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Month: May 2013

“You sound like you want to be sick,” AKA, the story of how I got crippled by a shitty doctor.

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In 2008, I was a healthy- if just a touch overweight- twenty-eight year old when I gave birth to my daughter, Wednesday. Labor was so easy, I actually stayed at home and did laundry until my grandparents and husband pushed me out the door, fearing I would give birth in the car. I arrived at the hospital just four hours before Wednesday came into the world, and I shoved her out with one heroic push. ONE.

With the exception of my slightly premature daughter’s inability to nurse, the entire experience was easy. So easy that I was up and walking around my hospital room within thirty minutes of delivery, to the horror of my doctor.

So you can imagine that it came as a huge shock when, a mere eight weeks later, I could no longer walk, stay awake, or otherwise function.

I believe that all my current medical issues can be attributed to a near-miss car accident that occurred about six weeks after my daughter was born. I was driving my grandmother to the grocery store when the car in front of us pulled a sudden U-Turn into the path of an on-coming vehicle. That second vehicle swerved into our lane, and we went off the road. I ended up with a mild case of whiplash. Since then, I’ve done a lot of reading on the effects of neck injuries on the brain and nervous system, and I’m absolutely convinced that this “whiplash” I left untreated – “It’s not that bad!”- is what caused the health issues I’m battling now.

Live and learn.

Two weeks later, I was walking up the stairs from doing laundry, and my knees quit working. I had never felt so tired. It was like someone had just flipped a switch and I felt awful.

The moment just prior to that incident is the last time I remember feeling “normal.”

When I went to my OB/GYN for my post-natal checkup, I expressed my concern over this. I told her about how run down I was, how tired and weak I felt, and how I was in pain all the time. I likened the pain I was feeling to the day after very strenuous exercise. She suggested that I was still “bouncing back” from childbirth. She wasn’t the doctor who delivered my child, so she didn’t know how easy the birth really was. When she checked her colleague’s notes in my chart, though, she became concerned, and referred me to a GP who took uninsured clients.

The GP I saw was a really smart, really professional lady I will call Dr. Red. There are a lot of doctors in this story, so I’ll just assign them color names. Dr. Red assured me that she was going to get to the bottom of this mystery problem, since it was impacting my life so terribly. She sent me for some blood tests, including a rheumatology panel and thyroid test. When the results came back, I was shocked: it was a mere Vitamin D deficiency! I would just take some supplements and I’d be cured!

Three months later, I was back in Dr. Red’s office. I was walking with a cane now, and I could barely keep my eyes open waiting in her office. Since my mobility had been affected, my activity level had dropped drastically, and I had gained a whopping eighty pounds, just over three months. I’m sure you can imagine what she blamed for my condition: “Of course you hurt, you’re morbidly obese!” When I pointed out that I was not morbidly obese when I first came to her office for the same condition, she brushed me off and insisted I had a Vitamin D deficiency and I needed to go on a diet. I was probably just eating too much junk. I told her I was taking the supplements, I’d even upped the dose, and nothing seemed to be getting better.

Then I told her about a syndrome I’d read about on the internet, a syndrome I had many, many symptoms of. “Do you think it could be Fibromyalgia?” I asked, and she snapped back, “You sound like you want to be sick.”

Let me pause here to explain why some people, when seeking a diagnosis, seem like they “want to be sick.” It’s because when you feel 100% shitty, 100% of the time, you want to know why. You want to put a name to why you feel the way you do, in part because you can then be proactive about it and work toward feeling better, in part because you secretly suspect you might be making it all up without realizing it. To hear, “You sound like you want to be sick,” is devastating to people struggling with an undiagnosed chronic illness. It’s dismissive, unsympathetic, and flat out rude. Plus, it doesn’t make a lot of sense; if a person was so mentally ill that they truly desired sickness or attention from sickness, that’s a serious psychiatric disorder known as Münchausen Syndrome, and these people should be treated as mentally ill, not shamed for their attention seeking.

Side note: Münchausen Syndrome is sometimes referred to as Somatoform Disorder, a psychological illness that some doctors believe is the root cause of Fibromyalgia, aka, “You want to be sick, so you are.” If the doctors who truly believed Fibromyalgia patients had Somatoform Disorder treated it as a mental illness and sought treatment for their patients, this wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, these patients are dismissed and shamed out of hand for being “crazy,” and I’ve found that medical doctors who don’t work in mental health fields have little to no respect for people who are “crazy.” It’s a character flaw, not an illness.

Anyway, because I didn’t know better- and possibly because I was raised Catholic in a “bootstraps!” kind of family- I decided that this doctor was right. I was just making it up. Dr. Red gave me prescriptions for heavy painkillers, lectured me about drug abuse, and I suffered in a narcotic haze for some more long months, feeling guilty all the while, until something… weird happened. You can read about it here, but the gist of it is, I had a softball sized tumor wrapping tentacles around my spine at the base of my neck. If you ever meet me in public, feel free to ask about my scar, I’ll totally show it to you.

While waiting for my surgery day to arrive, I had a seizure. This delayed the surgery while I had other tests done. Dr. Red questioned me about everything I had been doing to cause the seizure; she thought it was self induced. I admitted that in addition to the medicines she had put me on, I had begun occasionally supplementing marijuana for pain. The reason, I told her, was that my husband had quit his job to go back to college, and I had reentered the work force. Remember, at the time I thought I was just lazy and crazy and seeking attention, so I assumed I could totally withstand the grueling pace of fast food work. I knew I couldn’t work at McDonald’s high on Vicodin or Oxy, but I knew from years of experience that I could totally work at McDonald’s high on weed. She told me that my seizure was obviously caused by marijuana- a dangerous, evil drug with no medicinal benefits and yet another clue that I was just a drug seeker- but if it would make me feel better, she would send me to a rheumatologist.

I had the surgery to remove the tumor, my back was a little less Quasimodoish, and I went to see the rheumatologist. We’ll call him Dr. Green. Dr. Green took great delight in pushing on my “trigger points,” extremely painful spots that Fibromyalgia sufferers have all over their bodies. Sometimes, even the brush of your clothing on a trigger spot is enough to launch you into days of agony. My first rheumatology appointment was horrible, but it was also wonderful, because I finally had my diagnosis. Dr. Green was in the room with me for about ten minutes before he said, “You’re textbook Fibromyalgia and hyper-mobility. You need to get a new GP.” He also told me that there was “no way in hell” that marijuana had caused my seizure. He blamed Tramadol, a painkiller I was prescribed by Dr. Red, and told me to immediately stop taking it. He explained that another medication I was on, Gabapentin, was an anti-epilepsy drug, and that in my chart Dr. Red had noted that her reason for prescribing it was to offset the chance of seizure from the Tramadol (I have a mild case of Restless Leg Syndrome, which Dr. Green told me could slightly increase the risk of seizures from narcotic pain relievers… the more you know). None of this was ever discussed with me; I was told to take these medications “for pain.” Frustrated with Dr. Red, Dr. Green gave me the number of a doctor who issued cards for the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program and told me that his Fibromyalgia patients were benefitting from the drug.

I should have saved the name Dr. Green for the weed doctor. Damnit.

No, I kid. I’ll use that guy’s name, because he helped save my life. His name is Dr. Crocker, and he’s amazing. Although, my first visit to his office was less amazing, because I didn’t see Dr. Crocker that time. I saw another physician, a woman who told me I was too fat and Fibromyalgia wasn’t a real disease, but who reluctantly issued the card, anyway. Whatever, I didn’t care. Now when I go to the office, I just make it clear that I need to see Dr. Crocker and not the other one. My cousin D-Rock enrolled in the program as a caregiver, so she could grow plants for me- in my condition at the time, the strenuous work of a grow-op would have been far out of reach for me. D-Rock had a personal stake in this operation; she’d seen family members struggle with and die from addiction to pills like Oxy, Vicodin, and Norco, and she had lobbied long and hard for me to stop taking them.

On the MMMP, my life changed drastically. I no longer used a cane. I started running. I started losing weight! It would have shocked Dr. Red, I’m sure, to find out that it was my pain making me fat, not my fat causing my pain. But she’ll never know, because I’ll never go to her again. After a long time of not seeing any doctors at all- I didn’t need to! What a concept!- I ended up in the emergency room with a crushing headache. Long story short, a very tired resident accidentally broke the news to me that I had a brain tumor.

I did not have a brain tumor. I had a migraine.

I saw a new doctor, because no way in hell was I going back to Dr. Red- it didn’t matter, she no longer practices. I do not know the reason why, but obviously, I have my suspicions.

My new doctor, Dr. Blue, looked over my chart, found that I didn’t have a brain tumor after all- “He was obviously in the wrong room,”- and told me some really awesome information. Like, the fact that the only blood tests Dr. Red did when she promised me she’d done a full panel were for Vitamin D deficiency and cholesterol. She’d never done a rheumatology panel, despite telling me I’d had one and it had come back normal. And as it turns out, I have epilepsy- a condition that wasn’t diagnosed because I was on Gabapentin when I was sent for my EEG. If I had known more about the drug and why it was prescribed, I might have mentioned it to the technician doing the EEG.

I’m pretty mad that lost three years of my life on crazy drugs I didn’t need and suffered through being told I was making things up for attention. I really feel that one sentence, “You sound like you want to be sick,” is what kept me from being proactive about my health for such a long time. Now, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. I lost sixty-five pounds (I’m still fat, but I’m less fat than I was). I run (at my peak, I was running twelve miles a week, but I’ve backed off now to nurse a tendon injury). I did P90X. I can walk around! It’s a miracle!

What I’ve learned from this experience is: just because someone is wearing a white coat doesn’t mean they’re smart. And as a patient, you have the right to a doctor who listens to you, and who is honest with you and doesn’t lie about what care you’re receiving. And never let your doctor prescribe any medication for you if you don’t know what it does.

