“Neighbors - Part 2”
Our first story comes to us from Devin Carpenter, who shares a verbal love letter to his grandmother, who taught him to be a good neighbor and to be bold. He calls his story “Mimi on my Shoulder”.
Devin Carpenter is a Cali-Rado-Tanan who has lived in Pennsylvania and New York and is joined tonight by his Mom, Patty, and his Dad, Jeff…who do not know he is about to tell this story. Growing up on a military base and moving throughout his life has greatly influenced the way Devin sees the world and how he approaches relationships with others. Devin calls Missoula home and has been deeply involved in building communities through activism and social engagement since he first arrived here to start college at the University of Montana in 2008. Devin left Montana in 2015 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Higher Education at Penn State and found his way right back two years later to take on his current role as the Director of New Student Success at UM, where he serves as an advisor to the UM Advocates and mentors and transitions incoming students through a successful start of their college journey. In his free time, Devin is likely listening to his record collection, cooking a from-scratch meal in his kitchen, drinking a Shady at the (former) Kettlehouse Southside with his friends, dancing in the dark, or some combination of all four.
Sarah Black leaves her husband for another love and another life. Her parents hear the news with a lot of questions and a lot of grace. Though she isn’t as graceful when her spouse brings unexpected news to her, when she leads with love, she knows she’s hearing the news the best way that she can. Sarah calls her story “Lead with Love”.
Sarah grew up in Helena, MT. After high school, she moved around several times and is happy to reside in Missoula and live closer to family. She is fascinated by wellness, art, the outdoors, social justice, storytelling, and all the ways they intersect.
Whitney Peper and his partner make compassionate choices to the news that there is a strange man under his mother-in-law’s bed. Whitney calls his story “The Right House”.
Barron Whitney Peper is an award-winning architect based in Missoula who helps homeowners create new spaces and transform old ones in a way that welcomes nature, community, and health into our lives. He is also co-facilitating an emerging coalition of community members to support the city in reimagining how we can together address housing affordability, and he would love to talk to you about it.//
Barron Whitney Peper
Cathy Scholtens hikes to Hope Lake in Montana with her best friend, where they work out their complex feelings for one another. Cathy calls her story “Friendship, Hope, and Wisdom.” Thanks for listening.
Living her best life amidst the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley, Cathy is an out-of-shape adventure enthusiast. She loves the mountains, waterways, back roads, and MOST people of Montana. When she first came to Montana in 1976, she saw the Milky Way in all its glory for the first time. The wonder and magnificence of the night sky continue to knock her socks off.
Cathy’s heart also lies with a ragbag group of friends and family — her “Family of Choice”. She remains forever grateful for the craziness, the love, and the laughter they bring into her life
Transcript : Neighbors - Part 2
Neighbors Part 2
[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We’re currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.
The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. This week on the podcast.
[00:00:29] Devin Carpenter: Uh, I noticed that there is a woman standing outside my bedroom, tapping on the window and holding this white bag in the air. And then I get excited because I realize this is not just some woman.
This is Mimi. This is my grandma. And what I need to do is go very quietly, let her in the house. And I go let Mimi in the front door and we sit down and we open up this white bag. And we share a couple glazed donut holes, just the two of us before we go wake up everyone [00:01:00] else and then share with them as well.
[00:01:02] Sarah Black: The best explanation that I have for this is that it’s like I was walking down this path and it’s nighttime. And queerness is like a house, with the lights on, and I can see the people inside, and I want to go in, but I don’t know those people, and I don’t live in that house, and the door is closed. And then I met Louis.
[00:01:31] Whitney Peper: And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride? And Tracy’s
[00:01:34] Cathy Scholtens: like, yeah, get in the car. And I’m like,
[00:01:37] Whitney Peper: whoa, no, no, no, no. And I, I like, barricade the door and trap him inside. And Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me. And I go, JP, call the cops. And JP’s like, no, we’re not calling the
[00:01:51] Cathy Scholtens: cops.
And we see this hawk coming up the North Ridge, and she’s floating on those drafts, and just floating and floating, [00:02:00] and pretty soon, she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity boogity, new age, woo woo, mystical girl, I’m not, look at me, oh my god, okay?
[00:02:18] Marc Moss: storytellers share their true personal story on the theme, Neighbors. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience June 16th, 2003 at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field in Missoula, Montana. We are proud to have partnered with Missoula Pride for this event, which featured six queer voices and two allies.
At the event, I acknowledge that Tell Us Something has a lot of privilege. We welcome all respectful voices and at this event. We used our privilege to elevate marginalized forces. And if I say that I must in good faith, give up the microphone. So I did two members of the Missoula queer community took over the MC duties for the evening to honor and respect the work that they did.
They will follow up each [00:03:00] story on today’s podcast. Cara Rivera and Devin Carpenter were the MCs that evening.
Tell us something acknowledges with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendlay, Salish, and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations. Their profound connection to the earth and its resources has left an indelible mark on the landscape we now call home.
In recognizing their enduring legacy, we are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving its ecosystems, and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve this precious land for future generations, fostering a harmonious coexistence with nature that celebrates our shared heritage.
