Friday, October 9, 2015


No, I am not going to quote the Princess Bride.

This post is a little similar to the Children one I posted a while ago with one exception: I won't be so impertinent. Or I will attempt not to be. I realize that post was a little rude or perhaps abrasive. I hope you don't hold it against me, though, they were true thoughts and feelings, I just think I could have expressed them in a more loving manner.

Without further adieu: Marriage. Or, more appropriately: The Single Person and How They Should React to the Topic of Marriage.
OR, even better: The Myth that Marriage is the Most Important Goal in Your Life and Should be Sought After Over All Other Pursuits.
Interesting title, you may think. How did I arrive at such a controversial topic? It's simple: I'm single. The topic of marriage is sometimes unavoidable--especially at my age. It's usually accompanied by assurances that it will happen to me some day and that I just need to be patient.
A lot of the time people--mostly married ones--feel the need to offer this assurance, but why? Is there something we should be worried about? Is there an expiration date to marriage? Why should we be assured that it will happen to us one day? Most of us are aware of that. I can only speak for myself when I say that such assurances have the adverse effect. Why are these people saying these things to me? I wasn't worried until they started mentioning that I shouldn't be worried. Should I be on the look-out? Should I be concerned that I'm getting older and haven't found a spouse?

Before I go further, let me just venture to say: I've been through all sides of it. I've sat by content to be single. I've marched by dead-set on never getting married. I've strolled past being patient but expectant. I've also slouched in my room and gave way to the lonely feeling which accompanies the seemingly large, gaping mouth of my single future, as I stared into it I'd think, "it's never going to happen to me. I'm broken."
The funny part is, I've received assurances when I was usually strolling contentedly--which put marriage on my mind and threw me into the slouching bit. So now you can have my assurance: I've been through most of it. And I can honestly say that I am on a good path now. And I want to tell you about it.

Marriage is a very important and beautiful sacrament full of meaning and purpose. It's also very hard -- so I've constantly been told -- and shouldn't be entered into lightly. From early childhood a girl is planning her wedding and getting crushes on boys and looking forward to marriage. I honestly thought I would be married by 19 -- 23 was pushing it. But why are we raised with this urgency to marry? I don't think anyone pulls you aside and says, "listen, you need to get married as soon as you can. It's important." In fact, people say the opposite, they give the afore mentioned assurances that it will happen eventually. Lots of people mention marrying in their 30's and that those marriages are great and solid. So how is it that we grow up thinking this needs to happen and soon?
That's how I grew up. And then it didn't happen. I was usually on the look-out, though. Sometimes I'd think I found someone but nothing would come of it. Then you kind of just sick of looking and you finally find a nice spot between the desire to be married and contentment with single life. I found I was getting on with life and even making plans to live as a single woman for a very long time. It actually rocked. Then my BFF got married and a little piece of me kind of broke off and died when that happened. I don't hold anything against her now, I still love her and I... well I tolerate the man she married and his purple drapes. But there was still that little piece of me that felt empty.
This was because, for 10 years, I had constant companionship and fellowship in Christ. We lifted each other up all the time and when that was suddenly taken away, I didn't know what to do!

This is bad, I thought, I should be so filled up with Christ that it shouldn't affect me if I lose a little bit of Buddyship. I was then faced with a marriage proposal. This may surprise some of you, but I turned it down. I would have accepted for all the wrong reasons. So I didn't. One of the biggest reasons would have been, "you'll probably never get a chance like this again in your life."
And I thought to myself, "that is the dumbest reason to marry someone."
Since I was already going through this losing part of my buddy thing, I realized it could be a little bit of a cop-out to run off and get married, effectively re-filling that hole with something else.
Instead I decided that I needed to be able to stand in Christ on my own before I attached myself to someone else. I want to make something very clear at this point in my post: I believe Christian fellowship is important. I don't believe anyone should cut themselves off from the body of Christ. I think we all need to bear each others' burdens and build each other up any chance we get. It's important that we can go to someone and tell them our worries and help each other.
But I also believe that, if the opportunity ever arises where we find ourselves alone in a place full of darkness, we should be able to stand firm in Christ, unwavering. I do not think we should fully rely on the fellowship of others. We stand together, but we should be able to stand by ourselves with nothing but the help of Christ. For He is more than enough.
Anyway, just so we're all clear on that. I'd like to say I rode off, triumphantly, into the sunset, but I didn't. I hit a few speed bumps. First I was marching off into the sunset; I was, in my own opinion, a "cool, single woman who didn't care if she ever got married."

