Biga pizza takeout, walking with friends, at the library or at her favorite consignment shop. She loves Discussing any book except science fiction with her monthly book club.

Our next storyteller is Darius Janczewski (Yonchevsky) Darius reflects on defecting from Poland in the 1980’s and realizes that most things we remember are about departures. Darius calls his story “Departures”.

Thanks for listening.
Darius Janczewski: Hello, good evening. I want to apologize to is making her work harder.

Um, since we’re kids, children, we’re always told to finish what we started, but I’m here to tell you something else. Don’t worry about finishing what you started. Start something it’s about

starting. I love movies and you might be surprised. They’ll tell you I have many favorite movies, but I often don’t finish watching them.

Not because they’re bad movies, but, uh, and sometimes they have terrible endings, you know, but I just enjoy the departure, the beginning of the movies. That’s what I want. One of my favorites recently is Shackleton. It was Kenneth broth and BBC production. You might be familiar with the insurance story, but if you’re not, I will just summarize it quickly that it’s about British Explorer or in a shuttle who is attempting to cross Antarctic on food.

Jess was dogs. They supposed to get to Antarctic, cross, get to the south pole and then continue to the other side of the continent and then be picked up by another ship. And some of you might know that never happens. He is stranded near the Antarctic. After few months of drifting, his ship is crushed by the eyes and sings his cruise survives.

They take three boats, safety, boats, then get to safety. It’s one of the best survival story ever. And some of you might know that they just found the ship recently after a hundred, six years of searching for it.

How many of you are runners? I can see you anyway. I used to be a very, very, very good runner. I used to run sub formula. And I are presented my country.

Thank you. Um,

but what I remember from my best races is the beginning, the start, not the finish or the metal ceremonies and stuff. I remember starting, I remember the first starter gone, taking off, seeing the muscular bodies of my friends in front of me.

I was not that good.

You know,

sweaty backs their hair, where I was working. That’s what I remember most from my best races. Not the finish.

Yeah,

because it’s all about the purchase, not about destinations.

So one of my best stories about the parties is my defection. I was a, deserter the difference between desertion and defection is slide the different, the dessert, or if he comes back or she comes back, he’s gonna go to long-term jail or even under the oil and be executed. That’s the difference. And the factors usually leave because of politics or religion or hardship.

So when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country. I don’t remember saying goodbye to my mother, but she didn’t know I was leaving anyway for good.

She knew I was just leaving to another competition, but what I remember the most from my defection is that is in Italy. When I was in Italy. I remember leaving, I remember taking my bag, my shoes, four o’clock in the morning, making sure everybody’s asleep coaches and my teammates and tiptoeing from their room down there, tow and leaving the hotel.

And I scouted where the train station was the day before. So I knew where it was. I had my pocket money enough to guide, get the tickets to the city that I heard refugee camp was in. And so I got on the train, had about 10 minutes to go and I was thinking, hopefully nobody woke up and find out I’m not there, but no, I was fine.

The train took off. I remember opening the windows, seeing the countryside, Mediterranean, Italy, beautiful Italy, uh, smelling the sea, the Italians laughing. Um, they’re a friendly, long story. Short. Got to the refugee come. And then I forgot to tell you one important reason why I defected.

I defected because I fell in love in Samba with somebody who left for America, and I decided to follow her,

wait,

it’s not the end of the story of it. So long story short, I went to refugee comes. Then I came to America and I found out that the love was not there anymore. There was no love

anymore.

And so, you know, it’s all about the purchase.

Well, let’s get back to the current issues. Um,

and thinking about Ukraine, of course, in the soldiers who are sitting around the campfire, having a very small meal and thinking and hearing the explosions and, and I’m thinking the world will be over one day. I’m sure they will be overweight. They all the wars and one day, and I’m wondering. What will this soldiers remember from this war?

Will they remember the explosions, the killing, the violence? Um, no, I don’t think so. I think they were a member saying goodbye that departure.

And I also think this never for me is what I remember it too. Uh, and I’m going to quit it here and say, please remember it’s about the partners who care, not about destinations. Thank you.

///
Marc Moss: Thanks, Darius.

Darius Janczewski is an author, graphic designer, runner, and a refugee who arrived in the United States in 1984 and in Missoula in 1999. Darius deserted from the Polish communist army in 1984 when he represented his country as a runner in Italy. He was preparing for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when he decided to defect, not knowing that the Olympiad would be boycotted by most of the communist countries, including Poland. Darius is a published author and is currently working on his collection of short stories titled Minotaur or the Art of Running. Learn more about Darius and see examples of his work at dariuszjanczewski.com That’s d a r i u s z j a n c z e w s k i.com

In our next story, Katrina Farnum runs out of gas in front of Costco on a busy Missoula street and is helped by strangers. She pays it forward when she sees a fellow human in need. Katrina calls her story “When Push Comes To Shove”. Thanks for listening.

Katrina Farnum: Joyce said you don’t like it if people hold the microphone. So I won’t do it. She said that people pace, but I love pacing when I talk. That’s the thing. So if there are two kinds of people, when it comes to roadkill, there are definitely two kinds of people. When it comes to filling up your car with gasoline, there are some of us that, or you that let it get halfway down and you pull into the gas station and you fill your car.

And there are other of us that let it run all the way out. Thank you. Glad we have a group and then we fill it back up. So yes, this is a story of me running out of gas in my car. And, I am going to just avoid telling you how many times in my life that I have run out of gas in my car, , in there probably some psychologists in the room they’re evaluating me right now.

And you probably have good reason because I’ve actually never run out of gas in winter, not one time. And, , Mr. Nichols, if you are by chance in the audience tonight, this is not the time that I ran out of gas on Brook street, but I did make it to the title company in time to sign papers. Thank you very much for that to get me a ride.

Now, this is the time that I ran out of gas on reserved street, the other awesome street in Missoula to run out of gas on, and I was southbound, , heading down reserved street. So Costco is approaching on my left and I don’t know, sorry for not giving you the shout out, whatever the Boxster is on the other side. Like to be fair here, the car that I was driving at the time had a faulty tire, like get age, , gauge sensor for the air theme, whatever the, you go head mechanics. And, , it would do this like, and like any good parent, you just learn how to block out certain sounds, which I did. And it’s the same sound for the gas.

