Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E06 “Halloween”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will have a bruised tail bone due to laziness. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.

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

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State of The Trout: Updates for fans of The Boss

Hey everybody! I have some like, news and updates and junk about my erotic romance series, The Boss, and I figured I would get them all out there at one time and then hopefully not forget to announce junk and things.

Okay, so, first thing’s first: The Boss and The Girlfriend will be available for purchase as paperbacks in November. Previously, these were available through The Book Patch, but the shipping for anywhere outside the US was insanity. I’ve been told that by going through CreateSpace, I can lessen the shipping cost to non-American readers, so that’s what I’m going to be doing. Thanks everyone, for being so patient while I work out the kinks in this self-pub venture!

Update the second: New covers. When I started the series, I had this idea that it would be awesome for each cover to be a pattern, since Sophie is a fashion journalist. The metal grating on The Boss cover represents New York, the ornate pattern on The Girlfriend symbolized Neil’s wealth, and The Bride was going to have a beaded veil look to it. But then I started thinking about what The Baby was going to look like, and realized that a cover to go with that title would likely mislead a reader who wasn’t looking for hardcore, face-slapping, collar-wearing, orgasm torture BDSM. So before The Bride comes out, I want to revamp the covers and make them a little saucier, so that they do what it says on the tin. The paperbacks and digital editions are both getting new covers. Keep an eye out for the new covers in November.

#3 I hinted on Facebook and Twitter that something might be in the works for a holiday treat for readers. The Hook-Up is an all-new short story, set in the middle of The Bride. It’s a preview/missing scene, about (spoiler, highlight to read)[ a hot, Sophie-sanctioned M/M encounter between Neil and Emir while Neil is away on business. ]Now, some of you might be going, “What? It isn’t about Neil and Sophie?!” Well, it’s written in Neil’s POV, where I assure you, nearly everything is about Sophie. This will be a free Smashwords exclusive in December (you can download many formats from them and even read a .html version online) and hopefully it will tide you over and wet your… um, whistle, for The Bride, which comes out in March. For those of you who don’t want any spoilers, The Hook-Up will be included as bonus material in The Bride.

And finally, the big news…

I’ve been having a really difficult time writing The Bride. I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong with it, but something wasn’t clicking. It just didn’t feel right to me. And then, while folding laundry one day, I realized what I was doing wrong.

I had too much story to fit in the final two books.

The series was originally outlined as a four book series, The Boss, The Girlfriend, The Bride, and The Baby. But somehow, when I made my outline, I tried to cram too damn much into The Bride. I needed another book to bridge the gap. After some quick shuffling and brainstorming, the new series line-up is: The Boss, The Girlfriend, The Bride, The Exand The Baby. Adding another book has given me a chance to explore in more depth a story line I’m really excited about, and The Bride is right back on track. It’s funny how that happens sometimes, but wow, am I happy not to be in a blind panic anymore!

Okay. I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything. Direct questions/comments/concerns to… well, the comments section. I guess that was implied in the “questions/comments/concerns” part.

The Bechdel test, and why passing it isn’t as crucial as you may believe

The very first time I learned about the Bechdel test was way back in 1998, when I was deeply entrenched in the Labyrinth fanfic community. I was chatting via IM with a beta reader, who told me, with a sigh, that my latest fic did not pass said test. She explained patiently that because my story

  • Didn’t have at least two female characters
  • who had names
  • and interacted with each other
  • and who did so without the exchange having anything to do with a male character

it was not feminist and I should start over.

I was perplexed. At the time, I was seventeen, I’d never heard of feminism outside of debates about Hilary Clinton’s scandalous involvement in her husband’s presidency or Connie Chung co-anchoring the CBS news. How could a fanfiction be feminist or not feminist? I had a long way to go.

That was the first time I looked up “Bechdel test” to see what it really was. What I learned shocked me. One woman, writing a comic strip, used a character’s preference in films to point out the egregious oversight of female characters with three-dimensional real-world concerns in pop culture. It was a pithy, but entirely accurate, punch line about how Hollywood represents women on screen. And that was all.

I don’t mean to minimize the contribution of Alison Bechdel to feminism. Because this comic strip, “The Rule” really is a watershed moment in feminism and pop culture. It points out something that is right in front of our faces all of the time, but we usually can’t see it because our cultural conditioning makes us literally blind to it. But the Bechdel test, as it came to be known, somehow became the ultimate test of whether or not fiction was fit for feminist consumption, and there is no gray area. If it doesn’t pass, it’s “not feminist.” If it does, it’s “feminist.”

I got thinking about this last night as I was flipping through my DVDs and I came across The Silence of The Lambs. Now, I’m never going to accuse Thomas Harris of being a feminist visionary. If your only experience of his work is the television show Hannibal, just realize that most of the female characters on that show were dudes in the books. But Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling was one of my very first feminist role models. I remember watching that movie on VHS as a freshman in high school and thinking, “My god, this is a scary movie and the woman isn’t dying? And nobody is rescuing her?” And guess what? It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, despite being one of the very few movies you’re ever going to find that has a female protagonist who isn’t “trying to have it all.” Clarice is just a female protagonist doing her job, without romance or some looming reproductive clock.

Just don’t read Hannibal, because what in the actual fuck, Harris?

Along with The Silence of The LambsLabyrinth ultimately fails the test, as well. Although the entire narrative is about a young girl putting aside her dreams of being a damsel in distress in order to be the hero of her own story, it doesn’t pass the test I see my peers using to determine whether or not a piece of media is “feminist.”

Anyway, this got me thinking about what books and movies do pass the Bechdel test and yet are still packed with horrible, anti-female stereotypes and messages.  Like Sex and The City. One episode that stands out strongly in my mind is the one in which fashion-obsessed Carrie may lose her apartment because she’s spent all of her money on designer shoes, and her financial troubles cause a rift between herself and her friend Charlotte, who has alimony and a tony penthouse from the rich man she married. If we’re playing by the rules of “if it passes the Bechdel test, it’s feminist,” then there you have it.

