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Today I'm thankful for my job. I like it, I like the people, and I spent part of today continuing to cross-train someone else on what I do so I can go on vacation next week and have everything be fine.
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You may have noticed that my writing goals post was a little late this month. That's because I spent most of this week readjusting to working life. Yes, that is right, I am once again employed! I'm excited about both having a job and having this particular job. It is also full-time at 36 hours a week, which means I can write in the morning before I go to work four days a week.
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Many of you probably already know all of this, but some of you are new, so hi! Have a meme.

Meme! )
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Making yearly writing goals is always an iffy proposition because I always end up writing a lot, but not being able to predict what it will be. (Case in point: hockey RPF.) This year I want to sell at least one book and finish writing book three. I'm back in the habit of working on book three every day (well, six days a week), and if I can also get back in the habit of editing every day, surely I can do both of these things by the end of the year. Plus, of course, my usual fic writing.

Midwest Trip
I really wanted to go visit [ profile] lakeeffectgirl in particular in October, and it just didn't happen. So assuming I have a job, I want to visit her and Team Chicago sometime in that late-April to mid-October time period when I can be there without freezing to death. (I am a wimp about the cold.) [ profile] lakeeffectgirl also mentioned possibly coming to visit me here, which would also be awesome. Either way, visiting with friends.

I read a lot of books in the last two months. I think I forgot how much I love that. I'd like to finish the seven or so books still in my unfinished pile, and figure out how to read more once I have a job again. I have a problem with stopping in the middle of a book, which means if I start reading in the evening, I'll keep reading just one more chapter until I'm done with the book and it's two hours past my bedtime, so maybe Saturday afternoon could be book reading time.

Physical Environment
My house is already very much designed to be comfortable for me, but reading Happier at Home made me think about what needs to be rearranged and tweaked:
  • Clean out the closet.

  • Figure out if I want to keep any of my belly dance stuff and what to do with the stuff I don't want anymore.

  • Give away/sell the manga I'm never going to read again and subsequently rearrange the bookshelf.

  • Replace the poster I no longer want hanging in my bedroom.

  • Make the wall across from my desk an inspiration wall. (I already have most of the things I want on there. I just need to frame them and also make a nice version of the "temporary" thing that's been there for a couple of years.)
If I eat eat sugar, eat only small/controlled amounts. I haven't figured out what the limit is yet, but I stopped buying sugary things in July or so and discovered in September that my body doesn't handle very much sugar well anymore. If I could figure out the limit, that would be helpful, but it seems easier and less painful to just stick to no sugar most of the time and only very small amounts when I do have it.

Financial Security
This feels strange to put on here; it doesn't seem like the same kind of goal as the other things. It feels greedy instead of lofty, and I'm not sure if anyone with retirement accounts really gets to worry that much about finances. But at the end of November, Gretchen Rubin made a post asking, "If, by the end of 2013, you could magically change one aspect of your life, what would you change?" My immediate, no thought needed answer was financial security. My financial situation was actually pretty stable for most of 2012, but I spent at least a third of the year feeling like it was more precarious than it really was (and in some ways it turned out to be not that stable). Specific goals:
  • Find a job with a stable entity that pays more than my last job and has reasonable benefits. A job I love would be awesome, but I'll settle for one I like, or at the very least one I don't hate.

  • Consolidate my retirement accounts.

  • Spend money only on consumables and important things. (Visiting/socializing with friends, a new skirt for summer, and replacing the purse that's literally falling apart all count as important).

  • Once I have a steady income again, set up automatic, regular deposits into my savings account.
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Today I'm thankful that we switched things up a little and had Jamba Juice instead of cake for a birthday celebration at work. I don't actually mind that we always have things I don't eat, but it was nice to be able to partake. And also to avoid the "Another cake?" sentiments. (We had a lot of birthdays in short succession. The cake got to be a bit much for everyone.)
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Today I'm thankful for the time change. I'm working the early shift most of this week while the person who usually does it is on vacation, and the time change means my body is already accustomed to the hours I'm going to have to keep.
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Work became ridiculously busy the day after MLK day, and looks to be that way for the foreseeable future. I hadn't realized how much I was depending on work downtime to stay caught up on my internet life. In the meantime, I have been reading very compelling books and foolishly staying up late to do so, with the end result that I'm very tired.