So I’m driving it being, I’m not listening. I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot. And if I had just been like 15 or 20 feet further, I could have just scooted into the turn lane.

And I would have been far enough back in it that people could have still gotten around me. And I would have been out of the way of traffic, but that’s not happening. And it was a shoulder season like it is right now. So you’ve got like chunks of snow and it’s gritty and it’s starting to melt and kind of run down these old puddles.

And I just spring too. I’m like, holy shit. I need to get a gas can like right now. And as I’m getting out of the car to do this are literally people who are basically doing the like Gudo room, but whatever the equivalent of car running out of gas that you say to people. And so I like run into Costco because it’s the closest place.

And I like do this thing and I run to the service counter. I’m like, Hey, do you guys sell gas cans here? And she’s like, no, we do not sell gas cans here. And then I’m like, okay. And so I run across the street right in Lowe’s and I get into Lowe’s and have all the dumb luck. I know they sell gas cans there, but not this day.

They’re out of gas. I’m like, oh my God, how long has my car sitting in traffic? And I like run. I’m thinking like Costco has a service center, right. They have to have a gas can in there and it run as fast as I can. And I bust through the door of the service center and there’s a couple of guys working.

There’s a guy at the little Kiosky whatever. And I say, okay. So my car is really like right out there. It’s not very far and stranded and really need a gas can. And it, whatever you guys have, you have empty one. I can just fill it up and, you know, have you, I had that thing happen when you are in a hurry or a really big hurry.

And then the person or the people you’re dealing with are definitely not in a hurry. And so the guy like takes a sip of his coffee and then like, thinks about it and he sets it down and I could like feel myself coming out of my skin, like a little bit. And he like saunters over to this cabinet and it’s big and it’s kind of rusty.

And he like opens the drawers and inside is this weird smattering of gas cans. And like, whatever else is in there. And he might be saying something, but it’s like, the adrenaline maybe has tuned him out and it’s become this, like the Charlie brown teacher. And so he’s like, mom, mom, mom, mom. And I’m like, yes, Ken’s yes.

We’re talking to language. I don’t know what you’re saying, but there give me a gas can and the guy’s reluctant and he pulls out one that’s. All the good style, right? The kind we like, and he kind of shakes it and it’s like half full fuel and he’s like, all right, I think it’s probably good fuel. And he hands it to me.

And I run back to my car as fast as I can. Now, normally when you run out of gas, you would hopefully be on the shoulder, but I’m not. So I’m in traffic, right? My body and my trying to suck it up against my car as much as I can. And I realized that the spout for this old gas can, is really short. So it doesn’t quite get far enough down there that it’s pushing the little tab aside.

And there’s like fuel Gooding kind of in, but mostly out. And it’s running down the car and splashing on my feet and it is mixing with the gross stuff on the road. And I’m feeling like just happy if I get enough in there. And then I had like a little hoodie on it. And in my pocket I had this little leather pouch that was my wallet, and it’s got all the cards and it drops out of my pocket and it lands in the puddle with the gasoline and all the awesome.

So I Huck it inside my car and I’m like, all right, I think there’s enough fuel in here. So I just jump in my car, throw the gas can in there and I try to start it and try to start it and the definitely bad fuel. So. I’m like, all right. Uh, what am I going to do? And I, and I go to get out of my car. I’m going to bring the gas can back in, figure out it probably dump it out or whatnot.

And this guy pulls up. He had like parked his truck off the way. And he said, how can I help you? And I’m like, well, yeah, let’s push it. We’ll just, and my thought is, we’re just going to push it far enough into that turn lane where I had wanted to be in the first place where people can still get around me so they can turn.

And as we’re going, I can see we have two different ideas and we’re pushing and it’s a little bit of a hill. So we’re picking up speed and we’re approaching the intersection and the guy yells at me, go, go, go. And I look, and I mean, there’s four lanes of traffic in coming at us is a semi-truck. And you know, I’m not a professional gap reader, but I have done a lot of mountain biking and boating and snowmobiling and snowboarding that I think I have a decent perception when it comes to like speed and timing and distance.

And I know we are not making that. And I yelled back to him and I jumped inside the car and I have to Jack my foot on the brake and we are in the dead middle of the intersection. Now there’s definitely not any part of me that is having that because I’ve already just been over there behind this space that was inconvenient.

This one is way less convenient. And I can see like this moment happening, where I can see, okay, semis going to pass. There are three cars, there’s a gap. It’s not huge. We can make it. I don’t know this guy, but we’re about to build a trusting relationship together. And I say to him, okay, bud, are you ready?

We’re going to push and go. And we’re pushing, pushing, pushing. And we get through this intersection and you don’t actually know if a road has any sort of incline at all until you’re pushing a dead car. And then like an inch is more, it’s like measured in feet. So there, you don’t know if you’ve ever turned, you’re going to check next time.

But when you go into Costco, like there’s a slight incline right there. And so we just came to a peaceful stop and the guy’s like, what else can I do? And I’m like, nothing, dude, thank you so much. This is great. You’ve been huge help. And I like grabbed the yucky gas. Can, uh, run it back over to Costco. And I’m like saying like, I’m like, do you have any, can I just dump the fuel out of this can somewhere.

And I got this big talking to about the EPA and you can’t just dump gas out and I’m like, you definitely did not just see what happened on the side of the road, but I, okay. So here’s your can back. I shouldn’t have asked. The guy working there says, Hey, I drove my daughter’s car to work today. And in the back seat, she has a gas can.

So he walks me out across the parking lot, probably again, slower than I would have normally walked by myself and we get the gas can, and he, and I’m like, thanks. And it’s like empty, but I unscrew it. And I look inside the gas can, and there’s like just this little, teeny, NC bit of fuel in there, but like lots of dead flies.

And I cannot confirm nor deny what happened to said fuel or flies, but it was empty when I got to the pumps. So I walk up there and I realized like my yucky wallet I had thrown in the back seat is still in the back seat. And I’m standing at the gas pump and this guy is just finishing fuel and he’s like, Hey, put your gas can over here.

And I’ll just, I’ll fill it up for you. He doesn’t know, I don’t even have a wallet. He’s just being a nice guy. And so he fills it up and I go over and I put gas in my car. I’m feeling pretty good. Cause now I’m in home stretch. But you know, I had to deal with that shitty new gas can, which even though it’s long enough to reach it, the little push tab.

