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these strange steps

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Week 2

Tony looks up from her diary and says, "Okay."


"Yeah, okay. I mean-this is it. This is at the heart of what we're dealing with here. You're basically telling me that your problem is that you feel like you're destined to fail."

She stares at him, and tries not to think about Quinn and what that means, but-for fuck's sake, it's therapy. She's supposed to be working on making herself better, not denying more things.

"The idea of being-not good enough actually turns me on," she says, after a moment. It's awkward, and Tony raises his eyebrows at her, and then laughs a little sheepishly.

"Rachel, that's very different. I'll-okay, would you prefer to talk to Joel about this?"

She makes a face. "He's old enough to be my father. I'd prefer not to talk about this at all-"

Tony chuckles and rubs at his eyes. "Okay, that's fine. Well, no, not talking about it is not fine, but-sexual gratification and panic are two very distinct feelings, okay? They might present with similar emotional states but my God, the fact that you like-what, working for it in the sack?"

She blushes furiously. "Being... made to work for it."

"Sure. But the overall goal there is-eventually being good enough, right?"

She nods, after a moment. "Yeah. It's-the pay-off."

"Okay, so … this is different, because-in bed, I'm assuming that-your partners guide you to that pay-off. You overcome." Tony hesitates, and then raises her journal again. "I'm not seeing overcoming in your life right now, Rachel. You're stuck in this incredibly pessimistic cycle of-I would leave the house, but I'm going to have an attack, and I could try to have dinner with people but I'm just going to have an attack. I mean, what you wrote here-nothing I ever do is good enough to make this stop anyway-if that is what you wake up with, in your head, your day is done before it even starts."

She feels her eyes water a little and then says, "Yeah, so I've noticed."

"But it doesn't have to be like this. Thoughts are-okay, if you think of them like baseballs, flying at your head. … are you into sports?" he asks, after a second.

She laughs. "No, but … my best friend is. Puck and I watch them all the time. I know what baseball is."

"Okay, well, what you're currently doing is standing there and literally letting your life just sock you in the face, one after another. Like you're up against some pitcher with an arm that never tires and you're basically sitting down and saying, the only thing that's going to make him miss is this bottle of Xanax here."

She stays silent, and Tony glances at her journal again before putting it down on the table and closing it.

"The thing is, Rachel, you can catch those balls before they actually nail you. It's just a question of rerouting them, so if you well, mentally training your arm to swoop upwards and reach for them before they can impact. Okay?"

She sighs after a moment. "Yeah, okay. I mean, you make it all sound like it's just-a question of flicking a switch, or something, but-"

"No, it isn't. But it's... something we're going to untangle, one step at a time. So-let's start with breakfast, this morning. You felt anxious when you went into the room, and said it was because you thought people would be judging you."

She nods.

"Did they actually judge you?"

She shrugs and makes a face. "I don't know, I didn't stand around taking a survey."

He gives her a look, and she mumbles an apology.

"Get outside of your own head for a moment. Think about-what other people perceive you as. You're-a beautiful woman, Rachel. You're talented, you're accomplished-your smile lights up rooms."

She sort of rolls her eyes. "Oh, Tony; you're married, and I'm gay, but otherwise this could be the start of something beautiful."

He says, "That-right there. What did you just do?"

She looks up and shrugs. "I made a joke?"

"Yes, why? Did I say something funny?"

She hesitates. "I don't know, you were-"


She sighs again. "Yeah, maybe. I don't know. I mean, that's not-"

"Do you really think that's not how people see you? As-someone to look up to?"

"Well, God, I really hope I'm not being used as a role model because-"

"Because what? Because you're here right now, talking through some very understandable problems that are in no way something you're to blame for?"

She falls silent, and Tony just looks at her for a long moment.

"What are people actually thinking when you go into the dining room in the morning?"

She takes a deep breath. "I don't know. Probably-that the coffee tastes like shit and that decaf is terrible, and they're really tired of eating muesli."

"Just like you."

"Yeah," she says, unable to stop from sounding annoyed. "I mean, is that what you want to hear?"

"No. There is nothing here that I want to hear," he says, mildly. "This is about you, and what you need to hear. If you focus on that thought, about shitty coffee and how much you hate muesli, right now-and it's not self-deception, okay? It's a more realistic interpretation of the situation you find yourself in. Because, I mean, especially here, Rachel-you're not anyone. You're just Rachel. People might glance at you for a second, but they're not sitting there, waiting to tear you apart."

"What about out there, though?" she asks, after a second.

He gives her an encouraging smile. "How about you cope with breakfast first, and then we can start thinking about how to handle the vultures, huh?"

Will you hurt me if I tell you that you sound like you're actually making great leaps in terms of your own understanding of your problems, right now?

