Dear Solo, (a letter to my almost eleven-year-old son),

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Dear Solo,

You will be eleven this month.

Let’s not forget you, India baby, walked on the shores of the Arabian sea. Born during the monsoon, when the water streamed down the windows and I held my face in the cardamom jar every morning because I couldn’t bear the mildew stench. You were so loved.

Little baby Solomon, King Solomon we called you.

You cried in the coconut grove and I walked you under the stars, step by step in the humid night air.

You learned to walk in the mountains, toddling at great heights, teeth first, while Nepali friends carried you back and forth and fed you sweets. You ran away from me in the Pokhara markets while I vainly tried to follow, trailing three young children and holding many bags. You tucked yourself away in sari shops or gold stores, hiding behind counters, hiding in boats, hiding under your blankets on your bed. You were always laughing when we found you. You were covered in sand, shining with stars, swimming like a fish.

We moved to Thailand and you leaned on the arms of Thai grandmothers, grinning up at them, you played with soi dogs, charmed monks.

And then you turned inward very suddenly, became quiet, scowled your way around. It was an abrupt shift. You were working something out, deep inside there somewhere. Any way we leaned, you leaned the other way. No, you said. No, no, no.

Just as abruptly, the sunshine came back, and with it, the dancing. You have danced in many countries. Sometimes your dancing makes me feel like I could fly if I tried hard enough. I think it makes you feel that way too.

You cried when we moved out of our house. But you out of anyone need the starry skies. You are mighty, young son. Sometimes you wonder if you look okay.

“You are so beautiful,” you told me the other day. “And Dad is so beautiful. But me?”

I don’t know what it is that blocks you from seeing it, but son, you are stunning.

You protect people that you feel are being shamed or mocked.

You draw for hours and spend your money and time making gifts for people.

You are Wookie’s great friend. The only time you seem to stay still is when you are reading somewhere with Wookie curled up beside you. You always look out for animals and every kind of creature. You are fierce and sometimes anxious, artistic and a boy of great feeling.

There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

I love you and love you and love you. Your dad does too. Sometimes we talk about how we feel about you. We can barely stand it.

I’m writing this birthday letter early just because I’m feeling it now. Because I can hear your laugh in my head and it is so sweet to me.

My son.

My wild son, in perpetual motion.

I love you.

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We cannot shrug it off.

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Over these last week of terrible tweets and rallies, I have been stewing and thinking about fear-mongering. Fear is this visceral thing that we feel in our own bodies, it is natural and primal, instinctual. So people seeking power will use it against us. It’s the most reliable way to control.

The first moment that I read the current US president’s tweets, I thought, “Oh, crap. Well, that’s not surprising… he’s outed himself again.”

Because his words reveal his deeper beliefs- Trump believes real Americans are white.

He uses countries where people are dark-skinned (Mexico, Haiti, African nations) as examples of dirty, horrible (or allegedly “shithole”countries.) He uses countries where people are white, like Norway, as examples of countries whose citizens are desirable.

He is deeply white supremacist.

Again, not surprising, considering all the ways he has revealed this. From his expensive attacks against five innocent youth, to not speaking out against white supremacists marching in North Carolina, to calling down hatred on four American citizens, Trump has always revealed himself to be threatened by people of color, insecure when he is questioned about his own racist beliefs, and willing to whip up a hate filled crowd in the name of patriotism, without a care about the danger his words pose for dark-skinned people.

But racism and white supremacy always masquerade under the guise of patriotism, protection, or even religion. Rarely does racism show its face as, “I don’t like this person because he or she is different and I’m threatened by that and I’m worried that I’m going to lose my position in the highest rung of society.”

It masquerades in concern for “our” safety. It hides among in and out exclusionism.

This is where we can start to pull apart the threads of white supremacy. When leaders call for a return to something, look deeper… it may mean return to a time when oppression was the force that kept white people on top. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to call for America being “great” again, when the past is steeped in oppression. There was never a point when America was pastoral and ideal—the “good old days”—and Black, Latino, Chinese, and Indigenous Americans were not concurrently being squashed, oppressed, or used as labor to further white wealth. That time simply does not exist.

So I am not surprised by the president’s tirades. But I am deeply worried about how much of it is seeping into us. Are we growing used to racist words and thoughts—from a president in 2019—as a norm? Are we growing numb? Why is something that is so dangerous to the most vulnerable among us considered an appropriate way to campaign?

Fear of the other is devastating, cowardly, and dangerous.

The truth is that we are all together in our humanity. The truth is also that justice, human rights, and privilege have not been the same for all of us. This is the paradox of race. The fact that in truth there is no “other”— but the deep wounds of “othering” cannot be ignored, trivialized or cheerfully overlooked.

All of us have to face our racial heritage, no matter who we are. Black and indigenous people are forced to confront it all the time. What does it mean to have been enslaved but strong? Overtaken but triumphant? Brutalized but refusing to be victimized?

As white people we need to face the multiple threads of our own narrative. Not glossing over our heritage, but not wallowing in it either. What does it mean to love our ancestors and also own the fact that they oppressed others? That they ignorantly or knowingly enjoyed the top position in society, hiding behind a facade of “civilization?” What does it mean to value our heritage and condemn its sin?

As humans, we are all and nothing.

We are sparks in a long river.

We are dust and ashes.

For us the world was made.

And when we see words and chants and rage and self pity being used against people who are in danger, we must speak out.

Listen, facing our history of race and privilege is a matter of life and death. We cannot shrug it off or try to get out from under the discomfort. We can sit and uncomfortable and still be okay. Our dear fellow citizens are depending on it.

No more injust incarceration. No more police shootings of black men and women. No more filthy detention camps. No more othering to justify cruelty. No more dehumanization, words like animals, infestation, low-life, or dog. No more hatred.

No more protecting some fantasy past where we were on top and that was all great. It doesn’t exist. It was always at the expense of others. This is the hard truth. I am sorry. But Jesus has a different story for us. Redemption is his work, love and forgiveness is his whole identity. So if we are sad because our own stories are falling apart as fantasies do, we can turn and be loved not because we are pure, not because we have untouchable, righteous ancestors, but with all the others in this long history of sin and death, just because we are created. Because we are loved. Because great Creator God is love, because the Spirit gave us breath.

And because of this love, we must face hard truths, not make safety our god, not listen to fear mongering. We have to be expansive and brave, full of compassion rather than judgey about why people chose to flee their countries. God forbid we ever be in a position to flee. But I can tell you, I have experienced the most simple kindnesses from people who understand being in danger, because they remember how to include, how to be human. Let’s not forget how to be human.

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It's today! Launch Day for The Lost Art of Reverie!

I love launch days! It’s so fun to finally release a book into the world, after months or years of work. (This one took years… I wrote the first draft in 2017, but kept back-burnering it to focus on World Whisperer.)

I’ve been hearing the kindest, sweetest responses to this little fledgling bird.

One reader said that the only word she can use for it is “cozy.” Another said it’s like you just want to tuck away and be in Aveline with new friends. And another said it is “fun, insightful and delightful… therapy in a beautiful bouquet.”

And a lovely reviewer on Amazon said “Rae doesn't just tell a story, she invites us into the lives, hearts and minds of her characters.”

That is exactly what I hope to do.

Buy or borrow the ebook version of The Lost Art of Reverie here.

Buy the paperback version here.

Or here.

Love to you all,

Rae