And so half the time you’re fighting with that thing, but it works out and I pull in and uh, fill my car up with gas. And I’m like at that moment where I’m like, all right, I have no idea what I was probably doing something important before this huge saga. Right. As I’m in, like done, you know, I’m wrapping up, I’m ready to leave.

And I see the guys who had pulled in behind me and he’s at the pumps and he’s doing the pat down. And then he gets inside of his rig and his little legs are kind of outweighs reaching across the seat and he gets back out and I see the pat down and I’m like, ha, you don’t have a wall lit. And it’s rare that you get to pay it forward so quickly.

Like a lot of times you do a good deed or someone does a good deed. And it just, you know, it’s like into the ether for awhile. And I just said, Hey man, pull your car up here. I’m going to throw fuel in it for you. And he’s missed like the whole awesome thing that just happened. He just thinks I’m being nice for all.

I know the guy who did that for me with the gas can just went through what I did. So there I am. I’m able to fill them up and I’m off

Marc Moss: Thanks, Katrina.

Katrina Farnum is a local dirt-loving herbalist, mother, and educator. She is the developer and owner of Garden Mother, a holistic herb shop and dispensary with locations in Missoula and Kalispell.
Katrina is passionate about healthy food, community, continual self improvement. She spends much of her time creating and engineering things to help others live better lives.
Her spirit animal is the Incredible Hulk and her alter ego is a mixture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman). Katrina leads the team of herbalists and educators with an emphasis on nutrition over at Garden M+*other Herbs. Learn more about her work at gardenmotherherbs.com

Bringing us home in this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Jeff Ducklow finds himself with a dying cell phone, no water and only a thin poncho, He is charged by a wild boar and more before his dramatic rescue.- Jeff calls his story “Lost in Kauai”

Thanks for listening.
Jeff Ducklow: Whew. It’s times like this, when I wish I had prepared. Even though I believe that the only thing worse than public humiliation is voluntarily doing it to yourself. I feel compelled to tell you my story for years, I thought my inner compass was damaged until I finally realized I didn’t have one.

What possessed me to become a adventure guide is still confusing. It’s sorta like a teacher of a second language teaching without actually knowing a second language I’ve been lost in the Andes. I have been lost in the Sierra Nevadas. I have been lost in the Alaskan wilderness. I’ve been displaced in the bitter roots and I’ve been completely lost in many, a malls parking

lot. So I don’t know why I thought a jungle on an island in the middle of Pacific would be any different. It was supposed to be a simple journey from point a to point B, but I got deep into the alphabet this day. My friends. so a few years back, I went to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai with my then girlfriend who incidentally I lost.

I mean, she, she knows where she is. Uh, we had a, w we’d gone to a wedding of, one of her friend’s wedding was over and she went back home. She had to work. I was in between seasons and stayed a few extra days. And so I did the typical touristy things I laid on the beach, played into serve, had a few mojitos.

And then I decided I need to kick the adventure level up a few notches. So I, I found a Hawaiian guy on the beach and I said, Hey, if you only had three days left and on this beautiful island, what would you do? And without hesitation, he said, lost trail, man, lost that. That sounds really hard to find. He said, no problem.

I’m going to draw you a map. And he sketched out a little map of dirt roads with no names and said, you’ll see a small break in the jungle.

And if you, if you walk down the trail and you find a little footbridge, that’s

not it go back and find another break in the. And that’s exactly what happened. So, uh, I got going the next day in the morning, actually it was the afternoon about three o’clock and I got in my rental car and started going down the roads and it was about an hour and a half drive down these unnamed roads.

And sure enough, I, I found a small break in the jungle and I thought this has to be it because I don’t see anything else. So I got out, sun’s getting a little lower and I packed a few essentials in my backpack and I took off and it’s supposed to be a loop, just a, this little journey, a couple of miles in, I got to an amazing place along.

Why may a canyon, which is spectacular. It’s 10 miles long, 3000 feet, deep waterfalls everywhere. The lava has turned red over time. Spectacular. I walked out on this little strip of land. It went out into the canyon, sheer drops in each side, spectacular, amazing. I took some pictures and that should have been enough, but I wanted more with the sun hang, hanging, even lower.

I took off down the trail and it was maybe a mile and I thought I can do this. And then I came to a branch in the trail and I took out my map and I’m looking at it there, no branch. And I start rotating it. And you know, when you start doing that with a map.

But I stood and I looked down one path and then another, and I thought of Robert Frost

who wants, stood in the yellow wood and could not travel both. And he took the one less traveled by night and made all the difference. I’m here to tell you it really does make a big difference.

so I choose a path that looks actually a little more traveled and it quickly becomes the trail that has probably never been taken. And I end up on a rock shoot, probably 1500 feet down, really lose boulders. And I’m, I know it’s a bad idea, but I, I see that the trail looks like it continues over there. So I really carefully get to the start going across and I get to the middle and I think this is stupid.

That doesn’t always stop me, but I had the thought I should go back. And then I looked at what had just traversed said no way. I am not doing that again. And I’m not going that way either. So I decided to go up clinging to the mountain, like Velcro, hands, and I got to the top. And then I see the jungle again and there’s little yellow ribbon hanging frames and trees.

And I thought Eureka trail markers. So I entered the jungle, which is quite a bit darker and I’m looking around and I, I see the. Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep. And I said no way. And so that, by the time I got to the top, it was dark. I was screwed.

I was spending the night in the jungle. So I took a quick inventory of what I had. I reached into the bag. And I had an empty Nalgene bottle, which I quickly began to fill with my urine. I had read this somewhere. You can, you can recycle and reuse. So I did what I kid with a bottle. And then I also saw I had a nine or a 2012 flip phone who had an touristy short battery life.

So in the dark I started crawling around because of course there’s cell coverage in the jungle. There didn’t seem to be any, but miraculously I found a one inch by one inch parcel that had one bar. So of course I called my girlfriend and not 9 1 1. And I said, I got on this trail called lost trail. I’m not sure how to tell you how I got there.

I’m not sure how to get back. I believe on spending the night in the jungle. And then she said, if you’re happy with this message, please press one.

So hung up the phone, brace myself for a rough night. The thing is, I’d heard plenty of stories of the Hawaiian jungle that it ran feral with wild boar. That’s what was on my mind. They had tests so sharp. They could tear Amanda to in seconds. So I sat there on the ground pretty. And I don’t know how long it was, maybe two hours.

