That Damned Fence

“Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
But we’re here because we happen to be Japs.”

“That Damned Fence” Author unknown, Poston Camp 1942

Nation of “Immigrants”

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that America started around the 1500’s as the English and Spanish monarchies were exploring more and more of the mysterious land that is now the North, Central, and South Americas. The English’s first colony on the new continent was Jamestown, in what is now Virginia. By 1611 we begin to see the first African slaves in North America. They were previously found in the southern Spanish colonies, and white Europeans were beginning to find that the cheap labor could lead to faster and less expensive processes. Prior to the colonization of the America’s, slavery meant something completely different than what we associate with it today. Previously, slavery was between feuding religious groups or large cities where the defeated were placed into indentured servitude. Indentured servants were often allowed the opportunity to work out of their servitude through repayment, religious conversion, or sometimes they worked off their debt in hopes that their children could be free. In the building stages of early America, indentured “white and black servants worked side by side” (Goodman 18). These are the days before “white” and “black” were used in legal terminology. Race did not exist yet. It was much later, in the 1700’s, that we see deepening racial categories. Slowly, more and more propaganda that was released helped to create deep social divides between the lower class. Racial scientists sought out “evidence” as to what made each race so different. Carolus Linnaeus described the six distinct people; he even determined what each race was “governed by” and their “universally shared” attributes (Goodman 20). Benjamin Franklin wrote false articles about the danger and violence that the Native Americans were causing for the settlers, “leaking” them to the French newspapers and other European circles in hopes of gaining sympathy – money and resources – from them (Parkinson). These same fake articles made their way back to the colonies, stirring up concern from the white populace, and encouraged the racial distinctions between the immigrants and the indigenous peoples.

Build A Wall:

Since 9/11, white America has been most concerned about middle-eastern and Mexican immigrants. The government has increased its budget from 7.5 billion to 417 billion on border protection and immigration enforcement (Pringle). There are articles every day about children that are being separated from their parents when caught crossing the border. Recently there has been controversy over whether the children are being treated properly after reports of a child that died just days after release (Sacchetti). Families are risking their lives just for the chance to make it across America’s borders. Restrictions and increased security have only changed the routes that the illegal border crossers are taking, and there is inconclusive evidence that the heightened security is actually decreasing the number of people who try (Pringle). Jason De Leon, an anthropologist studying the routes and lives of the migrants, says that “the more recent the migrant site is, the smaller and more remote it tends to be” (Pringle), people are now rock climbing, risking coyotes, dehydration, etc. In terms of racial strife, our Mexican border is the tip of the iceberg. There have been Muslims targeted, refugees are being denied entrance to the country, there have been mass shootings, and public arenas have been bombed; all in the name of Making America Great Again. And while it would be easy to blame the violence on our current political leaders, given that was their slogan, reports show that while there was a spike in hate crimes following the beginning of our 45th president’s term, the number of incidents is on a decline in most major cities (Farivar). America’s racist history is far from being healed over. In a time full of hatred and turmoil, it is absolutely shocking that we are not looking back at what damage our racial division has caused previously, especially past events that haven’t even reached their centennial.

“Our misfortune to be here in the west / To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE:”

It is a common misconception that tensions between whites and Japanese Americans were due to World War II. In actuality there were many events leading up to the war where the Japanese Americans faced blatant hatred and racism. Down in Arizona, during the depression in the early 1930’s, there was a “cantaloupe blight” (Walz), which led the white farmers to band together in protest of the Japanese farmers who were only guilty of turning a profit from a fruit the white farmers had stopped growing. A protest of white farmers descended to the streets of Glendale, Arizona, with signs demanding that the Japanese residents “LEAVE BY NOON AUGUST 25th OR BE MOVED” (Walz).  The protest was followed by a series of hate crimes; bombing the Japanese farms, firing shots at the Japanese farmers, or vandalizing their farming tools. By 1940, the numbers of Japanese farmers in Arizona went from an estimated 121 to 52 (Walz), over half of the original Japanese population.
In Washington, there is evidence that “US government had been monitoring the activities of Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island” as early as 1922 (UW), with no evidence then and no evidence now to show that they were guilty of espionage. Japanese Washingtonians were first evacuated from Bainbridge Island. They were given six days to pack up their belongings, sell their homes, and be ready to board the ferry. There weren’t too many events of Japanese rebellion. It was a shared belief that by following what the American government asked, they would be protected. In the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, author Jamie Ford tells the story of a young Chinese Seattleite, Henry Lee, who falls for Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl whose family is taken in 1941 to an internment camp. While visiting the Okabe family in Camp Minidoka, Keiko’s father explains to Henry why they do not fight being relocated. By following the restrictions, they are proving their loyalty to America, “We don’t agree, but we will show our loyalty by our obedience” (Ford 229). He goes on to talk about if they issue a draft for the Japanese men that he would go in a heartbeat, that “the only way we can prove we are American is to bleed for America’s cause…. In the face of what’s being done [to us]” (Ford 230).
Henry’s father expressed similar feelings of making a sacrifice of himself, for the sake of being considered American. He accepts the fate of limited conversation with his twelve-year-old son so that he will be proficient in English. He sends his son to an All-American white school, to further assimilate Henry to American culture, instead of local Chinese schools where Henry would be more welcome. But his sacrifices for Americanization have a limit, and once he has the money saved he sends Henry to China to finish up school instead of staying in the United States. This was also a practice that Japanese Americans followed; raising their children in America, but sending them back home to finish up their educations. In fact, many American born Japanese were stranded in Japan during the war, only to speak very little English upon their return (Walz).
It was not only white people who expressed distrust towards the Japanese; Chinese Americans also expressed hatred and prejudice to their Japanese neighbors. During WWII, the Japanese were not just fighting with Americans, they were also fighting with China. I think that the hateful attitude Chinese Americans expressed was not just because of the war happening on China’s soil, but also because most Americans, and including some Asian Americans, couldn’t tell the difference between the two ethnicities, and so the fear of being mistaken as “the enemy” led to Chinese Americans doing all that they could to distance themselves from the Japanese. In the book, Henry is worried about getting trapped in the Idaho camp because “Caucasian people” wouldn’t know the difference between him and the Japanese prisoners (Ford 226). He couldn’t even tell that Keiko was of Japanese descent when they first met. Recognition came from cues like traditional dress, language, and names.

