Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So...you ended up on an STFU blog...

One of my friends is really into STFU Parents, and is often either commenting on their posts, or reposting to her Facebook page. I like this woman, she and I have similar senses of humor, and neither of us takes ourselves or anything else too seriously, so it's no wonder to me that I found myself enjoying STFU Parents.

There are other STFU blogs, too, for couples and religious people and a few others that I've found. None of them have the same sense of irony and ability to point out exactly what is ridiculous about a particular mommyjacking or comment as the writer of STFUP, though, so I always end up back there.

The thing is, I like kids. I may not want them myself, but I like them. I like my friend's kids and I'm excited for the half of my FB friends who are currently expecting/in the throes of new parenthood, etc. (Seriously, half of my friends decided to start breeding around the same exact time. It's really weird.)

So far, none of my friends have mommyjacked me or tried to explain how much different my life will be when I have kids (because I will have them, yanno. The power of Christ compels me or something.), so I'm happy with the parents I now have hanging around.

My friends are my friends for a reason. I like them. We have stuff in common. We enjoy each other. But I can't deny that some of my peeps take themselves too seriously. And I think when you go too serious, then that's when you start doing stuff that winds you up on an STFU blog.

Now, the couple's blog is really simple. If you consistently post about a person for three weeks, making them the center of your universe and then suddenly break up with them very publicly and go all sad panda for another three weeks before you hook up with someone else and start the cycle again, you will end up on STFU Couples. If you have conversations with your significant other on Facebook that you could easily be having on the privacy of your text messages, then you will end up on STFU Couples.

STFU Parents, though, is a different kettle of fish.

Are you bereating people for not showing up to your kid's first birthday that you rented a hall for? You belong on STFUP.

Are you going to barricade your door against visitors for the first six months of your child's life and you decide that the best way to send this information to those people is a Facebook post? STFUP.

Did someone make a loud noise during your child's nap time and you felt the best way to deal with it was to post a passive-aggressive note about it on your Facebook page? STFUP.

The people on STFUP have stopped being individuals and have wrapped their identity up in their children's identity. These are the people who think that their situation automatically makes them more special than anyone else. They are the people who think their kid's sore throat is more important than some guy's broken limb at an emergency room and will actually say something about it out loud where other people can hear them because they honestly believe that their kid is the most important thing in the universe ever. Who does the guy with the broken arm think he is, anyway?

I think that the people who get featured on STFUP can be summed up in the Gollum post. You have a perfectly normal person with a good sense of humor equating her child's looks to that of Gollum from LOTR. Does the parent really look at her child as a warped Hobbit who was corrupted by the power of the One Ring? Of course not! But come on, that's funny. Most people can laugh at that. But not the last commenter, Chelsea. She can't. I mean, the baby is beautiful! How dare you talk that way about your precious? (See what I did there?)

That is what STFUP is about. It's about that person who just can't let go for a second and say, "Yeah, that's funny I don't care who y'are."

There are many different types of posts on STFUP, but it all comes down to that humorless person who considers their child to be the most important part of their life and can't imagine why no one else feels that way.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Blaming women for everything

I find it more surreal than anything that Kristin Stewart had an affair with a married man. I also want to make it more than clear that I don't think she was blameless, and I think she's an idiot and that she tries too hard to be fresh, interesting, random, and intelligent. She's wanted to be mature for so long, but I think this affair just proves she's a stupid twenty two-year-old girl with a lot to learn.

But the focus that's being put on her for this affair, calling her the "second most notorious husband stealer in Hollywood" and just basically the belief that if she hadn't been willing, Rupert Sanders would have just gone home to his wife and lived the rest of his life in ignorance of what a dumb girl is like on the inside just makes me think of how unfair everything is to women.

This guy was going to cheat. He found Kristin Stewart. I have no idea if he had to look particularly hard to find her, or if he had been put off by other women before her first, I got nothing. I do know that no one really cares about him. I mean, he wasn't the one who "broke" Robert Pattinson's heart, was he? No, that was Kristin. He wasn't the one who betrayed the woman who protrayed his mother in a movie, was he? No, that was Kristin too. At least, that's what we've been taught.

Brad Pitt would have stayed with Jennifer Anniston indefinitely if Angelina hadn't come along. Eddie Fisher would have stayed with Debbie Reynolds indefinitely if Elizabeth Taylor hadn't come along. Rupert Sanders would have stayed with his wife if Kristin Stewart hadn't come along.

Men have no free will, right? It's not like any of those guys were capable of saying no. They didn't betray their wives. Their wives were betrayed by another woman. The guy is incidental.

You know, you hear women who have affairs talking about their lover's wives, and it's always, "Oh, she doesn't understand him! She's such a shrew! She's so horrible! She expects him to take out the garbage and play with the kids, like, every night or something! I mean, he's only one man." And then there's the women being cheated on saying, "Oh, she's so horrible for doing this to me. How would she feel if someone was sleeping with her husband?"

You see a twenty two-year-old man out with a cougar and you think, "Oh, he just wants sex." You see a girl of the same age out with a married man and you think, "Homewrecker." Why do men get this pass? Why aren't they held responsible? And why can't a woman just want to have sex?

I love this picture. People have been analyzing the look on Kristin's face, as though she emotes in any way. She looks awkward, but then she always does. There's no denying, though, that she's staring at Liberty. Her smile is forced whereas Charlize is practically giggling. It's a painful picture to look at, and it's easy to try and imagine what's going on in Kristin's head. You know. If anything.

I wonder if this will hurt Kristin's career. I wonder if it will hurt Rupert. I wonder if it will hurt Liberty. Mostly, I wonder when people will stop blaming the idiot child and start looking at the guy who is old enough to know better. I'm not excusing Kristin, but it takes two to tango. It's time to acknowledge this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chapter by Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: CH 24-THE END

Aw yeah! 85% done my peeps! I'm going to try and power through to the end here, so sorry in advance if this post ends up being eighty thousand words long.

Incidentally, I turned on my Kindle thinking that I had Fifty open only to discover that it was North and South instead which confused me because I didn't remember there being a Mr. Thornton in Fifty...so there you go. I can be dumb too, it's not just Ana.

Also, Emma Watson is apparently in talks to play Ana Steele in the Fifty movie, so if you had any lingering respect for Little Hermione Grainger, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but then she did drop out of Brown U. Still, I didn't think she'd start slipping down the Lohan ramp so soon.

Oh Emma...how could you?

Onto the book

Chapter Twenty Four

Ana is dreaming. We know she's dreaming because Christian is in a cage. If it were real, Ana would be in the cage. He tells her to eat and "his tongue caress[es] the front of his palate as he enunciates the t."

I'll give you a minute to stop grimacing.

Okay, Christian wakes Ana up because he wants to chase the dawn with her.

Better than Chasing the Dragon, know what I mean?
(I don't know what I mean.)

Then, this happens: Ana is all reluctant to wake up because she's not an early riser, which I sympathize with. She realizes he's dressed (in black in case you were wondering) and she says, "I thought you wanted sex, yo," and he's all, "I always do, yo." Then Ana says this:

I gaze at him as my eyes adjust to the light, but he still looks amused...thank heavens.
Okay...why wouldn't he still look amused? Why would Ana think he was angry with her? Or, I don't know, whatever it is Ana would think he is? He is waking her up. If anyone has a right to be pissed, it's her. The time is apparently 5:30 AM, which in my family is usually titled "O-dark-thirty." It's early. Painfully early. And they were up late the night before. When I say that this relationship is unhealthy, this is what I mean. Ana has no boundaries and she's constantly in fear of Christian being angry because, mostly, he is.