I won't bore you with details of the speed bumps, because this post is already long enough.
Just understand that I did go through that slouching, lonely phase that I mentioned in the beginning. Then I woke up. Finally, after more than 10 years, I woke up. People would often -- and I mean often -- tell me "enjoy this time of your life, you'll miss it when it's gone!" First of all: then why give it up? Secondly: I knew that very well and took the advice most of the time, but it didn't click when I was looking at it from the perspective of a young adult looking to have "fun."
When I looked at it from the perspective of a Christian looking to sow seeds I fully realized the opportunity single people have.
The world is getting darker and darker as the days go on. We need to be warning people about Christ's coming, about repenting for sins. Sometimes when I sit down and wonder if Christ will come in my time I think, "darn, I don't have time for marriage. There is way too much work to do." THAT, there! That's the thought that made it click. Marriage should be introduced when you can only do so much for Christ's kingdom and then allying yourself with this person will make you a stronger team for Christ. When you have learned all you can while being single, God will bring you a person who He can teach you more lessons through. That's the best part about marriage, that's the importance of it. No, not relying on your spouse to hold you up in Christ. But lifting each other up and fulfilling His purposes.

Stop and think about it: Why do you have the desire to be married?
Is it a selfish reason? And I don't mean that in necessarily a bad way. It's not bad to want to have a connection with someone, to not be lonely and to share a life with someone. But that is selfish in that it revolves around your desires and wants.
Marriage is right when you meet a person whom you want to make happy, whom you would lay down your life for, a person who points you to Christ, with whom you make a great team.
Marriage is right when your ministry -- whatever it may be -- will be strengthened through this connection.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Offense and Forgiveness

Offense and Forgiveness.

In this world of Facebook and other social media I am seeing more often than not a plethora of offense. Among believers and non-believers alike. Now this post isn't addressing non-believers as they don't believe in the verses I'm going to be using, but feel free to read them just the same as they have a lot of good advice. I am addressing my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is something that bears heavily on my heart. Why do we offend? But more importantly... why do we take offense? Think about that last one for a bit. A very close and wise friend of mine once told me... we have no business being offended. If someone did not mean to offend us, we have no right to be offended by it. And if they DID mean to offend us, we certainly have no right to be offended. Well, she said those things more or less, it was about 4 years ago! But the truth stands. What does it profit us to be offended? What do we gain by it?
Absolutely nothing. Here are some verses I dug up today, I hope they encourage and build up. Not offend.

First of all. If someone does something to offend you... Tell them about it! And then forgive them.

Matthew 18:15-16 "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
Sitting around letting something someone did or say fester in you is ill-advised. Tell him about it! Say, "hey, that actually hurt a little bit... maybe you may not know that it came out that way?"
Or, you could forgive them for it and just leave it at that. If you find you can't, though, go to him, tell him about it.

Luke 17:3-4 "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."
Again, tell your brother if he's done something against you. We are to continue to forgive, never does Jesus say that there's a limit on how many times. Forgiveness is key.

Matthew 18:21-22 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."
Here you go, no limit. I don't think Jesus was literally meaning 490 times and then, oops, the 491st time you don't. That's silly. We need to have the heart of forgiveness, why? Read the next one.

Colossians 3:13 "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
How shameful is it to hold something against our brother -- or even enemy -- when Jesus so freely forgives us when/if we sin?

