One Thousand Wednesdays

A new blog about the comfort women issue

I’m working to get a separate blog up and running dedicated to sharing the research I do about the issue of comfort women and comfort stations. It’ll be called One Thousand Wednesdays. While I get things up and running, I’ll share my first posts here. 

I can’t say when I learned for the first time about the issue of the comfort women, but I remember that I felt stunned.

An elderly Korean woman, one of the comfort women, signing

It was 2009, and months after graduating from college in Minnesota I had moved to South Korea to teach English in a Seoul suburb. Somewhere in those early months I encountered the story of comfort stations and the girls who endured them. I simply could not comprehend that before and during World War II, thousands of girls across Asia had been coerced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan. I couldn’t believe that this massive system of institutionalized rape had once been maintained at the highest levels of the Japanese Empire’s military and government. I couldn’t conceive that girls and young women had been presented to troops as an amenity whose bodies they were entitled to use and plunder for their own relief. And most of all, I couldn’t imagine the lived reality of those young girls and women who endured such inhumane violence day after day, without any idea if it would end. Read More “One Thousand Wednesdays”

Today I Noticed the Begonia Blooming

When Greg and I moved into our new apartment last summer—an English basement on D.C.’s Rock Creek Park—it was the first place we’d ever lived together that had a yard.

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I often track the years of our history together with the apartments we’ve shared—five so far. This was our sixth. We met in our final months of college, drawn together by the Midwestern towns we grew up in, and our intentions to leave them. Our conversations about everywhere we might live felt electric. Read More “Today I Noticed the Begonia Blooming”

Cleaver Magazine Publication, Pt. II

As I shared yesterday, my essay “Fragile Bodies” was included in the latest issue of Cleaver Magazine. I wrote this essay a while ago, and while I’ve chipped away at it every now and then, it has spent most of its life sitting dormant in an overlooked file. After reviving this essay a month or so ago, I was thrilled to see it find such a wonderful home, alongside so many great authors. If you don’t know Cleaver Magazine, it’s a gem to explore. They’re a quarterly that publishes an eclectic mix of prose, poetry, shorts, and visual art ranging from photography to graphic narratives. There’s a big team behind their site, and many have ties to the Philadelphia lit. scene. They also make it a priority to feature emerging artists, which I didn’t realize when I was submitting, but wish I had. Read More “Cleaver Magazine Publication, Pt. II”

“Fragile Bodies” Published in Cleaver Magazine

A person holding a baby chicken.

I am thrilled to have an essay, “Fragile Bodies,” in the newest issue of Cleaver Magazine, which went live today. It’s a short, lyric piece of nonfiction about the time I spent working on an organic chicken farm in Florida. The essay tells the story of a box of baby chickens we picked up at the town’s local post office, and the days those chicks spent getting settled in and trying to survive. When I wrote it my thoughts were occupied with questions about acceptance, cruelty, and life’s many cycles.

Oh, and chickens. I was trying to make sense of them too, as is evident in the essay.

(I didn’t get very far. So if you are seeking answers to some pressing bird questions, or just want to see where you might order an assortment of Silkie Bantams, don’t fret: Sites like this exist.)

Here’s an excerpt of “Fragile Bodies” from Cleaver Magazine:

Rosa stands in the coop’s doorway holding a baby chicken in each of her hands. One of the birds is dying. The other is dead. We might have overlooked the body in the bed of wood shavings covering the ground if it hadn’t been encircled by a dozen other chicks, their feathers warm under the amber light of heat lamps. Yesterday it was an alive, palm-sized animal, toddling around on legs like twigs. Now the body is badly decomposed, everything but the beak flattened, the eye sockets pecked clean.

It’s June in Florida. The sun is just rising over the panhandle farm. In this heat, it doesn’t take long for a body to break down. Everything seems to droop and sag.

Anoche pasado,” Rosa says with a resolved tone, holding up the deflated body. “Problamente,” I agree. As if I know…

To read the rest of “Fragile Bodies” in Cleaver, click here.

To make your way through the Table of Contents for Issue 9 checking out the other work, which I plan to do tonight, click here.