I still have my bad days, both due to depression and to Fibromyalgia. But now that I have a good doctor and a good plan for pain management, rather than someone who shames me for complaining about my pain, my quality of life is a lot better. Do I consider myself disabled? Yes, I do; some days, I am genuinely disabled by my conditions, and occasionally I need assistive devices. I definitely can’t drive anymore, because of my seizures. But I suffer from invisible disabilities, so I have the privilege of hiding them, if I want to. I never have to tell anyone I’m sick if I don’t want them to know, and I realize that for many people, this is not the case. My life and my health could be a lot worse, so I’m grateful for the good doctors- especially Dr. Crocker, who is still one of my care providers- and loved ones who cared about me enough to see me through those bad times.

Roadhouse: “D-Rock is unemployed”

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This week’s Roadhouse is a little sad. But we get the sadness out of the way up front, then hit you with an amazing idea for a super cool reality show.

NOTE: D-Rock is aware of her legal rights. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, it would be awesome if we could refrain from offering legal advice or “you should” or “if I were you.” However, we encourage you to share your stories of workplace harassment and discrimination in the comments.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S01E11, “Out of Mind, Out of Sight.”

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In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will finish Hemlock Grove and sit there for an hour going, “What the hell did I just watch?” 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.

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.

The episode opens with Cordelia and Harmony strolling the hall with some random guy who has his arm around Cordelia. They’re talking about the Spring Fling dance that’s coming up, and how Cordelia is having her dress specially made. And I have this painful and crushing memory of what a bitch I was in high school, when I had my prom dress specially made to copy one that Nicole Kidman wore in Vogue, because I thought I was that damn special. With the money I spent on it, I probably could have bought someone else a dress and a prom ticket. God, teen me sucked.

Anyway, the guy walking with Cordelia says she should wear a dress that’s blue like her eyes, and Cordy points out that her eyes are hazel. She also calls him Helen Keller, and I’m like, “No, Cordy! Bad Cordy!” and I smack her cute little nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Ever the sycophant, Harmony is quick to tell Cordelia and this dude that they’re going to look awesome when Cordy is May Queen. Cordelia is trying to downplay her chances, in a really phony, self-gratifying way when Buffy spills her ass into frame. You know, for a slayer, she’s kind of clumsy, isn’t she? I mean, she can do all this cool arial kick fighting shit, but this is at least the second time she’s tripped and spilled all her weapons out.

Is there no zero tolerance policy on this sort of thing at Sunnydale High?

I went to high school the same time Buffy did, and while I was once allowed to bring a no-shit-totally-real sword to school with me for a class presentation, I had to jump through some major hoops and get a lot of warnings about discipline and trust before it happened. They were the same talks everyone would get if they wanted to bring a knife to cut a birthday cake or something, so I’m pretty sure a morning star and an axe and shit would be covered in the student handbook somewhere. No one thinks it’s odd that this girl carries around a purse full of weapons at all time? And that she careens dangerously into other students with it? Nobody is noticing this?
#8, Sunnydale. Come on.
Anyway, Buffy is eager to point out how not at all weird this situation is:

Buffy: “You’re probably wondering what I’m doing with this stuff, huh?”

Cordelia: “Wow! I’m not.”

Buffy: “Uh, for history class. Mr. Giles has this, like, hobby of collecting stuff, which he lent me… for… show-and-tell. Did I mention it was for history class?”

If anyone in Sunnydale isn’t guilty of #8, it’s Harmony, who says:

Harmony: “She is always hanging with that creepy librarian in that creepy library.”

Unfortunately, I’m betting money that Harmony isn’t creeped by inappropriate student/teacher relationships, just the fact that Buffy seems to have an interest in knowledge and learning. Still, she shows more self-awareness of the situation than any of the faculty members or Buffy’s own mom.

Cordy, the random dude, and Harmony all walk off laughing at Buffy and the time she attacked Cordelia at The Bronze, and Buffy looks all dejected and hopeless.

In English class, Cordelia answers a question about The Merchant of Venice by calling Shylock self-involved and too wrapped up in his own oppression to see the pain of other, less oppressed people. Did I mention she’s saying this to a woman of color? Because she’s saying it to a woman of color, who appears to be not real impressed:

Just hang in there. You’ll have tenure soon.
Cordelia even throws in a personal anecdote to prove her point:

Cordelia: “People who think their problems are so huge craze me. Like this time I sort of ran over this girl on her bike. It was the most traumatizing event of my life, and she’s trying to make it about her leg. Like my pain meant nothing.”

You want to imagine something wretched? There are probably people who were like, “Yeah, right on!” when they watched this for the first time. Probably the same people who agree with Spike and Giles on the subject of Native American oppression in season four.

But we’ll get there.

The teacher looks super relieved when the bell rings, but when Cordelia approaches her to talk about her final paper, the teacher congratulates her on her “good observations” in class, and Willow does the most epic background eye-roll ever caught on film:

Just looking at that makes my eyes hurt.

Cordelia sets up an appointment for the next day with the teacher, and leaves class to catch up with Harmony. The good news is, Cordelia’s dress is ready. The bad news is, she lives on the Hellmouth and says, “Mitch is going to die,” in the context that Mitch is going to be excited about the dress. Mitch is the random guy from before, I guess. Right after Cordelia signs his death warrant, we cut to Mitch showering in the locker room. Oh my god, you guys, seriously? In the locker room again? We’ve had a dead dude fall out of a locker, a student almost fatally electrocuted, another student murdered in a vicious heart-stealing attack… at what point is the school going to wise up and not allow students in there unsupervised, or just brick up the door altogether?
As Mitch gets dressed, his buddies tease him about looking good for Cordelia at the Spring Fling dance, and he makes a joke about wanting to get on her. So basically, he’s a douchey jock who’s looking to get into Cordelia’s pants, and that’s all we really care to learn about him before he’s left alone with the chilling sound of derisive female laughter, and then a possessed baseball bat attacks him, seemingly on its own.

Admittedly, the spooky invisible effect is somewhat diminished when you know someone is holding the bat just off camera.
In the hall, Cordelia explains her new campaign strategy to Harmony. She’s handing out chocolates with a C on them, in the hopes it will sway people’s votes for May Queen. She offers one to Buffy, then takes it back, saying she doesn’t need the “looney fringe” vote. We will talk about mental illness in the Buffyverse later. Buffy serves up an uncharacteristically subpar comeback, saying she doesn’t even like chocolate. Xander and Willow come to Buffy’s locker and launch into a meeting of the We Hate Cordelia club, which involves much sputtering laughter and in-jokes about hats, which Buffy can’t really join in, since she just came to the school this year. To cheer Buffy up, Xander says:

Xander: “What kind of moron would want to be May Queen, anyway?”

And Buffy looks like this:

How did the Sad Keanu meme take off, but not the Sad Buffy meme? 
Buffy is just a little annoyed when she tells Xander and Willow that she was May Queen at her old school. Only they didn’t call it May Queen. But she did get to wear a crown and be the most popular, and it’s clearly bothering her that those days are over.
But screw Buffy’s inner angst! The really important part of this scene is LOOK AT WHAT WILLOW IS HOLDING IN HER HAND!

I loved those! Do they even make those anymore? I really want one now. I want a four pack, actually, because I could drain those suckers in three seconds flat. Literally the only thing that held back my time was the suction in the bottle that kept the liquid from coming out fast enough.
A student runs down the hall alerting everyone to the fact that Mitch got beaten up. Cut to Principal Snyder calling the kids a bunch of ghouls for expecting Mitch to be dead. Excuse me, Principal Snyder? You’ve been here for three episodes and two kids have already died on your watch. Why is it outside of the realm of possibility that someone could be dead now?
This entire episode, by the way, is one big ball of #8, so I hope you like numbers with round, sensuous curves, everybody.
As they wheel Mitch out on a gurney, Buffy asks him what happened. He explains that a floating bat beat him up, and Buffy announces with pretty much no subtlety at all that she’s going to go poke around the crime scene. Which, of course, Snyder overhears, leading to this exchange:

Snyder: “Where do you think you’re going?”

Buffy: “Um, Mitch wanted me to get his comb. He- He likes his comb.”

Snyder: “I don’t think Mitch needs his comb right now. I think Mitch needs medical attention, and you need to stay away from the crime scene. Always sticking your nose in.”

Man, the Buffster is really not on her game this episode. I mean, of course she was going to get caught. Look how close she was to Snyder when she said she was going to go check out the scene:

Dude, Buffy, he is riiiiiight there!

Does anyone else feel like Buffy was massively out of character in this episode? We’re like seven minutes in, and she’s already fallen down and dropped all of her weapons, failed at an insult, and broadcast that she’s going to tamper with a crime scene in front of the principal she’s trying to hide her secret identity from. The only episode where she’s more inexplicably out of it is season 4’s “Superstar,” and that was for plot reasons.
Willow loudly exclaims that she overheard Mitch saying he was going to sue the school, which gets Snyder off Buffy’s back just long enough for her to sneak away to the locker room. There, she finds the bat used to beat up Mitch, because the Sunnydale police are not great at their jobs.

We couldn’t find an evidence bag big enough, so we decided to close the case.

Even if the paramedics were the first on the scene, they would have made sure the bat didn’t just get left lying around. It’s evidence in a crime, because remember, no one in Sunnydale seems concerned about the fact that they have monsters and vampires and shit running around everywhere.
Buffy checks out the lockers nearby, and- after a brief Vanna White impersonation- discovers someone has graffitied “LOOK” onto them.

“Yes, there are two o’s on the board.”

In the cafeteria, the core four try to figure out what’s up with their latest spooky fest.

Giles “It’s a bit of a puzzle, really. I’ve never actually heard of anyone attack by a lone baseball bat before.”

