Montana: An Editorial Pictorial

About two weeks ago, I went back to my hometown Billings, MT for a quick and jaunty weekend. And like usual, my sister and I tried to cram as many raucous activities as we could in the short 3-day visit. Of course, many of these activities were laced with beverages of the alcohol variety.

Like all trips, it began at the airport. While waiting to fly out I encountered the most atrocious sight ever to set my eyes upon. Elbow skin. Yes. Elbow skin. A brown leather-faced lady kept pace in front of my seat; her skin dripping like melting candle wax. I had to resist the urge to iron (which is a miracle in and of itself since I only pick up an iron about 3 times a year).

Instantly I knew she was a Montana native. A hardy woman. A smoker maybe. Definitely not SPF-aware.

And I was transfixed with her elbows.

Her wrinkly, wrinkly elbows.


After landing, my sister and I took our usual route across the Rims to get to my parents’ house. I chattered incessantly while taking snapshots of the skyline of Billings, lone buildings giving me the finger. I waved hello.






One of our usual excursions is an outing to downtown Billings where we visit the antique stores. I’m not a big fan of hunting and gathering at these types of places but for some reason I love doing it in my hometown. When we pulled into the parking lot I stumbled on this little nugget:

I happen to agree.







Inside the store were a variety of gifts guaranteed to satisfy the extra-special person in your life. Check these out and feel free to take your pick. The creepy rabbit plate is my choice. I mean, who doesn’t want to eat dinner atop a plate of beady rabbit eyes staring back at you.

"As a housewarming gift, I brought you this sweet Cobra."

Wrong. Just wrong.









Saturday, we took a quick trip to one of my favorite spots – Red Lodge. A short story I’ve wrote is based on this same spot [see:].

We climbed rocks and frolicked in the wilderness. My sister, not knowing how to descend from said rocks in said wilderness, succeeding in choking my father out like Lex in Jurassic Park as he tried to help her down from the boulder.






 Sister and I both cracked this joke at the same time and then ended up owing each other a goddamn Cherry Soda.

One night we decided to eat dinner on the South side of town amidst the boxcars.

"We will steal your soul."









I have to admit I really wanted to hop one and ride it hobo-style. But then I realized I didn’t have any beans or fingerless gloves to complete my look so we settled for eating at a tiny, organic restaurant called Café DeCamp. An organic restaurant is a new thing to Billings and I wanted to try it out.

Clearly you see from my expression below, I masticate like a cow with no sense of decorum at all.







Whereas the Chef was hot the food was not. I ordered a crepe with pork belly and fried egg. And granted, I should have known the heaviness of this dish based on the ingredients but I had a few bites and was done. Saltiness overload, Batman. My stomach paid me back well later that night.

I will murder you internally.







The best day of the trip was my last one. Not because I had to leave at the end of the day but because we hopped in my sister’s itty bitty car and just took a drive. Visiting old haunts and reminiscing. Swerving across back roads and shrieking as we descended sloping hills. We made sure to drive by Tokyo Sauna, a place that’s intrigued us all our lives. Despite being billed as a “massage parlor”, as children we held the immature notion that Tokyo Sauna is some sort of back-door, happy-ending giving, whorehouse.

I’m pleased to announce we still feel the same way today.











In fact, my point is validated by the lone review on YELP: Well I was just passing through on a long cross country ride by motorcycle. On a whim I decided to treat myself to a massage.  Well I suggest you ask for “CoCo” and maybe you’ll  leave floating on clouds like I did.

Note the spelling and the quotation marks on CoCo’s name that bolster my argument.

We drove by the old house we used to live in with our mom down by the railroad tracks. No really, I can say this now with pride and a straight face.






Then while out on the West End of town, we stumbled on a house straight out of our dreams. Some sort of delicious cross between a smaller version of the Winchester house and a home straight out of a horror film.

I want to go to here.








Billboard warfare is clearly alive in Billings and well as evidence by these blurry snapshots.






Another thought : Grass is pretty in Montana.








Before I headed back to the airport, Sister and I took a walk in the field across from our parents’ house. And at the very end of my trip I discovered three things about Montana.

Sex in fields does happen.

My sister has really pretty ankles.






And I just can’t be bothered to run.







Finally, if you can guess this image here, I will be impressed. And consider you my rival.

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  • Reply

    susan tepper

    June 20, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Jules, have to admit I laughed my ass off at this travelogue you put together. I aspire to those elbows. I want the rabbit plate. I want the little white house where I’m sure a murder or two could take place. I want the salty food. Actually I visited Billings when I was 12, my mom drove us 3 kids across the country from NY to Spokane. We overnighted in Billings. My mom has a photo with my brother in front of a sign saying: welcome to billings montana. Thanks for this, Jules! You and your sister seem like a riot! Hugs, susan

    • Reply


      June 20, 2011 at 4:17 am

      Susan, I think you would totally rock those leathery elbows. Thank you for the read and I am glad you were able to experience Billings for a brief moment. Next time I go, you’re invited. We’ll go walk the train tracks.


  • Reply

    Marcus Speh

    June 20, 2011 at 6:50 am

    what a wonderful blog article. my treat this morning. the elbows. yes. the billboard war made me laugh the most. overall though this is a great form. funny and wise. you might not have to read my essay after all! the secret picture: a nipple? close-up of your sister’s ankles after the run? detail from a billboard against cosmetic surgery? the moon in an unobserved moment, photoshopped? your eyeball not photoshopped? [i give up.]

  • Reply


    June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    your tongue licking something…thx for the laugh – love the blonde:)

  • Reply


    June 23, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Wow. You truly summed up our time spent together…perfectly! You know how I am completely against tattoos? Well, I always thought “One day, I want to get one of my sister’s genius & beautiful phrases from one of her writings tattooed on my side.” Well, I think I found it: “I will murder you internally.” Too much?

    Love it!
    Come back!

    • Reply


      June 23, 2011 at 3:20 am

      And…what on earth is that photo??? Let me guess….your Chimichanga from Bogart’s? Hahahaha…..!

  • Reply


    July 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Daughter, I see absolutely nothing wrong with your eating habits and as your Mother, I take great pride knowing that I, was the one who taught you well-bred, social behaviour. Masticate away. xx

  • Reply

    Michelle Elvy

    March 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Great style here, great movement through this piece, Jules! I laughed all the way… You make the most of it, from the wrinkles to the last…er… body part? It’s got to be a nipple, right? But that seems too obvious. Hmmm… PS I like your ma! :)

  • Reply


    April 1, 2012 at 12:45 am

    you make real life fun, which is a good trick. the photo looks like the inside of an eye, a retina, a bloodshot one.

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