We take this moment to honor the land It’s native people and the stories that they share with us. Our first story comes to us from [00:04:00] Devin Carpenter, who shares a verbal love letter to his grandmother, who taught him to be a good neighbor and to be bold, he calls his story Mimi on my Shoulder. Thanks for listening.
[00:04:17] Devin Carpenter: So it’s about eight o’clock in the morning on a typical Saturday and seven year old me is fast asleep. And into my dreams, I start to hear this sort of subtle yet persistent tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And as I wake up, I noticed that there’s a woman standing outside my bedroom, tapping on the window and holding this white bag in the air.
And then I get excited because I realize this is not just some woman. This is Mimi. This is my grandma. Uh, and what I need to do is go very quietly, let her in the house. Uh, and so I very carefully creep down the wooden bunk bed, [00:05:00] uh, so I don’t wake up my little brother Austin, who’s sleeping below. I sneak past my little brother Zachary’s bedroom, past my parents bedroom, and I go let Mimi in the front door.
And we sit down and we open up this white bag and we share a couple glazed donut holes. Just the two of us before we go wake up everyone else and then share with them as well. And this is just one of the many silly little things that my grandmother and I would do together as a kid. Um, I am extremely close to Mimi.
You see, I’m the oldest of seven grandchildren. So by default, I’m the favorite. Um, and, uh, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really realized, uh, just how profound of an impact Mimi has had on my life, and how I choose to show up in the world. Um, and what it really boils down to, are two lessons. The [00:06:00] first is to be a good neighbor.
Uh, you see, I grew up in the same small town, Lompoc, California, where Vandenberg Air Force Base is, that my mom and her two sisters grew up in. And so Mimi and Papa have lived in the same place for almost 50 years and have really built a community of people around them. Uh, their house sits up kind of on a corner, raised above everyone else’s, and as you stand at the kitchen sink, you look out across the lawn that my grandpa zero scaped over the years and past the hedges where the blue bellied lizards, you know, the ones that if you try to catch them, their tail rips off, um, where they would sun in the summertime, and you can see kind of the whole neighborhood out where everything is.
And what I noticed over sort of observing my grandmother is just how Very small interactions can lead to really meaningful relationships. And things like Mrs. Pickles next door coming over to bring over the Sunday paper because they would share it among [00:07:00] all kinds of ladies in the neighborhood so they could get the most coupons because they all use different brands and so they were maximizing their coupons.
Or if it was Mimi sending me across the street to go visit Ruthie because she could see me go all the way across the street and so I’d go hang out with Ruthie and she usually had some kind of sweet treat to give me. Or is my grandmother making jam from her boysenberry bushes and giving it to the other neighbors?
Um, and these sorts of small interactions can lead to a type of community where you are sort of forced to rely on other people, but it’s a two way street. You’re, you’re also providing something to others and that builds into something larger. The second lesson was… It’s to live boldly. And boldness can take shape in many forms.
Uh, Mimi was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, um, and as she started to lose her hair, rather than letting that sort of demoralize her, she decided to be silly about it. And so she would [00:08:00] hide costumes around the house and would wear them at the most inopportune times. Um, so you’d be sitting at the dinner table and next thing you know she’d pull out a pair of Groucho Marx sunglasses with the big nose and the mustache.
Or she would wear one of those furline trapper john hats to church. Um, or she would bring, uh, boa, uh, feather boas to her exercise class so that everyone could wear one and be a little silly. Boldness is also sassy, too, and so one particular time, this was in Colorado, we moved there when I was 10, we’re at the commissary on base and this woman, uh, is not using good grocery store etiquette.
Uh, so Mimi nicknames her the General’s Wife because the only person with the audacity to act like that must be the General’s Wife. And she, General’s Wife leaves her cart in the middle of the aisle and wanders away, and so Mimi takes it. And hides it a couple aisles in the other direction. , uh, and I mortified running the other direction as well, [00:09:00] and it’s this kind of boldness that I really have taken with me as well.
Uh, 2008 was a big year for my family. Not only did the cancer happen, but we were also moving to Montana. Um, I was starting college and my family was. being stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Um, and so this was really the first time where I was forced with figuring out how I wanted to exist. I was moving out on my own, starting college.
It’s when I started really exploring my sexuality. It’s when I figured out how I wanted to take up space and use my voice for social justice and activism. Um, and I also had to decide what kind of friends I wanted to have and how I wanted to build that community for myself. Um, and so I really found my friends in the music scene here, and the best way that I can explain this is, again, through a series of seemingly small interactions that cascade into larger things, and so it can be as simple as being in the pit at a concert, and you see someone who had one too many mushroom chocolates, and you offer them water, and then [00:10:00] you talk to them, and you add them on social media, and then Months later you’re looking for a ride to go to a mountain party in Billings and they know someone who’s going and so you hop in the car with these strangers and talk for the next six hours as you drive to Billings and then you spend the weekend surviving at a rave in the forest and you get to know them through those interactions and not only is that being a good neighbor but it’s also quite bold to do those kinds of things and so this really comes to a head for me.