You know what else passes the Bechdel test? Every. Single. 50 Shades of Grey book. All of them.

It’s not that the Bechdel test isn’t a useful shorthand for addressing gender inequality in media; it absolutely is. But what the Bechdel test does not do, no matter how one tries to justify it, is determine whether a piece of media is “feminist” or not. Yet that’s how it’s being used, over and over. This is a symptom of a feminist dialogue that routinely projects a very narrow view of what feminism “is,” a dialogue that is leaving all but the whitest, straightest, cisgender women out of the conversation. There is no room for argument or discussion, either something is feminist or it isn’t.

Alison Bechdel made an amazing point, that the role of women in fiction is to be focused on male characters. And that’s absolutely true.  But that’s all that comic is, an observation. It’s not a diagnostic tool for how to write your book or screenplay or how we should consume novels and television. If your work doesn’t include female characters talking about something other than dudes, examine why that is. If the answer is, “Because her love interest is the most important thing in her life!” then congratulations, jamming a conversation between her and her mother about how amazing her new car is just ain’t gonna fix the problem. And if the answer is “it legitimately doesn’t fit into the story I’m telling,” and your work doesn’t otherwise contain harmful anti-woman messages, your feminist card doesn’t get revoked.

And keep in mind, the comic strip itself is tongue-in-cheek. The movie the main character cites as playing along by her rule is Alien, and then only because two female characters talk about a monster. The entire point of the comic is that even when the woman gets what she wants, a movie where two female characters talk about something other than a man, it’s still not a representation of real women. It’s totally macho and made to fulfill male fantasy.

If you like a piece of media, and it passes the Bechdel test, there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out. And there’s nothing wrong with pointing out how a piece of fiction could have passed the Bechdel test with some tweaking. But we have to stop using Bechdel’s observation as a benchmark for what constitutes “feminist” fiction. Fiction, like feminism, is not “one size fits all experiences,” and it’s impossible to judge a nuanced medium through a black-and-white test and achieve anything resembling accuracy.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E05 “Reptile Boy”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will have a powerful craving for Hostess fruit pies. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.

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

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The “I Am Utterly Alone” Twitter Beetlejuice Watch-Together

If you don’t want to go to a Halloween party this year because it just seems like too much damn work, or you don’t like people, or you just haven’t been invited to a Halloween party, this is the event for you. Join your fellow citizens of Troutnation on twitter to watch the Tim Burton classic, Beetlejuice.

Image

Start your copy of the movie at 9:00PM EST (sorry, I know you all come from different time zones, but mama’s gotta sleep) on October 25th, and tweet about it using the hashtag #UtterlyAlone (thanks to @ShariSlade for the suggestion!). This will be a great chance to meet some new twitter friends and also, um, watch Beetlejuice, because OBVIOUSLY. It’s only the greatest movie of all time.

BREAKING: Charlie Hunnam Wakes from Months Long Hypnogogic Trance, Realizes What He’s Done

Apparently, someone explained to Charlie Hunnam exactly what he agreed to, and when the icy fingers of reality speared through his brain, he left the project with nothing but a cloud of dust and a body-shaped hole in the wall.

charlie hunnam

Since this will almost certainly delay the movie’s release (filming was set to begin in November), I hereby decree that October 11 be recognized as a Troutnation national holiday. St. Hunnam’s Day, known in medieval times as “Hunnamsmas,” shall be commemorated each year with a dinner of anything a controlling psychopath didn’t force you to eat, and a village wide spanking contest.

So, weigh in, all ye citizens of Troutland. Is this a bad move on Hunnam’s part? Do you believe that “scheduling” issues took him away from the project? Who should they cast now? And does anyone know Ian Somerhalder’s whereabouts?

State Of The Trout: World Mental Health Day and Bic McPenlamperson Fanfic

Hey everybody out there in Troutnation! It’s World Mental Health Day! This would be a great time for one of my candid posts about mental illness, but I’m having a rough week coping. I’m just kicking back and trying to maintain, but I didn’t want to let the day go by without contributing somehow. So, I made a really grainy, awful looking webcam video about a neat invention I picked up at the pharmacy today. I think it can be helpful to people whose mental illness makes it difficult to keep track of the day-to-day routine.

 

A lot of you lovely weirdos have created fanworks about 50 Shades of Grey, and they’re often shared in the comments and beloved by all. But last night, I received this jem via twitter and I would hate for anyone to miss it: Bic McPenlamperson by Bookjunk. You might recall Bic McPenlamperson from the 50 Shades Freed chapter nine recap:

Seriously, have you guys noticed how conveniently “lunatics” pop up in their lives, causing these dramatic and unavoidable threats that mean Ana absolutely must stay at home or under Christian’s surveillance all the time? First it was Leila, now it’s Jack Hyde and the mystery woman driving the Dodge. I’m going to guess that this will become a regular thing. “Honey, don’t forget, I have Kate’s bachelorette party to go to.” “Oh, um, you can’t, because, uh, um, huh… uh… Bic… Mcpen… lamp…erson, yeah, that’s right! Bic McPenlamperson! My old nemesis Bic McPenlamperson is out to destroy us. So you can’t go.”

I’m not sure how to properly express just how charmingly bizarre I find it to have someone write fan fiction of my work. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’m always super flattered. This time, it’s also hilarious; this is fanfic of something I wrote about somebody else’s book. See also: the recursion photo in that chapter nine recap. That about sums it up.

Coming soon: the next Buffy recap!

The Stigmatizing Terminology of “Clean” and “Dirty” Fiction

This is a long story. Stick with me, it really is going somewhere.

Today, I was cleaning out my mudroom. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the mudroom is the room at the back door of a house, where you keep your boots and your coats and your umbrellas and literally every object you’ve cared enough about to bring in from the car, but not quite important enough to make it into the house.

