Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hey, how's that whole "college" thing going?

I'm taking microbiology this semester. It's two five-hour classes a week, and it's pretty hard, but I'm enjoying myself. I love my lab partner, and the hot marine MP looking to get his nursing degree is totally talking to us and making the other women jealous.

I'm not the oldest person in the class. I'm not even close. More than half the class is older than me. A lot of them already work for medical facilities. All of us want something else, something more.

I've applied to volunteer at a zoo, and I want to apply to volunteer with a rescue of some sort. I really need to start getting involved in my field. It's what I need.

I can't say how much I love school. It's fun. The labs make me geek out. We're using agar plates! We have bacterium that we inoculate slants with! It's so much fun! It's a lot of work, too, but it's fun work.

I keep trying to envision my life in ten years, me doing what I want, maybe working on a Master's or PhD. Maybe I finally will get married, or maybe I'll just go for that villa in Spain and take that spate of European lovers that I keep daydreaming about. Maybe I'll have ten cats by that point and be totally alone. Who knows? The future's wide open!

I do know that I'll be doing what I love. Maybe I'll finally move to the South and be closer to my family and my friend Kim (who I will be marrying as soon as the laws allow us to ;-P). It's going to be great. I can't wait 'til it happens, but I don't want to cut the journey short, either. I just hope I finish college before this blog has to change its name to College at Forty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chapter By Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades Darker: Chapter 5

When last we left Christian and Ana, Christian had taken Ana to the salon owned and operated by his former mistress, whom Ana likes to call Mrs. Robinson owing to the large age difference and the fact that Christian was a teenaged boy when she started training him to be her sub.

Sort of makes the whole "You totally hugged Jose and kissed him on the cheek" thing seem nominal and stupid, no?

Oh, but this is Christian, not Ana, so it's okay. You see, Jose and Ana never actually slept together, so they have WAY more of a connection than Christian and Mrs. Robinson have, so it's totally normal for Christian to spend time with his ex-lover while it's wrong for Ana to do anything platonic with Jose. That's the way life works.

So, Ana gets into another conversation with her "sub-conscious" (I'm going to pretend that it's an imaginary friend that she calls Sub  Conscious) about how it's so upsetting that Christian has a good relationship with the pedo woman who had sex with him when he was a teenager, but really after Jacob and Renesmee, this seems pretty tame to me, so I guess I just don't care right now.

Mrs. Robinson finally realizes that Ana's unhappy, so she tells Christian about it. I sometimes just want to know what the author was actually going for with Christian. I mean, I really can't tell. Is he supposed to be smart-yet-naive? But all I get from him is the "me, me, me"-centeredness of a narcissist. I would think that even a guy who has never dated before would know better than to trot the new girlfriend in front of the old lover. Christian's naivete does not come across as innocent misconception, but rather as blatant unfeeling towards Ana. I just get the feeling that it's supposed to look like something else, that the author is attempting to paint Christian in a different light, but I can't figure out what that light is supposed to be. All I see is him being a jerk, especially in light of the Jose/Ana thing.

So, Christian finally figures out that Ana's not real happy and asks her what's wrong. She wants to go. Now.

They walk for a bit, and Ana aks him terse, tense questions about how he's taken other girls there, and they've all met Mrs. Robinson, though none of them knew who she was in relation to Christian. She turns and faces him, and he seems to be frightened.

This is the first NORMAL thing that Christian has done so far. He should be frightened. This is so messed up, and Ana calls him on it. He sees now that it is messed up.

People bustle past us, lost in their Saturday morning chores, no doubt contemplating their own personal dramas. I wonder if they include stalker ex-submissives, stunning ex-Dommes and a man who has no concept of privacy under US law.

Aw, poor Ana! Gosh, it's so horrible that your life is so much more complicated than anyone else's! You poor, poor dear. I mean, it's not like you can actually just walk away from this guy, change your identity, flee to a foreign country where he can't find you or anything. You're just totally and completely stuck here.

Good gracious. Yes, wallowing in self pity is a valid choice to make when something bad happens, and it's always a really horrible, terrible thing because it's happening to you and not someone else. I get that. Trust me. But Ana has choices. This isn't a mom trying to decide whether she should stop packing lunches for herself so she can buy Christmas presents for her kids with the money she saves, or a guy whose wife left him and filed false charges of child abuse against him so she can gain sole custody of their kids. No one has made choices for Ana that she has to roll with here. I'm sorry she's got problems, but they're her problems. These are not global-scale issues. They are not injustices. They are not commentary on the very real issues that people face every day. They're superficial, and I just can't care because she can walk away.