I've been thinking about this a lot, but haven't said anything because I don't want to seem like I'm complaining or fishing for something: I have one group of friends who only talk to me about fandom via email, and then I have this whole other group of friends who will talk to me about fandom on LJ and Twitter. It's kind of strange.

Fandom: Bandom Big Bang
[ profile] bandombigbang posted the rules and sign up posts. I'm still totally unclear as to whether Leighton/Vicky-T is okay or not. They're also fairly adamant about people keeping their stories secret until posting time, which I really have not done. I'm still trying to figure out if I want to email and ask if Leighton/Vicky-T is okay or just say to hell with it and maybe write something else for wave two later. (Assuming I ever finish this Leighton/Vicky-T story.) Opinions on this point are more than welcome!

Fandom: Space Big Bang
I'm not writing anything for [ profile] spacebigbang, but you should! I will totally read outside my fandom for space AUs.

Fandom: Empires
I've been trying to work out an actual story about girl!Sean in my head. It's not going well. Girl!Sean is difficult to conceptualize, much less write.

I have been writing a lot of Empires kink fic in my head, but none of it has yet made it out of my head. Someday, maybe.

Fandom: Panic!
Dear Panic!,

I am, in theory, very interested in your current goings-on, but in reality I'm tired and trying to keep up with my writing and my email. I promise to eventually listen to your new song.

Much love,

Fandom: Black Cards
Bebe keeps tweeting pictures of her baby cousin. I think the cousin is actually too old for this plot bunny, but I really want a story where the cousin is actually not a cousin but her daughter. I don't know what else would happen in this story.

Fandom: TV
I am caught up with Big Love and Greek, but I realized yesterday that I'd forgotten that Friday Night Lights was back from hiatus, so I am behind on that. I'm also behind on Nikita. And I have two movies in the house (one from the library, one from Netflix). Alas, the problems of a fangirl.

I've also watched the first few eps of Jack and Bobby on Netflix, and it's dated in a very interesting way. The girl playing the love interest is not the kind of standardized pretty that would let her be on a CW show now.

I'm reading Libba Bray's trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing), which is incredibly compelling, even if I find it iffy as historical fiction. She does appear to be the kind of writer who learned to write as she went along. Part of the reason I'm reading them is that I remember people talking about them being femslashy. I'm a little disappointed on that point. Perhaps I just read too much explicitly homoerotic fiction for mere subtext to satisfy me.
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My life just changed hugely: I am no longer unemployed! I started my new job on Friday. (I would have told you all about it earlier, but there were people I had to tell before I put it on the internet.) This means I won't be at home anywhere near as much as I have been (although I am delighted that my lunch hour is an actual hour and my job is close enough that I can come home for it). So here's what I'm changing to keep writing time:

  • Shifting my day half an hour earlier. This means I'm going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 6. (My other alternative is taking a shorter morning walk, and I'd rather try this first.) I may have to stay up past my bedtime on Wednesday to find out who wins So You Think You Can Dance instead of taping and watching in the morning.

  • Dumping a lot of the TV I've been watching. I'm keeping How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Mercy, FlashForward, Supernatural, Friday Night Lights, and Leverage, although How I Met Your Mother and Mercy are the only two I'll be watching live. (Wow, that seems like a lot when I look at it written out. HIMYM is the one most likely to go, Castle is the one I'm most likely to let myself get behind on, and Supernatural would probably go if I didn't have someone I like to talk about it with.) I will also watch In Plain Sight when it comes back on, and I may keep up with Fringe (I like Walter and love the cow [that's an actual cow, not a deragatory term for a woman]) on the weekends. Everything else is going. (Consider this item a substitute for the entry I never wrote about what I'm watching this season.)