One of the things I came across was a box of paper promo from a past conference I had helped set up. When we sent out our call for promo, we asked for a small amount and told authors that we wouldn’t be shipping promo back. My idea– which was “ambitious, but rubbish”– was that we would hold on to the paper promo and just stick it into the bags at the next conference. But now, it’s been sitting, twenty bookmarks here, thirteen postcards there, for the past year. Yikes.

I decided I would sort the promo out; anything that was touting a current release, I would pitch (it’s a sad but true fact that 97% of all paper promo ends up in the trash, either at the conference it was intended for or at home when the conference goer looks through their goodie bag), and anything that was just author branded, I would keep for the next conference.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled out postcards advertising a release with a small press who prides themselves on “clean” fiction, and the author they were promoting is now a blockbuster bestseller in the New Adult genre.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all New Adult books have sex in them (this author’s books do) or that there’s something wrong with authors writing at different heat levels for different publisher requirements. But this author was practically unknown three years ago, and now she’s inspiring the squees of dedicated New Adult readers, making them long for her heroes as “book boyfriends,” and raking in the dough with #1 New York Times bestselling novels.

This gave me pause. Let me explain why.

A few weeks ago, a writer whom I absolutely adore personally, had a book released with this same small press. It became a bestseller on Amazon, and I was so, so proud of her. But when she posted the good news to her Facebook, another author associated with the “clean” publisher posted a response to the effect of, “I’m so glad people are waking up and recognizing that clean books are better!”

Since it was Facebook, I wrote up a lengthy reply about why her comment pissed me off so much– and immediately deleted it. Because I’ve had enough experience with Facebook to know that anything, literally any critical comment, no matter how carefully expressed so as not to cause offense, is going to be labelled “bullying.”

So, I had a lot of pent-up anger when I saw this New Adult superstar’s name splashed across a book cover from a press whose publisher once explained patiently to me that romance is actually hotter when it doesn’t go past the bedroom door. I was absolutely furious. Who did this fraud think she was, jumping from “clean” fiction to sexually explicit fiction, and making an extraordinary leap of success? She must view sex as the magic key to cash, and she had no problem turning that key when she was calling it “smut” before! How dare she pride herself on her lily white, virginal fiction, then come into my genre and have greater success than I have!

Obviously, there was a lot of emotional thinking involved there. In the first place, I have no idea if this author thought books with sexual content were “smut” or not. For all I knew, she wrote a Regency and decided this was the best publisher to approach about it. Maybe she had no opinion at all on her publisher’s policy, because it didn’t affect her work. Nobody has to put sex in their stories, and sometimes it doesn’t fit [that’s what she said]. And this author really didn’t write in my genre. From what I could tell, she wrote Regencies before (which I have never written) and now she writes New Adult (which I have never published… but more on that at a later date). Throw on my mantra of “the success of others does not invalidate my own success” at the professional jealousy aspect, and I had a long afternoon of thinking to do.

When I examined the reason for my initial reaction, I realized why I had felt such a strong sense of betrayal. It was because there has been a strangely passive-aggressive war between “clean” and “dirty” fiction for years. And it’s all tied into our culturally nurtured feelings and ideas about sex.

My first series was about vampires. It was just your standard Urban Fantasy/Kick Butt Heroine 00′s vampire story. I had no idea at the time that vampires were even controversial anymore. I thought they were an accepted part of life or whatever. So I was shocked at how many people– readers and authors both– would scold me for what I was writing. They couldn’t read it because they were Christians and they didn’t like the occult and they thought paranormal books filled your head with “dark thoughts” and blah blah blah. I would come away from these encounters thinking, “Jesus Christ, it’s a fucking book, not a portal to the Netherworld.” And if it was an author saying something like this, it would always, and I mean without fail, lead into a lecture about how the Christian Inspirational Romance genre was going to be the next big thing and vampires were dead anyway (wtf, why do people say that? OF COURSE THEY’RE DEAD) and I should look into changing what I write because I was destined to never sell another book. Because readers preferred “nice” stories.

This directly parallels my experience with “clean” vs. “dirty” fiction. Every conversation I’ve ever had on the subject has involved some shaming aspect, equating chastity with “clean” and labeling anyone who wanted to read about sexual activities– no matter how mild; this could apply to a Harlequin Presents– “dirty.” I’ve had “clean” authors tell me that I “don’t need to lower yourself to writing erotica,” or that they would “read your books, but I don’t like all that trashy stuff.”

I have a problem with this. First of all, are we all on the same page when I say that, at their core and before any proud reclamation of meaning, “clean” and “dirty” are positive and negative words, respectively? Everyone likes “clean,” at least as an adjective. We like crisp, clean sheets. When choosing a restaurant, we want to eat at the one that looks clean. Clean is a desirable enough commodity that we hire people to clean our house, our clothes, our teeth. If clean wasn’t a big deal to us, then there wouldn’t be at-home butthole bleaching kits, right?

But dirty, oh… dirty is bad. I’m not talking about the fun way, the way that applies to fiction. Dirty is a smelly diaper. Dirty is a subway pole still warm and slightly damp from a stranger’s hand. Dirty feels bad, looks gross, and it’s even dangerous; a mother’s frantic, “don’t eat that!” when her child picks a sucker up off the floor. “That’s dirty!” We hear about “dirty money” and “dirty cops.” “Dirty deeds” describes crime. The message is pretty clear: dirty is bad.

And obviously, this all applies to our sexuality. I’m sure this is not news to you. Sex is “dirty” and no sex is “clean.”

There are readers out there who want fiction without sex, and publishers certainly have a right to sell and market their product to those readers. And I’m not going to judge an author because their artistic vision didn’t include sweaty humping times. But what I am going to suggest is that we stop referring to fiction as “clean” and “dirty.” It devalues the work of the authors and the interest of the readership.

I respectfully ask that the readers and authors who are proud to call their books “smut” or “dirty” really consider what kind of message those words are sending. I understand that it’s supposed to be a cheeky, fun reclamation of the terms, but is it really? It’s a negative word that bolsters the argument of people who want to vocally reject “dirty” fiction as undesirable and harmful. And before anyone argues that “dirty” actually has a positive, fun meaning when applied to sexuality, answer this real quick: what do we call it, colloquially, when a person is free from sexually transmitted disease?