Xander: “Maybe it’s a vampire bat.”

And this is the response he gets:

Whatever, Xander. I thought your pun was masterful. You combined my love of grisly murder and my love of baseball in a way a baseball bat normally couldn’t. Or… no, you know what, baseball bats can do the grisly murder on their own, can’t they? Especially in Sunnydale.

Giles suggests a few options. Either the bat is possessed, someone is pulling a Carrie, or they’ve got an angry ghost on their hands. Though I’m not sure how angry a ghost you would have to be to give in to the temptation of beating Mitch nearly to death. He gave off a real date-rapey frat jock vibe. If I were a ghost, I’d probably have taken a few swings at him.

Buffy tells Willow that compiling a list of dead and missing students would be a good start. Yeah, Willow, get right on that, and in forty years when you’re done, we’ll pick up the investigation. Giles asks Xander to help with research, but Xander isn’t keen on doing anything extracurricular with regards to vampire slaying. He says he wants Buffy’s job of asking around to find out what happened to Mitch, but when she points out he’d have to talk to Cordelia, somehow Giles starts to look like the better option.

In that cool outside upstairs hallway thing Sunnydale has, Harmony finds Cordelia and asks her why she wasn’t in fifth period. Cordelia says she went to the hospital to see Mitch, and when Harmony asks if he’ll be okay, Cordelia says:

Cordelia: “Well, the doctor says he’ll be fine. They’re gonna send him home tomorrow, but you should have seen him lying there, all black and blue. How’s he gonna look in our prom pictures? How am I ever going to be able to show them to anyone?”

So, once again, Cordelia isn’t concerned about someone else’s suffering, just how it affects her. Mitch was beaten and terrorized by a bat-wielding poltergeist, and Cordelia is just worried he’ll embarrass her with his terrible face. Just as Harmony comforts her about the wonders of airbrushing, we’re invited into a grainy flashback wherein Cordelia tells Harmony of her plans to date Mitch if he makes the varsity baseball team. Then we hear someone (from the POV of the camera) say hello to them, only to be cruelly rebuffed for daring to speak to them. Then we resume the scene the flashback interrupted. Buffy stops Cordelia at the top of the stairs and asks to talk to her, and Harmony is about to deliver some scathing verbal beat down when an unseen force pushes her down the stairs.

Okay, let’s leave poor Harmony falling down the stairs a minute to talk about something I feel is important. I know we’ve discussed how BtVS isn’t the icon of feminist television it gets credit for being, and there are underlying themes that really squick me out now that I’m older and, if not wiser, at least slightly less ignorant than I used to be, BUT. Harmony’s friendship with Cordelia is a part of the show I really like. Yes, Harmony joins in with Cordelia to bully people, and later she turns on her, but in the first and second seasons, we see Harmony being a caring and supportive friend to Cordy, even when she doesn’t deserve it. Should Harmony tell Cordelia to suck it up, at least she didn’t get beaten nearly to death? Well, Harmony can’t, because she’s just as selfish and short-sighted as Cordelia, but that’s beside the point. As crappy as she treats everyone who isn’t in her social sphere, Harmony displays actual care and concern for Cordelia in this episode, and this lays the groundwork for our #10.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, right.

As Buffy and Cordelia rush to Harmony’s aid, Snyder comes up and sees just another potential lawsuit on his hands. Cordelia insists that Harmony just fell down the stairs, but Harmony swears she was pushed. The same disembodied laughter from the locker room can be heard again, but only Buffy seems to hear it. She follows it up the stairs and sees a door closing as if it had been opened by no one at all. Inside the room, Buffy collides with something she can’t see. She investigates further, stepping into the band room, where we see a ceiling tile lifting up. Buffy calls out to whoever is there and promises she isn’t there to hurt them, she just wants to talk.

Outside the school, these two super cool characters are hanging out, trying to blend:

Everyone notices Agent Smith over there, right?

Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles don’t notice them, because they’re busy talking about ghosts. Buffy doesn’t think it was a ghost, she thinks it’s an invisible girl, due to the laughter and the fact they physically collided.

Giles: “A girl on campus with the ability to become invisible.”

Xander: “That is so cool!”

Willow: “Cool?”

Xander: “Well yeah, I would give anything to be able to turn invisible. I wouldn’t use my powers to beat people up. I’d use my powers to protect the girls’ locker room.”

Giles: “It must be a fairly heady experience. Having that ability.”

I’m almost hesitant to point out that Xander’s willingness to spy on unwitting and unwilling girls as they change is a perfect example of the Nice Guy belief that women are objects who owe it to men to be on display, and the cultural expectation that young men should be excused for this belief because it’s “funny.” On the other hand, someone really does need to do something about the killer locker rooms at Sunnydale high. So, #5, but he brings up a good point.
I’m in agreement with Xander that another student having a super power does seem cool. After all, he doesn’t know the reason why yet. He shocks the rest of the Scooby gang with some trivia about cloaks of invisibility in Greek myth- and not Harry Potter, because Harry Potter didn’t exist yet. Wrap your mind around that for a second. The gang realizes that the two people hurt so far had something to do with Cordelia, so the invisible girl must have a beef with her. Xander and Willow leave, and Giles tells Buffy that he’ll look up ways to make invisible people visible again. Um, Giles? Paint. Chalk dust. Glitter. These are things off the top of my head that would make an invisible person visible, and you can probably get all of these inside the school.
There’s a writing thing. Try not leave an obvious solution to a problem just hanging out there. Either give your readers a reason to think it won’t work, or at least have them discuss it as an option.
Here’s another thing not to do:

Buffy: “I think Cordelia’s going to be working on her May Queen dress tonight. Maybe there’ll be some action.”

Okay, in a previous scene we’ve already been told in a bit of incidental dialogue that Cordelia’s dress is finished. And also, that someone else was making it. And Cordelia is not the Molly Ringwald, make-my-own-dress-for-prom kind of quirky girl. So what does she have to work on?

The whole thing seems to be a convenient excuse for the next scene, in which Buffy looks wistfully through a window at Cordelia and her friends… well, I’m not sure what they’re doing.

What is she doing with that mobile? Is Cordy gonna wear that?

I’m 100% certain this scene is a call back to Buffy and her friends making the decorations for the dance in the movie. I’m also certain that all it does here is to remind us that Buffy used to be popular and she isn’t anymore. In a season three episode, this conflict arises again, when Buffy fights with Cordelia for homecoming queen. But here, it’s kind of forced, since in the context of the lines we heard before, there’s really nothing for Cordelia to do with her dress (“she’ll be making decorations for the dance tonight,” would have made more sense, since that’s a thing popular kids seem to be involved in), and it doesn’t make sense for Cordelia to be working on a dress at school, anyway. That’s the kind of thing you do at home, where the sewing machine is.
The scene is really there just to remind the viewer of Cordy’s popularity and Buffy’s lack of it. But it’s not a totally necessary reminder, and there was no reason for it to be so clumsily shoehorned into the episode.
Wandering away, Buffy hears a flute playing. In the library, Giles hears it, too, and is, I presume, afraid of being beaten to death by an invisible student armed with heavy occult books. He catches sight of his reflection in a glass-fronted cupboard:

And when he turns around, he sees:

So, vampires don’t cast a reflection in the Buffyverse. What a cool way to introduce that.

It’s also a cool way of re-introducing the audience to Angel, who has been MIA for a while but is an important part of the next episode in the season arc.

Giles is obviously afraid of Angel, a detail I didn’t pick up the first few times I watched this season. Probably because I was like, “OMG ANGEL OMG VAMPIRE!” and I wasn’t really paying attention to the rest of the scene. But it makes sense that as a Watcher, Giles would be afraid of Angel in a way the other Scoobies wouldn’t be. After all, he’s read all the Watcher diaries and he knows what vampires are capable of. It’s something that doesn’t entirely go away through the rest of the series, and it’s one of those things that the viewer takes for granted, but it adds another level of realism to the world. World building and character building doesn’t have to smack you in the face, it can be subtle and in the background, and sometimes that’s more effective.
Giles asks Angel if he’s there to see Buffy, but Angel says it’s too difficult for him to see her, on account of the whole vampire/Slayer thing, and Giles thinks it’s poetic for a vampire to be in love with a Slayer. Which seems like a weird stance for a Watcher to have; after all, the point of being a Watcher is to protect the Slayer from, you know… vampires. I could see a line about the tragic romance of it all coming from Willow, though.
Angel warns Giles that something big is going on with The Master, and asks him basically how current he is on Slayer lore. Giles says he’s studied everything he could, but some of the most important books about Slayers and slaying have been lost. He names a few, and Angel tells him that one still exists, The Codex, and he can get it. And for a minute, dear reader, I swear Giles is going to straight up mouth kiss Angel. You really have to watch the scene to get the full effect, but the second Angel is like, “I’m going to bring you this super rare book,” Giles turns into this giggling, stuttering school girl parody of himself. So, if you’re a vampire and you need to win over a Watcher, I guess books help.
Angel notices one of the books Giles is carrying and they start talking about the invisible girl tormenting the school. Giles says he finds the idea fascinating, and Angel points out how depressing it is to look into a mirror and never see anything in it. Which, I guess it would be. Perhaps that’s a part of the dehumanizing and disassociating between the demon component of the vampires and their human souls in the Buffyverse; they no longer see who they are, so they forget who they are. Which begs the question, how does Angel get his hair to look so perfect, then?
The line is a nice segue to the next scene, a flashback where this girl is looking in the mirror:

Cordelia comes into the bathroom, talking to Harmony and another friend:

Cordelia: “God! I am never sitting through another one of those alumni lectures again! Two hours of ‘My trek through Napal.’ Hello, there is nobody caring.”

Bathroom mirror Girl: “Did you guys see his toupee? I mean, it looked like a cabbage.”