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
This is basically the bottom line. As though we need any more incentive to forgive than because God tells us to!

But it is not fair! You will say... Why should you have to suffer when maybe you are not even in the wrong? Why should you have to forgive when they aren't even apologizing?

Matthew 5:38-39, 43-48 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Someone slaps your proverbial cheek... your first reaction is to shove him away from you, or yell at him. But Jesus says to turn your cheek so he can slap the other one. If we need to love our enemies, how much more our brothers and sisters in Christ? It even says here that it's no big deal for us to love those who love us. But those who hurt or offend us... loving them takes a lot.

Romans 12:16-21 "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Even if the other party is in the wrong, what are we going to do? Do not repay evil for evil. Do not be overcome of evil! Be overcome with good! This is the attitude we need to have towards each other and even those who are not of the Church.

Matthew 7:3-5 "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
We need to be helping each other. Building each other up. If you see a fault in your brother, go to him in love and try to help him!

Why help your brother? Because it's commanded! Not only to help, but to love them!!

Romans 12: 10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"

Matthew 22:36-40 "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

1 Thessalonians 4:9 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."

Hebrews 18:1 "Let brotherly love continue."

1 John 2:9-10 "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him"

1 John 4:11 "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

1 John 4:20-21 "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."How is continuing to be offended, or continuing in offense or unforgiveness loving your brother? How is that love? To love someone also means to forgive them. Don't hold grudges, don't harbor hard feelings.

1 Peter 4:8-9 "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging."
-- Charity: Agape. Thayer's Greek lexicon: To give a proof of love.

Ask yourself this, next time you are tempted to be offended or to hold something against a brother or a friend... Are you holding their best interests at heart?
Jude 22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference:"
We need to be sure to put others' needs above our own!! If someone is offending you, maybe consider that they have things they need to work through, go to them in love and tell them so, put aside your own want to be offended and concern yourself with their souls, their walk with God. Not to boss them around and tell them what's good for them, but to help them, to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

John 15:14 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
How much MORE is laying down your life? Forgiving them is so small in comparison.

In the end it's always important to avoid offense in the first place.

Romans 12:18 "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." 

Proverbs 17:14 "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with."

Proverbs 13:10 "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."

1 Corinthians 8:13 "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."

But if we do, know that God always gives us a chance for repentance and forgiveness, why should we deny our fellow brothers the same things? And when we forgive, we need to remember to forgive the way Christ forgives us.
Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
Do not tell your brother you forgive him in love and then bring up the instance again when it suits you. To forgive means to choose to put it behind you and not bring it up. Yes, you remember what they did, you won't be able to erase it from your memory, but you will be able to remember that you made the choice to forgive and that love dictates that you will no longer bring that offense against your brother. I sometimes have to stop myself mid-thought when I'm remembering something someone did to me and I'm tempted to get upset about it, I think to myself, "no, I forgave them for that."

I pray this little study blesses you as it has blessed me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



Children have been on my mind a lot, lately. The subject of whether or not I want them, to be precise.
For quite a while the idea of childbearing made me turn up my mental nose as though I'd smelled a fowl stench. What had caused such distaste in my life you might wonder? Especially after previously wanting at least a dozen of my own?
Let's be honest... it's not me. It's you.
Wait wait wait don't leave. I didn't mean it like that! I really just wanted to use that line.
But it's not the kids that turn me away... it's, sadly, the mothers.
Today's social media sites have become an outlet for "Mommy-shaming" and other sorts of mother stories. People will post pictures of how they messed up or failed as being a mother, they'll post stories of how they want a vacation from being a mom, they talk all about their kids' terrible twos and thrilling threes and how much of a tornado their toddler is and how--my goodness you just need to lock them in a cage for a few hours! Now, in the realm of mothers, who understand, this seems normal. But to an outsider, to ME, this is horrifying. I've been subjected to a lot of stuff, and some of the stories aren't even that bad, but when you group them all together I just have to step back and think: WHY would you want to subject yourself to that?? What possessed you??
Why would you give up a perfectly sane existence as a single, independent person for THAT? (and the topic of marriage and husbands is another post entirely.)
And then the moms say, "oh... but it's worth it..."
I'm sorry, but after posting about how your child is covered in marker and just redecorated your room in the stylings of crayola... you can't just say "it's worth it" and expect us to understand! Especially when there's sooo much negativity posted on Facebook about children! Who wants to put up with that messy world of mother-comparing, where you don't feel adequate. Don't deny it, I've seen tons of articles telling mothers that they are adequate--why? Because they feel inadequate! Why?? Why do you put yourselves through that?? I mean they made a movie about it! (Mom's Night Out).
By the way.. I'm not referring to any one person, so if you get offended over this, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to attack anyone, I'm just sharing my thoughts on this journey of self-discovery. It would be wrong of me to pin-point people and call them out. This all happened over the years of reading one thing here, one thing there.