Bingo.

After a long, hard think this afternoon, I decided that I’m not going to call my books “dirty books” anymore. I’m not going to say I write “smut” or that my books are “raunchy.” Because I feel like I’m reinforcing a message that I don’t agree with; that sexuality is dirty, and therefore less preferable, to the clean absence of sex.

I would also like to see a decline in the number of “clean” authors, publishers, bloggers, and readers insisting that the market is oversexed and soon everyone will be reading “clean” stories instead of “dirty.” That’s a really arrogant attitude, and it smacks of malicious willful thinking. Do you really want other authors to fail, just because they include sexuality in their stories? Do you really want authors to gain their readerships through disillusionment, rather than by finding their own niche and making readers happy?

There are books about space, books about cowboys, books about vampires, baseball players, elves and doctors, and there is a readership for each of these varied tastes, not just in the bookstore but specifically within the romance genre itself. Why can’t there be room for readers who prefer sexually explicit and non-sexually explicit material? Why does it have to be a competition to see who is better, of sturdier moral fabric, or who is a real writer and who’s just a pervert with a keyboard? Do we have to label readers as prudes or wild women based on what they want to spend their book buying dollars on?

The short answer is, no. Writing or reading sex doesn’t make you morally loose and automatically cool and free-spirited, any more than not writing or reading sex makes you a superior person with a pure soul. So why are we bothering to assign positive/negative symbolism to either? Why not just accept that some books have sex in them, and some don’t?

I’m interested to read Troutnation’s thoughts on the matter.

Before we get going into the recap proper, a member of Troutnation needs your help. She has three beautiful children that she is in danger of losing to her abusive ex-husband, who is countering claims that she has abused the children. Alleging that the fleeing partner is guilty of child abuse is a common tactic of abusers; it deflects the attention away from their abuse and puts the fleeing partner– who is often short of resources to defend hirself– on the defensive. I’ve known many women who have lost their children because they dared to leave, and I’m fucking sick of it. If you can help out monetarily, that would be great. If you can’t, please boost her signal and help her reach her goal, so she has a chance at fair representation in court. THE LINK IS HERE.

Let me start off this recap by saying that I love, love, L-O-V-E love the way you guys look forward to my recaps. I really do. And in the past, I’ve kicked my own ass trying to keep these recaps on some kind of regular schedule. But as much fun as I have doing them, I do have obligations in my life that sometimes impose upon my laborious slog through blogging these bullshit books. These are mentally stressful and time consuming (each chapter clocks in at around eight hours worth of work), so please, please be patient with me if I’m not jumping right on the chapters with the same speed I was at the beginning of this death march. Early on in my recaps of the first book, I said that this was going to be like a marathon. It’s actually turned out to be more like the marathon from Run, Fatboy, Run. I am Simon Pegg, trying to run a marathon on a broken ankle here. So I hope you all understand.

Also, a lot of you have been asking if I would blog “the last chapter of.” Oh, what dear, sweet, optimistic things you are. We’ve still got chapters twenty-five and twenty-six, as well as a sixteen page epilogue, a short-story from four-year-old Christian’s ridiculously stilted POV, and the beginning events of 50 Shades of Grey written from Chedward’s POV. We are not done. We are not done by a long shot.

And can I just, while we’re on this subject… what the fuck is up with people writing a book in the heroine’s first person POV, then rewriting the same book from the hero’s first person POV? From a reader’s perspective, that doesn’t even sound remotely interesting to me; I cannot think of a single book I would want to read over, from a different POV. Even if you handed me a copy of Les Miserables and you were like, “Oh yeah, same book, but it’s all from Javert’s POV,” I would be like, “Nah, I’m good with the original, thanks.” I could thoroughly understand writing the first book in the series from one POV, then writing the next from the opposite POV, but I can’t for the life of me imagine why someone would want to read the same story twice. And from a writing standpoint, I break out into a cold sweat just imagining it. If you mess up one tiny little detail, you’re going to hear about it, because if a reader liked the first book enough to reread it from a second POV, they’re going to have liked it enough to remember all the little details you can’t avoid fucking up. So from now on, if you’re writing a book, and there are pertinent details in the other character’s view point, why not just– and this is revolutionary, I tell ya– put all that shit into the book in the first damn place?

Now that I’ve got my Andy Rooney pants firmly strapped on, let’s hit this recap like the truck I’d like to hit both Ana and Chedward with.

When we last left Bella Ana, she had just gone to the dance studio the ransom drop to save her mom Mia from James the vampire Jack Hyde the stalker. Even though she had no proof that her mom Mia was being held by James the vampire  Jack the stalker, she didn’t tell anyone, not even Edward Cullen, who finds her just in time and heroically rescues her.

Now, Bella Ana is in the hospital, trying super hard not to look anything like she’s in the “Bella becomes a vampire” portion of Breaking Dawn. But she’s just not that good at looking like her own character, because this is what happens next:

There is only pain. My head, my chest… burning pain. My side, my arm. Pain. Pain and hushed words in the gloom. Where am I? Though I try, I cannot open my eyes. The whispered words become clearer… a beacon in the darkness.

I feel guilty comparing this chapter to the Bella-turns-into-a-vampire chapter in Breaking Dawn, because Breaking Dawn is written better. Through the melodrama, Ana hears:

“Her ribs are bruised, Mr. Grey, and she has a hairline fracture to her skull, but her vital signs are stable and strong.”

“Why is she still unconscious?”

“Mrs. Grey has had a major contusion to her head. But her brain activity is normal, and she has no cerebral swelling. She’ll wake when she’s ready. Just give her some time.”

“And the baby?” The words are anguished, breathless.

“The baby’s fine, Mr. Grey.”

“Oh, thank God.” The words are a litany… a prayer.