Ana and Christian are totally Dee and Murray from Clueless. Except, you know, we like Dee and Murray. And they were teenagers, which made their daily dose of drama bearable.

Ana's virginity status totally went from "technical" to "non-existant."

While Ana is feeling sorry for herself, Christian gets a phone call where he says all kinds of cryptic stuff like, "She's here. She's watching us." And "Two or four, twenty-four seven...I haven't broached that yet." and then he looks at Ana and we're supposed to wonder what this means. Oh, the comments for this author when this was a fanfiction. "Wut duz Xtian meen wehn he sed htat!!111!" someone would say in their review. The author would smile to herself. "I guess you're going to have to wait until I update!" she'd think smugly.

Okay, Leila is obviously watching them, and Christian is apparently thinking of adding some sort of security detail to Ana, because that just wouldn't completely piss her off or ruin her life or anything. What does he think Leila's going to do to Ana exactly? She's had plenty of opportunity to hurt her or kidnap her at this point.

Of course, that just makes too much sense. Instead, they have a scene on the sidewalk. Christian wants Ana to go to his house for safekeeping (he could always have her stuffed like he did his last few victims...), but Ana isn't having it. So he picks her up and carries her over his shoulder, because that wouldn't be weird or upsetting.

See, this is all about Christian. He wants Ana safe because she's his. He wants her at his house because that's where he keeps his stuff. She is his stuff, therefore she belongs at his house. Her feelings don't count because she doesn't count. He counts, so his feelings are the only ones that matter.

Christian, in a nutshell

Ana gets a good mental list going of stuff she's mad about, but of course she never brings it up to him and instead demands he tell her about Leila. You see, while she was compiling her list, she figured out that something bad must have happened with Leila to make Christian even more unreasonable and megalomaniacal than he was before, and she's figured out that it's Leila.

She got a concealed weapons permit, apparently. Which makes no sense.Not only has there not been time for the requisite background check, but no law enforcement agency in America would sign off on a suicidal person getting a CWP. That's why you have to apply for it. It's not the same as buying a gun, which you also have to get a permit for. This is a permit that allows you to conceal a weapon on your person and carry it into stores, malls, parks, and certain public transportation. Leila wouldn't even be able to buy the gun in the first place, let alone get a CWP. I don't know who EL James thinks she is, but a researcher, she is not.

Also, if Leila is really operating under a psychotic break, then why would she bother to do things legally? Why not just find some back-alley grifter? Of course, I have a hard time believing she could talk a black market gun runner into selling her a gun if she's so unstable, but she'd have a better chance. That just makes no sense.

This whole part right here? It's because the author has to move things along. She has to create a plot, so this is how she does it. It's Deus Ex Machina on stupid pills. Maybe even crazy pills. Or crazy stupid pills. If Leila had just obtained an illegal firearm, Christian wouldn't be able to freak out. But the books are based on him freaking out (like Edward! she screams. Only Edward from Growing Up Cullen, not Edward from Twilight.), so we have to freak out. Therefore, Leila gets a gun. It's so sloppy and lazy, but then so are the people who read this shit (including myself), so it passes.

No wonder the aliens want to become our overlords. Compared to Christian Grey, they'll be a cakewalk.

So, they go to Ana's house and she packs some stuff. She tells him that Ethan (Kate's brother, remember him? He's not really important) will be moving in on Thursday, so she'll need to be back by then. Christian is really pissed at this, of course, but it's totally not the same thing as his relationship with Mrs. Robinson.

Ana asks if all Christian's subs have been brunettes and if they look like her. He says yes.

Just think about that for a moment.

Mrs. Robinson was blonde, and Christian says that she put him off of blondes.

The first book with all the blonde interns is suddenly starting to get a whole lot creepier.

So, Christian surrounds himself with women he's not attracted to? What does that say about him?

Back at Casa Gris, Ana makes herself at home in the Sub Room and finds lots of expensive clothes in the closet. She gets upset and sad and calls her mom and it turns out her mom is having issues too. Ana seems surprised by this.

Okay, maybe the narcissism in this relationship goes both ways.

Actually, Ana cares about Christian. She doesn't care about anyone else. Christian cares about Christian, and he cares for others as far as they are important to him. So, he's the real narcissist. Ana's just self-centered and oblivious.

