Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Harry Potter Saved My Life

I have a story to tell.  So please, everyone gather around.  Grab a seat and a cup of tea.

Once upon a time, I was a little girl.  Hard to imagine a time when I wasn't a snarky, feminist blogger, but there was.  I wasn't a princess, just a girl who lived with her mom in their house.  No cottage nonsense, or white picket fence.  But it was home.  One day, July 15th 2000, my mother and I spent the day together.  We went garage sailing, ate lunch, played Trivial Pursuit, and much to my dismay had to go to my mom's office.  I stayed in the car, lounging back in my chair while my mom did boring work/adult things inside.  Eventually, she was done and we got in the car to go home.  We never made it.  On the way back, a man fell asleep at the wheel and hit us head-on.  Since my seat was laid down, I ended up in the backseat.  The jaws of life were needed to rescue my mom from the vehicle, and she was in a coma for a while.  I ended up moving in with my aunt, so she could take care of me.  Being young and now pretty broken (compound fracture in right ankle and broken right clavicle), I needed amusements.  The amazing people my mom work with got together and bought me a plethora of distractions.  Included in these was the first four Harry Potter books.

Courtesy of Tumblr
My first foray into the magical world of Hogwarts and dragons and spells happened at a time in my life when I was broken, physically and emotionally and mentally.  I was eleven years old and had to wonder if my mother was going to die.  How does someone that young cope with that kind of overwhelming emotion?  I did was kids normally do; I escaped.  I ran into a world where most things could be fixed with a simple spell or that any book could have the answer (no shock I identified and still do with Hermione).  And I fell in love with it all.  I gobbled up the books one after another, and could barely contain myself when I heard the first movie was being made.  I became obsessed with Tom Felton and Daniel Radcliffe who were clearly meant to be in love with me as well; they just didn't know it yet.  And as they grew up, I grew up with them.

Courtesy of Tumblr
Just as Harry, Ron, and Hermione survived, I also survived.  But the magic that I felt in those books never left me.  I'll be the mom who reads Harry Potter to her children and has it as a nursery theme and hosts viewing parties and play quidditch.  I'll do it all.  Because these books will never leave me.  When my heart was broken and damaged, this is what healed them and just because they are over doesn't mean that part of my heart will be ripped out.  Instead, it'll be a part of me forever.  Always.

Now that the sappy part is over, I can move on to the exciting part!  I recently found a month long Harry Potter challenge.  And I'm using August to do it!  I'm hoping I'll be able to post every day, but will maybe do a couple posts combined to ease up on the pressure for myself.  But what better way to celebrate the amazingness of this series than with a blogging challenge?!  Besides a viewing marathon, which I'm currently in the middle of doing with two different people (I've watched SS with one friend and am up to the last two with another).  All Harry Potter all the time guys!  It's just the way it should be.  So prepare for my first post tomorrow!  Mischief managed!

Courtesy of Tumblr

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hobby Lobby & Hypocrisy

More like Ruth BadAss Ginsburg, am I right?!
The Hobby Lobby decision that came down recently infuriated me beyond belief.  I couldn’t believe the result and while I did enjoy Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent (RBG4EVA), I realized that forming coherent thoughts on the matter would take some time.  Yeah, I was that furious.  Much like I need time to form most well thought out commentary, I needed it even more for this one.  I’m attacking it from a couple different angles.  Let’s call them the “Angles of Suck,” because this is all the ways in which the Supreme Court and/or Hobby Lobby suck.

Angle of Suck 1: Corporations are more important than people.

Congrats to everyone who works for a big corporation (lots and lots of people), your medical needs no longer matter if they conflict with the religious beliefs of the organization.  Yes, it sounds snide and generalizing when I put it like that, but the SCOTUS opened that door so I’m putting my foot in it.  When personal medical decisions are deemed less important than corporate interest as this decision has said, it opens another door for corporations.  How much longer before big companies are going to start making excuses in order to stymie their employees’ personal lives?  Why stop at religion?  Let’s keep going.  I don’t like men who are blonde, so you can’t shop here.  Too bad for you.

Angle of Suck 2: Religiousness rules.

