It takes and it takes and it takes

I was sitting in bed watching TV when the phone rang. Baba never calls after nine; she’s usually asleep. So we answered it. She told me my grandfather (the donut stealer, if you follow me on Twitter) had fallen twice and the ambulance had arrived to take him in. She was going to drive to the hospital herself. I said no way.

When I arrived at the house, one firefighter had stayed behind with her until I arrived. “What were his vitals?” I asked, and he told me that he had been unresponsive when the ambulance had left. His heart rate had been 100 bpm, but his blood oxygen was 66.

If you’re unfamiliar with vital statistics, 66 is not good.

We drove to the hospital with a bag of his prescriptions and a bag of clothes. All the way there, Baba kept accusing him of not eating right, of having too much candy and crashing his blood sugar. I didn’t tell her what the fireman said. Partially because I didn’t want to upset her and partially because I truly believed that when we arrived he would already be in surgery, and the doctor could tell her.

At the emergency room, I went up to the nurse at the window and told her that my grandfather had been brought in by ambulance. I tried to hand her the bag of his prescriptions. She said, “We don’t need those right now.”

They had already taken Baba into a private waiting room. When I entered, the doctor was sitting down.

If you’re unfamiliar with doctors, sitting down is not good.

When Grandpa had arrived, he was already in cardiac arrest. They were working on him, doing chest compressions. Baba wanted to see him. We waited for a nurse to come, and she prepared Baba for what she would see. That he’d been intubated. That there would be wires on him. That they were still doing chest compressions but that he didn’t have a pulse. The doctor told me they’d been working on him for thirty minutes.

If you’re unfamiliar with hearts, thirty minutes without a pulse is not good. You’re probably familiar with hearts, though.

I called my uncle and told him, “Your dad isn’t going to make it.” He said, “What does that mean? How do you know?”

Because I know. I worked in the very hospital my grandfather was in right then. I was a CENA in a nursing home. I was raised by an RN, in a family of EMTs. And that’s why, when I walked into the room and saw the red-faced, sweating nurse pumping my grandfather’s chest, that it wouldn’t do any good.

I told the doctor that they should stop. There were already signs of biological death; his feet were pale, his eyes were open and flat. Baba said no, that I was wrong. “You’re wrong, you’re wrong!” I keep hearing that over and over. And I wished I was wrong. I wanted to knock the nurse out of the way and take over compressions, because surely I could make his heart beat if I wanted it enough.

I thought of that scene on Buffy, of all things, where she sees her mom lying on the floor, the paramedics working on her. Coming back to life, being rushed to the hospital.

If you’re unfamiliar with brains, they totally work like that.

My phone rang. My totally inappropriate Rick and Morty ringtone went off in the room as they noted the time of death. I went to the hallway to answer it. Instead, I threw my phone on the floor. I threw my purse on the floor, I threw everything as hard and violent as I could. There was a crash cart in the hall, a big, metal thing. I kicked it hard.

If you’re unfamiliar with feet, heads up. That’s how you break them.

A nurse came and put her arms around me. I apologized and asked where the bathroom was. I limped there, while she said I should really let them look at my foot, that I shouldn’t be walking on it. I told her I would be fine. I went into the bathroom and vomited while the nurse picked up all the stuff I’d thrown in my rage.

I asked the chaplain to contact an Orthodox priest. He didn’t know any. I didn’t know my grandfather’s priest. A half hour later, the chaplain informed us that he’d found a Greek Orthodox priest who was on his way. Russian, I kept insisting. Russian. It’s important. His father was a priest, it has to be a Russian Orthodox priest like his father. I ended up googling the name  of the priest at their church, and thankfully I found his home number. He and Matushka were in their car. “What does that mean, he’s died?” They were as shocked as we were. They arrived only shortly after the Greek priest.

If you’re unfamiliar with priests, they’re apparently like buses. What’s that saying about two of them showing up at once?