Cordelia: “And those slides? ‘That’s a mountain. That’s a mountain, too. Now look at some mountains.'”

Harmony: “I swear, he had three slides and just used them over and over.”

Bathroom mirror girl: “I know, but did you see his toupee? I mean, it was like, the worst.”

Harmony: “We’re talking, okay?”

Cordelia: “Oh, and did you guys check out that extreme toupee? Yeah, that’s realistic. It looked like a cabbage.”

Why did Cordelia steal that joke? That joke wasn’t even funny. The dude is a mountain climber who went to Nepal and now does inspirational speaking. There is tons of material there. For example, right off the top of my head:

  • Did he steal that toupee from the Yeti?
  • What’s that toupee made out of, a Sherpa’s back hair?
  • A toupee? Why? Did you have to amputate your comb-over when it got frostbite?
  • Did you spend A Night on Bald Mountain? (And come on,  invisible girl is a band geek, why didn’t she immediately go for that one?

 The bathroom girl looks after the other girls adoringly as they leave, but finding herself alone again, her expression sours.

In the courtyard, in the present, Snyder is declaring Cordelia May Queen, and of course, she takes the whole thing super humbly:

Cordelia: “Being this popular is not just my right, but my responsibility.”

Xander and Willow make little, “Oh, Cordelia” faces as they pass through the courtyard to find Buffy, who’s watching the whole May Queen presentation go down. She believes Cordelia is the key to whatever is going on. Willow gives Buffy the list of dead and missing students, which is multiple pages. Because Sunnydale. #8

Willow sees the two MIB lurking around the school and asks if Cordelia had hired a bodyguard. Buffy is reading the list of names and mentions that a Marcie Ross disappeared six months ago. Neither Willow nor Xander knew her, and her only activity was band. She also just happened to play the flute, I’m guessing this:

Is Marcie.
So does Buffy. She links the flute playing, the missing girl, and the band thing together and says she’s going to check it out.
In the band room, Buffy sees a footprint on a chair and puts two and two together about the ceiling tile the audience saw moving earlier. She climbs into the ceiling and-
Can I just tell you a horrifying story? This is cheaper than therapy, so I’m going to say yes. Okay, so, when I was little, I lived in a house that had the same type of ceiling tiles in the bathroom. I was a weird child, and my mom worked third shift, so I was left to my own devices for much of the day, and I liked to play in the bathroom a lot. I said I was a weird kid, okay? Well, one day I was pretending the floor was lava and climbing from the toilet to the sink, and when I stood on the sink, I bumped my head on the ceiling tile. It moved a little bit, and I was like, “Oh, cool! I bet this is like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and I’m going to end up in Narnia!” So, I shifted the tile, and you know what I saw? NOT MR. TUMNUS. It was a shower of dead boxelder bugs. In my hair, in my eyes, and horrifyingly and worst of all, in my mouth.
This bad memory of the ceiling tile is probably the sole reason I don’t like this episode, because it’s literally all I can think about when they show those damn tiles.
Anyway, Buffy crawls around in the ceiling a little bit and finds a little nest:

Definitive proof that the teen girl is an invasive species.

As Buffy messes with Marcie’s flute, we hear heavy breathing. I know it’s “heavy breathing,” because it says [heavy breathing] in the closed captions. Buffy continues to paw through Marcie’s belongings and finds her year book. And hey, you know what sucks about hunting down an invisible person?

When you find them, they immediately try to sell you Cut Co.

Marcie decides not to knife Buffy, and Buffy takes the yearbook back through the wardrobe boxelder bugs ceiling with her.
Hey, remember the teacher from the beginning of the episode? She hears a door close and assumes it’s Cordelia coming in for their after school meeting.

It’s not Cordelia.

But Cordelia is on the way, and when she sees her teacher with a bag over her head, she rushes immediately to help.

Rare photo of Cordelia Chase caring about another human being.
The fact that it’s Cordelia finding her is very, very important here. Consider what we’ve seen of Cordelia in this episode. She cares about nothing and no one but herself. She’s a ruthless political strategist, hungry for power even when there is really none to be had. She believes she’s owed the adulation of her peers, she’s co-opted the trauma of others to take on the role of victim herself, and she has no self awareness. Plus, she stole Marcie’s toupee joke, and it wasn’t even a good joke to begin with, so why bother stealing it? At this point, we’re rooting for Cordelia to get murdered by Marcie, because she’s horrible. If she had just stood there, screaming, without trying to help the teacher, it would have pushed her over a very crucial line. If a character is generally not a dick, but they don’t react well in a crisis, an audience can forgive them. If we’ve seen a character act super dickish for an entire episode- especially if the story also includes meditations on dickishness past from the POV of the victim of the aforementioned dickery- then the audience isn’t going to forgive that character if she sees someone dying or possibly dead and she doesn’t try to help.
At the same time, we’re also starting to lean away from Marcie as a sympathetic figure. It was easy to sympathize with her before. She beat up a super unlikeable guy with a baseball bat. She pushed Harmony down the stairs, just as she was about to be mean to Buffy. And she’s been “missing” for six months, living in the school, watching her classmates have lives all around her, untroubled by her absence. We’re starting to feel bad for Marcie, despite her violent tendencies, and, hey! She didn’t kill Buffy, though she was clearly thinking about it.
But then we see Marcie try to murder her teacher in cold blood. And why? Because the teacher is superficially connected to Cordelia in some way? Things are starting to feel not right, and the pattern of Marcie’s violence is escalating. A few whacks with a baseball bat, and she stopped before she killed Mitch. Pushing Harmony down the stairs might have just been a misguided attempt at a non-fatal injury to scare her; maybe Marcie didn’t know how dangerous a fall like that could be. But we’ve seen her pick up a knife and hold it above Buffy’s back. Now, we’ve seen her purposely try to suffocate a teacher. She’s not doing these things just to get attention. She’s trying to get revenge.

This is my design.

Cordelia saves the teacher’s life, and they watch in horror as a piece of chalk writes “LISTEN” on the board.

In the library, Buffy shows the other Scoobies Marcie’s yearbook. Things in Marcie’s yearbook looks… bleak:

Willow: “Oh my god. ‘Have a nice summer.’ ‘Have a nice summer.’ This girl had no friends at all.” 

Giles: “Uh, once again I teeter at the precipice of the generation gap.”

Buffy: “‘Have a nice summer’ is what you write when you have nothing to say.”

Buffy asks Willow and Xander if they knew Marcie. They deny it, and Buffy points out that they both wrote “Have a nice summer” in Marcie’s yearbook. Okay, in Willow’s defense, she wrote “have a great summer,” but she’s still horrified to realize that they both had four classes with Marcie the year before and still have no recollection of her. Due to something Giles explains with quantum mechanics rather than mystical forces- okay, score one point against #13 on that one- that because Marcie was perceived as invisible, she became invisible.

Of course, Buffy has a throwaway line about living on a Hellmouth and mystical energy, and I’m like, come one, guys. Even the X-Files occasionally had an episode where it wasn’t aliens.

We see a flashback to Marcie in English class with the teacher she just tried to murder. Though she keeps putting her hand up, the teacher is calling on everyone except her. And then shit starts to get real:

Buffy: “This isn’t some great power that she can control. It’s something that was done to her. That we did to her.”

And as Buffy suspected, Marcie’s end goal is doing something horrible to Cordelia. This is something Cordelia has figured out, as well, and she runs into the library to beg for Buffy’s help in a way only Cordelia could:

Cordelia: “I knew you’d be here. Buffy… I, uh, I know we’ve had our differences, with you being so weird and all, and hanging out with these total losers… ooh. Well, anyway, despite all of that, I know that you share this feeling that we have for each other deep down.”

Willow: “Nausea?”

Cordelia: “Somebody is after me! They just tried to kill Mrs. Miller- she was helping me with my homework- and Mitch and Harmony… this is all about me! Me, me, me!”

Cordelia figured from the super strength, the weapons, and the fact that Buffy’s around whenever weird stuff happens, that Buffy is in a gang. She’s looking for protection, because she doesn’t know what else to do. Oh, and Giles points out that she’s never been in the library before. So, I guess Cordelia is street smart, instead of book smart. Buffy gives in and decides to help her. Despite the numerous times we’ve seen Cordelia in the same place as Marcie and interacting with her, when Buffy shows Cordelia a photo, she can’t remember Marcie.

In her hidey hole, Marcie is ranting to no one about how Cordelia and all her “slut friends” ruined Marcie’s life. She’s going to make them “learn,” and as she says this she reveals a rope and a doctor bag.

Marcie shops at Clayton’s hardware.

The Scoobies figure that whatever Marcie is going to do will happen at the May Queen coronation at The Bronze that night. Wait a minute, is The Bronze like The Max on Saved By The Bell? Is it owned by or a part of the school somehow? I can’t believe a local high school would have a school function in a warehouse bar.
Because Marcie is, in Cordelia’s own words, “way eviler than me,” Cordelia refuses to skip the coronation and let Marcie win. Buffy decides the best course of action should be to use Cordelia as bait to draw Marcie out, while Xander, Willow, and Giles keep researching a way to cure her.
In the hallway, Cordelia expresses sympathy for Marcie, saying she understands how terrible it feels to be lonely:

Cordelia: “Hey. You think I’m never lonely because I’m so cute and popular? I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It’s not like any of them really know me. I don’t even know if they like me half the time. People just want to be in a popular zone. Sometimes when I talk, everyone’s so busy agreeing with me, they don’t hear a word I say.”

Buffy: “Well if you feel so alone, then why do you work so hard at being popular?”

Cordelia: “Well it beats being alone all by yourself.”

So now we’re starting to get a sense of what Cordelia is really like. Being popular is only important to her because she’s afraid of being alone. No matter how little we care for Cordelia, we have to sympathize with her here. And as Marcie becomes more destructive, and Cordelia becomes more constructive (opening up to and trusting people who aren’t “in a popular zone”), now the audience should become less supportive of Marcie, and come over to Cordelia’s side a bit.