Things I will happily do for you:

- provide information on the outside world (the weather is godawful right now, it shouldn't be this hot in September)

- distract you in whatever way I can (my cat now thinks it's a pregnant male)

- tell you to not give yourself new, additional issues by wondering if I'm even attracted to you because, hello, Rachel, I can't possibly comment on this in a way that would be either friendly or professional but you DO remember sleeping with me, right? :)

Things I will not do for you:

- pretend that this is all magically going to get better

- tell you that you're a failure somehow (because you aren't, and take it from someone who came very close to failing for a very long time)

- revert to high school Quinn who couldn't cope with her extremely positive feelings for exactly the wrong person, because … I've been dealing with her a lot lately, on Thursdays, and she's exactly as unpleasant and unhappy as I remember her being and she has no business being near you, talking to you, or even existing onward in your mind. I was awful, back then. Awful, lonely, and completely incapable of doing what was good for me, and I can never apologize enough for how much of a price you paid for that, but I will spend the rest of our friendship making up for it, if I can.

On that note, may I have an address that I can send a small gift to? (I mean small. I also mean gift. Don't send anything back to even the score.) I don't mean the facility but when you're released. Part of after-care is having significant things going on that stop you from going back to the negative places you were stuck in before, and given that you struggle to define your hobbies, I'm here to tell you that I'm going to give you a few whether you want them or not. Nothing to do with singing, I promise.

Speaking of singing, I thought about I Feel Pretty/Unpretty the other day. Thank you (again) for not drowning me out completely. I think I understand now why you didn't, in a way I never could have back then-but allow me to say something that I should have said back then, and couldn't for more reasons I can articulate: you really did not need that nose job. Your nose is lovely just the way it is.

Q, Mighty or Otherwise

She spends two hours, and then another two hours, and then another two hours browsing through the iTunes cloud that the facility has set up.

Genre-wise, they cover everything. There is music present she's never heard of, and music she hasn't heard in years, and singles released last month. It's as if part of the insane sum of money she's paying them is being used just for this, but-

It doesn't change that she's wholly uninspired, by all of it.

She takes the empty iPod and wanders out to the beach, and then hears the soft strumming of a guitar coming from about twenty feet to the left.

Adam is sitting underneath a palm tree, his hat slanted on his head, and she sits down next to him after he gives her a small nod. She knows, from her own past, that music is almost a religious experience for people who really connect with it, and there is a lot of trust implicit in the fact that he's letting her sit here while he-well, fiddles. He's not really playing. He's fiddling.

"How come you don't sing?" he finally asks, his fingers still moving along the frets and softly plucking. "I had a look around on iTunes and I found um, the score to that musical you did and like, damn, girl."

She smiles faintly and then shrugs. "I just-haven't felt like it. In a long time."

He nods, and clamps his hand down over the strings and then says, "It took me … almost two weeks, of being here, to finally actually play something real again. Couldn't play my own songs. Couldn't play anyone else's either. Nobody knew what was going on with me, you see. And the songs just didn't fit."

"What changed?" she asks, the waves lapping onto the shore and distracting her from how anxious (seven out of ten) this conversation is making her. There is nobody watching her; she's fine. It's just Adam. It's just the beach.

"Not sure I can say," he says, chewing on the pick he's got in his mouth for a moment. "I guess I just figured if nobody's written the right song yet to suit me, I better write it myself."

She looks out into the distance, and then says, "I don't write my own music. I mean, I'm completely reliant on other people's songs fitting, and-they just don't seem to. Whatever I am now, it's not something I've been before. And I don't know what the right music is."

"What's your best memory of singing?" he asks, after a moment.

When she looks over, he's tracing his fingers over the side of his guitar, and then gives her a small smile. "My best memory of song-writing is-back before I broke through. My girl, Shelly, used to come over to my house and study, and I'd watch her and play the guitar-nothing real, really, but just whatever I wanted to while watching her. She'd be doing-I don't know, whatever architects do, and I'd just be doing what did, if you know what I mean. And sometimes she'd look up, and-yeah. It all just clicked."

Rachel can almost picture it, the way he describes it, and then says, "... Nationals. Glee club Nationals."

Adam smiles faintly. "What'd you sing?"

"It's three songs. There's a solo, which I did with-well, My Man, which is the seminal closing number from my favorite musical. I had to fight for it, but finally persuaded everyone it was the right choice. Then there is a duet, which I sang with... my then ex-boyfriend, and there was a group number. God. We did Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and-"

"There. That, right there," Adam says, pointing at her with the pick. "The look on your face just now."

"What, about my solo?"

"No. The group number," he says. "The Meatloaf song. Was that the winning ticket?"