They both stayed to recite prayers to release my grandfather’s soul, and to comfort my grandmother. My biological dad arrived. I’d told him on the phone that he had to come, that I needed reinforcements. My uncle arrived. We didn’t know who we should call next. I was running a high fever from an ill-timed bought of pneumonia that set in during the week. My foot hurt and I couldn’t walk on it. I didn’t know what do or what the next steps were. I had no plan, and grandpa had no plan. Not even a plot to be buried in.

The last time my grandfather and I spoke, it was weeks ago. Weeks and weeks. We got into a huge fight about something serious. I screamed at him. I told him to get out of the house. The next time he came by, I wouldn’t talk to him.

I don’t regret our fight because it wasn’t something that could be dismissed. Family business, family secrets, things that had ruined my love for him forever. I don’t regret telling him, shouting at him what I felt. I do regret that the last thing I ever said to him was, “Get the fuck out of my house. I’m done with you.”

If you’re unfamiliar with grief, that’s not an ideal last memory to have.

I left Baba at the hospital with her sons and drove to the house. I cleaned up the bathroom where my grandfather had collapsed. He’d hit his head on the toilet. I wiped up his blood. I threw his underwear into the trash. I washed the rug.

I told his dog. His stupid, ugly little shih tzu with its homely underbite and weird, bulgy eyes, who can’t figure out why the invisible fence shocks him but keeps trying to run away, anyway. I said, “Steve isn’t coming back.” The dog curled up on the rug in front of the door. I think he understood. He doesn’t understand not to pee on the carpet, but he understands death, I guess.

It was two in the morning before I got home. It was three when I went to bed. I didn’t sleep until six, and woke up at ten. I wanted to get up earlier because my daughter had planned on seeing her baba and papa. She’d planned to call them as soon as she got up. Thankfully, she opted to watch Netflix instead. I sat between my kids on the couch and told them. My husband took them out to lunch and an arcade to distract them.

I don’t know what else to do for them. I don’t know what else to do for my family. I don’t understand why we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I don’t understand how he could go to bed at 9:30 and be dead at 10:30. I don’t understand how I could be so hateful as to never see my grandfather again after our fight. I don’t understand why I broke my foot, why I told them to stop working on him, why my father called me “kid” and gave me his phone number for the first time in my life. I don’t understand why I close my eyes and see my grandfather’s, bloodshot and dead. I just don’t understand.

Vichnaya Pamyat.

SALE! Bride of the Wolf is 99¢!

From now until Halloween, my historical paranormal romance Bride of the Wolf is on sale for 99¢. Read about some werewolves to get you into the swing of the spooky season!

A woman in a medieval dress that is probably NOT the correct time period, with the words "Bride Of The Wolf" in a big, medievalish font.

Betrothed to the heir of Lord Canis, Aurelia finds herself thrown to the wolves. The Canis
Clan are no ordinary warriors, but beasts raging beneath the skin of men. Their name chills the heart of every man in Britannia, though the heart of one maiden may be saved…

Once a mighty warrior in high esteem among the Clan, Sir Raf Canis knows all too well the dangers Aurelia will face in her new role as Lady of Blackens Gate. Tasked with the humiliating errand of delivering his brother’s intended, Raf instead finds himself fighting for her life–and falling into an impossible love that he cannot deny.

Content Warning: This book contains ableist language and attitudes in the context of its historical setting, as well as mentions of suicide, which may be triggering or upsetting to some readers.

(Originally published in 2011)

Amazon • Barnes & Noble

This is also a chance for you to read the first book before the second in the series comes out next Tuesday!

A dark-haired knight, half in shadow, holding a sword in front of him.

Because someone pointed out that the font’s H looks like a B, I now call this book, “Wolf’s Boner.” That said, it’s still a really good book if you like pregnant heroines and virgin heroes. Virgin werewolf heroes.

Everybody loves a virgin werewolf, right?

