Tuesday, June 11, 2013

50 Shades of the Complainist: Chapter 7

Ana sees Christian's sex dungeon, and all but agrees to his weird sex contract on the spot, but then Christian gets all angry at her for being a virgin. 

Warnings: Chapter 7 = sex dungeon, and the first parts of a pretty intense and terrifying sex contract. Chapter 8 = One long sex scene. Chapter 9 = Two more sex scenes but also they eat breakfast. 

We have almost arrived, my friends. Chapter 7 is the calm before the storm. It's a preface, really: we're going to see the sex dungeon, and get our first look at the mysterious paperwork. The whole thing is in and out in right at ten pages, so I'll probably be able to get through this summary in about twelve.

I often like to start these summaries with a sort of philosophical preamble. Something general about writing, or some bit of wisdom I've picked up on while trying to be a better writer. Instead, for this week, I'll hand that job over to EL.

Rumor for a while was that EL was writing a book on writing, but instead, she "wrote" this journal. You know. So that you can become a writer, too. If, for some reason, you need a hilarious gift for the writer in your life, feel free to buy this piece of shit from Octavia Books, the New Orleans bookstore that was once a place where I spent lots of time. (I worked at a Seattle bookstore more recently, but that place closed due to mismanagement, then opened again, but didn't tell me they were opening again because I was not popular there. For reasons I certainly can't understand!)

But yeah--this is not a real book. It's just a dumb cash-in, with a dumb forward, and quotations from the book in big letters. For instance: "Laters, baby." "Holy crap!" And other 50 Shades greatest hits. Publisher copy: "Inner Goddess Journal is a beautiful blank book designed for keeping a journal or writing notes. It features a foreword by E L James, brief excerpts from the novels, tips for writers, a writing playlist, elegant color artwork, and fully lined pages throughout." I bet EL wrote this herself! The journal is a journal! It has fully lined pages throughout! Fantastic!

The page also includes EL's bio, which I love. First sentence: "E L James is a former TV executive, wife, and mother of two based in the leafy suburbs of West London." I love how the word "former" screws up the series and makes it sound like she's a former wife and former mother. Also, if you write a bio for something, and you want to include terms like wife, husband, mother, father--basically anything that merely expresses your relationship to another person, don't. A bio is supposed to be what differentiates you from other people, not what you have in common with literally billions of other people.

Oh! Reminds me! I want to test out my bio on you guys:

Alden Eagle is a human male residing in the northern hemisphere in a metropolitan area near an ocean. He speaks English and was much more impressive to his family at age 12 than he is now, two decades later. 

And now, on with Chapter 7!

So where were we?

  1. Ana meets Christian, the dreamy billionaire, for an awkward interview. 
  2. She then encounters him a few days later when he buys supplies for his sex dungeon at the hardware store where she works. Ana gets his phone number and decides to help her friend Kate set up a photo shoot with CG because that somehow makes more sense than just seeing if he wants to hang out like a regular person. 
  3. Ana's admirer José joins Ana and Kate to photograph Christian, after which Christian takes Ana to a cafe, where they both act awkward. Christian starts to push Ana away, for reasons she does not understand. Then, Ana is nearly hit by a bike, but Christian yanks her out of harm's way.
  4. Christian tells Ana that they're incompatible and she gets sad. Ana drunk-dials Christian and he freaks out and traces her phone Batman-style, just in time to chase off José, who's acting rape-y. Ana passes out at the bar.
  5. Ana awakes in Christian's hotel room. Christian explains that he brought her there because he didn't want her to puke in his car. He says that they can't take things further until he's explained his secrets, so they arrange a helicopter ride together to Seattle and make out in an elevator.
  6. Ana and Christian fly to Seattle in a helicopter. Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement and then opens up the door to the sex dungeon.
I like these little recaps. I know for a fact that no one is using them to catch up--I see my readership, and each new post gets about exactly half as many clicks as the one before it. But, I do still enjoy thinking back on my previous summary and paring it down to the actual plot points. Chapter 4 was relatively plot-heavy. Nothing happens in Chapter 5. That one is just about explaining the crazy stuff that CG did between 4 and 5 and also setting up 6 which is just to set up 7 which is just the setup for the sex in 8 and 9. 

Let's be honest for a moment: are you looking forward to the sex in chapters 8 and 9? It's okay if you are. We're all friends here. And you know I wouldn't be writing this if it weren't for the sex, and no one would've really read these books if it weren't for the sex. We're all here for the sex, in one way or another! So I hope we aren't all disappointed!

