Stories - True Stories Shared Live

Welcome to Tell Us Something. All of the stories are shared live and without notes. We hope you enjoy.

This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on August 31, 2022 in Black Rock City at Center Camp at the Burning Man event. 5 storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme “Waking Dreams”. Today we hear from three of those storytellers.

Transcript : Waking Dreams

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is, it’s the Little Things. 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 November 7th. I look forward to hearing from you. This episode of the podcast was recorded in front of a live audience on August 31st, 2022 in Black Rock City at center. At the Burning Man

Jack Butler: event, the artist, the writers, the creatives, those were other people. That’s what other people did.

Marc Moss: Five storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme. "Waking Dreams"

Ranger Sasquatch: My wife and I had spent 42 grand in cash on in vitro. That didn’t work.

Marc Moss: Today we hear from three of those storytellers.

Katie Condon: And I wasn’t just surprised, I was shocked, like there wasn’t enough room in my body for the blood. It was amazing.

Marc Moss: Citizens of Black Rock City hold 10 principles to be true, including radical inclusion, radical self. Radical self-expression, civic responsibility, leaving no trace communal effort, Immediacy, and the three that I’m interested in today are participation, gifting, and decommodification. The storytellers participated in a magical night of deep vulnerability.

The listeners participated with their active listening. Gifting. The storytellers gifted us with their stories, and the event was also free to listeners, Decommodification. There were no sponsors. And so for this episode of the Tellus So podcast, there are no sponsors To thank, our first story comes to us from Jack Butler, who recounts the story of his first burn and how it inspired him to write a novel set in Black Rock City in a story that we call the Virgin.

Thanks for listen.

Jack Butler: So when I was about four years old, I had a reoccurring dream and I thought it was a nightmare. So we’re back in about 1977, So this is how the dream starts. I’m on a desert plane and it’s nighttime, and there’s this huge arch of earth. From the center of the arch growing back down towards the ground is this beautiful tree.

It’s inverted behind the arch and behind the tree, there’s something glowing in the sky. And so the dream starts to shift and this thing starts to rise in the sky and I become frightened. So I woke myself up and the next. . I went to sleep and I was again on this desert plane cracked earth, nighttime arch tree glowing thing in the sky, and it started to rise into the sky a little bit more, and I was frightened, so I woke myself up.

And I probably talked to my mom about it the morning, but you know, it’s the seventies. So put on your corduroy shirt, drink your tan, go to go to school. They’re not really big in, uh, getting self involved in there. So the next night I told myself, Well, I know I can wake myself up, so I’ll go ahead and see what what happens.

And cracked desert, plain arch tree rise in the sky. And what I saw was this glowing wolf. That just looked at me and it looked at me with just this kindness and intensity. And then the dream was over flash forward about 20 years, I like to go to new age conferences and learn about all different types of things.

And they had a, a break period where they said, Well, does anyone have any questions? And no one did. So I said, Well, I had this dream and I. And there were a lot of answers and things from people, but this one lady said, you know, shamans would meditate at the base of a tree, and then they would send their spirit down the roots of the tree to this lower level, this place of lower vibration to do whatever work they needed to do.

So with the tree inverted, it’s a pathway to a higher level of existence, a higher level of vibration.

2019 is my fourth year out here. We, we were finishing up building a theme camp and I was looking around and just. Taking it in and, you know, something fantastic just drove down the road and I just said out loud, it was like, someone should write a book to explain this place, why people come here. Why do you come to this hellish place, which nothing but heat and, and all the environmental stuff you have to deal with.

Of course, one of my friends was like, Yeah, you should do that. You should go ahead and you should write that book. So I went home and, and stared at a document and opened the word document. It’s like, well, what do you say about. Place. Well, you write a book to find out what you know not to tell what you know.

And so I thought about the first time I came here as a virgin and I’d heard about it and heard about it from friends and it was, it sounded fantastic. And I came out here and just worked to death for like three days cause I could know how to work. And then I ventured out on my bike and I went out to the Esplanade.

And there’s just madness and there’s sound, and there’s music, and there’s lights, and there’s art cars, and there’s people zooming by. And I could take that for about five or 10 minutes, and then I just need to go out to the trash fence. You’ll be by myself, and I’m sitting out there, my back to the trash fence watching all this stuff go on.

And I’m thinking about my emotional turmoil and my baggage and things I have, and one voice is saying, It’s time to go. You just gotta get outta here. This is too much. It’s too different. And the other side is like, Well, you’re here. You came here. It took a lot to get here. So why don’t we sit for just a minute, and when I looked out, I realized there were 70,000 people who didn’t care about my problems.

So maybe I should put ’em to the side for a minute. And then I thought about what else could I put in into a book I could put in the art out here. This is the largest art festival anywhere, and I’ve seen art that I couldn’t believe and I got to meet the artist. Because for me, in my background, the artist, the writers, the creatives, those were other people.

That’s what other people did. That’s not what I did. I couldn’t do that. I, I lived in a different world, but then I got to talk to them and they were just people, and that slowly became the theme of the book. People are just people. And this art will push you out here. The first art project that really kind of knocked me was the Barbie, uh, death camp.

And if you’ve never seen it, it’s, it’s an incredible offering. Been out here a long time, but it’s, it’s these Barbie dolls who are nude. Ken and Barbie dolls being marched into ovens by other Ken and Barbie dolls dressed as Nazi. And it’s, and it’s a very serious subject and it, it will knock you in your tracks and make you think, But that’s the what art out here does.

It makes you think, and it made me think, and when I started talking to these creatives and I realized they’re just people like me, then maybe I can create and maybe I can write a book. So I sat down. This is how you write a book. You sit down every day and you start typing words. If you write the first line, you can write the last time.

90% of the people who write a book do not finish it. So I started to writing and, and very much believe that there’s muses, there’s these creative energies that swirl around all over the place, and they’re just looking for a place to land. I did not write this book. This book wanted to be written. I know that because it just started to flow and characters come out of the woodwork and situations happen, and suddenly you’re telling a story and I want to read the story that I’m writing.

And people. Just started to define what Burning Man is through the little vignettes that we’ve all had, these little moments that we all have. And that’s the important part, is the little moments we have, no matter what else is happening, where we see kindness and we see love and we see hurt and heartache and struggle and we get through it.

So I wrote the book and it was finished and I found an editor, which every writer needs, which I found out you really need an. And it. And it got better. And it got better. And finally one day it was done and I needed a cover. So I thought, well, I’m gonna put the words into the dust, The Virgin of Burning Man’s story.

So I contacted the org and they were great. And they let me use the words Burning Man on the front covers, like, What do I put on there? A man? Do I put a burn? Do what do I put? And none, none of it felt right. So I just sat and I thought, and I thought, A dream I had when I was a little boy and it was an arch of earth and it was a tree growing upside down and it’s a path to a higher level of vibration existence.

And I commissioned an artist and the artist drew it, and it wasn’t till I saw the picture that I knew where I was in 1970. I was on the playa. This place has been here waiting for all of us. This place is a porter to our higher selves and our higher journey if we want to take that journey. Now you begin with the ending in mind.

But I didn’t know what the end would be. So I will end with the first line of the book. So you have to write the first line. And it’s Kamal you fractured souls. Society’s lost and discarded vessels. Lonely children in adult skins. Bring your art, your love, and your wonder. Find solace in the dust. And I like that ending.

But there was something more. I came out here to Renegade Burn, and I wrote a poem, and I’m gonna take just a little piece from that. That really resonated with me. I know that this body and this vessel will die, will pass on as my loved ones have died and passed on before me. And what will. Is my love and the memory of my love for each and every one of you.

We who are so blessed to have come to this place and to be able to raise ourselves up. We are the holders of the flame and we will guide the others home. We are the burn. Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks Jack. Jack Butler was raised in Kentucky and found the outdoors and forests to be a great playground. He developed a love of reading at an early age and would lose himself in the adventures and stories. Jack spent six years in the military after high school, and then another 25 years bouncing around the world as a merchant marine on ships.

Jack’s first burn was in 2016, and it began a process of opening his eyes to another world, a different life. To learn more about Jack and hear a sample from his book visit, tell us something.org. In our next story, after a long overnight shift, patrolling Black Rock. Ranger Sasquatch is tasked with delivering an exciting message in the days before cell service on the play Ranger.

Sasquatch must find his intended recipient the old fashioned way by interacting with his fellow citizens in a story that we call special delivery. Thanks for listening.

Ranger Sasquatch: As he said, I’m Ranger Sasquatch and I’ve been here a good long time. And, uh, there are some things that are constant burning. One of those things is the learning cliff.

You either fall off it when you encounter it, float to the ground, or you run into it like the coyote in a Warner Brothers cartoon. This is a story about how I ran into it like that coyote

back in 2005. The city was a different place. The term wifi, if it existed at all, was just circulating in technical magazines. It really hadn’t circulated to the general population. We didn’t have any contact out here with the greater world, not in any significant sense. Emergency messages for people here at Birdman.

Came into the Garlock office, were written down on a piece of paper, placed on a spindle, and picked up a couple times a day by an individual who then drove them into the. Where they were delivered to the ranger department for delivery to the individuals who they were intended for. In those days, Rangers worked eight hour shifts.

We had three shifts a day, and, uh, having a working brain, I worked the graveyard shift, midnight to eight in the morning, and, uh, In those days, there were less rangers, and in those days people really knew how to mess themselves up. So an eight hour shift could require that we ran from one scene of carnage to another on our bicycles, and I was a beautiful young squirrel who could really speed on my bicycle.

So I would do baby 25 miles in an eight hour shift here, just within the city.

Needless to say, at the end of one of those shifts, you are really ready to go back home to your. And get ready for your next shift, which was a mere 12 hours away, and at least one of those hours, maybe two of those hours, were you getting back to your camp, forcing down the carbohydrates and, and the water, and, and then finding a cool place to sleep while the day star crossed through the sky, you were ready to go home.

This particular. Coming off my graveyard shift khaki, which is what we call the shift leads for rangers on our radios, we’ll say khaki Sasquatch, and they’ll answer us and khaki our shift lead. The authority said Sasquatch, would you and your partner like to deliver an emergency message? And you know, I was really beat, you know, even though I was a energetic young squirrel with his natural hair.

I, uh, I said, Well, what, what is the message? You know, what’s the content of it? And, and Khaki said, The message is, Congratulations, daddy, you’re a father. I thought, Oh man, this is so my message to deliver because my, my wife and I had spent 42 grand in cash on, in vitro that didn’t work. In the previous three years and, and I thought to myself, Man, I want to be here to deliver this message.

I want to see this guy’s face. I want to share the joy of telling him that this had worked out for him, where it hadn’t for me.

Anyway, ,

Sorry. I’m

so sorry. Anyway. I said, I’ll take that message. And my partner, Mongo, I said, Mongoose, are you up for this? And Mongoose said, Sure thing. And I don’t know if any of you know Mongoose, but that particular year, 2005, he built this art project that scared the live shit outta me. It was a ladder, 300 feet tall that went nowhere.

And it was guide all along. It just all, all along, You know, the ladder was never going to fall, no matter how many people were on it, but it didn’t go anywhere. And people would go all the way to the top and go to the other side and, and then climb down. And I would sit on the ground and mentally shit myself,

So Mongos was a really particular fine individual and he said, I’m totally. So we got the name of the individual and we got the theme cap he was associated with. And we, in those days, again, people partied hard, burners, really knew how to hurt themselves. And, uh, at, at eight 30 in the morning, on a Thursday in 2005, the only people awake were folks streaming back from this cafe.

or going to the porta potty. And so we went to where we knew his actual art project was about 300 yards off of the 10 o’clock radio and it was a, uh, drive up. I’m changing this because I don’t want to expose personal details, so I’m going to say it was a drive up. Egg and cheese sandwich booth and it, it was closed when we got there and, and there was no one around but there was a box truck.

So Mongoose and I knocked on that box truck and, and a guy came out and he told us that they didn’t actually camp around there. And we knew that. And he said, We’re back at eight and f and it’s tense right there. It isn’t Marced, but all you need to do is ask around. We knew how that. So we hopped on our bicycles and we, we raced over to, uh, eight and f and, and, uh, we waited until somebody came out of a tent going to a porta potty, and we just pounced on ’em.

And after about three of those, we found where their camp was and, and where his tent was more, most importantly. Okay, so we get off our bikes and, and I go jam mon goose, and he’s standing there and, and I get down on my knees in front of the door and I say, Hello, hello. In there it’s Ranger Sasquatch with an emergency message and I hear some stirring.

And I, and, and I wait, and a, a fellow comes to the door, kind of grizzled, looking at the door of the tent and he unzips it and he sticks his face out and he’s got a few days growth of beard. And he’s, you know, looking frazzled. And he, and, and he says, What’s the message? And I say, the message reads, Congratulations daddy.

You’re a father. And then I waited and I watched his face because this was the moment, I mean, I’d modeled this in my mind. I was gonna cap some joy from this guy. And, and as I watched he scowled and his face darkened and I said, This isn’t a good thing. And he, he shook his head and he goes, She’s basically a stalker.

And I, it was like my mind. Was a bug running into a windshield. Just one. Nothing actually hit me, but there was an almost physical impact in here.

And I, uh, I, uh, I, uh, I, uh, I started trying and, uh,

before

I knew it, he’d crawl out his jet and he was patting me on

the back. Comforting me

and, uh, he was so kind and uh, And

I wanna tell a lot about how the chorus in my mind, there was like a voice and there really was, because that’s how my mind works and I internalize things and, and sometimes they’re the voices of friends. And when my mind, for instance, gets in a compulsive loop, which it does, I hear an old roommates go.

Say the thing he used to correct is German short-haired pointers. When they got into something he didn’t want them to, he would say, Leave it. And, and, and that, that’s something that my mind at society used to stop those loops. And, uh, but this time I hadn’t met that roommate yet, but this time another roommate, I could hear his voice and his, his voice said, Ha, you got fucking used.

You got used to attack this guy. Fucking preconceptions are garbage. And I, it just crushed me. I got a lot of comfort from him. And, but it was a lesson, you know, there’s good, there’s bad here, and it’s not bad to invest yourself in a thing. And it’s not bad to believe in a thing, but you gotta be careful.

You gotta be, you gotta be flexible like a willow. You gotta, you gotta know that. So, It’s gonna be really hard to handle what is presented.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Sasquatch. Ranger Sasquatch has been a ranger since 2000 and has seen and experienced so many singular things, events, and people in his life, which he thinks is the point of it. Sasquatch is also one of the DJs at Radio Electra 89.5 on your Dusty FM dial. Rounding out this edition of the Tele something podcast, Misso resident Katie Conan shares her psychic journey of love with us in a story that we call discovery.

Thanks for listening.

Katie Condon: When I was eight years old, I prayed to God to please take away my psychic powers. I would have these vivid dreams. I knew exactly what was gonna happen the next day, and it was fun for a while. People thought that I was smarter and Whittier than I actually am. I just had time to prepare for the conversation.

I knew what folks would say before they said it. I knew what I was getting for Christmas. I knew Santa wasn’t real. There was this Christmas Eve, my dad spent all night setting up a trampoline for us to enjoy on Christmas day, and I remember just kind of like bouncing along on the trampoline while my siblings around me were literally jumping for joy, and I was fighting back tears because I already knew it was gonna happen.

I think that’s when my mom kind of thought that I was depressed and she was right. I was. I was envious of kids who didn’t have to unwrap presence with forced curiosity and false excitement. This psychic power became a curse. And I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for God to take it away and it was gradual, but she did.

It was my ninth birthday. I received a bouquet of flowers from a secreted meer

and I wasn’t just surprised. I was shock. Like there wasn’t enough room in my body for the blood. It was amazing. And I knew I’d lost my powers. God had answered my prayers, and I spent the next decade and a half living this wildly unpredictable, incredible life. I. Wasn’t alone anymore. There was a weight that was lifted.

I took risks

until my late twenties. I was with the Man of My Dreams, Ryan Silsby. We met when we were 14 years old and we just click. I always felt like I met him too early, you know, like, I’m not, I’m not ready for this kind of feeling, this kind of commitment. So when we graduated high school, he was ready to just settle down, moving together, and his family had moved to the East coast and my son sent him there.

I needed to travel, I needed to do me, I, I wasn’t quite ready for. A couple months later, he hitchhiked all the way from DC to Montana. Surprised me. Then I had to tell him I wasn’t ready, and I sent him back to dc. Then a couple years later, he rode his bike all the way across the country to Montana.

Surprised me again, and it was hard. I had to tell him again, I’m not ready.

Couple years later, I became ready. I was fully available for him, and I called out to the universe and I sent a Facebook message. And this man was in my arms, in my bed, in my apartment as soon as he could get there, , and it was incredible. Our relationship was passionate and full of romance. We went to Paris for Christmas.

We read lonesome Dove out loud to each other. He did all of the character voices you. He was consistently surprising me, challenging me. He was tall, stringy, brown hair, bright eyes. We were pretty happy.

And then one day I couldn’t find him

after a bit of sleuthing thing. I discovered his car at the trailhead, uh, bla canyon outside of Missoula, Montana, and a bitter at National Forest. Within an hour there was a helicopter in the air search and rescue. After a couple days, his family and some of his friends had traveled from all over to come help find.

Police dogs, man trackers. I even spoke with a psychic,

and after a week, Ryan was found dead at the base of a cliff. It was a night.

And that’s when I got back on the telly with the Lord Almighty. I was convinced that if I didn’t get my psychic powers back, if I didn’t know what was gonna happen. That I would not survive. Another surprise like that. I needed to be prepared. I needed to know. I prayed away these powers and I needed them back.

A couple months after Ryan died, a friend asked me if I wanted to drive to Belize from Montana, and I accepted his invitation. I. If I put myself in this situation where I have no idea what’s gonna happen, if I open myself up enough, if I become vulnerable, then God will give me my powers back. And after six weeks on the road, four countries, countless stories for the campfire, my friend dropped me off at home and I was devastated.

It didn’t work. I still couldn’t see my future. There was no way to prepare for anything. I had to figure out how to keep living without knowing what was gonna happen

eight years ago today, exactly.

I started the search for Ryan eight years ago. Exactly. I found his car in that parking lot. My life changed eight years ago.

The man who found Ryan did not mean to. He stumbled upon the situation. He was probably one of the only people within a hundred mile radius who wasn’t actively searching for Ryan. He was on a rock climbing trip. He was from New York.

He ended the nightmare.

I had no idea that the surprises that I prayed for and the ones that traumatized me were actually preparing me for the man who found Ryan,

the man who found Ryan has become my best friend. My. We’re engaged to be married. We own a home together. We’re enjoying our first burn together.

The man who found Ryan, he and I share this life full of possibility and opportunity. I feel like the nine year old receiving that bouquet of flowers consistently, there’s not enough room in my body for the blood. I don’t know what I’m getting for Christmas. , I believe in Santa.

My name is Katie and I’m a recovering psychic. Thank you.

Marc Moss: Thanks Katie. Katie Conde is 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. 2022 was her first visit to Black Rock City podcast production by me Marc Moss.

Next week on the Tele so podcast, we looked back at a story from an event that helped inspire, Tell us something,

John Engen: and it

was there. I learned how to fix stuff cuz I had to.

Ignore other stuff cuz I could

fix it later because I got caught ignoring it.

And learned how to take time. .

Marc Moss: Tune in for a special edition of the Tele Something podcast honoring John Ein longtime Missoula resident who has passed along from this moral coil. Tune in next week for that, and remember to subscribe to the Tele Something podcast. Remember to get your tickets for the next Tell us something storytelling event.

The theme is it’s the little Things Tickets and more information is available at tellussomething.org to learn more about, tell us something, please visit, tell us something.org.

 

Four storytellers share their stories on the theme "Letting Go". We hear stories about the love of timber framing, about working third shift at a copy shop, about mistaken identities and letting loose at a Russian ballet in NYC.

Transcript : Letting Go Part 2

Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is, it’s the Little Things. 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 November 7th. I look forward to hearing from you this week on the podcast.

Kate Wilburn: You would be also able to see, I think, how much I like the quality of things. It’s small and simple, this house, but everything is well done. She goes,

Marc Moss: Can we do it again? I was like, Yeah.

Amy McAllister: We meet Matthew, our mortician and Matthew.

Looks like or reminds me of Lurch from the Adams family.

Rachel Gooen: Bow ties and tuxedos and crushed velvet dresses, and we are in jeans and

Amy McAllister: t-shirts.

Marc Moss: Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme letting go. Their stories were recorded. Live in person in front of over 900 listeners on September 27th, 2020.

At the Denison in Missoula, Montana, we wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor The Good Food Store. We are so grateful to the team at the Good Food Store for their support. Learn more about the Good Food [email protected] Tell us something acknowledges that we are on the Aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispell people.

You hear this at events all the time. What does it mean? Who cares? Right? . I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Why do we say it? Most of the time it’s white folks that are saying it. Are we trying to make ourselves feel better? What are we doing here? When I came to Montana, to the west from Ohio, which Ohio is the land of the Cas and Erie tribes, at least the part where I lived, I wore a Cleveland Indians hat.

Some of you know this former name of this baseball team and, uh, the mascot allegedly was to celebrate the native peoples. It’s pretty racist mascot if you haven’t seen it. And I was traveling out with a, a traveling companion who was admonishing me about my hat, and I dismissed her out of hand. I was wrong to do that, and I started thinking more about that as I started thinking about land acknowledgements.

And why I do them is not just to honor the people whose land we stole. Not us particularly, but everyone in here who’s white. Our ancestors stole the land. We can’t do anything about that, but we can admit it. Honor the people who live with us and work with us and recreate with us who are native to this land.

So again,

again, I say we are on Salish and Cooney. Let me take this moment to honor them and the stories that they share with us.

Our first story comes to us from Kate Wilburn. Kate loves wood and woodworking. She learned the craft of timber framing 40 years ago. Collected materials for a timber frame house, hauled them around for 30 years and is now ready to let them. Kate calls her story Dovetail a love story. Thanks for listening.