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E11, “Gingerbread”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone is just about done with the Michigan State Department of Treasury and their shitty, shitty website. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

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GUEST POST: Domestic Violence: A Look At The Link To Substance Abuse


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Caroline from asked if she could share some information with Trout Nation. Unlike sponsored posts, I’m not receiving compensation or endorsing anything, just sharing the article and links provided.

Last year, Trout Nation put together a list of domestic violence resources by location. If you or a loved one need help, you may find it helpful. However, that part of the site also does not have an escape button, so please use caution.



Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash

Domestic violence affects millions of Americans and destroys families every year. Nearly 3 out of every 10 women and 1 out of every 10 men in the U.S. experience the effects of domestic violence, which include depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. In extreme cases, it can even lead to homicide.

The reasons for domestic violence vary, but no matter what they may be, it’s important for the victim to know that there are resources available for help. It’s also important to remember that when domestic violence impacts one person in the home, it impacts everyone else. Children who see and hear abuse and its aftermath are susceptible to their own violent behavior, PTSD, depression, and emotional and mood disorders and often feel powerless and worthless.

Domestic violence and substance abuse have been heavily linked; one study in New York showed that over 90% of IPV cases involved drugs or alcohol. Because substances affect moods and prompt impulsive behavior, they can lead to violence if the conditions are right. Unfortunately, substance abuse can affect the victim, as well, as they use drugs or alcohol to escape the painful reality of their lives.

Because domestic abuse is so varied and can come in so many forms, it’s important to remember that it does not always have symptoms that can be seen. Abuse is a pattern of behaviors that can include physical assault, sexual assault, threatening, emotional and psychological abuse, stalking, keeping the victim isolated from friends and family, and verbal abuse. There is a stigma that surrounds domestic violence that often keeps people from talking about it, but it’s important for loved ones to start a conversation if they are concerned and offer to find help.

Violence is something that can be learned, which means it’s very important not only for the abuser to seek therapy or counseling, but for the victim and any children in the home as well. The damage that abuse can do takes years to heal, and for some the pain never goes away. Kids are especially sensitive to the effects of violence and could potentially begin to decline in their studies at school or in social relationships. Not only that, but seeing abuse play out in the home means children are more likely to become violent themselves, or to turn to substance abuse to cope.

There is never just one victim with abuse; the pattern creates a domino effect that touches many different people throughout various stages of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, know that help is available, and that there is no room for blame where a victim is concerned.

There’s a place in the world for the angry young man

Well hey there, everybody! I left on a rather abrupt note, and I apologize for that. I also apologize for how disjointed and rambling all of this is going to sound, but it feels important to me and it does concern this blog and some changes that are coming up, so try to follow me here.

I have taken some stock in things. Some people were upset at the way I handled my conflict with another author. I’m at a weird intersection on this one. A part of me is like, “Oh no, I disappointed people,” and another part of me is so super glad that I disappointed people, because it made me take stock and recognize a role that I’ve been typecasting myself in. The Angry Young Man.

I started this blog back in 2007 or 2008, I think. That’s a long time ago. I didn’t start writing about Fifty Shades of Grey until 2011, but that’s when I think of this blog really beginning. Before those recaps, I was a total nobody. Worse than a nobody. I was a has-been. I was a failure. So, when I got mad about Fifty Shades of Grey and people got mad with me, I felt like, yes, I’m a voice, I’m giving people a good feeling of not being alone, we all hate this together, fuck the establishment! I felt like the scrappy underdog.

The thing is, at the end of the story, the scrappy underdog usually wins, and then it’s over. My books got moderately successful again, I felt like a somebody again, but I never took off the Angry Young Man persona. I didn’t even feel like it was necessary to take it off, even though every new success made it get a little tighter. But I had this new voice, and people listened to what I was saying, so when I saw people doing stupid shit and everyone just letting them get away with it, I was like, well, I can say something about that and people will know it’s happening!