Uh, in one particular moment, it was a typical Saturday, uh, I was in the alleyway behind the Badlander, um, and I wasn’t, uh, none of my really close friends were there, but people I knew, some of these acquaintances were there, and I noticed that there were these people who were talking about me, they were actually, they were making fun of the clothes that I was wearing, it’s actually this jacket is what they were talking about, um, and they were using some not so nice words about how flamboyantly I was dressed, um, and so.
I did the thing that [00:11:00] Mimi would do and I yelled back at them. Um, and next thing I know, I, there’s a semi circle of men standing around me, uh, demanding that I apologize to them. And, uh, the people around me were encouraging me to apologize. Um, and I will never forget the moment. Where I consciously decided I would rather get beat up in this alleyway than apologize to these
[00:11:29] Whitney Peper: people.
[00:11:35] Devin Carpenter: And I didn’t know it then, but I know now that Mimi was standing behind me saying, those are not good neighbors. Be bold. And thankfully two people who I knew a little bit, maybe not super well, Nico and Tiffany. And,
[00:12:00] as luck would have it, we’ve actually become great friends. Nico has tattooed Mimi’s handwriting on my body, and Tiffany, who’s here, I just spent the night in the emergency room with her when she broke her collarbone a couple weeks ago. And so we are still very good friends. And I wish that the story ended here, uh, but there was one more lesson that Mimi had to teach me.
Um, I mentioned that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, um, and that continued over the years with different kinds and strokes and things and just this past February I got the call that I have been dreading for over a decade. And my mom told me that I should get on a plane and I should pack a suit.
And so I went with the intention of being there for two weeks. Um, my parents from Denver, me from Montana, my aunt Karen from DC, my aunt Julie from Northern California, all arrived in that same driveway that we [00:13:00] spent our childhood in with the hedges and the lizards within a matter of moments. And seven hours later, as we were arguing over who was going to stay awake to give Mimi her medicine, she died.
And in the chaos that ensued in the days to come, I found myself standing in the kitchen, trying to look at anything besides anyone else’s face. And so I did the logical thing and just started reading everything that was on the refrigerator. And I came across a magnet that said, Angels are sometimes disguised as neighbors.
[00:13:54] Kera Rivera: I’m not crying, you’re crying. Devin Carpenter is a Colorado [00:14:00] Tannin who has lived in Pennsylvania and New York and is joined tonight by his mom, Patty, and his dad, Jeff, who did not know he was telling this story. Growing up on a military base and moving throughout his life has greatly influenced the way Devin sees the world and how he approaches relationships with others.
Devin calls Missoula home and has been deeply involved in building communities through activism and social engagement since he arrived here to start college at the University of Montana in 2008. Devin left Montana in 2015 to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Penn State and found his way right back to take on his current role as the director of new student success at UM.
In his free time, Devin is likely listening to his record collection, cooking a meal from scratch, drinking a shady at the former Kettle House Southside with his friends, dancing in the dark, or some combination of all
[00:14:55] Marc Moss: four. Our next storyteller is Sarah Black. [00:15:00] Sarah leaves her husband for another love and another life.
Her parents hear the news with a lot of questions and a lot of grace. Though, she isn’t as graceful when her spouse brings unexpected news to her. When she leads with love, she knows she’s hearing the news the best way that she can. Sarah calls her story, Lead with Love. Thanks for listening.
[00:15:27] Sarah Black: There’s a path that I was supposed to follow. Um, I was supposed to marry a cisgender man. They don’t specify cisgendered, but it’s just assumed that that’s what they’re talking about. Cause there’s no other kind, right? I was supposed to have kids, eventually grandkids, and me and this man were supposed to grow old together.
I wasn’t sure if this was the right path for me. [00:16:00] Um, I thought it might be, because I did, actually, fall in love with, and then marry a cisgender man. But I was also queer. Um, it didn’t complicate things right away, because I didn’t know what that looked like for me. Um, I… I didn’t have a lot of role models when I was younger, and, um, the ones that I had I couldn’t really relate to.
The best explanation that I have for this is that it’s like I was walking down this path, and it’s night time, and, Queerness is like a house with the lights on and I can see the people inside and I want to go in, but I don’t know those people and I don’t live in that house [00:17:00] and the door is closed. And then I met Lewis and the door opened and it turns out that I do live there and I do know those
[00:17:13] Whitney Peper: people.
[00:17:21] Sarah Black: So then it got a little complicated because, um, I still loved this man that I married. Um, but I was also falling in love with Louis.
I, um, I felt like my marriage was unraveling. I would have kept the both of them if I could, but that wasn’t an option. Um, So, um, I had to kind of start letting him go. And I felt like no matter how you [00:18:00] told the story, I was the villain. And not like a sexy villain, more like the kind of villain who loses everyone close to them and then proceeds to make terrible life decisions.
And I didn’t want to be that. villain. So, um, I reached out to a friend, the one person that I could think of who had been through something sort of similar, because I thought he might understand. And he did more than understand. He listened to me fret endlessly. And then he said, look, you can’t do this wrong.