Christian walks into the closet (heh) and finds Ana sitting amongst the designer duds. He wants to know what the problem is. Ana wants to know why he's after her instead of a person who will actualy be submissive. It turns out that Ana gives him hope. She translates this to be cryptic in some way. I don't see how it is. If she doesn't love him for his money and actually expects stuff from him and it gives him hope, then that is not cryptic to me at all. So now I want to know what the author's plans are for Ana's characterization, because she seems like a big old drama queen to me. If Christian wanted to have pie for dessert, she'd analyze what that means in agonizing detail. "It's so weird that he wants pie!" she'd say to herself. "Why pie of all things? OMG, what does it mean?"

Christian's so deep, man.

Franco, Ana's hairstylist enters the scene. He's "small, dark, and gay." Ana loves him.

There is, of course, no reason to introduce Franco at all. He gets a paragraph and a few speeches. That's it, and he's done. We don't need to know anything about him, really, but we do. I have a suspicion that EL James is a character hoarder. She wants people in her books who aren't completely horrible, so she has this huge supporting cast. But then, she doesn't know what to do with them, so they just sort of exist off-stage, out there somewhere.

Christian, after the haircut, of course tries to get Ana in bed. She's having none of it, so she lists all of her grievances over lunch. One of her biggest grievances is that she can't touch him, but Mrs. Robinson can. She actually holds out her hand to touch him, and he backs away and says, "Hard limit." It's one of the few "real" scenes we really get so I'm going to savor it for a minute. Christian doesn't want to be touched, and it's a condundrum for Ana because he loves to touch her, so how can he not want it for himself? He would feel deprived and devastated if he couldn't touch her. I mean, if this were a better book, this scene could be heartbreaking.

This ends and they have an argument about how he knows so much about her. The best part is that the author confirms what I've been saying. "He stares at me blankly, and there it is, his problem in a nutshell--empathy, or lack thereof." and "This is it, the crux of his Fifty Shades, surely. He can't put himself in my shoes."

Let us all say it together: Narcissist!

Ana starts making an omelet and wonders if all men have no empathy and are baffled by women like Christian. Okay, she gets that he has no empathy, but then she turns it into him being "baffled" by her. No, this won't do. He knows what he does is wrong, and he knows it upsets other people. But because he's a narcissist, he can't understand how it makes them really feel on the inside. He doesn't get how voilating it is, how upsetting it would be for your name and social security number to be in a file in your boyfriend's study along with lists of known contacts and highschool yearbook photos. It's creepy and strange and one step away from starting a frozen toe collection in the basement. It's not normal. It's the opposite of normal. It's just crazy.

Christian comes to watch Ana dance and cook and tries to get close to her, but she pushes him away. "How long are you going to keep this up?" he asks. See, to him, this is a game. It's something she's doing in order to get whatever it is that she wants. The thought that she's actually pissed off about something real does not enter into his equations, because he has justified all of his actions, and to him there is no argument. He's right, she's wrong. End of story. Now he just has a waiting game to see how long she can be angry at him while she deprives herself of all the hot sexxorz he could be giving her. Because that's a huge motivation, you know.

Protip: most women can do it better on our own. We don't need you guys. Sometimes we want you guys. But we don't need you.

Thankfully, Taylor comes around and interrupts them. They eat lunch and Christian turns into Mr. Bad Mood, which is almost indistinguishable from his usual self. Ana notes that he's like several people in one body and wonders if that's schizophrenia.

No, Ana, it's not. Schizophrenia is usually accompanied by delusions and hallucinations, both auditory and visual. Christian is a narcissist. I don't know how many times I have to point this out to you. It's one thing to mess around with concealed weapons permits, it's another to bring this sort of thinking into the book. People with psychological and neurological disorders already have enough trouble, we don't need people like you getting involved and making these ascertations, EL James. Jeez. Next she'll be saying that poor Leila is bipolar or something equally stupid.

Well, at least Christian walks in on Ana reading over the MPD wikipedia page, so I hope she's happy. They joke about her research a little, and then he hands her a "harlot red" tube of lipstick.

Well, that's great, James. Let's relegate all colors to specific types now, shall we? Harlots get red, I guess good girls get light blue since you dress Ana in that color all the time. You know, maybe The Handmaid's Tale was really onto something with their classifications. Of course, then you'd have to say "unwomen" instead of "harlots," so that's getting a little complicated.