Rachel laughs after a second. "Oh, Jesus, it was a disaster. We pulled it out of the hat at the very last minute. It was nice, though-there are so many changes in that song that-everyone got a turn to sing, and-"

She finds herself trailing off, at the memory of Tina and Mike singing the bridge at each other and then Mike and Brittany dancing for a moment while Finn and Puck swayed arm in arm at the side of the stage, off into the chorus again-and she remembers Quinn, laughing with Santana about Brittany and Mike's antics before providing the harmonies again. She barely had had two lines of a solo in the song, and had spent most of it being twirled around stage by Kurt, and the entire thing had been manic and insane and-

"They were my family," she says, after a long silence, and then looks at Adam, who just nods.

"Drifted apart since then?"

"No," she says, carefully, and then bites her lip. "We just-don't sing together anymore."

Adam is silent for a moment, and then picks out a quick rhythm on his guitar, before looking at her with a soft smile. "Well, I know I'm not your family or anything, but-I am another voice. You want to see if maybe-we can sing something together?"

She puts the empty iPod down on the sand, next to her, and then says, "I-country isn't really my thing."

"Broadway isn't really my thing. Maybe we can compromise," he says, and then glances at his guitar carefully, before starting to strum softly and then adding in a chorus of soft woah-woahs that-


She knows the song, and feels her diaphragm open to the notes almost as soon as he looks at her and winks.

Hi Noah,

I sang a Kings of Leon song with an incredibly famous country singer today. :)

How are my cats?



Joel laughs at her when she walks in and announces, "I've had a breakthrough."

"Well, great, why I don't I just go home then-"

"No, seriously though," she says, before sitting down and looking at him pointedly. "I don't like singing anymore because it's not something I do with people I love anymore. It's what keeps me from them. When I was... a child, I used to always sing with either my dad or my daddy. I'd compete solo, sure, but-they were there, you know? For the entire process, commenting on it and sometimes helping me with the harmonies-not that I ever needed help, because I have perfect pitch, but still."

"Okay," Joel says, still looking very amused.

"And-then when I got older, I sang with my best friend, Tina, or with my other best friend, Puck, who played the guitar. We'd do stuff together. I started making these silly MySpace recordings for potential talent scouts, but all of those were just a culmination of things we'd done as a group."

She smiles after a second and then says, "And then-okay, you know, I could have had the lead in the school musical, in sophomore year. But I declined it, because I missed being a part of the show choir. I missed-having friends. They weren't really, then, but they were people who maybe could understand me, some day. And by the time we graduated, most of us were friends, even if they still thought I was a spotlight hog and-well, it wasn't always gravy, but-"

Joel holds up his hand after a second, like he's in school and asking a question, and she pauses and looks at him. "What?"

"If singing to you is something you love to do as a group activity, why the hell are you a solo artist?"

She blinks, and then says, "Because I also want to be the best at it. I mean, Tina and Puck are my friends, but they probably wouldn't be if they were more talented."

"So you want to surround yourself with supportive back-up singers. Forgive me for being an idiot, Rachel, but surely you can pay people to do that?" Joel asks.

"Well, it's not the same, because-I don't know my back-up singers. This Vegas thing I just did, they were just three girls. They didn't even audition with me. Back in high school, I performed with my friends. It didn't matter that-well, it did matter that some of them had serious pitch problems, but-the reality of it is that-"

Joel smile sat her after a second. "Can we maybe flip this on its head, and say that you don't sing anymore because you're lonely?"

She looks at him for a long moment. "Isn't that what I said?"

"Nope. You said you weren't singing anymore because you were alone, which is bullshit, because you like being the best. There is no we in diva, Rachel."

She frowns, and then sinks into the chair and stares at him. "Damn it, I really thought-"

"Well, of course that was a breakthrough, but it's not the one you think it is."

She thinks hard, for a moment, and then says, "I don't sing anymore because I'm lonely. Singing just reminds me of the people that I used to let into my life, and now don't."

"There we go," Joel says, and smiles at her. "Good. Now what?"

"What do you mean, now what? You're the therapist."

"Did you find music to put on your iPod?"

She sighs. "No. Not really."

"All right. So we're back to that. And, I mean, I guess it's time to talk about your career and your private life, in a lot more detail, now that we've figured out why you don't sing anymore. I mean, we have to find you a song, and then we have to find a way to let you sing it, right?"

"Oh, well, if that's all," she says, rolling her eyes.

He smiles at her, and says, "How do you feel about painting?"


I painted a horse today. It was awful. I would've taken a picture but I had already shredded it by the time I got my phone today so, never mind. Let's just say, Artist Rachel will not spring forth from this experience.