Kate Wilburn: Okay, so step into my kitchen with me on the cherry countertops. There are two jars of beans. Every morning I take a bean from the jar labeled 10 years. , 10 good years, days left, and I move it to the other jar labeled 10 good years. Days past. I’ve been doing this for three years with my friend Joseph. It’s an amazing thing to watch the days of one’s life.

Pass a bean at a time. Am.

Here we are in my small old house in Missoula. It was pretty sad until I remodeled it and now it’s cozy and beautiful looking around, you’ll see right away how much I love would the hemlock. fur trim, the raised panel fur doors, those cherry countertops, the maple kitchen cabinets, the old growth Douglas fur floor underneath that’s original and that I didn’t know was there until I unearthed it from layers and layers of goop.

So, You would be also able to see, I think, how much I like the quality of things. It’s small and simple, this house, but everything is well done. And if you looked out to the back side of my lot and saw the old ugly shed, you would wonder and be mystified. Why the heck has she let that thing stand? It’s a love story, not with the shed , but with the small timber frame that’s sheltering inside.

I learned the art of timber framing as a young woman, and I love it as much as I love wood, because it’s like creating a beautiful. , large piece of furniture that is going to become a home or another building. Timber frames use big, massive pieces of wood polished and carefully cut with strong joints that hold them together like dovetails.

you might have seen a dovetail if you’ve ever pulled the drawer out of an old well made dresser. The front is attached to the side with these amazing triangular joints. Those are the dovetails, and they’re not only beautiful, but they’re strong. So let’s go back to the shed and the tiny timber frame.

It’s the sixth one I’ve cut and designed in my life, and that was 30 years ago. Back then, I was married to an auctioneer and our home was pretty chaotic, so I imagined a quiet refuge back behind the house. Unfortunately, the marriage ended before I got the timber frame finished and standing. By then, not only had I invested, uh, cash and an incredible amount of careful painstaking work, but also a fair amount of fondness, and I chose to move it with me.

The next place that found us was a small home in North Carolina, and I thought it would be a perfect screen porch, unfortunately, the tiny timber frame. And I ran a mock of the HOA rules. . Oh, well the. When I became a nomad, I thought that was the perfect ending at last because it’s only eight feet by 12 feet, this tiny timber frame, and it fits really super well on a trailer to pull down the road.

The deal though is that the rafters are 14 feet. Uh, and that’s to make good overhangs on either side to shade the walls, but it’s way too wide for highway safety. It means that all this pile of lovely wood with intricate joints has been so far is a little building waiting to be a. , every time I moved, I, I checked in with myself.

Do I still have hopes for this little critter in me? Yeah, I do. So I’ve moved it from Idaho to Virginia to North Carolina, to California, to Idaho again, and finally to Montana. Is the year finally. Um, I’ve got the plans. I’ve got the permits. There’s some 220 volt electrical work involved, and it’s a little bit dangerous, but it’s simple.

And my friend Mike and I are going to do. Then he calls his master electrician Brother has a sudden emergency and he’s not going to be available in case something goes wrong. It’s a catalyst. It’s actually one of several, but I don’t have time to tell you the rest of them. So I ask myself, Is it time to throw in the towel on this?

I don’t want to. I can so clearly see it nestled in my backyard. These hand carved knee braces arching around windows where beautiful patchwork curtains hang. That mom and I stitched together

so many years ago, and I’ve saved them all this time for this building.

But other possibilities, whisper. There are other big dreams that I’ve held forever. I feel the preciousness of time and I know that when I get real, this project is at least a nine month project to bring to completion.

So, Here tonight with you. I’m gonna take a deep breath.

I might cry a little bit. . I think it’s time for me to stop building things. It’s time to leap into the unknown of these other dreams. It’s time to look for a new owner for this small building and for a different ending to the love story.

I don’t have any clue how. This will unfold, and I don’t have any idea how many beans of strong, healthy life remain to me. My friend Ruth just died,

so I’m ready to leap into the unknown. of other dreams and I’m letting this one go.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Kate. Kate Wilburn, church’s, wildland, and is keenly aware of legacy across Generat. Her life’s terrain is diverse from engineering and carpentry to single parenting, permacultural design and teaching. She’s found in Missoula, a place to show the beauty and practicality of living simply of creating an urban yard that is a vibrant ecosystem of perennial food for people, birds, bees, and other wild things all at the same time.

She seeks green wildness in a neighborhood like a village, even in the. You can see a photo of the jars of beans on Kate’s kitchen counter and learn more about [email protected] Our next storyteller is Marc Moss. Hi there. Working third shift at a late night coffee shop. I met all sorts of people.

I generally made a connection with most of them until a regular customer. Very grumpy, presented a challenge for me. I call my story third shift. Thanks for listening.

I learned how to drink coffee when I was 17, working midnight shift at a grocery store in Ohio, much like the Orange Street Food farm. Working third shift became something that I really enjoyed. The crew, I can’t, I don’t have the time to tell you how awesome they were and how weird they are still. But in those days, there were no 24 hour grocery stores.

And so at nine o’clock we’d all shuffle in, lock the doors, and they would put coffee on, and I would drink Coca-Cola or water because I hate the taste of coffee at 17. And eventually I got injured on the job and I, I had to start drinking coffee. That’s another story that I’m not telling you tonight.

tonight I’m telling you about my love affair. We’re third shift, and when I moved to Bozeman, Montana, I got another third shift job at a little coffee shop called Kinko’s. Kinko’s doesn’t exist anymore, right? I got bought out by some other company, so I can use the name. It’s not product placement. And third shift at the Bozeman.

Kinkos was great because like every Kinkos, it was located on or near a university campus. And when I was working there, I would meet all sorts of folks and the architecture students were like frantic, like outside chain smoking, waiting for their copies to be done, coming in, building these intricate models at a foam.

And, and I was like, You know, that’s gonna be really expensive. I’m thinking in my mind they come up and they, and they come to pay and the bill’s like 250 bucks. And I know that there’s students and I ask ’em like, Are you a student? And they’re like, Yeah, I’m great. And so like, ring ’em up for $75. And they’re like, What?

And I’m like, Student discount. And they’re like, Okay. Thank you.

When I worked third shift at the Kinkos in Akron, I met a lot of interesting folks also in the university campus. But the, the urban environment of the University of Akron was much different than the university or the, the Bozeman campus, whatever they’re called,

Go Grass, I guess. So, uh, I’d, I’d meet all kinds of folks, homeless folks coming in to stay out of the cold. There was a strip club about four blocks away, and so the, the strippers would come in and one of them would like sit up on the machine and copy her ass. And I’m like, Hey, that’s great. You know, clean the glass and if you break it, you bought it.

And she’s like, Don’t worry, honey. Big Wayne would show up and Big Wayne ran the strip club and he’d like make these little coupons to get in for free. So, you know, really interesting folks. But at the Bozeman Kinkos, the architecture students weren’t the only interesting folks coming in. There was a woman that came in all the time and she sort of shuffled in older woman in her fifties, Right.

Mousey looking woman, really grumpy. She’s like five foot two, sort of disheveled looking, super grumpy. And she’d come in. And in those days when you came into the, the copy shop, there was a like a little key counter. Remember those blue key counters and plug it in the machine and it counts off ICU nodding counts off how many cops?

And she’d make like four. She’d make like four copies and coming in to pay. And I did everything I could think of to try to reach her and like, and talk to her. And she was ignore. She would never say a word to me. And I’m, I’m trying to think of whatever I can think of to, to try to make a connection with her.

And I say, Hey, sweetheart, and I start flirting with her. She doesn’t want that. She doesn’t, nobody does

so then I’m mean to her, right? She like walks up to pay and I walk. Ignore her. She doesn’t care. She like slams that thing on the counter like

then I’m like overly nice to her. Is everything to your liking this evening? You know, nothing. When I was a kid, you know Michael was telling that story about penny learning to ride a bike. I remember learning to ride a bike at a blazing. A huffy with a little banana seat and you know, the lightning bolt down the side and his sissy bar in the back.

And I didn’t have the cool backpack that Penny has. And, uh, my dad would like hang onto the back and, and, you know, just like Michael let go without me knowing. And, and I wrecked a lot. And because like, who needs training wheels? Like I’m a boy and. But I also like to cry and scream and yell when I got hurt.

And you know, my dad was like, Boys don’t cry. Suck it up. You know? And I would cry louder. And my aunt, the cool aunt, was like, That really must hurt. And I’m like, Yeah, it does. But I would stop crying. And I was thinking of that moment when this woman came in. Again, super grum. And I said, You seem kind of grumpy.

She goes, What? I said, Are you grumpy? She starts looking around, She’s just hurting me. You know, the machines are buzzing and you know, like, so I’m like, I gotta let go of that work. And now I’m, I’m in it like I’m committed to this. And I start to think about the bike, you know, and my aunt validating me and like acknowledging like, that must suck.

And so I said, You know what I do when I’m grumpy? I copy my face. And she’s like, What? And I’ve never done that before. And so like, take a right of hand, uh, put your head on the glass, close your eyes. Don’t go blind.

And she’s like, Hey. And she like pulls the thing up, grabs it, and I’m like, and she starts laughing. I’m like, This is great. She goes, Can we do it again? I was like, Yeah. She goes, We should make a bigger one. So I changed the size 11 by 17. She’s like, You should have one too. So we make. She’s like, I’m gonna do this some more.

I’m like, Great. I gotta go back to work. The machines back there aren’t running anymore, and if the machines aren’t running, I’m gonna get in trouble. So knock yourself out. Um, I’ll see you in a few minutes. So she’s like there for five minutes. I’m making copies of her face, enlarging, making ’em really small, different sizes of paper.

She comes back, she comes to pay, and she’s laughing. And I’m like, What’s your name? And she goes, My name’s Ruby. I said, Ruby, I’m Marc. Why are you so grumpy? And, and the copies are on me. Like, Put your purse away. She worked at the airport, third shift, second shift I guess, cuz she would always come in around two or three.

This was before nine 11, so no tsa. So I don’t know what she did at the airport, but apparently whatever it was at the end of. Was pretty slow. And so she was writing letters to her son every night and he wasn’t returning her letters and he wasn’t returning her phone calls and there was no texting in 2000 and she’s grumpy.

And I said, That sounds really lonely. And she goes, It sucks.

And she stopped coming in. I don’t know why. And what I’m hoping is, oh, because she said I’m gonna use these face copies as stationary to send to my son

And I didn’t say this, but I thought, Are you Catholic? Cause that’s a classic guilt trip, . But I didn’t say that something my mom would pull. She didn’t come back in. And what I’m, what I’m hoping is the reason she didn’t come back in is because she was writing those letters to her son and he was seeing her and he was remembering her, and he called her and he wrote her back.

And that’s all we all, all of us want is to be seen and heard and validated.

Thanks me, I’m the executive director of the non-profit organization. Tell us something. I recently hosted a tell us something event at Burning Man, where I’ve literally walked through fire with my life partner Joyce. And the cool thing is you can search the Tellis something website for Burning Man and listen to that.

Without walking through the fire yourself. We live together on Missoula’s historic North Side with a perpetual kitten. Ziggy to see one of the face copies that I made with Ruby visit tell us something.org. In our next story, Amy McAllister’s Dad dies two weeks after her mother dies. Amy visits his body in the funeral home.

And the funeral director assures her that the body he has prepared for her is indeed her father’s in a story that we call, that’s not my dad. Thanks for listening.

Amy McAllister: Both my parents passed away about, um, a few years ago, and they were both 93 when they passed away and actually doing really well until they hit about 91. Um, my mom was still going to jazzer size classes and my dad was playing golf and meeting up with his friends. Um, but at 91 it seemed like everything kind of started to fall apart and my brother and sister and I all lived in Missoula and my parents lived in Billings and it seemed like every other week, um, one of us was going down there for something.

There was broken shoulder, broken ribs, sepsis. Uh, some minor surgeries, furnace going out. So we tried everything we could to get my parents to move to Missoula and they absolutely would not do it. They insisted on living in their own home and they wanted to stay there, so they converted their basement into a, um, apartment and hired a full-time caretaker.

And then they had, um, hospice and some other organizations. And so they were able to stay in their own home and pass away. So it was about mid-November of, um, 2018, and we got a call from the hospice nurse that my mom wasn’t doing very well, and they said, If you wanna see her before she passes away, you need to come down to Billings.

So it actually took about four days for all of us to get to Billings, but we did, and we were able to spend Wednesday with my mom and then that night she passed. So my dad at that time was doing pretty well. Um, we spent Thanksgiving with him and he actually came up to Missoula for Christmas. But um, I think when he, he got back to, um, Billings in January, he just was done.

And I think what happens a lot of time. People have been together, spouses have been together for so long. My parents were married for over 70 years. Um, when one passes away, the other one passes away soon after. So this was, um, the middle of January now, and we get the same call. It’s a Friday afternoon and we get the call from the hospice people that say, Your dad is not doing very well.

And if you wanna see him, you should. To Billings when you can. And they said, but his vitals are pretty good. So he should be okay for a few days. Well, this time my sister Jane and I decide we’re gonna go the next day. It’s Friday afternoon, we’re gonna leave on Saturday. My brother’s outta the country. Um, but that night about eight 30, we got a call and my dad had died.

So the next day we leave for billings and I am super upset why my mom had the whole family around when she passed away. My dad had nobody there. So we’re talking on the way down to Billings and I say, I just feel like I need to say goodbye to dad. And Jane. My sister says, I wanna remember him how he was at Christmas and I don’t wanna see him, but I said, I think I, at the funeral home, maybe I should go in and say, So we get to billings and go over to the funeral home, and the first we meet Matthew, our mortician, and Matthew looks like, or reminds me of Lurch from the Adams family.

He’s tall, thin, kind of gaunt looking, but as most distinctive attribute is that the way he talks like lurch real low and slow. So he leads us into the office and we go over all the cremation, um, arrangements. And I asked Matthew, I said, Matthew, where’s my dad now? And he goes, He’s in the back room. Do you want us.

See him and I said, Well, Matthew, I don’t know. I said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a body in a funeral home before. Is it gonna look like my dad? And he said, Oh yeah, he’ll be a little pale, and his cheeks will be a little sunken, but it’ll look like your dad. So I said, Okay, if you’re sure. He goes, Oh, it’ll, it’ll be fine.

It’ll look like your dad. So my sister leaves and Matthew says, Can you give me about 30 minutes to get him ready? So I go out into the lobby, the waiting room, and there’s, I’m upset, but there’s two things to distract you. There are two things to read. These big giant brochures that have funeral packages and caskets.

Or the Penny Saver . So I grab the penny saver cuz I want nothing to do with the funeral stuff. And I start reading the jokes and doing the trivia. You know who played Laura Petre on Dick Van Dyke show. Oh, I know that one. You know, and Matthew comes to get me and he takes me back to this big, long, dark, creepy hallway with these three giant doors about the size.

Like let’s make a deal. And he leads me into the, into the room and quietly backs out and closes the door and I go up. To the bed, and I freak out because this guy looks nothing like my dad, . And I run out and I say, Matthew, that’s not my dad. And he looks at me real sadly, and goes, That’s your dad. And I said, Well, it doesn’t look anything.

Look like my dad. And again, he goes, That’s your dad. So, Okay. My friends keep telling me how un observant I am, and so I go back into the room and I go up to the bed and nothing. Now I really start studying my dad. Now, this man is shorter than my dad. He’s thinner than my dad. He has different coloring, and now I’m doing 360 s around the bed trying to find something familiar, age spots I’ve never seen before, a bump in his nose.

And I go to the top of his head and my dad had a pretty full head of hair. And this guy has a couple strands of hair. I’m thinking, can you lose, uh, body, lose all its hair in 18 hours? So now I’m convinced and I go back out and I find Matthew and I say, Matthew, that is not my dad. And again, he looks at me real sad, That’s your dad.

And I said, You’re telling me that man in there is Bill McAllister? And I see him go, uh, just a second and he goes into the back room and he comes back out and he. Uh, That’s not your dad. I said, I know. That is what I’ve been trying to tell you. So I said, Can you give me about 20 more minutes? So I go back out in the lobby, finish I dream a genie and Dick Van Dyke trivia.

And he comes to get me and he says, I’m really sorry about this. This has never happened before. This is really your dad. I can prove it. There’s a tag on his toe. So I say, No, just let me in and go see my dad. So I went into the door number two for the third time, and I go up to the bed and there’s my dad.

He’s looking a little pale, and his cheeks are a little sunken, but it’s definitely my dad. So I say my goodbyes to him, how much I love him and appreciated everything he did for us. And I walk home from the funeral home and about halfway home, I just start burst out laughing, thinking this could only happen to me.

So I get home and my sister and some other relatives are there, and some friends of my dad’s and my sister Jane comes up to me and says, all concerned, Oh, how did it go? And I just start laughing and she goes, What happened? So I tell them all the story of what happened in the funeral home, and especially my dad’s friends were just livid.

And I said, Really? It’s okay. It brought a little levity to this really, really hard situation for me, and it’s okay. So the next morning I have the Billings Gazette, the morning paper, and I’m going through the paper and I open up to the obituaries and who’s in there? My other dad. So I yell for Jane. I go, Jane, come here.

This is the guy they were trying to pass off his dad. So she comes in and looks at his picture. We read all about him. His name I think was Mr. Santori. It sounded like he had a really nice life, really nice family, which we were happy to read about. So I’ve told this story multiple times to a lot of different people, and some people think it’s funny, some.

Or appalled, but I really do believe that the person that would’ve gotten the biggest kick out of this story and would’ve laughed the hardest would’ve been my dad.

Marc Moss: Thanks Amy. Amy McAllister comes from a strong and loving family and has lived in Missoula for 45. She loves the variety of events offered in Missoula and was a school teacher for 32 years. To see a photo of Amy’s dad visit, tell us something. Dot org bringing us home in this episode of the Tell Us Something Podcast.

Rachel Goen on a trip to New York City with her family. And some of their international friends visits a fancy ballet at the Met after eating pizza. Rachel calls her story when letting go. Stops the show. Thanks for listening.

Great.

Rachel Gooen: All right, so it’s in 1983. I’m 13 years old and my family has a lot of international friends, and I’m not gonna get into how we have these international friends, but we do. So we have three Israeli boys staying with us and another family. Persian friends who just came from Iran. It was 1983. There was a lot of escaping from the ia.

Tolo. Coman. So my mom decides we are gonna hit New York City. And so the ages of the three Israeli boys are 10 to 16, and of this lovely Iranian family, it’s nine to 16 with their lovely mother Mary, and I’m going, and my sister Jane, who is 16, and my mom. So we hit New York City. And New York City for my mom is all about shopping.

Yeah. And so we go and we like, we’re down on the Lower East side going to all the really funky, cool places, and then we hit Midtown. We of course go to like Bloomingdale’s and FAO Schwartz, and that was kind of around when the movie Big came out and they had like the piano on the floor. So we’re all playing on the piano was super, super.

and um, we go to this amazing store called Fuchs, which back then was like the bomb in New York City. And we are like shopping bag and shopping bag and shopping bag. And my mom decides for some reason what would really top this day is if we go to a ballet at Lincoln Center. So we go in, it’s Saturday night.

She goes in and she gets tickets, and the only seats that are left are in the ninth row in Lincoln Center in the orchestra. So I don’t know if any of you have been to Lincoln Center and where the ballet is. It’s actually kind of like this. Except instead of 900 people, it has 2,500 people and it has six layers of balconies all around red velvet seated super fancy, super plush.

And so the woman looks at us, you know, and she says, Well, okay, well there are these ninth row seats if you want them. Yeah, sure. Cuz you know cash is cash. So my mom says they’re our. We decide to go across the street to a restaurant is the coolest restaurant ever. It was really known in New York City because all the waiters and waitresses roller skate.

So for us kids, it was awesome to like have them rollers skating by and have their pizza coming, and it was very, very cool. Now, this is about the time when I think I started realizing that I couldn’t eat certain foods. And I think pizza was one of them. And so we, you know, finished with our meal and we go back into Lincoln Center and, um, the lobby is just filled with.

Lovely, lovely people dripping with pearls and diamonds and Chanel is over there and Eve St. Loran is over there and Gucci is there. I mean there is bow ties and tuxedos and crushed velvet dresses and we are in jeans and t-shirts with big brown bag and FAO shorts bag and there’s 10 of us and we are just like this ragtag bunch kind of coming.

and uh, we go to the, you know, top of the theater and the usher looks at us as if like, we must be going to the wrong seats. And he says, uh, yes you are in the ninth row orchestra. So he walks us in and we like really fumble to get into all our seats cuz we have bags and people around us are just like, hmm.

Hmm. You know, looking and, you know, we’re kids and whatever. So we start to, we kind of fumble all and get in there and I start to feel this grumbling in my stomach and I’m like, , I really gotta go to the bathroom. And, uh, so you gotta remember it, 1983 in New York City. It was not a safe town, uh, at all. My mother had the fear of God.

Put into us whenever we went into New York City, you did not wear jewelry, you looked straight ahead. She marched really, really fast. And we traced after that Mama duck, as if we were all little baby ducks, afraid to get lost. And so, you know, I start whispering down the seats, you know, Um, Hey, anyone have to go to the bathroom?

um, anyone wanna go to the bathroom and no one wants to go to the bathroom with me. The line is really, really long. And, but remember, my mother, we weren’t allowed to go in elevators alone. You weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom alone, You weren’t allowed to do anything alone in New York City. And why we would go in to this glorious place to be scared shitless was always a mystery.

So, you know, I’m sitting there and I’m like, Okay, we’re not gonna be able to go to the bathroom. And you know, the Israeli boys are sitting next to me, saw Meet Elda Tie, and then on this side is Rachel, Roy, Rebecca, and Mary are Persian friends. And then my mother and my sister Jane. So, um, you know, we got Hebrew over here, we got Farsi over here, and all of a sudden, Mary and Roy and Rachel are like talking about the person in front of them and they’re like speaking in Farsi, and all of a sudden the man turns around and says in Farsi, you know, if you’re gonna talk about someone in front of them, you really should make sure they don’t know your language.