Yeah, we know what a litany is. We’re not stupid. Also, I refuse to believe that Ana’s brain activity is normal. This is a woman who thinks Tess of The D’Urbervilles is a romantic comedy. Not only is the presence of normal brain activity questionable at best, but so is the presence of any brain at all.

By they by, because this is totally not Breaking Dawn, Ana keeps conveniently waking up for exposition points and lapsing into unconsciousness when the reader’s question has been answered. Let’s count them as we go, shall we?

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.

When she wakes again:

My eyes and mouth are resolutely shut, unwilling to open.

Again, thanks for clearing that up for us, Ana, because we couldn’t tell they were unwilling to open from the part of the sentence where you said they were resolutely shut.

In this slice of awareness, Ana overhears Christian arguing with his father about leaving Ana’s side, and she overhears their conversation about Mia, who was roofied by Jack Hyde. Also, Ana saved Mia’s life, which we all saw coming. I mean, we’ve heard about Ana’s bravery over and over again for three books, right?

“I know. I’m feeling seven kinds of foolish for relenting on her security. You warned me, but Mia is so stubborn. If it wasn’t for Ana here…”

So, there we have Carrick, telling his son, “You’re right. The only way to protect these headstrong young women is by keeping them on total lockdown. I should have listened.” Which is exactly what Christian Grey needs: a man he admires backing up his shitty misogynist ideas.

And Carrick, don’t you mean you’re feeling seven shades of foolish?

Carrick tells Christian that Ana is a “remarkable young woman,” which we keep hearing over and over again from so many different characters, yet we’ve never once seen proof of in the book. If anything, with all the pratfalls, the utter lack of any life experience, and the fact that she almost never talks in front of secondary characters, they should believe that she’s completely unremarkable.

It was at this point in the chapter, by the way, that I realized we were going to have to read about Ana being “brave” about a hundred and fifty times per page.

Ana’s unconscious again, so the score now is:

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
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That looks like a dude forcefully exhaling a massive bong rip.

The very next sentence, by the way, is:

The fog lifts but I have no sense of time.

Just in case you were keeping tags on what THE FOG was doing.

Hey, I bet you thought the tampon scene was the grossest thing you’d ever read in this series. Let’s just take a look here…

“If you don’t take her across your knee, I sure as hell will. What the hell was she thinking?”

“Trust me, Ray, I just might do that.”

Let’s examine all the ways this is fucking disturbing. One, we know all about Ana and Chedward’s bedroom activities, and how often they involve spankings, or sexy threats of spankings. In addition, we know that Ana and Chedward are masters of the uncomfortable innuendo, so you know where Christian’s mind is. That’s one point for gross. The second, more disturbing point of grossness is that Ana’s father is telling her husband to beat her, because it’s what she deserves. And it marks the second time in this chapter that an older male figure has backed up Christian in his belief that women should be treated like unruly children.

Ana’s out again, so:

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…

Someone should type up this entire section of the book, and find/replace “fog” with “burning,” then print the file. I bet money a hardbound copy of Breaking Dawn shoots out of your printer.

Ana comes to again to hear Christian arguing with a detective, telling him that Ana is in no condition to be questioned. You know the police, always trying to interrogate coma patients. What does the detective say, when Chedward says Ana can’t be questioned?

“She’s a headstrong young woman, Mr. Grey.”

Wait, what? I understand that what E.L. is trying to do here is have the detective grudgingly praise Ana to reinforce to the reader just how brave and headstrong and totally like a real, not two-dimensional character Ana is in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But it just sounds like he’s accusing her of being stubborn for being in the coma and unwilling to answer his questions.

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We learn that Elizabeth is informing on Jack, and Jack is “twisted” which we already knew from the hundred and fifty-seven other times he’s been described as twisted, and then… THE FOG!

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…
  4. The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down… down. No!

Then she hears Christian and his mother arguing over the fact that Ana and Christian were having marital troubles, and we are blessedly spared the fog:

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…
  4. The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down… down. No!
  5. The world dips and blurs and I’m gone.

But then she comes-to again in the middle of another discussion between Christian and his mom:

“You told me you’d cut all ties.” Grace is talking. Her voice is quiet, admonishing.

“I know.” Christian sounds resigned. “But seeing her finally put it all in perspective for me. You know… with the child. For the first time I felt… What we did… it was wrong.”

“What she did, darling… Children will do that to you. Make you look at the world in a different light.”

Remember when Grace first found out about Mrs. Robinson and Christian’s statutory naughty times? And she blamed Christian for it? She’s certainly changed her tune now, hasn’t she?

Another thing I find troubling about this section is that we don’t find out what, exactly, Christian is referring to. What they did was wrong… but what? Having sex? The BDSM stuff? The lying? I have this horrible feeling that he means the BDSM, because that’s the road these books have been going down since the moment he opened the playroom door. He needs to be cured of liking BDSM.

And guess who’ll do that? THE BABY! Because babies = nobody ever needing or wanting sex again.

Look, I’m a parent. I’m not going to lie and say that having kids doesn’t change your outlook on life. But I get really pissed off when people act like it changes it to a superior outlook on life. That’s such a crock. Having kids hasn’t made me wiser or more in tune with my sense of right and wrong. I’m just as much of a fuck up as I was before I had kids. The only thing I’ve become more aware of is how to clean gum out of things.

Grace also says:

“[...] I think you can only be truly mad at someone you really love.”

What? That doesn’t even make sense, Grace. Everyone on this planet can think of a time they’ve been truly mad at someone they didn’t even know that well. If being mad at someone means you love them, then the next time I take a bite out of a magic apple, wheel my glass coffin into the capitol building and let any Republican have a crack at me. I’ll be awakened by true love’s kiss in no time.

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Wake up! Oh god, wake up, Ted Cruz is looking over here!

Remember how everyone was like, “Christian gets so much better! You just don’t understand how a series works?” And now we’re getting close to the end of the third book and we’ve yet to see him make literally any progress as a human being, and he has in fact regressed to the mental state of a toddler?

Well, the wait is over. For Christian Grey is about to have THE BIG REVELATION:

“I thought about it, and she’s shown me over and over how much she loves me… to the point of putting her own life in danger.”