If a “family-run” corporation can say it is against their religion to pay for certain medical necessities for some women that are basically abortions (more on that later), then how long is it going to be before other religions refuse medical care?  How long until a Jehovah’s run business won’t pay for blood transfusions?  Or a Scientological organization won’t pay for medication for depression, ADD, or seizure disorders because they believe those diseases don’t exist?  Is it likely that Jehovah’s or Scientologists will own a business you’ll end up working for?  No, not at all.  But has a precedence been set?  Yep.  Let’s all the women start working for a very religious Muslim company and allow Sharia law.  Or Romans and feeding people to lions.  Or better yet, let’s stop hiring or allowing gay people to shop here.  We’re religious so what we say goes!  Gag.

Angle of Suck 3: “Just get a different job or work somewhere else.”

With unemployment and low pay as rampant as it is right now, I got really irritated when I heard this excuse.  “If they don’t cover it then just go work somewhere else.”  Right because jobs are so abundant right now?  I know a lot of people that if put in this position would be forced  to stay because likelihood of being hired elsewhere is slim.  But even with jobs, plenty of people are struggling to make ends meet because of low pay.  I make more than minimum wage, but I also live at home.  If I was out on my own and paying all of my bills on what I make, I’d be living paycheck to paycheck.  I’ve done that before.  It sucks.

Sounds about right...unfortunately.
Angle of Suck 4: IUDs and Morning After Pill =/= Abortifacients

What Hobby Lobby and also a lot of people don’t seem to understand is the difference between precautionary medicine and abortifacients.  Allow me to shed some light.  Precautionary medicine like the pill or IUDs or the Morning After pill stops an egg from being fertilized.  These are preventions from getting pregnant, not things that cause abortions once a woman is pregnant.  Abortifacients are used specifically to end a pregnancy once it has started.  I don’t understand why this is so confusing to people.  Especially the Morning After Pill.  It disrupts ovulation or fertilization, not end fertilization once it has happened.  In fact, the Morning After Pill isn’t effective if you’re already pregnant.  

Angle of Suck 5: The Gender Hypocrisy

While the owners of Hobby Lobby have made it known they are very pro-family and won’t pay for these supposed abortifacients, they have no objection to paying for vasectomies.  So if you have a penis, you’re okay.  But a vagina?  No, they don’t like you.  Actor George Takei has some great opinions on this whole debacle.

Angle of Suck 6: The Corporate Hypocrisy

While I no longer will shop at any Hobby Lobby, apparently many of their products say Made in China on the bottom.  I find this interesting, because such a “pro-family” company must realize the effect of the One-Child policy in China?  That Chinese officials used to force women to get abortions for violating the law or failing to pay the fine for violating the law.  While it doesn’t happen as frequently, it happens.  So why is such a “pro-family” company doing business with China?  Oh yes, for cheaper products made in terrible working conditions!  I’m so glad this “pro-family” corporation has their head on straight...thinking about money.  Not people.  Money.  Hobby Lobby is taking their religion and making an excuse for themselves, while they continue to do everything to make bank, like import from China where abortions are forced on women. Oh and then there's this, which I would love to know more about...

Hmmm, well that's interesting.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court made a really huge mistake in this decision.  It said corporations are more important that people, especially if religion is involved.  This choice opened a wide door for companies to get involved in their employees’ health care when really it isn’t any of their damn business.  Corporations and courts can get the fuck out of my vagina now!  Hobby Lobby lost my business and a lot of others as well.  And the best part is, they don’t even know what they’re talking about because they don’t know the difference between precautionary and abortifacient medicine.  Actually I think the best part is really the hypocrisy.  Because if you have a penis or cheap exports, it’s actually totally fine.

Learning to Hurt and Be Okay With It

I've made known here and throughout my life connections that I struggle with depression.  What most people don’t realize is that Depression Disorder is a catch-all term.  My personal “brand” of depression as I like to call it also features an anxiety disorder aspect.  I have dealt with being incapable of controlling my melancholy since I was young, and tried to kill myself in 8th grade, which I didn't disclose to people until years after.  

One of the most infuriating things you can say to someone dealing with depression or similar feelings is to say “Just be happy,” or “It’s about your attitude,” and the like.  When it is actually depression, you can’t control your happiness level because your brain isn’t sending chemicals properly.  I could continue on this diatribe for ages, because it really is maddening, but that’s not the point of this post.

