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for The Last Five Years of Arnold and Helga

6/17 c14 5darnold-longkid
Aight-so I said I'd leave another review when I'd read the whole thing, and I gotta say, WOW. What a trip. Letting it all soak in. First off, I was hooked from start to finish, like I knew this was gonna be devastating to read and I still couldn't put it down. Really dig the creative format, the way their alternating POVs time jumped like that. Also def appreciated that you're clearly a skilled writer; this read flowed flawlessly.

I know this fic technically falls under canon-divergent, tho I will say, to me it really read as an AU, just in the tone and vibe given off by how their lives changed after Arnold left. Some choices gave me pause, but I was able to roll with them, as your artistic interpretation of these characters was SO well fleshed out-they became YOUR Arnold and Helga, and I was there for the ride :) And absolutely dig the idea of Arnold's sleeves btw!

I was pleasantly surprised by your career picks for them-hadn't seen song writer or composting in anything else I read lol, it was interesting how each worked with strengths they displayed in the series. (It's fun how their futures as adults can be taken convincingly in numerous ways. Fandom is so fun lol) Also dig all the supply chain/setup detail provided for Arnold's job, and how his values were reflected in other moments in the fic, even to help serve even more tension to a scene (which i love)-like when Arnold picked up Helga's pills.

The most DELIGHTFUL surprise for me reading this whole fic tho, was how you handled Bob Pataki. Don't even get me started. I absolutely LOVE me some Bob. He's one of my favorite characters of the show haha. You did his character SO MUCH justice, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone else go with that kinda take (not that no one has, but if they have, I wanna read that next haha) -but it's the take I've ALWAYS wanted to see. It just falls so in line with how I extrapolate from "The Patakis" it's nuts. I love that he came around and did the work and made some significant changes, and why. But most of all, I love how your depiction of an Improved Bob STILL let him be difficult and gruff, too. And it SOUNDS like him. Ugh I just adore it. Love love love Bob.

Also, for the love of God, THANK YOU for not being obnoxious about Arnold having "emerald green eyes" LOL. We all got our pet peeves for writing, right? That one is mine haha. The flowery, melodramatic way "unusual" eye colors are often depicted in fics/literature makes me roll my eyes and takes me out of the narrative lol. I REALLY liked how Helga was properly lowkey WTF'd about them. They weren't these enchanting "orbs" or "gems" where you "drown in their pools" or whatever. They were intense, unusual, and hard to maintain eye contact with sometimes. She had the kind of reaction that was grounded in realism and I super appreciated it. (And you didn't mention his eye color every other paragraph either thank you VERY MUCH)

Helga's low point, I think the planned deliberateness to cheat, and Phoebe co-signing it, esp without providing any other alternatives to end (or sabotage) a relationship was my biggest hurdle haha. IDK I think I'd have been cooler with it, if Helga had made the decision to go see Sid, feeling like she was watching her own body do it, like. I'm not really doing this, right? Etc. REAL glad she didn't go through with it tho, that saved it for me ;) Loved Sid in this fic btw, believable as hell. And what a wakeup call for Helga! Poor guy.

Arnold's low part in this fic with the birth control was a brilliant gut punch, and I love that you went there. He's a terrific person, but he wasn't treated as precious. I think his moment of weakness there was handled as believably as I think it could have been with Arnold.

I feel like an epilogue would probably come about around signing divorce papers and settling affairs lol, it's not like you can just walk away from a marriage with no strings attached haha. I'd hope they can get back together, but their relationship could absolutely not look the same. IDK if Arnold would switch careers or volunteer to help children, or foster, or adopt a younger cousin on Arnie's side or whatever lol (etc etc) but, personally, I can't see him having a happy ending that didn't involve nurturing a kid or multiple kids in *some* way. Maybe Helga could be cool with an alternative arrangement where she doesn't feel her wants and needs are so compromised, or maybe not, IDK. It's super painful for me to think of them being happy without each other haha, so I don't like to think of that alternative lol
6/9 c9 darnold-longkid
I gotta say, am loving this fic and do mean to make a longer review when I'm done, but I gotta get something outta my head after reading this chapter.

I'll start by saying it's totally acceptable that anyone wouldn't want kids. That said, Olga isn't believable here for a few reasons that I can't get over, esp when it's a pivotal moment to make this issue work narratively for Helga. And I think it also bothers me because it perpetuates a pretty negative Doom and Gloom fated outcome for parenting. Yes, parenting can be hell, esp with no/unsupportive partner or limited financial resources, but it doesn't have to be and it really comes down to a number of factors.

Olga is coming from a place where she's very educated and well-versed in terms of parenthood, right? So, why is it that in all of her years of study and then in trying to set up her own life and which become a mother to multiple children, did she decide to go live out in the sticks where support is far away? Why did she decide on having so many children instead of say, having only one or two? I don't see a cultivated network that Helga, by contrast, could have. And yeah, not everyone's motherhood looks the same, and for her to just flat out tell Helga that she couldn't have something that's different from hers, is just far fetched?