So, Ana's slut-shaming a tube of lipstick. Both she and Christian agree it's not her color, and it's sort of like it's no-one's color. No one respectable. He wants to use it to roadmap his body so she knows where she can touch. He suggests he could get a tattoo, but Ana can't imagine him "marring" his beautiful body in such a way.

Oh ugh, now we're lifestyle-shaming.

Great work here, James! Maybe you can say a few despariging things about the GLBTQ crowd and work in a slight against migrant workers, and we'll be all set for understanding your views of the world. Yes, tattoos are just teh ebul! OMG! I bet only schizophrenics get them. Gay schizophrenic migrant workers who wear fire engine-red lipstick and really high heels.

Oh, wait, you don't seem to have a problem with really high heels. Hmm...Maybe EL James is the one who doesn't know who she truly is. (I think she's Mitt Romney.)

Ana uses the red lipstick to draw a sort of boundary on Christian. Like the boundary you'd get if you drew a vest or a wife-beater (ha!) on someone with fire engine-red lipstick.

The chapter ends, thankfully, before they have sex.

And we're done for the night. More to come.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: Flowertown by SG Redling

My Kindle must have been pushing this book at me for weeks. First, it was advertised as "Coming Soon," and then it was "here!" and I kept ignoring it because ever since I downloaded both Breaking Dawn and the Fifty Shades trilogy, my Amazon recommendations have read like a Harlequin Romance gone very, very wrong. I'm talking love triangles a-plenty, minimal characterizations, heroines who are practically comatose, and lots of vampires.

To try and even things out, I downloaded several adult fantasies and it seems to have worked. But Flowertown I actually purchased as an accident. I clicked on the advertisement and read what it was about. I wanted to download a sample and I ended up with the whole book.

I could have hit the "purchased in error" button, but I didn't. For one thing, the description seemed really interesting, and for another, it appeared to be about zombies. I'm all for a good zombie book.

No, this book isn't actually about zombies. But it's good anyway. Oh MY is it good!

There's a huge difference between allowing a story to unfold and watching grass grow. Some stories that start out slowly highly resemble watching grass grow. This story unfolds beautifully. And it has to. You have to have the background, you need to know and understand the characters that you're dealing with. Since it's more character-driven than anything else, the foundation is necessary.

You meet Ellie in painstaking detail. She's a slob. She has no issues with wearing clothes that are three or even five weeks old. She likes to be stoned. All the time. She lives in Flowertown, and as soon as you know what Flowertown is, those other things about her all make sense. Sure, she's the person at work who shows up, goes on eight breaks and a four-hour lunch every day, draws her paycheck, calls in sick every chance she gets, and doesn't contribute to any part of the office through either work or morale. She's the black hole. She's the one you roll your eyes over and whisper about when she leaves for her ninth smoke break of the morning and it's only 10 o'clock.

But here's the kicker: Ellie isn't working in your office. She's in a secure quarantine facility that spans seven square miles in the middle of Nowheresville Iowa. She's not supposed to be there. She was only visiting her boyfriend's parents while she was on her way to another country, and then the chemical spill happened, her boyfriend died, and she's just stuck there. She's not THE stoner-slacker at work. She's A stoner-slacker at work with a whole bunch of other stoner-slackers who also managed to pull the short string of Fate in this scenario.

As the book progresses, we find out more about the chemical spill and the pharmaceutical company that designed it (it was a pesticide), and what they're doing to counteract the toxins. In the meantime, everyone's been stuck in one place for seven years, seeing the same faces day in and day out, no change of routine, no reason to not get stoned and slack off, no real reason to shower every day and wash your clothes and care.

If you suggested that Ellie might be clinically depressed, I think you'd be right.

So, I was along for the ride because I was pretty sure that I had this all figured out, and in a lot of ways, I did. I'm the annoying person who sits down to watch a movie and says, "Bruce Willis is really dead," or, "Kevin Spacey is Kaiser Soze." I mean, there are only a few stories out there, so when you tell one, you have to make it your own. I think Redling made this story hers.

