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Alright.  I cannot resist.  The temptation to wade in and give my two cents is more irresistible than the actual book itself. 

I know you have been waiting for my review before attempting Fifty Shades of Grey, so here you go….

Read it. 

Now I have to admit that I resisted reading it until a friend of mine whose opinion I trust recommended it.  She is the kind of no-bullshit chick who is not afraid to express herself and I respect that.  I also believe she has accurate contempt for (most) cheesy chick-flick sappiness and would have told me if it was something that would turn my stomach with J. Lo/Katherine Heigl deftness.

The one major improvement that could have been made was removing the “Holy shit!” and “Holy fuck.” asides out of the text altogether.  I understand they are there to express the inexpressible shock of our virginal heroine’s foray into the kinky world of Mr. Grey, but a decent editor should have taken those out in the first round of editing and threatened to quit if Ms. James insisted on putting them back in. 

Is it decently written (I heard it was not and that was more of a barrier to my reading it than S&M). Over all, I would have to give it a C.  Which, truth be told, is rather arrogant of me considering I have not had a sentence published, much less three books.  However, I have read enough books to tell just a good character driven story from literature. 

This is not literature.  Want proof?  It is 514 pages and I read them voraciously and quickly – certainly in less than 10 hours.  No complicated thought provoking sentences here, just character driven plot told like two girlfriends gossiping over brunch.

On the way home I started The Great Gatsby.  In half the amount of time above, I have made it 54 pages.  The story is told more with descriptive renderings of the storyteller’s observations and interpretations and less through dialect and scenery.  The ideas and the sentences used to convey them are complicated and I have to think them through.  And, of course, there is the difference in the style and the foreign dialect of the 1920s that slows me down a bit.

While Christian Grey may be complicated, the language and vehicle used to portray him is not; which is fine and nice, but not near as interesting for the reader. But the fact is (if you are looking for a comparison) that James out wrote Meyer, hands down.  However, neither of them are near the same league as JK Rowling who is one of the most impressive language and wordsmiths of the 21st century – something confirmed by that master of words himself, Stephen King. 

It is better (by far) than Twilight in both story and writing.  At the very least, Ana is not only a more compelling character than Bella, but she is stronger and only about 5-7 years older than Bella.  But, even with the S&M sex stuff, you do not get the overwhelmingly unhealthy feeling about Grey relationship as you do about the totally stalker and overly emotional and dramatic teenage relationship of Bella and Edward.  At the very least, Ana is adult enough to think things through rationally, something Bella is utterly incapable of doing.  An undead vampire who literally wants to eat her alive standing over Bella watching her sleep is even more disturbing than a man who wants to get you off in decidedly kinky ways with decidedly kinky toys.

So compared to something like Twilight, it is more adult – in both character development and subject matter. 

Luckily for me, I do not have any hang ups with the subject matter.  When I told a work colleague I would be reading it on a family trip to my father-in-law’s house with kids in tow, she was scandalized.   This is porn in her opinion and as such should not be read at all, much less in the company of my minor children.  However, since my kids cannot read and there were no pictures, I didn’t understand the issue with it. I wasn’t reading it to them for bedtime, ya know? God only knows what she would have thought of me if I had confessed I have seen every episode of HBO’s Real Sex and G-String Divas.  Scandalous!! 

I will say this to all the critics out there who have not read it and somehow still find it demeaning: it is not erotica, although it is on the border.  Most of erotica, to include Ann Rice among others (not that I have a ton of experience reading it, but from what I have gleaned…) is very much an objectification of a person for the sexual pleasure of another, whether male or female – and the subject’s pleasure is inconsequential.  This is not that.  

As a matter of fact, if I had to come up with a theme (at least for the first book), it would be that the heroine DE-objectifies women for our hero, Mr. Grey.  She teaches him that sex is about more than getting off.  And a hugely popular and widely read book that takes a woman and uses her to teach that point is not a bad thing for people to read. 

Oh, and you will have, ahem, heightened sensitivities that you will enjoy … and your husband will as well.

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I am not a very good decision maker.  I know people who are and I admire them for their decisiveness. However, as much as I wish I could, I cannot count myself among them.

That does not mean that I don’t make decisions (it is not exactly something you can avoid doing), nor is it that I make bad decisions (although that has certainly happened over the years), but I have a problem knowing when enough is enough when it comes to extrapolating the possible outcomes of the choices. 

I can get paralyzed by the possibilities.

Once a decision is made, I can follow through without much of a problem, but up until that point I can worry myself sick and silly imagining.

Except on certain occasions.

There have been a few times in my life that I have made a snap decision without thinking much about it. 

I have been ruminating for a few months on doing something that, on the face of it, seems like a good idea. I have even convinced myself of it.

Except.

You see, I had this decision to make years ago as well.  I had it offered up to me on a silver platter once….and without the issues that would make it difficult now. 

I turned it down flat. 

And I was flat wrong

The door of opportunity opened and I slammed it shut.

I should have taken what was offered to me and run with it. But I had such an aversion and a visceral reaction to the idea that I immediately thought, “There is no way I am doing that.”

I did not weigh the possibilities and benefits.  I did not think about how far ahead it could get me.  I did not think about the fact that I may never get the opportunity again.  And there may have been a few self-esteem and emotional issues holding me back, about which I was not fully aware at the time (I was 24, give me a break).  Ones that didn’t allow me to either recognize my own potential or maximize the opportunities given to me.  Had I been confident, thoughtful and more strategic at the time, I would have jumped at the chance. 