Your situation matters. By the time that Arnold and Helga are finished with their relationship, she's a millionaire. So if she's a millionaire, then how come they couldn't afford a night nurse or a night nanny when needed, so that Helga and Arnold can sleep regularly? Why can't they afford a housekeeper? Why can't they afford daycare? Why is a babysitter out of the question? Its not like there won't be changes, and it's not perfect, but you're not talking about giving up all of your lifestyle or career or what makes you YOU for YEARS. Yes, parenting comes with challenges, but balance looks different when parents have money, and it only gets easier as the kid/s get older, too, in terms of your life resembling more of your old "normal".

It takes a village to raise kids, too. It's BS to put it all on the parents (in particular, the mom) and I just don't understand why Olga doesn't even put these out as options. Unless, of course, she's perpetuating the myth that if any other caregivers are ever involved in a child's life, that automatically means that their needs can't be met? Or that their parents are selfish, how dare the parents try to balance their life more so that their own needs can be met as well? Just "not the perfect parent" shaming messaging comes to mind, especially mommy shaming culture. If Olga is a recovering perfectionist, it's a shame she hasn't heard of "Good Enough Parenting", which is really what anyone could realistically hope for when being a parent-perfection doesn't exist.

Beyond meeting a kids basic and emotional needs, the number one relationship priority in a family should be the parents' relationship with each other anyway, contrary to popular myth, as all other stability within the family, especially for kids, stems from that. You can still see your kids every day, and have quality time with them everyday, but still not have to see them ALL day and be their sole support or provider. Hell, Helga and Arnold could be a one and done, just 1 kid to deal with, instead of the insane shuffle that 2 bring, to make things easier. The majority of issues being posed here simply stem from not having either enough money or enough support around you, much like Olga herself lacks. And as for the "working on yourself first" bit, therapy and self-growth is helpful for that, isn't it? And something Helga is no stranger to...?

Believe me, I absolutely agree there are plenty of legit reasons ppl irl may not want to be a mother, from fears around pregnancy or anything else, or just having no interest. But in this story, for HELGA to have wanted to want it so much, for her to contend with this for YEARS... I just don't buy that once she was aware she and Arnold could have done it differently than Olga, done it THEIR way, where she realizes she'll have *less* of her no-kid lifestyle for a while, but it won't be *gone*, and that it'll get easier over time, and it would be an outcome where she can stay with Arnold, that she'd be so 100% against it like she is now.

Idk man, I appreciate Helga not wanting kids and being conflicted about that as a wedge driving them apart, but this route just doesn't convince imo. All the issues mentioned here, and the anxiety they cause in Helga, can be validated and reassured. But, there are others that can't, and maybe those would be better suited to a version of Helga that 100% "can't" do this with Arnold.
12/30/2021 c14 7American HOT Fender
I realized that I never gave you my final thoughts on this story after I finished it. My life got super hectic halfway through reading, so I was literally reading a little bit on my phone here and there during the day for AWHILE. I called it, haha. Sid was in love with her like I suspected. Also THANK YOU for letting Helga be reasonable enough to let Arnold explain himself after she found his google search. If their ultimate break up had hinged on her never letting him explain himself, versus their real problems I would have flipped my computer.

So my thoughts:

You know...I really wanted to like Arnold and hate Helga at the end of this but, I can't. She had her issues, for sure, and overlooking the fact that he did some pretty suspect things...he just came off as whiny (nothing to do with your writing. It was amazing!).

I guess I just give her a bigger pass because she at least had the self awareness to figure out that things weren't going to work between them, even though she kept stringing him along (not cool either). At the very least she was honest with him pretty quickly that she didn't want kids and instead of being honest with himself about it, he kept hoping she would just...change who she was. That's what started to irk me a bit about him. It came off as being a little self centered, but at the same time, Arnold does have that type of hopeful personality that he WOULD believe that love could conquer anything to the point where it would be illogical. Which is why I started to suspect early on that both of them liked the idea of one another.

Helga definitely is going to have some issues going forward and I absolutely see her as being a person who uses different people during different phases in her life. I don't necessarily mean that in a totally negative way either. I could see her having many temporary companions. Ironically, even though he didn't have a huge part in this story, Sid might have actually been the perfect companion for her, if only because he was more submissive, versus trying to change her like Arnold spent almost the entire story hoping to do. Though, good for him for finally standing up for himself. She absolutely deserved it.

As for Arnold, he's definitely going to be the guy that she runs into about ten years from that point and he's re-married to somebody the polar opposite of her and they have at least three or four kids. He can insist to Helga that he wasn't interested in the white picket fence in suburbia, but he was.

At the end of the day, I think you did a fantastic job exploring the more realistic aspects of a relationship using them as the perfect platform. I've never minded taking an axe to their relationship if I can do it in a believable manner. It's nice to finally see somebody else explore that too and in something that's well written and well thought out plot wise.