Ellie is a real person. You maybe even know her. She's driven and ambitious, but take away her dreams and she's left with nothing to strive for. She has a best friend, Bing, and a roommate, Rachel. Bing supplies Ellie with her pot. Rachel supplies Ellie with someone to care for. Rachel was just a teenager when the spill happened, so Ellie is a slightly maternal, very big-sister to her. Bing is a conspiracy theorist, though his conspiracies never really entail the pharma company keeping them all there in the middle of nowhere to use as human guinea pigs, which I found lacking (could it be a plothole, or foreshadowing? Both? Maybe!). Things start getting crazy when Bing starts looking less right-wing nutjob and more right. It's not paranoia if you're right, right?

Throughout the town, people keep using the expression "All You Want" and it keeps appearing on things, like trucks and newspapers.

Things begin to unravel, and as Ellie's life starts getting worse, she finds herself fighting against the unfairness of it harder and harder until she finds the house of cards that can send it all tumbling.

It really is a great story. I'm glad I bought it, and I'm glad I didn't delete it when I could have.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

But is it ableism?

I've mentioned that I'm heavy on this blog more than once. I'm a healthy girl. I have DDD boobies and size 16 jeans. I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin for the most part, and I think I'm pretty.

Of course, lots of people tell you I'm not because I'm heavy.

I'm not going to act like I wouldn't like to be smaller. Not skinny or anything, just smaller and more fit. More solid, less flabby.

Now that I'm working nights, I feel like I mostly sit or sleep throughout the day. I walk at school, but I can't take walks during work any more because it's the middle of the night in the Downtown District (any district, really), and I can't do it.

Things I do do on my own, though, are yoga and jogging (on the treadmill), and I've signed up for the aerobic kick-punch class at the community center. It's a great class, and it's three days a week, though I can only attend two because of my schedule. I really like the class. The teacher is awesome and he seems to care about people. Not money or how big/small they are. He cares about you. If you have a fitness goal, he wants to help you achieve it. He does this job as a volunteer. I doubt he makes any money at all.

The part I don't like about the class are some of the people. Not all of them. Just some of them. There are two ladies there who have been going to this class since George Burns was a little boy, and they think they just know everything there is to know.

Obviously, I don't like them. I mean, I don't like much of anyone, but I really don't like them. They make class miserable for me, and they're a huge reason why I'm not sad to not be able to go Saturday mornings. If the instructor is talking to you, they get in the middle and start trying to separate you two because really, they're all he needs! No, really!

But they're neither here nor there. That up there is just venting. This down here is what I'm talking about.

So, when you're heavy and you decide on an exercise routine, you suddenly get people involved in what you're doing. My friend Susan is a stick figure, has a routine of her own, does one with me every now and then, no one ever bothers her. If I go to my mom's gym for an afternoon with her instead of using the one here at my apartment complex, I always get some jerk walking up to my treadmill to try and find out what it is I do. I get people who move to the treadmill exactly next to mine who try and keep up with my jogging, though they could just be rude because there are literally fifteen other treadmills that they could get on (no, really, there are), and these people all feel the need to comment on what I'm doing.

"Oh, I saw you running last week too! You're doing such a great job!"


A blogger who is curvy like me (are we curvy now? Is that what they're calling us? I like it better than BBW, but is it curvy?) say that this sort of thing is ableism. I have issues with that because that sort of intimates that being fat is a disability, but I think in a way, she's right.

There was a Little Person in our class for a while. She was pretty cool. She just wanted to work out, do her own thing and go home. When we would leave, people would do the same thing to her.

"You're doing such a great job in there!" they would gush to her.

"Uh..thanks?" she'd say in return.

On Saturday mornings, if we were practicing our kicks one at a time, they'd all clap when she was done. I started clapping for everyone else because I felt for her, being the only one who got clapped for. Well, besides me. They clapped for me too.

She started going first to kick across the floor, and then she'd stand by me and we'd both clap for everyone.

I never knew her name. She's not there any more. I hope it's just that her schedule couldn't permit it anymore, and not that she's tired of being singled out by people who think they're doing good.

The fact that people think they're doing good is really the only thing that makes it bearable for me. They really honestly believe that their comments to me are just going to inspire me and make me say, "Yeah! I need to do more!" when in reality, I feel awkward and singled-out. They aren't saying it to anyone else.

It's like when you meet someone who's never been clinically depressed and they feel like telling you, "Oh, we all get sad sometimes." They don't know what it's like to be born to this body. They don't know what it's like to see pictures of themselves, looking freakishly large next to normal-sized humans. I always wonder if these people who feel the need to comment, to offer suggestions, ever have that happen to them? What do they think of it?