In the library, Xander, Giles, and Willow hear flute music, and they rush to the source, hoping to catch Marcie and, between the three of them, subdue her. But when they find the source of the music coming from a tape recorder in the school’s basement, they realize they’ve been trapped. They’re sealed in a locked room with a gas leak and the most boring flute recital recording ever.

God, I HATE the flute!

Meanwhile, Buffy is pouring her heart out through the door of a mop closet Cordelia is changing in. When Cordelia’s snappy barbs turn to the sounds of struggle, Buffy breaks the door and finds Cordelia being abducted through Jenny’s boxelder bug nightmare the ceiling.
In the basement, the Scoobies find their predicament is just a little more dire than they thought. The gas is not only leaking, but the handle to turn it off is broken, and they can’t break down the metal doors because a spark could cause an explosion in the room that is rapidly filling with gas.
Buffy finds Cordelia theatrically staged in the ceiling nest in an oddly romantic, fairytale princess kind of way:

What’s Buffy/Cordelia fanfic called? Cuffy? Coffy? Bordelia?
She’s so concerned with helping Cordelia that she isn’t aware of Invisible Marcie, who kicks her ass through the ceiling, then knocks her out with a syringe full of something.
At The Bronze, Buffy and Cordelia have woken up tied to the coronation thrones on the stage. Cordelia is panicking because she can’t feel her face. Oh, and this is also going on, so… that’s ominous:

Marcie’s evil impulses were once controlled through arts and crafts therapy, hence the glitter.

Despite their weakness from the gas, the Scoobies are still trying to escape their doom. Giles cuts the hell out of his hand wrestling with the valve, and he and Xander improvise a battering ram that won’t cause a spark. Willow holds the floor down with her ass, because I guess the director couldn’t figure out anything helpful for her to do. Nobody is getting out of this room alive.
At The Bronze, Marcie does some monologuing and unveiling of surgical tools. The gist of all of this is, she’s going to cut up Cordelia’s face in revenge for Cordy being so beautiful and popular.

Marcie: “You should be grateful. People who pass you on the street are gonna remember you for the rest of their lives. Children will dream about you. And every one of your friends who comes to the coronation tonight will take the sight of the May Queen to their graves.”

So, to the pain, then?

Oh, and the reason Cordy’s face is numb? It’s loaded up with local anesthetic so she can be awake for her entire disfigurement.

This is some Red Dragon shit.

While the Scoobies start to valiantly die together, Cordelia tries to talk Marcie out of Why-So-Serious-ing her:

 This does not have the intended effect.

Down in the basement, Giles has nearly succumbed to the gas, and he’s just kind of slapping at the door in futility when out of no where, Angel is there to rescue them. He arrived via basement to give Giles The Codex, and he smelled gas. Because Angel can’t breathe, he’s the perfect guy to fix the gas leak while Willow, Giles, and Xander stumble to safety, gas drunk.

Buffy decides that although she had sympathy for Marcie before, she doesn’t now because Marcie is “a thundering looney.”

You know what I want to add? #14: Mental illness is treated poorly. From everything we’ve seen in the story so far, we should hate Cordelia and love Marcie. After all, Marcie is just a vigilante, right? Getting revenge on the people who wronged her in an unfair system? Cordelia is responsible for Marcie’s invisibility, at least in part. And she’s proven to be a self-centered, cold person, despite a slightly small, kinda chewy loneliness center. But we care about her, because the last time we saw her, she was pouring her heart out as a victim of her own popularity. The last time we saw Marcie, she was raving and jabbering to herself. And nobody likes a crazy person, I think my fellow mentally ill people know that all too well. So, we wind up with our title character declaring that she can’t be sympathetic to someone who is mentally ill, and that’s a good reason to beat her up. No, Buffy. A good reason to beat her up is because she’s attempted to murder people. Not because she’s “crazy.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the last time we’re going to see #14. It will figure in heavily in season 5, as well.

In order to fight Marcie, Buffy has a very special moment of zen that lasts five seconds, at least:

Uh, doesn’t Marcie have a whole bunch of surgical tools right there? Might want to keep an eye on those.
Then, she does what I suggested ages ago: she punches Marcie, manages to hit her, knocks her backward and under a curtain. Or, just workshopping a little bit here… maybe Buffy could have just ripped the curtain down and thrown it over Marcie in the first place. Or, she could have flipped that tray of surgical instruments in her general direction. That shit was sharp, something had to stick, or maybe she would have grabbed something to fight with, revealing her location.
I feel like Slayers aren’t as cut out for invisible girl wrangling as snarky bloggers are.
Buffy knocks Marcie out, and the MIB from earlier bust down the door. So, basically, thanks for getting here on time. Although, Angel fans take note: one of the MIB introduces himself as “Agent Doyle.” Coincidence? Extremely likely, but someone can do something fannish with that, I’m certain.
The agents are from the FBI. They assure Buffy that they can help make Marcie a helpful member of society again, and Buffy realizes that this isn’t the first time this bullshit has gone down. 
At school, Buffy asks Willow, Giles, and Xander how they escaped the boiler room, but before Xander can tell her the truth, Giles jumps in and says it was a janitor. No mention of Angel, whatsoever. Cordelia stops by to thank them, and she does, but when Mitch sees her talking to the core four, she blows them off and calls them a social leper colony. Xander makes a glib remark about “where’s an invisible girl when you need her?” and we see Marcie being led by the FBI agents to a classroom full of other invisible children, where she’ll be getting a much different education:

Hey… anybody think this is foreshadowing for the Initiative?


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Do you ever have one of those moments where you think, “I should do [x] before [y] happens,” and then, before you can do anything else, [y] happens and you’re like, “Fuck you, self. Why didn’t you warn me in time?”

Last night, I lost all of The Girlfriend and The Stranger. 
Through the help of my miracle tweeps, I was able to recover all of The Girlfriend and 3,000 words of The Stranger, which had been sitting at 17k, but I’ll take what I can get!
Thank you so much to everyone who talked me through this on Twitter all night long. I was up until six in the morning trying to save The Stranger, but ultimately I had to give up. However, when you guys are reading The Girlfriend, be sure to thank your lucky stars for Twitter user I Am The Liquor, who saved every piece of it.
I’m about to throw I Am The Liquor a goddamned parade, LOL!

Sudden and unexpected blog hiatus

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Something wretched has happened to me. I think I have food poisoning. I’ll be back if I don’t die. Recap of Buffy is on hold. Recap of 50 Shades Freed is on hold, because I’m nauseated enough.

Sorry, guys.

ETA: I am no longer dying, but if I don’t wind up P90X ripped from the workout my chest and abdomen got last night, I’m going to be piiiiiiiiissed. Look for a Buffy recap and a late edition of Roadhouse on Monday.

As for everyone who suggested I was intentionally poisoning myself to avoid reading 50 Shades Freed… that’s actually quite a good idea.

Amazon and The Big Damn Beta Reader Post

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If you follow me on twitter, or if you were awakened this morning by what sounded like the screams of a thousand beansidhe wailing for the future of original fiction and fandom in one long, desperate howl, then you’re aware that Amazon is a nest of fucking vampires who will not rest until they suck the very life out of the industry that built them. I’m speaking, of course, about the new Kindle Worlds program, a venue for fanfic writers who really don’t give a shit about the creations they’re purporting to love to exploit the fuck out of fandom and sell what in the past has always been given away for free out of integrity and a need to not get sued. You can read about the fucking travesty here at The Mary Sue, although they take a much different view of this bullshit than I do.

I was going to come here and write a scathing post about why this is shitty and why it will harm both fandom and original fiction, but you know what? I am tired of feeling like Ned Stark at King’s Landing. I’m not going to be the Hand of the King on this one. If readers and ficcers want to be Robert Baratheon and refuse to see that the boar of paid fanfiction is wearing Amazon’s Lannister colors…

Wait. Let me dial my nerd back a little.

Basically, I’m not going to rant on the subject (at least here; my twitter account is going to be bitter and terrible for A WHILE), because it has yet to do me any good other than getting a nice mad on and whipping you all up in an angry frenzy. Instead, I’m going to do something constructive that I’ve been considering for a little while.

Ever since I started recapping 50 Shades last year (Jesus, a year. A year of my fucking life) I have had requests to read people’s original fiction and fanfiction. Some of you have written to me asking if I can be as critical of your work as I am of 50, and that’s very flattering. However, everyone has gotten a no. Not because I don’t love and care about you all, dear readers, but I just don’t have the time to fulfill these requests. I write about forty-thousand words a month, excluding the 50 and Buffy recaps, so I really just don’t have time left over for stuff like beta reading or leaving the house or showering.

In my spare time (which exists in the same magical realm as dragons and unicorns and plus-sized jeans that aren’t made of stretch material that make them super fall-downish), I’m the president of a not-for-profit group that seeks to help writers at all stages of their careers. We have a mentor program, in which an author further along in their career helps someone who is either just starting out or is stuck and doesn’t know the next step or whatever, and sometimes that turns into a beta reading relationship. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, but you can credit one of the blog regulars, Thea K, with giving me the mental push into, “Oh yeah, I could do this” land.

If so many of you are looking for beta readers… why not pair y’all up HERE?