Anyway, continuing...
I called April up in a panic one day. "Why would I give up a NON-stressful, single life for something that's only going to stress me out, make me cry and make me constantly want to run away on a vacation?? Do you know how terrible that sounds?? Who wants a vacation from their children?? And who's going to want to marry a cranky bachelorette who is terrified of having children?? No one doesn't want to have children! It's something everyone loves to complain about!"
April told me something so astonishing that it shut me up: "You don't have to be them."
What. I don't... have to be like everyone else? No! She explained that these are just other peoples' reactions to what's happening--I can choose to react to Monsieur Crayola's redecorating differently! I don't have to be stressed out in any situation, really, it's all relevant. Someone spilled paint all over the floor? Not ideal. But it's life.
Kid pooped in the kitchen and now the dog's eating it? Welllll... yeah that would be tough. But still, the stress is only there if you allow it to be. It'll pass, and then it'll be a story!
Taking care of my grandma showed me this. And I mean... she made WAY bigger messes in the bathroom than I've ever seen a kid make. She'd... well... I won't go into it, but I've had to deal with this kind of stuff on an adult-scale and it was NOT fun, but God showed me how to treat it with patience, Grandma had alzheimers, she didn't know any better, it wasn't her fault. I could apply those same lessons to raising kids. I didn't have to let it get to me, I didn't have to publicly shame myself on Facebook whenever it happened.

Now I have a few good friends who are mothers, and let me just say "thank-you", they post sweet videos and photos of the joy and pleasure of being a mother, of their families chilling out in a happy coexistence, they talk about how much they love their kids. They don't usually--IF EVER--post anything bad about it. OR if they DO, it's in good humor, "lol, look at this mess this silly kid made". Thank-you. Thank-you for showing me that it isn't always terrifying. Because, while we shouldn't go into motherhood with false expectations, it's important to remember that raising children is a great job! And rewarding! It's because of you (and April's advice) that I realized it's not all that bad, that I really do want to have kids, despite all the things that *could* go wrong. In the end I had made the decision based on how I want to live my life, I want to raise a family so that when I'm old and wrinkled I'll be surrounded by lots of kids, not nieces and nephews (which are great, too) but my own kids, my own grandkids. I think that will be worth getting my phone flushed down the toilet or having pasta spilled all over the kitchen floor. 

But I really wanted to post this to pose a question to mothers out there: Are you maybe guilty of "Mommy shaming"? Yes, motherhood is hard, but it's also beautiful. Try to SHARE the beauty in it and just remember that when you share the horrors of parenthood... there's a single woman out there hiding under her bed covers and murmuring, "never gonna have kids, never gonna have kids."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fifty Shades of Not Stupid

 So. If you know me you know my opinion about Fifty Shades of Grey. But if you don't know me, you don't know that I think it's a highly deplorable pile of rubbish, and it's badly written, too. I've never read the book, never want to. However I have read many reviews on how badly it was written, despite the terrible content. I couldn't help myself, I read the first chapter sample they have on Amazon. The rumors are true, folks, it is terribly written. Its monstrosity haunts me. It's a bane to the literary arts! Egh!
Of course... I am a bit of a writing snob, but there it is.

