I gave you permission


You reached into my interior messprised apart the tangleof my insides


I gave you permissionto dissect my soulto separate organstrand by strand


You found the parasitedeep in the bowelsof my innermost parts


I gave you permissionto open me wideto expose the secretsthat within me hide


You cut me freefrom that hollow deathallowed me to breathe


I gave you permissionto save my lifeto penetrate the depthsof hidden cancer


You scooped the cradleof creativity from within;you made me barren


I gave you permissionto sift throughto penetrate visceral shieldsto touch the seat of emotion


You reconnected mefastened vessel to vesselleft me with an eight inch scar


I gave you permissionto perform the necessary violationI gave up the potential for lifein order to live


You saved me.

© Freya Pickard 2022

Freya Pickard is a cancer survivor who writes dark fantasy tales and creates expressive poetry in order to rest the prose side of her brain.

Insides are one woman’s journey through cancer, chemotherapy, and beyond. This poetry collection is just 99c until 31st March 2022 and is available from:


and other online stores 

If you would like to have your work published in The Poetry Bar send your poem, a few words about yourself, and the link to your blog and Instagram account to the



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Sharp Teeth (audio) (day 60)

Click here to listen to an audio clip.

The bright sunlight is deceiving, as it often is at the beginning of March. Every deadened winter thing is gleaming in the afternoon light but the bite of the bitter cold when I step out the front door is immediately real. Hat, coat, sunglasses. The sound of my boots on the pavement as I walk the neighborhood on a Monday with not a single cloud in the sky.

They say writing is like painting a tiny universe to inhabit for a while. They tell me something happens at sixty days sober. Something in the brain. Like the intensity of the desire to drink gets dialed back quite a bit. I welcome this development but secretly concern myself that if I anticipate it too eagerly it will not come about. I shove my hands in my pockets and take a deep breath of winter air like a straight chilled shot to my lungs. No one is around. All the little sedans are at their various offices waiting patiently in big parking lots for their people.

Cravings are not about liking something. That’s the fucked up part. You need it so bad you are climbing the walls inside of your body and it’s nothing pleasant. It’s loud and distracting. You just want the noise to stop. Like when a kid is nagging you for something and you just want to give in to shut them up. Temporary relief – that’s the siren call. That’s the seduction. It isn’t even that you want the pleasure it’s that you want to end the pain.

There’s a lot of chatter about words like addiction, addict, alcoholic, recovery, etc. These are all words I refused for a very long time to even say to myself in my head. I was too afraid they had not to do with somebody else out there but everything to do with me in here. Inside where all my body parts were trying to keep me alive. People think it’s about how much you drink but it is not necessarily that. It’s about the mental prison alcohol erects around your mind. I was terrified to stop. And now that I am stopped I have moments of sheer terror that I could start up again and lose myself. Lose all the progress I have made, all the ground I have covered. You get into trouble when you are afraid of stopping and afraid of starting at the same time.

I am likely repeating myself. A lot of this recovery jazz is about repetition. Carving new pathways in the brain, entrenching new habits. It takes a lot of time, I’m sure, and I am getting there. What I think is cool is that there are words I was afraid to use but now I use them so often they do not frighten me the way they used to. I am starting to see the addiction not as part of me but as some kind of bizarrely twisted gift.

If it weren’t so hard to quit, quitting could not transform you so entirely. Because you cannot get clean without paying a hell of a lot of attention. I fidget with the keys in my pocket as I cross the street. I feel the skin of my fingers dragging along their sharp jagged teeth.

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Nothing lasts forever

I have been trying to finish some posts I’ve been preparing for the past few days, but everything that I wanted to say or talk about seems very empty and irrelevant now.  

I don’t think there are words that haven’t been said in support of this tragedy Ukraine is going through and I hope that all those fighting and seeking refuge in other countries are safe. 

We also shouldn’t forget about the brave people from Russia and Belarus who are risking their safety and freedom to protest this war. I hope those arrested were let go and that they won’t be frightened by their government into submissiveness. When tensions are this high, we have to remember that the actions of the few don’t represent the many.  