“find the sweet among the bitter:”

While the Japanese Americans had difficulty bringing their religious beliefs with them to the very Christian America, they were able to bring over some of their other traditions and cultural knowledge. Walz notes that Japanese farmers utilized traditional farming methods they had learned from family back in Japan. Growing lettuce and green onions involved similar irrigation processes that are used to grow rice. In Henry’s family, we see that they maintain the use of traditional Chinese dining habits; using chopsticks, the lazy-Susan they use for serving, the proper etiquette followed when serving tea. Throughout the book Henry describes the Chinese meals that he eats at home, such as preserved duck egg, or jook – “thick rice soup, mixed with diced preserved cabbage” (Ford 45); meals that would not usually be served for breakfast by “traditional Americans.”

Never Again:

The United States has this nasty issue of major problems that are built on a history of false perceptions and irrational fears. From selective housing reforms, to the Trail of Tears, to literally rounding all the Japanese residents and shipping them off to camps; America and its values are so intertwined in race and racism that it will take centuries to have an established system that isn’t still benefiting from prior injustice. Distributing funds to the families that were mistreated is not a solution, it is a band-aid. We as a country need to work to create opportunities for each other. We need to acknowledge the damage that our ancestors have caused. We need to learn from our history and the personal accounts of people who have been wronged. We need to develop a better system of letting people come into our country and take a holistic approach to the issues that surround immigration. Until we take these steps, we are doomed to keep making the same mistakes.

(anonymous poem circulated at the Poston Camp)

They’ve sunk the posts deep into the ground
They’ve strung out wires all the way around.
With machine gun nests just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere.
We’re trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.
We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feel terrible, lonesome, and blue:
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we’re punished–though we’ve committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.
Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
But we’re here because we happen to be Japs.
We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the west,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone’s notion of NATIONAL DEFENCE!

Poston was one of the largest camps run by the War Relocation Authority and was built on the local Native American reservation. I found the poem on:

This essay was one that I wrote for my American Life and Culture class this past summer. We were instructed to read the book House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and then talk about racism within the book and American culture. One of the most surprising things I learned in this class came from Ford’s book, and that was learning that the Puyallup Fairgrounds in Puyallup Washington was used as a temporary relocation camp during the Japanese Relocation. I grew up in the area but had never know previously that it had a darker history. That solidified this idea to me, that we have to talk about our history, even the bits we aren’t proud of so that we can respect what people were forced through and to honor them by not repeating those mistakes. We’ll never get any kinder as a species if we don’t pay attention to our past. The world is as kind or cruel as we make it.

~ Raelee


• Farivar, M. (2018, August 10). Are Hate Crimes in US Peaking? Retrieved from
• Ford, J. (2009). Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet a novel. New York: Ballantine Books.
• Goodman, A. H., Moses, Y. T., & Jones, J. L. (2012). Race: Are We So Different. Hoboken: Wiley.
• Parkinson, R. G. (2016, November 25). Fake news? That’s a very old story. Retrieved from
• Pringle, H. (2011, January/February). Archaeology Magazine – The Journey to El Norte – Archaeology Magazine Archive. Retrieved from
• Sacchetti, M. (2018, August 01). Migrant child died after release from detention, attorneys group alleges. Retrieved from center child died&d=5051093762706675&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=IEsYmSEpmmT4-P15wMAAOkzoAKz-fdke
• San Pedro Daily News, Volume 8, Number 227, 12 October 1910.——-en–20–1–txt-txIN——–1
• University of Washington Libraries. (1997). Japanese American Exhibit and Access Project. Retrieved August 14th, 2018 from,
• Walz, E. (1997). THE ISSEI COMMUNITY IN MARICOPA COUNTY: Development and Persistence in the Valley of the Sun. The Journal of Arizona History, 38(Spring), 1-22. Retrieved August 14, 2018, from


Pirates Vs. Ninjas

Only one can win, but who?


Pirate or ninja? This question has spurned lively debates in cyberculture, to the point that now it is a debate in mainstream channels and even has an abbreviation: PvN. There is argument over when the initial argument started, but the powerful responses have created video games, board games, books, massive lists on the internet, even plot points on television. The arguments on both sides are intricate and carry the strength of the characters themselves, but nevertheless the question remains; who would win a fight to the death? Who is left standing in the center of the ring? A Pirate? Or a Ninja?

Choose Your Fighter:


    There have been active bands of pirates for centuries. Some of the earliest pirates were the Sea People in the mediterranean region during mid 14 century BC. Privateers were pirates that sailed under the protection of a crown (wayofpirates). Corsairs were Muslim naval soldiers who ravaged the shores of the Mediterranean, and also was the term used for privateers in the 17th century who went rogue. Buccaneers is the term used for 17th century Caribbean pirates known for their conflicts with Spanish ships, going “extinct” around 1697 after a truce between France and Spain.

    One strength that the pirates have that ninjas lack, is diversity. There have been famous female pirates, such as Anne Bonny; Mary Reed; and my favorite female pirate, the Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. There have been famous pirates of color such as Ching Shih, who was Chinese AND a woman. There are multiple accounts of black crew, but often those reports are of the men being captured and sold into slavery. One exception is that of Black Caesar who ended up working with Blackbeard. There are even some historians who believe that there were entire communities of gay pirates in Tortuga (eco-action). Pirates had a form of marriage called, “Matelotage” which was a “civil partnership between two male pirates.” (Harlow). Historians assume that these partnerships were both for romantic and in financial interests. One of the most famous pirates, Dread Pirate Roberts, was reported to have a relationship with a surgeon named George Wilson. The French government, in hopes of breaking up the homosexual couples, sent female prostitutes and minor criminals to the island. However, instead of breaking up the matelotage pairings, the men welcomed the women into their groups, often settling into married polyamorous groups of three. Some of the pirate groups are even seen as having a form of health insurance (Harlow). This emphasis on the skills of a person and not their social identity is a significant attribute to pirate culture.