And what they were saying was, Ooh, look at the egghead in front of you. His head is so perfectly round and you know, here we come in this ragtag bunch and so we’re insulting the other patrons and everything. So the um, you know, the place that play the ballet starts and. . I, of course, more and more have to go to the bathroom.

Like I am grumbling. There’s grumbling and I’m like, Oh God, okay. I’m just gonna sit here. Just gonna sit here. It’s gonna be okay. The ballet starts. This ballet, by the way, it was not just any Saturday night, it was, um, George Bellen Sheen, who was the father of American Ballet. He had passed in April of 1983, and this was his big production, um, Bug Goku, which was a Japanese ballet, not just any Japanese ballet.

It was so perfect for a bunch of pre pubescent children to be seeing because it was an erotic sexual fantasy

So as if we weren’t really at a place already, um, the curtain rises and on either side of the stage are these big sumu wrestler men in diapers playing these flutes, which were kind of like didy dues, but they weren’t. They were just these big flutes. And the ballet is a very atonal ballet. Very uncomfortable sounding.

But what was even more uncomfortable is they started blowing the, the flutes and their cheeks would shake in their boobs, would shake in their bellies, shook in their legs, shook. And boy, we just ripped out with laughter. I mean, this was just too much for like pre pubescent or pu, you know, puberty full children, right?

The next thing that happens, Okay. It’s an erotic fantasy. I just want you to remember that with which, you know, the, um, costumes were minimal. And the next thing that happens is, is like, you know, the ballerina comes out and the first scene is about like the man and the woman meeting each other. And you know, yeah, we’ve seen female figures.

We’re used to that in America culture, no big deal. Um, but then the man comes out. And he has no shirt on and he has these really tight white tights and you can see his perfectly firm buttocks and his male package. And we just start like absolutely laughing hysterically, like ridiculously hysterical and people.

Poking my mother saying, Can you please control your children? Can you please control your children? This is not appropriate. And so we’re laughing so hard that a meet sitting next to me. Lets out a little toot. And I started laughing hysterical, and I slipped down in my seat and I let out the biggest fart ever.

This was like a base tube of fart. It was so loud. If you can imagine that when I let this fart out, every seat in Lincoln Center, all six rows, the balcony. Leaned forward like this sound lit went who? And everybody is looking and they’re like looking at me. And not only that, the conductor went like this

and I shrink into my seat and I am like, You did it in your sleep. You did it in your sleep, you did it in your sleep. And people are like, I think it was the little girl that bared . I think it was the little girl that bared. And I am just melting. I’m 13 years old, you just don’t even wanna be seen when you’re 13 and here.

2,500 people in Lincoln Center heard me. The conductor goes on. He continues with the ballet. Um, I’m not quite sure any ballet in Lincoln Center has ever been stopped by a fart before. So it’s intermission and. You know, kind of are walking out with all our bags, and I’m telling you, everyone is like, Yeah, it was definitely the little girl.

That little girl, that little girl fared. And we, we roll out the pathway of the auditorium and we are dying. And I’m dying. And we just collapse in the lobby. All of us with our bags laughing hysterically. And my sister Jane, who’s very mature, 16 years old, comes up to me and she says, If you’re gonna make it in high school,

she really said this, If you’re gonna make it in high school, you are gonna have to learn how to squeeze your buttocks tighter.

That’s what happens when you let it go at Lincoln Center

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel. Rachel, go Inhales from a gorgeous, lush state of New Jersey in a county where there were more cows than people. This is perhaps why it took her so long to learn the art of being cultured. She’s lived in Missoula for 25 years and loves playing in the mountains and rivers of Montana with her partner Jeremy and their pups, along with all of her dear friends in Missoula, she socializes for a living because she is a social worker.

Next week, tune in for Tell Us Something. Live from BlackRock City in 2022.

Jack Butler: The artist, the writers, the creatives, those were other people. That’s what other people did.

Sasquatch: My wife and I had spent 42 grand in cash on in vitro. That didn’t work.

Katie Condon: And

I wasn’t

just surprised.

I was

shocked.

Like there wasn’t enough room in

Kate Wilburn: my body for the blood.

It was amazing.

Tune in for those stories. On the next tell us something. Podcast.

Taylor Burbey: Hi

everyone. My name is Taylor Beby. I’m a tell us something volunteer. And I’m here to thank our sponsors. Thanks again to our title sponsor The Good Food Store. Learn more about the Good Food [email protected] Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, Missoula Electric Cooperative.

The Tell Us Something stewardship program gives away free tickets to people who. For whatever reason, not have otherwise been able to attend the event. Learn more about the Missoula Electric co-op and see if you qualify to join [email protected] Thanks to our story teller sponsor Clear Water Credit Union.

Because of them, we were able to pay the storytellers and Clear Water. Credit Union is where, Tell us something. Trust them with all of our financial needs. Learn more about Clear Water Credit [email protected] And thanks to our accessibility sponsor Garden mother, because of their generosity, we can provide ASL interpreters for our friends in the deaf c.

Learn more about Garden mother Garden mother.com. Thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events dot. Sushi Hana the first best sushi bar in the last best place. Find out more and have a look at the [email protected] Missoula Broadcasting company, including the family of ESPN Radio, the Trail 1 0 3 0.3, Jack FM and Missoula.

Source for modern hits, U 1 0 4 0.5. Learn [email protected] True Food. Missoula Farm to table food delivery. Check them [email protected] Thanks to our Inkind sponsors, Float Missoula. Learn [email protected]

Gabriel Silverman: Thanks, Taylor. Hey, this is Gabe from Geco Designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell us something.

Learn [email protected]

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]

Marc Moss: Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast. Find them at cash for junkers band.com.

To learn more about, tell us something, please visit tell us something.org.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Letting Go”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of over 900 listeners on September 27, 2022 at The Dennison in Missoula, MT.

Transcript : Letting Go Part 1

Welcome to the Tell Something podcast. I’m Mark Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is, it’s the Little Things. 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 November 7th. I look forward to hearing from you this week on the podcast.

And then she stopped and looked at me and said, Would you like to see them?

I had vertigo. My skull was like a swarm of bees.

I’m being judged cuz my kid doesn’t wanna bike. I get

it. And we’re about to step into the light.

And our mom, she runs out of the house.

Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme, letting. Their stories were recorded. Live in person in front of over 900 listeners on September 27th, 2022 at the Denison in Missoula, Montana. We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor The Good Food Store.

We are so grateful to the team at the Good Food Store for their support. Learn more about the Good Food [email protected] Our first story comes to us from Susan Shan. A chance meeting with a stranger in a car wash waiting room leads to a consensual ogling of breasts, a feeling up and much needed information for Susan on her journey of deciding about breast reconstruction after surviving breast cancer.

Susan calls her story. Deconstruction. Thanks for listening.

In the spring of 2009, I am sitting in the waiting room of a full service car wash as I’m chomping on my complimentary popcorn. An attractive, well dressed woman walks in and sits down. We strike up a conversation and it’s not long before that conversation turns to. It is clear by looking at me that I am not well.

I have a head scarf, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, that ashy moon face. I’m in treatment for stage three breast cancer. I’ve had the removal of my right breast and all the lymph nodes under my arm. Um, I’ve had six months of chemo and I’m heading into radiation. And as we chat, the woman reveals that she is a breast cancer survivor who’s had a double mast.

And she asked me whether I’ve made a decision yet about what to do about the right breast, and I said I hadn’t. The doctors have been talking about reconstruction, but I really hadn’t made any solid decisions. She became very enthusiastic and animated. She said she had had reconstruction and she was thrilled with the results.

She talked some about the surgery, and then she stopped and looked at me. Would you like to

see them?

And I went, Um, oh, okay. So we go into the bathroom

at the car wash

where she pulls up her blouse and her bra and reveals these beautiful breast. They are round, it’s symmetrical. The skin has been pulled to look like nipples.

They, they have expert tattooing. They’re works of art. She shows me the scarring. She talks a little bit more about the reconstruction, and then she looked at me and she said, Would you like to touch them? And I. Oh, okay. So I touched them. They felt very normal. I guess. We wrapped up our conversation and got in our separate clean cars, drove away.

I never knew her name, so I said driving off. It like hits me like, Oh my God, I’m an educator and a mother of two. What if somebody walked in? And then my next thought, How incredibly generous. Um, I’d have doctors talking at me about what comes next, but I didn’t really have a sense about what that meant or what it could be.

And then it dawned on me, Oh, wait a minute. I could actually get bigger, better breast out of this deal. I never even considered that before. So I was excited. I called the surgeon, go in for a meeting, enthusiastically start talking about what I want and what I’d seen, and he’s nodding. Well we could do that.

Let’s talk about what it would mean for you. He said, first of all, you’ve had almost all your tissue removed from your right side. So any kind of reconstruction is gonna involve moving tissue from some other part of your body, um, and also an implant. And he said, We don’t really have enough in your stomach or hips.

So we’d be talking about moving tissue around from your back to build out the breast. And I’m nodding, And he said, and also, You would have to wait till after radiation, uh, and your skin heals. And then skin’s not very elastic. So there is these series of procedures to stretch the skin, and by this time my jaws dropped and I am feeling, no pun intended, deflated.

Um, he talks about, um, the fact that I would lose quite a bit of mobility in my right arm as well. So I leave that appointment and give it a deep thought. Yeah, talk it over with my. Husband, my friends, my family, and come to the decision not to have, um, the reconstructive surgery. So that left option two, which is a prosthetic breast.

So I go to the store in the cancer center, which kind of has the ambiance of a upscale lingerie shop, and the woman is very, she’s lovely, and she takes home my measurements and brings out the prosthetic breast, which I start to refer to as my fae breast and the accompanying. Now this bra is industrial strength.

It’s big, big, wide strap, sturdy, and all of that serves a purpose, right? It keeps the faux breasts firmly place. So I take all that stuff home and I try it on with my clothes, and I’m immediately frustrated because some part of that bra is hanging out with no matter what I put on. So I sit there and I think about it.

I think, You know what? I’m a small breasted woman. This is what I’m gonna. I’m gonna just get my old bra and I’m gonna use that. I’ll just pop the faux breast in, pull the little strap type. It’s gonna be great. Fast forward member of months later. I’m a principal at an elementary school and it’s pajama day.

I am in my tasteful two piece red flannel pajamas. It’s that Friday before the winter break. The building’s buzz with parents and parties, and I’m flitting around the classroom. and I walked by the fifth grade hallway and as I look in a group of kids getting ready to start a game of Twister.

So , Miss Sheer, Miss

Sheer.

Will you come play Twister with? Yeah, I’m game. Let’s do it. So we have a rollicking game of Twister. It’s great. Leave the classroom, finish out the day. Um, buses pull away and I see the fifth grade teacher, she’s a first year teacher, usually pretty direct and enthusiastic in her communication approaching me, and she could not look me in the eye.

And she’s hemming and she’s hawing, and she says, Um, Ms. Shinker, um, I think I have something that belongs to you. . She reaches into her coat pocket, pulls out my faux breast, which apparently had plopped on the twister mat somewhere between left hand red and right foot green or whatever. Luckily no kids were harmed in any of this

Um, I was mort. I was mortified, but I wasn’t totally surprised cuz that same food breast had popped outta my bathing suit in a hot tub in Santa Fe on a romantic getaway with my husband. It just sort of percolated on top. . He grabbed it quickly before anyone could see, so I, I decided that the, this was the, uh, the stars were aligning and I just had to be a big girl and wear the big bra and get on.

And I did that for many, many years. Um, and then in 2009, teen, we retired here to Missoula and quickly settled into the relaxed outdoor lifestyle and all that good stuff. And I felt over time I was rarely using the bra or the breast. Um, most of the time I was either in a sports bra or pajamas and. during, during 2020 who wore a bra ever.

Anyway, so just kind of got out of the habit and, um, and not long ago, I, I was cleaning out my closet and I tossed them. And it wasn’t some like big gesture or big, I don’t know, symbolic move. It was just a logical step in a process. And when I think about that process of going from magical thinking of bigger, better breast to embracing my one breast fitness, um, certainly having, um, a loving spouse and family, um, it’s certainly a sense of humor has been pretty critical.

But what I’ve had most of all is time. I’ve had a good long. Almost 14 years. And,

but as a long term survivor, I am painfully aware that not everybody gets this time and so does enough to stand here as a one breasted woman.

Thanks Susan. Susan Schenker is originally from Houston and as a retired educator. She and her husband Mark have three adult children, one grandson, and one very spoiled puppy now living happily ever after. In Miss. Susan enjoys hiking, trail running yoga, and surprisingly long winter evenings. Our next storyteller is Margie Kates.

Margie, in her own words, it tells us that her story is about that transition between burning with ambition and discovering that the thing you needed has always been inside you. No flames required. Maybe some tears. Margie calls her story. The body keeps the score, and boy is she pissed. Thanks for listening.

I was living in New Orleans, a place where music is a living, breathing thing. The city is wild and alive. There are little s of despair around every corner. Trumpet sound blooms in the night. My friends and I were wild and broken and beautiful, and we didn’t care. We rolled ourselves in glitter. Went out dancing in the streets, hung from balconies and made art, and we all knew how to hustle.

The poor bastards who came to our fair city, uh, we adorned ourselves in feathers and veils. But after five years I was struggling. I kept fainting and no one knew why. Uh, I had vertigo. My skull was like a swarm of bees. Pain would come hot in the middle of the night. I had muscle cramps and I couldn’t eat, so I went to doctors.

I waited months to see specialists of brain and heart and pain, and no one knew what was wrong with me, so I came home. To Missoula, Montana in the winter of 2020 to live with my parents, and see doctors. Um, I was on this terrible diet. I was like, Well, I couldn’t have caffeine or carbs or dairy. It was horrible.

I was cat cowing myself in and out of pain. Every morning I was seeing doctors, I was seeing therapists. I had no chance, like I just had to heal. Um, I was diagnosed with ptsd d.

Post Traumatic stress Disorder. Um, the body keeps the score and boy is she pissed. Oh yeah. Some of you read the book. Cool. . Um, and I was also diagnosed with autism. I know you’re confused. I’m a girl. I can talk. I’m not holding a Rubik’s cube. It’s backstage. we’re funny too. Uh, but the thing about trauma is that it’s defined as anything that’s too much, too fast or too little in too much time, essentially.

And that kind of describes my experience at Good Food Store at any given time, 6:00 PM

uh, but really this thing with trauma, my body. Had spent its whole life finding ways to numb and dissociate and, and the, the fainting was my body screaming at me. Um, and if you don’t know what dissociation means, it means, it’s like when you’re in a car with someone who talks too much and you like, kind of float out of your body so you don’t have to be there anymore.

Yeah. And uh, and that’s dissociation. See, we’ve all done. It’s very healthy until you do it for 12 years,

Um, my trauma happened to me in Missoula, Montana in my college dorm. It happened in recording studios over and over again, and it happened to me in New Orleans in my house. This story is not about those men. This is my story.

A chronic pain doctor told me my nervous system was turned up too high, that my body was sending ambulances and fire trucks to places that were no longer on fire. He said, Until you learn how to feel safe in your body, you will always be in pain. And I said, Safe. I’m a woman. Don’t tell me to feel safe.

But that’s called being triggered. And uh, yeah, it felt like a death sentence. When I was in New Orleans, I was gigging constantly. I was always hustling, I was always going. And this thing happens to musicians. You could call it depression, but it’s more of like an emptiness where you only feel whole when you’re on stage and you only feel.

Like a person when the audience is reflecting something back at you. And so the audience applauds and you’re overflowing. I mean, you kind of feel like a phony cuz you don’t believe in love, but you keep singing about it. Um, . Um, but you’re overflowing. And then you come home to your cat shit apartment, uh, with stale cigarette smoke in your hair, and there’s cocaine on the table that your roommate left out again.

and you feel emptier than ever before. But I kept hustling. I kept gigging. I kept trying, thinking that the next gig, the next song would take away that feeling. I was home, stuck in my body with no gigs, a broken body, and nothing left to give. So I waited. In the darkness. I was still, I cried, I slept. I talked to my mom and I thought, It doesn’t matter if I ever perform again.

It doesn’t matter if I ever sing again. I let go and something amazing happened. Music came back to me. Like, it started with poems at first, like ones I had to write and ones I had to read. And then I started listening to gospel music and I, uh, Jesus is great. He’s fine. Um, he’s a very nice man, , but I something about these songs, they’re about being helpless and humble and surrendering, so I surrendered.

And I found myself singing while doing the dishes and harmonizing while getting up in the morning, and I realized I wanted to die, but my voice didn’t. I. And so I waited and I let go more in that darkness. Little shoots of green came up and the more I let go. I rebuilt my relationship with my body through EMDR therapy and polyvagal therapy, and I found a space inside myself that was pure and open and loving.

And I had to let go of expectations of what someone who doesn’t have autism, how they live. I let go of dreams that had kept me afloat for years, and the fainting stopped. The muscle spasms abated, my stomach moved. It was a miracle. Okay, . It really felt like a miracle. And, uh, but more than that, I found a place where my voice could be in my body again, and my body was safe, my body was my home.

And now whenever I sing, it comes from that sacred space, whether it’s on a big stage with a band or just for my dog in the backyard. And I want you to know that if you have been hurt, you are not broken. They didn’t destroy you. It’s all still inside of you. You just have to open the door and feel all the grief and rage and terror because it is terrifying to be embodied, but it’s the key to community.

It’s the key to vulnerability, and it’s the key to. Joy and joy is our birthright. Many is the time I’ve been mistaken and many times confused. Yes. Enough often feel for and soon

more. Right. From weary to my bones, still one can expect to be Brian and Bon vivant so far away from home, so far away from home, and I don’t know a soul that’s not been battered. Don’t have a friend who feels at ease. I don’t know, a dream that’s not been shattered.

Can’t.

Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day and I’m trying to get some rest. I’m just trying to get some

rest.

Thanks, Margie. Missoula, born and raised. Margie Kates is a singer writer, and come. She has appeared on stages Oliver Missoula, as well as in New Orleans where she lived and worked for five years. You can find her riding her bike around town practicing Whitney Houston riffs. For links to all of Margie’s social media channels, visit tell us something.org.

In our next story, Michael Le Point, let’s go of his daughter’s bike when he’s teaching her to ride. He figures out that this is a metaphor for allowing his daughter Penny to grow up and become her own individual person. He, in turn, begins letting go of his ego and embracing his daughter’s humanity in a new light with a story that he calls.

I got this. Dad. Thanks for listening,

buddy. You got it.

Whew. All right. Um, if you could have been at, uh, camp T Y M C a summer camp in 1996, boy, you would’ve been blown away cuz I was the youngest camp counselor ever given his own cabin. I’m a big deal and I was pretty good at it. Turns out I had a thing for communicating with younger people and wrangling and getting people moving the right direction and I, I took those skills and in high school, um, I taught little kids how to swim.

You know, uh, blow bubbles in the pool. Kick talk to the fish. Listen to the fish, get the parents involved. And I took those skills. And when I moved to New York City, uh, I taught, uh, celebrity kids athletics. It was a weird gig. Made a lot of money doing it, and, uh, never met the parents. Um, a lot of really badass nannies doing a kick ass job raising these kids.

But that was a non-disciplinary program. You weren’t allowed to, to, to, certainly you weren’t allowed to yell, but you weren’t allowed. There were no timeouts. There was the word no. What was not allowed with this audience. So when I finally made my way to Missoula, I swore that’s it. I am not working with children anymore.

And after three months of unemployment, I was like, Look it. That actually sounds pretty good. . So I got a job working at this little school here called Spirit at. Uh, it’s incredible. It’s an incredible place and, and, uh, my daughter just graduated from there, Penn. She’s in kindergarten now, but my son Teddy, he now goes to spirit at play.

And, uh, moving here and, and getting that job, I felt like I had this thing, like I would, I would help kids figure out, How to exist in the world, how to engage in the world in a way that was meaningful and made the place, made the world a better place. And uh, and I, I know some of those kids now, I manage a restaurant.

I’ve hired seven of them and I’m like, I know you when you were five and you pick up trash . So, but the thing about all these gigs is at the end of the day, they weren’t my. I just send them along and, you know, it’s, um, it’s a reflection of some other parent. It’s not me. I do the best that I can, but whoever they turn out to be, however they are in the world, it’s not me, it’s them and it’s their parents.

and now I have my own kids and my daughter, Penny, she decides what she can and can’t do. And, and I want to be there saying, No, you, you can’t touch that. It’s hot and I don’t wanna see you get burned. And so don’t do it. And trust me, I’ve burned myself and, and she says, um, I, she knows how to ride a bike. I already know how to ride a bike.

And I’m like, You do not know how to ride a bike, kid. But we sign up for this, uh, class, the, uh, DERAILERS program, and we show up the little strider bike and she throws a fit. And, and I love biking, so I’m like, I’m not, I’m not gonna push her into this thing that she doesn’t like. So I pick her up and we get outta there.

You don’t wanna bike? Let’s not bike today. I’ll just try it again next week. But throwing that fit works. So next week it’s an even bigger. And I’m like, Yeah, let’s not do this again. And I, I’m carrying her out and I see this other parent who I, I hope’s not here tonight. Cause I don’t mean to, but it, it mattered to me.