Unable to live with this knowledge that such a heinous sin exists, I took it upon myself to re-write the first chapter. However after beginning my noble venture I found it hard to even seriously re-write it and it turned out to be a huge mockery of the original. A delicious, huge mockery.

I leave it here for you--but before you read you must know a few things.
First, it's even more hilarious if you read the original 1st chapter. Don't worry, I assure you there is no sex in the first chapter, it's just her meeting the idiot and complaining, then making a complete fool of herself as though she were a ditzy, brainless loser that doesn't have an ounce of self confidence or control.
Second, I claim no rights to anything in the original story and, come on guys, I'm not out to make money off of this or steal anybody's (blood) money. In fact I'd be horrified to make money off of a sex novel. I'm writing this with my nose in the air. Literally. I think it must be the long day at work that I just don't want to sit up straight, or I really am that snobbish that my nose upturns when I'm looking down on other peoples' "success" (through terrible means).
Third, I'm not claiming rights to any sort of copywrite material in this segment. Except for my own material. That I'll claim.

Right. Without further adieu.

   Why did I go to bed with wet hair? I ask myself for the fifteenth time as I painstakingly comb out the unruly mane. I should just chop it all off, honestly I don’t look half bad with a pixie. I tried it once, but then I was a teenager and, if I’m being honest with myself, my face was a little thinner then. At least I still have my blue eyes to draw the attention away from the fluff that is now my hair. It’s a good thing I love my roommate, Cait Cavenaugh, I begrudgingly think as I tame my brown hair into a ponytail. She had this fabulous opportunity to interview the CEO on Gray Enterprises Holdings Inc.. Even I know what a big deal this is, and I’m me! For those who don’t know, I’m a big home-body. I don’t know much about the outside world, unless it has to do with Facebook. Either way, my dearest roommate is dreadfully ill and I recommended myself as her champion, volunteering to drive the 170 miles to meet this tycoon (who has absolutely no time to waste and simply cannot reschedule the interview). Yep, Cait is darn lucky that I love her. And that she’s my cousin. Because, honestly, who’s willing to throw off their cramming sessions and Gilmore Girls for a roommate you hardly know? No one does that, right?
   “I’m sorry, Anna, are you sure you don’t want to just drive me there? I could pull off health for an hour once we got there.” My cousin calls from the living room couch. She still looks gorgeous, even on her death bed. She’s looking at me with her puppy eyes, the same ones she used on my mom when we wanted to go to the mall as kids.
   “Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll just ask all the questions you wrote down and record his answers. Easy peasy, it’s no problem. And I’ll take the scenic route back, I always wanted to drive up the coast, now’s my chance!” Putting a positive spin on things is always important in my life, as I could have easily been grumbling the entire drive up to Seattle about how my roommate is inconveniencing my studying time and my lack of social life. Nope, I won’t be such a person! Instead I take advantage of this long drive in Cait’s Aston Martin to meditate on my life.