My first doctor’s appointment back in Michigan, my doctor recommended trying going off the medication for a while this summer.  Part of my medication besides directing the brain to send the proper chemicals is to also teach the brain how to do this on its own.  Hence going off the medication can help determine how your brain chemistry is going by itself and if you need to continue with medication or not.  Obviously not having to take medication to control your brain chemistry would be incredibly helpful.  These medications can run quite expensive at times, so if your brain finally gets the gist itself that is one less bill.

So I decided to give it a try for a month.  It helped that the decision coincided with my prescription running out.  It has been under a week since I’ve been off my medication.  The first two days didn’t feel any different.  But as I have gotten farther on, I’ve realized my emotions seem to run a little bit.  However, as I am a naturally emotional person, it’s hard to distinguish between me being normally emotional and me being extra emotional because my brain is going wonky.  Like today, I teared up and nearly started crying watching Four Weddings on TLC.  I might normally feel a hitch in my throat while watching a show like this, but could it be more than that?

The whole point of this, besides announcing my life history and personal medical choices, is to ask for something.  First to the general public, please be understanding to those around you dealing with mental illnesses.  You have no idea how incredibly terrifying it is not be in control of your emotions.  When I break down and can’t stop crying and don’t know why, I understand it is weird, but I also need you to understand that I can’t help it.  So please be supportive of people in your lives who deal with such things.  It’s painful and scary and often humiliating.  Second, I’m asking everyone in my life to be supportive of me.  I know things might go fine but I also know my emotions might go haywire for a while.  So far, I’ve been blessed to have awesome family and friends who know what it is like to struggle with this.  But while I take this month to see how I do off my medication, I’ll possibly need even more support.  So if I can’t stop crying or cancel because I’m feeling sad or what have you, please understand it’s not you it’s me. Haha, see I made a joke about it.  But really, thank you in advance for dealing with me and my weird brain chemistry.  I have a feeling this will be taxing on me, but I’m willing to give it a go so wish me luck.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July BC BBC: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Quite a perfect cover, I must say.
Barnes and Noble Edition

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence had grabbed my attention around the same time that Madame Bovary did.  Though I read Madame Bovary quite a while ago, Lady Chatterley sat ensconced on my To Read bookshelf (yes I have a whole one dedicated to books I own that I haven’t read yet).  When I came to the idea of Banned and Challenged books, I was astonished to see I owned this one that I never knew had been so inflammatory.  Also, when I opened to the first page I found it was ripped in half. Nice...

Similar to Madame Bovary, it features a young woman in an unhappy marriage, seeking to find romantic and sexual pleasure with another man.  Pretty typical story for novels, especially trashy beach ones.  The added intrigue for this particular story is that the title character Constance “Connie” Chatterley takes up with the groundskeeper.  How scandalous!  But for the time period the book was written and published in (1928), extramarital affairs were still incredibly taboo.  Especially between people of differing social classes.

The book was markedly regarded with scorn, getting banned in several countries and even ended up part of an obscenity trial in the late 1950s for Penguin Publishing.  The book was found not guilty under the trial of being too obscene for print, though many criticized the descriptive sex and prolific use of the word “fuck.”  Australia not only banned the book, but also banned the book that described the obscenity trial in England.  The book was involved in not one, but five separate obscenity trials including the United States, Canada, Japan, and India. Read more about it here.

Undoubtedly, the book is very candid about sex and sexuality, as well as liberal use of the F word.  It waffles between more and less progressive ideas about a woman’s place in the world, especially in regards to her own body and sexual desires.  Overall, I found the book quite enjoyable and very interesting and well...very sexy at times.  Compared to other material available, this is hardly scandalous.