Ninja (Shinobi):

    While there are plenty of real world examples of historical pirates, ninjas have few historical records. It is thought that this is due to the unfortunate habit of past historians who paid little attention to lower class citizens (Turnbull). Pop culture has dubbed the Ninja as the ultimate silent fighter. They can walk on water, they can become invisible at will, they are stealthy and sly, the prominent character in any action packed story set in Japan. Likely you think of a crouching or flying figure dressed all in black, complete with a face mask so all you can see are their piercing eyes. In reality, that is not what they looked like at all.

    They were trained from a very young age, sometimes entire villages were set up to be shinobi training camps. They were trained in the art of warfare, but in a contrasting style to that of the noble samurai. Samurai were trained in a much more structured style, complete with rules and a sense of dignity. The shinobi were trained in stealthy espionage with skills in sabotage. This style of fighting, combined with their financially poor background, is thought to be why samurai looked down on shinobi. The depiction of the figure in black is grossly inaccurate, and goes against the very style of fighting that they used. To be stealthy and blend in one would not walk around in all black with their face covered up! Historians believe that more than likely, they would have dressed as normal civilians. The shinobi were covert agents, and while they were looked down on by their samurai counterparts, they were fundamental on the battlefield.

    The tangle of myth and truth is not just due to the disregard for recording the history of lower class people, but also to the secretive nature that makes a ninja a successful fighter. In order to dupe your enemy, they can not be told how you train or what tactics you use. As consequence, some interesting tales have been spun about the reclusive characters. A pop culture favorite is that of female ninja Mochizuki Chiyome, who was said to have learned the skills of the shinobi growing up in a training village. Later she rescued and taught other young women the skills, while under the guise of training them as altar maidens (Shinobi Exchange). As she accumulated more and more pupils, they were also taught the skills of a geisha, to be an actress, and a seductress. Chiyome is one of the only female ninjas in mainstream media, and although the story was quickly disputed by Katsuya Yoshimaru, an expert of the Edo period, it’s still fun to imagine that a woman like Chiyome did exist.

    Modern devotees to the art of the shinobi, known as ninjitsu, liken ninjas to modern day military Seals, and black ops forces. Some even believe that there are training camps active today. Some have even set up camps themselves in hopes of mastering the true balance and art of ninjutsu, proving that the mystique of the ninja still has many years to come.

The Fight:

    Among the pirates, the strongest would be the buccaneers. While they were not long lived, they were stronger than the average pirate due to their strong large armies. However, it would be unfair to have a ninja to fight a whole army of pirates and expect to get answers as to who would win. Being outnumbered would not give accurate results. It also wouldn’t be fair if the fight informal, as the shinobi would have a major advantage in a surprise attack. A fair fight between the two worlds would have one representative each in the ring. They may use their preferred weapons, and so to have honor, they would not fight to the death, but rather spar until one winner was conclusive. The typical weapons of a pirate in hand to hand combat would be a gun or a sword, with a wide range between the two. Some preferred small knives to the traditionally longer swords. Some used rifles instead of pistols. Ninjas usually used katanas or weapons that are thrown, stereotypically portrayed as throwing stars but they also used picts or axes. Assuming that both parties are using a sword (katana for the ninja) the winner would be decided by personal endurance and swordsmanship. If fighting with pistols and throwing stars the winner would be the most agile or precise. Say the fight were between a pistol and a katana, the ninja would have to be incredibly resourceful and agile. However that is the strength of the ninja, their agility. If the fight wer between a pirate with a sword and a ninja throwing weapons, the pirate would require creativity and agility which truly would be decided by how much rum they had had that day.

Grand Finale:

    Both Ninjas and Pirates have strengths and weaknesses, as we have seen. Deciding on one winner has plague the internet because the truth is that there is no single true champion. Both lifestyles are specialized in their strengths, and the two fighters could be considered polar opposites. The loud swashbuckling hero of a pirate is an equal opponent of the quiet masters of disguise that are the shinobi, and each have a high chance of success – the deciding factor is the nature of the fight itself.

Works Cited:

Boissoneault, Lorraine. “The Swashbuckling History of Women Pirates.”, Smithsonian Institution, 12 Apr. 2017,

“Pirate Utopias (Do or Die).” Thinking Like a Mountain by Aldo Leopold – Wolves and Deforestation, 2003,

“History of Piracy List.” Real Pirates – Facts about Real and Fictional Pirates,

Harlow, Kristance. “10 Things You Know About Pirates That Are Wrong.” Listverse, Listverse, 7 July 2014,

Holloway, April. “Grace O’Malley, the 16th Century Pirate Queen of Ireland.” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins,

“Ninjutsu History and Ninja Weapons for the Modern Shinobi.” Shinobi Exchange | Ninjutsu,

“Ninja (Shinobi) – Secret Assassins.” Military History Monthly, Military History Monthly, 25 Apr. 2014,

“Pirates Fact and Legend.” Pirate Women | Women Pirates | Mary Read,

Seabrook, Andrea. “Pirates vs. Ninjas: Which Side Are You On?” NPR, NPR, 7 July 2006,

Silver, Curtis. “Great Geek Debates: Pirates vs. Ninja.” Wired, Conde Nast, 9 Sept. 2009,

Turnbull, Stephen (2003), Ninja AD 1460–1650, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84176-525-9

This was written as my final for my last college english class! How exciting? Most of the students picked really depressing topics like rent controversy and economics and I wanted NONE of that. I also didn’t really care much for one fighter over the other which is why there is no ultimate winner at the end. I wanted something silly and to research something historical. I hope you enjoyed it!



I wish I had been playing on my phone

I wish I had been playing on my phone.