I was like, I can’t do this, right? He was like, no lead with love and you can’t do it wrong.[00:19:00]
So I came out to a few more friends that went pretty well. And then I had to come out to my parents. I had to tell them that my marriage was ending. I’m in a new relationship. And I’m bisexual, like in all in the same conversation, right around Christmas time. Merry Christmas.
My mom had a lot of questions. I don’t blame her. That’s a lot. And I didn’t really have all the answers, but I felt like I owed it to her to try. It was a hard conversation. And then my dad, who had been kind of [00:20:00] quiet through all this, spoke up and said, The most important thing is that we love you.
So let me just go back real quick and tell you about Lewis and how I met him. We worked at a Starbucks together in New York. And this particular Starbucks… It had a walk in freezer that was an absolute nightmare. I don’t think they make them like this any I really hope they don’t make them like this anymore.
Um, you open the door, and the first compartment is a refrigerator, and then there’s a second door, and you have to go through that to get to the freezer. And there’s no other way into this freezer, it butts up against the wall. So… [00:21:00] Every time that door is like hanging open, condensation builds around the door frame so that when you close it, it freezes.
And that makes it very difficult to get into the freezer and it also makes it very difficult to get out of the freezer. So it was just this terrifying exercise. Um. Because we would prop it open and it would just build up more condensation and then it would freeze.
Some kind soul had left his red soccer warm up sweatshirt on a hook right outside the freezer for anyone to use whenever they went in there. And I love that sweatshirt. Um. I felt a connection to the person who owned it even before I knew who it [00:22:00] was. Um, and I loved having access to it because I get cold real easy.
[00:22:11] Whitney Peper: Um,
[00:22:15] Sarah Black: and that’s just kind of who Lewis is. Um, he just provides you with the thing you need before you even know that you need it.
So, um, turned out. I kind of liked him, he kind of liked me, we eventually did get married, we have an awesome daughter, um, and we moved back to Montana to be closer to my folks. And um, then about 10 years into our relationship, he says, I’ve taken this body as far masculine as I can and it’s not far enough.
I need to transition. He gave me [00:23:00] permission to tell you this, by the way.
Now, as someone who has come out and faced clumsy reactions to it, I would like to tell you that I handled this very gracefully, uh, but I cannot. Um, I loved him and I knew that it wasn’t going to break us up, but it didn’t break us. I was a little scared about how the hormones would change him. Like, I don’t know, he was going to become a big grumpy Hulk monster or something.
I don’t know what I thought was going to happen,
but he did change. Um, but not at all in the ways that I was afraid he would on the outside. He’s a little different, but on the inside, he is exactly the same person he always was. [00:24:00] Except that now he’s a little more comfortable, well a lot more comfortable in his body and in his life than I have ever known him.
And gender congruency has been just, that’s where your insides and your outsides match. Um, has just been such a huge relief for him that he now has more capacity for the bullshit of the world. And more capacity for the bullshit of his wife, which is good news for me. So, I guess I went a little bit off the path that I was supposed to be on.
But, I wouldn’t take it back, ever. I mean, once you get to be yourself, it’s, you just have so much freedom to keep going. [00:25:00] Um, And I don’t know where we’re going next with this. Uh, hopefully Hawaii. I kind of want to check out three tables now.
Um, all I know is lead with love and you can’t do it wrong. Thank you.
[00:25:23] Whitney Peper: Sarah
[00:25:23] Kera Rivera: Black grew up in Helena, Montana. After high school, she moved around several times and is happy to reside in Missoula and live closer to family. She is fascinated by wellness, art, the outdoors, social justice, storytelling, and all the ways they intersect.
[00:25:41] Whitney Peper: Coming up. And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride?
And Tracy’s like, yeah, get in the car. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. And I, I like barricade the door and trap him inside and Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me. And I go. JP, call the cops. And [00:26:00] JP’s like, no, we’re not calling the cops.
[00:26:05] Cathy Scholtens: And we see this hawk coming up the North Ridge and she’s floating on those drafts and just floating and floating and pretty soon she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity boogity new age woo woo mystical girl. I’m not look at me.
Oh my God. Okay.
[00:26:32] Marc Moss: Those stories after a word from our sponsors, stay with us. Thank you to our stewardship sponsor, university of Montana summer office. Thank you to our story sponsors, AXIS Physical Therapy and Hindu Hillbilly. Thank you to our accessibility sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Our next story comes to us from Whitney Pepper.
Whitney and his partner make compassionate choices to the news that there is a strange man under his mother in [00:27:00] law’s bed. Whitney calls the story, The Right House. Thanks for listening.
[00:27:18] Whitney Peper: It was spring of 2022, just over a year ago, here in Missoula, Montana. It was a cool morning, crisp air, and we had the doors flung open in our house to let that beautiful spring warmth start coming in because our windows are all painted shut. But this was not just any day. This was, this was the sun coming back in a time of celebration.
Cause what had just taken place six months prior, leading up to this moment, was a ridiculous home renovation extravaganza. Which I took on and told my [00:28:00] partner we got this. Which I did not know how to do. And so, over six months we had completely gutted and completely renovated and torn apart this house involving every single person that I met on the street, anywhere.