The next time someone says, "Wow, you were doing so well in there!" to me, I'm going to say, "Yeah, you too! Can you believe it?" and see what happens.

So, one last thought: a part of ableism is focusing on the disability (or percieved disability) rather than on the person. When people tell me how "good" I'm doing and admonish me to "keep it up!" I feel like they are attempting to conform me to their ideals of what I should be. They see my body as being fixable despite the fact that there is no scientific or medical evidence to support a fat person losing and keeping weight off for any satisfactory amount of time. I'm "fixing" myself by being there, despite the fact that losing weight is not my goal. In that sense, I can see how this might be ableism.

This poster is on the wall at the Community Center.
I like to think that Thor and his manly biceps
are rooting me on. Also, I pretend his favorite
song is "If I Had a Hammer."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chapter-By-Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades Darker, Chapter 4

When last we left Christian and Ana (and yes, I'll recap because it's been a while), they had just made up after a lengthy absence of, like, a week away from each other. This was great because the author left us in no suspense, just sort of picked up where we left off with minimal angst. There was no character development, either, no soul-searching. Ana wants Christian because he's hot, he wants her because she's a doormat. It's a perfect relationship, really.

They had just had sex, after sexily preparing a mis en place for a stir fry that Ana was going to make before the sex took over. Both Christian and Ana accused her of being the one who broke them up, and apparently instead of it being about the fact that Ana didn't want to be Christian's living, breathing punching bag like the end of Book 1 said, it was really more about how Ana didn't say the Safe Word. I'm not sure if this was a continuity error as much as it was an author error, but let's go with neither. It is a mistake in Christian's makeup, at the end of it.

Christian is a Narcissist, and everything he does is for his own pleasure. Even the BDSM is not so much about mutual enjoyment over pain, but him doing what he wants with the girl he's with. Ana broke up with Christian and he was devastated, but when he saw that Ana had been too, it was a foreign concept to him. This is telling about his personality. He breaks up with his subs and goes about his life like it ain't nothin' but a thing. Ana broke up with him, so he never thinks that maybe it was a hard decision for her, he just thinks that she's moved on and ready to go because that's how he is, and that's just how everybody is because that's how he is. His comment, "You broke up with me, you know," is so dismissive, so cold and unforgiving. "You hurt me," he's saying. Who cares that she was also hurt, and that leaving him was a tough decision for her? This is not a concept for Christian.

And so, when they got back together, he makes a joke about how he's not going to touch her until she begs him for it. I don't know if he wanted full-down-on-knees, hands-clasped-to-chest begging, but he wanted her to want him. He needed her to need him.

It was a real cheap trick.

So, all that to say, Ana is coming down from an orgasm at the beginning of Chapter Four. Because there is apparently only one thing Christian can do right, and that's make her orgasm (but only if he feels like it).

He's holding her hands so she can't touch him, and he gives her a kiss, "asking for what? I don't know. It leaves me breathless."

Hey, Ana? Protip: you can actually say, "hey, what was that for?" and he'd probably tell you. I don't understand why she's always in her head. All she does is stand around wondering what's happening, biting her lip. I imagine her like a little kid, toeing some invisible line on the floor while she rocks back and forth, being completely useless. There is this wonderful, crazy thing called communication. Thankfully, Christian doesn't know how to do it either, so they're sort of perfectly horrid for each other, but my goodness. This girl wants to get into publishing?

Christian asks for Ana to promise to never leave him again (without giving any promises) and Ana says yes. Then he calls her a wench and orders her to cook for him.

It was funny when Thor shouted, "I need sustenance!" because he was an arrogant ass and it fit his personality. He also changed by the end (somewhat...we still want him to be a little arrogant) and gained perspective. From Christian, who will never change, it's just another demand, and as a reader, you roll your eyes. If it was actually not serious and playful, it would be funny. But all of Christian's orders, no matter how playfully he gives them, are to be carried out exactly to his personal specifications. Or else it gets the hose again.

I just want to point out that I was way less creepy than Christian.

They eat, and Christian finally gets curious about Ana's life. She finally explains about her mom's husbands, and how Ana preferred living with Ray and taking care of him. This is great. If this was their first or even fourth date, it would be great. But it's not. They've been together for a couple of weeks, even broken up, and Christian knows nearly zero about her. And she about him, too, to be frank.