A woman dressed nicely is not reason enough to shout.
It is not reason enough to hoist yourself out of your window,
leaning out into the sun,
while driving down a busy road…

Hey girlie! Looking good!

I wish I were vapid. So that I may think that it was a compliment.
Or at the very least, I wish I were selfless so that my first instinct is to understand and appreciate your intentions.

I wish I hadn’t worn these shoes. These beautiful painful shoes. I love to look down and see them shining back at me. But maybe if I hadn’t worn them, if I hadn’t been boosted up 4 inches to the sun, maybe you wouldn’t have noticed me.

I wish I hadn’t taken that path home. I could have walked the quieter street. The one that never serves to trucks like yours. I could have walked home in silence, enjoying the sun and flowers and the city skyline like I was before you said what you said.

I wish that I hadn’t been told my whole life to carry mace and to have my keys ready to poke out eyeballs.
I wish my mother wasn’t nervous every time I said I would be walking home late.
I wish I didn’t tell my friends to call me when they get home, and wonder if this will be the last time I see them.
I wish I didn’t start looking for any possible escape the minute a man is spotted walking towards or behind me.

I wish that we didn’t live in a world that rapes 1,270,000 women per year.
I wish that we didn’t live in a world where 1 in 2 transgender people are sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime.

I wish I wasn’t scared.

I wish I had been playing on my phone.
Because maybe then I wouldn’t have heard you at all.


Since 1998, 17.7 million women and 2.78 men have been victims of attempted or completed rape. 21% of transgender, genderqueer, and/or nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted. At the time that I wrote this, I didn’t find a cumulative number for the transgender, genderqueer, and/or nonconforming community. 80,600 inmates are estimated to be sexually assaulted each year, 60% of those assaults are by jail/prison staff.
You can read more for yourself in a couple places. Try googling Rape statistics and look for a .org who lists their sources. I started with, I also looked at the OVC’s website.
You can also donate funds to help victims of sexual assault to a variety of places, but personally I refer you back up to the link for RAINN because their website is easy to navigate and they provide a variety of options in terms of contributing.
Here is a link to find your local women’s shelter in the Seattle area if you have resources and time to volunteer. And this is the link to The Trevor Project, they focus on helping LGBT youth.


In all I found all this information in under an hour. It is ridiculously easy to find information, so if you feel uninformed or out of the loop, take some time to educate yourself, and read testimonials, talk to the women around you, read the studies if you are still lost on why CATCALLING IS DISGUSTING. Kthnx, bye.

I Watched An Episode of the Original COSMOS with Carl Sagan and Got All Riled Up At Midnight.

     See, I really wanted to like Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, but after just watching an episode for my astronomy class, and hearing the tone and language he uses to dismiss astrology and how pretentiously he refers to scientific history… it was infuriating.
“[Kepler] preferred the hard truth to his dearest delusions”
     What I love about modern anthropology and the teachers I have had, is they put so much emphasis on human variation. How variation is fundamental in our survival, and how we should respect each other’s perspectives. And I’m grateful that anthropology heavily influences my lens when studying the other sciences. I feel that I am better at seeing the whole picture form varying perspectives, rather than shitting on people who see the world differently. My professors have put emphasis on the idea that science is always ready to be proved wrong with a better, stronger theory. That we don’t, and won’t, ever know everything. That there is always room for another idea.
     At one point in this episode Sagan literally says “it’s possible to figure things out. We can do science. And with it we can improve our lives” right after talking about how if the planets dictate our lives, then “explain twins! and I nearly turned the damn thing off. For one thing, he literally only referenced pop culture astrology, and for another thing he did that crummy manipulation-of-information thing that people do, where they are like “So and so from this movement can’t even agree” which is just so shitty. Like, I’m not out here distrusting all Christians just because some crazy loud ones say I deserve to die because I like a girl in a *gasp* non-platonic way.

The script was so loaded with arrogance that it surprisingly helped me understand the ongoing stereotype of Science Bros who laugh at people who put energy into religion. If this is the kind of media that they grew up consuming, OF course they think they are better than everyone else because they can do hard math problems and quote old white guys. No wonder there are such aggressive conversations about science and faith.  They have been fed this idea of “us vs. them” for so long and never thought to fight against it because *ScIeNcE* is meant to be set in stone and completely accurate. Science Bros think that they are honoring their fallen heroes who were ostracized for speaking against the church.

     But that was in a time when we didn’t have the luxury of mass communication. It was in a time when education wasn’t easily accessible by the average Joe. And I think that there is this idea that because more of us can access education now, that everyone will take the time to learn everything. But there are enormous amounts of people who just aren’t interested for one reason or another. And that’s OK. What has made us strong and successful as humans is our ability to teach and share information. Seriously. We can teach each other ways to accomplish goals, and we can record that and build upon that knowledge.

And we need to keep that in mind as we go about our lives. No one person can fight every issue. No one person can learn every perspective. But if we build a foundation in our society out of compassion and put more emphasis on community, the knowledge we gain is more likely to be heard and welcomed. No one loves to learn if they are forced into it. Learning must come from willfulness. Shoving perspectives down people’s throats will only create more resistance.

     I’m not an incredibly spiritual person. I don’t have a god or an energy that I put time into. And I’ve barely scratched the surface in academia. But I am not arrogant to assume I will know everything about how the universe works, and I urge every science thinking mind to leave room in your imagination to be wrong. The only reason science is where it is today is because great (wealthy) minds risked sounding crazy and experimented with how they saw the world. Many of the people that hold to great esteem turned out to be very wrong. And many of their discoveries led to incredible amounts of damage (I see you racism). Science is not perfect (lol Ptolemy), and it does not make you “better” than someone who doesn’t keep up with it. It simply means that you see the world a different way. 
Everyone is right in their own minds. It’s important that we don’t let those perceived notions cause harm to our neighbors and loved ones. It is important that we maintain some level of compassion.