I know that this situation is causing a lot of negative emotions in everyone and it can hurt everyone’s mental health at a time when we should all be strong. Please take care of your mind and turn off the news when it becomes too much or you feel overwhelmed by the influx of bad news and dark predictions. Read books, focus your mind on other things, do what you love and what makes you feel grounded.  If you are scared and fighting with anxiety, talk to someone you trust and don’t let it all bottle up.

Also, at this time it is our responsibility to make sure misinformation is not being spread to further worsen this situation. The best I think we can do is to not jump on and believe in any news until it’s confirmed by reliable sources and social media is not always, it’s barely ever, a reliable source. There are a lot of guides online on how to spot misinformation so make sure to check them out.  

I love you all and I hope you are all doing as well as you can ❤ 


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It’s Been A Long Day

I was initially planning on writing a blogging advice post today since I know a lot of you guys find those very helpful but the universe stepped in and said no. I didn’t have WiFi in the morning and I didn’t have electricity in the afternoon and evening. So, I couldn’t really do much blogging or writing and instead I did some other fun things you don’t need WiFi or electricity for.

First, I tried knitting and quickly remembered why I stopped knitting. Next, I did some drawing (with an actual book and pencil instead of on an app on my phone like I usually do) and it turned out pretty good. I’m not fully satisfied with it yet and it will need quite a few small edits before it’s perfect but I like how it looks so far. I’m doing some redecorating and wanted a picture of Lisa Simpson to stick on my wall so I decided to just draw one

. This is what I have so far:

Let me know what you guys think of it so far and I’ll let you know what it looks like when it’s fully done!

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The Parts You Never Forget (audio)

Click here to listen to an audio clip.

 There’s a guy who wrote a book called Kick the Drink… Easily! Fellow soberlings have raved about it, so I purchase the thing and when it arrives in all of its neon pink glory, I pull it from the box and immediately note its comical heft. It’s three hundred and four pages long. Is the irony lost on everyone but me or am I just a snarky asshole? Anybody’s guess. Doesn’t matter. I toss it atop a stack of, I don’t know – eighteen or nineteen books of the same or similar topic, which teeters like an awkward multicolored tower in a Dr. Suess-type dysfunctional fantasy land.

Quitting is a mind game mostly, or at least it seems to be for me. I’m fifty three days into this wilderness and it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Perhaps I was not prepared or I was naive or whatever the case but here I am having ‘made it’ this ‘far’ (whatever tf that means) and more than anything I do not want to go back. I never want to be at day zero again. Except when I do. That’s the head trip. I coast along like a proper boss until I get tackled out of nowhere. Pummeled to the ground by an invisible threat no one around me can see but I can feel pumping through my veins as though it would bulge right out of my skull and explode all over the room.

Perhaps if it did, more people could understand how all encompassing the cravings can be. They are impossible to explain with words to someone who has never lived through or with them. This is frustrating especially to a writer. I want to show you with my words. I want to show you everything. From the blissed out euphoria of the first crystal clear mornings of sobriety to the shocking, gripping, maddening bite of the itchy cruel desire for just one more.

A couple things help, though. Humor is one but it has to be funny not dickish. Deep breathing is another. I do it as soon as I remember to which is thankfully becoming more often. It’s sort of second nature once you get used to folding it into your routine or maybe what some would call your ‘tool box.’ As in the arsenal of practices which help to mellow you out when your inner booze monster is climbing the goddamn curtains, hissing and jumping like a maniac. I don’t know what the man in the Easily book will tell me but I am skeptical. For better or worse, I am my entire self now. There’s no chemical additives to make me anything other than one hundred percent Allie, as quick to be sarcastic and cheeky as to be tender and frightfully intimate.

Before I grew up and became Allison, my family and friends used to call me Allie. Back when I was free and scrappy and most happy and alive. Before I knew what it ever meant to get trashed. Or to blackout. Or to completely lose control of my innocent body and brain. In all the sober circles, I go by Allie now. It feels right to throw it on back to a time when I was new and clean. Maybe it’s silly but I really do want a fresh start. When you have an addiction, there’s a lot you’ve probably done in your life that you do not remember. But there are also some parts of who you are that you never, ever forget

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 Zodiac signs and their traits

Every person has a zodiac sign: depending on what day you were born in a certain month. And of course, the month itself also plays a role in this. There are 12 zodiac signs and they all have their own characteristics. Are you curious if your zodiac sign matches yours?