  • Unfollowing celebrities other than Mark Rose and Empires (so I can support them and because they're the celebrities my friends are most likely to reply to) on my personal Twitter account. I've been keeping them there largely so people who got there from here could find who I'm following. Having them duplicated with my appropriate for talking to celebrities account wasn't much of an issue when I was home watching the alerts pop up all day, but is a pain when I can only check it a couple of times a day. I've been trying to keep my talking to celebrities Twitter account unconnected to anything else I'm doing, but if you want to see who I'm following, you can find that account here.

  • Cutting down my LJ friends list. I'm probably not going to cut anyone who's an actual person I talk to, but a few communities, some feeds, and possibly fic journals/people who write for fandoms I no longer read are going.
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Amongst all the other things fandom is, we're a community, and Gretchen is reminding me it's okay to ask for help, so I'm asking you, my community, for help.

As most of you know, I quit my job last year to try out being a writer. It's been a great experience in a lot of ways. I'm now at the point where I don't have financial resources to keep it up, which means it's time for me to get some paying work of some sort.

If you or someone you know has work or ideas for me, you can leave me a comment here or email me at my personal address or my professional address.

What I Really Want
I would love, love, love to do editing work. Of all the work tasks from my previous job, the editing was my favorite thing to do. I'm very good, very fast, and my freelance rates are negotiable.

An overview of my editing experience )

Also Taking Other Ideas
Editing is not my only marketable skill! I'm handy with a spreadsheet, able to facilitate meetings in person and via teleconference, and a well-received trainer. You might take a look at my resume below to see what else I have experience with. If you have other freelance opportunities or ideas for me, please let me know! Leads for other kinds of work in Chico would also be appreciated. Just because I've never been a barista before doesn't mean I couldn't learn how.

Location, Location, Location
I'm not interested in relocating, so I'm looking for things I can do from home or in Chico.

Below is my loosely formatted for LJ editing and office work centered resume. I do, of course, have a much more nicely formatted version for emailing or snail mailing, which I can send on to anyone you think might be a good source of work for me.

Ruth Alderson's Resume )
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Today, I'm thankful to work in a place where every staff meeting starts with appreciations.
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I had a great time in Chicago. We got a lot out of the conference professionally, and the time away was good for my writing. I wrote the Mal/Kaylee bit I've been thinking about (which, now that I've reread it, needs a lot of work), and I have several pages of the start of a CK/DB high school football and cowboys AU. (Um. It's supposed to be. I keep forgetting the cowboy part.)

We arrived on Friday, and the stupid hotel does not guarantee non-smoking rooms. So once I dropped my stuff in my smoking room (let me emphasize the grrr), I went downstairs to sit on the grand ballroom steps with the art teachers. It was fascinating to me that once the National Art Education Association was gone, no one else sat on the steps. After the step sitting, we went out for real Chicago pizza. I'm not sold on the deep dish thing being the best pizza ever, but our end of the table had a fantastic garlic, tomato, and cheese pizza.

After dinner, I spent some more time on the steps, and then went back up to my room in time to watch Conviction. The show is really growing on me. The last two episodes. )

If you're interested in knowing what the hell I'm talking about, iTunes apparently has Conviction episodes for sale.

On Saturday morning, I went to The Art Institute of Chicago. I have a minor problem with art museums: I just don't appreciate art that much. This is the problem I have with comic books, too. Without a solid appreciation for the art, a comic just isn't a good entertainment value. (Graphic novels are much better.) So after attempting a systematic wandering of the museum, which did take me through a fantastic photography exhibit (The Concerned Photographer), I decided I was too tired for that and headed off to the European art. For the record, the art I like best is sixteenth century European religious art, and The Art Institute didn't disappoint. In addition to all the sorts of things you might expect, I came across a very interesting Mary Magdalen by Alessandro Boncivino (Moretto da Brescia). I have good luck with Magdalenes. When I visited The National Gallery in London, I saw Giovanni Girolamo Salvando's Mary Magdalene across the room and immediately recognized it from the cover of Graham Joyce's Requiem.

The Art Institute also offered me a chance to use my overeducation as I recognized an El Greco by its style and recognized the style of a Goya without being able to put a name to it.