File this post under “posts I didn’t proofread because it was midnight”

     With all this being said, I do want to clarify, you can think someone is nuts and still respect them. Flat Earther’s that were spoken to in this interview done by Buzzfeed said that they couldn’t think of what our purpose on Earth would be if it were round. If it was flat, then that means that we were placed here, and that means someone is looking out for us. For them, a Flat Earth is a source of faith, and it helps them navigate the difficult world that we live in. I can respect that. I disagree, but I also don’t need to tell every single Flat Earther that they are wrong and stupid, because that is not compassionate and it really doesn’t solve anything. Human’s generally like having a purpose. We aren’t good at being lazy, not really. 

     And to use a more touchy example, I don’t hate people who are homophobic. I’m a bisexual, And while I am scared of people who give a shit about someone else’s love life, I do not hate them. And I do not need them to like me or accept me or even agree with me. They can think that it’s unnatural, they can refuse to give me a wedding cake, they can think I’m going to hell. That’s fine, that’s within their perspective. In my opinion, I don’t really care if a business turns me away cause I’m gay. If they want to lose business because of who I am sleeping with, then that’s their money lost. However the GOVERNMENT should not be allowed to do that. 

     For me, the issue comes from when people hurt others simply because they are different. When you actively seek out and hurt people just because they live differently than you and you are scared, you are awful and I hate you. You don’t want me in your private domain? We have no issue. You want to control people and play with their lives? We have some big issues. 
I’m gonna go sleep now. 

Push Through The Fear

Over the past years I have been teaching myself to be happy.
To steady myself when I start to get too frustrated or mean.
To look around and see what’s there.
To remind myself that our short lives are full of long days, and that I get to decide what each one looks like.
It’s not been easy.
Sometimes it feels totally stupid.
But more often than not it feels good, and addictive.

I’m a very scared person. I am scared of anything and everything. Of how my body moves, how my voice sounds, what I love, what I hate. I’m scared of what people think of me, and more scared that they think nothing at all. I’m scared of how little time I have, or that I’ll have too much time and realize I wasted all of it. I’m scared my loved ones will leave me. I’m scared my dog will die sooner than later. I’m scared that I’m stupid.I’m scared that I am entirely selfish. I’m scared that I’ve invented all my personality aspects to seem more interesting. I’m scared that I don’t know who I really am.

Every bold action I take, I was talked into by my braver heart. Every time I speak up I was manipulated into it by my bravado. Every lipstick color was dared. Every blog post was goaded into existence. It’s easy to love yourself, it’s harder to love yourself back.

I’ve been pushing myself to spin.
To take a bow. To skip.
I’ve encouraged my shadow to dance,
her arms high above her head.

I’m teaching myself to embrace raindrops, to smile at birds and leaves and clouds.
To wave to children, to nod at each pedestrian,
to thank every bus driver, every barista, every customer,
every door held open – even when they don’t look back.

To leap over puddles simply to fly.
Take up the space.
Stretching up and out; leaning forward, bending back.
Gasp out loud and let the air fill my lungs.

To listen fully, learning to wait before asking questions. Savoring each individual bite. This is food someone made, this is food that the Earth grew. To feel those raw vocal cords from singing too loud; side pains from laughing too hard. To actually laugh and feel it fill me up enough to loosen the knot in my stomach.

Knock me over with wind. I’ll wade into the water up to my ankles. Walk leisurely through that rare sunbeam. Let my hands reach out and feel the dew. Let condensation fog my glasses. Filling cupped palms with cold water. Embrace my skin.

Every habit has to be practiced before it’s formed. I’ll get there.
Patience & Practice


Thoughts At The Suzzallo

     The coffee shop is broken up into 11 sections. 4 along the longer sides of the room, 3 down the center, but there are only four actual walls – all other spaces are implied through detailing on the walls and ceiling, and through the furniture placement. There are leather couches that are so big you have to curl up on them to truly get comfortable. There are long tables with wooden chairs, there are benches, there are leather sitting chairs with brass legs, there are giant round coffee tables with that same metal to match. There are little shelves built into the walls that are too shallow to hold anything except a coffee cup if you’re too far from the shiny tables. The ceiling is covered in absorption boards, so the room never gets too loud. Natural lighting floods in through old stained glass windows that have been saved and maintained since the rooms initial occupants. And I’m here in the corner of it, seated on a leather couch, coffee on the shelf. Watching, and listening. But I’m not allowing myself to really settle in. Because I don’t really belong here. Not yet.

In a way, it’s sad that we have such a tendency to yearn for lives we do not lead. It’s sad how desperately we can wish for a chance to do over what choices we have made, want chances we didn’t take. How far we can fall into this mixture of envy and remorse.

     When I was younger, despite getting sick as often as I was, I assumed my life would look like everyone else’s. I had followed the rules in terms of what teenagers should and shouldn’t do. I assumed that I would get asked to prom, I assumed that I would stop having health problems and I would go to a big school, because I had mostly good grades. I would be there for 4 years and make everlasting friendships. I would take that degree on to a big adult job, and visit bars for the first time. I would travel with a friend or two around Europe and maybe meet someone at work or at a friends barbeque, and we would date and maybe get married. We’d get a cute house and raise a kid or two. That was what they told us would happen. That’s what they said was expected of us. And for the most part I was ok with that. A large part of me really wanted to be an actor, but if this was my fallback, then alright, I was game.

But that’s not what happened.

     And most of the time, it’s fine with me how things turned out. I have enough things in my life to be grateful for, I could probably fill Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. But every once in a while, I get nipped by the regret bug and all the sudden I am bursting with What If’s and Why Not Me’s and it can feel completely overwhelming. I daydream about the life I could have had, and the people I could have met, and the world that could have been at my fingertips. And I get so focused on all that I can’t do that I find myself lying. I suddenly feel like I can’t do anything to fix the situation that I am in. I can’t do anything to even get close to that world I missed out on. I play the blame game. It was because my parents didn’t do point A, point B, point C. It’s because my friends in high school weren’t supportive. It was my depression’s fault. It was my doctors who took too long. It was society.