   Before I know it, I am in Seattle and in front of this enormous building. Big, architecturally appealing and shiny. I’m feeling quite smug that I not only played the good samaritan to my poor, sick cousin, drove 170 miles in an amazing car, and dressed appropriately for an interview with a Fortune 500 CEO, but I also arrive early. I wipe the grin off my face as I waltz through the rotating glass doors. The lobby is white sandstone, glass and steel. Cold and boring, but very business-like. Behind a sandstone desk sits the receptionist, she’s smartly dressed in a charcoal jacket that I immediately covet--though mine is a little more fashionably sound with a flare at the back, therefore I hold my own in her presence. I have no qualms over approaching this receptionist as I stroll up and announce, “I’m here to see Mr. Gray.”
The pretentious hussy looks at me as though I weren’t wearing a sixty dollar jacket and I feel the need to elaborate, “I’m Annastsiya Ananyev, I’m here in place of Catherine Cavenaugh.”
   “Oh yes, one moment,” the receptionist types a few things then announces, “yes, Miss Cavanaugh is expected. Please sign in here, Miss Anennev.” Nobody gets my last name right. “Then you’ll want the last elevator on the right--the twentieth floor.”
   She gives me a kind smile which I can’t mistake as slightly judgmental as I sign my loopy signature that took me ages to perfect. She hands me a visitor’s pass. It’s a good thing, too, because people would mistake me for an employee with how well I am dressed. My mother always told me that every woman should own at least one interview outfit. Taking that advice to heart I had invested in two blazers and some suit pants. The amount of smugness on being prepared could not be overstated.
   The elevator takes me to the twentieth floor. At this time I’m beginning to feel dizzy as I don’t deal with heights that well. I’m sure to keep my gaze away from the windows as I approach the same style sandstone desk as was downstairs. The assistant rises to greet me, “Miss Annyenev, wait here, please.” She ushered to the seated area full of white leather chairs, beyond the chairs are windows. I quickly find a chair facing the desk and count to ten, imagining solid ground and fresh air. It was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic in here.
   A third lady comes out of an enormous stone door and smiles warmly at me. Rather than blonde, like the first two, she has shiny raven hair and sharp glasses. She looks like one of those super models dressed to look like a nerd.
   “Miss Anvenyev, hi,” she reaches out and shakes my hand. “Mr. Gray will see you in a moment. Have you been offered any refreshment?”
This woman is much friendlier than the judgy one downstairs. “Uh, no I haven’t.”
   “Would you like tea, coffee, or water?” She asks, giving a quick, disciplinary glance at the blonde lady.
   “Water would be fine, thank-you,” I say. Model nerd looks at blonde girl and blonde girl stands and leaves without a word.
   “I apologize, Helga is a new intern. It’ll be just another five minutes.” Without any other explanation, she drifts away and into another office. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet? I’m beginning to seriously doubt Shakespear’s beliefs once I find out this woman’s real name. Her stunning beauty seems to have dropped down a couple of notches. In fact, I swear I spotted a mole under her chin when she returned with a bottle of sparkling water. I brush off my stereotyping when I realize I haven’t had water since my bottle ran dry about an hour ago, I take the opportunity to drink as much as possible before the large stone door opens again and a businessman sporting short dreads walks out. He turns back to the doorway and says, “golf this week, Gray?”
I don’t hear the reply, but it must have been a yes as the man seemed satisfied with the answer and turned into the reception area. Helga jumps out of her seat to call the elevator as the man gives me a sparkling smile, “good afternoon, ladies,” he says as he departs through the elevator doors. What a pleasant sort of fellow, I think to myself.
   “Mr. Gray will see you now, Miss Anvenyev. Do go through.” Black-haired model ushers to the stone door.
I’m sure to keep the water bottle with me, as I’m not sure how long this interview will be. As I walk the few yards to the door I briefly wonder how old this guy is going to be. After all, he started his own company and it’s obviously flourishing. This dude has to be around his 40’s. I push open the surprisingly light door but trip over my heels on my way in. I smoothly recover before I face-plant and end up in this position that looks like a bird trying to do a kung fu pose. I immediately straighten up and clap eyes on a very young, sandy-haired man. This has to be some mistake, you only read about rich, young billionaires in books! He reaches out his hand to greet me, “Miss Cavanaugh, a pleasure.” His fingers are long, thin and spindly. Up until viewing them I would have imagined him a perfect specimen--everyone has their flaws. I consider my options of avoiding the shake but it’s inevitable, I reach out and clasp the stringy hand and resist the temptation to wipe my hand on my pants afterwards.
