Angry Reader of the Week: Nicole Chung

"I am a communicator, I think because I've always had to be one."

Good day, people. It's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Nicole Soojung Callahan.

Who are you?

Nicole Chung. I'm the managing editor of The Toast.

What are you?

I am a writer and editor, the daughter of Korean immigrants and white adoptive parents, and the mother of two children, one with special needs. I am in reunion with my birth father and the best big sister in the world. I am a communicator, I think because I've always had to be one. I still consider myself an Oregonian, though I haven't lived there for years.

Where are you?

Right now I'm at my desk in our rental house in Maryland, where it is soon supposed to snow AGAIN [all the swear words. ALL. OF. THEM].

Where are you from?

I was born and adopted in Seattle, but spent pretty much my entire childhood in southern Oregon, in a town with mountains on all sides. It was the kind of place where you definitely noticed and counted every single Asian person you saw -- at any point in my childhood I could have reeled off the entire pitifully short list for you -- so I was always having to explain things to people ("I'm actually not Chinese, I'm Korean"; "I look different from my parents because I'm adopted"; "I can see out of my eyes just fine, your racist jerk," etc.). I did have a great childhood in many ways and I'll always be thankful for that, but being raised in all-white spaces and trying to figure out who I was while completely cut off from my Korean family and heritage are things I know I'll always carry with me. I'm trying hard, as a parent, to make sure my daughters' childhoods look very different from mine, and to be as open as possible discussing all of these things with them. I... do not really know what I'm doing more than half the time, though.

What do you do?

Drink coffee. Curse mornings. Pine for the Pacific Ocean. Call my sister. Watch a lot of fluffy escapist television with absolutely no shame. Say to my kids, at least five times a day, "wait a second, I just have to send this one email."

For my job, I read submissions and help manage the day-to-day scheduling and editing and publishing at The Toast. Our readers and commenters make it such a funny, delightful place to hang out, and I feel so lucky that I get to work with writers every day -- reading the stories that mean the most to them, and then helping those stories find an audience. I work from home and it's nonstop, really, but most of the time it truly doesn't feel like work; it's fun.

What are you all about?

I love connecting with people -- whether we are having a face-to-face conversation or exchanging emails or reading each other's writing -- and finding out what they are all about, and learning from that. Basically I want to know what you care about, what you think is true, what you want others to understand about you. I want to find out if you can change my mind about something (preferably over a drink or a good meal). I want to see who you really are. I will never want to have smalltalk with you.

What makes you angry?

Lots of things. It took me years to believe that I had a right to my anger, and now that I know that, really and truly, the issue is always just figuring out how to channel it in productive ways and challenge the things that make me angry. I get angry when others can't see the violence and injustice I see and then I get angry at myself when I can't seem to help them see it. I'm always upset when people presume to talk over and for others instead of letting those who have actually experienced something speak for themselves and be believed -- it's just never a good look, and it happens with such frequency. And I get very frustrated when I can't be real with someone -- I know that open, honest discussion is hard for some people, but I struggle and feel stifled when it's just not possible.

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