     The Suzzallo library at the University of Washington is an architectural masterpiece. Every inch of it feels like it shouldn’t exist in America, and it certainly shouldn’t be allowed for daily casual use. When I was in high school, dreaming of getting into the big school – I pictured this building. I pictured walking across the big brick courtyard in the rain, ducking in, and spending my in-between-class-time getting distracted from my homework because of the gorgeous room I was in. I was meant to do a interior design study on the building a few years back but had been unable to get a ride out to the campus, and instead could only look at photos on the internet. Even after I had learned the bus route and visited the shopping district next to the school often, I wouldn’t let myself go inside. Not until this year did I finally let myself walk across that big red brick courtyard, into the doors, up the stone staircase. Until then, the building was kept off limits to myself. It was going to be my reward for getting in. But it’s been 4 years since I’ve graduated high school, and the first day of classes doesn’t look any closer than it did then.

     For a short while I was distracted with the prospect of acting. They said I was good. They said if I applied myself and worked hard that I would be successful and so I did. But I was surrounded by toxicity. The hours were disastrous and tiring. The extra social work was duplicitous and fake. There was constantly drama and broken hearts and chaos. I was not thriving. I was drowning. And even once I left, I would get sick every so often, which would deter my focus on school. And even now, I haven’t managed to take more than one class while working full time, so I easily have another year before I can even transfer my credits over to a new school.

     This was the life I so desperately wanted. But I didn’t have the mindset to work my ass off so it could be mine, not until I realized what I missed out on. I didn’t have the focus or mental health until years after my own imaginary deadline. And that is heartbreaking for me to come to face with.

     But today I had a doctor’s appointment nearby, and so I decided that I would go early, and work on my homework in that big beautiful cafe attached to the library. Despite the heartache it ensues. To remind myself what I am working towards. But also to remind myself, that it’s just a room. It’s full of other students just like me, who have unknown dramas in their own lives. Who might feel just as held back as I do. There is nothing wrong with working towards this world and wanting to be a part of it, but it’s also ok to enjoy a taste of it now and curl up into that leather couch. I am not here to pretend I am one of them or to practice for the real thing.

I have just as much of a right to be here as they do.



A Skinny Bitch Bitches About Being Skinny.

(((This entire post is about weight. I talk about disorders, and invasive thoughts, and societal expectations. It is not researched or supported, this is what we call an opinion piece. This is all about me, and it is frankly written. If you struggle with weight, or have in the past, don’t push yourself to read this if you think you can’t. Take care of yourself first bb.)))

      My disease causes my weight to fluctuate when its active, but my issues with weight are nothing new.  I’ve always been too small, for my age, for my height, for my family, compared to my friends, compared to the little kids. My mom tells a story of how my preschool teachers called Child Protective Services because they were worried I wasn’t getting fed at home. I’ve always been too, damn, small.

      We presently live in a society where media tells us that it is a desirable thing to be small. My own community pushes against this, and while the logical-compassionate-Raelee understands why; Insecure-about-her-weight-Raelee is struggling.

     I think that since there are people who fit into the “Standard for Beauty” without trying, we assume that they get off in life easier and therefore they get through it easily. Certainly I’ve rarely been made to feel that I am a monster by the media, and I can usually find things in my size, and strangers don’t stare at me rudely. But Society isn’t the only voice we interact with on the daily. I still have the voice nagging and yelling and being mean in the back of my head, and the strangers telling me to fix myself are usually saying I need to eat more. And usually it’s not strangers, its family and friends. And it starts out fine, and they always mean well… don’t we all?

     I used to make myself throw up in high school. I had a special stirring stick that I found in our kitchen. It’s from my Hawaiian Poodle party I had when I was 9 or 10. Its blue with a green palm tree as a little handle. I’ve also used a toothbrush when in a sitch. Or my fingers. Usually after a fight with my parents, or after a really shitty day at school. Or when I was feeling lonely. Or because I looked plump that day. 

     Now I won’t pretend that this was a more serious issue than it was, let’s not exaggerate. It happened less than 30 times the four years I was in high school, and maybe 5 more times since I graduated. I was paranoid about it ruining my teeth so it was always a last resort among my supposed options. When it happens now it’s because I ate something that upset my stomach and throwing up is the fastest way to be done. I did start getting help for it but I realized that my high school counselors didn’t really listen when I was talking. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please seek professional help. You are so much more than what your brain keeps saying, and getting help will be a lot easier than fighting on your own.

     Yes I am small, and I take immense pleasure in fitting into small spaces for people. But I also can’t see how small I am. I can sometimes see it when my friends and I are in swimsuits, but even then I have a hard time not inflating my perception. Being thin means wearing shorts from the kids section and thinking it’s hysterical, and then wearing 0 size jeans and feeling guilty and dirty. It’s a constant roller coaster of omg im so thin just like a model, to, all my friends have beautiful sexy curves and I am a skeleton in skin and then when you add in the insecurity that a fluctuating waistband brings omg i finally can wear a size 3 which brings oh my mini skirt makes me feel like a sausage and then 2 months later oh my pants are too big…

     I’ve been losing weight recently. At first I thought I was just being paranoid because last winter when I was sick, I dropped 20 lbs real fast. So any changes I thought I saw, I assumed were me just struggling to see reality. But I’ve been having to wear leggings under my larger jeans, and my 0’s are fitting better than they were 2 months ago. My ring from Bree doesn’t fit as snug as usual. I’m down 8 lbs. I don’t know why. I’m struggling to keep myself from obsessing over it, but the hotel we’re in has a scale which I don’t own at home (for a reason), and I keep using it. Or eyeing it. Maybe i’m wrong. Maybe it was just a fluke, maybe it was on a slope. What does it say over here? Oh. still that. And we don’t know what that means in terms of my disease yet because it’s a recent realization, but I can’t even think about the disease yet, because I’m too focused on the weight part.