I’m like, you wanna help? And we’re down to the details at this point. So it’s really a time of celebration, it had been chaos. And on this day… We were sleeping in, which was really nice. You know, we, I think we slept in that day. Um, oh, I should back up the, the context of my house. I’m living with my partner who grew up here in Missoula and my partner’s mother.
Who’s name is Tracy. My partner is JP. My partner’s name, uh, JP’s mom is Tracy. And Tracy moved back from Arizona to move to her hometown, Missoula, to move in with us. So this house renovation project involving ex husbands and family members and cousins and strangers, um, [00:29:00] has been a big deal. And Tracy…
Sleeps on the main floor in the small bedroom. It’s a very small house. You walk in and it’s just one space. There’s a little bedroom and then downstairs there’s the basement. That’s where JP and I sleep. So this morning we wake up. We’re down in the basement. We can hear Tracy getting up in the bedroom above us going off to the farmer’s market or to go grab lunch or something.
And we wake up this day and we’re down to the details. I’m planning to install smoke detectors, which is really exciting. Hmm. And, we put on music, I think it was the Bahamas, you know, like, Doom, doom, doom, is there some way, trick to being happy? Doom, doom, doom, most days I’m feeling like a half me. It’s, it’s a blissful morning.
And we’re out there, you know, JP’s cooking us breakfast or something. I’m working, smoke detectors, getting my stuff, getting my tools. And, uh, I go into Tracy’s room, which is on the main floor. JP’s, you know, [00:30:00] cooking breakfast and we’re grooving. I’m on the stool and I walk in though and I see that there’s a, a, a camel cigarette on Tracy’s bed.
And I think, that’s weird. Tracy doesn’t smoke. But… She is a spiritual woman, and I thought, you know, she’s got some native indigenous friends, and I thought, I know that tobacco is something used for ser I, my mind was just like I went about, I went about my business. Installed the smoke detector. And then I worked my way downstairs, and I’m in our bedroom.
I can hear the music. You know, JP’s dancing all around. And, uh, at some point, Tracy comes back. And I hear her come in, and our, I forgot to mention that our other housemate is a geriatric dog named Bayrock. He’s 18 years old. He’s a terrier. He’s a terrible guard dog. He’s more like a piece of furniture. And, um, I hear Tracy come back and I hear Bayrox shuffling his little, his nails on the [00:31:00] floor.
Shook, shook, shook, shook, shook, shook. And then, I hear Tracy going, Hey! Get out! Get out right now! What are you doing? Get out of there!
[00:31:10] Cathy Scholtens: And I’m thinking, what did he do?
[00:31:12] Whitney Peper: We don’t ever talk to Bayrock like that. And then JP screams down the stairs, Whitney, come upstairs. There’s a man under my mom’s bed.
And I run up the stairs, and I walk in, and there’s chaos. Tracy is in this tiny little bedroom where she’s got furniture not arranged appropriately, and you have to, you know, squeeze past, and there’s a man who’s emerging, a grown human man, Coming out from the bed. And what had happened is Tracy had gone in there and been like, Oh, why is Whitney’s shoe under my bed?
And she grabbed onto the shoe and there was a leg attached to it. [00:32:00] And the leg had a body attached to it and the body was moving. And Tracy’s response was Get out of there! What are you doing under my bed? And so I walk up and she’s like swatting him with a magazine. She’s a small woman. But she’s got this real sternness that I’ve never seen before.
And she’s swatting him, get out, get out! And he’s going, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can I get a ride? And Tracy’s like, yeah, get in the car! And I’m like, no! No, no, no, no! And I, I like, barricade the door and trap him inside and Tracy’s behind me and JP’s standing next to me and I go… J. P., call the cops. And J.
P. ‘s like, no we’re not calling the cops. And I was like, shit, I just failed my test.
you want something to eat?
Eh, we give him a sparkly water. Sparkly water? Fizzy water. Spindrift. And [00:33:00] like a granola bar. And we’re sitting there and I’m like, what are you doing? He’s like, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I don’t. This is the first time I’ve ever done this. And I was like, what’s your name? And he goes, I’m Steve. We’re like, damn it, Steve,
[00:33:19] Cathy Scholtens: what are you
[00:33:20] Whitney Peper: doing here?
Why are you under my mother in law’s bed? He’s like, goes on this whole story that there was, you know, his ex wife has this abusive husband and, and he was trying to like help her out cause he’s abusive and then the guy was being attacking him and then there’s a car chase and he gets out of the car and he busts his ankle and, you know, it’s this whole story and I’m sitting there, you know, barricading the door just like, Oh, okay, Steve.
And finally, you know, Tracey leans over my shoulder at one point and she goes, You didn’t steal anything, did ya? And he’s like, No, no, no, I did not. And I looked down and I was like, Steve, you’re wearing my shoes! And he’s like, [00:34:00] I’m sorry! And it’s sad, you know? But then I remember, earlier that day, I could not believe that this had happened.