Your present - send it to my parents' place? Be sure to address it as being from Lucy something or other. Probably best to not put Fabray on there, either. My fathers are very forgiving, but you probably will need to say something to them if and when, you know, you ever encounter them in any capacity.

I miss my cats, and my bed. This bed is fine, don't get me wrong, but I love my bed at home. I'm not trying to turn this into a dirty conversation for the record, it's just very comfortable.

I'm still trying to figure out what music suits-well, current me. It's not easy. Any time I get to spend alone is still very much full of the jitters, even though-Tony has been slowly helping me come up with some ways to redirect my thoughts. He also thinks I might have adult ADHD, which would probably explain a few things, but as I function fine he doesn't seem to think I need further medication. I'm down to the Paxil, for now. And I'm not actually doing any worse than I was before, so far, so... I don't know. I know I will always be on some medication, and I'm fairly sure that the Propanolol will be given back to me as a 'stage fright' coping mechanism if I decide to ever go on stage again, which... yeah. I really don't know, right now, if I want to or not.

It's funny, that you're thinking so much about Glee these days. So am I. In particular, I remember a particular performance of Go Your Own Way... I might get Famous Rock Star to play that for me later today, because God knows I sang it at the wrong person all those years ago. :)

Before I forget, also, Nicole alluded to a 'theme song' over lunch that one time. Can I perhaps barter that for the third cat name?


They all agree that LA is by and far the worst place on earth to be.

At least in New York, the photographers sleep and sometimes have other things to focus on-politics, mostly, and the police, but still.

Steven notes that FAO Schwarz aside, he has it okay. "I live outside of the city and just commute in for daily tapings, and I mean, in my hometown, I'm a completely average Joe. So it's moments, but when they hit, they hit hard, you know?"

Rachel nods. "Yeah. It's no different for me, and frankly, it got worse after my stint on Cardiac Arrest, which-"

"Oh, God, I loved that storyline-when you died of cancer, I was so sad," Emily tells her, with an appropriately sympathetic look. Like Rachel actually died in the world, and not just on primetime TV.

Rachel chuckles and says, "Thanks."

Adam smiles and says, "I think I might move. Leave Nashville; head closer to home again. I mean, I get recognized in most of the Southern states, but I feel like people in Austin would care less than people, you know, in Nash."

Michelle looks around the circle and says, "You do all realize that there is nothing wrong with taking steps to protect yourself, and your private life, right? It's not failure to move out of a city, and try to get some privacy. That's very human."

Emily exhales softly and then says, "I've considered like, shaving my hair off. Or wearing wigs everywhere, or something."

"Sunglasses. Can't leave the house without them," Robert says, with a small smile. "It helps that I live somewhere where it's normal to wear them; I don't know what to say about New York, but-"

"Oh, rain or shine, it's also normal to wear them there," Steven says, with a small wink at Rachel. "That's her people, though, not mine."

"It's true. If Anna Wintour does it, it's fashionable," Rachel says, before crossing her legs and-God help her, the taste of the decaf is actually starting to get vaguely comforting.

"If all of you had to choose right now, between your life or your career, what would you choose?"

"Life," Robert says, immediately.

Steven makes a face, and then just sighs. "Miriam and the boys. Are you kidding? That's no contest."

Adam nods after a moment. "Yeah. I mean, I can play guitar for myself, if I need to. What I can't do is-you know. Also be my own friends, or my own girlfriend. That's-you need other people, you know?"

Emily chews on her gum, loudly, and then says, "I mean, I hate what my dad's career has done to all of us, but he's still my dad. I guess I'd rather you know, shave my head and keep him than-get rid of him altogether."

That leaves them all staring at Rachel, who opens her mouth; closes it; and then opens it again, and says, "Yeah. My life. My-cats, and my friends, and-"

"So, that's unanimous. The fame isn't worth everything to any of you," Michelle says, when she trails off, before she can throw Quinn into that mix, or wonder how her parents fit into it, now that she's an adult. "So what does that tell you?"

"That we fit our jobs around our lives. Not the other way around," Robert says, after a long moment, and relaxes into his seat. "Yeah. That-well. That sounds very obvious, and simple."

"It's probably not that easy," Michelle concedes, as her egg timer goes off. "But it's a starting point for further steps, wouldn't you say?"

Hi Tee,

I'm well, thanks. I wouldn't say that I'm cured or anything, but I'm starting to be able to hear myself think again, which is a really nice change after years of just receiving static.

I'm wondering if you can-maybe start doing some preliminary research for me, on how far out of the city I can live while still being within say, fair commuting distance (taking rush hour into account) into the city.

I'd ask Puck, but he'll tell Kurt and-I'm not ready to deal with Kurt just yet, so-can you maybe just get me some preliminary ideas? I don't know where I'm taking this, honestly. I just want to know what my options are.