After lunch and a nap, I headed off to the Shedd Aquarium. I was disappointed. Instead of being an aquarium the way, say, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is, it feels a lot like a museum with small windows of fish instead of paintings. I was also very uncomfortable with their whale tank. It seemed way too small for five whales.

On Saturday night, Molly came down to visit. We ate a ton of food while gossiping and then headed off to see Inside Man. ) The theater itself was entertaining as we stood in a very long line, found the not to exceed 426 persons sign in our theater, and then discovered we were in the 11:00 showing that was not anywhere near sold out.

Molly went home on Sunday morning (sad!), and I went off to a really good working session on evaluation.

Sunday evening, I was in my room for Malcolm in the Middle. I find I write more commentary when I'm in hotel rooms because I have my notebook open. This episode had a very slashy plotline about Dewey and Malcolm finding a new mattress. Yeah.

My presentation was on Monday afternoon, and it went very well. We had a lot of compliments from the participants.

On Monday night, we went to Second City, which was awesome.

Their first skit was all about MySpace. At one point, one character doubtfully approves another one as a friend and then writes back to express his concern that "you didn't even mention Lost."

In the intermission between the second and third acts, there was a crowd around the door to the restrooms at the edge of the stage. One of my coworkers went over there and got Dan Aykroyd's autograph on the back of a business card. When the third act started, we found out that there's a young Belushi working as an understudy in the touring company.

After the show, as we were waiting for cabs back to the hotel, we saw Dan Aykroyd across the street while a group of intoxicated audience members asked me to take a picture of them with the Belushi kid and one of the other actors (Brad Morris, I think). And then we got a cab so I couldn't continue to watch the Belushi kid and the other guy be slashy together. However, our cab driver did then just barely avoid running over Dan Aykroyd

On Tuesday, I went to one of the best sessions I went to all week: The Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood: New Ideas and Brain Research. I was a little concerned that they would focus on teenagers, but they were actually talking about young adults, which, depending on the researcher, means 18-25 or 18-35. One of the things they talked about is that only around this time do we start to be able to engage in relativistic thinking. So, for example, only when we reach that stage are we able to understand that people offering constructive criticism may actually have our best interests in mind. Now, doesn't that just explain a whole lot about fandom?

Wednesday was our last day, and I started out the morning in a session on lgbt families, which was excellent and gave me ideas of some things we need to steal for our trainings.

At the airport on Wednesday evening, I saw a guy in a pink "Virginia is for lovers" shirt with another guy. Hee!

I went in to work on Thursday after not much sleep, and I was okay until about 3:00, when I was ready to crash.

On Thursday evening, I was home from belly dance in time to catch Without a Trace. I've been reading my way through The Danny/Martin Slash Archive, and the overabundance of slash is starting to show. Spoilers )

Because I worked on Thursday, I took yesterday off and spent the time starting to catch up on my taped TV and watching six episodes (for a total of nine hours) of Taken. I have only two episodes to go, and it's killing me to have to wait until the next disc gets here from Netflix. I even went out to Hollywood Video today to see if they had it, but I had no luck.
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My email was messed up for the week between December 15 and December 22, so if you emailed me something then and I didn't answer it yet, it's because I didn't get it, and you should resend it. If you sent me something before or after that and I haven't answered it, it's just because I'm lazy.

The Company Car
We have a new company car at work. It's a Pontiac Vibe, and it's red. It's very cute, although I haven't had a chance to ride in it yet. My boss sent out the announcement about the car and the basic policy for checking it out. The subject line of her email: Red Vibe. If you know me at all, you'll know I had to desperately suppress my giggles. My immediate thought was of this, and not a car.

Disturbing Subtext of the Day
Narnia spoilers )

First Part of the Double Feature
Before Narnia, we saw Memoirs of a Geisha )

If you've been paying attention, you know I've been keeping track of what I read for the last couple of years. This year's list is now available.

Good Wishes
I hope you all have a peaceful and joyous new year.
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I work for a nonprofit, and my office is located in the family resource center, where we offer all kinds of useful services to clients. One of these useful services is our free table. People can bring in stuff they don't want/need anymore, and clients (and staff, of course) can take things off the table that they do want/need.