I S I H I heard branches starting to snap from the hill above me, and it was getting closer and louder. And I sprung up with a burst of adrenaline. And by the beard of Zeus, I got about 10 feet up into the tree for about 10 seconds until the bank, the branch broke. I ended up on the canopy floor again, and now with only half as much adrenaline, I got about four feet off the.

And I sat on this branch for hours, not one wanting any bore contact, but my ass got so sore. I didn’t care about getting bored. I got back down on the ground fearing. Also what I were told were Sandy paeds, as long as the man’s boot shoe laces. So I was sitting there thinking this is pretty bad, but then it got worse.

Uh, cold, cold fog started creeping up the hill. I was on the mountain and also remember, this is actually the wettest place on earth, where may a canyon, so it could be worse, but a cold, cold fog. And then I remembered I had the emergency poncho. I took that out. It’s thickness could be measured in terms of Adams.

It was actually in my wallet, filed with the credit cards. And I put it on and I sheltered in the cold. I started shivering. I realized it’s not wild boar. That’s going to get me it’s hypothermia. And somehow I made it through the night alive and the sunset, it was the most beautiful sunset I’d ever seen, just gorgeous.

And so this time, a little wiser, I called 9 1 1, they picked up, but then I got put on hold and I see my battery icon. And a couple of minutes later, it was the fire captain. He said, where are you? And I was thinking if I knew that I probably would not be calling you, I said, lost trail. And he said, I’ve never heard of that.

I said, well, it’s in the canyon somewhere. He goes, okay, we’re going to get a GPS signal on you. He goes, and I told him, you know, the phone’s dying. He said, well, turn it off. We’re going to GPS signal. It doesn’t matter if your phone’s on or off. So he’s doing that and I’m thinking, oh no, this is going to be really expensive.

So, and told me once to be rescued cost $10,000. And that had been about a decade earlier. So adjusting for inflation, that can be around 13 grand and you have to know something. I grew up with a mother who equated personal injury with the cost of medical. If your injury was going to be really, really expensive, then you weren’t really hurt.

I remember coming in once after a bad bicycle accident, I was bleeding. I said, mom, look, and in compassion. She said, oh, she yet she always added an extra valve. So it wasn’t swearing.

And then she asked, I’m not sure if this is a rhetorical. Do you know how much that’s going to cost? I don’t know a mom I’m eight years old. I’m I’m bleeding profusely. I don’t know if I can make that calculation right now. All right. Get me my sewing kit, please. Ma no, I can see my femur. All right. Get in the car, but there goes your allowance.

So this is all my. So I get back on the phone with the, with the police or the fire captain, he says, we’re going to send you a helicopter. I said, oh no, that’s okay. That’s okay. Do you have mules or something like that? I said, I think I can walk out. There’s plenty of light. I have all day. He went, no, no, no, no.

Stay where you are. The jungle. It all looks the same. You’ll get turned around. We’re coming for you. So I said, okay. So I turned the phone off again and I’m waiting. And about half hour later, I hear, I hear the chopper. It was coming up the canyon, but it’s on the wrong side. So I get back on the phone. I said, I hear you, but it’s the wrong side.

He said, okay, we’re coming over. And then he said, he asked, is there a break in the canopy? And I said, no, it’s just like a roof up there. I can’t see the sky. He said, okay, just don’t go anywhere. Helicopter came over. The phone dies it’s over. And then the helicopter leaves just, just goes away. I was in shock.

I remember saying, ah, she yet,

and I sat there. I didn’t know what to do, but I, I did. And then sure enough, the chopper comes back and this time it’s right over the canopy. And I remember the old now tattered yellow poncho, and I took it out and just started swinging it around. And the next thing I know, there’s a paratrooper breaking through the canopy.

It’s it’s incredible sound. It’s like there’s centipedes and scorpions and wild boar flying all over the place. This I comes down, he hooks me into harness. Our phases are like this. Had it been COVID time. This wouldn’t have been good. And I got hooked in, he put a helmet on me and we went break into the canopy breaking branches, and then we were suspended by the, from the helicopter.

And I thought we were going to be retracted inside, but we just dangle there. And then we start going and I’m looking at the cable thinking is this half inch five eight is, uh, is this galvanized it’s pretty.

And then I looked down and it is spectacular. The Kanye’s it’s incredible view. And I’m thinking if this is $10,000 or 13, it’s worth every penny.

So I get the right of my life until we get to a clearing where the other rescue workers, there’s a fire. And then came the descent of shame from the heavens I was lowered.

And when I landed there, wasn’t a lot sad. I, I apologized, we got in the truck and started down the dirt road and they said, they’re going to take me to my car. And I thought, thank God, because I have no idea what that thing is. And then what I feared the question I feared it came, it came from the captain himself who was driving.

He looked over his shoulder. I was in the back and he said, by the way, what do you do for a living?

there was a long pause, just like this one. And I knew there are two answers. I could, I could tell them I’m a massage therapist, which is. But the other half of the year, I’m an adventure guide. And I thought they’d done so much for me. I owe them something. So I said, I’m a venture guide. He said, what?

The whole crew started laughing. He goes, you’re kidding me. Right. I said, I wish I was. Then he got on the radio.

he said, get this guys, the guy, the guy we rescued, he’s an adventure guide. And so I was thank you.

Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff Duck-low is no stranger to adventure. With Portuguese blood coursing through his veins, he inherited all of the wanderlust of his Mediterranean forebears, however, unfortunately, without the accompanying and essential navigational acumen. Simply put, Jeff was born without a sense of direction, so naturally he chose to become a professional Adventure Guide, guiding men, women and children oblivious to his affliction, on hikes over mountain passes, rafting down raging rivers, and leading sea kayaking adventures in Alaska in whale infested waters, at times in heavy fog. He is often quoted as saying, “Is it really an adventure if getting back is a certainty?”Having almost died unnecessarily on numerous occasions, Jeff is now a full-time massage therapist in Missoula who rides his unicycle to work in order to keep an element of danger in his day. He still loves the outdoors and enjoys recounting his exploits to anyone willing to listen.

I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right. I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Didn’t See That Coming!” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. You know what would make it really fun? Your participation. Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

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

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

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

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week I catch up with Neil McMahon…

Neil McMahon: Go into some kind of line of work. That’s would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s, uh, like Michael Connolly was a journalist, obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever, , something besides swinging a hammer.