This other parent, he goes, Oh, looks like Penny’s got two,

Michael’s got zero

Like it

could, I’m being judged cuz my kid doesn’t wanna bike. I get it. So winter comes along and uh, and we’re gonna go to discovery ski area. The only thing I love more than biking is skiing that. Where I’m at my most free. I love skiing. And boy, if my kids could ski, that would be incredible. And so

Penny and I were biking down, we’re biking, we’re driving down to discovery, and she’s in the back going, I already know how to ski. Like kid, you don’t. You don’t know how to ski and it’s gonna be rough cuz we’ve been through this. And lo and behold, we get to the parking lot and that same family from Derailers, they also go to Discovery

And so we get up to the thing, we put her in her boots and um, um, a good friend of mine told me, just keep plugging your kid with gummies all day long. So just feeding her. And we get up to the top, well not the top, we get up to the bunny hill and she can actually do it. She stands up, she points her toes, she can ski.

She can’t stop, but she can go and like, like pizza. And I, uh, I could cry thinking of it now. Cause we get back on the chairlift. I’m like so proud. And did all those other parents see what my kid just did? I’m like holding her like, You’re right, you can do it. But also in the back of my mind, I’m like, wait, now she thinks that she can just do stuff.

Like, I didn’t need that as a, like a barometer for her abilities. So skiing’s a success. We come back to Missoula. She still doesn’t bike. She’s at this wonderful preschool and I get a video from one of her teachers, and it’s her, uh, riding another kid’s bike at school. It’s Eleanor’s bike. Penny wanted me to make sure that I tell everybody she rode Eleanor’s bike with no training wheels, no one holding her.

I wasn’t there. And uh, and I got to see this video and I’m like, Maybe she does. She can do it. And I bring her bike to school that. Uh, do you want a bike home? I was like, Yeah. So put her helmet on and I got this little ski backpack that has a harness on it so I can hold her upright and we’re, we’re coming down towards our house and, uh, she’s got it.

Um, and as she’s going, I, I just like, I let go of her and she maybe gets like 15 feet in front of me and she yells, Let go, Dad. I was like, I already have kid and she crashes cuz she’s a five year old who doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Ugh. But in that moment, I was like, I, I’m not a reflection of this kid.

She is her own person. I don’t, it’s not a house plant, you know, She lives in this house with me too. And she’s gonna tell me what she can do, and she’s gonna learn that the stove is hot. You know, I gotta make sure she keeps her eyes or do my best,

but

I, I don’t get to decide what she’s capable of. I gotta let go. I gotta let her be her own person, and I wanna see what person she becomes. She can tell me, you, you tell me what you can do and who you are. That’s, that’s

what I got.

Thanks Michael. Michael La. Point is a regular guy trying to make it in an increasingly complicated world. He finds himself at 40 with dogs, kids, a wife and a mortgage. Not exactly sure how he arrived. Or where he’s going next. He believes that wherever you go, whatever you do, whenever you leave, leave it better than you found it.

Rounding out this episode of the Tele Something podcast is Hazel Wright. Along with her brother Hazel builds an awesome sledding jump and proceeds to unintentionally flip a 180 after landing, leading to a confused recovery. Hazel calls her story sledding catastrophe. Thanks for listening.

I opened my eyes and I’m staring at this lilac colored ceiling of my bedroom, and I’m just thinking, should I get up? Should I just lay here? Should I pretend I’m. So I can get 20 seconds more of valuable rest. And I just lay there. And then my mom barges in and she’s like, Hazel, you need to get up now. I’m sorry.

And she comes and she pokes my head and she goes, Hazel, I’m sorry. And then she goes, But it’s a snow day. And for snow days, that was. Amazing because we got to stay home and play in the snow and just have fun and we didn’t have to make up schoolwork. So I jump out of bed with my ducky pajamas on and get a bowl of cereal and a MunchOn cereal, and.

My younger brother, Xander, he comes down the hallway and he goes, Hazel, we should go to the sledding hill. And we have a sledding hill that’s maybe six blocks from our house. It’s not the biggest sledding hill, but to us it was the world. So I’m like, Yeah, I’m in. We get our, we start getting our snow stuff on.

I’m getting all my purple snow pans and Xanders just putting on whatever he thinks is necessary.

It’s not much.

And we are standing in our garage waiting for the door to open with our little metal saucers by our sides, and we’re about to step into the light. And our mom, she runs out of the house and she goes, Guys, guys, you forgot your helmets. And she plops my white little ski helmet on my head in Xander’s green ski helmet on his, And then she’s like, Okay, you’re, you’re good to.

And so we start walking to the sledding hill. We’re just trudging through the new snow. It’s like, and our mom, she’s somewhere behind us. And then sledding hill, it’s at the end of a cul-de-sac, and this cul-de-sac is, There’s a couple houses inside of it. There’s usually cars parked around them, but all the cars they move.

They don’t wanna have kids sliding and hitting the cars. So we’re hiking up this hill and we get to the midway point and the midway point is leveled off a little more, and we start, Xander turns to me and he goes, Hazel, it’s the day we’re gonna build that sledding jump, and. . He grabs a saucer full of snow and he dumps it at my feed and he goes, Hazel, start building

And I’m like, Okay. And I start making this cheese wedge of a jump facing the cul-de-sac. That’s about to my eight year old height and knees. And we’re almost done with this jump. Just one more salsa full of snow and it’s done. And we turn around and start walking up the hill and I turn around and look at this beautiful jump and this kid can’t be more than three years old, comes and sits on it.

That beautiful jump that we just spent a good five minutes making

it’s gone. And so we walked back our three steps down to where the jump used to be Quick. Rest in peace. And then we start to build another jump, and this one is bigger and better. It’s about to my eight year old tall waist, and we’re finishing up this jump. We’ve fenced off the area with some snow and our saucers and Xander, he turns to me and he goes, Hazel, we’re ready.

And so he hikes to the top of the hill. And he yells Geronimo and he jumps onto his knees and rockets down the hill and he hits the jump and he flies and he is soaring. And then he hits the snow and he looks back at me and tumbles off full on face plant. And he turns back and he looks at me double thumbs up.

Hazel, I’m okay. And I’m like, Okay, working up the courage. I gotta, I’m okay. I can do this. And I jump on my little red saucer butt down and zoom down the hill and I hit the jump and I’m flying. And it’s so amazing for all the people that jump. S like skis or bikes, it is just amazing. And then I hit the snow and I’m okay.

But so I start to turn and so now I’m facing the jump and I’m fine though, but I’m fine. Xander’s somewhere off to my now left and I’m just thinking that was pretty fun. I’ll do it again. But then just clonk and it all goes black and I open my eyes, or I think they’re open, blink a couple times and I’m like, Okay, I don’t know what happened, but I think I’m okay.

And I hear my mom and she goes, Hazel, Hazel, Hazel, Hazel. Are you okay? Are you alive? Are you not decapitated? And I’m like mumbling a little bit and I kind of try to pull my way, the direction I came from. And then I see it, the light. The first thought I have is, um, did I die? Is this heaven? But now it can’t be because it smells awful.

And I crawl into the light and I stand up and I just brush myself off. And I look to my mom and she grabs my cheek and she’s expect inspecting me. And she goes, Hey, Zza, are you okay? Are you okay? And I’m like, Yeah, mom, I’m okay. And she. She’s like, Okay, okay. Heart attack of the day, got that over with. And she’s like, Okay, I think we should go now.

It’s okay. And I turned to her and I go, But I don’t, I don’t wanna go. That was amazing. I wanna do it again. And she turns to me and she goes, Hazel, you just got taco folded in half under the side of a pickup truck. And I turn around and sure enough this big gray diesel pickup truck is just chilling there.

Like it totally didn’t just get in the way of this beautiful moment. That was very rude.

And so I’m like, fine. Eight year old attitude and we start trudging back home. Xander’s, he’s throwing a fit because he didn’t do anything wrong. He wants to keep sledding and we’re walking home, dragging my sauce. Or I’m just arms, one arm crossed. My mom goes, Okay. Um, that was a bit too close. I don’t think we’re gonna go back.

Hazel. Um, I, I look at her dead in the eyes with sadness and anger and I’m like, Why? Why’d you have to do this to me? I thought this was, this was the best idea ever and you just had to ruin it. How could. . And so we walk home, I open the door, greet my dogs, and start taking off all my gear, like purple snow pants, blue jacket, white helmet.

And I look at the back of this white helmet that I’ve had since I started skiing. And on the back of it, there is a giant deep gash. Where I split under the truck where my brains would have spilled out if I didn’t listen to my mother. So thank you, Mom. I’m alive today now.

Thanks Hazel. Hazel is a 12 year old who lives in Missoula. She has a younger brother and a. She enjoys mountain biking, skateboarding, and playing ice hockey. She’s attending Washington Middle School as a seventh grader. In her free time, she has curled up with a good book or watching Grey’s Anatomy with her mom.

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. It’s the little things. The next tell us something. Live event is scheduled for December 15th at the Wilma in Missoula. Why not participate? Pitch your story on the theme.

It’s the little things by calling 4 0 6 2 0 3 4 6 8 3. The pitch deadline is November 7th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.

Hi

everyone. My name is Taylor Beby. I’m a Tellis Something volunteer, and I’m here to thank our sponsors. Thanks again to our title sponsor, The Good Food Store.

Learn more about the Good Food [email protected] Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, Missoula Electric Cooperative. The Tell Us Something stewardship program gives away free tickets to people who may. For whatever reason, not have otherwise been able to attend the event. Learn more about the Missoula Electric co-op and see if you qualify to join [email protected]

Thanks to our storyteller sponsor, Clearwater Credit Union. Because of them, we were able to pay the storytellers. And Clearwater Credit Union is where, Tell us something. Trust them with all of our financial needs. Learn more about Clearwater Credit [email protected] And thanks to our accessibility sponsor Garden mother, because of their generosity, we can provide ASL interpreters for our friends and the deaf community.

Learn more about Garden mother Garden mother.com. Thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula events.net Sushi Hana the first best sushi bar in the last best place. Find out more and have a look at the [email protected] Missoula Broadcasting company, including the family of ESPN Radio, the Trail, 1 0 3 0.3, Jack FM and Missoula source for modern.

You 1 0 4 0.5. Learn [email protected] True food, Missoula Farm to table food delivery. Check them [email protected] Thanks to our Inkind sponsors, Float Missoula. Learn [email protected]

Thanks,

Taylor. 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]

Hey, this is Gabe from

Geco Designs. We’re proud to sponsor. Tell us something. Learn [email protected]

Next week, join us for the concluding stories from the Letting Go Live storytelling.

You

would be also

able to see, I think, how much I like the quality of things.

It’s small

and simple, this house, but everything is well done.

She goes, Can we do it again? I was like, Yeah.

We meet Matthew, our mortician, and Matthew looks like, or reminds me of Lurch from the Adams family.

Bow

ties and tuxedos

and crushed velvet dresses

and.

We are in jeans and t-shirts.

Tune in for those stories.

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Joseph Grady talks about Native spaces, acting, art and storytelling.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Joseph Grady

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what [00:01:00] you may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board share Joseph Grady. Let’s listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Joseph Grady, current academic advisor at the university of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member Joseph. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.

Joseph Grady: oh, yeah. It’s absolutely my pleasure.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Thank you. I think we should just hop right in and if you’d be willing to share your impactful experience, I’d love to hear.

Joseph Grady: Yeah, absolutely. Um, again, thank you [00:02:00] for inviting me and, um, been thinking about this, um, impactful experience and, um, there’s so much in life to choose from.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. Of this kind of question. So it really was racking my brain about like, you know, what’s important enough or what’s cool enough, or what have you. And I decided to just kind of let it flow if, if you will. Mm-hmm um, the, what, the thing that, uh, has come to mind, I think most recently is for me as, um, not just an academic, but as a creative.

Joseph Grady: An artist, um, creative, an actor mm-hmm writer, um, painter, um, outside of the workplace. Uh, there’s a lot that I think goes on with, um, my advising position where there’s lots of amazing stories with students and so forth, but I’m not sure entirely if that’s appropriate to tell in this space. Um, but that said, I honed in.

Joseph Grady: Uh, a story with, [00:03:00] um, a recent acting opportunity that I had. Um, and I, you know, I applied for a lot of, uh, small roles, uh, a lot of walk on stuff here in Montana, and it gives me a lot of experience to, uh, do film acting, um, in a way, and kind of in a way that’s very fulfilling, but also, um, helps me, you know, with the creative expression.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm . Things. Um, and it’s very informative and I learned quite a lot from the process and so forth, but that’s it. Um, essentially I had applied recently for an acting gig, um, for, that was calling for a native American role mm-hmm um, and. Reached out for it and got a, a, a call back if you will. Um, from the casting director who reached out to me and, um, indicated at that time that it was, it was actually for local, they were making a local call for [00:04:00] actors and the gig was in Los Angeles, California mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: And, um, I was like, oh, well, I’m in Missoula, Montana kind of negates that one. Yeah. And then had just a, sort of a brief follow up and sort of conversation. And, um, you know, she expressed some, um, like, oh, you know, darn it because you’d be perfect for the role kind of a thing. And. Um, you know, I was apologetic that I didn’t really notice that it was in LA.

Joseph Grady: I hope I didn’t waste your time kind of a thing, you know, in that setting it’s I really, really wanna make sure that I’m, you know, keeping it on the professional level. And, um, that point was just like, okay, so, you know, no big deal, but then about two weeks later, um, got a call back from the same casting director, um, who reached out.

Joseph Grady: Um, asked me if I wanted the gig, um, which was to fly down to Los Angeles and, and do about three days of shooting mm-hmm in [00:05:00] various locations. And, um, that kind of, sort of tip things off. And I was like, uh, much was running through my head. You know, there’s a lot of planning that had to happen. It was a very sort of short turnaround time between actually getting the gig and getting to LA I think it was about a week and I.

Joseph Grady: uh, turnaround. And so, you know, just sort of that preparation and then what is even the job, right? Yeah. But then that was a lot of excitement and it turned out to be like a really amazing experience. And I, you know, I learned a lot and had a lot of fun and so forth and, um, it, um, you know, added of course to my resume and my credentials and, um, expanded my opportunities, at least in terms of like getting into unions and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Uh, but I think the, the actual experience of getting on set and working with other native American actors in those kinds of professional spaces was really sort of the, the real hook for me. Mm-hmm but, uh, overall that’s kind of [00:06:00] the, the gist of what was happening. Um, and it was, it’s probably one of the more significant sort of things to happen in, in the last year.

Joseph Grady: Um, and so that was, um, That was really cool. I really, really had a, a really good time with that one.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. I know you had mentioned this to me, um, around when it was happening or a little before. And so I think that’s very exciting and I’m glad that, um, it seems things went well and you really enjoyed your time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So, what about this experience, um, made you choose it kind of getting at, how has it either changed you or impacted you since?

Joseph Grady: Hmm. Um, it’s. I working here in Montana as an actor, just speaking from the acting, um, space alone. Yeah. Um, there’s, I’ve had a, I think a real opportunity in the last, probably [00:07:00] five to 10 years where I’ve this.

Joseph Grady: Um, I guess you wanna say, I don’t wanna say movement necessarily, but a shift is happening in the television to film. Okay. Where, um, the call for native American actors is, um, becoming more. Of a qualified type position. Um, and it’s one that is for me as an actor created all of this access, right? While at the same time, eliminating a whole bunch of competition for roles that was previously, you know, sharing the same space.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. You had a lot of, um, what, what you’ll hear calls for and sort of acting resumes and on acting calls, looking for ethnic ambiguity, right? Mm-hmm so that, you know, if you are classified as ethnically, uh, [00:08:00] ambiguous, you can fulfill many. Right as, um, Latinx, um, middle Eastern, um, you know, sort of Arabic identities to, um, to any of the Pacific is or Asian.

Joseph Grady: Classifications, if you will. And historically, I think particularly, um, in film and TV, back in the old days, it was like if you had black hair and any sort of a complexion, they would slap a little makeup on you and you were it, that was, you know, you were this role. Um, and so the, you know, the scope for ethnically ambiguous was even wider.

Joseph Grady: I think back then, mm-hmm and nowadays it’s a lot more. Arrow, um, to even like more recently where you have calls for specific ethnic identities to, you know, fulfill roles. And, um, that’s quite a, a, a big shift in, in an industry that is so fast paced. And [00:09:00] so like, concerned with anything in production other than getting.

Joseph Grady: Cultural humility pieces, um, on point or correct all the time. Um, and so that for me, I think was kind of the big takeaway more recently is the work that I’ve been doing as an actor has allowed me to work with entities, people, and productions, where that. Um, attention to cultural authenticity has been really out front.

Joseph Grady: Um, and so as an indigenous actor, that’s refreshing, uh, because what it says is these roles are for you mm-hmm and for like, for you, not just alone, but, um, people who also identify as, as indigenous and so forth or come from native communities. Yeah. And so it creates opportunity, um, as well. Allow the stories to be more authentic, I think, um, from where they’re coming from, [00:10:00] um, with that with people sort of thinking about that stuff automatically, what you get in those spaces are people who actually start to kind of ask questions and really express.

Joseph Grady: Their humility. Um, there are certainly incidents of that that were on this last job, as well as like other like projects that I’ve worked on. I think, um, probably the first, well, one of the first like major acting gigs that I ever got was winner in the blood and. Um, the directors actually, we had a, a night where we went out and had Oros at Scotty’s table and we sat around with, uh, a whole bunch of our in native actors from the film mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: Um, and we were able to have a conversation of really sort of candid conversation with the directors who were like we’re too white dudes. And. We don’t know the first thing about being native American or what that’s like and so forth. So you need to help us please help us understand, uh, what those are like so that we can like really sort of give this very accurate [00:11:00] portrayal and invited us to give feedback and sort of, um, you know, scan the, the script and so forth.

Joseph Grady: And Hey, this is kind of how we would say it kind of a thing. Um, and that information. Like onboarded with that process in a way that was very respectful and mindful. Um, and I, I wanna say very sort of forward thinking if you will. Um, where I was very impressed at that moment with the directors was like, well, I’m, I’m in with the right gig.

Joseph Grady: I mean, this is like I had a feeling I would walk in here and be like, you know, here’s how you be native American, Mr. Um, and, uh, you know, I kind of roll the eyes and you, you jump into the role and do the gig. As an actor, that’s kind of what it is really. I mean, I’m an instrument. I mean, actors, theater people, we are sort of the paint on the canvas.

Joseph Grady: And so it really is, you know, we it’s, we’re trained to follow directing, um, and that’s not always like fulfilling if you will. Yeah. Um, in, in those kinds of ways, [00:12:00] Especially when it comes to cultural and racial identity. Um, and so I’ve seen a big shift in, in the more recent years where you have more of that presence of mind on set and in the conversation.

Joseph Grady: And even in the invite where those people will be very respectful out front acknowledging culture and identity and their own humility in that space where they’re actually looking to you to be the expert on that experience. While also sort of like infusing this whole dialogue and role into the process.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm is like kind of some new stuff. I mean, at least for me, it is, um, and this experience in Los Angeles was, was very much the same.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. That’s exciting and great to hear. So would you say you do believe you’ve been experiencing, or you do think there are changes in the industry?

Joseph Grady: Yeah. I mean the, the, the little that I experience that I do have with film, um, or television has just.

Joseph Grady: [00:13:00] Historically been either as an observer or as a learner in the classroom space, um, you know, learning about critique and, and understanding stories. Um, and you know, there were there, I think various examples along the way. I don’t really want to draw attention to too much. Yeah. But I think prior to, to my experience, what you would get is kind of what I would describe, uh, the actor would show up, they would dress you up.

Joseph Grady: Here’s how you play Indian and then sort of onto the film. And then you do your best to sort of infuse your own personal characteristic and into the, into the storyline and, and into the setting. Um, but there’s not a lot of like, um, collaboration between director and the creative production and the actor themselves, as the, say the indigenous person mm-hmm

Joseph Grady: And that goes all the way back to the, um, you know, to. The the Oscar incident with, um, I’m just forgetting Marlon Brando, um, and the young, [00:14:00] uh, native woman who accepted the award for him, you know, from that point, you know, you, even prior to that, you had indigenous people like calling for greater respect in these spaces.

Joseph Grady: And, you know, here it is, um, you know, in, into the 2000 and twenties, um, and into the two thousands, and you’re starting to kind of get this recognition and. I think there was a hesitancy along the way to mm-hmm for that, because maybe people just didn’t know how to communicate that. I, I don’t want to like sound like I understand where that was coming from necessarily where the hesitancy was coming from.

Joseph Grady: Um, but in terms of like the outcomes, um, you know, with television shows like. Reservation dogs and, and some of the others that are, are now out on, um, various outlets, like FX and so forth. Um, you, what you have is our native American voices and creativity actually driving the ship mm-hmm and it turns out that it’s it’s it’s really.

Joseph Grady: Funny. There’s a [00:15:00] lot of crossover. Uh, it communicates, well, no matter which culture you’re coming from, it’s just an indigenous perspective. Um, and that’s really refreshing. And I think that that for when we start talking about storytelling and, and being part of the story, Yeah, we as indigenous people tend to thrive because, um, that’s, and not just indigenous people, but many, many stories, but indigenous people as continent, um, storytelling has been deeply infused into who we are as people mm-hmm, our process, how we learn together, the way we built community, uh, et cetera, was, was very much like stories under the stars.

Joseph Grady: And so that’s, that’s how we identify largely. And so when we get, you know, opportunities to be in these creative spaces, we thrive as storytellers. And so I think that that’s, for me watching that happen throughout my lifetime, I mean, I’m 51 years old and. When reservation dogs [00:16:00] dropped the first episode dropped, I was able to watch it.

Joseph Grady: I remember thinking, man, I’ve been waiting like 50 years for this TV show. Um, you know, sort of speak my, speak, my language, and represent, Hey, that’s me on the screen. And identifying in those kinds of ways where we’re not just backdrop characters, we are the foreground and we are the interest of the narrative.

Joseph Grady: Um, and. The kind of moving forward more recently having that access point is I think in part even largely as to why I’ve had any kind of success as an actor, uh, because most of the roles that I step into are have a, you know, a call for a native American, um, of my bearing mm-hmm. Um, it’s not like, um, you know, some person who’s not native American who slaps on a wig and a little bit of sort of brown makeup can then step in there and be like, oh, you know, [00:17:00] it’s like, did you know you called for a native American, uh, to walk through the door and, you know, show up at the audition.