So Christian tries to force Ana to eat, but it's too early for her. She finally explains that her stomach has to wake up too, so I guess this is progress. At 85% of the book being done, progress is finally made in the "communication" area of this relationship.

Christian takes Ana out in a convertible and they have some conversation about classical music before Ana finds Britney Spears on Christian's ipod, and he tells her that an ex-sub called Leila put it on there. Ana wants to know why they finished and Christian says it's because she wanted more. Or maybe she didn't ease his foolish pride. Who knows?

Anyway, he says he never wanted more until he met Ana, which is sweet I guess.

I'll admit it: When Grissom told Sara he'd only been interested in beauty since he met her, I melted a little.

They start discussing the other long-term girls, and Ana says something about not wanting kids for several more years which makes Christian make a face and she realizes that he doesn't want them ever. I guess Ana's too young to have "deal breakers" in her relationships, but this is a deal breaker for a lot of people. But of course it's not discussed because why would it be? It's not like this is an important piece of information for Ana to know from a guy she sees herself with in five years.

We meet up with Taylor at the airfield, and Taylor says that Christian has been "hell on wheels" all week without Ana.

Okay, Christian's arrangement with Ana is that they see each other on weekends only. Why does he care what she does on during the week? The author can't set up this nonlationship like this and then have her characters react this way! It's really poor writing, and it's unfair to the readers. It gives us literary whiplash. You have to choose a point and stick with it, making small adjustments over time until you get a character to turn 180 degrees. This author spends so much time on birch veneer coffee house tables, Taylor's green eyes, the fact that there are indeed blondes in the Seattle area working in offices (shocker!), how beautiful Kate is, what The Red Room of Pain looks like, what hotel rooms look like, the British accent on the guy at the airfield, Ana's mom's eight hundred  husbands, and all sorts of things that just. don't. matter, but we get nothing when it comes to the actual relationship between Ana and Christian.

Why do these two people like each other? They've never had a conversation or shared interests. We're only now learning what Christian's favorite movie is, and that he doesn't want kids. They have no common interests other than kinky sex that we know of yet, but we're supposed to believe in and support this relationship and think that they have such a strong bond when they've barely known each other for over a week.

For perspective: Pride and Prejudice takes place in the time span of two years. Emma is likewise about a year and a half look into the life of Emma Woodhouse. I'm not done with North and South yet, but so far two years have passed. I don't know how many years are taken up with Jane Eyre, but it's more than the others combined. There is no doubt in the reader's mind about why Emma and Mr. Knightly get along. Those books are as long as Fifty Shades, and yet you know more about freaking Lydia Bennet than you do about Anastasia Steele.

"Then I said to myself, 'Self, if you marry Wickham, then Papa will have to love you more than he loves Lizzie.' It was a genius plan."

So they're at an air field with a guy who has a British accent (is it a Northern accent?) and they're going to go gliding.

Little known fact: this romance novelist, Barbara Cartland, invented a specific Gliding Plane that was used during the Normandy invasion in WWII because she loved gliding so much, which renders her one of the most awesome romance novelists ever.

You dream of being this fabulous.

So, Ana has to put on a parachute which Christian of course straps her into. I was surprised that he trusted someone else to pack her parachute. Aren't you always supposed to pack your own? My army brother says yes.

So, a plane tows them into the air, and then it releases them, and Christian will use thermal wind changes to keep the plane aloft as it "glides" in a controlled crash to earth. It's basically like hangliding, but with a plane. Oddly, it's more secure. Go figure.

Ana loves it, and Christian does too.

They end up at IHOP where, of course, the waitress trips all over herself because of Christian. This is beyond old.
Rootie Tootie Fresh n' Fruity Breakfast coming right up!

We're still in the same chapter (!) and now Ana is back at home, and Christian is coming over for a nice family dinner. Ana gets a call from SIP, the publishing house she wanted to get a job from, and finds out that she got the job. I'm assuming that SIP stands for Seattle Independent Publishing or something similar. It's never actually stated.

So, it turns out that Christian has to cancel dinner because something suddenly came up.

The chapter ends eight pages later, and those pages are taken up with them e-mailing each other about how Ana talks in her sleep.

But now we're 91% of the way through!

Chapter Twenty Five

Ana's mom takes her to the airport and tells her to embrace life and remember how young she is and how much life she has ahead of her. When someone tells you how young you are, do you ever feel like saying, "Yeah, and you're so old!" back at them? I do. Anyway, Ana tries not to cry and gets on her plane. Something tells me she won't have Georgia on her mind.

Christian is of course what she's thinking of, but she starts wondering if he's capable of love. Because she wants to be loved. A lot.

Taylor meets Ana at the airport, and his eyes have turned brown somehow. The only reason I know this is because I made such a big deal about it in an earlier synopsis, so the change is grating. Are his eyes hazel? Do they change? What am I to make of this?

At Christian's apartment, he whisks Ana into the shower, and he's supposedly tense and upset about something that Ana doesn't know about, and she calls him a Greek god.

I'm pretty good with mythology, but I don't remember a Greek god being a redhead. Now, Thor on the other hand in the Teutonic pantheon, was a redhead. His mom was a Jotun giantess and his dad was Odin...he was supposed to have gotten his hair from his mom. I'm trying to remember what Poseidon was supposed to look like, but I think he was dark haired...

Donnerstag, or Thursday, is of course, "Thor's Day." The more you know!

Anyway, I'm sure it's supposed to be his body, but please don't try and pass some pasty Anglo-Saxon off as a Mediterranean hunk! This author wants me to think she's smart and witty, and she puts in passages from all sorts of classic novels, but she just can't try to go the extra mile and impress us with her vast knowledge of pantheons...if you're going to do something, do it all the way, is what I'm saying.

So, they have sex.

Oh look! An adorbs Elf Owl (one of the smallest species of owl and the smallest in North America) has taken up residency in a cactus! How cute! And practical, too.

After, Ana invites him to Jose's art show, and then he tells her that he's arranged "her" room for her and bought her clothes and stuff. Then he wants her in The Red Room.

I want to point out that they've had sex twice already.

In the room, Christian ties Ana to the bed and blindfolds her and puts earbuds in her ears. He elaborately flogs her in time to Spem in Alium, because knowing the name of the song is very important to us the reader, who cannot hear it. Again, if you can't have awesome characters, you can at least have an awesome playlist.

Chapter Twenty Six

We're 96% done! Woot!

Ana wakes up, and Christian is once again moping over his piano.

Ai putz mah emush--immos--feelins in mah playin kthx.

Ana wants to talk, Christian wants to screw. Who will win? Golly gosh, I'm on the edge of my seat!

Okay, so they do talk. Ana wants to know what happened with the contract, and Christian actually says the contract is moot. He expects Ana to follow the rules, especially in The Room, but he's willing to try for more. Ana can't remember the rules exactly, so Christian fetches a copy, and we are treated to them in all their glory for the fourth time.

Who needs three-dimensional characters when you can have three-dimensional rules lists?

Ana rolls her eyes at Christian, and then they run around the room. Christian for the second time says, "Life, the universe..." and leaves it hanging.

Okay, the first time he did it, I let it slide. But this is getting ridiculous. I don't care how clever and witty you are, Author. You are writing a book with your own words. Make up your own iconic phrases. Your inability to do so is only highlighted by your insistence of standing on the shoulders of other, better, iconic, time-tested and tried authors who actually brought new and interesting pieces of art into the world of literature. You are not Douglas Adams. The only room that you and Douglas Adams will ever be in together is the Library of Congress.