And I forgot, earlier that day, at our neighbor’s house next door, I had looked out the window, when I’m like, dancing and eating and And having a great time, celebrating. And there was like a whole SWAT team coming in on the house next door. And my neighbor, the person who owns the house, had called me and been like, hey, the cops are looking for somebody, he’s on the run, and they think he’s hiding out in our house, which was vacant.
And I was like, that’s terrible, that’s terrifying. And it was really frightening though, you look out and it was like. It’s like, police with assault rifles, you know, it’s just not expected. It was frightening. And then nothing happened and they went on and we danced and I was installing smoke detectors and now we’re here and I’m looking at this guy.
And at a certain point I go, Steve, you [00:35:00] lucked out because the background, you, you, Tracy is a nurse who works at St. Pat’s in the behavioral health unit. clinic, and has a lot of experience caring for people in various situations. She’s got experience. J. P. has an entire career in criminal justice reform, working with people who are incarcerated, doing embodiment work, and meditation work, and helping people heal, and you got, and then you got me, and I’m just a nice guy.
And so, Steve’s got the dream team, and I’m like, Dammit Steve! You picked the right house. This could have gone so poorly for you. Do you understand that we’re in Montana? Seriously, Steve? I mean, finally, I finally, like, stopped barricading. I was like, I don’t even know why I’m doing this. I’m trapping him in the bedroom that we’re like, Get out!
But I let him come out, and I would [00:36:00] offer him a chair, but we’re hippie people, and we don’t have chairs, we sit on the floor. And he’s got this busted ankle, and he, so he gets down on the ground, and we got his fizzy water, and You know, he’s asking, will you give me a ride? And we’re trying to figure out what to do.
And I’m like, no Steve, we can’t give you a ride. And I’m trying to be like, how do I not get in? Is this the guy that the police were looking for? Is it not? I have no idea. I just don’t know if we should get involved. And the three of us are kind of just, me, Tracy, and JP, we’re just looking at each other.
Partially trying to strategize and also being
[00:36:30] Cathy Scholtens: like, Is this really
[00:36:30] Whitney Peper: happening?
And finally, you know, we let him use our phone, call somebody, they don’t answer, and so we just, you know, we say, Steve, I’m sorry, we can’t help you. You gotta go. You can keep the shoes. And we send him on his way. You know, he, and he’s got this busted ankle. And inside, you know, we’re sitting there looking at him.
He was not a scary man. He was not a scary man. He was a man who was down [00:37:00] on his luck. You know, and this is what we Is that Steve in the audience? And, uh, this is a guy who’s down on his luck. And what I I’m just a nice guy, but what I know from being in partnership with JP is how poverty and incarceration and all these things can make some people’s life disproportionately miserable.
And I’m sitting here looking at this guy, and I’m like, I don’t know if his story’s real. I don’t know. But, I certainly don’t want to participate in further. Traumatizing this person. And so we sent him on his way, and, you know, we went about our day. And, uh, every once in a while we’d look at each other, like, Did that really happen?
And, you know, we were like, maybe we should lock our doors, you know. Or fix the windows or something. Um, and now it’s a bit of a joke. You know, Tracy has a good friend, Wish, who lives on the north side, that some of you maybe know. And, um, Wish will always say, Is [00:38:00] Steve back? You seen much of Steve? And we’re like, no, we haven’t seen Steve.
But truly, I mean, Where I end up, Nobody thinks this stuff’s gonna happen, but… I think housing in Missoula has raised, the cost of housing for renting has raised like 40% in 6 years or something. I mean, it’s astronomical. So, any one of us could be in Steve’s shoes. And the real question though is like, we all got these great signs that say like, We love queers!
And science is real! What do you do though when someone shows up under your mother’s bed? Not that queers and science have anything to do with that, but you get what I’m saying. Virtue signaling, what do you do? The question I leave you with. What would you do?[00:39:00]
[00:39:00] Devin Carpenter: Barron Whitney Pepper is an award winning architect based in Missoula, who helps homeowners create new spaces and transform old ones in a way that welcomes nature, community, and health into our lives. He is also co facilitating an emerging coalition of community members to support the city and re imagining how we can together address housing affordability.
And he would love to talk to you about it. Our final
[00:39:25] Marc Moss: storyteller of the evening is Kathy Schultens. Kathy hikes to Hope Lake in Montana with her best friend, Becky, where they work out their complex feelings for one another. Kathy calls her story, friendship, hope, and wisdom. Thanks for
[00:39:40] Whitney Peper: listening.
[00:39:41] Cathy Scholtens: Missoula pride.
Well, it was. Late September, and my best friend Becky and I decided to go to Hope Lake in the Big Hole. We’d never been, and we wanted to go. The [00:40:00] map said it was seven miles. So we start up. The weather had been terrible. We start. We have a canine companion, Katie, the Wonder Dog, and she’s with us. She’s a three year old golden retriever and she’s up for anything.
So we start up and about the 30th switch back, we realize, Oh shit. Yeah, it’s seven miles, but it’s six miles straight up to the continental divide. Over the top and down another mile. Well, you know, we’re up for it. We’re best friends. I’d met Becky about seven years before that. And she was fantastic. She was funny.