She looks up from her lap after a long moment, and watches the queue inside of the McDonald's. It's-twenty people, at each till. This place is insanely busy. There isn't any seating inside, and the car park is nearly full.

Next to her, Tony staring her a little, before looking away and also looking at the McDonald's.

"Thoughts?" he finally asks.

"I can't-do this," she says, haggardly. "I-there are so many people there and-"

"Yes, there are. What are they there for?"

"Junk food."

"Okay. Are they there for you?"

"No," she concedes, and it slows her heart rate for a few seconds, until she sees another car park and it climbs again. "But they're still there. They'll recognize me."

"They might," Tony concedes. "What then?"

"Then-they'll approach me."

"Okay. How does the idea of them approaching you make you feel?"

She actually has to gulp in air at that point, and grabs at the handle on the inside of the car door frantically.

Tony says, "That's okay, Rachel. Remember, we're still in the car; they're not seeing us. They're far away. Come back to here, and just think about it for a moment. Imagine you are in that queue right now, and the person in front of you turns around and says, oh, hi, you're Rachel Berry. What then?"

"I have to leave," she says, the words squirming out of her throat. "I have to leave because-they-"

"What do you think a person wants from you, when they do that?"

The question stops her in her tracks, and she stares at him, even though her lungs are still protesting everything and-she stares at him, and stares at him some more, and then finally feels her chest relax.

"I don't know. An autograph?"

"Okay. Can you sign one of those?"

She sighs and shakes her head. "Here? Now? Sure. But in there-"

"What about if I went and got someone from that queue, and brought them out here? Could you sign something for them, then?"

"Yeah, of course," she says. "I'm afraid of crowds, not signatures."

"Yes, you're right," Tony says, amiably, tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. "You're afraid of-one person, in front of you, with many behind them. What can you do to stop that from becoming an issue?"

She looks at him, frustrated, and says, "Tell everyone else to fuck off and get out of my face?"

"Christ, girl, you are a New Yorker at heart, aren't you," he says, and after a second she chuckles at him.


"No, that's fine. Because-your anger is a much more natural reaction to all of this than not feeling anything at all. You're right, you know. People will recognize you, and they will get in your space, and you'll probably be frustrated. So what then?"

"I can't just-storm out. I'm not a teenager anymore."

"No. But you know what you can do?" Tony says, raising his eyebrows at her.

"Obviously not, or I wouldn't-"

"I need you to go get me a McFlurry, right now, or I'll die. What do you do, Rachel?"

She scoffs. "Nobody needs a McFlurry that badly."

"do. So will you get me one?"

"No. Because there is a crowd in there and it's-"

"Okay, so you don't want to. But can you?"

She glares at him. "I don't know. I don't-"

"What if you don't get recognized?"

She looks out the window at the McDonald's again, and her heart rate slows a little. "That's-"

"Is it different?"

"Yes," she says, and closes her eyes. "Yes. If I don't get recognized, it's-I don't know. Then it's just a crowd. Not a crowd of people who... want something from me."

"Okay. So let's focus on just the crowd," Tony says, and then reaches behind him and brings up a wig. "I'm still dying here, Rachel, so-are you going to go get me my McFlurry or not?"

She looks at the wig for a long moment, and then sighs and looks at Tony. "I don't get what you're doing. This is-you're telling me to basically act my way through this. Do you have any idea what my stage shows are like? I can obviously handle people in my presence if I'm acting, and on the right amount of medication. How is that going to help me in my day to day life?"

Tony slowly smiles at her. "Think about what you just said."

She looks back at the McDonald's, and then says, "... I thought the whole point of-doing this was for me to get better at coping with my life as it is."

"Yes. And if the idea of you playing a role, if you will-Rachel Berry, the Celebrity... if that's what gets you through a crowd, or at least in a place where you could accidentally end up in one without having a panic attack-how is that not you coping?"

She sighs, and reaches for the wig, and then says, "This is really not my color."

"I know, but that's the point," Tony says, and watches as she takes another three deep breaths and then opens the car door.

Less than a minute later, she's back, and her heart won't stop almost beating out of her chest and she actually almost asks him to just knock her out because it hurts that much to breathe-and he just sits there and says, "How far did you open that door?"

"About three inches," she manages, after about ten minutes.

"How far would you have opened it a month ago?"

She closes her eyes, willing her eyes to stop watering and her chest to stop painfully heaving, and then says, "I take your point. That doesn't make this any more pleasant."

He pats her on the shoulder, grasping it gently, and then says, "We're not dealing with McDonald's here, Rachel. This is Rome, and it wasn't-"

"Yes, I know," she says, putting her hand over her heart and staring back at the McDonald's.