E. L. James, for crimes against literature, you are sentenced to remain in a room and listen to Vogon poetry for all eternity. And you will never have a proper cup of tea again. Ever.
Christian figures out that Ana doesn't want him to catch her. Why? Because she doesn't want to be punished. This is an odd concept for Christian. It ranks up there with Free Will and the enduring popularity of Beanie Babies. Ana wants to know why he wants to punish her, and he says he won't tell her. Not he "can't" tell, but that he "won't" tell.

This is very telling.

Ana finally tells him to do his worst. To punish her as hard as he can so that she knows what it's like. Personally, I think this is a bad idea, but we're at 98%, so don't let me hold this dog and pony show up.

Ana has to count six blows, and by the sixth she's in agony. She pushes Christian away and tells him that he has issues--which he's already admitted to--and says that he needs to sort his shit out. Then she goes to the room that's hers and cries.

Christian comes and holds her after a time and they talk. Ana says that she can never be this thing for him, this being that he seems to need, this creature that he has to punish to make himself feel good. She says that she's in love with him, and he says that it's a bad idea to love him. Finally! Someone says something intelligent!

Ana gives back all the stuff Christian's given her, and they argue about it, but in the end, what can he do? You really can't force someone to do what you don't want them to, not deep down. Ana wants the money for her Beetle.

Ana goes home and cries on her bed. The book ends.

If this were a book about a virgin exploring a sensual world of desire, I would wonder what would happen in the next book. Maybe she'd meet someone who was too soft after meeting this guy who's too hard, and then the third book would be her meeting a guy who's just right. But as the Smart Bitches say, in romance novels, the guy who gives a girl her first orgasm, whether he rapes her or kidnaps her or beats her to a pulp, is hte guy who ends up with her. Nothing ever changes in the romance world. Men are whores until they meet that One Special Woman, and women are virgins who can only give themselves to the Rakehell Who Deflowered Them.

Well, I hope it was as good for you as it was for me. I'll be picking up with the next book soon.

Laters, baby.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Being beaten, physically and metaphorically

I remember when Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ came out. I mean, it's not like it was all that long ago, but still, it was a huge thing. My best friend's dad is a pastor, so he somehow managed to get several free tickets (I think at the time, churches were selling out theaters so that "The World" would understand how much Christians want movies with family values in them. You know. Like abuse and human sacrifice. The important stuff.) and they wanted me to come.

My upbringing in Christianity was very odd and sheltered, and while it never reached Quiverful levels, there was a lot of "My brother's uncle's cousin's sister-in-law said that Proctor and Gamble are Satanists, so we can't buy [Product] any more!" going on. Like, I wasn't allowed to watch The Smurfs or play with Troll Dolls because these things were Satanic and could possess me with their powers. I was allowed to have Cabbage Patch Kids, though. Go figure. Anyway, because of that upbringing, I tend to be really unaware of Christian trends in my adult life because I didn't enjoy living like that as a kid and I don't want to continue. The fact that I was aware of The Passion was mostly because of mainstream media.

According to The World, The Passion was a ludicrously self-indulgent flick made to stroke Mel Gibson's ego and loudly proclaim to the world at large, "I believe!"

According to the Christian press, The Passion was a cinematic masterpiece underlying the important beliefs of Christians and once and for all bringing Jesus's struggles to life so that we may love Him and serve Him better.

According to The World, The Passion is torture porn on par with the Saw franchise.

According to the Christian press, The Passion makes Christ accessible to everyone.

My issues with The Passion started with Jim Caviezel playing Jesus when Oded Fehr clearly existed and could have done a great job. But then again, how many actors really want to portray Christ in a clearly evangelical movie? Then I found out it was in Arameic, which is the dumbest thing ever since Jesus would have spoken Ancient Hebrew, and then I found out that they digitally changed Caviezel's eyes to brown instead of just having him wear contact lenses.

Or, you know, hiring an actor who is either black, mixed race or Middle Eastern?

 I didn't want to see The Passion. I was embarrassed by it and what it represented. I hated how The World saw right through everything Christians were trying to do to promote the movie and I hated the Christians for subjecting my kind to that sort of scrutiny. I hated Mel Gibson and Jim Caviezel and anyone else associated with the movie. I hated people who told me my reluctance about the movie was just The World putting doubt in my mind.

I hated myself for agreeing to see it because my friend wanted me to go and I'd rather be with a friend than alone so it was worth it to me.

I spent a good deal of the movie's end with my head in my friend's lap. The violence was horrendous. I mean, it was epically awful, and as someone who was abused as a child, it was a little too close to home. Here was Jesus, a really good, seemingly fun guy, being beaten and crucified by his Father.

And then the worst part. The very worst part. The end.

There was no resurrection. No hope. Jesus died and then he was in the ground, and that was it.

He didn't return in Glory to reveal himself to the women and then to the men.

It just...ended.

But still, I breathed a sigh of relief because it was over and I had done my Christian duty to promote a movie I didn't care one whit about, but without any money out of my pocket, so that was okay. It was over, and I could get on with the rest of my life.

Or so I thought.

Then the movie came out on DVD.

I was moonlighting at a Christian corporation at the time and was around more believers than I usually am because of that. Every one of them was excited about The Passion available for home viewing. Not only could they worship the movie and Mel Gibson in their own homes (conveniently without needing to actually read their Bibles, because the movie was directly taken from The Bible, right? Just like The Ten Commandments, right?), but they could worship in their friend's houses, and thier churches would also be hosting huge viewings of the DVD!

I did my best to smile and nod, but I realized too late that my relatinship with The Passion was just beginning, and it was going to stalk me harder than Edward Cullen ever stalked Bella Swan.

There was a girl at Christian Corporation. I don't think she was quite Quiverful, either, but she was totally wandering around in long jean skirts (thought she wore pants too) and vests and stuff. She and her family did weird stuff like picketing Disneyland (????) and other corporations, and she seemed to be in church all the time. She would talk about her protesting (like, writing letters to Vons to try and keep them from carrying Maxim Magazine and that sort of thing, or writing to People because their Bikini Issue was distasteful, I guess) a lot. It was sort of a badge of honor for her. Some people brag about volunteering at the animal shelter, she had this.

Anyway, she brought up the DVD while my group was out at lunch one day. Everyone present was going on about how The Passion changed their life and made them appreciate Jesus more. I was quietly wondering if my upbringing made The Passion redundant in my life, since I never had any trouble visualizing the Torture of the Christ on my own, or maybe I'm just that way. I prefer reading because I always get a better picture in my head than movies or TV ever give me, so it could be. Fundie Girl started grilling me about whether I was going to buy the DVD or not. I was surprised because I figured if I just kept quiet, everyone would assume that I would. I was wrong and that annoyed. me.

"No, I'm not. But it's great that you are."

A few of the ladies talked about how their pastor was going to try and buy out the Wal Mart near them or something, and it made me think of the ticket buying campaign that churches tried to initiate so that the opening weekend would be a record breaker. I must have grimaced, and Fundie Girl must have seen me.

"Why aren't you going to buy it?" she asked, accusatory.

I sighed. I hated bringing this up. "Well, there was a lot of violence in my life when I was growing up, and the movie just really bothered me with how violent it was," I finally said. "I just have a hard time watching that. Like a soldier with PTSD or something. It's really similar."

I felt bare, naked. I felt like a scab had just been ripped off. This was (and still is) information that I only share with people who are close to me.

One of the ladies gave me a smile and sort of patted my arm. I don't know if she saw how embarrassed I was or not, but she at least was supportive. Another lady said, "I understand how you would feel that way. I mean, I've never been through that, but I could see how this would bother you."

Fundie girl and another lady weren't having it. The violence was what Jesus really went through! So that makes it okay! Besides, "You need to buy the movie," Fundie Girl said. "You're a Christian, and you need to show The World that you stand for Christian movies."