She was smart and we became best friends immediately. She was a tomboy. She wasn’t into shopping and makeup and pedicure. She was into. Fishing and camping and hiking. And so was I. So it was perfect. We had a lot of [00:41:00] fun. She was also the kindest person I’d ever met. As a matter of fact, when we would go to Missoula and I would not drive, we, every stoplight with a guy with a cardboard sign, she’d go, Kathy.
Hey, Kathy, give that guy ten bucks. Hey, Kathy, you got twenty bucks? Give that girl twenty bucks. Look, it’s all coming out of my wallet. So I started to drive. Saved myself a lot of money over time.
So we’re hiking. And we’re talking, like best friends do. You know, but we’re not talking about what we’re supposed to be talking about. Because, yeah, we were best friends. But, in the past, you know, month or so, our relationship had kind of shifted a little bit. Okay, a lot, alright? Because we had become lovers.
[00:42:00] They don’t call her Bad Becky for nothing.
And we didn’t know what to do with that. Okay, because there was a lot of red flags, a lot of problems. Now, Becky was gung ho. She was ready to call up U Haul, get the trailer, go, you know, live with me the rest of my life. Come be with me. But me, I’m like, oh man, there’s like way too much stuff going on here.
There’s, there’s red flags. And let me tell you what they were, okay? One. We were both. In relationships already. I know. It wasn’t fair to them. And we felt pretty crappy about that. And we had to come clean. Two. Becky was a straight girl. All of you lesbians out there. You know what trouble straight girls are.
Are they not? They listen to every Katy Perry song. They just want to kiss a girl. And they’ll kiss you. But then they’ll break [00:43:00] your heart. And I was well aware of that. But the biggest problem, biggest problem, was me. Because I am a relationship loser. Okay? Every relationship I’ve ever been in… I left. I couldn’t stay.
I’d think I was in love, and pretty soon, I was gone. I could not keep a relationship going. And I knew that. And I didn’t want to break her heart. I didn’t want to lose our friendship. And so we needed to talk about this stuff. But hell no, we’re not going to talk about it, because that would make too much sense.
We’re just going to get up to the… The top, go to this lake. So we’re making promises to God, and we finally get up there, and we’re on the top of the Continental Divide. And now, on the Continental Divide, you guys, you can see forever, okay? It is awesome. I recommend it. [00:44:00] Except that what we saw that late September day.
Was snowstorms, thunderstorms, snowstorms, and to the west, the sun was going down. And we knew we’re not making the lake. We can’t make it. Why? Because we are responsible hikers. We know better. We know that we can’t be on that mountain in the dark. In late September, it was snow all around us, so we, like, responsible people say, okay, we’re gonna not make the lake, we’ll go down.
But let’s look at this for a minute. And it’s beautiful. It’s fantastic. And we see this Hawk coming up the North Ridge and she’s floating on those drafts and just float and float. And pretty soon she’s right here. She’s right above us. If I had stood on my tiptoes, I could have touched her. Now, I’m not no hoogity [00:45:00] boogity new age woo woo mystical girl.
I’m not look at me. Oh my God.
I ain’t no braids, nothing, but something magical happened with that Hawk. She’s right there. It’s a national geographic moment. And she is. And I’m like this.
And she’s talking to me, and I’m hearing crazy stuff. And I look at Becky to hear, to ask her if she’s hearing the same crazy bullshit I’m hearing. And just then, that hop goes phew! And goes over the side of that mountain towards Hope Lake. The message go to the Lake . I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re we’re like, duh.
So we like, what do you got in your pack? What do you got? Well, I had a water pump pretty good. I had some matches. I had a space blanket that’s useless. I’ll let you know that. [00:46:00] Um, it melts when embers hit it. Um, and I had a pound of trail mix that I was. already sick of. Now, Becky, Becky, being amazing, had an 8mm Glock on her hip, okay?
So butch. And, uh, she had a fishing pole and some worms and, uh, that’s about it, right? So, what we didn’t have was a tent, sleeping bags, warm coats, hats, gloves, food. You know, everything you need. So we decide to go anyways, because the hawk said to go. So, duh, we go. We go over the side, down to Hope Lake. And by the time we get there, it’s dark.
But Becky starts fishing right away. Why? Because Katie the Wonder Dog doesn’t eat trail mix. So she’s gotta catch some fish. And I’m over there, trying to start a fire. Because I know! Goddamn, we’re gonna die if I don’t get a fire [00:47:00] going! When I was a kid, I was a pyromaniac. I could start anything on fire, and did, and um, but I couldn’t get anything going because it’d been raining for days, I couldn’t find anything dry, nothing was working, I’m starting to freak.
And I look over at Becky, and every time she catches a fish, and that bobber goes down, Katie, the wonder dog, goes, AH FUN! YAY! And jumps in the water and goes for the bobber. And the fish would be gone. So, both of us are striking out. And I’m starting to freak. I’m like, Oh, we’re gonna die. We’re gonna die.