(Editor's note: Most of us will be.)

Think of this chapter as the paperwork you have to do before you get to the sex scene. We're pretending that we have to do paperwork before sex scenes. For tax purposes, maybe? I don't know. 

For reasons not really related, watch this SNL sketch that I always think of when Grey talks about paperwork. It's because of this line: "Poor foxes. Every time they are having sex, they must go to the closest national monument." Filling out an unenforceable, coerced contract seems every bit as useful a pre-sex activity as swinging by a national monument. 

Moving right along, let's not move along at all, but look backwards, and check out what a poor job EL does of setting the scene inside the sex dungeon. 

Here's the end of the previous chapter, verbatim:

He opens the door and stands back to let me in. I gaze at him once more. I so want to know what's in here. Taking a deep breath I walk in.

And it feels like I've time-traveled back to the sixteenth century and the Spanish Inquisition. 

Holy fuck

And scene! That's where we end. Pretty dramatic, really. I mean, it's not great. And I sure can't remember which century the Spanish Inquisition was, because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition to just come up in conversation like that. But still, this is one of the very few times when EL manages the simple task of adding some drama. Drama, in this sense, is simply a promise to the reader. The promise is that there is some crazy stuff that Ana is seeing, and it probably involves torture, and you, dear reader, are about to get the rundown on it.

And then, we turn the page, and EL screws it all up completely: "The first thing I notice is the smell: leather, wood, polish with a faint citrus scent." What the hell? How did we go from Holy fuck to a faint citrus scent? Ridiculous. Seven lines down, we get "large wooden cross" and then the term "restraining cuffs" a line later, but there's all this filler about colors and smells. So annoying. Chapter 6 ends with "let me tell you all about the crazy stuff I'm seeing!" And Chapter 7 starts with "Eventually I'll get around to the crazy stuff I'm seeing, but let me talk about smells and overuse the word 'oxblood' a couple times because I just bought a lovely oxblood sweater and it just seems like a great word to use instead of red."

We get a bunch of description of the sex dungeon. There's a bed. And stuff to hit people with. And things to tie people up with. Yawn. It's all the stuff you knew would be there. EL could've just said, "The room has all the stuff you think it does." Ana focuses on a couch: "An odd arrangement . . . to have a couch facing the bed, and I smile to myself--I've picked on the couch as odd, when really it's the most mundane piece of furniture in the room." 1)Why the ellipses? EL is in love with ellipses, I guess. Look at what a monster sentence this is. All these clauses jammed against each other like this. Ugly. 2)Again, she's going from Holy fuck to smiling about a couch in basically zero seconds. A good thing to do when you're writing is to pay attention to some of what you've already written so that it all fits together. 

Ana goes into shock, which means that she is the same as she is always: "I am numb. I can observe and absorb but not articulate my feelings about all this, because I'm in shock." I shouldn't mock her at this moment, because this is completely shocking. This is the one time in the book so far that she reacts appropriately to a situation, at least for a moment. She's terrified and confused, but is she going to get on board? Of course she is. That's the part where she loses me. I'm all Run away! and she's all Well, he is probably good at flogging people, and wouldn't it be best to get flogged by someone with experience?

Here's an exchange I enjoy:

"Say something," Christian commands, his voice deceptively soft. 

"Do you do this to people or do they do it to you?"

His mouth quirks up, either amused or relieved. 

"People?" He blinks a couple of times as he considers this answer. "I do this to women who want me to."

First, how do you take that first speaker tag? "Christian commands, his voice deceptively soft." It's a bit of a point of view cheat. Is Ana suggesting that someone else might be deceived by his tone? You know--someone who doesn't know him super well, like she does. Someone who's only known him a week instead of twelve days? (Ana has only known him twelve days.) "Deceptively" suggestions an omniscient familiarity with Christian's intentions, and thus is out of place in a first-person POV (point of view) novel. Also, is his tone soft, or is it a command? It's all a typical EL jumble. 

Second: I wish EL would stop telling us about things quirking because I hate it every time. 