And there it was. I had to pay my Christian Dues. It's like being a part of a union, only way more corrupt.

The other ladies tried to admonish Fundie Girl by explaining to her that I had legitimate reasons for not watching the movie. Finally, after asking if I'd even watched the movie in the first place, Fundie Girl said, "Do you know what I'm going to do when The Passion comes out on DVD? I'm going to put it in and watch it ten times in a row!"

I smiled. "That's great," I said. "You do that."

I hated that day. Her smug superiority. The way she felt she put me in my place while completely missing the point, the larger picture. The humanity that I was expressing. The vulnerability in my pain and the compassion in the other ladies that took us closer to Jesus than all of her picketing and pearl clutching could ever do.

My friend's dad, the pastor, says that he hates "Jesus Junk" that Christian stores sell. Testamints and snow globe crucifixes. Dashboard bobblehead Jesuses and erasers shaped like crosses. He didn't buy the DVD of The Passion either.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chapter By Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapters 22-23

Wow, according to Kindle, we're 75% done! I know it's been as painful for you as it has been for me. Well, more for me because I have to read the source material. You get to read my stupid jokes and pretend to laugh at them while looking at pictures of Bingley.
How's about a different ginger for a change?

At this point for me, it's been a while since I've read anything for pleasure or reviewed a movie or a book I like. I feel like anyone coming in here would think that I don't like books or fanfiction or anything good in the world. I do, I love stuff. And I don't dislike unsympathetic or evil characters, either. I love them. I love a well-rounded villain, or even just someone who loves being evil for evil's sake. I love well-written, developed characters that an author clearly cares about and is willing to sacrifice just about anything, including a character's dignity, to make them real.

And Bromance. I freakin love Bromance. Especially between the unabashedly evil guy and the guy who maybe has some redeeming qualities.
I mean, seriously, my first thought when I saw that Richard Armitage was in the BBC show Robin Hood was, "I hope he's playing the evil sheriff of Nottingham." He's not, the silver fox there is, but Armitage plays Guy of Gisborne, and he does it very well. I love the sheriff because the actor nearly makes himself laugh half the time with how deliciously evil he is, and I love Guy because he's a horrible person, but he's got character development. You see every now and then a glimmer of humanity in Guy, a glimmer of the person he could be without the sheriff corrupting him. But then sometimes you realize that he'd probably be the same person without the sheriff. It's a cool show. They are cool characters. They are not set up as bastions of society or placed on pedestals for people to worship at. And yet I love them in stark contrast to how much I detest Christian and Ana and their mostly absentee friends.

Christian is set up to be some sort of paragon of manliness that draws all women (not men, just women) like a magnet to him. He is who a man should be in this author's mind. Ana, by contrast, is a wilting flower. She is supposed to be submissive to Christian. Subordinate. She is supposed to be his plaything, his Real Doll in real life. He has her to dress up and screw, to beat and punish for his own crimes, and what makes him different than Guy of Gisborne is that we aren't supposed to think he's a bad guy. So while we love Guy, we hate Christian because he lacks self-awareness as a character and his author is blind to his faults. Since no one can see these flaws, there is no chance for development. Every supposed "weakness" of Christian's is a hidden strength, every flaw a perfection that's not being looked at the right way. In the words of Gertrude Stein, girl, there is no "there" there.

She wasn't into burning books, but I think she would have made an exception.
Okay, enough with the prosthelytizing. If you're reading this, you're probably already on my side. Let's move on.
Chapter Twenty Two

Ana got upgraded to first class by Christian and is hanging out in the "first class lounge" that I've heard exists but have never actually found, even when I was flying first class. Supposedly, she's been massaged and manicured and given two glasses of champagne. She tells Christian about this and he wants to know who gave her the massage.

This is what I'm talking about.
Thank you, sir, can I have another?

She of course teases him that it was a guy who massaged her. It's not like she was naked, geez. There is such a thing as a platonic touch in this world! Of course Christian's response is menacing and frightening in such a way that would be cute and funny in a normal guy, but in him, you really do believe he'd tie her up and duct tape her into the cargo hold in order to keep a man from touching Ana.

So, when Ana's on a layover in Atlanta (I thought she was going to Georgia, yeah? So why layover in Atlanta and not Memphis or Minneapolis?), she shoots off this great e-mail about how he can't say that kind of stuff about tying up and stuffing into cargo holds because with him it's not joking and how she really likes him and wants to be with him, but she's sure he'll leave her and hurt her, and she's not submissive, but she just would really like to make stuff work. And what's his definition of "more?"

It's the first actual flow of information that either of them has ever made, and considering the fact that it hasn't taken place in the first 75% of the book, this is very telling about their relationship.
Eventually, Ana lands in Savannah and goes to her mom, and begins to cry. This just...isn't how relationships are supposed to make you feel. Maybe after you've been together for a while and you start getting on each other's nerves, but come on. If someone makes you feel this way, you leave them out of your life.

Ana spares a thought for Christian and hopes he isn't lamenting over his piano this morning. Seriously, if you personally are the indicator for what sort of mood someone is in, then that person has issues.

Play Freebird!

Well, what do you know? Ana knows enough about geography to figure out that she's left the Pacific side of the USA and is now on the Atlantic side. We're making progress!

Ana's mom wants to know about the guy who sent her across the continent, and Ana divulges a little. She says that Christian's mood swings give her whiplash. What mood swings? His mood is one and one only: foul. Just because he lightens up every now and then does not take away from the fact that he is in a constant sate of anger, jealousy, spite, and misery. That is a really horrible cocktail. But then again, he's fifty shades, and that's as many as five tens, and that's terrible.
It's not like you didn't know I was going to have to make this joke at some point.
Ana's mom points out how uncomplicated men are and I'm like, "Ha! Toldja so!" Then again, Ana's mom has been married four times. I'd hardly call her an expert.

Back at the ranch, Ana goes to her room and finds an e-mail from Christian. He's upset that Ana is never as open with him in person as she was in this e-mail. Well, jeez. Maybe if they stopped having sex for five minutes and kept their clothes on the entire time, Ana could open up. He reminds her that subs have all the power in the relationship, and that in the boathouse, she said no so he couldn't touch her. On my first read through, I thought this was a continuity issue since she said no at dinner when he put his hand up her skirt, but now I realize that she told him he couldn't spank her. He goes on quite a bit and really pours his heart out. If they were having his conversation in person, I'd like it. But all they do in person is screw and talk about nonsense that comes out in double entendres. Christian says that she needs to trust him, and then hits on the fact that he can't trust her to say when he goes too far...

Fine words, but let's look more closely. Ana can't trust Christian because as such they have no relationship. They're basically, pardon my crudeness, fuck buddies. How can she trust him? And she does tell him when he goes too far. He just doesn't listen.

Instances of Christian going too far and not listening to Ana: There was the books, him spanking her and then leaving directly afterwards, then the car which I think counts as three issues: He bought the car, he decided Ana couldn't drive the Beetle, and he sold it out from underneath Jose's Jr. and Sr. without giving them a chance to buy it back. Oh! Number four: He also totally made Charlie (or whatever Ana's dad's name is) feel bad for buying the Beetle in the first place because it's a "death trap" and what dad wants to hear something like that? Okay, and then after the car, he freaked out when Ana had drinks with her friend Jose, he freaked out about Ana wanting to visit her own bloody mother, he upgraded her ticket to first class (that might have been nice...) and it's not like you don't know he's going to show up in Savannah.

After Ana naps, they exchange a little more and it's back to the really superficial banter about his twitching palms, her eye rolling, and her backside. Again, this is what I'm talking about. There's no point in making a big deal about this relationship when there is nothing there. It's like making bread without eggs.

