Who owns women’s and girls’ bodies?

I keep a small rock on my desktop. It’s shaped like a turtle, but its edges are sharp and jagged, and it could easily break the skin. It reminds me of the day I met a young woman in a bright pink shirt who told me about her escape from slavery. This was several years…Continue readingWho owns women’s and girls’ bodies?

Making mohinga, the dish of Myanmar

Mohinga makes me think of plastic stools on a busy street, bathed in the sounds of a city awakening: cawing crows, clinking dishes, honking horns and raucous engines, giggly kids in flip-flops shuffling down dusty sidewalks. The air is thick and soupy. Sunlight streams through a cauldron’s steam. All around, eaters fix their eyes on…Continue readingMaking mohinga, the dish of Myanmar

What the US could learn from the #SaveMyanmar movement

I sit with an Aung San Suu Kyi coffee mug, listening to the BBC, and suddenly I can’t stop my tears. My heart rips for the people of Myanmar, some of the most dogged (small-d) democrats I have ever known—and now, they’ve just lost their toehold in democracy. Early Monday morning, the country’s armed forces…Continue readingWhat the US could learn from the #SaveMyanmar movement

Essentially, Spaghetti with Beans

It’s December 10. I don’t know it yet, but this will be the last time I see Dad for many months. We have no idea what’s coming. We have no idea that I’ll decide, last minute, to cancel my next visit in the first week of March, just before his retirement home goes into lockdown.…Continue readingEssentially, Spaghetti with Beans

Dear Earth:

April 22, 2020 Dear Earth: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my species and the abuse we inflict. The contempt and disregard. The decision that we have a right to dig you up and chop you down, raze you, blaze you, poison your veins. We tunnel into your heart for a thing we hold dearer than…Continue readingDear Earth:

Fragmentation: Why the US was so not ready for a pandemic

We should have been ready. This country has what it needs to fight an outbreak. When world experts created the Global Health Security Index to assess 195 countries and their capability of preventing and mitigating epidemics and pandemics, the United States ranked No. 1. “Out of all the countries that were assessed, the United States…Continue readingFragmentation: Why the US was so not ready for a pandemic

Biscuit Muffin: a story & a recipe

Several cats live in our yard. We did not put them there. They chose this space – though they didn’t choose us, per se. We live in a residential/agricultural community with a lot of cats roaming the fields and acequias. They all look like cousins – because they probably are. And yes, I know all…Continue readingBiscuit Muffin: a story & a recipe

We are altogether all together

Many years ago, while working on my master’s, I took Vietnamese classes at the University of Oregon in preparation for a semester in Hanoi. My instructor taught language by explaining the cultural protocols of daily life. I will never forget the way she described Vietnamese society in an anatomical analogy. She likened individuals to blood,…Continue readingWe are altogether all together

How we get through this

Ten days, and the world has changed. Last week, I had planned to visit my dad at his apartment in a retirement home. He lives independently – alone – in a complex that also houses dozens of assisted-living and memory-care residents. They all get meals from a community dining room, and my dad has a…Continue readingHow we get through this

Step by Step: Inside the Homes of US Farmworkers

South Texas farmworkers’ kitchen Years ago, still close to wartime, many of my Cambodian friends spoke of dreams they chased step by step. Hunger and hardship were still too near to be called memories. Security and prosperity were distant visions on a road that felt vast and overwhelming. So they began that journey step by…Continue readingStep by Step: Inside the Homes of US Farmworkers