Joseph Grady: And so, um, it, and I think along with that, what I am seeing are when I do go to these auditions, at least when they were held in person. Yeah, you would see a lot of like young, sexy native people, like hanging out, you know, good looking like mm-hmm of all walks and looks, right. Native people showing up to say, Hey, I’m gonna take a swing at this thing, uh, and try this acting gig.

Joseph Grady: And you know, maybe they did a little high school or whatever, you know, sort of goofed around, you know, nowadays you it’s, most of it’s like on the social media, you can film little, um, skits and so forth. do those, uh, sort of have an audience without like having the actual audience and so forth. Yeah, yeah.

Joseph Grady: That I’d be, I think that’s really cool. And, um, the, you know, I think there’s more to say about LA, um, in more in greater [00:18:00] detail, but I mean, in terms of the overall experience for me, the, you know, the, the access point for other indigenous actors, not just myself is probably, I think a huge turnaround mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. So you’ve talked about kind of being a little bit in the industry and acting a fair amount. And I was curious to kind of see how that ties into, um, you also like working at the university and if this has changed, maybe would you hope to pursue, or do you enjoy having that balance? Because it does seem like you are doing, like you said, many different.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Artistic ventures as well. Yeah.

Joseph Grady: Yeah. I think that’s a great question. And I, I, that was actually one that I was really sort of reflecting on as I was doing this because, um, it is, it is a concern for me, you know, being, you know, in an academic professional setting, um, you know, fulfilling a role within that space.[00:19:00]

Joseph Grady: Um, and having a. You know, sort of set objective and, and goal for, for that position. Um, and then going out and doing like professional acting along with it, how is that going to be accepted? Is it going to be accepted? Is it going to be one of those things where it’s, you know, um, someone doesn’t like the idea of that maybe.

Joseph Grady: And mm-hmm um, so trying to like, just be mindful about those factors. Um, and fortunately the, um, I think the, the team that I work with and, um, and you know, my supervisor who’s absolutely amazing has been nothing but support. In that space. Yeah. And so I think that I’m really sort of kicking this around and like, you know, oh my gosh.

Joseph Grady: And how do I find that balance point? Right. Um, where it’s, it’s not only, um, fulfilling, uh, an objective for me, but also, you know, keeping me fair and in tuned [00:20:00] in with my students, you know, because I also, um, that, that is a very realistic consideration for. That said, um, balance to this point hasn’t been terribly difficult.

Joseph Grady: Um, you know, realistically, um, you know, you get the work done and so forth, but that said looking forward, I think the way that I’ve, I’ve thought about this, and I think the way that I’ve always thought about this, like with photography or with writing, um, any of the script writing that I do any of. Like the illustration or, or art that I do a graphic novel that I’m working on.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, any of the, like the acting they’re in all of that stuff is like creating opportunity if opportunity is needed. Um, Kind of fallbacks, if you will even. Um, I mean, let’s face it. We live in some pretty uncertain times. Mm-hmm , um, there’s a lot out there that is just putting to question even some of [00:21:00] the old standards that we’re used to just having around, you know, like education.

Joseph Grady: It was, I think at one point it was just like one of those things. Thought never would be it, it just was always going to be the way it was, you know, teacher in the classroom, attitude from the student that doesn’t look the same anymore. I mean, people are talking about arming teachers. The guns and so forth.

Joseph Grady: And so the it’s a very different sort of world right now. Mm-hmm, uh, than what I had grown up in as a kid. And so like, as I look to the future, I wanna make sure that I have, um, I think a lot of experience under my belt. if at some point something a shift needs to be made, um, that certainly is an objective or a goal of mine right now.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm, , I’m pretty stoked about the life that I have. Yeah. You know, with, um, the, even the roles that I fulfill in my professional life, um, you know, there’s tell us something which serving on [00:22:00] the board and the committee there, you know, has its, has it. Peace in my life. And then there’s the artistic thing in all, its sort of various forms with the writing mm-hmm uh, to, to create right now it’s like a lot of focus on photography.

Joseph Grady: Um, and then there’s, there’s also the work thing, right? Yeah. Um, I wanna make sure that I’m building my own experience and resume along the way, um, because you never really know what’s what the future holds. I wanna. Or that I’m, I’m prepared enough in a way. So if something does happen where change is like, oh, um, here’s how tomorrow’s going to look.

Joseph Grady: And it’s not like it was yesterday. I have the kind of footing and I think, um, world experience where I can go out and, and make a pivot or a shift if I need to mm-hmm . And, you know, like right now with the acting thing, kinda like what we’ve been talking about, [00:23:00] part of that is building that opportunity to look towards maybe getting an agent.

Joseph Grady: Now, do I join the unions? Is that something that is, is going to be equitable? Um, for me as a professional. Yeah. Um, and right now, um, where I am, um, making advances is in the workplace, um, at the university, um, and we’ve been making considerable strides and that’s on the backs of a lot of work and a lot of focus and a lot of effort and a lot of teamwork as well.

Joseph Grady: I mean, as a, as an entity, our Montana 10 has had a lot of success. If you will. Um, and we just want to continue to grow that, um, so that we can, you know, our work with other entities yeah. In university campus settings, um, is kind of a full package if you will. Mm-hmm because right now it seems to be working for students.

Joseph Grady: Uh, works for me. I love it. I, I find it [00:24:00] very, very fulfilling. Um, and so. Both are kind of on this trajectory of their own, if you will. Yeah. Um, and if anything, I, what I’ve learned in my life is that, um, just to be present for the ride, um, and, you know, make those big choices when they have to be made. Um, but for the rest of the time, just really, really try and make the most of it.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, this has been a, a pretty tough. You know, there’s, um, things that happen with family and, and, you know, there’s things that happened with students. I mean, this is, this last two years has been incredibly heavy. Um, yeah. In terms of people getting sick to, um, people. Struggling with mental health mm-hmm and in my work position and my job position, that’s, that’s very much at the forefront of what we do is, is working with students sort of navigating that stuff.

Joseph Grady: And, you know, it’s like you [00:25:00] need mental health services. Here’s where to go for that. And sort of just taking a lot of time to listen and so forth. Mm-hmm and it’s been a waity year. I mean, a lot of people are struggling with a lot of like really dark. Um, and I think the isolation and the uncertainty about future, especially now more than ever, um, you know, sort of this eruption of just violence in the way that we are, I’m not used to necessarily experiencing.

Joseph Grady: In what is this country is supposed to be mm-hmm um, I think is leaving a lot of uncertainty in terms of one sense of their own safety. Just going out into the world for, to go shopping or to go to school, you know, places where once that was like, those were the safest places to be. Um, and so the, you know, the students that I’m working with right now are, are kind of reflecting, I think, on a lot of that stuff and, and, you know, living through it while also trying to be students and in very [00:26:00] similar ways, think about their own futures.

Joseph Grady: What’s gonna come next. What am I gonna invested in? What’s gonna create opportunity. Um, what is my life and family going to look like moving forward and so forth? Yeah, definitely. There’s so much diversity in that realm that, um, right now the, the position that I find myself in, I kind of feel like roles like this are needed.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm um, and so, uh, for the moment, um, the university gig is, is the main focus. Whereas the creative sort of electric forces in my life are the things that allow me to kind of process that stuff and find a different kind of fulfill. Yeah, um, in life and I don’t know, maybe it’s just sort of come to that where I’m like really sort of seeking those additional bits of, of input.

Joseph Grady: And I’m also getting older. I mean, you know, I’m not getting any younger right now and, and, you know, I don’t wanna be, I, I, I’ve always sort of, I, [00:27:00] um, worried about that time in life, where you’d get to a place where it’s like, I wish I had done that, you know, Um, I, I wonder what would’ve happened if I ever ever made a go of that acting gig right.

Joseph Grady: Or putting some of those skills to use, um, along the way. And I, I don’t know if I necessarily wanna find myself there. So maybe even subconsciously I’m kind of like pushing myself in directions where I can kind of spread out into those areas, get that experience. Yeah. You know, dinner in the blood. That first movie role was like a bucket list moment.

Joseph Grady: And I remember just not only landing the role, but going and doing the gig and then coming home and then seeing the film at the end and taking part in the whole process for me was like, that’s kind of it. I mean, I was a native, I played a native role, so I was a native actor, a black feet character in a story written by a black feet, man.

Joseph Grady: I think I’ve done it. I think of. [00:28:00] Accomplished all I wanted to do. Mm-hmm but then moved on to like these other sort of roles and so forth because it just it’s it’s really great work.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. Okay. Um, kind of slightly related, but is there any maybe form of art that you really hope to start doing or to take part in?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Um,

Joseph Grady: I think that, I mean, for me, the, the, something that is less fulfilled is the writing. Mm. Um, that’s where I think I’m, I’m really trying to tie a bunch of things up, so to speak. Um, I have a couple of different scripts that I’ve been writing. Um, I’ve got a story for graphic novel that I’m trying to round out.

Joseph Grady: Um, and all of it is like sort of indigenous influenced. Um, so I guess you would wanna say more contemporary type work or even into like science fiction. Okay. Um, that’s the sort of the area that I’m going. And then something that is, [00:29:00] has always been a natural fit for me is comedy. Um, When I was like in my early twenties, used to do comedy open mics.

Joseph Grady: I used to go out and do sets and get up on stage and try and exercise some of that theater experience as well as the, like the creative writing side of things always loved comedy as an outlet and trying to do it creatively as a, as a native. Uh, person trying to reach the audience in a way, um, with that aspect of my identity, um, has been infused into that.

Joseph Grady: And so the, the writing piece for me right now is something that, um, I really wanna see kind of, you know, bubble to the surface next. Um, yeah, like I said, there’s a lot more outlets these days. Mm-hmm for a lot more. Call for native writers, actors, creative types, even production people. And I mean, I’m talking to the production people out there, the young folks who are like going into the, into, into, you know, either [00:30:00] theater or film or TV, if you’re a native American and you’re on the.

Joseph Grady: and you’re on the production side. You’re on the postproduction you’re behind the camera. You’re in this sort of creative force behind the scenes. Um, that’s that part is like, I think really, really significant and important. Yeah. And I’d like to, I’d like to break into that a little bit. I’d like to see some writing represented and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm because we need the, the turnaround for that is creating opportunity for the next native writer or indigenous actor down the

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: road. Yeah. All right. Well, I think that we will start wrapping this up, but thank you once again. Um, and as my final question, what is the best piece of life advice you’ve been given?

Joseph Grady: Oh, man. Um, Well there’s one and I can’t say it here. Um, because it’s, it’s, I think three quarters of the phrase is cursing. Um,

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: [00:31:00] okay. I mean, whatever you wanna share, you can share

Joseph Grady: let me, let me dig for something else, maybe. Okay. Um, basically I think in the, some of the greatest. Perspective I’ve I’ve learned in life or, um, come from the, the people that I know in life who got sober, um, you know, the people who struggled with addiction and, and alcoholism I’m, I’m one of them, you know, I’m one of those people who’s thankfully, you know, recovered from alcoholism or, or is recovery.

Joseph Grady: You’re always in recovery. Um, but one of the things that has just made life, particularly for me, way more doable and has made all of the rest of this stuff, like really accessible is just to keep it simple. Um, I have this real capacity to overthink. Um, I think that that’s present in my photography and my, in my acting and my writing and my creativity and my [00:32:00] painting and my process and all of that stuff.

Joseph Grady: And, um, I, I think the one thing I’ve learned in my life is that, um, the, the biggest thing that is standing in my way, ways of me, uh, and it always has been, it’s always been this, this sort of internal dialogue that has been happening and has been informed of course, by. Influences and factors and other voices and so forth.

Joseph Grady: Mm-hmm but I think that keep it simple thing was just a way for me to learn, to just sort of get out of my own way.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah, no, I like it. I think that’s a great piece of advice. Okay, well, Joseph, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Joseph Grady: Awesome Sierra. This is really cool. Um, good job on your podcast and I, I really appreciate the opportunity to come on and, and share my experience.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. Thank you for sharing and thank you guys for listening and take

Joseph Grady: care.[00:33:00]

Marc Moss: Thanks, Joseph and Sierra. Joseph Grady is a professional actor and artist with roles in films like winter in the blood, Jimmy P and slant streets. He has been painting and selling art for more than 30 years throughout the Northwest. Joseph graduated from the university of Montana with a degree in social work and a focus in native American studies and lives in his community.

Marc Moss: As a change agent addressing social justice. And anti-racism action. Joseph serves on the Missoula food bank anti-racism task force. And is the chair for tell us something’s board of directors, Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice.

Marc Moss: To sitting down to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty brownie Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, [00:34:00] wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to her. Inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company.

Marc Moss: Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast. Remember to get your ticket to the next. September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Rachel Bemis shares her impactful experience of finally deciding to become a teacher after a fulfilling career in other sectors.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Rachel Bemis

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board treasurer, Rachel Beas let’s

Sarah FitzGerald: listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I am joined by Rachel Beas elementary teacher in Western Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast

Sarah FitzGerald: today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Me too. And of course, so let’s just hop right in and if you’d be willing, could you tell us a little bit about your impactful experience?

Sarah FitzGerald: Sure. Um, you know, when I was asked to do this podcast, I think like many people, I thought about [00:02:00] several different things that have impacted me the most, but I think really my journey, um, to be, and my detours, um, to becoming a teacher is probably the most, um, impactful experience for.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: I’d love to dive a little bit into that. And if you could share kind of what your journey has been to becoming

Sarah FitzGerald: a teacher. Sure. I was one of those little girls sitting in second grade with Mrs. Roach, knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew it. from second grade. And so, you know, all through elementary, middle school, high school, you read my yearbook.

Sarah FitzGerald: Everything is about me being a teacher mm-hmm . And I decided before I started community college, that I would start working with kids. I was an aunt, I had three, uh, I had two nephews and a niece by the time I was 20 and had baby. Yeah. And had babysat, uh, a ton starting at age 11, 12 years old. And, and.

Sarah FitzGerald: Really comfortable around [00:03:00] kids, but I wanted to make sure that translated into education mm-hmm . Um, and so when I was in high school, I, um, did some volunteering in a first grade classroom and I loved it. And then it was time to graduate and time to go to college. Yeah. One of the jobs that I got was as a summer camp counselor, And I hated it.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, wow. And , and for whatever reason, I convinced myself that that was teaching mm-hmm and I was like, this is not a good fit. Like I, this is I like, yeah. I don’t know what the problem is this whole time. For years and years and years, I had a plan in place. This is what I was going to do and was like, absolutely not.

Sarah FitzGerald: I need to do something else. so fast forward, like 12 years mm-hmm and I was a real estate lender in town, um, [00:04:00] and really enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I stopped enjoying it. Mm-hmm and I was about 31 years. I was 30, 30, 31 years old. Mm-hmm . and I just started feeling like I needed a change and I, I didn’t know what that was.

Sarah FitzGerald: I didn’t know if it was a career change. I didn’t know if it was just switching companies. Yeah. You know, I wasn’t sure. So those feelings were kind of stirring in my brain. And, and so, as I mentioned, I always knew, and everyone knew around me, my whole childhood, my high school years, that I was gonna be a teacher.

Sarah FitzGerald: There was no other option. I didn’t even think about anything else. Mm-hmm . And so when these, these uncertain feelings were starting to stir around. I randomly had a phone conversation with my first love from high school. Mm-hmm Roland. And I hadn’t seen him or talked to him since I was 17 years old. Yeah.

Sarah FitzGerald: And [00:05:00] I only knew him when I was 17 years old, so I only knew him for a year of my life. Okay. And we had this lovely conversation. Ironically I was at work. He was a real estate lender. And one of the first questions he asked me was, are you a teacher? And I was really taken aback because I kind of forgot that that was my path.

Sarah FitzGerald: And that’s the only thing that he had in mind. So when he had reflected on our time together, just me as a person, that’s what he focused on. Mm-hmm like, of course she’s a teacher, right? I’m talking to her 14 years later. Of course she’s a teacher. And I was like, no, actually I went, took a different path and you know, and I was very successful in my career.

Sarah FitzGerald: I had purchased my own home by myself and mm-hmm , you know, I legitimately had a career, but I had this nagging feeling that it was. Time for a change. Yeah. And so when he made that comment to me, it really affected me, um, to the point [00:06:00] that I got off the phone with him and sobbed in the bathroom at work.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, I know. And I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what that means, but you know, it, it almost felt like I was a failure. Like I hadn’t done what I set out to do, even though I was living a great life. Yeah. So fast forward a little bit, again, still stirring feelings. And I had a realtor friend that invited me to a networking event.

Sarah FitzGerald: It was this monthly, like women’s group that met and talked about business ideas and tried to do business together. Mm-hmm and we were sitting around the table. and, um, it was like a hundred people in a conference room, 10 people to have tabled one of which I knew and had become friends with, but everyone else was pretty much strangers.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And we’re sitting at this table of 10 people and the keynote speaker comes on the microphone and she said, before we, you know, have lunch and [00:07:00] before we chat, I want you to talk to your table about what would you do as an icebreaker question? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? And I, of course, maybe not.

Sarah FitzGerald: Of course my, maybe this is shocking. uh, I started crying immediately, um, at this table full of strangers mm-hmm and I said, I’ll go first. I’ll go first. Okay. And I said, I would quit my job and I would go back to school and I would become a teacher. Mm. and it just hit me that that’s what I was supposed to do and why I allowed my 18 year old self to convince myself that summer camp was teaching and let go of my dream.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. You know, we, we learn. Right. Um, so now I was this career woman that owned a house and had responsibilities. But I knew I needed to leave. I knew it immediately. I, I [00:08:00] never looked back Sierra ever. The next day I took the day off of work. Mm-hmm I went to the local university of Montana, Missoula mm-hmm I enrolled, I reviewed my finances that weekend.

Sarah FitzGerald: and on Monday I gave my two week notice. Wow. Yeah. And I left that job 11 years ago. Mm-hmm I started taking classes that summer. I didn’t even wait till the fall. I started that may. And I got my teaching degree and a minor in reading in three years, mind you, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to figure out how am I going to do this?

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And there was times where I had seven little part-time jobs, little. Oh my gosh. I know. Like, it might have been like one day a week. I worked at this daycare and uh, the other day of the week I passed out these pamphlets and it was all these little, [00:09:00] little jobs. Mm. Um, but I did it to make it work and I never, ever, ever looked back.

Sarah FitzGerald: And, um, I’m now going to be entering my ninth year of teaching.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. Okay. Really? What a journey. And

Sarah FitzGerald: it was, yeah, quite a journey, some detours along the way. But once I made the decision, I knew that this was going to impact my life. Mm-hmm .

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And now that you have been teaching. Um, or like you said, nine years, do you see yourself staying in teaching or potentially moving in the future?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: You

Sarah FitzGerald: know, I am really into embracing side hustles. Um, that’s my, that’s my new thing. So. You know, my passion is my day to day teaching mm-hmm . Um, I have looked into the past just based on my past experience and leadership qualities. Would I wanna be an administrator? Would I want to go in a different direction?

Sarah FitzGerald: Would I [00:10:00] wanna use education to work at a museum or whatever it might be? um, for me, I’m good. Like I am beyond satisfied. Mm-hmm I, um, I went back to school in 2019 and I earned my master’s. Last year. Okay. Yeah. So I have that. And so that was really a great professional development opportunity for a few years, um, to continue to learn more, um, I’ve focused on integrating arts in the classroom.

Sarah FitzGerald: So that has challenged me as an educator. As well. So for me, I think I’m good. I really would, you know, it took me a while to get here. Mm-hmm and I’m, I’m very, very grateful. And, um, beyond satisfied, I feel extremely fulfilled. Now I will, I will say I am the type of person. That’s always pursuing other things, but that doesn’t, that that has nothing to do with my career and my passion mm-hmm so that.[00:11:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: that would be like, for example, you know, I would love to teach, um, as an adjunct professor and maybe get my foot in the door at a university mm-hmm maybe that’s something that could transition into teaching a summer class, or maybe after retirement potentially being something, um, a mentor for educators.

Sarah FitzGerald: Things like that. So I’ve definitely looked into that. Um, I was a TA this summer mm-hmm , um, at the university for my old master’s program. So just kind of dipping my toe into different things, um, has been fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Very nice. And did you know kind of what grade or age of students you wanted to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, because of Mrs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Roach, my second grade teacher, I always felt like that was the right grade level for me. Yeah. Um, and then it was kind of a joke because I’m, I’m on the petite side. Um, so I was like, I don’t want them to be taller than me [00:12:00] and I just always really liked that age group. And so ironically, when I. Did my student teaching, um, I student taught in second grade mm-hmm and then I ended up getting hired from that same school in first grade.

Sarah FitzGerald: So I taught first grade for five years. Mm-hmm then I taught second grade for a year. Um, and then I was ready to make a move to a different school district for a variety of reasons. And the position that was available. Was at the district that I wanted, that I’m currently at was fourth grade remote, fully remote for the full year.