We get a small three paragraph reprieve with Ana talking about her mom and step father du jour, but then we go back to the cutesy, stupid e-mails which end when Christian says he's having an old friend for dinner. I don't think he means in a Hannibal Lechter sort of way, but he did get the Serial Killer Special at the beginning of the book.

"Oh, no, the duct tape was for home improvement!"

Ana thinks he's with Mrs. Robinson and Ana wishes she could punch the lady. Good luck, Ana. She does finally figure out that she has no idea who he is and Googles him. I guess Jose's picture of him has made in onto the search engine, and Ana wants to know how. Are we sure she's 22 and not 12? As Ana goes to sleep, she wishes Christian was with her. Oh jeez.

The next day (yes, still the same chapter), Ana and her mom go shopping and then out for drinks. Well, great, go out for drinks again, Ana! Ana's mom goes for a bathroom break, and Ana begins exchanging e-mails with Christian again on her phone. At the end of the exchange, it's clear he's in the bar, watching her.

At least she's on birth control now.

Chapter Twenty Three

Ana's all, "My boyfriend's back and I'm gonna be in trouble."

Instead of being like, "That's crazy insane dancing on a toaster!" Ana's mom's all, "Hey-la, hey-la your boyfriend's back."

And even Ana's mom is now lusting after Christian. Are there no bounds to this man's perfections? I mean, aside from his abhorrent personality.

Okay, introductions made, Ana gets all snippy and short with Christian, who predictably bristles at this treatment after all the chummy little e-mails they've exchanged. And then Ana starts thinking that he can't be mad at her for having drinks with her mom.

Ana? Christian will be mad at you no matter what. Either you accept this about him and put on your big girl panties and live with it, or you dump him. Since you can't seem to dump him, you need to suck it up. 

Ana's mom invites Christian over for dinner and then absents herself to the Ladies even though she had just been there. Christian decides to take the time to discuss Mrs. Robinson with Ana. He calls her judgemental for thinking of Mrs. Robinson as a child molester.

Yeah, and all the laws we have protecting children are just so arbitrary and mean. Just ask anyone in NAMBLA.

There is no way in hell I'm looking for a picture to follow that up with, so here's some kittens.

Christian says he doesn't want to discuss this all right now, so Ana ends it by saying that Mrs. Robinson is to Ana what Jose is to Christian. Christian finally figures out that Ana's jealous, but Ana modifies his conclusion by saying she still thinks poorly of Mrs. Robinson for what she did to a teenaged boy.

Christian says this stupid thing:

And as for your jealousy, put yourself in my shoes. I haven't had to justify my actions to anyone in the last seven years. Not one person. I do as I wish, Anastasia. I like my autonomy. I didn't go and see Mrs. Robinson to upset you. I went because every now and then we have dinner.

Um...you mean like how Ana hasn't had to justify herself to anyone for her whole life and likes her autonomy too and you're expecting her to put all of her metaphorical eggs into your basket and let you rule her life while you continue to do any little thing your heart desires? Good job, Christian. Good job.

Just putting this out there: psychopaths aren't capable of putting themselves in anyone else's shoes. They are completely devoid of empathy. Just saying.

"I'm a psychopath. We look just like everyone else."
As they're in the middle of arguing about Mrs. Robinson, Ana's mom comes back and Christian leaves because I don't know why. Maybe to stop the argument? Anyway, Mom's like, "You two are obviously crazy about each other."

Emphasis on the "crazy" part.

She says that they're obviously in love, and Ana says no, but her mom's not convinced, but Ana's hung up on the D/s thing. I don't blame her, the way Christian does it is no way to have a relationship. (Not being a part of the lifestyle, I can't speak for others, but it doesn't seem like something you just do on the weekends, yanno?)

Eventually, Mom talks Ana into going to Christian's room.

Oh great. More sex is in store because they need to "talk" and this is how they "talk."

Christian is on the phone when Ana comes in, but we get a really good description of the room. I guess if you can't have well-rounded characters, you shoot for well-rounded hotel rooms. When Christian gets off the phone, Ana restarts the argument about Mrs. Robinson, and Christian admits that he didn't love her. This relieves Ana so now we're a-go for sex. Or, more appropriately, we're a-go for sex while Ana's on her period.

I really hate this author.

Do I have to commentate on the sex? They do it in front of the sink. Watching themselves in the mirror. Christian helps Ana manually manipulate herself, and then of course she bends over and takes it. Then they get in a bath.

Okay, I totally go for old wives' tales, and two things you aren't supposed to do on your period are have sex and soak in a bath or hot tub. Ana is doing both so far.

They get in the bath and Ana realizes that the scars Christian has on his chest are burns. Like cigarette burns.

My grandparents had a dog that had a cigarette burn on its butt. If I ever find the guy that did that to her...Anyway, that sucks. Ana wants to know if Mrs. Robinson did it, and Christian says no. Let it go, Ana.

Christian says that if he hadn't met Mrs. Robinson, he'd probably have ended up like his birth mother, and that Mrs. Robinson helped him. He says that he doesn't talk about this with anyone except his psychiatrist and sometimes Mrs. Robinson, but he wants Ana to trust him, so he's telling her.

"Let's do some trust exercises I learned at the last CEO retreat..."

Ana, of course, can't let that go. She wants to know more. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I really hate that the author couldn't just have Christian into kink or BDSM, she has to make him psychologically broken in some way and have that be the reason why he turned to BDSM. It makes it seem like no "normal" people would be involved in the lifestyle. So the end of this story has to be that Ana helps Christian learn to have "vanilla" sex because that's what's acceptable.

After Ana is finished grilling Christian, he decides to grill her back. Back to quid pro quo, Clarisse. He wants to know how Ana feels about the proposed D/s arrangement, and Ana says honestly that she doesn't think she can do it. Christian doesn't think she can, either. He proposes some kind of compromise, the first that we've seen in this book that we are 75% of the way through, a book about a relationship, whose entire plot is wrapped around a relationship (such as it is...in both cases...). Ana says that what they're doing now is tying her up in knots, and of course Christian has to make a quip about it. She splashes him, and then of course they have sex.

Oh look! A tiny turtle nomming a strawberry!
Okay, so they talk afterwards. Ana sort of says something about how many women Christian's had sex with, thinking the number's only seventeen. Apparently it's more. But we're in the tens! Christian's no slag. These two finally have a normal conversation where Christian isn't ordering Ana around and she's not petulantly placating him. Wow. Maybe there's hope for this book.

Hm...now we're at 85%. Maybe not.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I'm done with the shame

I have decided to stop body-shaming myself. I've made a concerted effort to love my body, no matter what it looks like, to get out of yo-yo dieting (and dieting all together) and just be...me.

Unfortunately, there is still a rather large world out there that has been brought up on body shaming, and they still look at me and think, "there goes someone who could stand to lose fifty pound."

Kate Middleton was scrutinized for days after the royal wedding for being too thin, but if she had been even a pound heavier, she would have been called "Weighty Katie" instead of getting everyone's sympathy. This is just the way the world works. Heck, Alicia Silverstone was called "Fat Girl" in a tabloid when she started looking like a normal person rather than an anorexic Hollywood actress. And now recently, Ursula from The Little Mermaid has been slimmed down. Because she needed it.
Poor unfortunate soul

So here's the thing: no diet works. Weight Watcher's criteria for what constitutes "successful" weight loss is so lax that all you have to do is lose five pounds and keep it off for a few months to be considered a success story by them. Even famous people like Rickie Lake and Carnie Wilson had great success after gastric bypass, but ended up gaining it all back. I was surprised when someone as thin as Gunnar Nelson decided to go on Biggest Loser to lose a few pounds, after already admitting to having liposuction, despite the fact that he was pretty much an ideal size. Heck, even Jared from Subway gained back quite a bit of weight.