Some quotes I enjoyed:

“You live by what you thrill to, and there’s the end of it.” -Letter from Lawrence to Aldous Huxley (1928)

“Get your bodies back, men and women.” -Lawrence’s “Men Must Work and Women as Well” (1929)

“Lawrence’s characters are healed by their forbidden sexual love, rather than destroyed by it.” -intro

“Perhaps it is necessary for me to try these places, perhaps it is my destiny to know the world.  It only excited the outside of me.  The inside it leaves more isolated and stoic than ever.  That’s how it is.  It is all a form of running away from oneself and the great problems.” -letter to friend (1922)

 “The beautiful pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more wonderful than any sexual love.  The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the matter.  They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.” -pg 6

“When you don’t have them they hate you because you won’t; and when you do have them they hate you again, for some other reason.  Or for no reason at all, except that they are discontented children, and can’t be satisfied whatever they get, let a woman do what she may.” -pg 8

“Connie was a well-to-do intelligentista [...]” pg 8

“The bitch-goddess, as she is called, of Success, roamed, snarling and protective, round the half-humble, half-defiant Michaelis’ heels, and intimidated Clifford completely: for he wanted to prostitute himself to the bitch-goddess Success also, if only she would have him.” -pg 23

“The bitch-goddess, Success, was trailed by thousands of gasping dogs with lolling tongues.” -pg 29

“There’s lots of good fish in the sea...maybe...but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring, and if you’re not mackerel or herring yourself, you are likely to find very few good fish in the sea.” -pg 33

“Little by little, living together, two people fall into a sort of unison, they vibrate so intricately to one another.” -pg 47

“Because after all, like so many modern men, he was finished almost before he had begun.  And that forced the woman to be active.” -pg 58

“I really like women better than men; they are braver, one can be more frank with them.” -pg 60

“Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing.” -pg 68

“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” pg 78

“Accept your own aloneness [...]” -pg 155

“Let’s not live ter make money [...]” -pg 235

“If only you could tell them that living and spending isn’t the same thing!” -pg 323

Friday, July 4, 2014

Political Face-Off: House of Cards vs. the West Wing

What better way is there to ring the Liberty bell on the day celebrating all things America, than to talk about hot actors that have acted politically? Today with the help of my darling friend Kali and tie-breaking Trevor, we settled the question of which characters are better, West Wing and House of Cards style. So put some mustard on your hot dog and grab a sparkler, because America's birthday is heating up!

Prez Power
President Walker vs. President Bartlet

Kali:  President Garrett Walker seems pretty cool -- he’s young, liberal, and seems like a bit of a golden boy.  However, President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet is possibly our nation’s greatest leader in all of history and actually has the most perfect political leanings of all.  So perfect, in fact, that they would never work in real life.  But that’s ok, because we’ll always have The West Wing and those speeches to guide us through life when we’re feeling a little down.

VERDICT:  Jed Bartlet.  No question about it.

Alex: Of all the presidents that have ever held office, none compare to the beliefs and morals of Jed Bartlet.  He’s the president we deserve, but will never have.  Walker seems to have some of his shit together but is also pretty easy to sway; though he does have the silver fox thing going for him a bit.

VERDICT: Bartlet all the way. If Martin Sheen ran on Jed’s platform, I’d vote for him.


The Badass
Frank Underwood vs. Leo McGarry

Kali:  Some men just want to watch the world burn… and that kind of man is Frank Underwood.  He’s just downright dastardly, but in a way that you can’t help but root him on slightly in your mind.  I often find myself yelling things like, “I HATE YOU BUT I LOVE YOU” while watching, and though many of his actions are downright horrible (-ahem- murder…), he redeems himself by showing his softer side with his relationship with Claire and his ability to just make bad look good.  Leo McGarry is a badass in his own way -- a recovering alcoholic who takes zero shit and gives beautiful speeches about big blocks of cheese, but if we’re rating this on badassery…. Leo just doesn’t cut it.

VERDICT:  Francis Underwood, hands down.

Alex: Politics is a messy business and you’ll always need that person to get the shit done, preferably with flare.  Leo McGarry is gruff but fair, being the father figure of the office for his staff.  While Frank Underwood just wants to take down everyone.  Literally, he will destroy anyone.  So while Leo has beaten alcoholism which is pretty badass, Frank will ruthlessly take down his opponents and look so damn fabulous doing it.

VERDICT: Frank Underwood, you are evil but I love you.


Spunky Sidekick
Peter Russo vs. Josh Lyman

Kali:  I don’t think I can even talk about the tragic downfall of Peter Russo.  It’s like a Shakespearean spiral, and I wish things had been better for him.  Contrary to that, Josh Lyman’s biggest problem was his own mouth and ego.  He was just an adorable true believer with a lot of sass and a great boyish charm.

VERDICT:  I’ve had a crush on him since the fifth grade… Josh Lyman.