Returning from the Counterattack: My Wicked Wife


 September 18, 2021 at 10:12 am



Categories :

> Returning from the Counterattack: My Wicked Wife Other Name: 逆袭归来:我的废柴老婆 Genres: manga, Manhua, Romance Authors: Ake Culture Chapter: 27 ongoing Year: 2021Related Show: Description: “Zhang Zong Zhang Zong, there is a big man who wants to see you.” Zhang Yu, who was immersed in the file, looked up at him and then lowered his head, before asking leisurely, “Which big man wants to see […]

Returning from the Counterattack: My Wicked Wife 

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Three classic Star Wars Legends novels are being re-released, with more to come in the future!

So much of Star Wars storytelling throughout the years has happened in books. That has continued with the new canon, with plenty of fantastic content already released and more on the way, but we also shouldn’t ignore that there were plenty of great stories told in Legends material as well. And soon, you’ll be able […]

Three classic Star Wars Legends novels are being re-released, with more to come in the future!

If Texas Was It’s Own Country, It Would Have Finished In 11th Place


August 14, 2021 at 4:42 pm




 New Years Eve,





The Tokyo Olympics had more than 70 athletes with connections to Texas competing, winning medals, and setting records.  Texas athletes won an astounding 29 medals which would have put us in 11th place between France and Canada.

A few athletes, like Josh Green and Marcell Jacobs, with ties to Texas, competed for other countries.  Other Team U.S.A. athletes like breakout swimmers Lydia Jacoby and Erica Sullivan will be attending the University of Texas this fall.  Hook Em’ Horns!

 (Left to right):Luka Doncic, Simone Biles and Lydia Jacoby. (Photos from Vernon Bryant and The Associated Press).

Here is a list of notable winning athletes from notable major cities and universities around Texas.


The Houston area won 13 Olympic medals in Tokyo – 3 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze. If you made Houston its own country and inserted it into one of those Olympic Medals Tables, H-Town would have finished 20th in medal count.

Houston had three players on the baseball team that won silver, so we’re counting that as three medals. And, then there are gymnast Jordan Chiles and weighlifter Sarah Robles, neither of whom grew up in Houston, but both moved to Houston to live full-time. We’ll just go ahead and say they have Houston citizenship.

But, hey, we didn’t totally cheat. For instance, we didn’t count women’s soccer player Kristie Mewis, who plays for the Houston Dash, because she doesn’t live in Houston full-time.


Current and former University of Texas student-athletes accounted for a total of 9 medals, including 5 gold, during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If these athletes were competing as a separate country, Texas would have ranked in 17th place among all nations in the number of gold medals earned and tied for 26th in the number of total medals won.

Kevin Durant paced Team USA to a gold medal in Men’s Basketball.  Ryan Crouser won his second-straight gold medal in the men’s shot put, posting an Olympic-record throw of 23.30 meters.  Chiaka Ogbogu helped Team USA Volleyball claim its first gold medal in Olympic history.  Ariel Atkins became the third former UT Women’s Basketball player to earn a gold medal in Olympic competition with Team USA. Current UT senior Julia Grosso converted the decisive penalty kick to lead Canada to victory in the gold-medal match in Women’s Soccer.  Softball’s Cat Osterman became a three-time Olympic medalist, leading Team USA to a silver medal.

Texas A&M athletes such as Athing Mu won gold medal after competing in the women’s 800m event.  silver medalist, Fred Kerley, also from Texas A&M, won a medal for the Men’s 100-Meter in track & field.


Ariel Atkins is the Team U.S.A. shooting guard who graduated from Duncanville High School in 2014 and University of Texas in 2018.  She added “Olympic gold medalist” to her career accolades.

Vincent Hancock, from Fort Worth, became the first skeet shooter to win three Olympic gold medals.

Brian Burrows won a bronze medal mixed team trap shooting.  He owns Ironwood Axe Throwing in Denton, Texas.

The Dallas Maverick’s Josh Green won the bronze medal for his home country of Australia.

We celebrate and congratulate all the athletes from around the world that competed in the Tokyo Olympics.

To our Texas athletes – Thank You!