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

Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

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

Four storytellers share their true personal stories live without notes on the theme "Stone Soup". A dramatic river rescue, bullets confiscated at TSA, a middle-aged woman cookin up an incredible stew and a man, a porcupine, a jar of pickles, and a little birdie.

Transcript : "Stone Soup" Part 1

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

We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gives May 5th through the sixth. Missoula Gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support Tell Us Something. During Missoula Gives, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at missoulagives.org.

Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.

This week on the podcast…

Tess Sneeringer: this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee.

Joyce Gibbs: He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job.

…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.

Lizzi Juda: Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

Brent Ruby: There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over

Marc Moss: We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Our first story comes to us from Tess Sneeringer. After her friend falls down a hill on a rock scree, Tess Sneeringer puts her training to work. She, along with several of her friends, paddle through the night to bring their injured friend to safety. Tess calls her story “All Aboard the River Ambulance ”. Thanks for listening.

Tess Sneeringer: So four of us were floating down the green river in Utah in two different canoes and they were tied together. And two of us were paddling. One of us was taking a power nap and the fourth person was managing some extreme pain with a substance that is now illegal in Montana. And it was two o’clock in the morning.

This trip had started earlier that day as the long awaited personal trip. After a grilling summer spent backpacking with teenagers in the woods and spirits were high when we launched earlier that day. And I remember when we pulled over for lunch on this beach, on the side of the river, I pulled up the canoe was sitting on the bow and was dipping crackers into hummus.

When I heard my friend Erica Yelp behind me and I look over and she’s about 20 yards downstream on the bank. And all I see is this cloud of sand stone dust. And she’s over there with our friend Christina. So I wander over, I guess what had happened is she had been climbing up this little bluff to get a picnic spot.

And this big chunk of sandstone had broken out from under her and she’d fallen about 10 feet and she was standing and she was limping and complaining about her knee and of the four of us, three of us, our wilderness first responders. And the fourth is an EMT. So we kind of dove into our knee assessment situation.

But at some point she looked up at me and she goes test. I think my back is bleeding and she was wearing a white sun shirt. So we hadn’t seen any blood, but I lift up her shirt and sure enough, I see a five inch long centimeter wide, just gaping wound as if someone had cut her with a knife. And it was sure enough slowly bleeding down her back.

So I put her shirt down and it takes every ounce of me to tell her, yes, your back is bleeding. I’m going to get the first aid kit. I’ll be right back. And I tried so hard not to sprint to the canoe and instead use that time to calm my own nerves down, get the first aid kit, come back. By that point, we had her laying face down.

Everybody had seen the cut at this point and Jack, the other trip mate and Christina had made a plan to try to go get cell phone service. And they’d put me in charge of first aid. And there I am standing over her with my desert rat, sun dress and my big floppy hat. And now two blue nitrile gloves thinking.

Okay. It is time to put you back together. And as I said, it was, uh, it looked like someone cut her with a knife and granted, we never found. Like slicer, but the first aid was relatively simple. So we were still waiting for Jack and Christina to get back. When she asked me, she goes test, why is everybody freaking out?

And I was just like, without trying to make her freak out, even more explained like, Hey, your cut is big enough that we’re worried about infection and your knee is enough in enough pain that we can’t be here for five days, which was the plan. So we got to go. And the way that this river works is we’re on the green river paddling towards the confluence with the Colorado river and the green river is Flatwater and the Colorado river is whitewater.

So you can’t just paddle out. You schedule a motor boat to pick you up at the beach. That’s the intersection of the two rivers. And we had scheduled a boat for five days from then. It was about a 50 mile trip. That’s a really relaxed river trip, 10 miles a day, plenty of time for side hikes, relaxing. So we had scheduled it for five days from then, but as we were looking through our paperwork from our outfitter and the permits, we saw that they’d given us a schedule of all the other boats that were coming. While we were on our trip, there was two boats, one, which was ours five days from now and the only other one scheduled was the very next morning at 10 o’clock. So we had to cover about 45 miles by 10 o’clock in the morning. But if you remember those teenage trips, one of the ones that I led the most often involved a canoe trip, and to make our mileage on the last day, we had a routine of waking the kids up at three o’clock in the morning, putting them in boats, tying the boats together and paddling this flotilla of canoes down a very similar desert river.

So I knew, I knew it could be done and doing some quick rough math. I thought we had just enough hours if we paddled through the night. So Jack and Christina get back from their short-lived attempt to find cell phone service. I pitched this plan to them, suggest that we paddle until dinner time, pull over, eat food.

Can’t forget to eat food. paddles, pull over sleep for a couple hours and launch again around midnight and paddle until we hopefully get to the boat. And as we were paddling that evening, they said yes to the plan as we were paddling, you know, we were booking it. So everybody we passed could tell we are in a situation where our boats are tied together.

And we’re paddling with like 80% effort. And everyone we passed, as soon as they learned what our situation was, they had something to give us. Someone had extra Vicodin from an old wisdom to surgery. I’m not kidding. They gave us new first aid supplies to change her dressing. And an older gentleman even offered us his paddling chocolate, which was weed chocolate for, for his arthritis, which was very, very generous.

And so we paddled, we executed that plan, just how I lined it out. And we launched again at midnight, after a horrible anxiety written hour of sleep. And we made it about two hours until Jack who’s in the front of my canoe, turns around and he’s like, Tess, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m falling asleep.

I don’t know if we’re going to make it. And so we came up with new plan involving maps, , so that every 20 minutes, one of the three, paddler’s got to take a nap and cause we had tied the boat together, right? So there’s three paddlers. And we tried to make Erica as comfortable as we could. That’s a tall order when you have a bum knee, a huge gash in your back and it’s a metal boat, but we tried our best.

And when it was my turn to nap, I was out cold. I put my sleeping bag in my feet, I’d pull it over. Me and people had to shake me awake when it was my turn to paddle again. But we kept that rotation going all night long until finally the sun came up and we were tasked with figuring out where the heck we were, because all night I’d been trying to estimate like, how fast are we going?

How many hours have we been paddling? Continually trying to answer the question. Like, are we going to make it? And so when the sun came up, I had to use all that mental math to be like, okay, I think we’re about 15 miles away from the takeout and how the map works. River miles are labeled on the map. And in this case they were counting down to the confluence, but sure.