So, this is how it’s going to work:

  1. Leave a brief comment with the genre, word count (or estimated word count), and a one sentence description of your work. That’s really all that someone needs to know whether or not their project is for you. “High Fantasy, 100k, a girl embarks on a quest to avenge her father, murdered by a wizard.”
  2. Leave people some way of getting ahold of you. Your twitter (if your account is unprotected), your facebook, your GoodReads account, your email address (youraddress at domain dot com, to avoid spambots) so that if someone is interested in beta reading your work, they can find you.
  3. Volunteer to read someone else’s work. This will only be beneficial to everyone if everyone participates and volunteers their time. You can work it out between yourselves and set your own limits, whether you’re looking for someone to read a chapter at a time or the whole work in one piece, and what you’re willing to do in return. But you have to give something back, either to the person who volunteers or another person in the comments section.
  4. Leave a follow up comment when you have a reader. This is for two reasons: one, so you don’t keep getting people offering you help when other people on the list are waiting, and so there’s a record that someone read your work, in case something… untoward goes down. Which leads us to the next and final step:
  5. Don’t be a dick. Don’t plagiarize, don’t leak chapters, don’t mock people, just don’t. Don’t be a dick. I think most of us here are not dicks, so this should be a pretty easy one to follow.
This is not a fanfic beta reader search. It’s easier to find a reader in fandom to beta your fandom works. Go through those message boards and channels instead. This is for original fiction only.
With that said, I’ll just leave the rest of it in your hands. If you’re looking for a beta and this post helps, awesome. If it all collapses like one of Clara’s souffles, then whatever. At this point, I just want to do whatever I can to help original fiction writers. It seems pretty clear that it’s going to get more difficult for all of us as the industry leans toward the joys of destroying fiction in general.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have some Valjean/Javert “What if they were gay and also in high school?” fanfic I need to polish off so I can make thirty-nine bajillion dollars.

50 Shades Freed chapter 16 recap, or “Blind to Recursion”

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The other day, I got the most delightful tweet:

The description DRF is talking about is:

I sit on the barstool beside my husband, who just looks radiant: freshly showered, his hair damp, wearing a crisp white shirt and that silver-gray tie. My favorite tie. I have fond memories of that tie.

And the picture that resulted?

Well done, my friend. Well done.

Also, Thea K believes this link will be of particular interest to everyone, and I am inclined to agree. It’s an E! documentary on 50 Shades of Grey. I tried to watch it, but they said the book was selling at a rate of 1 per second, and I had to turn it off because I’m trying not to self harm anymore.

So, Ana has just learned that Leila, the ex sub who broke into her house and pulled a gun on her, and broke into Christian’s house just to lurk around and be generally creepy, is in the building at SIP. Hanna asks Ana if she should send her away, and Ana says no. Leila is in reception, with someone else. Prescott wants to speak to Ana:

Hanna stands aside, and Prescott enters my office. She’s on a mission, bristling with professional efficiency.

When other people are professional, it’s a positive thing. When Prescott does it, she’s “bristling.”

“Mrs. Grey, Leila Williams is on your proscribed list of visitors.”

“What?” I have a proscribed list?

No, Ana. Nobody is that controlling, right? Maybe that’s why we haven’t seen Jose in a while. Maybe he’s proscribed.

Take a minute to think about how really, truly scary this is. Ana is constantly surrounded by security, allegedly for her own “protection.” But now we know there are a list of people who are never allowed to come near her. Ana didn’t know about this list; for all she knows, people who love and care about her have tried to contact her, only to be turned away, and Ana would never know. Her husband is literally keeping her a prisoner.

There is a reason handcuffs are on the cover of this book, and it has nothing to do with kinky fuckery.

I frown, not understanding. “Is she dangerous?”

Hold up, Ana. She pulled a gun on you, like, three months ago. She broke into your then-boyfriend’s house to watch you sleep. I would say she’s probably not not dangerous.

We find out that the only reason Ana knows Leila is in the building is because she happened to come in when Prescott was taking a pee break.

I realize that even Prescott has to pee, and I laugh. “Oh dear.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Prescott gives me an embarrassed grin, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a chink in her armor. She has a lovely smile.

Ah, Ana. You are nothing if not predictably horrible. She has never had a single nice thing to say about Prescott up until now. Then Prescott fails at something, and Ana can compliment her. Ana can only like other women if she perceives them to be less competent than she is. Now that Prescott has made a mistake, Ana is free to think a single positive thought about her.

Ana knows that Christian is going to be informed of Leila’s presence, and she desperately- for some reason that is never made clear- wants to see Leila. The person she was terrified of all through the last book. The woman who pulled a gun on her and had to go into a mental health facility just a few months before. Time is short, because Ana knows Christian is going to send Taylor and put the whole situation on lockdown. Setting aside the fact that Leila really was a danger to Ana in the past, you are now reading a “romance” in which a woman is playing beat-the-clock in order to talk to someone her husband, the “romantic hero” has forbidden her from talking to.

Furthering our themes of “you have got to be fucking kidding me” and “absolutely none of this bullshit makes sense,” Ana has Hannah show Leila and her companion into the conference room so Prescott can frisk them. This is all going down at work. Now, I know that Ana isn’t worried about getting fired, because Christian plans on giving her the entire company, but she isn’t at all worried about looking unprofessional? Because meeting with your husbands’ ex in the conference room doesn’t exactly scream, “I’m super invested in my career and I won’t let my personal life get in the way of it.”

Hannah reminds Ana she has an appointment across town at four, and Ana tells her to cancel it. Spoiler alert, it’s another appointment for her birth control shot.

What the hell does Leila want? I don’t think she’s here to do me any harm. She didn’t in the past when she had the opportunity.

Except for when she broke in to watch you sleep and when she pulled a gun on you. But let’s face it, Ana has no clue what constitutes harm, otherwise she wouldn’t be married right now.

Christian is going to go nuts. My subconscious purses her lips, primly crosses her legs, and nods. I need to tell him that I am doing this.

I’m sure that will mitigate any damage.

Ana sends an email to Christian telling him she’s going to meet with Leila and she’ll slap her if she has to. No, really:

I’ll use my newly acquired slapping skills with my now-healed hand, should I need to.

Tee hee, she’s tough, tee hee, let’s joke about the woman who committed B&E to threaten you.

I stand, smoothing my gray pencil skirt over my hips, pinch my cheeks to give them some color, and undo the next button on my gray silk blouse.

Is she trying to fuck Leila? Because it sounds like she’s trying to fuck Leila.

Also, don’t pinch your cheeks to put color in them.

Because this.

Welcome to mental health stereotypes 101, wherein we will discuss obvious and easily avoidable stereotypes about mental illness, and how slotting them into your fiction will be much simpler than writing a character’s actions in such a way that shows healing or development through treatment:

Leila looks much better. More than better- she’s very attractive. There’s a rosy bloom to her cheeks, and her brown eyes are bright, her hair clean and shiny.

Because people who are mentally ill are always visibly so, by being unattractive, ashen, and greasy haired, of course.

There’s another woman with Leila: Susi, who is another of Chedward’s ex-subs. Hannah enters and tells Ana that Christian is on the phone, and even though Hannah is just Ana’s assistant, she’s pretty insistent. Which means Hannah probably knows that if Ana doesn’t take the call, her job is on the line, because these two assholes treat people like they’re fucking disposable. Ana doesn’t take the call, and says she’ll call him back shortly.

Susi speaks. “I know this is all kinds of weird, but I wanted to meet you, too. The woman who captured Chris- “

I hold up my hand, stopping her in mid-sentence. I do not want to hear this. “Um… I get the picture,” I mutter.

“We call ourselves the sub club.” She grins at me, her eyes shining with mirth.

 So, is this a survivor’s group? Because it kind of seems like they’re there for an intervention or something.

Susi leaves so Leila and Ana can talk alone, and we find out that Leila’s nickname is apparently Lulu, which is fucking stupid because it’s exactly the same number of syllables as Leila and also, why do we need to know her nickname? Why is she even here? What is the point of this?

Susi and Christian… it’s not a thought I wish to dwell on.

But you probably will.

Prescott hands her phone to Ana. Of course, it’s Christian:

“What the fuck are you playing at?” he shouts. He’s seething.

Don’t shout at me.”

“What do you mean, don’t shout at you?” he shouts, louder this time. “I gave specific instructions which you have completely disregarded- again. Hell, Ana, I am fucking furious.”

Ana tells Christian she’ll talk to him when he’s calmer, then hangs upon him. Let’s all keep in mind, Ana is having all of this go down at work. She’s on the phone to her husband, telling him not to shout at her, as she stands outside the conference room. How humiliating is all of this for Ana? And none of this, not Prescott, not Leila, not shouty phone calls, has anything to do with her. It would be awesome if Ana would get frustrated with this and acknowledge the fact, then come to terms with whether or not this is a life she wants. Then she and Christian could actually work on their relationship, which would be a better and more believable story than constantly running from cartoon villains.

Leila has come because she wants to apologize for breaking into Ana’s apartment and fucking up her car, and to thank her for not pressing charges. Not that Ana had any choice in the matter; Christian is so anti-police that I’m pretty sure his mom’s pimp was a crooked cop or something. Ana asks Leila if her doctor knows she’s there, and the answer is no, because what legit doctor is going to say, “Oh, you want to find the person you tried to kill like three months ago and confront her in person unsupervised? That’s a great idea, pack your bags!”

She looks suitably guilty. “I know I’ll have to deal with the fallout for this later. But I had to get some things, and I wanted to see Susi, and you, and… Mr. Grey.”

You want to see Christian?” My stomach free-falls to the floor. That’s why she’s here.

Leila claims she wanted to ask Ana’s permission to see Christian, because apparently Leila also has amnesia and doesn’t remember how this shit works.

“Leila.” I flounder, exasperated. “It’s not up to me, it’s up to Christian. You’ll need to ask him. He doesn’t need my permission. He’s a grown man… most of the time.”

She gazes at me for a fraction of a beat as if surprised by my reaction and then laughs softly, nervously twiddling the ends of her hair.

“He’s repeatedly refused all my requests to see him,” she says quietly.

Oh shit. I’m in more trouble than I thought.