He remarks that she's used to taking care of other people, and that he wants to take care of her. She points out that he's sort of psycho about it, and he agrees, but it's all he knows. Ana brings up how he bought the company she works for and asks that, if she left and got a new job, would he buy that company too? Yes. Yes he would. And Ana realizes she can't do anything about it, and she doesn't want to fight, so she drops the subject.

And there you go.

I as a reviewer could stop here. If I weren't, if I hadn't committed, I would stop here. This is all we need to know about this man and this woman. Really. It's all. This is the series in a nutshell.

Christian does something to make Ana unhappy.

Ana is unhappy.

Ana gets mad at Christian.

Christian gets mad at Ana for being mad at him.

Ana is upset with Christian for not seeing why she would be upset.

They have sex.

Forget conflict and resolution. It's's nothing. This book is less-than. In the real world, Ana is the sort of person who will wake up one day and kill Christian. Probably stab him to death with a kitchen knife eighty times. Then she'll either go catatonic or kill herself because she doesn't know who she is without him.

So, Christian wants to stay the night, and Ana is fine with that. He asks where she keeps her ice cream, and she snarks that it's in the oven. Christian says that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Only idiots who don't know how to use it effectively think that. People with brains know that it's fucking hilarious and also laugh at you behind your back.

Okay, people. Bear with me here. Ana has Ben & Jerry's in her freezer.

It's vanilla.

Do they make vanilla?

I guess they do.

Okay, okay. Deep breaths.

Look, I love vanilla ice cream. There is nothing I'd rather have sitting jauntily atop my boysenberry pie. But when I buy something that has more calories in it than a steak? It'd better be something like Americone Dream, Chubby Hubby, or Marsha Marsha Marshmallow.

(Incidentally, B & J: I'm still really pissed off at you for changing that to the name "S'mores." I mean, I understand if it was a copywrite thing,'s still Marsha Marsha Marshmallow to me. Also, can you bring The Full Vermonty back? Thanks!)

I keep saying that this author has no imagination, but this takes the cake. If you're going to buy Ben & Jerry's, why get vanilla? If you're going to have vanilla in a story, does it have to be Ben & Jerry? At least Haagen-Dasz would make sense! Their vanilla ice cream is like a statue erected (heh) to the vanilla bean. You buy B & J for the names and for the stuff they put inside. Plus, it's freakin' good ice cream.

Well, apparently it's Ben Jerry so that Christian can make the joke, "Ben and Jerry and Ana..."

Thanks for telling us how this story would suddenly get more interesting, Christian. I guess you guys are going to have sex again, huh?

So, my game is to suggest fun things for Christian and Ana to do instead of having sex so they can get to know each other better. Since we're just now learning more about Ana's life in this chapter than we did in the last book, I think it's a really valid game. But I said I was only going to play it when they have sex instead of talking things out like normal people, or instead of doing anything like normal people. Honestly, if this were any other couple, I'd encourage them to have sex at this point, so no game. Sorry.

I will skip over the sex for you, though. I'll only point out that Ana's whole body convulses when Christian tells her he's going to mess up both her and her sheets. Oh, and he puts ice cream on her and licks it off of her. It's as boring and uncomfortable as it sounds.

So, that's done. Ana voices concern that Christian might want to leave her, but he promises not to. In any other guy, this might be nice. In him, it's scary. He invites her to some charity dinner at his dad's house, and she says she'll go.

Ana has a dream about the girl who came to see her, the girl who looks just like her. Only she's the girl this time.

I want to point out to the author that this right here is a sub-conscious. Not the character who purses her lips at Ana and disapproves of stuff. Dreaming. That's the sub-conscious.

Anyway, she wakes up screaming.

Christian wants to know what's wrong, so she tells him about the girl and the dream. It ends up that the girl was Leila, a sub who put the song "Toxic" on Christian's ipod from the first book. I guess she's still not easing his foolish pride.

Christian goes into "crisis" mode, which means that he makes a phone call and sounds all important. Clearly something is up, but he's not talking about it. He wants Ana instead, but she wants tea because that's the answer when you have a problem.

Depends on who you have it with...

So, this is what happened with Leila: She was with Christian three years ago. About two years ago, she moved on and married some other guy. Then she had a psychotic break and went to Christian's house while he was in Georgia with Ana, and tried to kill herself. She was sent to a hospital, but checked herself out before Christian could get there.

I don't think you can check yourself out with a mandatory 48-hour hold, but whatever. Maybe things are different in Seattle. I'm not the author. I don't have to research this stuff.