No. That’s Stockholm syndrome that you’re seeing. But it doesn’t matter, because this is the point where Christian miraculously becomes… whatever the 50 Shades fans seem to believe is “better,” for some reason.

And then Ana passes out, so:

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…
  4. The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down… down. No!
  5. The world dips and blurs and I’m gone.
  6. Oh… the darkness closes in. No–
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Whatever happened to these guys? They were awesome. Are they just playing comas now or what?

Then Ana wakes up a little and it’s STILL Christian and his mom talking, but now it’s so we can hear Grace talk about being a grandmother, and

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…
  4. The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down… down. No!
  5. The world dips and blurs and I’m gone.
  6. Oh… the darkness closes in. No–
  7. Sweet oblivion beckons.

Then Ana wakes up to feel Christian’s stubble on her hand, and he’s saying how sorry he is and how much he loves her and

  1. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.
  2. The fog closes in.
  3. I fight the fog… fight… But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No…
  4. The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down… down. No!
  5. The world dips and blurs and I’m gone.
  6. Oh… the darkness closes in. No–
  7. Sweet oblivion beckons.
  8. But my body disobeys me, and I fall asleep once more.

Remember what I said before about starting with a character waking and ending with a character going to sleep, and how that can make a book feel terrible? IT JUST HAPPENED EIGHT TIMES IN FOUR PAGES. I seriously feel like I need a nap right now.

Finally, Ana wakes up for real, not just to give us exposition:

I have a pressing need to pee. I open my eyes. I’m in the clean, sterile environment of a hospital room.

Where the fuck did you think you were? Just tucked away in somebody’s garage? Down in the basement, behind the Christmas decorations?

She runs her fingers through Christian’s hair, because he’s sleeping with his head on his folded arms at her bedside. He wakes up, sees she’s out of her coma, and they IMMEDIATELY START FIGHTING.

“Ana, stay still. I’ll call a nurse.” He quickly stands, alarmed, and reaches for a buzzer on the bedside.

“Please,” I whisper. Why do I ache everywhere? “I need to get up.” Jeez, I feel so weak.

“Will you do as you’re told for once?” he snaps, exasperated.

The nurse comes in:

She must be in her fifties, though her hair is jet black.

Are you suggesting these things are mutually exclusive, E.L.?

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I mean, really? Are we doing this?

Ana waking from a coma is a total non-event to this nurse, by the way. She doesn’t go to get a doctor or anything. It’s just like, Oh, this patient is awake now? That’s cool. Now, I’m not a medical-type person, but I did work in the ICU/NCU of a hospital before, and I’ve been around when people wake up from days long comas. It wasn’t just like, “Oh hey, glad to see you’re up, no big deal.” It wasn’t an emergency or anything, but nurses and doctors got in there pretty quick to examine the patient. But whatever, we know this isn’t even slightly based in reality. Ana wants to get up to go to the bathroom, but the nurse tells her she has a catheter.

“Let me remove your catheter. Mr. Grey, I am sure Mrs. Grey would like some privacy.” She looks pointedly at Christian, dismissing him.

“I’m not going anywhere.” He glares back at her.

“Christian, please,” I whisper, reaching out and grasping his hand. Briefly he squeezes my hand, then gives me an exasperated look. “Please,” I beg.

“Fine!” he snaps and runs his hand through his hair. “You have two minutes,” he hisses at the nurse, and he leans down to kiss my forehead before turning on his heel and leaving the room.

In real life, I guarantee that nurse calls security and takes her damn time. Christian is behaving in a threatening manner toward her while she’s just trying to see to the best interest of her patient. This is something that will continue to happen, by the way, because Christian Grey knows better than medical professionals what Ana needs.

After Ana’s catheter is out, Christian “bursts” in. Nurse Nora is helping Ana from the bed to the bathroom. LOL, no. Ana said she had a “pressing need” to urinate at the beginning of the section. If she had to pee that bad, I guarantee she already did when the nurse pulled her catheter. But whatever.

“Let me take her,” he says and strides toward us.

“Mr. Grey, I can manage,” Nurse Nora scolds him.

He gives her a hostile glare. “Damnit, she’s my wife. I’ll take her,” he says through gritted teeth as he moves the IV stand out of his way.

“Mr. Grey!” she protests.

He ignores her, leans down, and gently lifts me off the bed. I wrap my arms around his neck, my body complaining.

Your body is complaining because you need to move it, and Christian doesn’t want you to because he knows better than the nurse (who was walking you to the bathroom for a purpose. She could have just brought you a bedpan, moron).

“Mrs. Grey, you’re too light,” he mutters disapprovingly as he sets me gently on my feet.

I’m starting to get really concerned about Ana’s metabolism, okay? We saw that she lost an alarming amount of weight in the five days she and Christian were broken up. We find out later that she’s been unconscious for twenty-four hours. She’s been in this coma, let’s assume that if she was losing a ton of weight they would have started giving her high calorie feedings through an NG tube… how did she lose enough weight that Christian can tell just by lifting her?

But way to body police your wife within minutes of her coming out of a coma. Maybe you should comment on how her hair looks, as well.

Tentatively, I sit down on the toilet.

“Go.” I try to wave him out.

“No. Just pee, Ana.”

Could this be any more embarrassing? “I can’t, not with you here.”

“You might fall.”

“Mr. Grey!”

We both ignore the nurse.

“Please,” I beg.

He raises his hands in defeat. “I’ll stand outside, door open.” He takes a couple of paces back until he’s standing just outside the door with the angry nurse.

Yeah, uh, he’s definitely getting security called on him. The patient is saying, “you are making me uncomfortable, visitor,” and the visitor is refusing to comply with the patient’s request for privacy? Chedward would be out of there.

Nurse Nora has to examine Ana when she gets back from the bathroom:

“How do you feel?” she asks me, her voice laced with sympathy and a trace of irritation, which I suspect is for Christian’s benefit.