Sarah FitzGerald: And the remote thing of course, you know, is a little scary in general. Mm-hmm um, and then fourth grade was really scary for me. That felt like a huge jump from first. Yeah. Um, and to be honest, I felt like it would be a good foot in the door. And then I would kind of get a feel for if there’s other grades that open up and ironically a second grade position did actually open up and I [00:13:00] had zero interest and okay.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. So this will be my third year teaching fourth grade. I love it. And I would say about seven of the kids last year were taller than me. wow. Okay. So I prepared for that now every year. Yes. Um, but I absolutely love it and I, I don’t know. This might be the perfect grade for me. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Interesting. Um, and then.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think maybe what skills do you think helped you go into teaching or maybe had you learned before you went into teaching? Um, yeah. That you think are really applicable,

Sarah FitzGerald: you know, for me, I think some potentially non-traditional things have really prepared me to be successful. I think that, you know, I did my student, I did part of my student teaching in, um, Guang, China in 2014.[00:14:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: And I was expecting to enter an environment that was very rigid. and that I really need, and I love that I was really excited cause I’m kind of type a and I really like things very structured. And so I was like, okay, great. Like I’m gonna have a set schedule. I’m gonna know exactly what’s happening, what grades I’m teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it was the opposite because of the dynamics of the country. Um, that certainly trickled down into how the schools were run, how the students behaved. The relationship between the teacher and the student. And I was blindsided at how flexible I needed to be. Mm-hmm and that was very challenging for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, I didn’t have a choice I had to be. Um, and because of that, that is one of the biggest things that has translated into my teaching life here in the United States. And it sounds really silly. but the idea of covering someone’s recess [00:15:00] duty for them spontaneously, and the idea of, you know, a student having an issue and you needing to stop a lesson and do something else.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm , those are skills that are really important and they build community. Um, and so those were things that I really brought into. My career that I wasn’t expecting. Mm-hmm I think, I think also, you know, sometimes I joke like, oh my gosh, if I would’ve just gone to college, when I was supposed to go to college, then I would be retiring in five years or whatever it might be, or, you know, different things like that.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, or I would be making more money cause I would have more experience, but, but honestly, I don’t know that I would be where I am today. If I. Gone on that path that I had expected. When I went back to college a little older at 31, I took it very seriously and I had a mortgage to pay. I have [00:16:00] responsibilities that I wouldn’t have had when I was 18 years old.

Sarah FitzGerald: And so I was very focused, not only on actually getting good grades and learning, but also getting it done quickly so that I could start making. Money, even if it was even if it was a teacher’s salary, at least it wasn’t seven part-time jobs. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I think those are the things that I was not expecting to bring in and to learn that I, that I have.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So you think that if you had gone into teaching, um, I guess right after school, do you think you would still be in teaching or. I don’t know what

Sarah FitzGerald: happened. I mean, I really don’t know. I would say that my advice, if I was talking to my younger self or someone else, mm-hmm , um, you know, my advice would be to always pursue what you feel your passion is, but don’t just go straight to college.

Sarah FitzGerald: And what I mean by that is like, I still [00:17:00] would. I still, I think looking back, I would’ve just pursued teaching more while I was getting my. So I would’ve thrown myself more into the classroom. I would’ve volunteered more. I would not, I would’ve spoken with more educators about their experience and versus telling myself that summer camp was the same as teaching mm-hmm or like saying babysitting children is the same as teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: It’s not at all. Like, my job is. Relationships with parents. My job is about relationships with other people and those other teachers and those interpersonal connections. It’s not just like, oh, I get along with kids and I like learning about math. It’s so much more than that. So I think it’s about, if you have something in mind, take that time to volunteer.

Sarah FitzGerald: You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, don’t just go straight to vet school for the next eight years. Like. Get your high into a vet clinic, you know, like [00:18:00] those kind of, those kind of things. Mm-hmm okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. And do you have kind of a favorite aspect of teaching? Because like you just mentioned, there are many different things that you do and it’s not only.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Working with the students.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. I mean, I would say because of the grade level that I teach in fourth grade, there is so much room for not only creativity, but also for them to choose different ways to learn. So I think for me, it’s great to be able to expose my students to a variety of ways to learn, uh, specific skill.

Sarah FitzGerald: And then for them to be able to have the, uh, confidence to be able to choose which one works best for them. So I think that that is, that is something that we have the luxury of doing now. I, you know, it wasn’t like that when I was growing up even, um, that we were just taught one way to do it, and this was the only way to do it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And now there’s, there’s so many different ways to express your, um, skill level. And so [00:19:00] that, that exposure is, is really fun. And to be able to see students take ownership of their learning

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm okay, cool. Cool. I think that’s an interesting topic. Um, kind of thinking about different learning and also education changing over time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think has changed or maybe what are some differences that you’ve seen even from when you were student to now, or just throughout your past years teaching?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, a couple things. I mean, I grew up going to a private school. There was 40 students in my class mm-hmm um, and which is enormous. and you learned one way to learn things and that was it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it didn’t matter what you were necessarily going through emotionally, or if you were struggling academically, we were pushing along. And so that’s one thing that I take pride in is being able to assess my student and where they’re at. And if we are having [00:20:00] an emotional breakdown, if we are having students, you know, like this year we had students that were upset, they were having just conflict with it, with, you know, like friendship issues.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. They’re not able to learn. They’re not. And you know, if you certainly, if you have support of a school counselor or anything like that, that’s fabulous. But sometimes we don’t have that. And I had multiple occasions this past year where I just stopped teaching and we just got in a circle and talked and kind of problem solved some things.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, and that was a game changer because then I was able to get back to teaching and they were able to absorb it and care about it. Yeah. Um, because I was able to make that modification. So I think being able to have that flexibility is huge. I think. You know, dealing with COVID and so many different things going on that administration certainly recognizes how important it is to meet students needs of their social, emotional [00:21:00] needs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm first, before you can teach them anything. And so it comes back to that flexibility and, you know, being able to modify things like that. Mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: definitely okay. Um, kind of going back to knowing which grade you wanted to teach. Is there a grade you really don’t wanna teach or like you would never want to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, well, that’s funny. You’d say that when I was student teaching in second grade, We had a teacher that was in the middle school that got ill. And my principal said, can you please just step in just for a couple hours in seventh and eighth grade? Yeah. And it was fine. It was fun. But I came back and I was like, this is not a good fit for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Like I, I, yeah, I am an elementary teacher period. I. I could be a middle school teacher. I could be a high school teacher [00:22:00] for an hour if I needed to. I I’m joking, but more than. But it would not, it would, I would not be my best self. My best self is in elementary education where I can reach the whole student in a variety of ways, social, emotional, academic, um, that mix of love, but loving but firm, um, you know, clear expectations with a hug.

Sarah FitzGerald: That’s that’s who I am. Mm.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Okay. Alrighty. Well, I think that we’ll start wrapping things up here, but okay. As always, my last question is Rachel, what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Sarah FitzGerald: It is the most random and simple phrase and it is leave it alone. And I will tell you that my friend’s husband brought this phrase to me about 15 years ago.

Sarah FitzGerald: And to her, yeah, it’s really about picking your [00:23:00] battles, deciding when it’s appropriate to speak and not speak. Deciding when there’s certain things that you just need to leave it alone. And I used to not leave anything alone ever. I used to pick everything and I don’t mean nitpicky. I just mean that I felt like I was an advocate for myself and for everybody around me, even if they didn’t advocate for themselves.

Sarah FitzGerald: And I’ve learned with experience that it’s really important. Just like we’ve learned with tell us something it’s, it’s, it’s almost more important to listen than it is to talk. Mm. And the leave it alone thing has trickled into all aspects of my life, whether it is a student behavior that is just annoying, not dangerous.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm leave it alone. Right? Ignore it. Leave it. Whether it’s a personal situation where someone has said something, do I really need to comment on that? [00:24:00] Leave it alone. So this leave it alone. Thing has been a pattern for me. And it sounds really silly, but it actually has been like super profound for me.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I never ever had that piece of advice, but thank you. you’re welcome. Okay. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really

Sarah FitzGerald: appreciate. Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. And thank you guys for listening.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel and Sierra. Rachel is an elementary school teacher in Western Montana. Rachel has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in reading and earned her master of arts in integrated art and education all from the university of Montana. Miss. Rachel served at the local nonprofit north Missoula community development corporation as board chair and secretary in Missoula for 10 years, where she led [00:25:00] fundraising efforts, board retreats, and attended various conferences in and out of state.

Marc Moss: When Rachel is not working, she can be found with her St. Bernard Laura lie on logging, walks with friends, reading her next book for her monthly book club, grabbing a Quatro formage or pizza from Beka pizza. And planning her next road trip Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never-ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley.

Marc Moss: Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Marc Moss: Remember to get your ticket to the next event. [00:26:00] September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme. Letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]g.

Tell Us Something Board Secretary Sarah FitzGerald reflects on the impactful experience of volunteering for a Jesuit organization in St. Louis, Missouri.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Sarah FitzGerald

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board treasurer, Rachel Beas let’s

Sarah FitzGerald: listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I am joined by Rachel Beas elementary teacher in Western Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast

Sarah FitzGerald: today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Me too. And of course, so let’s just hop right in and if you’d be willing, could you tell us a little bit about your impactful experience?

Sarah FitzGerald: Sure. Um, you know, when I was asked to do this podcast, I think like many people, I thought about [00:02:00] several different things that have impacted me the most, but I think really my journey, um, to be, and my detours, um, to becoming a teacher is probably the most, um, impactful experience for.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: I’d love to dive a little bit into that. And if you could share kind of what your journey has been to becoming

Sarah FitzGerald: a teacher. Sure. I was one of those little girls sitting in second grade with Mrs. Roach, knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew it. from second grade. And so, you know, all through elementary, middle school, high school, you read my yearbook.

Sarah FitzGerald: Everything is about me being a teacher mm-hmm . And I decided before I started community college, that I would start working with kids. I was an aunt, I had three, uh, I had two nephews and a niece by the time I was 20 and had baby. Yeah. And had babysat, uh, a ton starting at age 11, 12 years old. And, and.

Sarah FitzGerald: Really comfortable around [00:03:00] kids, but I wanted to make sure that translated into education mm-hmm . Um, and so when I was in high school, I, um, did some volunteering in a first grade classroom and I loved it. And then it was time to graduate and time to go to college. Yeah. One of the jobs that I got was as a summer camp counselor, And I hated it.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, wow. And , and for whatever reason, I convinced myself that that was teaching mm-hmm and I was like, this is not a good fit. Like I, this is I like, yeah. I don’t know what the problem is this whole time. For years and years and years, I had a plan in place. This is what I was going to do and was like, absolutely not.

Sarah FitzGerald: I need to do something else. so fast forward, like 12 years mm-hmm and I was a real estate lender in town, um, [00:04:00] and really enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I stopped enjoying it. Mm-hmm and I was about 31 years. I was 30, 30, 31 years old. Mm-hmm . and I just started feeling like I needed a change and I, I didn’t know what that was.

Sarah FitzGerald: I didn’t know if it was a career change. I didn’t know if it was just switching companies. Yeah. You know, I wasn’t sure. So those feelings were kind of stirring in my brain. And, and so, as I mentioned, I always knew, and everyone knew around me, my whole childhood, my high school years, that I was gonna be a teacher.

Sarah FitzGerald: There was no other option. I didn’t even think about anything else. Mm-hmm . And so when these, these uncertain feelings were starting to stir around. I randomly had a phone conversation with my first love from high school. Mm-hmm Roland. And I hadn’t seen him or talked to him since I was 17 years old. Yeah.

Sarah FitzGerald: And [00:05:00] I only knew him when I was 17 years old, so I only knew him for a year of my life. Okay. And we had this lovely conversation. Ironically I was at work. He was a real estate lender. And one of the first questions he asked me was, are you a teacher? And I was really taken aback because I kind of forgot that that was my path.

Sarah FitzGerald: And that’s the only thing that he had in mind. So when he had reflected on our time together, just me as a person, that’s what he focused on. Mm-hmm like, of course she’s a teacher, right? I’m talking to her 14 years later. Of course she’s a teacher. And I was like, no, actually I went, took a different path and you know, and I was very successful in my career.

Sarah FitzGerald: I had purchased my own home by myself and mm-hmm , you know, I legitimately had a career, but I had this nagging feeling that it was. Time for a change. Yeah. And so when he made that comment to me, it really affected me, um, to the point [00:06:00] that I got off the phone with him and sobbed in the bathroom at work.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, I know. And I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what that means, but you know, it, it almost felt like I was a failure. Like I hadn’t done what I set out to do, even though I was living a great life. Yeah. So fast forward a little bit, again, still stirring feelings. And I had a realtor friend that invited me to a networking event.

Sarah FitzGerald: It was this monthly, like women’s group that met and talked about business ideas and tried to do business together. Mm-hmm and we were sitting around the table. and, um, it was like a hundred people in a conference room, 10 people to have tabled one of which I knew and had become friends with, but everyone else was pretty much strangers.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And we’re sitting at this table of 10 people and the keynote speaker comes on the microphone and she said, before we, you know, have lunch and [00:07:00] before we chat, I want you to talk to your table about what would you do as an icebreaker question? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? And I, of course, maybe not.

Sarah FitzGerald: Of course my, maybe this is shocking. uh, I started crying immediately, um, at this table full of strangers mm-hmm and I said, I’ll go first. I’ll go first. Okay. And I said, I would quit my job and I would go back to school and I would become a teacher. Mm. and it just hit me that that’s what I was supposed to do and why I allowed my 18 year old self to convince myself that summer camp was teaching and let go of my dream.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. You know, we, we learn. Right. Um, so now I was this career woman that owned a house and had responsibilities. But I knew I needed to leave. I knew it immediately. I, I [00:08:00] never looked back Sierra ever. The next day I took the day off of work. Mm-hmm I went to the local university of Montana, Missoula mm-hmm I enrolled, I reviewed my finances that weekend.

Sarah FitzGerald: and on Monday I gave my two week notice. Wow. Yeah. And I left that job 11 years ago. Mm-hmm I started taking classes that summer. I didn’t even wait till the fall. I started that may. And I got my teaching degree and a minor in reading in three years, mind you, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to figure out how am I going to do this?

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And there was times where I had seven little part-time jobs, little. Oh my gosh. I know. Like, it might have been like one day a week. I worked at this daycare and uh, the other day of the week I passed out these pamphlets and it was all these little, [00:09:00] little jobs. Mm. Um, but I did it to make it work and I never, ever, ever looked back.

Sarah FitzGerald: And, um, I’m now going to be entering my ninth year of teaching.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. Okay. Really? What a journey. And

Sarah FitzGerald: it was, yeah, quite a journey, some detours along the way. But once I made the decision, I knew that this was going to impact my life. Mm-hmm .

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And now that you have been teaching. Um, or like you said, nine years, do you see yourself staying in teaching or potentially moving in the future?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: You

Sarah FitzGerald: know, I am really into embracing side hustles. Um, that’s my, that’s my new thing. So. You know, my passion is my day to day teaching mm-hmm . Um, I have looked into the past just based on my past experience and leadership qualities. Would I wanna be an administrator? Would I want to go in a different direction?

Sarah FitzGerald: Would I [00:10:00] wanna use education to work at a museum or whatever it might be? um, for me, I’m good. Like I am beyond satisfied. Mm-hmm I, um, I went back to school in 2019 and I earned my master’s. Last year. Okay. Yeah. So I have that. And so that was really a great professional development opportunity for a few years, um, to continue to learn more, um, I’ve focused on integrating arts in the classroom.

Sarah FitzGerald: So that has challenged me as an educator. As well. So for me, I think I’m good. I really would, you know, it took me a while to get here. Mm-hmm and I’m, I’m very, very grateful. And, um, beyond satisfied, I feel extremely fulfilled. Now I will, I will say I am the type of person. That’s always pursuing other things, but that doesn’t, that that has nothing to do with my career and my passion mm-hmm so that.[00:11:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: that would be like, for example, you know, I would love to teach, um, as an adjunct professor and maybe get my foot in the door at a university mm-hmm maybe that’s something that could transition into teaching a summer class, or maybe after retirement potentially being something, um, a mentor for educators.

Sarah FitzGerald: Things like that. So I’ve definitely looked into that. Um, I was a TA this summer mm-hmm , um, at the university for my old master’s program. So just kind of dipping my toe into different things, um, has been fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Very nice. And did you know kind of what grade or age of students you wanted to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, because of Mrs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Roach, my second grade teacher, I always felt like that was the right grade level for me. Yeah. Um, and then it was kind of a joke because I’m, I’m on the petite side. Um, so I was like, I don’t want them to be taller than me [00:12:00] and I just always really liked that age group. And so ironically, when I. Did my student teaching, um, I student taught in second grade mm-hmm and then I ended up getting hired from that same school in first grade.

Sarah FitzGerald: So I taught first grade for five years. Mm-hmm then I taught second grade for a year. Um, and then I was ready to make a move to a different school district for a variety of reasons. And the position that was available. Was at the district that I wanted, that I’m currently at was fourth grade remote, fully remote for the full year.

Sarah FitzGerald: And the remote thing of course, you know, is a little scary in general. Mm-hmm um, and then fourth grade was really scary for me. That felt like a huge jump from first. Yeah. Um, and to be honest, I felt like it would be a good foot in the door. And then I would kind of get a feel for if there’s other grades that open up and ironically a second grade position did actually open up and I [00:13:00] had zero interest and okay.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. So this will be my third year teaching fourth grade. I love it. And I would say about seven of the kids last year were taller than me. wow. Okay. So I prepared for that now every year. Yes. Um, but I absolutely love it and I, I don’t know. This might be the perfect grade for me. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Interesting. Um, and then.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think maybe what skills do you think helped you go into teaching or maybe had you learned before you went into teaching? Um, yeah. That you think are really applicable,

Sarah FitzGerald: you know, for me, I think some potentially non-traditional things have really prepared me to be successful. I think that, you know, I did my student, I did part of my student teaching in, um, Guang, China in 2014.[00:14:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: And I was expecting to enter an environment that was very rigid. and that I really need, and I love that I was really excited cause I’m kind of type a and I really like things very structured. And so I was like, okay, great. Like I’m gonna have a set schedule. I’m gonna know exactly what’s happening, what grades I’m teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it was the opposite because of the dynamics of the country. Um, that certainly trickled down into how the schools were run, how the students behaved. The relationship between the teacher and the student. And I was blindsided at how flexible I needed to be. Mm-hmm and that was very challenging for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, I didn’t have a choice I had to be. Um, and because of that, that is one of the biggest things that has translated into my teaching life here in the United States. And it sounds really silly. but the idea of covering someone’s recess [00:15:00] duty for them spontaneously, and the idea of, you know, a student having an issue and you needing to stop a lesson and do something else.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm , those are skills that are really important and they build community. Um, and so those were things that I really brought into. My career that I wasn’t expecting. Mm-hmm I think, I think also, you know, sometimes I joke like, oh my gosh, if I would’ve just gone to college, when I was supposed to go to college, then I would be retiring in five years or whatever it might be, or, you know, different things like that.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, or I would be making more money cause I would have more experience, but, but honestly, I don’t know that I would be where I am today. If I. Gone on that path that I had expected. When I went back to college a little older at 31, I took it very seriously and I had a mortgage to pay. I have [00:16:00] responsibilities that I wouldn’t have had when I was 18 years old.

Sarah FitzGerald: And so I was very focused, not only on actually getting good grades and learning, but also getting it done quickly so that I could start making. Money, even if it was even if it was a teacher’s salary, at least it wasn’t seven part-time jobs. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I think those are the things that I was not expecting to bring in and to learn that I, that I have.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So you think that if you had gone into teaching, um, I guess right after school, do you think you would still be in teaching or. I don’t know what

Sarah FitzGerald: happened. I mean, I really don’t know. I would say that my advice, if I was talking to my younger self or someone else, mm-hmm , um, you know, my advice would be to always pursue what you feel your passion is, but don’t just go straight to college.

Sarah FitzGerald: And what I mean by that is like, I still [00:17:00] would. I still, I think looking back, I would’ve just pursued teaching more while I was getting my. So I would’ve thrown myself more into the classroom. I would’ve volunteered more. I would not, I would’ve spoken with more educators about their experience and versus telling myself that summer camp was the same as teaching mm-hmm or like saying babysitting children is the same as teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: It’s not at all. Like, my job is. Relationships with parents. My job is about relationships with other people and those other teachers and those interpersonal connections. It’s not just like, oh, I get along with kids and I like learning about math. It’s so much more than that. So I think it’s about, if you have something in mind, take that time to volunteer.

Sarah FitzGerald: You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, don’t just go straight to vet school for the next eight years. Like. Get your high into a vet clinic, you know, like [00:18:00] those kind of, those kind of things. Mm-hmm okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. And do you have kind of a favorite aspect of teaching? Because like you just mentioned, there are many different things that you do and it’s not only.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Working with the students.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. I mean, I would say because of the grade level that I teach in fourth grade, there is so much room for not only creativity, but also for them to choose different ways to learn. So I think for me, it’s great to be able to expose my students to a variety of ways to learn, uh, specific skill.

Sarah FitzGerald: And then for them to be able to have the, uh, confidence to be able to choose which one works best for them. So I think that that is, that is something that we have the luxury of doing now. I, you know, it wasn’t like that when I was growing up even, um, that we were just taught one way to do it, and this was the only way to do it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And now there’s, there’s so many different ways to express your, um, skill level. And so [00:19:00] that, that exposure is, is really fun. And to be able to see students take ownership of their learning

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm okay, cool. Cool. I think that’s an interesting topic. Um, kind of thinking about different learning and also education changing over time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think has changed or maybe what are some differences that you’ve seen even from when you were student to now, or just throughout your past years teaching?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, a couple things. I mean, I grew up going to a private school. There was 40 students in my class mm-hmm um, and which is enormous. and you learned one way to learn things and that was it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it didn’t matter what you were necessarily going through emotionally, or if you were struggling academically, we were pushing along. And so that’s one thing that I take pride in is being able to assess my student and where they’re at. And if we are having [00:20:00] an emotional breakdown, if we are having students, you know, like this year we had students that were upset, they were having just conflict with it, with, you know, like friendship issues.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. They’re not able to learn. They’re not. And you know, if you certainly, if you have support of a school counselor or anything like that, that’s fabulous. But sometimes we don’t have that. And I had multiple occasions this past year where I just stopped teaching and we just got in a circle and talked and kind of problem solved some things.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, and that was a game changer because then I was able to get back to teaching and they were able to absorb it and care about it. Yeah. Um, because I was able to make that modification. So I think being able to have that flexibility is huge. I think. You know, dealing with COVID and so many different things going on that administration certainly recognizes how important it is to meet students needs of their social, emotional [00:21:00] needs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm first, before you can teach them anything. And so it comes back to that flexibility and, you know, being able to modify things like that. Mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: definitely okay. Um, kind of going back to knowing which grade you wanted to teach. Is there a grade you really don’t wanna teach or like you would never want to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, well, that’s funny. You’d say that when I was student teaching in second grade, We had a teacher that was in the middle school that got ill. And my principal said, can you please just step in just for a couple hours in seventh and eighth grade? Yeah. And it was fine. It was fun. But I came back and I was like, this is not a good fit for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Like I, I, yeah, I am an elementary teacher period. I. I could be a middle school teacher. I could be a high school teacher [00:22:00] for an hour if I needed to. I I’m joking, but more than. But it would not, it would, I would not be my best self. My best self is in elementary education where I can reach the whole student in a variety of ways, social, emotional, academic, um, that mix of love, but loving but firm, um, you know, clear expectations with a hug.