Anyway, now Christian is turning the tables because he knows he should have told Ana about this girl a while ago, before she showed up at Ana's work, but he didn't so he goes for his trademark deflection and asks why she didn't tell him about Leila showing up at work. Ana has a good excuse (it wasn't all that important and other stuff was going on, so she forgot), so he decides on sex instead.

Now we get to play the game. Really, these two need to talk, and I don't see how either of them could feel sexy after all this. But for Christian, he has to re-mark his territory like a bull moose, so he needs to sex Ana up already.

I am still open to suggestions, but I'm getting through my list too. I think a really great thing that Ana and Christian could do with each other to open lines of communication would be for them to start either volunteering regularly at a soup kitchen/charity of some sort.

Soup kitchens are great because you don't necessarily have to be homeless to go to one. One in seven American homes have trouble putting food on the table every day, and soup kitchens can help. They run on volunteers and donations, so even if all you have is 25 cents, if you can find a soup kitchen, you can find a good meal.

I actually chose soup kitchens because in the first book, Christian admits to having been hungry a lot in his first few years of life before he was adopted by multi-millionaires and became batman a vain narcissistic billionaire who aparently cares about the agricultural department of an Oregonian college enough to donate a million to it. (Yes, a whole million.) (No, that's not very much in the state of education, why do you ask?)

I sort of got this idea that if Christian really cared (he doesn't), he'd want to give back in a tangible way (he won't), so this would help.

Soup kitchens get lots of volunteers at the holidays, but they sort of flounder the rest of the year. Since volunteers are needed to cook and clean and serve and do everything, the faithful often find themselves wearing several hats.

My dad is really involved with the American Legion and the VFW, being a VFW himself, so I know from him all of the issues that surround putting on even a weekly free breakfast for veterans (homeless and otherwise), so I imagine that someone with Christian's name would be really welcome to the community in Seattle, where there are a lot of homeless people and people who just need a hand-up for dinner tonight. I bet if he got involved, then lots of other people would, too. I mean, imagine if Bill Gates started regularly volunteering with soup kitchens. That'd bring awareness and also more volunteers. Of course, it might also bring lots of problems with it, but Christian isn't quite on that level yet. Bill gates gave 90 million to schools. That's way more than Christian did.

This would be a great bonding experience for Ana and Christian, because he could talk to her about his childhood in a meaningful way that she could understand, and they'd both have crazy stories to tell at the end of the day. Of course, Christian would probably hover over Ana all day and be a menace to anyone who behaved even remotely kind to her, so that would suck.

Okay, so that's over. Our lovebirds shower and get ready to face the day. Ana asks Christian if she can start meeting up with his personal trainer, and Christian reacts like he's gotten Christmas early. Then they talk about how Ana needs a car, and he reminds her that she has an Audi and they have an argument about it. 

I have an argument about the Audi. Why an Audi? If I had more money than God, you'd bet I wouldn't get an Audi. I'd get a Mazerati or a Rolls Royce or something really freaking expensive and ostentatious. My Grandma owned an Audi.

Anyway, Ana says she'll give Christian her check from the sale of her VW for the Audi, but Christian isn't having it. She rips the check up and he calls the bank and has the money directly transferred to her account. Now they're both furious with each other. Hey, they should have sex!

Thank god they don't. But they don't have a resolution, either. Christian gets his way, Ana doesn't, he's mad at her for defying him, and she feels impotent in the face of his control.

I'm telling you, he's going to run into her knife nine times.

Pop, squish, six, uh-uh, Cicero, Lipschitz...
Ana and Christian head on down to a salon so she can get her hairs did, and Ana soon comes to realize that this is where he brings his women for their pampering. Even worse? Mrs. Robinson owns the place. You know, the lady who started all of this? Yeah. Her.

I think it's interesting that Ana can't even give Jose a friendly hug and kiss, but Christian gets to hang out with his ex-lover all the time. It's so...them.

End of chapter. I'll be back with more soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Will I ever get back to reading Fifty Shades?!

Yes, I will. I'm working on it. Sorry, my life has gotten crazy and I just don't have time, but I think I've figured out a way to keep it going.

Besides, we don't need to leave off the snark.

In the meantime, find my friend Cassandra's book: Fifty Shades Lighter. Half of the proceeds are going towards foundations for abused women, so you get to laugh and maybe be a part of helping an Ana get away from a Christian!