Thanks for the awesome story!
8/23/2021 c14 1pinkdynamite
I really enjoyed this story. The start-to-finish and finish-to-start viewpoints were an interesting change of pace. I personally don't feel like this needs a happy epilogue. I think that what Arnold and Helga each wanted out of life were big enough differences that it made sense to split up. You don't often see that in fan fics. Thanks for writing this.
7/22/2021 c14 vlarissa23
OH MY GOD! I'm speechless,I'm full of feeling,this just left me in an emotional mess...this story destroyed and mended my heart with every chapter over and over again like no other fic I've read before and I applaud you for it! I'm not used to reading fics that don't end in a happy ending and you let that they wouldn't be endgame very clear since the beginning,but I went on with it because it looked promising and I don't regret it one bit,wonderful story!
Yuo are a really good writer,hope you keep doing it and make more fics in the future,I'm definitely up for an epilogue ;)
7/18/2021 c14 Guest
I just read your entire story and holy shit, do I feel like I resonate with Helga a lot. Thank you for writing this, you wrote every character's emotion well, you personified heartbreak and hope in one piece. Thank you. If you choose to write a happier ending thats up to you, either way - you fic is magnificent.
7/13/2021 c10 7American HOT Fender
Hell yeah, chickpea cauliflower tacos are fire. Make them like every other week.

Anywho - the Arnold in his head scene was rather fun. Kind of Raven from Teen Titans-ish I think. I can really identify with him here. I’ve been at that spot that he’s in in my life and it’s a drag. Necessary for growth I think, but a drag.

The saddest part of this chapter is for all of Helga and Arnold’s differences and incompatibilities in prior chapters, this chapter does a great job and showing how the two of them do balance each other nicely. When they fully communicate. That’s what’s frustrated me most about the two of them in this. For all of the “talking it out” they do, very little is ever resolved.

Lol, I think you’re right. If a sex scene had come after all that it would have been very Ron Burgundy.

Well, until next chapter. Stay classy world.
7/10/2021 c9 American HOT Fender
I think Helga is overlooking the fact that Arnold would probably happily be a stay at home dad. Now I realize that in the timeline she's probably not making the big bucks yet, but still. I could see him totally sacrificing his potential career so that Helga could maintain hers and have a family.
7/10/2021 c8 American HOT Fender
That was a very clever way of him proposing to her, kudos to you as writer. What a charming little wedding, which makes the ending to this a little sadder. I will say though, Arnold has seemed like he's in a rush to do everything in this story. Get married. Have kids. What's the rush man? I get the whole, 'when you know you know', but even if that's the case, there's still no rush.

I hear you, I'm not a big wedding person either. My husband and I would have eloped if it hadn't been for the fact that it would have crushed my ailing grandmother (whom I was very close with) not to get to see me walk down the aisle.
7/3/2021 c7 American HOT Fender
I feel like that everybody has that friend(s). You know, the one(s) you can’t take anywhere without some shenanigans happening. Haha.
7/3/2021 c6 American HOT Fender
Poor Arnold. He’s way out of his element with business ownership. But I can sympathize with him. As a business owner myself, there is no short of people wanting to give you their unsolicited advice on how to run things. Some is useful, most isn’t. Lots that isn’t applicable to you.

Helga reminds me of a little of myself in my teens and early twenties when it comes to kids. I’m still not a huge kid person (besides my own kids and my friend’s kids) but my husband, very much like Arnold, is a kid magnet.

I’m guessing though that she never eases into the idea of parenthood though, judging from the previous chapter.
6/30/2021 c5 American HOT Fender
So yeah, I can now see exactly what probably drove the wedge between them. I know a few ex-couples who could never see eye to eye on having kids and it eventually caused them to break up because no matter how much they tried to work through it, it was just too big of a difference. I don't know why, but it always seems like those who never want children seem to attract the ones that yearn to have at least 12.

But oh, man. I was really worried for Arnold there in the last part of the chapter. I was like...this mofo about to pull an unforgivable. And this coming from somebody who currently has an Arnold character doing some shady shiite, lol.

Thankfully he came to his senses. Hopefully for good? I guess I shall see.
6/29/2021 c4 American HOT Fender
Okay bear with me here: This chapter really made me think that...perhaps this is a situation where Helga and Arnold like the idea of being with one another, more than actually being together? Which is why she's having anxiety and perhaps why things (seemingly) are ending badly after 5 years. Or maybe it's just her. He sounded content enough in the 3rd chapter and completely distraught in the 1st.

Also - I think there is a possibility that Sid's in love with her. In chapter 2 he had this reserved aura to him as they were discussing her "love" life which made my eyebrow perk and now his general disposition in this chapter towards her decision really makes me think that. I'm wondering if, while it may have been a hook-up for her, it was always something more meaningful to him.
6/29/2021 c3 American HOT Fender
So I'm guessing the gig with Rhonda's girlfriend took off and now she's super busy with a demanding career aaaannnnddd Arnold being Arnold wants a family and she's pushing back on that maybe?

I'm a firm believer in paying attention to dialog and I feel like you may have been dropping clues to the problem with that here.
6/29/2021 c1 American HOT Fender
Hmm...well naturally I'm going to assume there is more to this. As they say there are three sides to a story, his, hers and the truth.
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