Sarah FitzGerald: That’s that’s who I am. Mm.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Okay. Alrighty. Well, I think that we’ll start wrapping things up here, but okay. As always, my last question is Rachel, what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Sarah FitzGerald: It is the most random and simple phrase and it is leave it alone. And I will tell you that my friend’s husband brought this phrase to me about 15 years ago.

Sarah FitzGerald: And to her, yeah, it’s really about picking your [00:23:00] battles, deciding when it’s appropriate to speak and not speak. Deciding when there’s certain things that you just need to leave it alone. And I used to not leave anything alone ever. I used to pick everything and I don’t mean nitpicky. I just mean that I felt like I was an advocate for myself and for everybody around me, even if they didn’t advocate for themselves.

Sarah FitzGerald: And I’ve learned with experience that it’s really important. Just like we’ve learned with tell us something it’s, it’s, it’s almost more important to listen than it is to talk. Mm. And the leave it alone thing has trickled into all aspects of my life, whether it is a student behavior that is just annoying, not dangerous.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm leave it alone. Right? Ignore it. Leave it. Whether it’s a personal situation where someone has said something, do I really need to comment on that? [00:24:00] Leave it alone. So this leave it alone. Thing has been a pattern for me. And it sounds really silly, but it actually has been like super profound for me.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I never ever had that piece of advice, but thank you. you’re welcome. Okay. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really

Sarah FitzGerald: appreciate. Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. And thank you guys for listening.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel and Sierra. Rachel is an elementary school teacher in Western Montana. Rachel has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in reading and earned her master of arts in integrated art and education all from the university of Montana. Miss. Rachel served at the local nonprofit north Missoula community development corporation as board chair and secretary in Missoula for 10 years, where she led [00:25:00] fundraising efforts, board retreats, and attended various conferences in and out of state.

Marc Moss: When Rachel is not working, she can be found with her St. Bernard Laura lie on logging, walks with friends, reading her next book for her monthly book club, grabbing a Quatro formage or pizza from Beka pizza. And planning her next road trip Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never-ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley.

Marc Moss: Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Marc Moss: Remember to get your ticket to the next event. [00:26:00] September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme. Letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Tell Us Something Board member Jason Sloat recalls his impactful experience of visiting Missoula with a buddy and calling an old professor from a payphone - a phone call that changed his life trajectory.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Jason Sloat

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennis and theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra, Ty Brownley interviewed the tell something board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tele something board member, Jason slope. Let’s listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Jason slope, current risk manager at the university of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Oh, it’s

Jason Sloat: my pleasure, Sierra. Thanks for having me

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: anytime. So let’s just hop right in and I’d love to hear about your impactful experience.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. So, you know, when, [00:02:00] when I was thinking about what impactful experience I wanted to share, I was thinking about my, my current life, um, here in Western Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I started to think about there, there was one very impactful experience that led me. To this point that I’m at now. Um, I just turned 48 years old and, um, it kind of feels like I had this experience. Um, when I was 23 years old, I was fresh out of college. The year was 1997. And I had an experience in Missoula that all these years later has kind of everything.

Jason Sloat: Everything in a sense has, has, has really come full circle for me. Mm-hmm um, and the reason I’m here today is because of this impactful experience that I had in the late nineties, um, arriving in Missoula as a kid who was kind of fresh outta [00:03:00] college. And that’s the experience that I’d like to share today.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay, that sounds great. Well, I’d love to hear about it. And if you could tell us what brought you to Montana.

Jason Sloat: Sure. So I graduated from a small liberal arts college in central Indiana in okay. In, uh, 1997. And. My my best friend. And I set out when, when we graduated from college, we didn’t really have any career plans.

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm um, we were, we were trying to figure out what we were doing with our lives. Um, it was a moment for, I think, both of us, of, of kind of great uncertainty. Neither of us had a distinct. Path that we could see kind of out of college, into real adulthood. Mm-hmm . And so we set out on a road trip in kind of the classic American road trip.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. And we [00:04:00] didn’t really have much of a plan. Um, other than we were going to, we, we decided to challenge ourselves by seeing how long we could go without paying for lo. Okay. Just as a challenge. Um, so, uh, at the time I had my high school vehicle, which was a very old 1980 Jeep, CJ seven, like an old school kind of version of a Jeep Wrangler.

Jason Sloat: Okay. And we loaded, we loaded this Jeep up with all of our earthly possessions, um, in the early summer of 1997. And we set out, um, To just see kind of where the road would take us. Mm-hmm and we ended up traveling for almost four months, um, and we spent most of those four months camping. And once we got out of the Midwest, we stuck to national forests, um, so that we could camp for free.

Jason Sloat: That was [00:05:00] part of our, part of our challenge end. Four months later we had been, we, we left Indiana. We went north through Michigan, uh, into Canada, around the north side of lake superior. Came down, spent some time in the boundary waters in Minnesota. Came across the Dakotas traveled down the Rocky mountain front almost all the way to Mexico turned around and went up.

Jason Sloat: The west side of the Rocky mountains eventually ended up landing in Missoula. And by the time we ended up in Missoula, Montana, we pulled into town, uh, on a September afternoon mm-hmm and. We were running very low on cash. Mm. And, um, we had to kind of figure out what we were gonna do about that. And the first place that we ended up going in town, we actually, we actually drove, we figured out where downtown was.

Jason Sloat: And we parked on Higgins avenue and we [00:06:00] got out of our Jeep and we asked the first person we met, where’s a place. We could get a beer where the locals hang out. We went like a, a locals kind of place. Right. And they said, well, there’s a bar across the street, like a half a block up. It’s called Charlie bees.

Jason Sloat: And there’s no sign, but you’ll know it when you get there. Okay. And so we walked up Higgins avenue and we found this door that had a little sign connected to it, that set on the corner of space and time. And we thought, well, this looks the right place, check this out. And so we walked into Charlie bees and we ordered some beers and we started playing pool mm-hmm and, uh, We were just kind of passing the time at this point.

Jason Sloat: And as we were playing pool, my friend, John, who I was traveling with, um, said, Hey, I think this is the town. Where that there [00:07:00] was that professor, that art history professor at Wabash college, that’s where we had just graduated from okay. Several months before. And he said, I think that professor, we knew at Wabash named Rafael didn’t Rafael, move here and get a job at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I said, man, I think you’re right. Um, And so the story behind that is that there, when John and I were freshmen, our freshman and sophomore year at our college in Indiana, there had been a young professor fresh out of grad school, fresh off of his PhD. Mm-hmm who had come back, come back to his Alma. He was a graduate of Wabash college to teach his first two years out of grad school.

Jason Sloat: And then he got a tenure track job at the university of Montana mm-hmm . And so he left and he moved off to this exotic place called Missoula Montana. And we hadn’t really kept in touch since then. Yeah. But we knew, [00:08:00] we knew at the time we called him professor shaone and we knew professor shaone very well when we were at Wabash college.

Jason Sloat: So we found ourselves in Charlie bees, drinking beer, playing pool, saying, Hey professor, shaone I think moved here and lives here. Now we should get ahold of him. And so we finished our beers. We walked down the street. This was before the age of cell phones and the internet. And all of that mm-hmm so we found a payphone, um, and it used to be that in payphone, uh, there would be a phone book mm-hmm hanging from a cable.

Jason Sloat: And so we took the phone book and we looked up Rafael shaone and sure enough, he was listed in the phone book. And from this payphone, we dropped a quarter and we called Rafa. This was completely out of the blue out of voicemail. Voicemail said, you know, Hey, this is Rafael. Leave a message. And so I left a message.

Jason Sloat: I said, Rafael, it’s Jason and John from [00:09:00] Wabash college. We just landed in Missoula, Montana. We’d love to stop and say hi, it’s been a few years. Like, let’s catch up. Um, we’re gonna hang out at this phone booth for a few minutes. If you get this message, we didn’t have any other way for him to call us. Yeah.

Jason Sloat: So we were like, and they used to print the phone number of the phone in the phone booth on the, on the phone panel. Mm-hmm so I read him the number of the phone in the phone. And I said, call this number. If you get this message, like in the next five to 10 minutes, and then we hung out and waited sure enough, five minutes later, the phone and the phone booth rings and I pick it up and it’s Raphael and he says, yeah, like, of course I remember you guys.

Jason Sloat: Uh, I I’m here. I live outside of Missoula in this little town called Lolo with my, with my partner, Andy, we were like, oh, Andy. Right. We, we knew Andy from when they were in Crawfordsville, we were like, fantastic. Um, [00:10:00] and he was like, you know, I’m sure if you guys have been on the road for a few months, sleeping in the woods, camping the whole time, you’d love a hot meal and a shower.

Jason Sloat: He’s like, you’ve gotta come out and hang out with us tonight. So we did mm-hmm um, And it was this act of extraordinary generosity on Rafael’s part. I mean, we would’ve been okay if he was just like, let’s meet for a beer mm-hmm but instead he was like, come to my house. I’m gonna fix you a hot meal. I’m gonna, I’m gonna let you take a hot shower and you can stay here with us for a couple nights.

Jason Sloat: If you want to, if you wanna sleep in a real bed, get off the road, get out, get out of the woods. Like not, yeah. You know, you’re tired of camping. Come stay with us for a while. Um, and it was really amazing. He really didn’t have to do that. It was, it was just extraordinarily generous of him. So we went out and, and, and we met up with Andy and [00:11:00] Rafael, um, in their house in Lolo, we had a great meal, we got cleaned up.

Jason Sloat: It was amazing. Um, and basically we ended up staying with them for three nights. Um, mm-hmm and. we told them after three nights, we were very concerned about overstay. Our welcome mm-hmm , even though we were having a blast and it was really comfortable, um, we told them, uh, the third night that the next morning we were gonna leave.

Jason Sloat: Um, and so. They were gonna get up early and go to work. Um, and so we set our goodbyes that night, the next morning they got up and left for work. And my buddy, John and I were packing up getting ready to leave. We had no idea what we were gonna do. Next things were very uncertain. And then the phone in their house started to ring.

Jason Sloat: And I wasn’t gonna answer their phone. So I let it go to voicemail. He had one of those like old school answering machines where you could li you could hear the person leaving the message. Okay. So [00:12:00] when the answering machine picked up, it was Rafael and he was saying, Hey guys, it’s Rafael. If you’re still in the house, pick up the phone, I’ve got some news.

Jason Sloat: And I ran over and picked up the phone. I was like, Hey Rafael, you know, what’s going on? We’re just getting ready to walk out the door, like what’s happening? And he said, well, I’ve been making some calls this morning. I know you guys are a little short on cash and you’re not sure what you’re doing next.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. He’s, he’s like, I found a job opportunity for you guys. And he basically said, there’s this woman who we’re acquainted with, who owns a bunch of land out in Theo valley. it’s about 60 miles Northeast of Missoula. He said, and I talked to her this morning and she would like help getting her ranch land ready for winter.

Jason Sloat: Um, she’s got some fences to fix some basic labor stuff she needs help with. If you guys are willing to drive out there this morning, she’s home and she will interview you. And if the interview [00:13:00] goes well, she’ll hire you and you can help her get ready for get her ranch ready for winter and maybe work for for a week or two, uh, put some cash in your pocket.

Jason Sloat: and that way you’ve got some funds to go on to your next adventure. Mm-hmm so, yeah, so anyway, it was just incredibly nice of him to do this for us. And we, we drove out to van, we had this interview, it went well, we got this job. And after a few weeks, we ended up getting hired on to this. project as co-ran managers.

Jason Sloat: Um, okay. And that was our, that, that ended up being my very first official job out of college. Mm-hmm who was working on this ranch in Theo valley, I say ranch. It wasn’t really a working ranch. This woman who had bought this property, it was several thousand acres and she had taken the cattle off of it.

Jason Sloat: And she was her goal was to reestablish wildlife. Just just viable, healthy wildlife [00:14:00] habitat. It was a habitat restoration project. Okay. Um, and so anyway, that ended up being my first job out of college due to this kind of chance encounter Rafael’s generosity. Hooking us up with, with, with a place to stay for a few nights and then, and then finding a job for us, none of which he had to do.

Jason Sloat: Um, and it ended up being an absolutely incredible experience. And we worked on this land for about a year. Um, mm-hmm and that was my introduction to Western Montana. Okay. Here we are. All these years later, it’s 2022 and I’m back in Western Montana. Mm-hmm um, after a number of years away and, um, my wife and I are building a house that is on land that is next door to Andy and Rafael.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. And they’re still there

Jason Sloat: and they’re still here. They’ve been here this whole time. Um, they moved from [00:15:00] Lolo out to the Moise valley, which is out by the national bison range. Okay. Um, and they owned some acreage out here. Um, and when we moved out here several years ago, uh, after 15 years in Chicago, Um, I, I got a job offer at the university of Montana mm-hmm and one of the first people I called was Rafael.

Jason Sloat: Cuz I wanted to talk about the university and what he thought about the job opportunity, cuz he’d been there for a long time at this point. Yeah. And in one of our first conversations, he said, Hey, I don’t know what you guys have are planning to do when you get out here in terms of where you’re gonna live.

Jason Sloat: what you’re gonna do in terms of housing, but he said, if you have any desire to own land in a rural area, he said, I think our neighbors are getting ready to sell their land. And, uh, if you jump on it now, I think you can get in. And, uh, that, that, there’s just a great opportunity out here. So we came and looked at this piece of property.

Jason Sloat: Next door to where Andy and Rafael live. And, [00:16:00] uh, lo and behold, it’s a beautiful piece of property. I’m actually sitting on it right now. Um, and, and we ended up buying the land and we’re now in the process of building a house. So this is a great, like, you know, for me, this is a very like story. That’s come full

circle.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Definitely. Yeah. Wow. What a journey. And I, I understand what you. As you, when you said this is really kind of a full circle moment. Um, I think that’s kind of crazy and that Rafael is still still here and that you’ll. Living right next to him.

Jason Sloat: we’re we’re neighbors. Yeah. We’re gonna be neighbors.

That

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: is crazy.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Um, so you did mention that you did leave Montana, um, for a little bit. And did you know you wanted to come back or did you kind of, yes. Oh, okay.

Jason Sloat: So, you know, part of the rest of that story [00:17:00] is I worked on ranches out here for a couple years, and then I decided to go back to school and I, I went to the university of Montana cause I was, I, I loved it here.

Jason Sloat: I didn’t wanna leave Montana. Mm-hmm so I, so I applied for, and was accepted to a graduate program at, um, and I ended up getting my master’s degree at, um, in English literature. While I was getting that degree in literature at, um, mm-hmm I met the person who is, who I’m now married to, um, Addie, who was getting her MFA and poetry.

Jason Sloat: And so we were in the English program together mm-hmm and when we both got done with graduate school in 2004, um, that was a time in Missoula where it was very difficult to. A good job. Mm-hmm um, it was just that the job market was really tough in this part of the world, um, at that point in time. And so.

Jason Sloat: We didn’t really feel that we had much of an option, but to leave, um, [00:18:00] basically to seek careers. And at that point that, that we ended up moving to Chicago. Um, and so we moved to Chicago from Missoula in 2004, we moved there together. Um, and then we got married and then we ended up spending the next 15 years in Chicago.

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm . And toward the end of that time in Chicago, we had never really stopped talking about our love for Western MUN. Um, yeah. And so the last couple years we were in Chicago, I, we both started looking very diligently for any way that we could get back out here and, and, and any way that we could get back out here and have kind of create like a viable living situation for ourselves in terms of jobs.

Jason Sloat: Right. Because that’s always the, that’s the always the trick bag, right? How, what are you gonna do for work? How are you gonna make a living? And. I happened to be looking at the university of Montana’s job page one day. And I saw a job [00:19:00] advertised as, uh, the job was a, a for a risk management position at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And it just so happened that in this intervening 15 years that I spent in Chicago, mm-hmm . what I had done with my English lit degree was I had gotten into business and kind of by chance, and one thing led to another and I got into risk management. Okay. And I looked at this job opportunity at the university of Montana.

Jason Sloat: And I was like, man, I, I think I’m qualified for that job. Mm-hmm . And so I applied and it went very quickly. I went from applying to the. to having an acceptance letter in a matter of a couple of weeks. Um, and that was it. As soon as I had that acceptance letter in hand, we were like, we’re, it’s been a good ride, Chicago , but, but we are out.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, we were, that was one of the, it was one of the most exciting moments of our, of our [00:20:00] lives. Actually, we were so thrilled to move back.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. That’s really exciting. And I’m glad things worked out. So at this point, how long have you been back in Montana?

Jason Sloat: Uh, we came back in the fall of 2018, so it’s been about three and a half years.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And what motivated you to build this house? Like, was this also something you had in your mind for a while as well?

Jason Sloat: Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question. So it had been a, well, it had been a dream of mine since I was pretty young since I was in my early twenties. Mm-hmm to someday design and build my own house.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Um, and then when Addie and I got married, that turned out fortunately to be a dream that she shared with me. Um, we spent a lot of time. I mean, [00:21:00] I didn’t get real serious about a career until I was in my early thirties. Mm-hmm . And so this story that I’ve just told you kind of there’s big chunks that I’ve by necessity of time here that I’ve left out.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. The bottom line is, you know, by the time we were living in Chicago in the mid two thousands, we were both in our thirties and we had. 15 years renting, living in places that, you know, um, I think a lot of people can relate to this. You know, you, you get what you can afford. and every place comes with its own set of challenges and problems and irritations, right?

Jason Sloat: Mm-hmm in terms of the spaces you’re forced to live in when you’re young and you don’t have any money, you’re just forced to live, where you can afford to live mm-hmm . And I think that created in us a desire to someday design a space [00:22:00] that worked with it was designed specifically for us mm-hmm um, where we weren’t essentially living in a.

Jason Sloat: that was full of other people’s problems, like other people’s poor decisions. yeah. Right. Um, and so, so this has been a very long term. Dream of ours was to find a place in a, in a rural environment we wanted, we knew we wanted to be in the country. Um, I’m a person who, if I’m gonna be in like in a city or in a town, I want to be in the city.

Jason Sloat: If I’m not, if I’m not going to be, I really don’t want to be, I want to be out. Um, okay. I, I wanna be one, I guess what I’m saying is I’m not a suburban person. I, I, I, I don’t like the in between lands. I either I either wanna be in the thick of the action. I want to be five, a five minute walk away from a great coffee shop, or I don’t want to have, like, I don’t wanna [00:23:00] be around people.

Jason Sloat: I want to be in the middle of a beautiful area. That’s very quiet. Right? Mm-hmm. So we spent 15 years, like in the city kind of dealing with a lot of noise and a lot of chaos. Um, it was, it was a great experience and I’m glad I had that experience, but I was at a point in my life where I was really ready for something quiet.

Jason Sloat: Um, and so when we found this piece of property that is very rural, um, we don’t have many neighbors out here. Um, it’s, it’s a quiet place and, um, it’s peaceful and, and that felt like home to me. Mm-hmm so we wanted to make a place here that was designed for us. Um, and that for us meant we wanted this very small footprint, um, Uh, we don’t have kids, um, by choice mm-hmm and, uh, so it’s just the two of us.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, that means that we don’t need a lot of space. We don’t need a [00:24:00] complicated space. We wanted something very simple, uh, very easy to live in. Um, we kind of knew from years of talking about it, exactly what we wanted, but it’s hard. It’s, it’s hard to find that thing. That as it exists on the market. Yeah.

Jason Sloat: Because a lot of places right. Are designed for families. Right. and a lot of places are designed for this kind of American sensibility of having the maximum amount of square footage. That kind of maximum number of rooms you can afford. Like is a, a lot of people, I feel like come to the house buying process, wanting to buy.

Jason Sloat: Now, this has changed a little bit with. Tiny house movement, things that have happened in, you know, the last decade mm-hmm , but generally speaking, a lot of people, I think still when they go to buy a house, they want the maximum amount of space that they can afford. And that’s distinctly not something we wanted.

Jason Sloat: We wanted something that was, we, [00:25:00] we didn’t really want to like to go completely the tiny house route. Yeah. But we wanted something that was very compact. Um, that just felt like just enough. And so that’s why it was so exciting for us to find land where we could design our own space.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Definitely. I think this is really exciting.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. That’s very cool that it’s happening right now.

Jason Sloat: You’re right. And it’s happening right now?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yes. Okay. So basically this story that you’ve shared, um, this in a way, like you said, kind of shaped what you did with the rest of your life, because if you hadn’t stopped in Missoula, you think everything would be completely different.

Jason Sloat: Everything would be completely D. Absolutely. I don’t know that I would’ve known about this area. I mean, another, another crazy aspect of this story. That’s just this kind of chance thing is that after I, I [00:26:00] spent a year working for on this habitat restoration project in the van valley, and then the friend that I traveled out here.

Jason Sloat: Went back to Indiana to go to grad school at that point in time. And I stayed in Montana and at that point I moved up to the, uh, I moved up to a place outside of AR mm-hmm , uh, on, on the reservation. And, um, I got a job for a rancher. Who was a tribal member and he hired me, uh, that would’ve been the summer of the summer of 98.