She’s just distracted, trying to figure out if she should involve a hospital social worker or just jam domestic violence pamphlets into your bag when you’re discharged.

Ana tells Christian that she’s hungry– and this time, it’s actually for food!

“What do you want to eat?”

“Anything. Soup.”

“Mr. Grey, you’ll need the doctor’s approval before Mrs. Grey can eat.”

He gazes at her impassively for a moment, then takes his BlackBerry out of his pants pocket and presses a number.

“Ana wants chicken soup… Good… Thank you.” He hangs up.

I glance at Nora, whose eyes narrow at Christian.

I’m sure we’re supposed to interpret this scene as Christian valiantly protecting his wife and tenderly caring for her. But in reality, what he’s doing is going against medical advice. All the nurse is suggesting is that the doctor give the go ahead before he starts cramming Ana full of food she might not even be able to hold down.

Christian tells Ana that Mia was drugged, and he tells Ana how “brave” she was and how stupid it was to get involved in the ransom without telling him– he doesn’t remind her it’s also stupid to do such a thing and not involve the authorities– and then he expresses his totally original and not at all repeated every single time something dramatic happens to the two of these overdramatic morons feelings about what happened to Ana:

“I have died a thousand deaths since Thursday.”

He said something similar when he proposed to her, and I believe Ana “died a thousand deaths” while Christian was missing in the helicopter incident. I could be misremembering on that last one, but the point is… I would be happy with them dying just one death. Just one.

Preferably grisly enough that open casket would be impractical.

Hey, what happened to Jack?

“In police custody. Although Hyde is here under guard. They had to remove the bullet you left in him,” Christian says bitterly. “I don’t know where in this hospital he is, fortunately, or I’d probably kill him myself.”

I love how big, tough Chedward is always bragging about what he would do. Remember, it was Taylor and Sawyer who have beaten up Jack Hyde, and Ana hit that guy on the dance floor. Christian always just stands around talking about how he could kick somebody’s ass. I bet Claude Bastille isn’t even a real trainer he sees. He’s totally made up, so Christian can brag, “Yeah, I’m such a good kick boxer that I beat my trainer all the time. He’s really famous, his name is Claude Bastille, he’s won medals.” He’s the guy who doesn’t get involved in a real fight situation when it arises because he insists his fists are registered weapons and he would probably just go berserker and kill the guy, so it’s best if he sits that round out.

Ana assures Christian that she would never actually leave him:

“You took me by surprise,” I mutter into his shirt collar. “When we spoke at the bank. Thinking I was leaving you. I thought you knew me better. I’ve said to you over and over I would never leave.”

Uh, until you had this whole conversation with him about how you were going to leave.

Oh.

Oh shit.

I get it now.

Ana finally got angry enough with Christian that she expressed her anger and didn’t let him off the hook when he tried to fuck his way out of trouble. She didn’t rush to forgive him, so he was unforgiven when she said she was going to leave him. And the moral of the story that results is that because Ana put her foot down about Christian’s unacceptable treatment of her, she created a situation in which he believed she was mad enough to divorce him. This hurt Christian, and that’s the last thing Ana wants to do, so now she’ll probably never, ever do it again.

Christian explains that he had just arrived back in Seattle when the bank called him. He also tells her that he’s mad at her, Sawyer’s mad at her, everyone is mad at her, yadda yadda. Then a doctor comes in:

Dr. Bartley checks my ribs, her fingers probing gently but firmly.

I wince.

“These are bruised, not cracked or broken. You were very lucky, Mrs. Grey.”

Why didn’t they check her for broken ribs like, at any point while she was in the coma?

The doctor tells Ana that she might be able to go home the next day. Really? She was unconscious for more than twenty-four hours, you don’t want to keep her in the hospital for any further tests or observation? Okay. I won’t tell you how to do your job, but only because I really don’t care what happens to Ana.

There’s a knock on the door, and Taylor enters bearing a black cardboard box with Fairmont Olympic emblazoned in cream on the side.

Holy cow!

“Food?” Dr. Bartley says, surprised.

“Mrs. Grey is hungry,” Christian says. “This is chicken soup.”

Dr. Bartley smiles. “Soup will be fine, just the broth. Nothing heavy. Sh looks pointedly at both of us, then exits the room with Nurse Nora.

So, the doctor has made it pretty clear, only broth, right? Well, excuse me, but she might have experience in keeping people from dying and stuff, but she doesn’t have as much money as Christian and therefore he’s just a little bit wiser than her, okay?

Christian is unpacking the box, producing a thermos, soup bowl, side plate, linen napkin, soupspoon, a small basket of bread rolls, silver salt and pepper shakers… The Olympic has gone all-out.

I hope the  reason the doctor said Ana could only have broth, aka, the clear liquid diet, is because she’s on some medication that makes people super nauseated or gassy, and Ana spends the rest of this chapter puking and farting with bruised ribs while everyone stands around talking about how brave and remarkable she is.

“Well, after the bank called and I thought my world had completely fallen apart–” He can’t hide the pain in his voice.

I stop eating. Oh shit.

“Don’t stop eating, or I’ll stop talking,” he whispers, his tone adamant as he glares at me. I continue with my soup.

The soup, by the by, isn’t even broth-based, she describes it as “creamy.” And she eats bread, too. Because money is smarter than knowledge. Or something.

But look at how he manipulates her in that excerpt. He makes her feel guilty for making him believe his “world had completely fallen apart,” and when she reacts to the statement, he gives her a command, which she guiltily follows. He’s making it seem like she can’t count on the doctors or nurses. He’s telling her that everyone is mad at her. Then he’s setting himself up as the only person who truly wants what’s best for her, by controlling her food intake. This is some seriously messed up shit. It’s even more messed up that this was written into the story accidentally.

“Anyway, shortly after you and I had finished our conversation, Taylor informed me that Hyde had been granted bail. How, I don’t know, I thought we’d managed to thwart any attempts at bail. But that gave me a moment to think about what you’d said… and I knew something was seriously wrong.”