Her arch-nemesis. A fucking fast food chain she wouldn't ever even eat at. Something she can't conquer.


It didn't kill her. There's probably some adage here about how it will make her stronger, or something, as soon as she's done feeling like she's going to faint.

Hi Rach,

For RGB, from a fellow patient: Before I forget-yes, I'm doing fine, thank you for asking. It's not... ugh. I don't have to tell you this, but wading through times I'd rather forget is not fun, but according to my therapist, I'm actually doing okay. Anyway, you know how I am with compartmentalization so as long as it's not a Thursday, I do okay at not thinking about it too much, and that makes it bearable.

For FR: Theme song - yes, we all have one. I probably should have explained this myself, but you don't start out back at a place like R. My first job was on the pole, just like everyone else-and once you get that kind of definition you can't let it go without going flabby, hence why I'm still "so unbelievably strong", I think your words were-and as your initiation to the profession, if you will, you pick your own song. At the time when I started dancing, I was in love with this Canadian band called Purity Ring. Has to be heard, not described. If you can't access their stuff on your cloud, let me know and I'll forward you best-of.

I was flipping through the channels last night and saw some Barbra Streisand movie and thought of you. I mean, I didn't watch it, but the thought counts, right?

Anyway, I've discovered what's wrong with Carl Jung - according to the vet, he's lonely. You'd think that being the sole recipient of my petting night after night would satisfy the urge, but apparently cross-species attention is not sufficient, and he's in need of a 'mate', which is why he's been a complete pest lately-sitting everywhere my hands are etc. I'm not sure I want a second cat, because this one destroys enough curtains as it is, but at the same time, I accept that I am a parent and must behave in his best interest. What to do, what to do...

Cat name please!


The combination of Purity Ring, the band-which, Quinn is quite right, cannot be described, but after about twenty seconds of hearing incredibly layered, swirling, and contradictory music patterns blend together seamlessly, Rachel gets stuck in a loop that is just this is so fucking weird and this is so Quinn-and an email that references Quinn's petting, exclusive to a cat right now-

For the first time in about three weeks, she feels faintly turned on, and it's so much sharper, now. Even without Quinn there, she feels the hair on her arms stand on end like it's alive separate from herself, and it makes her crave-well.

More, but like this. No alcohol, no Xanax, no pretending.

It's the first time in three years she's craved being sober, as opposed to high out of her fucking mind.

Her anxiety level sinks to what she'd call a one, just for a little while, and she sleeps like a child.

Day 13

Breakfast: anxiety at 3, remembered that everyone is just there to eat. Ate with Adam and Rob, had a nice time.

CBT: anxiety at 7, remembered that Tony was not there to judge me when he said he was not there to judge me. Felt dizzy and unwell for ten minutes until he indicated that we would not be going back to McDonald's today. Not sure if this is progress or just retreat. Did not feel like taking a pill, however. Just felt like being silent and alone for a while.

Lunch: anxiety at 5. Ate alone in room. Down to about 2 afterwards.

Group: anxiety at 2 still. Feel like surrounded by group of friends and allies, no longer threatening. Emily and Adam are leaving soon, slightly sad about that but not anxious. Had to talk about doing talk shows and red carpets today and admitted I haven't been on one in three years without having taken x quantity of pills. Considered whether they were a job requirement. Difficult to say.

Down time: anxiety at 4 after group. Listened to iPod, calmed a little. Sang a few Ryan Adams songs with Adam. Anxiety almost entirely gone because just the two of us out on the beach. Considered hermit-like existence. :)

Dinner: anxiety at around 4. Same as breakfast, ate with Emily, Steve and Adam and Kevin. S. brought up interviews, anxiety increased to about 6, then ebbed again.

Down time: anxiety at around 3. Had to respond to Q and not sure what else to expect. Relaxed with iPod after that. Still around 3.


Joel stretches out lazily and tosses her a hacky sack. "You find a song yet?"

She catches it and throws it back, and he tosses it in the air a few times before looking at her. "Not for me, but I've finally found some new music I like."

"Thanks to Quinn?" Joel asks, knowingly.

She sort of blushes and rolls her eyes. "I-I don't know, I mean, is that a terrible thing?"

"No. Experiencing feelings is never a terrible thing unless they're overwhelming," Joel says, with a small smile. "Plus, you and Wakefield have been kicking it-you know you guys draw a crowd, right? We all like to stand around about 20 feet away, because c'mon. Two world class artists, jamming together. This is what the people further down Abbey Road probably felt like."

She laughs, even though the compliment feels sincere and she actually doesn't feel any instinctive need to dismiss it. "Who am I in this situation-John or Paul?"