Alex: Peter Russo is that little engine that could. The guy you want to do so well and come out from his adversity...only to be sucked back in and consumed by it.  He’s smart and quite a little rule breaker, but eventually he can’t keep up with it all.  Josh Lyman is smart, sassy, and good to look at?  Be still my adolescent heart!  I remember thinking, “I want to marry him.”

VERDICT: Josh Lyman, my King of Sass


Claire Underwood vs. CJ Cregg

Kali:  This is actually the hardest category for me to decide because I love both more than anything and have probably used the phrase “_____ is my hero” in reference to both of them multiple times in the last week.  Claire is a little cold, but she more than makes up for it in her ability to take control of the situations presented to her and come out on top.  CJ is a strong, independent woman who gets shit done at all times.  

VERDICT: Though my haircut is Claire-esque and I frequently say “Gotta dress like Claire to be like Claire” in my daily life, I have to go with my homegirl CJ “The Jackal” Cregg.

Alex: You can’t deny that both women in this category are true HBIC.  Whether it’s the sultry Claire who uses her body and cunning, or CJ who is smart as a whip and insanely independant, these girls are the bomb.  But for me the key part of this is the B.  Which is the bigger B.

VERDICT: I gotta go Claire Underwood.  She is a true B and she’ll use any means to get her way.

Trevor: If we're going purely for the "bitch" aspect, then you've gotta give this one to Princess Buttercup.  She's irredeemably terrible to pretty much everyone.  Claudia Jean, on the other hand, has moral values.  I like those.

VERDICT: I'm going to be of absolutely no help on this one.  My vote for Head Bitch in Charge goes to Olenna Redwyne (Tyrell), the Queen of Thorns.  It's a shame that she [SPOILERS REDACTED].

The Girl Who Always Seems to Be Around
Zoe Barnes vs. Donna Moss

Kali:  Zoe Barnes is a bit of an opportunist (sidenote:  “a bit” is a generously downplayed term).  I have to admire her chutzpah to get things done, but I absolutely despise the way she went about things.  Donna started off a little shaky, but ultimately won me over by her loyalty to her boss and her very clear growth from a shy assistant to a political power figure.

VERDICT:  Donna Moss, for always being a good person while still getting her’s.

Alex: I really couldn’t stand Donna Moss at first.  I literally just kept thinking, “This girl is always there.”  But as the seasons went on, I grew to admire her loyalty and perseverance.  Zoe Barnes is always around because she’s looking for a scoop.  Her methodology could be called unethical, and by could be called, I mean it is insanely unethical.  But she’s always there to get the dirt for the next story.

VERDICT: Donnatella Moss, you grew on me, just like your surname.


The Reporter Guy
Lucas Goodwin vs. Danny Concannon

Kali:  Both Lucas and Danny are very sweet, but also both very, very good at their jobs.  Lucas was always a bit cautious, but he more than made up for it in season two.  Danny was never afraid to hound CJ and the rest of the team for info, and normally I would discredit him for getting involved romantically with CJ, but they were literally so damn cute that I can’t even fault him for that.

VERDICT: Danny Concannon, my sweet boy.

Alex: These two reporters had very different styles for their craft. Lucas tends to be more reserved and waits for information to come to him, until the second season when he gets more proactive (a lot more proactive).  Meanwhile, Danny just goes for it.  Constantly.  He hounds the office and especially CJ (d’aww) to get his scoop.  And that may not be very professional, but my god it is so damn adorable.

VERDICT: Lucas Goodwin. While I adore Danny, Lucas was adorable and put up with Zoe’s shit. Which took a lot.

Trevor: The difference between Lucas and Danny is that Lucas is a slave to his emotions.  He avoids involvement in dangerous reporting until he has some skin in the game.  The game, in this analogy, is, um...Zoe?  Huh, that turned out to be a really dirty analogy.  Point is, Danny's dogged persistence is professional -- he's got nothing to prove, really.  He's also willing to play ball with CJ when it's the RIGHT thing to do for national security.  The stakes with Danny are domestic and foreign affairs.  With Lucas the discussion is concealment of felonies.

VERDICT: Danny.  I couldn't...relate to Lucas.  He just doesn't behave rationally.  And Danny's character was more interesting -- it was never entirely clear what information he had access to.


