(Psst: if you're looking for the last chapter, go back one!)
Sincerest thanks (in alphabetical order) to:
Dr. Self Destruct, for being all around amazing! Thank you for sticking around from the early start. Your reviews are always so nice and insightful. Also, thank you for always opening up the option of PMing you more questions and letting me bounce ideas off of you. Every time I posted in the Help section of the RG, you were always there to give me great advice. I honestly don't think I could have completed the story without your help.
Dutchaver, for always being so positive, even when you have critical things to say. Also, thank you for going through all my chapters twice. You were one of my oldest reviewers, and reading about your rereading experience was incredibly helpful.
Jitterbug Blues, for writing the nicest reviews. I really appreciate how you go above and beyond the requirements when playing the games, and thank you for always addressing my concerns.
lookingwest, I remember our first review exchange. I reviewed Deck and you reviewed chapter two and newbie me referenced Vonnegut because I had nothing constructive to say and you'd nicely pointed out all the gawdawful things in my chapter and for 1.5 years, one of my secret goals was to work myself to a position where I could write and write reviews half as well as you. I'm always so glad to have your feedback!
sophiesix, December 2013/January 2014. Need I say more? (Actually, yeah.) Thank you for your honesty and your willingness look in depth into helping me address specific concerns and issues. And for all the other odds and ends in our PMs. They were pure gold.
Superslow Jellyfish/Barbie, in the event that you read this, I just want to let you know that in one of our many hilarious PM exchanges, you gave me the idea for Phelan's backstory.
thenutrunningthenuthouse, for inspiring me to be as prolific as you (though sadly, I'm a tad short on talent in that area). But seriously, I love receiving feedback from you, and I especially really appreciate you telling me exactly when/why you feel iffy on the subject.
Vivace. Assai, you always pick up on exactly what I want readers to pick up on. And sometimes, you summarize the ideas I want to present better than I could if I were to write them out. I'm so glad to have you back writing and I look forward to new updates of your story!
Also to n.p-simmons and beverlyamethyst16 for being my first reviewers and getting me addicted to reviews. For the rest of my readers, reviewers, favoriters, alerters, I'm so thankful I'm making up words.
One More Note...
I'm interested in relationships and I'm interested in arrangements. I want to know why people throw around the words "healthy" and "positive" when every act of altruism demands a little sacrifice, and every little sacrifice supplies a touch of self harm. Healthy describes well the mutualistic relationship between humans and the bacteria in our gut, but don't we willingly permit ourselves to be hurt for the things and people we care about?
Many of the last chapters of LE&D were inspired by Mary Gaitskill's essay, "On Not Being a Victim." In this (highly recommended) piece, Gaitskill criticizes "abstract absolutes [of social code] placed before us as if our thoughts, feelings, and observations were irrelevant." Arguably, any relationship is unique, complex and consequentially non-applicable to codification, and any age distinction used to define a minor is arbitrary. Yet arguably, ambiguity leads to projection leads to misapplication, and statutory rape generalizations, imperfect in their absolute assumptions regarding matters conditional by nature, protect more than they constrain. Arguably. I'm not interested in arguing, nor do I consider myself particularly qualified in my judgment of "positive" and "negative" endeavors. Rather, with this project, I wanted to sidestep categorizing actions and relationships as right, wrong, or exceptional, and explore what people think, feel, observe, and the ways relationships can uplift and depress, sometimes alternately, sometimes simultaneously. Which is not to say I was at all successful in this attempt, though it might be my starting point in some future draft.
My story is purely fictional, but I can tell a true story about a teacher who has in a decade gained reputations as a machine at best and a misanthrope at worst among students and colleagues, who annually presents the scholarship award in memory of his deceased former student; I can tell a true story about a father who took on extra weekend shifts at the supermarket so that his nine year-old daughter could have a birthday party, only to have his daughter grow up and resolve to never speak to him again because he is also prejudiced, domineering, and sometimes abusive to his wife; I can tell a true story about a physics enthusiast who broke up amicably with a boyfriend because they both wanted to be the dominant partner in their relationship, whose ex-boyfriend went into finance and is now a multi-millionaire, and they meet annually where they debate Buddhism and he buys her coffee and supplies the names stocks that will go up in price, no strings attached. And would you believe me if I say it's fact that one September night, the teacher, the father, and the physics enthusiast were all in the same room and might have shook each others' hands? Who's good and who's bad? What's acceptable and what's criminal? Who's privileged and who deserves pity?