Gunnar is the one on the right. Like you'd really kick him out of bed for eating crackers. (Hi, Matthew. I still have that crush on you.)
When gastric bypass came out, it was the miracle cure-all, which is one of the reasons why I think Al Roker, Rickie Lake and Carnie Wilson gaining their weight back was so upsetting to everyone. Here are famous people who have chefs at their disposal! How is a normal person who will rarely have anything like a normal schedule supposed to do this if these guys can't? Not to mention, there are huge, life-threatening consequences to the surgery.

What's a person supposed to do? The media tells us that we're less than human if we're not stick-figures and we are surrounded by fatophobes and body shamers, and a lot of those people are heavy themselves! We can't win.

So, I just stopped. I took The Fat Nutritionist's advice and just stopped dieting. I also stopped caring. Then I started looking at myself in the mirror and trying to love what I see. I stopped seeing myself through society's eyes, and started looking at myself as whole. Yes, my breasts are DDD-large and not some size C-cup perkyness. But they're actually really pretty and well-shaped and not flat and floppy. I've started not worrying about what I'm eating and found that it's actually helped me to eat better. I don't feel like I "have" to eat a treat when it's there because I don't know when I'll have another one. I was in the south and I ordered pecan pie because that's what you do, and I only ate a few bites and saved the rest for later. It lasted me three days. In my dieting phase, I probably would have eaten it all and then felt horrible about myself afterwards.

I do yoga when I get home from work (with Mr. Checkhov, who's idea of yoga is rubbing around me while I'm in various poses, trying to see if I can both balance and pet him at the same time) and I jog on the treadmill when I feel like it. Since I've stopped looking at exercise as a means to be thin and started looking at it as something I enjoy doing, I want to do it more often and for longer. I want to be healthy, I want to be me. That means giving up the idealization of what the media and you and everyone else in the world thinks I should be.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The ADHD of our lives

I found out just before we left that Triple C was diagnosed with ADHD. I have no idea what her parents are doing about it, but it actually helped me out because she sort of scared me a few times with behaviour that just didn't jive with normal eight-year-old strangeness.

We went to Carrowinds amusement park which is a combination water-and-roller coaster park. It ended up being at that point a record breaking hot day, with, like, 110% humidity, so naturally by the time we were ready to leave, all of us were heat sick and dehydrated, despite our best efforts at buying tiny bottles of water for three bucks a pop every hour or so. Triple C put up a fight when her dad told her to drink water and would only take a few sips grudgingly while the rest of us were sucking that stuff down like it was liquid gold. Since my mom and Little Bit stayed in the cabana the entire time, they were actually the only ones who didn't get dehydrated, though they were both pretty heat sick when we left.

Triple C and I would go on a few water rides, and then I would want to go back to our cabana for some rest. Tripple C would argue with me and get really belligerent. It started to seem like she was getting more energy with every step we took instead of it wearing her out like the other kids around us.

Finally, my brother decided we were ready to go home, so I showered off and changed, and then my sister-in-law decided that she would ride The Intimidator with my brother because I guess he was giving her grief about how his sister would ride it but she wouldn't. I believe the word "chicken" was used. Anyway, Triple C decided that she wanted me to take her on a roller coaster while her parents went on theirs, so my brother said that we could.

By that time, I was actually water-logged and needed something with salt in it and I am actually still retaining water right now, though it's getting better now that I'm doing Yoga regularly again. But this is my niece. She is seriously the love of my life and I would do anything for her, so I said yes and we went to this ride. For whatever reason, Triple C started telling me that her daddy said we could ride the roller coaster as many times as we wanted. This was news to me so I said, "No, he didn't." She seriously started arguing with me. By that point, I was trying to figure out where she got the energy from. I mean, we had been at the park for six hours at that point, surely she had to slow down at some point?

I finally told her that I didn't care what her daddy said, I was going on the ride once and once only, and then we were walking back to the front of the park where Grandma and Little Bit were waiting for us. End of story. I felt like I was being mean, but there's only so much abuse a body can take and I needed to get out of the park and suck on a lemon with some salt for a few minutes. I get heat sick regularly, so I know the signs and how to handle getting water logged. I mean, I was starting to get chills, which is a hugely bad sign, so I knew I was probably only good to get to the car before I passed out. Unfortunately, Triple C had other plans.

"Aunt Heidi, I'm so sick!" she suddenly wailed while we were walking under the blessed shade of a roller coaster track combined with trees. "I just want to sit down in air conditioning!"

What could I do? If I sat down, I knew I could not get back up. I stood her on a park bench and took her on my back, walking towards the entrance until I saw a store. I figured the store would be air conditioned because the heat was just so oppressive. I was so wrong. This place was not air conditioned at all. There was, however, a fan by the door that was blowing moderately cool air, so I took Triple C there and stood. The minute I put her back on the ground, she left the coolness of the fan and started looking at the stuffed toys. I...I sort of freaked out. I mean, why was she acting this way? How could she possibly want the toys when there was a fan there? What happened to the kid who had just broken down and started crying not five minutes ago?

I got myself nominally better (I still had chills, but I had started sweating again which was a relief since I had stopped at some point) and escorted Triple C to the front of the park where my sister-in-law was throwing up more from heat exhaustion than The Intimidator, though it was probably a close call. My brother asked me if I was going to throw up, and I said that I honestly didn't know, but I needed to sit down in the car with the AC blasting. He poured water over my head, and I felt better for as long as it took me to get to the car and get the AC blasting. Triple C on her part, was suddenly refreshed and new again and begging to go on another ride. We all just stared at her like she was crazy, and my sister-in-law finally took her hand and said she could go on a ride in the car.

We had taken separate cars, so I didn't find out until later that she got sick on the ride home and that all of us stopped for drinks on the way. I alternated drinking tea with lemon, and Dr. Pepper. I figured the Dr. Pepper had sugar that could help my body heal, and tea is a natural diuretic while lemon has electrolytes in it. The big thing right now is coconut water, because it has all of that in it, but so does Gatorade. We didn't think to bring either of those things with us.

Anyway, the end here is that when I found out that Triple C is ADHD, it all made sense. The boundless energy, the distraction, the belligerance, the crashing the minute we had no stimulation around us. I know there are people who think ADHD doesn't exist, or that it's code for "My kid is a brat and I don't want to discipline him," but it's real. I saw it. I was scared by it. Triple C's mind is betraying her, and it can make her sick. I know how that feels, and I'm so glad that my brother and his wife will do everything they can for her.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm back! Too bad about my luggage...

First of all, I really did touch down in the land of the Delta Blues in the middle of the pouring rain.

I touched down an hour and a half after I was supposed to because there was a lightning storm in Charlotte that started the minute the cabin doors closed.

I had a layover in Memphis of one hour and five minutes.

That I made the plane to LA at all was a miracle. I guess I shouldn't have expected my luggage to be there as well. I did, though. I really did. It wasn't. My laptop is in my suitcase because I didn't want to carry it around. Stupid me.

Anyway, in answer to my last post, no one upgraded me to first class. Boo. I wish.

I miss my little nieces and even my brother...I can't say I miss the humidity, though. Of course, after the lightning and rain, it might have gotten nicer in Charlotte. I refuse to look at a weather map just in case it's a balmy 75 with only 50% humidity or something in the south. Of course, now I'm in sunny Orange County, so I can't complain.

Anyway, it's always better to be home than anywhere else in the world. Except Scotland.