"The pretty one," Joel says, with a small wink.

They toss the hacky sack back and forth a few times, until he snatches it from the air with purpose again and looks at her. "Tell me about your manager."

"Kurt?" she asks, with a frown. "Kurt-well, calling him my manager isn't entirely accurate, I mean, he's also been my best friend since I was seventeen."

"You have a lot of best friends," Joel notes, dryly. "Do they rank, or-"

"Quinn first, then Puck, then Tina, then..." she says, ticking them off one by one on her fingers, pausing when she realizes she's almost out of a hand when she is about to reach Kurt-and then Brittany and Santana do, actually, come before them.

"Interesting," Joel says, tossing her the hacky sack again.

She plays with it between her fingers for a moment, and then says, "Elaborate?"

"Someone you by your own admission haven't spoken to in eight years ranks much higher than someone you see literally every day," Joel says, wiggling his eyebrows.

She smiles faintly. "Ah."

"What's that about?" he responds, holding out his hand for the toy.

"Quinn and I... It's different. I mean, yes, I trust her with things I wouldn't at this point tell Kurt, but it's because-" she says, and then closes her eyes. "Promise you won't dig into this, because I swear it's not an issue?"

"What isn't?"

"We-like our sex a little on the wild side."

Joel's expression remains very placid. "What, in the BDSM sense?"

"Yes," she says, almost managing to not sound like she's being strangled.

"Okay, well, that explains why she's up on the trust chain," he says, easily enough. "But it doesn't explain why your manager is down so low, when he's been your friend for well over eight years. So. What's the deal, Rachel?"

She throws it back at him, and then rubs at her eyes for a moment. "Kurt is-yeah, you're right. He's an old friend, but he's become my very good manager."

"On board with the whole, let's not be gay thing?"

"Very much so. On a strategic level, anyway. Not on a personal one, given that he's gay himself. But... we're both aware that Hollywood is... not Broadway. I suppose I could've come out there, years ago, even though... you're right, I chose not to, but-that was always with the idea in mind that I'd eventually cross over."

"What is that about?" Joel asks, pulling one of his legs onto his lap and then putting the hacky sack down on the table, between them. "I mean-you're going to have to excuse me, right, because I'm from North Dakota and we don't do a whole lot of musical theater over there that isn't so amateurish it makes angels weep-"

She laughs. "What's your question?"

"Why-would someone with your profile want to go to Hollywood? Singing and acting, right? That's the dream. So-surely you're born to be on the stage?"

She blinks at that description of herself, and then carefully says, "Yes, but-"

"Is it money?"

"No, though I won't say that that's not … well, appealing, on its own," she says, shaking her head. "One blockbuster movie would guarantee that I could retire and live as I do now, and on Broadway that's going to take longer. But-that's a bonus, I guess."

"So not the draw?" Joel asks, and when she shakes her head tentatively, he adds, "What is, then?"

It's asked so blandly, like there is an easy answer somehow, and she realizes after almost five minutes of trying to pull her thoughts of her head like they're strings, somehow, that she only really has one.

"Nobody thinks I can do it."

"So, winning," he says, after a moment, offering her a small smile. "Why can't you do it? You have a Tony, for fuck's sake, and what is it-three Emmy nominations?"

"Two, and for guest stars in comedy and drama, so-those don't really count," she clarifies.

"Yeah, I know, they hand those out like candy," Joel says, rolling his eyes.

She smiles. "You remind me so much of Quinn sometimes, it's uncanny. You don't have any relatives from Lima, do you?"

"Not that I know of, no," he says, and then scratches at his head. "Okay, so, you need to prove to the world that you're an actress."

"No," she says. "I know I'm an actress. But-people think I get by on my voice. That that's what I reduce down to, at the end of the day. I'm not-I'm not pretty enough for conventional female leads. Not in film, anyway."

"Says who?" Joel asks.

"Casting directors. My old manager. Um, … industry polls. God, I can keep going, I've heard it everywhere. Rhinoplasty is a frequent recommendation," she says, shrugging after a moment. "It is what it is. I guess I just … I've always wanted to prove that I could do it."

"To nameless strangers?" Joel asks, tilting his head.

"Why not?"

"I don't know, it's just an unusual motivation. It's normally the people close to us who really make us want to-I don't know. Go that extra mile. Prove we're better than they think we are."

She pauses on that, and then says, "I don't know... what to tell you. My parents have always believed in me, and told me to ignore-"

"Ignore who?"

She takes a deep breath. "Okay, I reject this diagnosis; I have not been focused on Hollywood just because the girls I went to school with all called me ugly at various points in time."

"What girls?"

She rolls her eyes. "Not that it matters, but the cheerleaders."

"Where are they now?"

