By Casha Doemland
February 11, 2019
A few weeks ago I met up to record an episode of the We Take Note Podcast episode with Jacqulyn Whang at a co-working space in downtown. We discussed advocacy, wellness and writing. As someone who is always on the other side of the questions as a writer myself, it was a little (a lot) nerve-racking to have to answer them – especially because these were personal questions about me.
To ensure I was perceived correctly, I made sure to request the talking points/questions beforehand so I could make bullet point notes on how to respond and even practiced how I would say things in the car that day on my way to work and then on my way to the space.
Despite the amount of prep work, when it came down to sitting in front of the mic and answering the questions live, I found myself ignoring my notes and opting to fully engage myself in the moment instead. I got lost in the conversation and allowed the words to flow freely.
As a result, most of the responses are off the cuff and unscripted. While it's great to deliver raw and honest answers, as someone who is known to edit herself in her mind before she speaks, the thought of not being able to rewind (backspace) and revise definitely made me question the words that left my mouth.
Did I say the wrong thing? Did I fail to answer the question in a complete thought? Did I say too much and blab on about nothing? Did I sound intelligent? Or was it the exact opposite? Did I sound simple-minded or dull?
The most obvious question was did I talk too damn fast? Speed talking is something I am known to do when I am nervous or anxious about a situation. So, if that is the case, I am sorry. I am happy to translate for you!
As I reflect on the experience now, I low key feel like I blacked out during the most of the podcast because I can't recall the responses I supplied. I have an idea, but there are only a handful of moments that stick out vividly in my memory. Moments that I can remember clear as day if you will.
I remember partaking in breathing exercises, breath of fire by Jacqulyn which has always made me feel anxious, and 4-4-8, led by Ashley to bring me back down.
I remember discussing Allies of Mother Earth and my on-going journey with sustainability.
I remember reading my poem aloud, another first as I am not one to publicly share my work verbally, and being entranced as Jacquelyn read hers. Both of which hit different points but deliver important messages.
BY JACQULYN WHANG
We’ve all came here
With bend backs
From the rubbles
Size of pebbles
Uncle Sams clenching
Fist on what was ours
See your subversion to invade were
Said with good intentions.
Calling us brothers,
But leaving your brothers motherless
Raping terrains not yours to begin with.
Leaving us to recollect our remaining pebbles
And bring them over in duffle bags
And luggage packs
This is our worth of an existence
In a place you call us alien immigrants
My father was only human when he got his
Appah spent years
On his citizenship
And still illegitimate
Still looked upon like
Mr. China Man
Go Back to China Man,
When we are not from china man.
Appah spend more years
Here in the states
Than that 16 year old
Telling us to go back to our land,
When he should’ve been looking around.
East Bay to the City
Immigrants of all colors
Faces seem looking tired
And I’ll see what that little boy will never understand.
Wrinkles weigh own like dotted lines on a map
And my fingers trail back to our mother lands
We’ve all came here from third place countries to be first
Rather be last in this first place nation
Hands open to scraps left over from minimum wage,
Better than reliving in the days of our nations rumbling.
Leaders becoming dictators
Alcoholic fathers getting drunk of Soju
To wash away the war between two brothers
Alcoholic grandfather beating down my grandmother
I’m the daughter of Dad Han Ming Gook
Before the 38th parallel division
And my people we’ve seen our fortresses crumble
And we are still living in war here
living in minds of our past destructions
Yet WE who seen their struggle
Know what to do with their memories
We take it and begin building
Past Babylons age
Speak in tongues and don’t care
If it pisses you off
Don’t care if there are too many
Foreign own corner stones
Too much for you
You had us lost thinking we were tagged first foreign
But remind me,
Who came to who first
Who stepped in whose first
Who poured opium into china
Pried legs of the Philippines
Iraq and El Salvador
Shipped slaves from coolies to Africa
Who came to who first?
Answer me then tell me
How you want to deport us.
LOVE LETTER TO MYSELF
BY CASHA DOEMLAND
In the midst of chaos and sadness,
it's easy to drown out gratitude.
It's easy to get lost in the downward spiral
and neglect the journey you've taken
to be exactly where you are.
It's effortless, honestly.
Because overcoming obstacles
and facing your demons
It asks for self-reflection
to be broken and messy.
Silence your ego for a moment.
Stop comparing yourself to those around you.
Recognize that your journey is yours
and yours alone.
List off the reasons you're grateful
to be where you are.
What have you accomplished?
Examine the pits and downfalls.
How have you grown?
What have you learned?
How far have you come?
Listening to her, hearing the meaning and heart attached to each word as it left her lips, was unlike anything I've ever experienced firsthand. It created this emotional experience that I don’t have words for nor do I want to try to describe.
Additionally, hearing her story and having the opportunity to speak alongside her in a space that felt safe enough to share and be raw (at least from my perspective) was phenomenal.
So, I forgot the worry I felt for overuse of words I may have said or the points I may have failed to make. At the end of the day, nothing outshines the amount of gratitude I felt and feel to be a part of this experience.
That’s what I remember the most, the amount of gratitude I felt to just be there. To be present during a conversation with these badass women. To speak my piece about the things that matter. To be open and vulnerable about my battle with anxiety. To have my words be recorded for the sole purpose of being played back, proving to myself that my words do hold weight. To share a space with someone who was doing the same. My words do matter.
Thank you We Take Note. You have created a platform for individuals to speak their piece on things that are important to them, like mental health and how you cope, as well the advocacy for the environment or education and immigrants and their journeys through life.
For that I am grateful.