Third: I adore CG's response. Ana asks what is, to me, a quite legitimate question. Once you see someone has a sex dungeon, it's probably best not to make any more assumptions. You're going to want to keep things vague, once you see someone's sex dungeon for the first time. Once somebody says, "Hey, check out my sex dungeon!" you should feel free to question everything

But CG is all, "Um, I hit ladies. Because anything else would be super gay." You agree with me, right? CG wants to make it clear that he's just a dude with a normal sex dungeon. Not the kind of dude who would do any type of sex stuff with other dudes. Because that would be ridiculous. The various chains and restraints and stuff for hitting people? No big deal. But gay stuff? No thanks! Wait, are there any gay characters in this book series? Wait, and are there any characters who aren't white, besides ol' José, who's all hot-blooded and drinking margaritas?

Also, CG is the man so of course he's the one tying people up and flogging them, because that's really the man's job in a relationship. Right? I mean, I know other people have some different idea about who ought to wear the flogging pants in a heterosexual relationship (the only acceptable kind obviously because duh) but I was raised to believe that a man's place is holding the flogger, not getting flogged. Because anything else would be ridiculous. All CG is asking for, really, is a sort of premodern relationship, but with extra floggings. 

CG is terrible at making the case for a dom / sub arrangement: "I have rules, and I want you to comply with them. They are for your benefit and for my pleasure. If you follow these rules to my satisfaction, I shall reward you. If you don't, I shall punish you, and you will learn." Well, so long as it's for her benefit I can't imagine why she wouldn't jump at the chance!

Let's here more about this attractive arrangement, shall we?

"It's about gaining your trust and your respect, so you'll let me exert my will over you. I will gain  a great deal of pleasure, joy even, in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy--it's a very simple equation."

"Okay, and what do I get out of this?"

He shrugs and looks almost apologetic.

"Me," he says simply.

Ha! Hilarious. So, I don't know anything about anything, obviously, but I thought the idea was kind of sort of maybe that this sort of dom / sub arrangement was meant to be attractive to both parties involved? I dunno. Call me old fashioned! But in my day, submissives were people who got off on that sort of thing, and not just naive 21-year-olds who decide to go for it because hey why not? 

Anyway, things get crazier as CG shows off the rest of his apartment, and explains that Ana has to split immediately, or else commit to living with him Friday through Sunday. This is our first indication that CG isn't merely interested in complicated, prop-based sex. He wants to micromanage every aspect of Ana's life. He wants her to sign a form, first, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't hold up in any court, and then he wants to dictate Ana's entire existence for her.

This starts, of course, by telling her to eat again. Page 102: "You must eat, Anastasia." Page 103, RE: his sex-servitude rules: "I have them written down. We'll go through them once we've eaten." "You will eat." "Help yourself to food, Anastasia." Page 104: "Eat!" Ugh. So, CG wants Ana to sign a paper that says he gets to tell her what to do all the time, but he's been telling her what to do all the time for a hundred pages. 


(Editor's note: we preserved the above tantrum just so that you would know how much suffering our humble critic endures just to provide these posts for the several of you who read them.)

Sorry. Where were we? Oh, right. So, CG does nothing but boss Ana around all the time, and now he's like, "Sign this paper, so I can boss you around." To me, this quite undercuts the notion that he's Captain Consent. He bullies and manipulates Ana, but then is all, "Oh, but this is totes consensual!"

We then see the paperwork. Oh my god. The paperwork. The paperwork is probably the only part of this book that I can, in good conscience, recommend that anyone read. If you see a copy sitting around somewhere, maybe in your friend's bathroom, or at a bookstore, or at a local sex dungeon, flip through it and try to find the contract. It's near page 100, which makes it easy to remember. Also it's indented, so that makes it easier, too.

Fortunately for you a blog called 50shadesofwat posted the first section of the rules, which means that you get to read them right now! Note: this is just the first part of the rules. We get more later on, both in this chapter, and in later chapters. Because complicated.