Why are you in more trouble, Ana? You couldn’t possibly have known that Christian didn’t want to see her, because he never once told you that she was trying to contact him.

I’m sorry, but I’m getting to the point with these books that I feel like I’m just saying the same thing over and over again, and that same thing is always just, “Christian is a huge dick.” He’s being contacted, apparently more than once, by his ex who tried to kill Ana. And he hasn’t mentioned this to Ana! What the hell?! If Ana gets a phone call from Jose, Christian acts like she ran out and vengeance fucked thirty-five people, but his murderous exes can call him, that’s fine? I’m so tired of this book, you guys. I’m just tired of this whole thing.

This is me right now. And no, I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic, why do you ask?

Ana asks Leila why it’s so important for her to see Christian, and Leila says that if it weren’t for Christian and Dr. Flynn, she would be in prison right now.

Once again I’m speechless. What does she expect me to say? Surely she should be saying these things to Christian, not to me.

“And for art school. I can’t thank him enough for that.”

I knew it! Christian is funding her classes. I remain expressionless, tentatively exploring my feelings for this woman now that she’s confirmed my suspicions about Christian’s generosity.

And your suspicions that Christian’s money isn’t really your money, after all. My husband and I put our money together; it’s just easier for us than keeping track of who is going to pay what, and it works for us. Our money is our money. If one of us decided we were going to pay for someone else’s education, we’d damn sure have to tell the other spouse about our plans. If Christian truly believed that what is his is also Ana’s, he’d have told her about paying for art school for Leila with what is, according to him, Ana’s money.

To my surprise, I feel no ill will toward her.

To my surprise, too, because it’s completely out of character to the point of being entirely unbelievable. Ana dislikes all women for imagined slights; this woman has an actual connection to Christian.

It’s a revelation, and I’m glad she’s better. Now, hopefully, she can move on with her life and out of ours.

She’s not better. If she were better, she wouldn’t have shown up at Ana’s work in the hopes of seeing Christian. If she were better, she would see how unhealthy her behavior is.

Ana asks Leila if she’s missing classes, and Leila tells her that she is, but only two because she’s leaving Seattle the next day. She also mentions that Christian has two of her paintings.

What the hell! My stomach plunges into the basement once more. Are they hanging in my living room? I bridle at the thought.

That’s a weird word choice, isn’t it? In this context, she could mean she lifted her chin to express resentment, or she took offense. There has to be a clearer verb to use there.

Leila asks Ana if they can speak frankly, then she launches into her personal life, telling Ana she loved her dead boyfriend, her husband, and Christian.

This is not news to me. When she lifts her brown eyes to mine, they are wide with conflicting emotions, and the overriding one seems to be apprehension… of my reaction, perhaps? But my overwhelming response to this poor young woman is compassion.

This sudden shift in characterization makes no sense at all. So far, all we have seen of Ana is that she feels every single woman on Earth is a threat. Even when they’ve had no contact whatsoever with Christian except in very minor capacities required by their jobs. Women whose names he will never even know are out to take him from Ana, so she has to be possessive and give them hateful nicknames. But here is a woman who was not only in an intimate relationship with Chedward, but she was in love with him and willing to kill him. Ana being totally unthreatened by her makes no fucking sense whatsoever, and at this point, we’re reading about a totally different character. And she still sucks.

Mentally I run through all the classical literature I can think of that deals with unrequited love.

Given Ana’s definition of romance as it pertains to classical literature, I assume the books she’s thinking of are Mein Kampf and Frankenstein.

“I know, he’s very easy to love,” I whisper.

Her wide eyes widen further in surprise, and she smile. “Yes. He is – was.” She corrects herself quickly and blushes. Then she giggles so sweetly that I can’t help myself. I giggle, too. Yes, Christian Grey makes us giggly.

 Again- and I am loathe to point this out- a waitress even flutters her eyelashes because the air conditioning vent is on too strong and Ana is ready to blind her for the crime of gazing upon the perfection that is Christian Grey. Leila admits to being in love with Christian and it’s happy giggles slumber party times?

Ana’s characterization does a complete 180 in the middle of the last book of the series? Well, of fucking course. Because that’s just how these books roll, and you can either roll with it or get rolled over. So strap in, because Saint Ana, Our Lady of Sisterly Protection, has stepped into the role previously occupied by Ana, Hater of Blondes and Scourge of Seattle.

My subconscious rolls her eyes at me in despair and goes back to reading her dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre.

So, what this is not so subtly trying to tell us is that Leila is the crazy wife in the attic and Ana is Jane.

“You’ll get your chance to see Christian.”

“I thought I would. I know how protective he can be.” She smiles.

So this is her scheme. She’s very shrewd. Or manipulative, whispers my subconscious. “This is why you’re here to see me?”

I would pay money to hear Amy Poehler do an audio book of 50 Shades of Grey in the most sarcastic tone possible.

Ana, what is wrong with you? OBVIOUSLY she’s there to see Christian. You’re not important to Leila. How myopic is your world view that you honestly thought this visit had anything to do with Leila wanting to make amends with you?

Reluctantly, I have to acknowledge that she knows him well.

She was probably with him longer than you have been, Ana!

Leila tells Ana that Christian seemed happy with her on those occasions that Leila broke into his apartment to spy on them.

Do I want to hear this? A shudder runs through me. My scalp prickles as I recall my fear when she was the unseen shadow in our apartment.

She wasn’t unseen. You saw her. WORDS MEAN THINGS.

Christian arrives, as Leila was anticipating:

Christian’s burning gray gaze pins first me then Leila to our chairs. His demeanor is quietly determined, but I know better, and I suspect Leila does, too. The menacing cool glint in his eyes reveals the truth- he’s emanating rage, though he hides it well. 

Well, if he’s emanating it, he’s not hiding it, is he?

Could you imagine working at SIP? Some random woman just started working there, gets promoted to editor within a week, and now her husband is bursting in unannounced and causing a scene just, you know, whenever? What a stressful environment.

“You,” he says to Prescott in a soft tone. “You’re fired. Get out now.”

I blanch. Oh no- this isn’t fair.

Oh, for fuck’s sake, Ana, make up your damned mind. You have been lobbying for this woman’s termination for fucking ever, now she’s fired, and you don’t want her to be? Oh, wait, I’m trying to assign past Ana’s actions to St. Ana, when she’s CLEARLY not the same character.

Leila peeks up at him through long lashes,


He stands, glowering at her. “Leila, if you come anywhere near my wife again, I will cut off all support. Doctors, art school, medical insurance- all of it- gone. Do you understand?”

“Christian-” I try again. But he silences me with a chilling look. Why is he being so unreasonable? My compassion for this sad woman blooms.

Because you’re viewing your own victimization as it’s happening to another person.  There’s really nothing else to say about that point. It is what it is.

Christian grills Leila about the purpose of her visit, why Susi is there, and if Susi knew about Leila’s stalking spree when it was going on.

“I had to know.” And for the first time she looks up directly at him.

“Had to know what?” he snaps.

 “That you’re okay.”

He gapes at her. “That I’m okay?” he scoffs, disbelieving.


Okay, this is an example of a writer who needs to do some word economizing. This is an easy hole to fall into, because what’s happening is E.L. is writing the way people talk. A lot of writers do this, I’m sure I’ve done it before, but when you have a conversation like the one above, the reader is going to notice how repetitious it is, and they’re going to get annoyed with it. This is a place that could definitely have been trimmed. It could have looked like:

“I had to know.” And for the first time she looks up directly at him.

“Had to know what?” he snaps.

“That you’re okay.”

and then he could go on to say the next part, about being fine. Or, it could have looked like this:

“I had to know.” And for the first time she looks up directly at him. “That you’re okay.”

So many words could have been trimmed there. So, writers, don’t fall into this very easy trap. Readers don’t like to read characters repeating dialogue, even though people actually talk like that.

“I’m fine. There, question answered. Now Taylor will run you to Sea-Tac so you can go back to the East Coast. And if you take one step west of the Mississippi, it’s all gone. Understand?”

*Raises hand* No. I don’t understand. What’s gone if she crosses the Mississippi? The east coast? Will the east coast be gone? Because that’s what that says. I don’t want that to happen, so I really hope Leila stays put.

“It might not be convenient for Leila to go back now. She has plans,” I object, outraged on her behalf.

Christian glares at me. “Anastasia,” he warns, his voice icy, “this does not concern you.”

This is the exact face I’m making right now. I look super handsome.

How does this not concern Ana? She’s the very object of your concern in this situation, Christian.
What if Leila and Susi came to rescue Ana? To steal her away and induct her into the “Sub Club,” an organization that finds and gelds abusive rich men? That would be awesome.

“This is the Christian Grey I know,” she says, her tone sad and wistful. Christian frowns at her, while all the breath evaporates from my lungs. I can’t breathe. Was Christian like this with her all the time? Was he like this with me, at first? I find it hard to remember.

He’s like this with you NOW, you daffy- UUUUURRRRRGGGH! This is not how you show character development for Christian Grey! Just having Ana say, “Oh, gosh, I don’t remember how abusive he is and was!” doesn’t make Christian magically not an abuser anymore or not an abuser in the past.

Christian asks when Leila’s flight leaves, and tells her he’ll send someone to Susi’s house take her to the airport. I like how he just inserts himself in other people’s plans like that. Shows he really knows how to be a dickbag.

I glare at Christian. He can’t dictate to her like this… and how does he know where Susannah lives?

There’s the Ana I remember! Weird and suspicious because Christian knows where one of his exes lives. Which is a totally normal thing to know, if you’ve been in a relationship with someone.

Leila leaves- although she says “Yes, Sir,” to Christian on her way out, which made me “What the hell?” because it kind of shows that Leila isn’t as better as she says she is.