   “I’m Christian Gray, please have a seat.”
He is dashing. But his sparkling blue eyes seem a little too sparkling for my taste, and there’s something about his smile that makes me squirm. I take a seat on a sofa that deceptively comfortable only to find it was a rock covered in cardboard and leather.
   “My name is actually Annastasiya Annanyev. My cousin is Cait--er, Miss Cavenaugh--she was sick and I volunteered to do the interview for her. I hope that’s alright.”
   “It isn’t a problem,” he assures as he walks over to a glass bar, “may I offer you something to drink?”
   “No thanks.” As he gets himself something I look around the expansive office. Figures, someone making this much money couldn’t be bothered to have a practical office. It looked more like a penthouse. A boringly-decorated penthouse. Not a stitch of taste! However my taste is that of Mike Wazowski and Buzz Lightyear rolled into a small apartment room. I get right down to business, pulling out my iPhone and Cait’s questions. I activate the recorder app and start, though I feel completely out of my element, I’m determined to play the part, if I can fool this billionaire, perhaps I’ll have a future in acting!
He takes a seat in a chair across from me, takes a sip of his water, then smiles, “go ahead and start at anytime?”
The smile again… it’s just so… beautiful, it’s just creepy. Like one of those cakes you buy at the grocery store that are covered in way too much frosting. Ugh, I want to leave and take a shower, I have a jug of Dr Bronner’s castile soap under my bathroom sink but right now I’m imagining it won’t be enough to wipe this guy’s memory away.
   “Right, so these are all Cait’s questions, she wrote them down ahead of time, I’ll just dive right in. Uh, what--you’re very young to have grown such a company. To what do you owe your obvious success?”
   “Business is all about people, Miss Annenyev, and I’m good at finding out how they tick, what makes them flourish, what inspires them, what incentives they need. I reward ingenuity and creativity.”
Halfway through the answer I go off into a daze tracing the pattern on his silverish tie. It shifts in the light and I’m trying to figure out if they’re diamonds or some sort of French pattern. I only catch the last bit of his self-appreciating accolade, “the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
   “Sounds like something a control freak would say,” I comment flatly.
   “I control a great many things, Miss Annanyev.” He looks at me as though he’s dead serious, like I offended his dynasty somehow. Or maybe he’s trying to intimidate me or make some secret point? All I notice is that he’s properly pronounced my name, twice! An incredible feat, I must admit.
   “Just maybe not your decorators, eh?” I laugh a short, blast of a laugh native to the women in my family. He was not amused. I clear my throat and look down at the questions, “Do you have any interests outside your work?”
   “I have varied interests.” He gives me an intense look and I fight the urge to scoot away from his gaze. “Very varied.” This guy’s a creep, and he’s not good with words. He was definitely given the wrong name, this guy seems more like Satan than a Christian. I don’t realize I’m staring back at him, all I see are the two red horns protruding out of his head. Now it hits me, he probably thinks I’m mentally challenging him so I quickly rush on to the next questions, all about his interest in agriculture, sciences and manufacturing; all areas in which he conducts business. Every answer of his revolves around his want for power and control. He is very arrogant, too, not showing an ounce of humility or even a shout out to his mother who raised him. Maybe he wasn’t raised by a mother, perhaps a pack of ravenous wolves. That’s what he reminds me of, a wolf, a starving, creepy sort of werewolf that wants to rip the flesh off of innocent people. Of course, as fate would have it, the next question on Cait’s list was about his adoption. I blurt out another Annanyev laugh but try to stifle it halfway through, it ends up sounding like a strangled seagull. I start coughing and take a drink of water from the bottle I carried in with me.
   “Are you alright?” He didn’t sound concerned, but rather bored.
   “No. I mean, yes, I was just taken aback by… one of the questions.”
   “Well, since it was so outrageous, I must hear it now.”