The Submissive will obey any instructions given by the Dominant immediately without hesitation or reservation and in an expeditious manner. The Submissive will agree to any sexual activity deemed fit and pleasurable by the Dominant excepting those activities which are outlined in hard limits (Appendix 2). She will do so eagerly and without hesitation.
The Submissive will ensure she achieves a minimum of seven hours sleep a night when she is not with the Dominant.
The Submissive will eat regularly to maintain her health and wellbeing from a prescribed list of foods (Appendix 4). The Submissive will not snack between meals, with the exception of fruit.
During the Term, the Submissive will wear clothing only approved by the Dominant. The Dominant will provide a clothing budget for the Submissive, which the Submissive shall utilize. The Dominant shall accompany the Submissive to purchase clothing on an ad hoc basis. If the Dominant so requires, the Submissive shall wear during the Term any adornments the Dominant shall require, in the presence of the Dominant and any other time the Dominant deems fit.
The Dominant shall provide the Submissive with a personal trainer four times a week in hour-long sessions at times to be mutually agreed between the personal trainer and the Submissive. The personal trainer will report to the Dominant on the Submissive’s progress.
Personal Hygiene/Beauty:
The Submissive will keep herself clean and shaved and/or waxed at all times. The Submissive will visit a beauty salon of the Dominant’s choosing at times to be decided by the Dominant, and undergo whatever treatments the Dominant sees fit.
Personal Safety:
The Submissive will not drink to excess, smoke, take recreational drugs, or put herself in any unnecessary danger.
Personal Qualities:
The Submissive will not enter into any sexual relations with anyone other than the Dominant. The Submissive will conduct herself in a respectful and modest manner at all times. She must recognize that her behavior is a direct reflection on the Dominant. She shall be held accountable for any misdeeds, wrongdoings, and misbehavior committed when not in the presence of the Dominant.
Failure to comply with any of the above will result in immediate punishment, the nature of which shall be determined by the Dominant.

So, that's fun, right? I particularly like the end, and the part about punishment. Because isn't that the part that CG gets off on? I mean, he has a whole sex dungeon of floggers and whatever. So like, isn't he probably just going to use that stuff on her no matter what? I don't get it. 
In typical Ana fashion, she responds with Holy fuck and then immediately gloms onto one of the least-terrifying parts of this terrifying thing: "I'm not sure about accepting money for clothes. It feels wrong." Literally every single part of this is wrong! But which is worse: "You'll wear the clothes I tell you to wear" or "I'm going to buy you clothes"? But somehow, buying clothes with CG's money is the thing that Ana feels weird about, and not all the other weird stuff. Not like, the "punishment" part at the end, or the "you'll do whatever sex stuff I want whenever I want you to" part that's at the very beginning. 
Also, Ana is instantly okay with pretty much all of it:

"I don't have to wear them [CG's sex dungeon clothes] when I'm not with you?"
"Okay." Think of them as a uniform.

We don't have the full contract, so we don't know exactly how to interpret each clause. But look at the "Clothing" section and notice the word "Term." We don't know how it's defined--maybe it's just every Friday through Sunday? Maybe it's four years, like the President? Whatever. But it clearly states that CG expect to be able to dictate Ana's wardrobe whenever, so CG is already contradicting his own sex contract when he says "No."
A moment ago, Ana thought spending CG's money on clothes would make her feel like a prostitute, but now, she seems comforted by the idea of equating CG's sex dungeon clothes with a job uniform. You know, like when you have to put on particular clothes to do a job. For money. Of all the things in this contract, I'm personally most comfortable with the idea of money exchanging hands, for clothes, or otherwise, because this sounds goddamned unpleasant, and CG is a billionaire, so frankly it only seems fair. He's not offering her anything in return, as was established earlier, so yeah, CG. Pay up.
But I'm pretty uncomfortable with EL's shitty writing. I'll feel like I'm a prostitute if he gives me money for clothes. But I guess it's kind of like having sex with him is my job, and sometimes, you have to wear a uniform at a job, so it's not weird for me to have to wear a uniform to have sex with him. Yeah! I'm comfortable with that.
Ana continues to negotiate. She gets one of her weekly exercise sessions removed. Yay. Here's the thing about negotiation, though: once you're negotiating over little details, you've already accepted the spirit of the thing. Here's an old joke that I'm adjusting so it's less sexist. (The astute reader will be able to ascertain the changes necessary to return it to its sexist origins.)

Person of indeterminate gender 1: Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?
Person of indeterminate gender 2: Yeah, I guess. Sure.
1: Would you sleep with me for ten dollars, then?
2: Of course not! What sort of person do you think I am?
1: Oh, I think we've established that. Now we're just negotiating price.

Right? What I'm saying is that Ana has agreed from the moment she starts fussing around the edges of the contract, which is bonkers. She sees this document and says, "Well, this is basically fine, sure, but I do have a couple of areas I'd like to adjust ever-so-slightly before I sign." I mean she doesn't literally say that. But that's really her response.
Here are the things that CG won't do, followed by Ana's reaction:

No acts involving fire play.
No acts involving urination or defecation and the products thereof.
No acts involving needles, knives, piercing, or blood.
No acts involving gynecological medical instruments.
No acts involving children or animals.
No acts that will leave permanent marks on the skin.
No acts involving breath control.
No activity that involves the direct contact of electric current (weather alternating or direct), fire, or flames to the body.

