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Archive for July, 2014

Van Houten,

I am a good person but shitty writer. You are a shitty person but good writer. We’d make a good team. I don’t want to ask you any favors, but if you have time – and from what I saw you have plenty – I was wondering if you could write a eulogy for Hazel. I’ve got notes and everything, but if you could just make it into a corehent whole or whatever? Or even just tell me what I should say differently.
Here is the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outstanding  death. We all want to be remember. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark. But Van Houten…The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “They will remember me now,” but a) they don’t remember you, and b) all you leave behind are more scars. Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion. (Okay, maybe I am not such a shitty writer. But I can’t pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thought are stars, I cannot fathom into constellations.)
We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can’t stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it’s silly and useless – typically useless in my current state – but I am an animal like any other.
Hazel is different. She walks lightly, old man. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: we are as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it and we are not likely to do either. People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad, Van Houten. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: First, do no harm.
The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things: the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invented anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get smallpox. After my PET scan lit up, I snuck into the ICU and saw her while she was unconscious, I just walked in behind a nurse with a badge and I got to sit next to her for like 10 minutes before I got caught. I really thought she was going to die, too. It was brutal: the incessant mechanized haranguing of intensive care. She hat this dark cancer water dripping out of her chest. Eyes closed. Intubated. But her hand was still her hand, still warm and the nails painted this almost black dark blue and I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was going, too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish. I suppose. I left my scar. A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave, that visitors weren’t allowed, and I asked if she was doing okay and the guy said, “She is still taking on wager”. A desert blessing, an ocean curse.
What else? She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you. You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you.
I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.

———– John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

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My bag:

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“Ich liebe dich, Bro. Wir sehen unstable auf der anderen Seite.”
John Green

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Was noch?

Was noch? Sie ist so wunderschon. Man wird einfach nicht mude, sie anzusehen. Man hat nie Angst, dass sie vielleicht schlauer ist als man selbst.: Man weiss einfach, dass sie es ist. Sie ist lustig, ohne jeans gemein zu sein. Ich liebe sie. Ich habe so ein Gluck, sie zu lieben, Van Houten. Man kann sich nicht aussuchen, ob man verletzt wird auf dieser Welt, alter Mann, aber man kann ein bisschen mitbestimmen, von wem. Ich bin glucklich mit meiner Wahl.
Ich Hoffe, sie auch.

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I pulled out my phone and clicked it so it would display the time: 4:59. The circle filled in with the unlucky twelve-to-eighteen, and then Patrick started us out with the serenity prayer: God, grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. The guy was still staring at me. I rather blushy.
………………………………………….

I was a fairy shy person – not the hand-raising type.
And yet just this once, I decided to speak. I half raised my hand and Patrick, his delight evident, immediately said “Hazel”. I was, I am sure he assumed, opening up. Becoming Part of the Group.
I looked over at Augustus Waters, who looked back at me. You could almost see through his eyes they were so blue. “There will come a time”, I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this” – I gestured encompassing – “will have been fraught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of put sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if threat inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does. ”
I learned this from my aforementioned third best friend, Peter Van Houten, the reclusive author of “An Imperial Affliction”, the book that was as close to me as a thing as I had to a Bible. Peter Van Houten was the only person, I’d ever come across who seemed to: a) understand what it’s like to be dying and b) not have dead.
After I finished, there was quite a long period of silence.
……………………………………………….
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Augustus half smiled. “Because you are beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.” A brief awkward silence ensured. Augustus plowed through: “I mean particularly given that, as you so deliciously pointed out, all of this will end in oblivion and everything.”

I kind of scoffed or sighed or exhaled in a way that was vaguely doughy and then said, “I am not beau-“.

“You are like a millennial Natalie Portman.”

“Never seen it”, I said.

“Really?”, he asked. “Pixie-haired gorgeous girl dislikes authority and can’t help but fall for a boy she knows it trouble. It’s your autobiography, so far as I can tell.”

His every syllable flirted.

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