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Essential Qualities of a Good Leader in Business Today


August 9, 2020 at 9:23 pm





Singapore’s leading monthlies, interviews yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru, on the essential qualities of a good leader in today’s world of rapid change and shifting fortunes. Sadhguru explores the 3 I’s which ensure great leadership, and looks at the greater global role that economic leaders will play in the coming years.

Q: What would you say are the essential qualities of a good leader?


A leader is someone who has insight into the situation in which he exists; he sees what others are not able to see. If one is able to pay enough attention, there is nothing in the universe that is not open to you. But not everybody has the same level of attention to details. He must be a symbol of integrity and must be able to inspire the best in those around him. Being an inspiration need not necessarily mean that a leader has to be very charismatic or flamboyant. Many inspire others simply out of their absolute commitment to what they do, for example, Mahatma Gandhi, who managed to move millions of people simply because of an extraordinary sense of commitment. So, it’s the three Is: Insight, Integrity and Inspiration. Maybe that means he needs a third eye!

Leadership & Economic Sustainability

Q: Specifically, it is business leadership that forms a large part of your work. Why is this area so important at this time?


A few hundred years ago, religious leadership was the most dominant leadership on the planet. As machinery came, it was military leadership. In the last hundred years, democratically elected leadership became the dominant force. In 15 to 20 years, it will be economic leadership. But till now, business leaders have only thought of profit. Their roles are becoming so big that it’s no more about running businesses; they are actually making nations and creating a world. So, my work has been to constantly remind them that it’s time they move from personal ambitions to a larger vision. More inclusive economics needs to happen.

When I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, I kept hearing people refer to Asia as an “emerging market” and I said it’s time to stop referring to Asia as that because the continent is made up of people. If you see them as a market place, you will see how to exploit it. But if you see and experience them as people, you will see how to develop their entire situation and a market will develop out of that.

Q: A lot of big businesses are putting more into their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts these days. Can this be enough or is this just step one?

Sadhguru: I’m infamous for continuously talking against CSR, because in my mind the business itself should be socially responsible and not just that two percent of earnings that gets channeled to CSR. If you run businesses in a more inclusive manner, you don’t need this CSR fund that you keep aside. Your quarterly balance sheet may be a little lower, but at the rate you will be able to grow, that can be increased. Business is about expansion, not only accumulating profits. And that is what will make the business very strong and on a stronger base.

Good Leaders & Great Leaders: The Difference

Q: Say I’m a corporate leader who wants to do good, what advice would you give me?

Sadhguru: The first time I was at the World Economic Forum, some people were almost resentful that I, a mystic, was at a business meeting. One of them was a CEO of a major computer hardware company. I asked him what he does. He said: “We produce computers.” So, I told him, whether you produce a computer, safety pin, spacecraft or a car, essentially the basic business you are in is human wellbeing and that is my business too. What a corporate leader needs to understand is that regardless of the nature of his business, essentially it is useful to the people on the planet. With that consciousness, that business is all he needs to do and it can be done in a way that is beneficial to a huge number of people. It’s like that African saying: “When a lion feeds, every creature gets to eat.” A businessperson need not start a school or orphanage. I’m not saying they should not. What I’m saying is that, that is not the important thing. So, my question to you is this: Are you doing something for your satisfaction or are you seeking a solution to the problems of the world? CSR seems more for personal satisfaction.

Managing Yourself

Q: How does one know when they have reached that point in their lives when they have attained and achieved enough?

Sadhguru: They’ll clearly know it because when they reach it, they’ll be dead! In human life, there is no such thing as attaining enough or achieving enough. Maybe with possessions, you can say: “Okay, I have a nice home and this is enough for me.” But life is an endless possibility. The only question is, are you being driven by something or are you driving your life? Desires drive people: desire to possess, desire to achieve, desire to be recognized. If today you desire a new smartphone, tomorrow you’ll want something else. If I give you the whole planet and make you the queen, will you be fulfilled? No, you’ll want the moon and the stars. That is why turning inwards is very important. You’ll do things more consciously. Right now, the world is functioning compulsively and that’s our problem.

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Tiffany Haddish confirms romance with rapper Common

Tiffany Haddish has confirmed she’s dating rapper Common after weeks of romance rumours. The Girls Trip star was first linked to the singer-songwriter at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, when they went on a virtual date. They were then spotted at a Black Lives Matter protest in June. And in a chat on Steve-O’s […]

Tiffany Haddish confirms romance with rapper Common

Chapter 3: Offering Shelter or Adopting?