Hyde has committed arson, and has broken into the house of a person he is stalking with clear plans to commit rape, kidnapping, and murder. How on earth was he granted bail?

Ana is outraged that Christian believed she was after his money, and Christian keeps  telling her to eat, and Ana asks how Christian found her. Funny story:

“The Saab is fitted with a tracking device. All our cars are. By the time we got near the bank, you were already on the move, and we followed. Why are you smiling?”

“On some level I knew you’d be stalking me.”

“And that is amusing because?” he asks.

“Jack had instructed me to get rid of my cell. So I borrowed Whelan’s cell, and that’s the one I threw away. I put mine into one of the duffel bags so you could track your money.”

Are you scratching your head right now, going, “Uh… wait, that didn’t happen. We were in her POV and that didn’t happen… at least… I don’t remember…?” Well, you’re not crazy. Even though we were in Ana’s POV, we never saw the phone switch happen. During her ordeal, she didn’t think, “Christian will totally be able to find me and save me.” She didn’t even think, “I’m glad I put that phone in that bag.” This is totally new information she’s springing on us, and it’s so jarring because it comes from a narrator who gives us even the most boring, mundane little details of her life, from showering to what she does at work during the day. But this one major plot detail never entered into her inner monologue? This is sloppy writing in the extreme.

Plus, Ana’s car is fitted with a tracking device? And she didn’t know about it? That’s freaky, especially considering how quickly Chedward mobilized a response to her leaving him.

Ana asks Christian to sleep in the bed with her, so he does, and Ana tries to get him to talk about why he went to see Elena:

“Oh, Ana.” He groans. “You want to discuss that now? Can’t we drop this? I regret it, okay?”

Christian went to see his ex-lover, who has purposely meddled in his relationship with Ana, immediately after he exploded at Ana about daring to get pregnant, and Ana is supposed to just let it slide without further comment because he regrets it. Yeah, that sounds fair. It’s okay for you to do whatever you want, Chedward, just so long as you feel really bad about it, and then you’ll never have to answer for it. Ever.

He tells Ana they can talk tomorrow, and then she falls asleep. Nurse Nora is there when Ana wakes up for the ninth time in this chapter, and NN doesn’t like that Chedward and Ana are sharing a bed. Ana asks her to leave him alone, and then Christian has the fakest, most literal sleep babble anyone has ever uttered:

He mumbles in his sleep, “Don’t touch me. No more. Only Ana.”

Ana goes to sleep (again) and wakes up (again) and Christian is gone. Carrick is there, and he’s just come by to remind the reader that Ana is a brave and wonderful hero. He tells Ana that Mia is home now and very angry because of what she went through, and that Grace won’t let Mia out of her sight.

“You need watching, too,” he admonishes. “I don’t want you taking any more silly risks with your life or the life of my grandchild.”

I flush. He knows!

“Grace read your chart. She told me. Congratulations.”

Why the fuck was Grace reading her chart? She’s not Grace’s patient. Yeah, Ana is family, but that’s precisely the reason why Grace shouldn’t have read Ana’s chart. That is incredibly intrusive. She should have asked for permission. No fucking wonder Christian doesn’t know shit about boundaries.

Hey, know what I noticed about this whole thing? Ana saved Mia’s life. And even though everyone acknowledges that she saved Mia’s life, they still say she’s stupid and shouldn’t have done it. That’s Mary Sueishness of the highest degree; the family members of the person Ana endangered herself to save are telling her they wished she hadn’t done it, because she got hurt. Sorry, Mia, but at least you know where you rank now. No wonder she’s angry.

About the baby, Carrick says:

“Christian will come around,” he says gently. “This will be the best thing for him. Just… give him some time.”

You’re right, Carrick! When someone is an abusive, controlling monster toward his wife, the very best thing for him is to have to adapt his volatile temper and rigorous thinking around a child. That’s a sure fire cure for psychological issues.

Carrick also assures Ana that the doctors, Dr. Bartley (who is African-American) and Dr. Singh (who has a name of Asian origin) are good doctors. You know, just in case they needed to be vetted by a safe white lady.

Christian brings Ana breakfast, and marvels at how hungry she is. She says:

“It’s because I’m pregnant, Christian.”

Um… you’re barely pregnant. It’s probably because you were in a coma and you’re always perched on the very edge of starvation, to begin with.

Christian has come to accept the fact that he’s going to be a father, but he’s afraid he’s not going to be a very good one. Don’t worry, Chedward. Grace and Carrick have both unequivocally stated, having kids changes people, so you’ll probably be fine. Ana even thinks so:

“Of course you can. You’re loving, you’re fun, you’re strong, you’ll set boundaries. Our child will want for nothing.”

Photo on 2013-10-03 at 13.27

Do you hear yourself, book?

How is Christian going to set boundaries? He has no clue what they are. The only boundaries we’ve seen him set have been this grandiose, bizarre ones, like “You’re not allowed to come past the Mississippi,” or “If you roll your eyes, I’ll spank you.” He’s paying for his ex-stalker’s art school tuition. This is not a man who could define “boundaries” on a vocabulary test.

“Yes, it would have been ideal to have waited. To have longer, just the two of us. But we’ll be three of us, and we’ll all grow up together. We’ll be a family. Our own family. And your child will love you unconditionally, like I do.”

A) You need to be grown up before the baby gets there. Because you’re the grown ups, and your shit needs to be at least partially figured out before you decide to take on another human life. It’s not the baby’s responsibility to teach you shit about life and how to grow up. B) You don’t have to have kids to be a family. C) Your child might love you unconditionally, for a while. But then it gets older, and it realizes that you’re a shitty parent, and it gets a blog and it tells EVERYONE.

Then Ana calls the baby Blip, and Christian is all:

“I had the name Junior in my head.”

And Ana is all:

“Junior it is, then.”

And then Christian is like:

“But I like Blip.”

And I go: It doesn’t really matter what you idiots call it now, because your moms are Grace and Carla, so you’re going to name the baby Grarlac anyway. And then the chapter is over.