Ugh. He has to write these down! Of course--they all look very sensible and, frankly, necessary . . . Any sane person wouldn't want to be involved in this sort of thing, surely. Though I now feel a little queasy. 

Where to start? Let's start with my most neutral complaint. Have we talked about italics yet? No? How have we avoided it? Now, normally, if you want to really emphasize a particular word, you might italicize it, and that will effect the way the reader places stress on the sentence. If you pick the wrong word, like I just did, the sentence looks all weird and confusing. EL seems to just pick things to italicize at random. It's distracting, rather than helpful, and I hate it. 
Moving on. Here's a question for you, dear reader: let's say that in a sort of second-date, haven't-slept-together-yet situation, the person you're spending your evening with, at some point, turns to you and says, "Oh, just so we're clear: no poop stuff, okay? That cool?" Do you continue the evening, or do you conveniently remember somewhere else you have to be, and oh it's been lovely and we'll do this again soon but next week is no good for me and actually, let me just call you next week okay? and don't bother calling I'll call you and that's okay I'll just see myself out! 
Because, see, that's what I do. I peace out! I mean, I would peace out. I can't say that it's ever come up. I'm just saying that I disagree quite a bit with Ana when she says "they all look very sensible and, frankly, necessary . . . " Not that any of CG's deal-breakers are unreasonable. It's just that that's more the kind of thing that a person could go ahead and keep quiet until it came up. So like, if Ana was all like, "Hey, CG! Maybe let's spice things up, and like, do some sex stuff with this kid I stole and this alpaca," that would be the appropriate moment for CG to be like, "You know, I'm actually kind of uncomfortable with that stuff. I dunno. Just kind of my little hangup. Maybe let's just cuddle?" 
So the idea that this list is "sensible" or "necessary" is hard to follow. Most relationships manage to, you know, avoid bestiality without ever having to write it down, or even discuss it. Show of hands: have you ever discussed fucking animals with a romantic partner? No? Nobody? Yeah, that's kind of what I figured. And the fact that Ana is now at the home of a man who thinks this needs to be discussed up front should terrify her. And make her feel more than a little queasy!
Also: many of these prohibitions actually imply that other things are on the table. So, specifying that children are out rather than saying "No involving other people" suggests that maybe CG will want to bring in a pal at some point, so long as said pal is an adult. And there's something terrifying about the phrase "permanent marks," since it pretty clearly means that some painful stuff is going to go down. Just not so painful that it'll actually scar. Ana doesn't put any of this together, though, because, as we know, she's kind of an idiot. 
I do like the ambiguity of this sentence: "Any sane person wouldn't want to be involved in this sort of thing, surely." In context, she probably means the shit on CG's list, but it's confusing since he's listed a lot of different sorts of things, rather than just a single sort of thing. "Sort of thing" could mean "terrifying sex contract" in which case, I agree, Ana! The fact that you are already on board with this makes me question your mental health. I don't think you are capable of making decisions without endangering yourself right now.  
Stray thoughts: It's fun how the list starts with fire and ends with fire. Even in a list of eight items, EL is so careless, and this book is so hastily edited, that the first item is made redundant by the last item. It's like she didn't even have a long enough attention span to notice what she'd written just seven lines earlier. I also love that CG specifies both AC and DC, as though someone would find a loophole. "Haha! You didn't mention DC, Christian! So now I'm going to zap you with this battery!" And then he was all, "Oh, shit! I better update my sex contract for next time!"
Also, why does he even need to have a list of limits, since he's in charge of literally everything? There's no clear reason why he would have a list of stuff he won't do since he's the boss at all times and so nothing is going to happen that he doesn't initiate. Maybe he just likes lists? 
But later CG asks Ana if she'd like to add to the list, which I guess means that this is a sort of "Sex Slave Bill of Rights," and not just a bunch of stuff CG doesn't want to do. So who knows--maybe the alpaca thing did come up before, and after he was all, "Well, maybe I took things a little too far that time and should add that to the Bill of Rights. Oh well." CG is totally the Alexander Hamilton of sex contracts. (Enjoy contemplating that one.)
Ana doesn't know what she doesn't want to do, because she's a virgin, which we all knew because it was obvious, but which CG didn't know even though it was obvious, and this makes him angry because he's a terrible, terrible person. Maybe we'll devote some time another week to the very idea of "virginity" as a concept. It's a problematic term, but I'm already too deep into this stupid chapter to add a whole new thing about it, and besides, these idiots are going to talk about it at the beginning of Chapter 8 before they have [SPOILER ALERT] sex. So let's gloss over that for now and talk about how this chapter ends. This really is the nastiest end of an chapter up until this point. Here are its concluding sentences:

"You're a virgin?" he breathes. I nod, flushing again. He closes his eyes and looks to be counting to ten. When he opens them again, he's angry, glaring at me.
"Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" he growls.