The Guy Who Gets Shit Done
Doug Stamper vs. Toby Ziegler

Kali:  I’m going to just come out and say that I really like Doug Stamper even though he’s a little creepy and definitely a little weird.  By no means do I think that he is unable to get shit done -- he is the king of getting shit done for Frank.  At the same time, Toby Ziegler is my curmudgeonly, sad-dad booboobear and though I feel like he gets a bad rep for some of his actions, he’s still one of the most productive and necessary members of Team Bartlet.

VERDICT:  Nobody beats my boo thang Toby Ziegler.

Alex: Doug Stamper is really attractive to me.  Not only does Frank trust him (well to a certain extent that he trusts anyone) but he manages to keep Frank’s ass covered and his own and like a billion other people.  Though he occasionally he does kind of shady stuff, I still think he’s fine. On the other hand is the adorable curmudgeon Toby.  He’s snappy and smart and cranky.  Who doesn’t love that?  Plus, he gets the shit done for the Bartlet office.

VERDICT: His ongoing sexual tension and near meltdown get me hot. Doug Stamper, all the way.

Trevor: I feel like the missed comparison is Doug Stamper vs Leo McGarry.  Both are alcoholics whose personal lives suffer as a result of their personal work.  In any case, the difference between Stamper and the West Wing staff is that Stamper is more of a henchman whereas Leo and especially Toby are much more in the public eye.  Stamper doesn't seem to really have any agency in the political realm, though it's certain he's competent in that field.

VERDICT: I'm Toby Ziegler, and I work at the White House.


The Pretty Boy
Edward Meechum vs. Sam Seaborn

Kali:  Meechum didn’t really come into his own until season two, but then oh, how Meechum became a thing.  On the flip side, Sam is the first member of Team Bartlet that we meet in all of TWW, and his charm and adorableness are well-known from the get-go.

VERDICT:  Sam Seaborn, who was far too sweet for Washington.

Alex: Meechum serves as protection for Frank and even though Frank nearly screws him over in the first season, he sticks around through the second season and gets into some damn naughty business.  Sam also has a penchant for naughty business, like when we meet him and he’s in bed with a call girl.  But his charm and looks are so solid, we don’t even mind.

VERDICT: Sam Seaborn, you are so pretty.


African American Office Hottie
Remy Danton vs. Charlie Young

Kali:   Though I admire Remy’s ability to be a power-player and to go against the Underwoods, Charlie’s relationship with the President and the rest of Team Bartlet can’t be beat.  Remy may be serving up the finest set of abs we’ve seen on screen in quite some time, but Charlie’s sweetness and loyalty, as well as his ability to make things happen, work in his favor

VERDICT:  Charlie!!!

Alex: If anyone has a good chance of getting under Frank’s skin, it could be his former aide Remy who takes to working against Frank rather than for him.  Remy is smooth but also kind of slimy, like you’d need a shower after having a conversation with him.  But whether you’d need a hot shower or a cold shower is debateable. Meanwhile, Charlie is all that is adorable and sweet in the Bartlet office.  He is incredibly loyal to everyone and even nabs the president’s daughter.

VERDICT: Charlie forever!


Daughter Figure
Rachel Posner vs. Zoey Bartlet

Kali:  I feel like we meet Rachel Posner in a very unfortunate way, and for most of the first season of HoC she’s a little off, but in season two we see that she’s just a struggling individual trying to get back to a normal semblance of life after making some mistakes.  Sure, Stamper’s relationship with her is a bit skewed, but that’s not Rachel’s fault.  On the flip side, Zoey Bartlet is pretty chill and never does anything wrong until season four when she takes some E with her douchebag French boyfriend, thus leading to her kidnapping and eventual return.

VERDICT:  I like my characters to go through a little bit of growth, so I’m going with Rachel.

Alex: These two characters are very different.  Rachel is rough around the edges and turns up from a bad situation. Whereas Zoey is relaxed and doesn’t feature much dramatically until the Ecstasy incident. Zoey recovers which is good.  But Rachel completely turns her life around, and though she’s trapped in a different kind of situation, it doesn’t involve being beaten by your pimp.

VERDICT: Rachel has grown amazingly as a character, and I can’t wait for what’s next.