September 29, 2019 at 6:33 am





Once he saw her reaction, Sheng Xiao put a hand on his knee and looked at her interestedly, “My wound is torn open because of you! Shouldn’t you help me?”

Mu Qiqi could see the blood soaking his pants and quickly said, “I’ll bandage it.”

She got down to her knees. The light of the moon shone upon them alongside the yellow bed light.

In the darkness, Sheng Xiao’s lips curled into a smile, his sharp eyes presenting him as if he was the most perfect of vampires. Watching as she lowered her head, he asked, “The young mistress of the Mu family, now an escort?”

Mu Qiqi could not answer. She gulped, feeling something scalding in her throat.

Sheng Xiao reached for her neck directly then. “I can help you,” he told her, “Since Huang Yao could afford to feed another mouth. But if you come with me, you would have to forget who you were—I would never help some ungrateful thing.”

Mu Qiqi feared his eyes for they were sharp, confident and hawkish. But she had to face it.”

“Why… Why would you help me?”

Sheng Xiao grinned devilishly as he inched closer, almost reaching the tip of her nose. “Because it’s fun.”

In the next moment, however, he let her go. “Bandage it well,” he said. “If it tears again, I’ll eat you up.”

Mo Qiqi could not understand Sheng Xiao at all, nor did she had the bravery to do so. All she knew that she was too scared, even if she was on the receiving end of another person’s sympathy.

But he did tell her to follow him…

Could she do that?

Moments later, after Mu Qiqi had finished bandaging him and tidied his clothing, Sheng Xiao asked her suddenly, “Does it look good down there?”

Mu Qiqi thought that he was talking about him taking his pants off back in the clinic. She blushed.

“I… I didn’t do that on purpose,” she mumbled vaguely, “it was an emergency, you needed help…”

“I’m talking about the floor. Are you going to keep looking down there?”

Mu Qiqi was speechless.

He laughed at her reaction, and rose to his feet to sit on the room’s couch instead. “If you continue being so adorable, I might really eat you up, you know?”

Mu Qiqi stood up as well. Her wariness was reduced a little as she watched him.

As he measured her, Sheng Xiao suddenly felt sleepy and so simply pulled off the sheets over the bed. “Sleep, there’s still things for tomorrow…”

Without instructions where she should sleep and with only one bed in the entire room, Mu Qiqi could only rest on the couch—but she did not believe she could fall asleep.

What right did she have to follow the man?

Everyone in Jianchuan knew that the Mu family and the Sheng family shared a blood feud. And yet, she was now saved by the son of a sworn enemy.

Moreover, what could Sheng Xiao have in store for her?

After a night of troubled thoughts, Mu Qiqi was jolted awake by someone washing up in the bathroom. She promptly sat up on the couch, only to find Sheng Xiao’s assistant standing in a corner.

“It’s time to leave, Miss Mu,” he told her.

“Where are we going?” She asked, puzzled.

“Naturally, somewhere you should be…”

Sheng Xiao was twenty-six and the eighth child of the Sheng family. He was called the Crown Prince by others because his father currently manages Huang Yao, but everyone would say that he was a bad apple, not just personality-wise—rumor has it that he treated everyone hostilely and often did things on a whim.

Especially sinister things.

Nonetheless, no one across the entire Sheng family could restrain him, and was therefore left at large.

Mu Qiqi recalled all that inside Sheng Xiao’s car—which naturally was not the wrecked sports car.

“Where… where are we going?”

“You’ll know when we get there.”

Jing Yun, Sheng Xiao’s assistant had tended to him since a young age and was like a brother to him.

Naturally, he would never dare to overstep his boundaries.

On the other hand, Mu Qiqi was fidgeting and afraid to ask Sheng Xiao who sat beside the driver until… they reached somewhere familiar.

It was actually her aunt’s house!

Mu Qiqi did not know what Sheng Xiao was doing and simply alighted when he did.

Her aunt dove toward her in tears once she saw her. “My child, my poor child… It’s my fault… I can’t wait to kill that scumbag uncle of yours!”

Mu Qiqi’s uncle was utterly confused when he saw her.