That was my primary motivator. I saw a thing, I felt things about the thing, and I said things, because I was afraid that no one else could see the thing. And this was all because of three things that really were happening/had happened, that nobody could see. Those three things were my name, my bad experience with publishers, and my toxic friendship baggage.

Now I’ve tossed out the toxic baggage. I’ve already shared how I feel about publishing and my name. And you know what? Those were the things that were important to talk about. Those were the things I was afraid no one could see. And I put myself out there and got personal and said all the things I thought people weren’t seeing. I made those things seen.

Now, I don’t have that need anymore. Now that I don’t have that gnawing fear that some cosmic injustice might pass without other people seeing it, I don’t feel that need. I know I have a voice and that if something shitty happens to me again, this time, I can say something. And because of that, the thought of squeezing into this Angry Young Man costume is exhausting.

I’ve been blogging about Fifty Shades of Grey for five years now. Five years, three and a half books and a movie. Five years of getting thirty emails for every single news story about Fifty Shades of Grey that happened. Then she announced that second retelling from Christian’s POV and I was like…I don’t know. I don’t know if I have the strength. I’m going to be doing this forever. Someone once said that about me and E.L. James, that we were like Batman and The Joker, we’d be doing this forever. But I don’t want to do it forever. First, I was just yelling into the void in the hopes that people would hear me and see what a shit book it was. Then, I was doing it to entertain you (and because you guys bailed out my friends financially). After that, it was, unfortunately, my brand. It became my coworker who I really, really hated, but I liked my job so I had to keep associating with this coworker. Plus, I feel this really weird gratitude toward Fifty Shades, like I owe it to the franchise to keep my hatred of it at the forefront of my mind, because of all the good things I got from mocking it. Or something.

But I’m done with that. I know I’m going to lose some readers, but I hope you all understand that I’m just tired of hating. And the suit really is getting too small. Plus, with all of this nonsense about rape culture being at the forefront of the stupid presidential election, I just need a brain break from men who think they can assault women without consequence and women gleefully proclaiming that they’d be just fine with being assaulted. So much of that attitude is tied up in Fifty Shades of Grey and its reception, and I need a break. So, I’m not going to be doing the recaps anymore, and if I do any reporting on the franchise, it’s going to be very sparse.

The same with the Don’t Do This Ever posts. There’s a reason I haven’t been doing as many of those, and that’s simply because most of the time now, more important voices are covering things. It no longer feels like all of these things will go unseen, which was my driving fear in the first place. It’s pretty freeing once you realize that you don’t have to be personally involved in every bullshit thing that goes down online. That doesn’t mean I’m steering this tugboat toward Sunshine Sisterhood harbor. I’m not going to start espousing “Be Kind” in an attempt to keep people from talking about important issues. But I’m not going to don the Angry Young Man persona and go out there and get ‘em anymore.

Now, the Buffy recaps? True Blood Tuesday? I’ll keep doing those because I love doing them. They bring joy and positivity into my world, and that’s what I’m trying to do more of. Not in a dopey-eyed, Sunshine Sisterhood of Keeping It Kind way. Making those posts about the toxic friendship did take something off of me. It did free me. And I’ve spent my week off not just from the blog, but from everything. I didn’t write if I didn’t feel like it. I focused on myself, on how I feel about stuff, and how I feel now that all of this giant, toxic, festering weight has been lifted. And I decided that overall, I want to be a more positive person. I want to focus on the good. I’m tired of being so cynical that I’m miserable all the time, especially when it’s at such odds with who I am as a person.

Again, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to start telling everyone to Be Nice and sweep things under the rug. I’ll still have stuff to say when saying stuff is warranted. Hopefully, I’ll still be interesting. If I’m not, well, then I guess I wasn’t interesting to start with, if I could only be interesting when talking about other people. And this won’t affect the publication of Say Goodbye To Hollywood. Although a lot of people are excited for it because of the satire aspect, at heart it’s a romance, and I’m not going to sacrifice what I think is a pretty cool love story.