     Logical Raelee knows that I didn’t purposefully do this to myself. I don’t watch my calories, and I don’t intentionally exercise. I don’t try to keep myself from eating, I just have a picky appetite. I haven’t made myself throw up recently. And then I am surrounded by all these voices of “Bigger Girls are Beautiful” and images of skinny waists with big thighs, ”BIGger is better,” the #thinsperation, “get your swimsuit body ready,” “real women have Curves,” the thigh gaps. They’ve ingrained this irrational fear of changing body shape and I know that, and I work against that fear, and I gain the pounds, and then GPA swoops in and drops them.

Wallowing in guilt for a size I can’t control.

It’s too much.
For a second there was a push of “love your body whatever your size” and then its reverted back to specifics. And I know that you’re frustrated because your whole life the images around you said you were repulsive, but you and I know that isn’t true. You and I know that they are the assholes. We can have diversity and not tell everyone that they need to be one extreme or the other. We can have a vague “
love who you are not what you look like” And I know that part of that doesn’t feel good enough. They got to be the center of attention for so long, it’s MY turn but all that does is continue a cycle of frustration and competition.

Stop being competitive when it comes to struggling, please.

Stop laughing at the skinny girls when they say “Yeah I struggle with weight too.”

     I know that sometimes they are the same ones who make fun of you but at least give them a shot to show you they aren’t that person before you start chuckling. Because it’s frustrating enough. Stop telling people that they haven’t struggled enough to be worth compassion. Treat others how you wish to be treated, right?

Be kind.


OH! And I know I’m not a skinny bitch, I just think its funny to make long titles in which words are reused. ❤

Hello, 2018

Wow! Ok, let’s recap;

     I’ve had the blog for a year now. I finished reading 56 books last year. I got my first full time job (!!!), which helped me start an HSA which is an adult thing that is helpful. I’m also in the process of setting up my 401k which is a thing that I’ll love when I’m old. Cool! I didn’t get to declare remission, but I am dying slower than I used to be so that is awesome!! 

     I had several “End of the Year” posts I thought about making and then I just got overwhelmed with my own stress and fake stress (I’ve decided to call my anxiety my fake stress). Work was packed full of relatively cranky holiday shoppers, I had finals, I was trying to read as many books as I could. The whole shebang.

     Typing feels weird to my fingers because it’s been so long. How sad is that?! In my defense, I have been writing still, but most of it goes into a journal, and I don’t type that stuff up or share it with anyone. I had a whole “Welcome to 2018” thing planned but I put that off too.

     Normally I come up with a long list of things I wanna accomplish in the forthcoming year. And then I tuck that away and let the year progress and every once in a while I come back and see how I’m doing and on the year goes until it ends and I have accomplished none of it. This year is different. This year I made a very short list, which goes as follows:

  1. Patience
  2. Practice

That’s it. That’s all I am holding myself to for the year, but while you may initially think “Oh wow Raelee, that’s literally two vague things,” let me show you how they are soooo much more.

  1. Patience

    Be patient with myself. I will make mistakes and beating myself to the pulp about other’s expectations, is unproductive and a lie. No one is holding me to a higher standard than I hold myself. Be patient with the people around me. We are all just trying to make it through the day, and sometimes that will be way more fun and sunny. Sometimes it will be a complete joy to get through the day. Other times it is hard and dark and grueling. Not everyone will remind themselves to be patient, but I always have it within my own control to remember to be patient with them. There is no true rush in life, any clock counting down is of our own invention. If I don’t get a thing done that I need to get done, it likely is not the end of the world. So long as I am not continuously being a complete inconvenience to someone else and so long as no one is getting killed, the world will not end.

  1. Practice

    Everything gets easier the more and more you do it. Using the phone, practicing a language, learning an instrument, putting clothes away, forming a routine, studying, reading big books, talking to strangers, laughing at mistakes, forgiveness. All these things get easier the more they are worked on, and more often than not I will not be great at something the first time I try. Slowly I will improve and grow, and all that takes is time.

     So how am I doing? Well, I’ve been practicing French everyday for about a week. Listening to french podcasts, french music, playing french apps, reading french books. I’ve been actively playing the ukulele at least 3 times a week. Watching videos, practicing how I position my hands and my fingers, learning what things sound like, keeping an ear out for strumming patterns within songs. I’ve been seeing a therapist. I’ve been pushing myself to be a better listener. To focus on who and what is in front of me. Forgiving myself for tripping, and applauding when I get up and move forward. Telling myself to stop getting upset at my lack of natural talent, and move towards cultivating one I work for. Applauding myself and noticing my own milestones (I’ve already read 10 books this year!). Setting reasonable expectations for myself. Building those bonds with the people in my life that I love and cherish.

All of theses things take practice. All of these things take patience.


Liebster Award ’17

Um, so I suck and I don’t check my email often, but around the beginning of the month I got nominated for the Liebster award so that’s neat and teaches people about new blogs that are a tad smaller, so I dig it.  I don’t know the blogger who nominated me on a personal level and so I think that’s even cooler.

I was nominated by Mentally (Un)qualified (who is really Chelsea) who runs a similar blog to mine, chatting often about illness but also chats about other things because like all spoonies, she is a human who is more than her illnesses. (Some people are surprised by that!?). She actually posts regularly which is incredible on it’s own, but what is better is that in those posts she is incredibly honest. She acknowledges parts of herself that we often find hard to share, things like suicidal thoughts, but are necessary to share if we want to create a safer and compassionate world. She talks about the dark and the light, and provides a safe balance of the two which is something that can be difficult when dealing with topics like mental illness, and the political climate.