Wasn’t she supposed to be sold off to some big boss? Could it be that she was returned because they weren’t happy with her?

That wasn’t right.

He naturally recognized Sheng Xiao who was leaning on the white sedan.

What was the Crown Prince of the Sheng family doing here?

Nonetheless, knowing that he could not afford to provoke such a person, he welcomed Sheng Xiao with a smile. “Thank you, Young Master Sheng, for bringing our Qiqi back to us…”

“Bringing her back? Not quite…” Sheng Xiao shook his head at Mu Qiqi’s uncle. “I just want to tell you that you can’t afford to provoke her from now on.”

“That’s very funny, Young Master Sheng. But that’s the daughter of your blood enemy we’re talking about…”

“And didn’t the Mu family disown her?” With those words, Sheng Xiao turned towards Mu Qiqi. “This scumbag sold you off yesterday. How’d you think you should repay him? Hmm?”

In that split second, Mu Qiqi understood why Sheng Xiao had brought her here.

Still, she had not learned to be ruthless being young as she is!

“Anything goes?” She asked carefully.

“Except murder.” Sheng Xiao shrugged. “Think carefully. If you spare him and he sells you off again, I’m not going to save you.”

Mu Qiqi’s uncle felt his legs go soft when he heard those words. “Young Master Sheng,” he quickly said, “Spare me, I wasn’t thinking straight, I didn’t know that you and Qiqi… have that kind of relationship… I’ll return the money, just spare me… I’m on my knees!”

In the end, peasants never raised their heads against nobility—but being a smart one, Mu Qiqi’s uncle knew that she would not lift a finger against him since she was just an eighteen-year-old girl.

He was wrong.

Remembering her humiliation yesterday and disgusted by her uncle, Mu Qiqi simply could not keep it inside. Hence, mustering her courage, she told Sheng Xiao, ‘I want him gone from Jianchuan. I don’t want to see him ever again.”

Sheng Xiao smiled. “And here I thought there would be amputation involved… but at least you spoke out. Mu Qiqi, from today onwards you’re my partner-in-crime! You’re a little evil now… I like it.”

With that, he gestured for her to get in the car again while instructing Jing Yun, “Make that scumbag disappear. Bring Mu Qiqi’s aunt along too, it’ll be easier to take care of her that way.”

“Understood, Young Master. You should return to Jianchuan now.” Jing Yun reminded him.

Sheng Xiao was delayed considerably because of Mu Qiqi. Both Master and Madam were asking for him, only for him to offer shelter to the daughter of a sworn enemy.

“By the way, vacate the house in the Jianchuan suburbs for them to live in.”

Wasn’t that a little more than offering shelter, and quite simply adopting?

Fifty Shades of GreyAlternative



Milirtary release 2019


:I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair-it justwon’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me tothis ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yethere I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with itwet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, Iattempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush.

Description:When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independentRead More:–