I really don’t want to tell him that I find the fact that he’s an orphan hilarious. So instead I skip on to the next question which I can pass off as funny if I am a really good actress, “are you gay?”
His facial expression doesn’t change at all, it’s flat, plain. He blinks at me twice, “no, Miss Annenyev. Did you really drive all this way just to ask me that?”
   “No, of course not, these are Cait’s questions.”
   “Right, I forgot. And Cait was…?”
   “Sick. She couldn’t make it.”
   “Of course. And are you working on this project together?”
   “No, she’s my roommate and cousin, I volunteered.”
   “That’s very noble of you.”
The door opened behind him and the black-haired girl walked in, “Mr. Gray, your next appointment is in three minutes, sir.”
   “Of course, thank-you Olga.” I stifle another dying seagull laugh. Helga and Olga. These women are not nearly as intimidating or amazing as I originally thought. Interesting what a change of a name can do. He directs his gaze back to me and all I can think is, ‘wolf eyes’. Maybe he should change his name from Christian to Wolf.
   “What say I ask you some questions now.” He leans forward, resting his arms on his knees and clasping his hands together like a greedy man at a poker table.
I can’t control the instinct to lean back slightly.
   “Go ahead.” I’m not scared, I mentally tack on. I mentally imagine braiding his golden hair into a chain, and that thought quickly morphs into one of the dreadlock dude chilling on a beach in San Diego wearing said chain. And then a shark hops on land and asks him where to get one. I blink the thought away and attempt to pay attention. 
   “What are your plans after you graduate?”
   “I’m not sure.” I lie, I have great plans to move back to California and get a job at Pixar Studios. But I won’t tell him that, he doesn’t deserve to know about my ambitions.
   “We have an excellent internship program here, if you’re interested.”
   “Oh, um... I don’t know. I don’t imagine I’d fit in here.”
He raises his dark eyebrows that clash with his sandy hair. “And why do you imagine such a thing?”
The way he says it, his voice, it sounds like velvet or something, it makes me want to take some of that castile soap and squirt it in one ear and out the other. Especially the almond-scented kind.
   “You seem to employ women who cannot pronounce names properly and are only interested in looking pretty. I know it’s a harsh observation, but it is just an observation so don’t take it too personally. I’m sure they’re lovely women. But I have higher ambitions than working in a stuffy office full of people wearing the same outfit.” I really can’t believe I say all that, but then I’m known to be blunt. I’m not quite a mousy sort of lady, I speak my mind, I almost wish I wouldn’t.
   “Let me show you around the building, perhaps I can change your mind.”
I stand up and collect my water bottle, I had chugged almost all of it and now felt the undeniable urge that soon follows. I should have stopped at a restaurant and used the restroom before coming. This sudden feeling mixed with the squirmish ones I’m experiencing in his pristinely greasy presence, I find it hard to concentrate on giving a good excuse.
   “I appreciate the offer, truly. But I honestly need to leave as soon as possible.”
Waterfalls, beaches, they all start flashing past my mind as I hastily shake his hand, “it’s been,” I stop myself before saying pleasure, “have a good day!”
His noodle fingers grip onto my hand like octopus tentacles and I momentarily panic thinking he’s going to shove me in a closet and save me for a snack. I give him a forced smile and rush out of the room and into the elevator. Once the doors close I take a big sigh of relief then march to the nearest restroom once they open again.

   The drive home doesn’t take nearly as long. Maybe it was because I drove down the coast, like I said I would, and felt a huge weight off my shoulders once I left the building, and the burning gaze of that Mr. Gray. Yuck. I got home in great time and Cait was ecstatic over the interview. We all went on with our lives after that, until one fateful day about 18 months later… I stumbled across that man with the wolf gaze, his name and picture were on Facebook, of all places, on an article link. The title? Billionaire guilty in sex trafficking. So that’s where he got all his money. Agricultural science my Aunt Fanny. What a creep! I’m glad I listened to my intuition and hightailed it out of there. A weaker woman may have fallen into his trap, been overwhelmed by his Ken-doll-like features and then what might have become of her? A poor, abused slave kept under the controlling, noodly fingers of Mr. Grey--who was said to have made bail momentarily, but is looking at 50 years in prison. Good.

The End.