After Leila leaves, Ana tries to preempt Christian’s anger:

“Don’t even think about being angry with me,” I hiss. “Call Claude Bastille and kick the shit out of him or go see Flynn.”

I guess this is the first time I’m noticing how obvious a name Claude Bastille is. I suppose Jacques Fromage was simply absurd.

“You promised me you wouldn’t do this.” Now his tone is accusatory.

“Do what?”

“Defy me.”

Well, it probably would have been easier for her to not defy you by seeing Leila if you had let her know she had a “proscribed” list of who is and isn’t allowed to be near her. Which, by the way, is still so fucked up that I can’t get my head around it. But this is a new and exciting area of abuse for this couple; now he gets to make rules without telling her, and emotionally punish her when she disobeys them!

The thing that’s really bothering Ana here is Christian’s attitude toward Leila. She asks him why he was so dismissive and cruel to her, and Christian’s response is pure douchebag gold:

“Anastasia,” he says, as if to a child, “you don’t understand. Leila, Susannah- all of them- they were a pleasant, diverting pastime. But that’s all. You are the center of my universe. And the last time you two were in a room together, she had you at gunpoint. I don’t want her anywhere near you.”

Okay, I get him not wanting Ana around a woman who tried to shoot her. This part, I truly understand. What I don’t get is how he feels it is in any way acceptable to refer to women, to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, as pleasant, diverting pastimes. No, you simpleton. They are people, with feelings. GOSH I WONDER WHY LEILA WENT CRAZY AND WHY THEY HAVE A FUCKING SUPPORT GROUP TOGETHER.

Look, if there is one thing I’ve learned from romantic comedies, it’s that if your exes need to form a support group because of you, you’re doing something very wrong.

Ana points out that Leila was really, really mentally ill- no one notes that she probably still is, by the way. She’s just cured now. Keeping in mind we’re in, what, August? And she pulled the gun on Ana in June, probably? But I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure, that she’s 100% cured and this meeting with Christian and Ana won’t cause her any kind of setback.

“But you’ve just played right into her hands. She wanted to see you again, and she knew you’d come running if she came to see me.”

So, what you’re saying, Ana, is that Leila is not better at all. Because that was why she was stalking you in the first place, because she wanted to get Christian’s attention.

Christian shrugs as if he doesn’t care. “I don’t want you tainted with my old life.”

A chapter couldn’t go by without discussion of BDSM as a filthy thing only diseased perverts do, right? Ana is too good and pure to be “tainted” by his past lovers, the women who willingly engaged in and enjoyed BDSM.

Ana points out that Leila still cares about him, and his response:

“I don’t give a fuck.”

Again, I can see both sides of this. “I don’t give a fuck,” because you threatened my girlfriend with a gun, but at the same time, “I don’t give a fuck,” about a person you had a relationship with that wasn’t bad until she became mentally ill and dangerous (probably due in part to your abusive actions).

This is the Christian Grey I know. Leila’s words rattle around my head. His reaction to her was so cold, so much at odds with the man I’ve come to know and love.

The man who has a secret list of people who aren’t allowed to get near you, and you had no idea it existed or who is on it? The man who gave you so many hickeys on your honeymoon that you were embarrassed to wear a bathing suit, all because you accidentally sunbathed topless in France? The man who shamed you for your virginity and tried to get you to sign a sex contract so he could beat you in order to take out his anger at his dead mother? YEAH THIS SOUNDS NOTHING LIKE THE MAN YOU’VE COME TO KNOW AND LOVE.

“Look, Christian, I don’t think Leila and I will be swapping recipes and knitting patterns any time soon. But I didn’t think you’d be so heartless to her.”

His eyes frost. “I told you once, I don’t have a heart,” he mutters.

Ana doesn’t laugh directly in his face, which is what I would have done. But at least she sees through his bullshit and thinks that he’s being adolescent.

It’s painstakingly obvious that he cares. Why does he deny it? It’s like his feelings for his birth mother. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore. No wonder he’s so mad. I sigh and shake my head. Paging Dr. Flynn, please. How can he not see this?

He has an enormous blindspot, just like you do? Remember that whole, “This is nothing like the man I fell in love with” bullshit you tried to pull just a page ago? Also, it’s “painstakingly obvious that he cares?” As in, “It’s diligent and carefully obvious that he cares?” Yeah, that’s not the right word for that sentence.

Christian tells Ana that the discussion is over, and they’re going home, but it’s too early, Ana still has work.

“Home,” he insists.

“Christian.” My voice is weary. “I’m tired of having the same argument with you.”

He frowns as if he doesn’t understand.

“You know,” I elucidate, “I do something you don’t like, and you think of some way to get back at me. Usually involving some of your kinky fuckery, which is either mind-blowing or cruel.” I shrug, resigned. This is exhausting and confusing.

Christian seizes on “mind-blowing” and runs with it to distract Ana from the very real concern she’s brought up.

Crap! I do not want to discuss this in SIP’s meeting room. My subconscious examines her finely manicured nails with disdain. Shouldn’t have brought the subject up, then.

You’re right, subconscious. She should have just kept her mouth shut and not called Christian out on the fact that he uses sex to punish her. If she just ignored it, it would all go away. Because that’s what’s making her relationship so awesome right now.

So, because it’s worked in the past and will continue to work in the future, Christian decides to seduce Ana, running his finger over her lip and getting real close so he can talk softly in her ear.

Pursing my lips, I strive to appear unaffected by his touch. He is so artful at diverting me from anything painful, or anything he doesn’t want to address. And you let him, my subconscious pipes up unhelpfully, gazing over her copy of Jane Eyre.

I’m torn. On the one hand, her stupid subconscious has a point. Christian is doing this because he’s found this behavior affective in the past. On the other hand, I resent the implication that women should train men like they’re fucking toddlers. It’s a little too close to, “If I love him enough, he’ll change.”

Christian wants Ana to list off all the “mind-blowing” things he’s done to her, because god forbid she cease feeding his ego for even a moment. Then he tries again with the “come home” bullshit:

His lips curl in a slow carnal smile. “Come home.” His tone is seductive.

“I have work to do.”

“Home,” he says, more insistent.

We gaze at each other, molten grey into bewildered blue, testing each other, testing our boundaries and our wills I search his eyes for some understanding, trying to fathom how this man can go from raging control freak to seductive lover in one breath.

He didn’t. He’s still being a control freak, demanding that you come home and fuck him because he wants you to.

“We could stay here.” His voice is low and husky.

Oh no. No. No. No. Not in the office.

Remember in the first book, when they’re in the restaurant and he basically threatens to rape her there? And remember how everyone insisted that he’s suuuuuuch a different person in this book from the first one? He’s done this big emotional journey that turns him into a nice guy? Yeah, so basically if Ana doesn’t go home and fuck him, he’s going to try to seduce her here.

Ana says she doesn’t want to have sex in a room where his mistress has just been.

“Don’t overthink this, Ana. She’s history,” he says dismissively.

I sigh… maybe he’s right. I just want him to admit to himself that he cares for her. A chill grips my heart. Oh no. This is why it’s important to me. Suppose I do something unforgivable. Suppose I don’t conform. Will I be history, too? If he can turn like this, when he was so concerned and upset when Leila was ill… could he turn against me?

Yes. Yes he can.

“Oh, Christian, you scare me sometimes.” I grasp his head in my hands, twist my fingers into his hair, and pull his lips to mine. He stills for a moment as his arms fold around me.

How does he manage that? He’s either moving or not. He can’t do both.


“You could turn away from her so easily…”

He frowns. “And you think I might turn away from you, Ana? Why the hell would you think that? What’s brought this on?”

Then Ana goes, “Uh, just exactly what happened like two seconds ago, right here in this room.” And then Christian goes to the hospital because he has jerknesia.

Not really. What happens is:

“Nothing. Kiss me. Take me home,” I plead. And as his lips touch mine, I am lost.

So basically, his manipulative ploy worked again, and we’re once again being told that this is romantic. That if a woman doesn’t do exactly what a man wants, when he wants it, he can cast her aside like trash and that’s ROMANTIC.

They go home, they have sex, and she gets him to admit that he does care about Leila. Then there’s a section break, some emails that reveal it’s now three days later, and Jose senior calls Ana to tell her that Ray is in the hospital, presumably after an attempt on his own life in a desperate bid to escape this book. Hey. We needed MORE subplots in this mess, right?

ARCs of The Boss are now available for review

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Hey there everybody! I’ve got .pdf ARCs of The Boss available for reviewers. To request one, fill out this form.

I’m asking that only people who seriously want to review the book, either on their blog, or another blog they review for, or a GoodReads account, request ARCs. I’m not trying to be elitist or jerky and let some readers have something other readers don’t get, it’s just a signal boost for the book as we near the end and the release of the free ebook and the paperback version.

My Doctor Who Post-Season Finale Predictions

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Here are my predictions. I feel all of these could be true, or just a few of them.

1. The Great Intelligence is The Doctor. First of all, Richard Grant has already played The Doctor in Scream of The Shalka. Which is going to be released on DVD in September. You know, in plenty of time for new Who. So, you know. There’s a clue. We also know that at some point, The Doctor becomes The Valeyard. And we know that when The Great Intelligence entered The Doctor’s time stream, he fractured into a million pieces… just like Clara, who experienced birth, life, and death in several time lines. So, we could have very well seen The Great Intelligence growing up as a child and dying as a man in that snowman episode, while still being an incarnation of The Doctor.

2. Clara is also The Doctor. She entered his time stream, and went to a place where only The Doctor existed. But she was there. See also, the fracturing into a million pieces thing.

3. John Hurt’s version of The Doctor is an alternate timeline Nine who got trapped in the Time War. Because how would that not be the most fucking amazing thing you’ve ever heard of?

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to rewatch “The Name of The Doctor” then a marathon of 6th Doctor episodes. And I will eat all the cereal in the world.