Tabel of content Chapter 164Sample

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. Damn my hair-it justwon’t behave, and damn Katherine Kavanagh for being ill and subjecting me tothis ordeal. I should be studying for my final exams, which are next week, yethere I am trying to brush my hair into submission. I must not sleep with itwet. I must not sleep with it wet. Reciting this mantra several times, Iattempt, once more, to bring it under control with the brush. I roll my eyes inexasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big forher face staring back at me, and give up. My only option is to restrain mywayward hair in a ponytail and hope that I look semi presentable.Kate is my roommate, and she has chosen today of all days to succumb tothe flu.Therefore, she cannot attend the interview she’d arranged to do, withsome mega-industri-alist tycoon I’ve never heard of, for the student newspaper.So I have been volunteered. I have final exams to cram for, one essay tofinish, and I’m supposed to be working this afternoon, but no-today I have todrive a hundred and sixty-five miles to downtown Seattle in order to meet theenigmatic CEO of Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. As an exceptional entrepreneurand major benefactor of our University, his time is extraordinarilyprecious-much more precious than mine-but he has granted Kate an interview. Areal coup, she tells me. Damn her extra-curricular activities.Kate is huddled on the couch in the living room.”Ana, I’m sorry. It took me nine months to get this interview. It willtake another six to reschedule, and we’ll both have graduated by then. As theeditor, I can’t blow this off. Please,” Kate begs me in her rasping, sorethroat voice. How does she do itEven ill she looks gamine and gorgeous,strawberry blonde hair in place and green eyes bright, although now red-rimmedand runny. I ignore my pang of unwelcome sympathy.”Of course I’ll go Kate. You should get back to bed. Would you like someNyquil or Tylenol?””Nyquil, please. Here are the questions and my mini-disc recorder. Justpress record here. Make notes, I’ll transcribe it all.””I know nothing about him,” I murmur, trying and failing to suppress myrising panic.”The questions will see you through. Go. It’s a long drive. I don’t wantyou to be late.””Okay, I’m going. Get back to bed. I made you some soup to heat uplater.” I stare at her fondly. Only for you, Kate, would I do this.”I will. Good luck. And thanks Ana-as usual, you’re my lifesaver.”Gathering my satchel, I smile wryly at her, then head out the door to thecar. I cannot believe I have let Kate talk me into this. But then Kate can talkanyone into anything.She’ll make an exceptional journalist. She’s articulate, strong,persuasive, argumentative, beautiful-and she’s my dearest, dearest friend.The roads are clear as I set off from Vancouver, WA toward Portland andthe I-5. It’s early, and I don’t have to be in Seattle until two thisafternoon. Fortunately, Kate’s lent me her sporty Mercedes CLK. I’m not sureWanda, my old VW Beetle, would make the journey in time. Oh, the Merc is a fundrive, and the miles slip away as I floor the pedal to the metal.My destination is the headquarters of Mr. Grey’s global enterprise. It’sa huge twenty-story office building, all curved glass and steel, an architect’sutilitarian fantasy, with Grey House written discreetly in steel over the glassfront doors. It’s a quarter to two when I arrive, greatly relieved that I’m notlate as I walk into the enormous-and frankly intimidating-glass, steel, andwhite sandstone lobby.Behind the solid sandstone desk, a very attractive, groomed, blonde youngwoman smiles pleasantly at me. She’s wearing the sharpest charcoal suit jacketand white shirt I have ever seen. She looks immaculate.”I’m here to see Mr. Grey. Anastasia Steele for Katherine Kavanagh.””Excuse me one moment, Miss Steele.” She arches her eyebrow slightly as Istand self-consciously before her. I am beginning to wish I’d borrowed one ofKate’s formal blazers rather than wear my navy blue jacket. I have made aneffort and worn my one and only skirt, my sensible brown knee-length boots anda blue sweater. For me, this is smart. I tuck one of the escaped tendrils of myhair behind my ear as I pretend she doesn’t intimidate me.”Miss Kavanagh is expected. Please sign in here, Miss Steele. You’ll wantthe last elevator on the right, press for the twentieth floor.” She smileskindly at me, amused no doubt, as I sign in.She hands me a security pass that has VISITOR very firmly stamped on thefront. I can’t help my smirk. Surely it’s obvious that I’m just visiting. Idon’t fit in here at all.Nothing changes, I inwardly sigh. Thanking her, I walk over to the bankof elevators past the two security men who are both far more smartly dressedthan I am in their well-cut black suits.The elevator whisks me with terminal velocity to the twentieth floor. Thedoors slide open, and I’m in another large lobby-again all glass, steel, andwhite sandstone. I’m confronted by another desk of sandstone and another youngblonde woman dressed impeccably in black and white who rises to greet me.”Miss Steele, could you wait here, please?” She points to a seated areaof white leather chairs.Behind the leather chairs is a spacious glass-walled meeting room with anequally spacious dark wood table and at least twenty matching chairs around it.Beyond that, there is a floor-to-ceiling window with a view of the Seattleskyline that looks out through the city toward the Sound. It’s a stunningvista, and I’m momentarily paralyzed by the view. Wow.I sit down, fish the questions from my satchel, and go through them,inwardly curs-ing Kate for not providing me with a brief biography. I knownothing about this man I’m about to interview. He could be ninety or he couldbe thirty. The uncertainty is galling, and my nerves resurface, making mefidget. I’ve never been comfortable with one-on-one interviews, preferring theanonymity of a group discussion where I can sit inconspicuously at the back ofthe room. To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic Britishnovel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitchingnervously in a colos-sal glass and stone edifice.

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