Jason Sloat: He hired me to, um, Make hay for his ranching operation. I’m a farm kid. I grew up on a farm in Indiana, so I knew how to make hay. It was one of the skills I brought to Montana now how to make hay, right. He hired me to make hay for him that summer. And at the time he was [00:27:00] leasing a piece of tribal ground where he made hay.

Jason Sloat: That was in the Mo east valley, which was a few miles from where his actual ranch was located. So I traveled to this valley. To make hay to, to cut hay and RA hay and bale hay for this rancher. Okay. And I got out here and I thought, my God, this is one of the most beautiful places. I have ever seen in my life, if I could ever find a way to live here, um, I would love to live in this spot.

Jason Sloat: And at the time I didn’t see how that would ever be possible. I just, it seemed like a pipe dream. I mean, it seemed like something that it was just at the time for me. I, I was just scraping together life. Like I, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was essentially a ranch hand. I, I didn’t have any, I didn’t have any money.

Jason Sloat: I didn’t see how I, I would ever be able to afford [00:28:00] anything, but I thought, you know, someday, if I could live here, I would really love to, well, it turns out that from this piece of property that we now own where we’re building our house. I can actually see that hayfield that I was in when I had that moment.

Jason Sloat: Wow. It’s right down the road. Wow. I don’t know. It it’s a, it’s a crazy thing. I, I, I don’t claim to understand it, but. Something about, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t really totally believe in that thing about, you know, you put it out into the universe and then it comes back to you. Like, I, I don’t really necessarily believe in all that, but boy, it’s been, it’s been quite a, quite a, again, a full circle thing.

Jason Sloat: Um, definitely, you know, it’s been, it’s been a thing that’s like 25 years in the making.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah, I think that is really crazy that you are like coming back and completing, I guess, those dreams that you had so long ago, and [00:29:00] it’s really tangible. Like you do see that where you were those years ago. I think this is crazy, but also very exciting.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Yeah. I, I hear, you know, Sierra, I hear a lot of, I hear a lot of despair these days. in, you know, like, uh, you know, gen Z, people who are getting out of college right now, and the world looks very bleak. Mm-hmm job opportunities. Don’t look great. I think there are a lot of people who kind of a lot of young people who are in this kind of state of despair, and I can actually.

Jason Sloat: I can, as a gen Xer, believe it or not, I can relate to that. I don’t think a lot of people, I don’t think, I don’t think most people, my age necessarily went through that, but I think there were some of us back in the, back in the late nineties and early two thousands who went through that feeling. Mm-hmm and I just always want to tell people, like, I don’t know, it sounds super cheesy, but like, hang in there, [00:30:00] like, you know, It’s it’s okay to want what you want.

Jason Sloat: And, uh, just, just, just keep going. Uh, cause you never know, you never know. As, as, as desperate and bleak, as things may look now, it can also turn around. Um, and you can end up in a place that’s kind of like in a situation that. Is beyond your wildest dreams. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm definitely.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Well, Jason, I think we will start wrapping things up, but I always ask at the end of each episode, what is the best piece of life advice that you’ve been given?

Jason Sloat: On the best piece of life advice? Um, I mean, I think, I think I just, I think I just kind of touched on that. Yeah. Which is, um, there’s a lot to be said for perseverance and, you know, despite the fact that things may look.

Jason Sloat: Things may look somewhat hopeless at [00:31:00] certain points in your life. Keep getting out of bed, keep doing, keep pursuing that thing. Put one foot in front of the other. It’s a little bit like when you’re facing down a long hike, right. Um, when you’re in that first mile of a 10, 12, 15 mile hike, um, it, it, it, it seems like you’re never going to arrive at the destination, but the thing is you just keep putting one foot in front of the.

Jason Sloat: and eventually you do arrive. Mm-hmm you, you arrive at some point. It may not be exactly what you had in mind. Uh, but you’re, you’re, you’re going to keep making progress and that’s what I would, that’s probably the best advice I’ve gotten is keep, keep moving. Yeah. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: No, I like it. I think it’s certainly a good piece of advice.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: All right. Well, I really appreciate you coming on today, Jason and I enjoyed hearing your story.

Jason Sloat: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. Of

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: course, of course. Yeah. Thank you once again, Jason, and thank [00:32:00] you guys for listening and take

Jason Sloat: care.

Marc Moss: Thanks Sierra and Jason, Jason slope grew up on a farm in Indiana. After graduating from college, he spent a couple of years working on ranches in Western Montana. During that time he fell in love with the beauty of Montana’s wild spaces. He eventually completed graduate school at the university of Montana, and now works for, um, as the director of risk management.

Marc Moss: Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share.

Marc Moss: You can find the impactful experiences podcast. Wherever you

Jason Sloat: get your podcasts.

Marc Moss: Thanks to our inkind sponsors. Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and [00:33:00] Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast. Remember to get your ticket to the next event. September 27th, 2022.

Marc Moss: Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

Jason Forges, Tell Us Something storyteller alumni and Board member sits down with Sierra Tai-Brownlee to talk about his impactful experiences for her podcast "Impactful Experiences with Sierra Tai-Brownlee."

Transcript : Meet the Tell Us Something Board - Jason Forges

Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Mark Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Get your [email protected] We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected] The next six, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra, Ty Brownley interviewed the tele something board. For her podcast, impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you may already accept.

This week. Sierra sits down with board member and tell us something, storytelling, alumni. Jason fors let’s

listen.

Welcome back

to impactful experiences with Sierra brown. I chat with a new guest

each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I wanna thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I’m joined by Jason forges, current program analyst at cognizant and tell us something board member living in Missoula, Montana.

Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. Thank you for having me. Of course. I’m so happy. You’re here. I’d love to really just hop right in and hear a little bit about the experience you’d like to share.

Uh, well, when I’m thinking about experience that I like to share, um, mm-hmm, I realize, uh, the first thing that comes in my mind is I have experiences that I would like to share, but I think it comes off with a, a common theme.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. But, um, I think overall the common theme is, um, learning how to listen to myself. Okay. I think that’s, uh, something that’s very impactful that I, uh, continue to do, but I started to notice that, uh, uh, along the way, so originally I’m from Florida, I went to school in Delaware. During my time in Delaware, I was playing, uh, basketball at the time, college basketball.

And then, uh, I ended up being a fifth year senior, and I was working at Amazon, uh, at the same time. So during my, uh, times at Amazon, which was, uh, very, uh, Big moment of my life. I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried to move up in Amazon. I wasn’t getting, uh, I wasn’t getting the job for whatever reason.

I probably applied like three or four different times, long story short. I found myself thinking, wait, why am I trying to stay in Delaware? I’m not even from here. Yeah. So let me, uh, look for somewhere else to go. Um, I applied to a lot of different places. to figure out where I wanted to go, uh, through the AmeriCorps program.

Okay. Uh, overall, uh, I end up choosing to come to Montana. Mm-hmm now the theme of learning to listen to myself is when I wanted to come to Montana. Oh man. My relatives, friends, family. Uh, I had a opportunity to either, uh, do the AmeriCorps program cause I was offered to serve in Montana or serve in, um, California.

And when I was telling my family members, relatives like, oh yeah, you better pick Cali. I know what you’re doing. You better pick Cali. I’m like, nah, I’m gonna go to Montana. And it was kind of that sort of, uh, man, you crazy, what’s what’s going on with you. Like, what’s wrong with you? Even my mom. She’s like, why are you going all the way over there?

Mm-hmm, a sort of thing. But, um, I think that, that was like one of the pivotal moments is kind of like a, where I. and I’m still learning, but I learned in life is like small situations can have like big impacts. So even me trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I say, okay, you know what? I’m gonna choose Montana because why I want to learn how to listen to myself.

uh, I think I was definitely in a point of time in my life where even playing basketball or even in my personal life, I was doing, uh, what people wanted me to. mm-hmm and then wouldn’t stick up for myself on the things I wanted to do. So then I was left with oh, wow. Okay. Well, I did exactly the way that someone would want me to do it, but I don’t feel happy at the end actually feel terrible.

Mm-hmm so coming to Montana was kind of at that big push of like, oh yeah. Okay. Montana only has, uh, north of 1 million people. I’m in a small town. Mm-hmm town of, uh, a couple thousand. So, let me go there. It’s not gonna be a lot of people and all I can do is focus on myself.

Yeah. Okay. Interesting. And would you say that is kind of one of the experiences that started this theme and was it that decision where you really wanted to go to Montana already, but you just felt this pull to go to California and you chose to go to Montana.

You were listening to yourself?

I think it was, uh, I was trying to, I feel like it was like something within me was just telling me like, Hey, uh, well, what do you really want? I think that’s ultimately what it came down to. Uh, when I thought about California or Montana, I really thought about, well, what do I really want?

And mm-hmm . And when I was really trying to kind of, I was doing it in my mind, but it’s kind of like you do a checklist, like what’s the good, what’s the bad, what’s the. And when I was thinking of California, I was just thinking of fun. Oh, I can go here. I can go there. I’m a city boy at heart from Florida.

So I’m like, oh, what if it’s clubs around da? And I instantly stopped myself and like, wait, how is that helping me? and, uh, yeah, so then it kind of turned back to Montana. I’m like, okay. Uh, not a lot of people. I can really focus on myself and ultimately, um, again, I just graduated. Ultimately, I wanted to understand what I wanted to do in life.

And I felt like being alone will allow me the opportunity to not be distracted in the way I was mm-hmm in Delaware or Florida. Okay.

Yeah. Do you think that living in Montana has enabled you to accomplish kind of those, those goals?

Uh, yeah, I think Montana being in Montana, being a, being able to sit with myself alone, uh I think helped me afford a lot of things, which, uh, now I am in Montana and I am doing a lot of things, but, oh man, when I first came to Montana, it was, uh, rough.

So when I talk about finding that little voice inside me, say, oh, this is a great idea. Um, AmeriCorps is definitely a program that you don’t do it for the money and it doesn’t pay a lot of money either. Um, hence the service and I don’t have anything wrong with that, but, um, for my background AmeriCorps, the sector I was in, I was in the education sector and working with low income students and helping them get access to college.

If they chose to go that route for me, it was more about finding your passions and help broaden those passions. But I was. I’m the first one in my family to graduate college. Okay. Yes, yes. Yes. So when it comes to working with the first generation loan students, it’s like, oh yeah, that’s me. So with that being said, um, being able to save up a little money and then come to Montana, that’s all I really had like a little, uh, a little money mm-hmm so even though my, my, my heart or my mind or something in me said, yeah, go this Montana route.

Yeah, it definitely wasn’t a, oh, as soon as I got. It was rainbows and sunshine. I, I had to find a place to live mm-hmm uh, yeah, I, yeah, I’d had to find a place to live. I had to find a car it’s it’s close to wintertime, so I need to get things in order. So I’m like, yeah, that’s tough. I having people, um, hearing about my, my first month experience was rough and hearing people back at home telling me, man, you need to come back home.

What are you doing? Yeah. You need to come back home. But me saying no, but something’s telling me to stay here. I know it’s rough. Something’s telling me to stay here.

Okay. And at this point, how long have you been in Montana?

Ooh. Uh, now it’s like, I think so it’ll be north of four years, I think, close to five years.

And that’s the wow longest place. Uh, I never been in one area more than four years ever until Montana. Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Which is interesting. Okay. And how did you maybe kind of overcome or I guess push through those challenges and what really did keep you here if it was really tough at the beginning, and it seemed as though you could go back, but you still felt the need to stay in

Montana.

Oh, man. BEC, uh, can you repeat the question? Cause I wanna make sure I answer it ly. Yeah.

Yeah. I think the main question is what was motivating you to stay in Montana, especially in that first short period of time when you maybe could have gone back. Um, but you still felt as though you needed to be here.

Mm, uh, focusing on, I think for me was like the feeling, just really trying to tap into the feeling I’m very an, uh, analytical, so I’m very, uh, brand oriented first mm-hmm and not really focusing on my feelings, but, um, this time around, I know I felt like I wanted to do the opposite. That’s the whole purpose of me coming here.

It was like, um, everyone keeps telling me what to do. And I’m always, I’ve always been told, especially for my coach in college. He always tell me, oh, Jason, everyone wants to go left. You wanna go? Right. Mm-hmm so it was just me, uh, living up to that moment, like, okay, everyone’s telling me I need to, uh, leave, but I have a feeling I should be here.

And, um, I remember my car car broke down in the middle of. Uh, oh, no, I was here in Darby, uh, Montana. That’s when I was doing my AmeriCorps service. Yeah, my first year, my second year I was in Missoula, but, um, my second year when I had to travel back and forth Uhhuh, my car broke down. So I had to go through the struggles of couch, surfing, meaning sleeping on my friends couch on the weekdays.

If they would allow me to. Or sometimes I had to sleep in my car, um, drive back home over to the weekend to spend the night to drive. And in doing that, uh, I had my friends here in Montana saying, Jason, why don’t you just move to Missoula at this point? Because man sleeping in your car in the middle of winter, doesn’t sound great.

And yeah, you sleeping on the couch, but that sort of thing. But for me, I’m like, I don’t know. Something’s telling me I need to stay. I’m like, I don’t know. It sounds crazy, but, uh, I’m like, man, I’ve been, I’ve been through worse, but, um, I wanna stick with this because I feel like it’s gonna be impactful for me.

Mm-hmm and at the time too, um, staying in Missoula, I was at the university. So again, I graduat from college and I’m like, okay, well, if I’m on college campus, now I can, um, I thought I wanted to get into consult. So I was, uh, sitting in on some consulting classes trying to figure out. So even though I was going through all that, that sleeping in the car, riding the bus, winter, the car broke down, all that stuff.

What was going through my mind is like, I’m going to make it. It’s no way I’m doing this for no reason. Yeah. Something’s gonna come out of it. So that’s kind of the mentality that I try to stay strong with.

Definitely. How would you describe, or how do you think Montana or being in Montana has changed you?

I would say

it changed me in two ways. Well, I don’t know of two ways, but I think Montana changed me in a way of how I view the world in regards to nature. Mm-hmm man. Uh, I remember my first camping trip was in Florida and it rained and it was like, wow, hogs running around. and I’m like, yeah, camping. I’m not built for it.

Yeah. but then coming to Montana, I’m always, uh, down to experience new things. Uh, something that Montana taught me is how disconnected I was with nature. Mm-hmm , which I never knew it was a disconnect, but as I was talking about focusing on my feelings, right, yeah. Uh, going into nature was that same thing.

It was like, wait, something’s not to say it’s calling me, but I feel at peace. Hmm. I never thought I would. Okay. So I think that’s something that, uh, Montana afforded me. I think Montana also taught me to learn to under the meaning of community, which I’m still trying to figure out, but I think, uh, coming from a big city and have, I don’t know, the way I view community is so different may it’s probably cuz the AmeriCorps experience as well.

Now being in the community in Missoula and like the art community and kind of figure out what’s going on here and figuring out that there’s always ways to tap in. And it’s, uh, small enough that when you tap into a lot of different places, you know, a lot of different people mm-hmm so then allows you to build, uh, relationships in a deeper way.

And I don’t think that’s something that I did when I was back in Florida or even Delaware. I wouldn’t put myself out there like that. Mm.

okay. You mentioned a little earlier that you were, or maybe still are a city person. Do you, would you still consider yourself a city person

now? I would consider myself a human being city person.

Uh, I don’t know. Um, that’s another thing. When it came to Montana, I remember going on this five day camping trip, it was like took eight hours just to get to our camping. and when I came out of it, uh, I realized I didn’t, I wasn’t connected to anything. I didn’t see a building or anything. And when I start seeing buildings, I’m like, oh, wow.

Um, I think it’s a verse from Frank ocean that always stay in my mind that, oh, it stays in my mind. But, uh, he said, I’m living on the idea, a idea from another man’s mind. So I’m like, man, me living in a city is not really there’s someone, something that someone thought. right? Yeah. So I’m like, someone’s creating this.

So what do I want to create? So, uh, long story short, I consider myself a human being at this point. Not a city boy. I think I can, uh, I’m almost like a chameleon. I feel like I can blend into many spaces. Yeah.

Yeah. Okay. Do you hope to stay in Montana? For the future

for the future? I feel like I would like a second home in Montana.

I wouldn’t wanna live in Montana. Okay. Interesting. I’ve been questioning what does home mean to me? And I’m still questioning that I know Montana has taught me a lot when it comes to community because I’ve been to places where I don’t know, like being young and growing up in big cities, like it’s glamor or I’ve been on vacations where.

uh, it can be the most beautiful place, but if you were terrible people, the it’s terrible. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, to learn about, uh, to know that community starts with the people, uh, I learned that a lot in Montana, but something I just don’t feel fully at home. I, I can’t really explain it, but I definitely know that I would love a second home here.

Okay, very cool. Throughout our conversation thus far, you’ve talked a lot about like being in tune with yourself and knowing what you really want. How do you go about doing that? When I think it is quite hard to maybe distinguish that from other feelings or other

pressures, I feel like found finding the foundation of, uh, who I am was a, a big part of.

So being able to sit alone, to think with yourself. I remember I had a friend one time say, oh, I don’t like to be alone. I always have to be around people. But I feel like when you be around people so much, there’s nothing wrong with being around people. But when do you have time to think for yourself? So, um, being alone for a certain amount of time for me, uh, allowed me to really create that foundation of not allowing someone to tell me who I am when they know very little of me.

Mm-hmm . And, um, being able to be alone kind of helped with that, but ultimately I was been trying to learn self care. So, um, journaling is something that I got into poetry. Mm-hmm man, the, uh, the arts man, I, uh, just been deep diving into that. but, uh, I will say the number one thing for me personally is I never knew it, but taking baths, man.

Okay. Self care, self care. Self-care I’m not ashamed. I am not ashamed. So I’ll wake up early in the morning, have a nice bath at light up an Ince, play some jazz music, add some L E D lights, figure out what color, what vibe I’m feeling. And I just sit there and thought I might have a journal if I want a journal down, but I feel like, uh, overall.

Um, just trying to find opportunities to listen to myself. Uh, I’ve been tapping in, in so many different ways. I can throw out yoga. I can throw out a lot of things, but, um, overall, I would just say, uh, I sat with one idea and which was, what does it mean to be human mm-hmm I’m a hu what does it mean to be hu I’m like, wait it’s to create.

Okay. So that’s what I need to do. I need to figure out how I can create in a positive way. Mm-hmm. And, um, in listening to myself and trying out certain things, I start, uh, picking up on like, oh, wow, okay. I, I thought I was going crazy here, but something’s telling me I should go over here. So let me just do it.

And I end up doing it, something positive comes out of it. So then it makes me want to be more in tune with whatever allowed me to think of doing that particular thing. So I know I threw a lot at you. I hope you can catch something.

No, I think that’s all really helpful. And I think it’s, I don’t know something.

Yeah, definitely. I can take and use and hopefully implement and maybe listen myself a little bit more, like talking about maybe things you’re doing. What do you hope to work on in the future? Or like you just said. You feel as though being human is to create, what do you want to create in the future?

I would, I would like to be, I would love to be a part of something that I will not be around to see.

That’s fine with me. Um, I will, will wanna do something impactful. I’m all about people. And, um, I know when it comes to making change, uh, one thing I remember hearing, which always bother me is when someone says change is slow. Uh, huh. And I get the idea, but for me I’m like only if you let it be yeah. in certain ways, but for me, I’m like, uh, I also understand that, um, the changes that I will help hope to see, I guess, in the world, in the states, in the city and the community that I’m in to understand that, um, I D know, I just wanna be a part of something that I.

I won’t, uh, be around to see it until fruition, but to know that I’m a part of it. It’s uh, good enough for me Uhhuh okay. Mm-hmm . Wow.

All right. Well, I think that we’ve talked about quite a lot and I’ll start wrapping things up. But as a final question, I always just like to ask what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Mm to get something you never had. You have to do something you never did. Okay. Yes. Yes. I think I saw a speech. It was probably like a Denzel speech, but it, it made me realize I’m like, oh, it’s something I never had. I had to do something I never did. So, um, I realized doing something I never did brings fear.

So now I’m trying to. Build a stronger relationship with fear in terms of like embracing fear, as opposed to, uh, not doing it or not embracing it. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s, mm-hmm,

my thought. Well, that does make sense. And I think that’s funny because I spoke with Sarah a couple days ago and her piece of advice was something along the lines of you need.

Have fear in order to be brave. And so I think that’s kind of similar in the sense of you might be fearful, but that’s just an opportunity.

Mm yes, yes, yes. Oh for sure. And sometimes that fear can clutter, uh, clutter, your mind. I think the other day, uh, I was doing a poetry performance. Um, At an imagination brewery and doing that, I remember sitting next to my friend and I just got into the building and it was supposed to be me and my friend Elijah were supposed to perform.

And as soon as I sat down, she said, okay, you guys ready you about to go on right now? Like, What? So I remember looking at my friend Casper, I’m like, I am nervous right now. My heart’s pounded, like I’m nervous, but I said that in a way of, uh, I learned to say that because that’s how I’m feeling. It’s honestly, I don’t wanna like, keep all that energy in.

It’s like, I’m nervous, but I’m about to do this anyways. I’m gonna do it anyways. So, uh, embracing that fear mm-hmm

for sure. Okay. Well, Jason, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate

it. Oh yeah. Thank you. Of

course. Well, I think we’ll end things here, but thank you guys for listening and take care.

Thanks Sierra and Jason, Jason for just is a community member that focuses on finding avenues to be open, authentic and artistic Jason’s goal is to create an entity titled appreciate color. That will leverage the arts to promote meaningful perspectives while provoking thought and encouraging actionable steps with himself and others.

You can listen to Jason forges, tell us something [email protected] Sierra. Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty brown.

Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast. Wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors. Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Remember to get your ticket to the next event. September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go more information and tickets are [email protected]

 

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.

[music]

[intro clip – x2]

[Marc Moss] This week on the podcast…

[clip x2]

[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.

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