As a matter of fact, looking back on myself at 24 from 17 years into the future, I realize what an idiot I was.  If Greta is ever offered a similar opportunity at that age and turns it down for the reasons I did, I will have a fit.  I will do everything I possibly can to change her mind. 

No one did that for me.  And, on the one hand, I wish someone had. At least then.

But on the other, not so much.

Because the visceral reaction my younger self had to the opportunity back then is the very reason I am choosing not to pursue it all these years later. 

In the last 17 years I have learned a lot. 

I have learned about responsibility, duty, trust, honesty and work ethic.

I have learned about myself, both my strengths and shortcomings …and hopefully how to both accentuate and mitigate them.

But there is something that tends to get squashed down as you learn all of the above. 

Your inner voice.

Your desires and spontaneity. 

Your id and ego get pushed around by the superego so much and so often that we not only ignore them completely, but we vilify them for wanting.

Or…NOT wanting.

We learn to ignore the part of us that reacts and says, “I don’t want to.”

Ezra says that sometimes. Depending on my mood and the situation, the answer to it is either (1) “I didn’t ask you if you wanted to, I told you to.  Now go.” (usually used if I tell him to pick up his room or eat his vegetables and that was his response); or (2) “I know you don’t. I don’t want to either, but we have to.  So come on and let’s get it over with.” (used to commiserate not wanting to go to school or get shots or the like, but still teaching that some things have to be done no matter what we want).

As we get older, we think more in terms of what I should be doing instead of what we want to do. 

How many mothers can sit down for an hour during the day, shut out the world to read 50 Shades of Grey?

Ok.

How about while knowing that the dishes need doing or dinner needs cooking or laundry needs washing?

Not so many, uh?

Most of us would start thinking about all the things we should be doing and allow that to trump what we want to do. I know it is a small scale example, but Pavolv didn’t have to use the Liberty Bell and a fillet mignon, either, now did he?

Given a few decades of that, it is not surprising that we over extend ourselves and stop listening to the little voice inside that simply says, “I don’t want to” and get bullied by the one that screams, “I didn’t ask what you wanted, now did I?”

But I am not going to do that. I am not going to be pushed into something I don’t want, even if I am the one doing the bullying. 

I am going to believe that the reason I don’t want to do this is because there is a better way, another option, an opportunity that I can’t see yet coming down the pike. One that will be infinitely better for me and mine than the one I am passing on. 

I cannot believe that at two different times in my life I have been presented with the same idea and that both times my gut tells me no… and then that there is no reason for it.   

There has to be another way to get where I want to go.  A way that suits me and who I am.  I don’t know what it is and I don’t know how to even figure out what it might be.  But I have to trust that there is a path for me that gets the same – or better – rewards. 

Gulp. 

Holy cow, I had better be right about this.

It is serious what we do.  I know it is not what we choose to talk about most of the time, but there is a reason for that. 

This is just one of the many, many, many mommy blogs out there. 

I try to post things here that are thoughtful and (hopefully) a little bit funny.  I want people to come back, after all.  And I try not to make it all mommy all the time.

But mommy blogs give an outlet to both the writers and the readers – a much needed one. 

The reason?

Because raising your children is one of the scariest and most serious things you will do in life. 

One of my friends told her husband once not to get all high and mighty with his job and his responsibilities while she is a SAHM.  He may very well be doing something important and serious, but she is making people.  People who will one day be well-balanced, well-adjusted, responsible, happy human beings who will then go on to do good things with their lives.  Top that. 

She is so right. 

You worry and fret.  You model and teach.  You set boundaries and rules.  You hand out rewards and punishments. 

You above all pray for their safety, because someone always knows someone else who has been struck with tragedy.

And all mothers know it can happen to them. Even if they are vigilant and responsible there are always sicknesses and accidents – the randomness of life – in addition to the danger and evil inherent in this world. I look back on my own life and know that there were a few times that, if things had gone just a little bit differently, I might be just another sad story. 

And the fear of becoming a cautionary tale or a tragic story of loss is something mothers live with all the time.  No mother will ever let her kid go off to camp or play football or drive without thinking about all the news stories she’s heard about a kid going missing or being injured or having a wreck.

But if we dwelled on this fear we would be paralyzed and damage our kids with our overprotectiveness. So that well-adjusted part would be out the window.

And that is why mommy blogs mostly talk about the funny and the inspirational parts of parenting, because not one of us need to be reminded of the Fear.

But a lot of moms take being moms so seriously that they forget to have a good time.  Put up the dish gloves, let down their hair and just have a good damn time. 

We need to laugh and enjoy what is right now because, although we give assurances to our kids that all will be fine and things will work out in the end, we know that happy endings are only a sure thing in fairy tales. 

Real life is more unpredictable than that. 

But as uncertain as it is and as scary as it can be, this life that we live and the children we raise are worth the risk we take by allowing them to carry our hearts with them every day. 

That is why I put off dinner and threw the football with Ezra last night.

It is why so thoroughly enjoy t-ball games. 

It is why I want to take the boys to Disney World and Washington DC and the beach and the mountains. 

It is the uncertainty of life and the fleeting nature of it that gives deep meaning to having a good time and enjoying the people you love as much as you possibly can. 

It is why we all need to make sure we have a good dose of fun to balance the responsibility of life. 

Now, go have a good time with someone you love.  I am.