These are the questions she asked me to answer:

  1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
    I started Raelee Rowen because I find it incredibly more therapeutic to spill my frustrations or thoughts and share them with the void of the internet, than it is to keep them in a diary. Writing in a more public format pushes me to be more vulnerable, and to try new things. I wanted somewhere to talk about thoughts and books and my health, and I wanted something more than just ranting to my friends and loved ones.
  2. What is your favorite passion that helps you relax?
    I am a perfectionist, with a habit of overloading myself. So something to remedy the stress that that comes with is to organize things. For most of my life I will rearrange my room every couple months, I go through and take bags of trash and unwanted stuff out, and it always feels so much better afterwards. If I’m not feeling overloaded and I have time to relax that I don’t feel should be used for something “productive,” then I read!
  3. Best concert you’ve ever been to?
    I saw Allie X this past August up in Canada. She is an incredible performer and draws every single person in. She pours her heart and soul into her music, and she’s incredibly humble. (She smells nice too, but like not in a creepy way. She initiated the hug).

  4. Which animal do you feel you are most like?
    Honestly, I think I am a dog. I am loyal to the ones who support me. I can read emotions of others really well. I need to be petted and fed regularly. I love wearing sweaters and making people happy. I too will bark if I get scared or don’t like something.
  5. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?
    I would live in Paris. I love the history, I love the food, I love the bustle, I love the museums. I love the concept of me saying “I live in Paris.” It’s a good concept.
  6. Favorite guilty pleasure snack?
    I sometimes drink the pickle juice straight from the jar if I’m PMSing. I don’t really feel guilty about that though. OOH, sometimes I’ll eat A LOT of hot cheese even though it’s going to make me sick and then I usually regret it. Doesn’t stop me though.
  7. What movie makes you cry every time you watch it?
    About Time. I absolutely love this movie, and I will cry every single time. I’ve seen it at least 10 times. Doesn’t matter.
  8. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things would you need most?
    I would need a neverending supply of books, I would need the GF, and I would need a comfy chair. And coffee that never makes me sick.
    I’m not great at these questions.
  9. What is your biggest fear?
    Being forgotten.
  10. What is your favorite memory?
    There was one wintery evening ma and I ate fried clams and played scrabble with a fire blaring and the rain pouring down outside. I think I was 9ish.

I suppose this is where I would list the questions I want you to answer, but I really don’t have time for that, as much as I love you. So just answer the same questions, because she came up with really good ones.

I don’t read a ton of blogs, I’ve always been more of a physical book person, but I do know some spectacular writers that I think everyone should know about so I am nominating them I guess, and if thats breaking the rules then I guess I’ll be a rebel for the first time ever.

1. Will is a coworker of mine. He writes very beautifully, and I am very envious of how casually he can use the language and rhythm that he does. He writes about mental illness and faith and life. You can find him here.

2. Sarah is a traveler, and she writes mainly about her travels and covers everything from how she affords it, to what it’s like to travel alone as a woman. She is incredible and honest and just as enthusiastic in her writing as she is in person. You’ll find her here.

3. Sean is one of the two people I know who has published a book and that makes him one of the coolest writers I know (writing a book is no easy feat, let alone getting it published). He writes about all sorts of things and has various blogs, so here is a good place to start. He’s written about divorce, cycling, brewing beer, books, etc. He’s got some spectacular stories and a big heart.

So, these are the guidelines for the award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favourite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself. (This year I’m making this optional. If you wish to engage with your readers it’s a great idea to include random facts about you.)
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 200 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. List these rules in your post (you can copy and paste from here or simply link to this post). Once you have written and published it, you then have to…
  7. ….Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them, if you don’t have all the information so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it)! Post a comment in the comments below (on the website ) so Jack Henry can view your post and check out your blog. Jack Henry personally visits each and every blog. He visited a few hundred last year!


Thank giant you to Chelsea again!! Now I really have to go finish my homework!


The Day My Phone Died

Um so somehow I just survived almost 2 weeks without any phone.

Two Wednesday’s ago, I dropped my phone face down on the tile floor at work. I drop my phone all the time. In fact i dropped it like two months ago and the screen shattered so the GF fixed it for me. SO when I dropped it again, no one was surprised.

((Now before you think anything, I’ll have you know that I have a case around my phone and one of those screen protectors. Telling people “you should get a case” is not helpful. Thanks but no thanks.))

Anyway the phone got stripe-y and then blacked out and wouldn’t turn on again. Quite inconveniently, my mother and the GF were out of town for 4 more days so they had no way to contact me unless I was at home on the computer. It was hella stressful. I debated whether I should get a cheap pay as you go phone, should I see if there are videos about people who have dealt with this and fixed it easy? Do we replace the screen again?

Long story short a friend had an old phone that she didn’t need anymore and since it was the same model but a different carrier, the GF used the old phone for parts, made a Franken-phone, and now it works!

But the actual experience was not what I expected.

People do this all the time, there are people who live without smartphones for financial sake or personal preference, and there are people who regularly use smartphones and give them up for a week just to see if they can handle it. There are countless articles of people who go through this and present their findings. Usually they say that they spent more time face to face with people, or that they read more, or hiked more, or that they appreciated life more. And.. well, after going through it myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that those people must not do anything other than their phones because I didn’t see a significant difference in my day to day life.

The biggest inconveniences were not being able to check when my bus was coming, and not feeling safe on my walk back home. Usually I have my phone in one pocket and my keys in the other. Being able to call an emergency service or friends for help is a huge source of comfort for me, and often my anxiety was pulsating the whole way home. Other than that, I still had Facebook, I just couldn’t check it as often. I usually read on the bus anyway so it’s not like I got a huge influx of free time. I did miss being able to take photos whenever I wanted, and I missed listening to my music. Other than those few things it wasn’t overly traumatic. I don’t text very often as it is, and none of my friends are off the grid, so if I can’t access them on my phone there are probably three other websites that I could get to them through.

I do think that we put too much value into our phones, but considering how much we invest in using them it makes sense. We pay for the phone, we pay monthly to use the phone, we buy apps, we buy things through the phone, we buy it accessories, we store our lives and our memories on this little device – the idea of losing that randomly is terrifying. But it is also just a phone. And if you are someone who is scared to the core of how they would function without one, you might be the very person who should take a voluntary break. You’re probably stronger than you think, and besides, who knows how much free time you have hiding?