“Interview with Anna Haslund”
This week on the podcast, we check in with Anna Haslund, the first Deaf storyteller to have shared a story on the Tell Us Something stage. We talk about her story and what it was like to share a story on the Tell Us Something stage. We also talk about her excitement to compete in the Miss America Pageant representing her state as Miss Montana. During our conversation, Anna also shares some of the unique challenges Deaf people face during the pandemic.
After the interview, stick around for the story that Anna calls “Joe + Balthazar”. Anna’s story takes us on a wild horse ride in which she performs a daring horse rescue on a forest service road in Montana.
Transcript : Interview with Anna Haslund
Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.
This week on the podcast, we check in with Anna Haslund, the first Deaf storyteller to share a story at Tell Us Something. We sat down in July of 2020 during the midst of the pandemic. And she shared with us what it was like to share a story at Tell Us Something, her excitement
to participate in the Miss America Pageant representing her state of Montana, as well as some of the unique challenges that Deaf people face during the pandemic.
All this, coming up. Big thanks to our Title Sponsor, The Good Food Store, and thanks to our Enduring Sponsors, cabinetparts.com and Blackfoot Communications.
Special thanks to our Champion Sponsor True Food Missoula. Each year across Missoula, nonprofits raise money during Missoula Gives for expanded programming, special projects or, sometimes, just to keep the lights on.
Tell Us Something looks forward to your support during Missoula Gives May sixth and seventh. Learn more at missoulagives.org. So, Anna,
[Marc] You’ve been coming to Tell Us Something for how long?
[Anna] Wow, I think it’s been about five years.
[Marc] So, how did you come to decide, that you wanted to tell a story?
[Anna] Good question. Let me see.
So, my interpreter Bonnie actually told me that there was an event called Tell Us Something, and I hadn’t heard about it.
And so I went and was in the audience. And then I felt that I could probably get up there too. And I know that there weren’t any Deaf people that had done it before, so I feel that would be really empowering for me to get up there and just tell a story.
And then the audience, oh my gosh, they were so supportive and so excited! And when I finished the story they were all applauding for me in sign language, and it was just such an honor and I, I like being representative for the community.
So, I felt inspired.
[Marc] And when you told your story.
What was it like afterwards?
[Anna] So, it just felt like a really big change for me.
I’ve always been a very, like, closed and personal person, but getting up there and telling the story, I felt, y’know, just some new emotions and I was able to get out of my shell some more and make some new friends.
And we all supported each other. It was great.
It feels like I’m part of a big family now [Marc] You are!
[Marc] So you’ve done this twice. You’ve told a story twice.
Is there one that you enjoyed telling more than the other one?
[Anna] It’s hard to choose but I think the one that I told about the, the two horses, you know, Joe, and then the other horse. So, Yeah, I think those, that was my favorite one to tell. [Marc] Yeah. Everyone loves horse stores.
And they know that when I was trying to make that sound, you know, for the kissing the horse? That the audience, looked like they really enjoyed that too. [laughter]
[Marc] Yeah. You told a story about heartbreak too
Did that guy,
did he get to listen to it?
[Anna] So yeah actually he did, and he contacted me, and you know he apologized for the whole experience. And so you know we’re friends, you know, once in a while we’ll see each other but just friends. [Marc] His loss
[Anna] Actually yeah! [laughter]
[Marc] So what have you been up to since then? I heard you have some news.
[Anna] So I am so excited to let you know that just last month,
I was in a competition for Miss Montana for the Americas, and I won!. Oh my gosh, it was my first time! And the first time that there’s been a Deaf woman, representing the state!
And so I think the first time going to be doing some kind of appearance is going to be in November of this year. And hoping that I can give speeches like in schools and different communities, and and really inspire people and empower — yeah so yeah. Montana’s
just my home and I am excited to represent it.
[Marc] That’s awesome.
So when is the pageant itself?
[Anna] So in October, sometime I’m going to be competing on the national level.
And I think next month I’ll get more information. But I’ll keep you updated! It’s on my Facebook page!
[Marc] Anna won the Miss Congeniality award during the Miss America Pageant. Ultimately, the crown went to Miss Virginia,
[Anna] I know when I was in the pageant previously, I was given the award for Miss Congeniality.
You know we could always have more people around it, just everybody go together.
And I want to say, just thank you so much to my, my two directors they have been so nice and respectful, and professional and working with me and we all work together, so it’s been such a great support system.
[Marc] So, so proud of you. That’s amazing. Thank you so much for
letting us know about that.
[Anna] Thank you. You’re welcome.
[Marc] And so the next time you tell a story at Tell Us Something you’ll be Miss America, is that right?
[Anna] [laughter] Maybe! Is there anything else that you want listeners to know before we play their story, your story for them.
[Marc] Is there anything else that you want listeners to know before we play your story for them?
[Anna] So I think it’s important for people know, I wanted to share–
You know, with this coronavirus that’s happening, It’s been really hard for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to be able to communicate because of the mask requirement.
It covers most of your face.
So what’s been really cool is that there’s these masks with a clear window, that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use, I have a friend that actually makes them.