There’s a line on the map that says 15, but that doesn’t mean there’s like a steak on the side of the river that says 15. So instead it’s a topographical map and I’m having a lineup, natural features to what I’m seeing. And so, you know, I’d be like, okay, I think if we’re here, there should be two canyons on the right and a tributary on the left.

And then there’d be three canyons on the right. And I’m like, shit, I have no idea where we are. And I was probably trying to struggle with that for almost an hour, just constantly trying to line up reality to my map somewhere within the range of where I thought we were until finally we saw some folks breaking down a campsite and we knew that the campsites are kind of also labeled according to the river mile.

So if we knew what camp they were at, we would know how far away we were. So we shouted over and they shouted back that they are at camp four. So we weren’t 15 miles away. We are four miles away and we had plenty of hours to go. And at that moment we threw down our paddles. Erica shoots this like drugged out fist into the air.

We eat something. That’s not this stay on granola bar that we’ve been eating all night because at that point we knew we were going to make it. And sure enough, we pulled into the beach. There was a whole crowd waiting for their scheduled boat. But as soon as we. You know, they learned of our situation news spread fast.

And again, people had something for us. We got someone cooked bacon for us, the made coffee, someone set up a shade umbrella so that Erica could sit under the shade. It was like a super sunny beach. And there was even a surgeon there who had this beefy first aid kit and volunteered to clean out her wound again, which was super nauseating to watch.

But we got on the boat, we got her to the hospital. She ended up needing a lot of stitches and she had a torn ACL, which explains the knee pain. So after that moment, we split up to our respective fall seasonal gigs. But every time I think of this trip in many trips, since, you know, the reason I go on these trips often is to connect more intentionally with myself or the people I’m going with.

And explicitly not all the other people who are out there, the point is to get away. But in this situation, it was all those other people that made our evacuation safer, easier, smoother, and already I’ve been on another trip or I was approached in an evacuation for help. And I take great comfort knowing that that give and take will be a lifelong exchange among perfect strangers, as long as we continue to recreate in these wild places.

Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.

Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.

Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”

Thanks for listening.

Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.

And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.

I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.

And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?

And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.

Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.

He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.

My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.

And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.

I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.

Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.

And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.

And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.

He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.

And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.

If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,

She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?

And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Joyce.

Joyce Gibbs is a resilient, creative and adventurous woman who was raised in Missoula. After a brief stint in New York City and then in New Orleans, she bought a dilapidated railroad house on Missoula’s Northside and spent the next 15 years remodeling it and making it her own. Joyce loves being in nature on Montana’s abundant rivers, and hiking and hunting in the woods. When she is not busy building beautiful spaces with her tile installation at Joyce of Tile, you can find her riding her motorcycle, gardening, going for neighborhood walks with her husband of 12 years, Marc (that’s me!), and their kitten Ziggy.

In our next story, Lizzie Juda finds awakening after middle age in a story that she calls “Something’s Cookin’ in My Pot”. Thanks for listening.

Lizzi Juda: thank you all for being here to support us and to listen to our stories. So I’m going to take advantage of this stone soup, uh, theme and tell you a bit about my journey through life, using the kettle or the pot as a metaphor for my self, my. Yeah. So I was born in the Midwest in the early sixties, and my pot was filled with Twinkies and canned spinach and three siblings and TV reruns, and overly salted broth.

And at the age of eight, my dad died and my mom disappeared into her scotch bottle. And this left this pot of ours that we called family with a massive crack in it. And nobody was talking about this crack. Nobody was doing anything that I could tell that was trying to repair the damage that was being done.

And so eventually this kettle of ours crumbled around our feet and I being the sensitive, intuitive caretaker that I am. Desperately tried to gather up all the shattered pieces and the scattered ingredients. And desperately tried to make some kind of magic brew or healing stew that would save us and that we could survive on.

And obviously this was impossible and exhausting. So I eventually left and came upon at the age of 20, my former husband who, Ooh, damn, I wasn’t going to cry. My farmer husband, who was this cast, iron stainless steel, nutrient dense kind of man. And he was like solid and grounded and a Virgo. And he, um, he contained me and grounded me in a way I had never experienced before I even wrapped a gold ring around myself for security and belonging.

And. Gladly just dumped my leaky brothy, cracked, sad self into his kettle and merged all my ingredients with his ingredients. And we lived with this nutritious and delicious life for years and years. And we created two really amazing children and have this beautiful life together. And then around midlife, I would say this grumbling and rumbling started quaking in my core to the point where I could not ignore it anymore.

And I knew it was time for me to take my pot and see if I could cook something up on my own. I needed to like figure out how to delineate what was my ingredients and what was all of the ingredients that were scattered around me. So I had been cooking in this one kitchen, my entire adult life. And as I left, I brought with me like this teeny little Bunsen burner and the.

Uh, flimsy little empty kettle and wandered around for quite a while, dazed and disoriented. And there was another D word in there, days disoriented and devastated and,

hungry as shit. And then I met this fiery powerhouse of a woman here in Missoula. And as we were getting to know each other, I started telling her that I was living on my own for the first time in my adult life. And I was trying to figure out like, how do you do relationships, where you can say what you need and you can receive support and don’t get lost in the sauce.

And she said, you need to check out this camp that is in Southern Oregon. I didn’t totally know what she was talking about, but I could feel this flame under me growing in intensity. And I could feel like water starting to swirl around inside my kettle. Like. She told me that this camp network for new culture is a place where people explore intimacy and personal growth in radical honesty and transparency.

And I just knew at that moment that that was the next step in my evolution. So two weeks later, I’m in my car heading to Southern Oregon for the first time on a solo road trip, since college, two long, hot, exhilarating days of driving. Am I arrive at this place where I’m greeted by this beautiful man with a short lime green Tutu and these antenna and another man who’s wearing nothing but a tool belt.

And I’m like, girl, you might’ve wanted to read the fine print because,

I knew no one at this camp. And I was saying to myself, Lizzie, this looks like some wild ass bull, yum that you may or may not want to put in your pot. So I stood around the edges and I. I’m a pretty open progressive earth mother, hippie chick kind of woman.

But I stood around the edges of this camp, like a wide-eyed coyote, checking out what the hell was going down. And I saw people picking up these handfuls of exotic herbs and spices and tossing them freely into their big old pots of stew. And then they were sharing their stew freely with all the other people.