Gonna die. Stupid hawk. So, Pretty soon here comes Becky and she’s managed to wrangle a few fish out of Katie’s grasps and she has a couple fish and she says, what’s going on? And I go, Oh man, I can’t start this. I don’t have anything dry. And she goes, I got something for you. And she reaches in her jacket and pulls out a bunch of love letters that she’d hidden there that I had written to her over the [00:48:00] past month.
Now these love letters. Of course, we read them out loud because we’re gay girls and, uh, we had to share the moment and, uh, they’re full of, like, how I think she’s fantastic and she’s adorable and I am madly in love with her and what a loser I am and how I’m going to screw the whole thing up and, you know, I’m going to mess it up and I, I can’t do relationships and what are we going to do?
Well, she’s reading them and she’s just wadding them up, shaking her head, putting them in. We finally get a fire going, we get a good fire going, and she’s got the fish on a rock for Katie, cooking. And we’re sitting there, she says, Look at that smoke, Shultz. Look at it. It’s just going up. That’s from your letters.
All that angst and, I can’t do it, I’m horrible. All of that, up in smoke. There it goes. It’s gone. And I said, Oh yeah? [00:49:00] Well, what about all the love in those letters, baby? And she said, Oh, the love. Love goes higher. Love goes up to the universe. And the universe is listening. And the universe has us. I’m like, whoa, okay, whoa, okay.
[00:49:17] Whitney Peper: Whatever,
[00:49:18] Cathy Scholtens: Becky. And,
[00:49:19] Whitney Peper: uh,
[00:49:21] Cathy Scholtens: So we spend the night freezing our ass off, trying to be with the fire, you know, following the fire, following the fire, and talking. We start talking. And we really are mixing it up, trying to figure things out. But every once in a while, Katie the Wonder Dog keeps things really interesting by looking off into the dark woods and growling a growl that I’ve never heard any dog growl, let alone a golden retriever, okay?
And I would shit my pants. I’d be like, aaaah!
Really maintaining the butch aspect. And Becky though, Becky would whip that Glock off [00:50:00] into this commando like mode, like, and she’s ready to shoot the shit up at anything that’s gonna bother us. And I’m like, oh, I’m in love. I’m in love with this girl. So we spend the night talking, freezing, talking, freezing and come the early light of dawn when we can finally see something we see Here comes the snow, and it’s coming fast and heavy and hard.
And we’re like, we gotta get the hell out of here. So we pack up our stuff, and we start heading up to the divide. And I stop, and I take one last look at that little campsite. And I think, what the hell did we just do here? What we did was we did something really stupid, and really dangerous. But what we did was we trusted each other, and we worked together, and we made it happen.
We survived the night with nothing, and was that much [00:51:00] different than what Becky was asking me to do with her? To lean out of my comfort zone, to believe in us, to trust her, to trust myself, and to have a life together. And I figured… If I listen to a goddamn bird I’d never met before, I could surely listen to my best friend.
So up at the top of the divide, I told her I took her hand, so romantic. And I said, yes, yes. And we were on cloud nine. We ran down that mountain. Snow, no snow. We just ran down. We didn’t even stop at the camper. Cause we had to find a payphone. We had to call the people who needed to know. So we jump in the truck and we drive to Wisdom, Montana.
And we get on the payphone at Leddy’s and we call home. What used to be home and we both say we’re not coming [00:52:00] back, we’re not coming back because home, home then was in my Becky’s arms and that’s where I wanted to be. You guys, this September. It’ll be 26 years ago.
I’m still, still madly in love with her and she’s still my best friend. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Kathy Schulten.[00:53:00]
[00:53:02] Devin Carpenter: Living her best life amidst the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley, Kathy Scholtens is an out of shape adventure enthusiast. She loves the mountains, waterways, back roads, and most people of Montana. When she first came to Montana in 1976, she saw the Milky Way in all its glory for the first time. The wonder and magnificence of the night sky continues to knock her socks off.
Kathy’s heart also lies with a ragbag group of friends and family, her family of choice. She remains forever grateful for the craziness, the love, and the laughter they bring into her life. Pretty
[00:53:40] Marc Moss: great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme, Lost in Translation.
The Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration by calling 406 203 4683. [00:54:00] You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.
Thanks to our media sponsors, Missoula Broadcasting Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail 103. 3, Jack FM, and Missoula’s source for modern hits, U104. 5, Float Missoula. Learn more at FloatMSLA. com and MissoulaEvents. net. Next week on the podcast,
[00:54:26] Stephan Tucker: the world starts to come into clear focus. And I can hear the dog still barking, and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks, like something is wrong.
[00:54:35] Sandy Shepherd: To do my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right, one old man on the left, and the patient.
I’m a little nervous.
[00:54:49] Jolyne O’Brien: And I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is.
Eyes big and sure, mom! [00:55:00]
[00:55:01] Candice Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I want to try it in the most simple way possible. I can use interventions later if I want to. But I want to start simply, okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work
[00:55:15] Marc Moss: for storytellers from the Creative Pulse graduate program at the University of Montana, share their true personal story on the theme out of my shell, thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast, find them at cash for junkers band.
com to learn more about tell us something, please visit, tell us something. org.