Emily, she’s from Washington State.
And there’s also a place of Darby here in Montana. And they worked really hard to provide the community with a way to be able to provide access for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
I know it’s hard like if you’re trying to communicate someone needs to read your lips, you have to remove your mask so for just for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people also it’s hard to communicate.
If they rely on reading lips. So, these masks are incredibly helpful. So that’s that’s a good idea.
[Marc] And, can you provide us a link to where we can order those masks?
[Anna] Oh absolutely, I’d be happy to give you that information for the contact.
[Marc] Great. Thank you so much.
[Anna] You’re welcome.
[Marc] And I don’t have any other questions. Is there anything else that you want to talk about?
[Anna] Oh, wow.
I don’t know! Let me see.
I could ask you about your experiences with your business. Maybe what do you think about inviting more Deaf people to tell stories?
[Marc] I mean, I’ve always wanted to do that, I don’t know how to encourage them. Do you have any advice on how I can be more inclusive?
[Anna] Good question.
So there’s a Deaf school in Montana that we could contact, and see if there’s anyone who will come and tell stories.
And they have interpreters there that we could put on video if we do do it remotely.
There’s always different access ways. And there’s —
I’d be happy to also myself just contact my Deaf and hard of Hearing friends and try to get them up here on stage to tell a story. I mean if I can do it, I think anyone can.
And I want to thank Bonnie, my interpreter and also Denise for interpreting. I know it’s hard to get interpreters for all the stories and all of your events and I know it can be frustrating and captioning is really frustrating and hard to get to look
just right. But the interpreting and the captioning is really important for people who aren’t completely Deaf but also hard of Hearing, and they can’t catch all the words.
So part of what I want to do is just help bridge communication gaps, and, um–
People, I know, are always fascinated with sign language, and they’re always watching the interpreter, which is great!
Like my best friend Erica, she got fascinated with sign language. And now she’s going into an interpreter program in Oregon to become an interpreter. So I’m so excited to see how she develops and I know when she’s done I’ll definitely be hiring her too!l
[Marc] Well, I can tell you this, that, I have a friend you this that I have a friend that knows ASL but she’s not an interpreter.
And, even before I started bringing Bonnie and Denise on to help interpret,
I didn’t know that I needed to bring on certified interpreters.
And so, I was asking other people to do it, and they kept telling me “no”. But they didn’t tell me why.
And so I’d been working on getting interpreters, interpret the stories for a couple years, before
I finally talked to Bonni–er, Denise, excuse me. And I asked her, like, what why aren’t, why isn’t anybody saying “yes” to this? And she explained
The requirement for certification.
And so then, finally,
We developed this relationship. And, here we are.
[Anna] And it’s great that you’re more comfortable, you know, having the interpreters there, and just having them be a part of the whole thing, and….
I know, communication is so important. And I know people don’t always understand that sign language is a foriegn language.
[Anna] And that writing back and forth with people is ok,
But because it’s foreign language, that can be difficult. So using a certified interpreter, who knows ASL, it’s just so important to match communication styles.
With this pandemic. It’s changed so much. There’s so many emotions that people are experiencing, having to realize, you know, what can happen with the pandemic. It’s really difficult.
I know that we’re not alone with our struggles in communication and everything else and–you know, I know eventually, maybe, COVID will be gone. It could be years, it could be five minutes, I don’t know.
You can only try your best, you know, and like I always tease my friends, my family.
You know, like right now we’re sitting six feet away.
And sometimes, you know, I sign larger, and then, say, we’re not six feet away [laughter] and I say, “Oh, excuse me! That’s too close!” So.[laughter]
[Marc] Well, thank you so much, Anna, for being here today. And… uh oh….
[Anna] You’re welcome. And thank you for allowing me, you know, giving me the honor to do this little interview.
[Anna] It makes me
[Marc] I appreciate you being here.
[Marc] Thank you.
[Anna] You’re welcome. Thanks.
[Marc] After the break, watch and share her story, live on stage, and she shared it in front of a sold out crowd at the Wilma in Missoula, Montana. In September of 2019.
Thanks again to our Title Sponsor The Good Food Store, learn more at goodfoodstore.com.
Thanks to our Enduring Sponsors, cabinteparts.com, and Blackfoot Communications. Learn more at blackfoot.com.
Special thanks to True Food Missoula. You can find them at truefoodcsa.com. And Joyce of Tile, you can find Joyce at joyceof tile.com.
Anna Haslund loves the community with her kindness. Loves to help the community with her kindness.
She is the one who breaks the barrier and and can do the impossible.
Watch out for her crazy skill with yaassss kicks!
Her nickname is Anna Banana.
Note, that Anna is Deaf, and her story will be voiced by Bonnie Kurian.
The way to clap for Deaf people is to wave your hands like this. [clapping in ASL]
So, after her story is finished, the house lights will come up, and we can all show our love for Anna together.
Please welcome Anna Haslund.
>>About four years ago.
Me and my best friend Erica were in Frenchtown at an organization called Heart, which is an equine recreation and therapy organization.