And they were receiving this amazing stew back. And, they were nourished and they were fortified and they were, and I had, I was sitting there going, you know, I’ve like put like little sprinkles of salt in my bra and I wanted a taste of what these people were putting down. So, I have a minute left and I have like this much more of my story to tell you, so how am I going to shorten it?

Okay. So I’m going to tell you this part of it. So one day I went down to the river and I. I was hanging out with these people singing along the river and the harmonies were incredible and the sun was gorgeous and people are dipping in and out of the river laughing and telling stories and singing. And I got my courage up and I took a big breath and I stripped my clothes off and I got into the river and I could feel as I was standing there in front of people that I did not really know, I could feel this fear and this body shame and this sense of the cultural conditioning that I’ve carried around with me for my entire life.

Just start to

be carried down

by the waves of the river, down to the ocean. And I’ve been back to this camp many, many times, and I’ve learned to expand my ability to give and receive love. And I’ve learned how to. Merged deeply with people and then come back home to my own kitchen where I am cooking up this spicy organic Hardy, healthy, nutritious stew.

And I’m here to share it with everyone. And I know that I am being fed by this much bigger love that flows through all things. And it flows through you too.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lizzi.

Lizzi Juda has been a proud resident of the westside of Missoula for nearly 33 years. She is founder and co-director of Turning the Wheel Missoula and has over 25 years experience teaching improvisational movement-classes, expressive arts groups, and ceremonial rituals. She is passionate about providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to play, move and connect deeply with themselves and express their creative spark. She is an absolutely avid advocate for accordion and alliteration artistry and is a wanna be beat poet. She considers movement and touch her first languages and is finding her way with words.She identifies most with being a mojo sprinkling pixie

Rounding out this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Brent Ruby buys a jar of pickes for a gathering with friends. No one ever opens the jar of pickles, so he brings it home. The hitchhiker he picks up along the way, is very happy to learn about this magic pickle jar.”Paws, Claws, Pickles and a Little Birdie”

Thanks for listening.

Brent Ruby: I didn’t know the dress

code,

so I have to start by saying, oh my Frick. I’m standing on the stage of the Wilma theater.

Did anyone see John Prine thing here?

Thank you.

Cause the rest of my life, I can say John Prine opened for me at the Wilma.

So a lot of people don’t like road trips and there’s a reason for that. And that’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay to admit it. Road trips force us to merge the things that are organized in our brains with the things that are unpredictable and the things that are practical and predictable get tangled with the unknown.

And that makes people uncomfortable. That’s okay. Some about 60 miles south of Dillon Montana on interstate 15, great stretch of

road.

There’s two camps. When it comes to the philosophy of roadkill, the first camp is my wife and most of my coworkers are in this camp and that is drive by that shit. I’m kind of in the other camp, which is if it’s interesting, if it’s feasible, if it hasn’t been there awhile and I’m stopping.

So I pull around. Get out of my big truck and I’m standing in the sun standing over a dead porcupine and my scientific brain is calculating, huh? It’s about 11 o’clock in the morning. When did it die? How old is it? Cause porcupines can live to be like 15, 18 years old. So I kick at it a little bit, look around there’s no one coming, taking this guy.

So

I grab it.

But before I moved it, I realized, you know, dead things smell. And this didn’t smell that bad. I mean, bed bath and beyond is not like saying, oh my gosh, this has got to be our next candle scent, but it wasn’t that bad until I picked it up. And then the smell got into my mouth. No, no matter. I still took it, put it in the truck and I’m on my way down to park city, Utah, where I was going to meet some colleagues for a multi-day meeting down there.

So we get, I get down to park city porcupine in tow, uh, or. And I meet up with my colleagues. And the first thing we do is go to the grocery store. And one of my colleagues says, okay, we need to just like hodgepodge potluck stuff for dinner, so get whatever you want. And we’ll put it together tonight. So I walk around the grocery store, still kind of smelling that porcupine.

And all I came up with was some shitty Utah, 3.2% alcohol grocery store beer, and an enormous jar of dill pickles. That was my contribution. But I did tell my colleagues, I don’t think we should eat the porcupine. So we ended up going to our condo, Airbnb, whatever, and, uh, having our meetings for the next few days.

Well, I, when we got there, I put the porcupine right in the freezer and the pickles. I put the pickles right on the counter. And for the next three, four days, nobody touched either of them. So the pickles just sat on the counter and I thought, well, okay, whatever, when it comes time for me to go, we’d separate.

And I’m like, I’m taking my stuff. So I grabbed my giant jar pickles. I mean, it’s, it’s that big, it’s big grabbed my giant jar of pickles and realized, oh, the porcupine can’t leave that in Airbnb freezer, probably penalties. But I thought I’ve sort of. Ben with that thing. It’s not fully salvageable. So I run next door to some fancy mountain bikers because it’s sparked city.

And I say, guys, I need an ax. Oh yeah, here you go. It’s a nice, it’s a pretty nice ax. And so I run back to the garage for wax and I had my four paws ditch, the rest of the porcupine and the garbage salvaged the paws and went into the kitchen and wash the ax off real good with soap and water and went back to the guys and said, thank you so much for the acts.

What do you need it for? Porcupine salvage. No big deal. So anyways, I load up my stuff. I load up my paws, my claws, and my pickles into my truck. And I’m heading north on interstate 15 and I’m about 60 miles south of Dylan. Again, it is just after a thunderstorm that kind of after a thunderstorm where the sun is so bright on the pavement and the rain is just evaporating off of that pavement.

So you can just feel it and see it leave the earth that rain, that same rain was thick on the Sage. In those Prairie’s so thick that, that Sage. With sneaking its way into the cab of the pickup truck. And it was awesome. I wish I had my sunglasses, but they were packed away with my paws and my claws.

That’s when I saw her. That’s when I saw her. And that’s when I saw her thumb. There’s two camps when it comes to picking up hitchhikers, those that my wife and most of my coworkers are in and dammit, I just made eye contact with her. I have to stop. I have to. So I pulled over, backed up. I get out of my truck, right.

Then she swings this big old backpack off of her shoulders. And I look at her and her shirt was stained with earth and strain and pain. And I said, oh my gosh, what can I, can I help you? You need help. And she says, if you could give me a ride to Lima, I would love it. I’m like, yeah, get in. I’ll grab your pack.