Rachel laughs weakly and then says, "I hate you."

"That's fine, but it doesn't answer my question."

She sighs. "Promise you won't keep me here for another month if I answer this honestly."

He grins. "We can't keep you here if you don't want to stay anyway, Rachel. You know that."

"One of them is... number four on my list of closest friends, and the other one is … my number one," she says, before shaking her head and biting her lip. "Hence why-"

"Sweet Jesus," Joel says, and then leans forward and stares at her with a disbelieving look. "So, hang on a second - the girl you're in love with also probably gave you a massive complex about your worth and attractiveness a decade ago, during your formative years as it were, you seem to think this has absolutely no lasting effects on say, your life goals or your ongoing existence."

She purses her lips, and then rubs at her temples for a second. "Would you believe me if I tell you that … I don't associate her now with … her then, at all? Not even abstractly? We sometimes talk about it but-it's really so far in the past and removed from who she is now-"

"Sure, I'll believe you. If you tell me that you understand that Hollywood doesn't actually matter, unless it's something you want for you. And not to dangle over her head, as the ultimate, see, I'm good enough for you."

She frowns at that. "You're acting like she's making me do this. Quinn could give a shit if I stay in this industry or not. In some ways, it would be easier for her if I wasn't, actually."

"I'll take that, but only because Quinn isn't the problem here. How Quinn made you think of yourself is," Joel says, calmly. "And you're right. That is probably separate from how you interact with her now. She's changed, physically, I'm assuming? Has divorced herself seriously from the girl you used to know, so you can look at her and not see that same vicious kid who used to tear you down?"

She stays silent, and Joel squeezes the hacky sack for a moment, looking at it.

"I'm-yeah. We'll come back to this, because I think you're capable of working this one out on your own, okay? You're smart. There are some flaws in your reasoning. Figure out what they are; paint me a picture if you have to. But-let's go back to your manager. If you tell him tomorrow that you want to come out, what would he do?"

She thinks about it for a long moment, and then sighs deeply. "I think that as soon as he remembered that he's also my friend, and not just my manager, he'd probably stop yelling and ask me if this was best for me."

Joel smiles knowingly. "What about if you... told him you not only wanted to come out, but you also had no desire to … I don't know, audition for anything, for the next however long?"

"Yeah, that... that wouldn't go down well. Unless it was medically necessary, somehow," she admits.

"How does that make you feel?"

On a scale of one to ten: anxious.


Memo for Dr. Q: Difficult session today - I don't think I'm ready to talk about it. Don't worry, I'm okay, but-it was about you, and I don't know how to process it just now. I think we have things we need to talk about that I thought we didn't need to talk about, but-it's all too tangled, still. Maybe in time. Okay? So-other than that I'm fine. I can't believe it's already been two full weeks, since I came here. It doesn't feel like I've really gone anywhere, but-I don't know. Maybe it's hard to see the whole picture when you're in a vacuum.

FR: Thank you for the Purity Ring recommendation. It's the first new thing I've heard in ages that I've actually been interested in, and it's not necessarily because the recommendation came from you; I like the contrast of the very thick, dense music to the very airy whisper-like vocals, actually. Not sure I could do that with my voice, but sometimes it's nice for me to listen things that don't immediately make me think of covers I need to/could be making. :)

Third cat, since you earned it: Miffy. Yes, after the rabbit. There are stories here about how a young girl in Ohio with two daddies found more to relate to in androgynous rabbit families than say, most children's stories in which kids had a mom and a dad, but mostly I just have good memories about my dad reading me those books, as opposed to everything else, which was read to me by my daddy. I've always been a daddy's girl (that's Hiram) but my dad (Leroy) and I had Miffy together, and Miffy the cat is pure white with button-y little eyes. It was a given, name-wise.

What was your favorite book, growing up? You don't have to answer if you don't want to-idle curiosity, as there are so many hours of the day here when I'm not technically doing anything but reading and sleeping. Speaking of books-The Blind Assassin has to be one of the most complex but rewarding things I've ever attempted, and I'm glad I'm not on much of anything these days aside from the Paxil- though Tony is considering trying a Xanax alternative on a short-term basis to see if he can get me over the hurdle, aka the McDonald's doorway-because I basically need every neuron I have left firing to get through.

It's hard to remember what's real and what's the fiction within the fiction, in that story. I feel that way about Vegas sometimes, like it was nothing but a daydream that I wrapped around myself. Except then-I remember little things, like you playing the word effigy in the middle of an otherwise very atheistic game of Scrabble, and well. It was real, wasn't it?

It's been a long day. Please get Carl Jung a companion-I know what it's like to be lonely, and don't blame him for clinging to you, but it's better for you both if his love for you is not borne of desperation.