We were volunteering with those horses.
Erica asked me if I wanted to go up to Flathead to pick up four new horses for this therapy ranch. And I was so excited, I said, “Of course I do”.
So it was me and Erica, and her half sister, Selena.
We met the owner up there at this other ranch.
And he said, “Go ahead and pick your horse.” So I looked at all the horses, and I saw this beautiful perfect horse. He was huge. Brown and flowing mane.
And I felt a little nervous though. I knew it was important that we had to be able to trust each other.
So I offered him my hand and he sniffed my hand and let me pet his nose. And I asked the owner, I said, “What is this horse’s name?” He said, “Oh the horse’s name is Joe.”
And I said, “Well, that’s really funny. My mom’s name is Joe [laughter] so, apparently this is meant to be. This is a good connection.”
So I got on the horse. We’re riding along. And the way most people communicate with a horse is they make a clicking sound, well I can’t click, so I decided to make a kissing sound instead. [laughter] it worked great.
It worked great. He liked it.
So a few months later, Erica and I decided that we wanted to take these horses out on a trail ride.
And there were four of us. Again, it was Erica.
Selena, she was about seven at the time,
And the ex-wife of the owner. I’m not sure how she got in the group but.
So we’re riding along. We keep going.
We’re on this forest service road. Was a nice big road. Perfect for four people, four horses.
So we’re all riding along. We go on up a few miles, we were just going to go up and turn around and come back.
Everything was going on great.
And of course I was on the lead horse, which is ridiculous, because I’m Deaf!
But, here I go. About 10-15 minutes, I started feeling in my gut like, “Something’s not quite right.” I turned around and oh my gosh, Erica is waiting frantically!
And I knew quickly, that something had to be wrong. So I’m trying to kiss at my horse again to get him to stop.
I turn, we turn around and we see that the ex-wife was on one of the meanest horses. She yanked on the reins and he kicked her right off. And she actually broke her leg.
So I look over at Erica.
And we see Selena. It’s her first time on a horse. Now she is scared to death. She’s screaming hysterically. And we knew that we needed to calm her down so that her horse didn’t get scared and buck her off.
So trying to keep her calm. We don’t want her to scare the horse.
And now we are trying to figure out, “What are we going to do now?”
How are we going to get four horses down?
And oddly enough, these two men come walking up the forest service road. We thought, “Well this is perfect timing.” And they asked if they could help. We said, “Uh, yeah, that’d be great!”
So we said, “How are you going to help?” “So we have a truck right over here.” So they were able to pick up the ex-wife and put her in the truck. Helped her out.
We said, “Bye.”
So then Erica takes me to the other horse, and she brings me the reins to guide the other horse down the trail and the reins slipped out of my hand. And the horse.
He just kept trotting along like nothing was going on. And I thought, “Oh great! Now we have a runaway horse!” So I have to get next to this horse. I’m riding my horse. I’m trying to use my horse to guide the other horse, so that I could grab the reins.
And while we were going down the Forest Service road, it was really curvy. We finally get to a flat spot.
I look at my horse, I look at the other horse, and I have this incredible plan. I know it’s a little crazy, but it’s a great plan.
So I’m talking to Joe, and I’m saying, “Stay here. I have faith in you. Do not take off on me. Just stay with me.” So I go over sidesaddle, and Erica is looking at me. She knows exactly what I’m going to do. [screaming] She tries to tell me not to.
I jump off a Joe. I scream, I land. I kind of felt like, Zorro, actually. [laughter] I jump over.
I land on this horse, this mean one. His name is Balthazar.
And I feel, “This is incredible! I really should be in a movie! This was amazing! I should be a stunt person.”
So I grabbed the reins. I pull him back.
Everybody’s absolutely shocked. Erica says, “You are insane! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
I said, “Well, I actually can’t believe I did that myself! [laughter] But, look, everything’s everything’s great now there’s no more problems.”
So the ex-wife was taken to the hospital. Yes, she broke her leg.
Selena got over her fear of the horses, and she’s fine.
And Erica and I are still best friends, thank God. Now we have a story we can tell our grandchildren for years to come. What crazy risk takers we are.
[large applause and clapping]
For a video of Anna and her friend Erica, visit tellsssomething.org. If you want to support what we do, recommend the Tell Us Something podcast, to just two people who have never heard it before, and rate us on your favorite podcasting app, it really helps get the word out.
Please, plan on donating to Tell Us Something during Misosula Gives May 6th and 7th. Learn more at missoulagives.org.
If you ever want to drop me a line, you can find me ar [email protected], that Marc, M-A-R-C @tellussomething.org.
Thanks to our in-kind sponsors, Logjam Presents. Learn more about them out at logjampresents.com
Thanks to Missoula Broadcasting Company. Learn more at missoulabroadcasting.com
Float Missoula. Learn more at floatmsla.com.
Missoulaevents.net, makers of Cheddarboard.
Podcast production by me, Marc Moss.
To learn more about Tell Us Something, visit tellussomething.org.
Stay safe, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, get vaccinated, and have a story-worthy day.