So she gets in the truck, I grabbed her pack. I’m like, whoa, damn. I said, girl only picked up one porcupine. How many gotten this backpack? Threw it in the back of my truck, got in the truck. And when I got in the truck, when both doors closed, there was the smell of human. Sweat

earth,

a bit of wet dog. It was so bad that I wished I had the porcupine in the backseat of the truck and she sticks her dirty handout and says, I’m birdie. Thanks so much for helping me. And she says, I don’t think I smell very good. And I said, no shit. And I said, Bernie, what are you doing? And I said, how can I help you?

And she says, I’ve been food lists for two days. I got chased by a grizzly bear, lightening storm, bad rain. And then I saw your truck and it was my hope to get out of this mess. And so I rambled up to the highway to get on, to get my thumb up in the air. And I said, I’m so happy to help you. I’ve got food. I, what can you, what can I do?

And she goes, I just got to get to the grocery store in Lima or Lima. And I said, well, what’s, what’s what’s tomorrow. What’s your plan? And she says, tomorrow, I’m coming right back here. I’m jumping back on the continental divide trail. I got to finish this thing. She was hunting it. So hiking it so solo. So I said, well, I can get you the Lima, but uh, I don’t know how you’re gonna resupply.

And she goes, I need to get to a grocery store. I said, birdie, there is no grocery store in Lima. And she said, I got silent. I said, I have all the food you need. I got plenty of food. And she goes, it’s not that the tears rolled down her dirty face and carved what looked like Topo lines from a map down her dirty cheeks.

And she said, food is not what I need. I have a ridiculous craving and have for the last two days

for pickles,

you’re taking up my time at that moment, whatever was playing on the radio, went silent. All of the angels from all of the people in Beaverhead county that had ever been hungry, tired, or perished on the Prairie, locked their wings in position. As I fumbled to reach over the seat to grab my giant ass bottle of pickles, I struggle over and get it onto the, onto the console.

And Birdie’s eyes were as big as the lid on that jar of pickles. And the tears came back following that same matter. Just ending up in a giant smile. At the end of her face, I pulled into Lima, we got out of the truck standing in the gravel and she insisted that we have a toast. She let me pick the first pickle out of the jar, which was good because her hands were filthy.

So we had a pickle toast in the Lima parking lot in the gravel. And I, we shared hugs, smiles, little tears, and I jumped back in the truck and started to drive away. And I caught birdie in the back rear view mirror of my truck. She was clutching that big ass jar of pickles and just kind of dragging her backpack along as dead weight.

And I queued up the John Prine. So what is the plan? What indeed is the plan? A little dirty birdie told me that there is no plan. All we have to do is add our own special ingredients.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Brent.

Brent Ruby is a research professor at the University of Montana and has been on a near 30-year quest to do good science. He also is committed to writing his own brand of ornery poetry during his relentless study of applied human physiology. One of Brent’s research goals is to effectively share his research findings to improve the health and performance of wildland firefighters. Brent spends time outside of his research in the great outdoors of Montana with his wife Jo and their border collies, Wrango and Banjo. Brent also enjoys building hollow wood stand up paddle boards, woodwork, art and writing children’s books. Check out his books, download free coloring book pages and more at wrangoandbanjo.com.That’s W-R-A-N-G-O-A-N-D-B-A-N-J-O.COM

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share. I’ll bet you do! And I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming!” The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. Why not participate? Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Please remember to save the date for Missoula Gibbs May 5th through the sixth. Missoula gives is a 24 hour online giving event. Remember to support? Tell us something. During Missoula Gibbs, May 5th through the sixth. Learn more at Missoula. gives.org.

Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.

Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:

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

Marc Moss: Missoula Broadcasting Company including the family of ESPN radio, The Trail 103.3, Jack FM and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104.5

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

Marc Moss: True Food Missoula. Farm to table food delivery. Check them out at truefoodcsa.com

Rockin Rudys The go to place for everything you never knew you needed! Visit them online at rockinrudys.com

Float Missoula – learn more at floatmsla.com, and MissoulaEvents.net!

Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the “Stone Soup” live storytelling event.

Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.

Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.

Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.

Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.

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. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com

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

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

Transcript : March 22

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

Teresa Waldorf: March 22nd.

I’m not flying to Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

They call their story March 22nd. Thanks for listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: guess I’m going to have.

Teresa Waldorf: March

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

Teresa Waldorf: break.

Having no idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: but I know it’s.

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: about his mom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay. What

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: touch me.

You guys met, Christians

Rosie Ayers: are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: and you have got to find us

Rosie Ayers: some toilet paper.

What Theresa is going to have to give us

Teresa Waldorf: some Twitter. Luckily,

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

Teresa Waldorf: the mother load.

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

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

Rosie Ayers: of my head, industrial

Teresa Waldorf: scratchy toilet paper.

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: paper on the bathroom floor.

Rosie Ayers: And now it’s summer.

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

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

And I’m going I’m.

Just weeded.

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: mow my lawn

or about this

Rosie Ayers: habit. You can just weed,

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: more. We’re just putting.

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: And everybody is safe.

Seven

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: school. Just keep your camera up.

Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and

Rosie Ayers: he says, I haven’t done

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

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

And then it was winter, the winter of our discontent

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: Turkey.

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

Teresa Waldorf: later.

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

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

Rosie Ayers: three

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

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

And I wake up Christmas Eve morning feeling like

Teresa Waldorf: shit,

Rosie Ayers: and I go get that COVID test.

Teresa Waldorf: And there I am quarantining

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

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

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: Oh, we got

Teresa Waldorf: 30 seconds to bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Waldorf: being here with you being

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

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

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

Rosie Ayers: we’re going to

Teresa Waldorf: do it even though.

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

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

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

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

If

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

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

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

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

Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s

Joyce from

Joyce of tile. If you need tile work done. Give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my [email protected]

Gabriel Silverman: This is Gabe from gecko designs. We’re proud to sponsor.

Tell us something, learn [email protected]

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

 

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

Transcript : Forward to Better - Part 1

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

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

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

Sara Close: Talking about kids, about love…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc: Thanks, Sasha.

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Close: Universal hotline.

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Moss: Thanks, Lauren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: No.

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: Where does it come from?

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: I just said, okay,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mwingwa: Thank you for that.

Marc: Thanks, Paul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen Certa: And I said, yes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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