Every once in a while, someone comes in and drops off a whole bunch of clothes. This is what happened a couple of weeks ago. Normally our receptionist would sort through it. On this particular day, however, our receptionist was out sick and it was a quiet afternoon. So coworkers S and M (I swear I'm not making those initials up) were doing the sorting. It was late in the day, the boss was gone, and I was unmotivated, so I hung out and watched for a while. This is surprisingly fun. There was the skirt that looked like upholstery. There were the very nice shirts that still had tags on them. There was the red belt with hearts on it. After a while, I went back to my office to try to be a bit productive.

A few short minutes later, S yelled for me to come see what they'd found. I thought maybe a dead rat or a spider or some other type wildlife.

But no.

There, in the bottom of one of the boxes, on top of a black dress, was a large purple vibrator, a bottle of lube, and a blindfold. We then summoned coworkers C and J, and attempted to keep M's preteen son away from the box. The whole adventure caused great hilarity.

But it doesn't stop there! Our receptionist came back in two days later, when yet more clothes had come in. She was sorting through them and came across a very large spider. I, of course, laughed and told her what they'd come across two days before. Then M called in and was completely shocked to find out that I was the one to explain the vibrator discovery.

The oddest part of this tale is that my coworkers thought that the fact that the vibrator was huge and purple is the key to entertainment; I think the blindfold is what really makes the story.
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Save your money. The best thing about Hero is that it led me to reread The Wandering Age: Last Rites (parts 1, 2, 3; originally posted 3, 1, 2), which is just beautifully done.

Life changes. I've been working two part-time jobs. Yesterday was my last day at one, and I'll be working full-time at the other one starting Tuesday. For my going away mini-to-do, I got a cool helium balloon (usually I just think balloons are lame, but this one's actually cool), a card with a bunch of people crying on it, and a gift certificate to Lyon Books. I also got to take home the end of the cookies from The Cookie Shoppe.

Buffy. I've been watching Buffy out of order. I started with season 4, then 3, 5, and now 2. I'm feeling the Xander/Willow. She was so in love with him! Anyone know where to find any Xander/Willow? Or Xander/Willow/Spike? Or Spike/Xander/Anya? Or good Spike/Xander I haven't read yet?
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FISH! The Powers That Be at my (paying) job have decided that we ought to adopt the FISH! Philosophy. We had the last of our series of occasional presentations about it at our weekly staff meeting this morning. This morning we did a little exercise to get to know a bit about each other. I've faithfully reproduced the exercise below.

A Five-Step Psych Test

There are five things going on simultaneously which need to be taken care of:

6. The telephone is ringing.
7. The baby is crying.
8. Someone knocks at the front door or rings the doorbell.
9. There is laundry hanging on the line outside and it begins to rain.
10. The water faucet in the kitchen is running.

In what order do you take care of the problems? Jot down your order.

We don't know why the five things are numbered 6 through 10 either. Just prioritize them before you take a look at the supposed interpretation. )

Don't read this book. The book in question is Edward Windsor: Royal Enigma by Wendy Leigh. She seems to like him at the beginning, but she seems to detest him by the time she finished the book. Sophie doesn't come out looking very good either. Leigh has a dozen different people describing Sophie in the exact same words.

Of course, one of the real problems with the book is that Leigh is trying very hard to make it exciting and suspenseful, yet it's not. And since I've been reading a whole bunch of stuff at Crime Library over the past couple of weeks, I kept imagining the pseudo-suspenseful parts being narrated by Bill Kurtis from American Justice. This is how I see it:

Bill Kurtis: It would take a New York evening to bring the rumors out. And out they would come with a vengeance. (Cut to commercial.)

Bill Kurtis: At the Aspects of Love premiere in New York on April 8, 1990, Edward met Stewart Dickson, a reporter for London's Daily Mirror. (Still image of Edward talking to Dickson. Video of generic people in fancy dress, none shown above the neck.) Dickson watched from across the room until Edward seemed more approachable. (Still photo of Edward drinking.) Then Dickson approached Edward a second time. (Different still image of Edward and Dickson.)

(Video of Dickson repeating to the camera his question to Edward that evening.)