Oooh, ooh! ETA: Guess what I did while I was gone? I caught up with the Kartrashians! Scott is still a douche, Kourtney is still annoying, Khloe is still awesome, and Kim is still a wax figurine. My life is complete!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chapter By Chapter synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 21

Vacation post!

Before I begin, I wanted to talk about the VW Beetle thing. Christian doesn't want Ana in a VW Bug because it's unsafe. So he buys her an Audi instead. Later in the book, he says that he thinks German and Swedish cars are safer and better. Apparently he hasn't heard why the VW Bug is referred to as "Das Auto."
Der Wagon ist kaput. (This is the car Christian bought for Ana. After an accident.)

This is the car Christian made Ana get rid of. What's the difference? Oh yeah, the engine in this one is in the back.

Anyway, my brother was talking to my mom about how he wants to buy my older niece, Triple C, a classic car and help her rebuild it, learn how to change its oil and work on its engine and all that. They talked for a bit about how any classic car would need a new engine with fuel injection and all that because actual classic cars only get about six miles to the gallon. Then my mom said, "They're just so much safer." So I had to join the convo just because: Safer? You don't say? I asked about steel frames and fiberglass and airbags and all that. My brother's conclusion was, "In newer cars, there's maybe a steel frame, but it's mostly aluminum on the outside. You get a '65 GTO, and it is all steel all over. Steel frame, steel doors, everything." He then said that Little Bit will also be getting her own car when she's around eight to start working on with Daddy. My mom loved the idea because they would learn self-reliance and also have something that they could do with their father, and my brother pointed out that if either of them ever needed money, they could always sell the car for a tidy sum. "Of course, Daddy wouldn't let that happen..." he said with a laugh.( I don't think either of them would sell just because it would be their own car that they built themselves with their father whom they both worship. ) (I mean, honestly, you should see the way Little Bit looks at him, and he is the only one who can calm down ADHD Triple C when she's all wound up.)

So, in conclusion, my brother is more than willing to put the two things he loves most in the world in a classic car, but he also wants to teach them how to work on it, change oil, rotate tires, fix transmissions, et al. He thinks they'll be safer. My mom  thinks they'll be safer. Their Mom's dad thinks they'll be safer and is probably chomping at the bit to get a classic in the garage. If classic cars are "death traps," then why would the two premier men in my nieces' lives want them in one?  Why would no one object to them being excited about it?

(I think Little Bit will be more of a Chevy girl, while I totally see Triple C in a Ford or maybe a Chrysler. In fact, I think Big Brother already has a Ford in mind for Triple C, or he wouldn't have brought it up.)

(Then again, my brother encouraged me to ride The Intimidator with him and kept telling me to put both my hands and feet up, so he could have really high-paying insurance policies out on all of us and is waiting to cash in.)

Lo, I was intimidated. And scared. OMG please don't ever make me go on that again!

The thing is, if Christian wanted to object to the Beetle because Hitler (*ptooey*) himself called for it to be designed and built, or because they are really unreliable and tend to have engines that spontaneously combust (in original engines, though most engines are now rebuilt), then I could get behind him. But just to say that it's old and not safe is not good enough. I also think that Ana's dad should have done better by her and taught her how to take care of her classic car. Modern cars need very little by way of fixing. You get oil changes ever 4-5 thousand miles (in some cars, they can go even longer), and then when they get to be a few years old, you trade it in. But Christian objected to Ana herself driving the car. Taylor has driven tanks and motorcycles, so he's okay driving it. But Ana? Oh heavens no! She'll die just by sitting in the passenger side! The entire exchange was devised to  make Ana look weak and Christian look strong. Ana is incapable. Christian and Taylor are capable. End of story.

Okay, onto the chapter.

Chapter Twenty One

We are greeted with Ana trying to make sense of light flooding into her room from floor-to-ceiling windows because the concept of morning is too difficult for her to winkle out. She likens Christian's apartment to a castle in the sky, away from "hunger and crack-whore mothers." Yeah, at the tops she's seeing great sights, but down at the bottom, the turtles have rights* (yeah, I can quote great literature, too). Just because she can't see hunger and crack-whore mothers, that doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm really curious why, if she says she cares about Christian's upbringing and it bothers her so much, that she's not trying to do anything about it. I mean, I get that she has interviews and is starting a new "relationship" (such as it is) and all, but if it really bothers her that this guy she's with was raised that way, shouldn't she be thinking about advocacy or volunteering or getting involved in some way? It makes me think that she only cares about Christian growing up that way, and everyone else can just hang themselves.

Recently, there were a couple of dogs that were lit on fire and just left to die that way. Some were rescued and are doing marginally well considering, and I've read that one died. It sickens me and disgusts me. That my cat was abandoned in a crate outside of a high school upsets me. I love him. But I know that he and the dogs that are found are the lucky ones and that there are so many more out there without a voice or an advocate or Max Mixon coming to save them like the sexy modern-day knight that he is.
I'd go to Houston for him.
Also, Who's a good doggie? You are! You are! Max won't let those mean people hurt you any more. You are a good baby, and you deserve better.
Just because I saved Mr. Chekhov, Rain Bird, and a few others along the way of my life doesn't mean I'm going to stop advocating for animals. Christian is a grown man (physically. Mentally he's about five...) and can take care of himself. What about other people, EL James? You had the perfect opportunity to show how extraoridnarily easy it is to volunteer and advocate, and instead you have your heroine mooning over her boyfriend and his past like it's up to her to save him when he's perfectly capable of saving himself. How about they bond at a soup kitchen? Or forego buying a new, fancy car and instead donate to Habitat for Humanity? How about she and Christian take the food they don't eat and give it to the begger on the side of the road? I often go to this diner and get a sandwich, eat half, and package up the other half because there is usually a person or two at a particular corner asking for food. None of them has ever tried to take more or jump in my car or anything like that. They have always been grateful for the food. It's just that easy. Really.

(Aside: I was just talking to my mom about this area of the book, and she said that sometimes people who are abused will focus on someone else's suffering so that their own suffering won't seem so bad. So, here's a psychological question: if Ana is being abused and is focusing on the past suffering of her abuser, then what does that say about her? And let's keep in mind that she signed on for this abuse, too.)

Okay, back to the book. Ana is wondering what Christian's "more" means. She wants to "talk" about it. This couple doesn't talk. They screw. I'm doubtful they'll ever have a conversation.

Ana runs into the housekeeper, Mrs. Jones, and Ana immediately assumes that she and Christian are having sex together. I mean, why else would the lady be in the house? She starts to wonder if all of Christian's blonde minions are ex-subs, and pretty much everyone else in the world rolls their eyes because come on, girl! Not everyone is gaga over your little Bingley clone! It's getting really old by now.
This picture will never get old.
Ana finds Christian talking on the phone, sounding all important and whatever. We get more condom action and sexytimes on Christian's desk, and can I say that I can't wait for Ana to get on birth control? The condom thing is getting as old as the idea that every woman in the world wants Christian. (Remember: you're a lesbian if you don't think Christian is hot.)

After they're done, Christian says that Ana does something strange to him or whatever, and really? That thing she does is called telling him no. I'm absolutely convinced of this. If he's been in some sort of D/s relationship since the beginning, then he's had no actual relationships in his background. I just want to remind you that I don't think his relationships necessarily follow the D/s pattern, I think he's more into kink, but if he's been in this situation where he started out being ordered around, and then he goes to be the one doing the ordering, and Ana is the first one who tells him "no," then her having a personality is what is doing strange things to him.

People? This is not normal!

Okay, so afterwards, Ana decides that Christian is getting into a weird mood, and I just don't see why. He is actually being sort of...kind...to her. She teases him about having a condom in his pocket, and he says he was hoping for something to happen. So how is this making her glow fade? If a guy said that to me, then I'd feel pretty good. Does Ana want to be persecuted?