Periodically, I get so angry at this book that I have a hard time framing my thoughts. Usually I'll put it away for a while or just drink or maybe look up photos of pretty alpacas until I calm down enough to be able to get all my complaints together in some kind of order. 

It's fun because they have the same hair!

The small things: Ana blushes twice on this page, which means that her face must be like some type of color-changing lizard, since she's blushing and unblushing within seconds. I hope that in the inevitable movie adaptation, they do some CGI stuff that makes the actor playing Ana blush every time she blushes in the book, because that would be weird and terrifying. 
I love that CG is apparently incapable of just counting to ten in his head. Like, I'll assume the only way he's able to count to ten in his head is to mouth the numbers silently. Kind of like a child just learning to read who hasn't yet mastered reading without speaking each word aloud. 
Also: and I am very serious about this, fuck you if you use the word "breathes" in this way when you're writing. You don't "breathe" words. Do you mean "gasps," EL? Because that's a word that can mean both to speak words in a strained, urgent, breathy way, and to simply gasp in air. Words mean particular things! And of course, there's the cliche--"Don't breathe a word of this" or whatever. Fine. But since you pretty much have to have to exhale to speak, it's pretty stupid to tag dialogue with "breathes." Every conceivable way of forming sound with your mouth involves some breath, so just say "says" like a regular person, EL. 
Also: and I am very serious about this: fuck Christian Grey for being just a real piece of shit. Why the fuck didn't she tell you she was a virgin? Well why the fuck would she tell you she was a virgin? Up until like, ten minutes ago, Ana hoped that maybe, just maybe, she was in for some regular-ass romance. And that maybe, just maybe, she'd find a quiet moment, perhaps even in bed, in a moment of tenderness, to put her lips by CG's ear and say, "I've never done this before." And that maybe, just maybe, he'd smile, and say something nice or whatever, and help her feel less nervous, and they'd do regular sex stuff together, and it would be nice. That's probably all she really wanted! You know, before she saw the sex dungeon. Just to have some nice sex with a pretty billionaire. Is that really too much to ask? The billionaire part, yeah, probably, that's too much to ask. But just having some regular sex, some nice sex? That's not too much for Ana to ask, is it?
But then, there's a sex dungeon, and paperwork, which means that the conversation is so weird, so removed from Ana's limited experience, that there wasn't really a good opportunity for her to be like, "Whoa, hey. This is a little much. I've never even had regular sex, let alone complicated flogging sex." 
And since she was all nervous about admitting it, maybe she was holding onto this bit of information as long as she could, since she knew that CG would maybe be a real asshole about it. And she was right! He is a real asshole about it! Just a real asshole's asshole. I mean that phrase in two ways. CG is the sort of asshole who would really be popular amongst other assholes. Also, I mean that if a literal asshole itself had an asshole, that asshole's asshole would be Christian Grey. 
I'm concerned that these summaries will eventually just stop being funny at all, because I'm too angry at this book to make jokes. That's part of why I'm writing these faster than I'm posting them--to allow myself some opportunities to just not look at this book for a couple weeks. Because I'm sure that i'll need to do that now and again. 
And I really did kind of lose it when I saw that this thing actually is 514 pages long. That really made me question this whole endeavor. And then I was like, "Wait, so this is what I'm doing with my MFA? I'm not writing my own shit, but instead, doing a close reading of all 514 pages of this terrible, terrible book? Is that really what I'm doing with my life? And then waking up in a few hours and spending all day telling people about chocolate? Really?" 
Yes, then, I suppose I am. Fair enough! Sorry to let my own crippling insecurities taint our story. I'll try not to let it happen again, though I know it will, so I'll just have to try not to let it happen too much. 
But let this console us all: Next week, they'll have sex, and that will give new meaning to all of us, I'm sure. 

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