Stewart Dickson: In London there are a lot of rumors that you are gay. Are you?

Bill Kurtis: Dickson had asked the unaskable, and now the issue was out in the open. (Still image of the Daily Mirror dated April 10, 1990 with the headline, "Queen's Son Pours His Heart Out to the Mirror; I'm Not Gay.")

At which point I, and the rest of the audience, say, "So what?"

Even if you, as Molly did, find a bargain basement copy of the book for only a dollar, don't buy it. Now if only I could make it all the way through Christopher Anderson's Diana's Boys.

Scene from an unwritten movie.

(Background. The first piece of the movie is a standard high school Pygmalion--like She's All That, but with someone nicer than Freddie Prinze Jr. Just at that point where everyone's supposed to live happily ever after, things don't go quite as expected.)

HIM: I'm sorry. I can't do this.

HER: You did this! You made me into this person. You made me like you. And now you can't do this? Why not? What's wrong with me?

HIM: Nothing's wrong with you.

HER: Then what's wrong with you?

The silence draws out as they stand there looking at each other. Finally HIS shoulders drop.

HIM: I'm gay.

(And that provides the force of the movie. She, as the only person who knows his secret, struggles against her wish for revenge, and he lives in fear that she'll tell all to the wrong people at the wrong time.)

My subconscious writes an Outer Limits episode.

We gather inside the Cathedral, a mixed group of young people. We stand around the open doors and watch as it happens. Flashes of light that turn into blackened crisps that used to be human beings. One singed person stumbles toward us. We don't leave the safety of the building. One of the flashes comes from a car stopped at a corner across the plaza in front of the Cathedral. Later I will think of the bumper sticker: "In case of rapture, this car will be driverless."

It's some time later. The Cathedral has become a commune of sorts, one complete with a nightclub lit in red. I wander among the fangirls seated in two neat rows of tables, but I can't find whomever it is I'm looking for. I head out of the club and into the back areas. I knock on the metal shutter that comes down over a back window for the kitchen. It opens, but what I'm looking for isn't there either.

It's later still. I'm sitting on the counter in the kitchen. There are other people there, and we talk about needing some gadget. One of the other people opens a hidden cupboard and pulls out just the thing we need. There's also a large green jar full of coins. There's another half-full jar in the open, but we pull out the one in the cupboard.

There's a commotion in the kitchen with a blond boy in the middle. "The army is coming for him," someone tells us. Later I will think to wonder how an army survived the Apocalypse. There are hugs all around and he leaves for one of the other communes. I stand at the window for a moment and look out over empty fields.

Then I'm back on the counter. At the table in front of me are Dara and three or four other people. Misha sits on Ruth Gifford's lap in the chair next to me. It's Dara's birthday, but she refuses to let me do anything for it. I have an idea, but she won't let me tell her what it is. I start to write it down instead, when Misha says, "We should have a birthday party for everyone." I say, "That's exactly what I was thinking!"

Reality intrudes. One of the stories I've been working on has Hermione having an abortion at age 16 and it being a traumatic experience for her. I've been highly influenced by Inga Muscio's "Abortion, Vacuum Cleaners and the Power Within." Unfortunately for the plot, although fortunately for women there, abortion is a much simpler thing in the United Kingdom than here.

People in the UK become adults at age 16. Mifepristone has been approved for use in the UK since 1991. According to The Harry Potter Lexicon's timeline, Hermione would have been 16 in 1996. And to make matters even worse for the story, I read this today, which tells me that in the UK, women over the 16 can get the "morning-after" pill from a pharmacist without a prescription.

I think I may be able to work around it. Suppose Hermione gets pregnant. She's upset and worried about other things, so she doesn't even think about it within 72 hours, the window of time during which the "morning-after" pill is effective. She only realizes she's pregnant a week or two later. She goes to a clinic where she finds out that it's an ectopic pregnancy, which means that mifepristone is not an option for her. That would let her have the more invasive sort of abortion which would leave her traumatized in the right kind of way for the story to work.

Any thoughts, especially from those of you who may be British, would be greatly appreciated.


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Ruth Sadelle Alderson


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