Okay, she calls him on his "weird" attitude, and he's as mystified as I am. He says he enjoyed their tryst. See? Geez, Ana. Take a pill.

And now she's overanalyzing again. Ladies? Men like sex. It's not that difficult to understand. I love how Jeff Foxworthy says that men are generally thinking, "I'd like a beer, and I'd like to see something nekkid." Every guy I know has said that Cosmo's little "How to drive him wild in bed" advice is a waste of money because all you have to do is show up. Preferably naked. Don't overthink this. In this book, though? It's like the author is begging us to think that more is there. Ana is just musing over how complicated Christian is  without any proof. My brother and I were both abused growing up, so I think we're both a little more complicated than usual, but at the end of the day, my brother is still a pretty uncomplicated guy. He likes compliments when he does something right, he likes his wife to love him, and he likes his little girls near by. Christian is not going to automatically be complicated because the author says so. See above: Ana tells him no. It's that uncomplicated.

I know it's an oversimplification and a generalization, but it's the best I can do here.

Okay, at breakfast, Christian asks if Ana has bought her ticket yet. The ticket that she'll need tonight? To go to Georgia? I checked Princeline today, and to go from Seattle to Atlanta and it will cost anywhere from $771-1395. For coach. If she leaves two weeks from today, the price goes down by over $300. Who is this author? What the heck is her problem? It is not that hard to research this stuff! Maybe it's because I'm pretty well traveled and have family here in the South (I'm currently writing this from a hotel room in Charlotte), but I would imagine that even anyone who has never left their hometown would know that one does not simply walk into Mordor the airport and buy a ticket for that day unless one has unlimited funds and an emergency that sends you away. Have we never heard of planning?

You know, I'm starting to think that Christian has a point about how Ana can't take care of herself.

Ana once again brings up why Christian doesn't like being touched. I just have to say: if you know someone that has been abused, even if they are in therapy, don't press them for information. Just try to respect their boundaries. As they become more comfortable with you, they will open up more. Christian is evasive and Ana finally gives up. This would be great if she would just back off, but note from the future: she won't. I really hate that this author makes me feel badly for Christian in this area. I mean, seriously, Ana, back the truck up.

Finally, Christian asks Ana if she'll miss him, and she says yes. This makes him happy. See? Not complicated or difficult.

At the second publishing company, Ana is musing over her first interview and getting ready for her second interview, and sitting on a green Chesterfield. Okay, is the author nodding to the Barenaked Ladies, or is she trying to make herself look savvy about furniture?

If I had a million dollars...I'd be rich.
We are introduced to our third POC in the form of an African-American receptionist. Ana thinks she'd like to be friends with this lady, but come on. We know that's not going to happen. Of course, she can't go for more than thirty seconds without thinking about Christian, so Ana immediately puts her new potential bestie out of her mind so she can think of the unexpected ways Christian can be sweet and kind when he's not being overbearing and controlling. For most abuse victims, it's the kindness of their abuser that keeps them going. Just saying.

Ana meets Jack Hyde who only likes American classic novels published after 1950, so we already know he's a no-good scoundrel. That's pretty much all you need to know about him. Oh, and he has red hair and "fathomless" blue eyes. She feels settled when she leaves and Jack Hyde manages to rattle her by shaking her hand. Now that she's Christian's, she can't have other men shake her hand any more.
He likes the Young American Novels. (See what I did there?)

Back at Ana and Kate's apartment, we find out that only Kate can look good in jeans, a T-shirt and a bandana. I don't know, I think I look pretty cute like that. Kate asks if Ana is running to Georgia to escape Christian, and Ana lies and says no. And then Kate shifts almost immediately and says that it's obvious they've fallen for each other, and one needs to make the first move. I now have Reader's Whiplash at this change.

Kate goes out for take-out, and Ana e-maikls Christian. He tells her she's the most fascinating woman he knows, and I instantly feel sorry for him. I mean, we've seen his mom for all of five pages and she's managed to be more interesting than Ana in that short space of time. And at least Kate has some kind of past. Mrs. Jones the housekeeper has only been in about three paragraphs and already I want to pick her brain about what it's like to be Christian's housekeeper. I'm sure she could tell some stories. Ana, though? Vanilla ice cream on white bread with margarine. She's not even real butter.

Ana finally asks Christian about whether Mrs. Jones was a sub at one point, and her character immediately rockets up in my estimation when Christian says no. There are more exchanges, and Christian says that Ana is only honest, but yet possibly ironic, in her e-mails because blah blah blah. God these two are so freakin' boring! I mean, back the day when I was a romance novel junkie, at least I could have the sex scenes when the characters were boring, but I don't even get that in this book!

At the airport (finally!) we find out that Ana's been upgraded to first class because of course Christian did that. Personally, I wouldn't care, but I'm laying down bets that Ana will. I'm writing this on Monday the 9th, and I'm flying out Tuesday the 10th, and I'm going to dream tonight about being updated to first class.

End of chapter. I'm going to pick this up probably in a few days, so we'll see if I get my dream.

*If you don't think Dr. Seusse is a great literary author, then you have your own issues.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

I hate leaving my cat behind. Back when I had guinea pigs, I hated leaving them behind, too. Pets are capable of only so much reasoning, so when their masters leave and don't come back when they're supposed to, it adds stress to the pet. What makes it worse with Chekhov was that he was abandoned outside of a school in a cat carrier, and then he was schlepped around first to a kill shelter where he was then rescued by a no-kill shelter, and eventually was placed in a foster home. When I got to him, who knows how many homes he had lived in?

His first reaction to our house was casual indifference. He found a place he liked, under my mom's bed, and only came out at night when we were asleep. It took him about three weeks before he started hanging out in our vicinity. He liked the cat tree I got him (seven feet, three platforms, and a "jeffrey's tube" down by the bottom) and would climb and sharpen his claws, but if he wasn't in the tree, he just wasn't in the living room.

Finally, one night, he jumped on my bed and slept on top of me. I think it was because he was cold, but then he did it the next night. And the next night. He started hanging out in my room, but then, that's where the food and litter box was. I had to take him to the vet for a booster shot, and I watched him deflate. All the time I spent with him came apart in the office. We were home for about two hours before he finally realized that we were still together and that I hadn't left him behind. That night, he slept next to me and held my arm in both his paws. I don't know how long he stayed that way, but he was still on the bed in the morning.

In December, I visited my family for a week. I was excited to go since I had only seen pictures of the baby until that point. I hated leaving Chekhov, though. I packed and got everything ready to go. I explained to the pet sitter that he was sort of shy of men, and the pet sitter said he understood and would try to be quiet and not make quick moves. I still worried. Chekhov stood by the door when I left. I leaned down and put my hand under his chin. He looked up at me with his huge green eyes and I said, "I will be back. I will be back."  I have no doubt that I project feelings and emotions onto him, but my goodness cats can look pathetic when they feel like it.

When I got home, he was happy to see me. He rubbed around my legs and gave me his little burrr-purr. Then that night, he came and laid down beside me. I petted him and he put his paw on my hand. And then, very quickly, he shoved his sharp claws into the back of my hand and before I could yell or do anything, he withdrew them and gave my hand a lick. I probably should have gotten mad at him. But I couldn't because I couldn't imagine how he felt while I was gone, and if that was the worst he was going to do (my old cat would ignore me for a whole day before she would even deign to speak to me or let me pet her), we would be okay.

People think cats are really independent and aloof, but they aren't. They're just not in your face like dogs are. They're quieter about their affection.

Ai howldz ur hand nao, k?