I’m not quite sure why this feels like a goodbye letter. It’s not. I’ll still be here. Hell, I’ll have a True Blood Tuesday post tomorrow, and a Domestic Violence Awareness Month post on Wednesday. Maybe it’s because so much of this blog has been dedicated to Fifty Shades of Grey and drama, that it feels like I’m closing a door. But I know that I’m not, because I know that I have so much more wonderful strangeness in me that I can share without it being tied up with other people’s work and other people’s problems.

And while all of this seems sudden, it’s a change that’s been coming for a while. I’ve just been resisting it and trying to deny how tired I felt about it all lately. Seeing Billy Joel again in August really got the ball rolling. He opened with “Prelude/ Angry Young Man” and the words “I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage” hit me hard. I really have passed the age of getting riled up about shit that ultimately won’t matter, especially when “life [goes] on no matter who was wrong or right.” And especially when the shit that does matter needs so much more energy.

So, if you’re leaving, I’ll miss you, and thank you for the support. If you’re staying, I can’t promise everything is going to be the same. Shit is going to get weird, but hopefully in a good, mutually beneficial way. And if you’re just interested in seeing me get fired up about stuff, there’s always Twitter. I’ll never not be mad on Twitter, and I’ll never not be RTing other people being mad.

Anyway, hope you all understand. Onward and upward.


Did you come here looking for super gossipy posts about someone who done me wrong? Well, they’ve been removed. I know what a lot of you might be thinking: “But Jenny, I had a problem like that with someone else, too! Those posts really helped me!” I know that a lot of you are thinking that, because a lot of you said that. And here’s what I’m going to tell you:

Write about it.

I’m not kidding. Write about what happened. Write about what those people did to you. Write about how unfair it is and pour all of your pain, all of that burning, poisoning grudge into it. Do it, then let it blow away. You don’t have to do it publicly. Do it privately. Burn the notebook. Delete the file. Because it feels so, so good. Just hear me out, and you might want to give it a try (and thank you to Em, who gave me this idea in the comments).

When I hit publish on that final post this morning, my fingertips tingled. It’s cliche, but I really did feel a huge weight lift. Grudges and unfairness do seem to have mass. Due to the events I talked about in those posts, my entire writing career has been tainted by that anger and hurt. And tonight, I get to let that go. And from here on out, I don’t have to think about any of that. I was walking around subconsciously trying to prove to myself that I was better than she had made me feel. And now, that need isn’t there. I remember what it means to actually write because I love it, and not because a toxic person has unwillingly duped me into a mental competition. It isn’t a matter of forgiving someone you can’t forgive. It’s just refusing to let them be a part of your story. Removing them from the narrative (in the theme of the post titles).

The mushroom post on Monday was oddly prophetic. Maybe I stumbled onto that forest for a reason. It’s a metaphor. All of that past, all of those horrible things? They’re just the dirt I had to struggle up through, and those posts were the downpour that cleared the way. And the way I feel about writing, and myself, and my friends, that’s the mushroom.

This has been a weird week. And it’s only Wednesday.

Bring it on, Thursday. I’m ready to look forward.

A Walk Through Mushroom Forest

This weekend, I went on a retreat with some writer friends to a campground in Grand Haven, Michigan. While looking for a place to smoke a joint in some peace and god damn quiet (because it was a campground and they were having some sort of Halloween family weekend or something and there were kids just everywhere), I wandered off into the woods. It was just regular old woods, just like around any camp ground, meaning it was full of trash and junk that people had rudely disposed of out there (including a rubber glove, which I don’t even want to think about). But there did seem to be a trail, and as I ventured down it, I saw something that wasn’t trash:

The forest floor, with vibrant green moss, brown dead leaves, and bright orange mushrooms.

Mushrooms! Bright orange mushrooms, like I’d never seen before. Obviously, more investigation was needed.

(The rest of this post is image heavy, so I’m putting it behind a cut)

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