Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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The Buzz

I did it. I buzzed my head.

buzz cut, women who shave their heads, short hair

The Buzz

Here are some FACTS:

1. I did not have a nervous breakdown.

2. I did it myself at home in the bathroom.

3. I always wanted to, so I did.

4. Time to maybe grow it back to my regular pixie cut.

5. I’m so glad I did this.

Here are some of my thoughts on hair……..

buzz cut, short hair, women shaving head

side view!

and here’s what it looks like! There might not be much photo documentation of this hair, and this is already a week old!!!

Another fact….. hair grows back. :)

the other side, yo

the other side, yo

Love, Lou with the very short hair who might look slightly like a person who has been electrocuted as it grows back.

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Thank You, John Green, For Everything

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

-John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

 

Before I get to the 5 Reasons You Should Read Any John Green Book, I’ll start here…..

I recently read two John Green books:

The Fault In Our Stars 

An Abundance of Katherines 

…and not quite so recently, I read another of his:

Looking For Alaska 

I’ll start by saying something surprising, given that I’m writing a blog about the author. I didn’t love Looking For Alaska.

I liked An Abundance of Katherines.

I loved, loved, loved The Fault In Our Stars.

In fact, I just spent a few hours of my life crying, sobbing really, as I read The Fault In Our Stars. And even though I didn’t love the character Alaska in the first book I read of Green’s, I still liked it. I still related to the characters.

John Green is a classic American writer disguised as a Young Adult author that some people might not take seriously. I mean, his books are easy to read and are probably geared toward teenagers, but they always involve a greater theme, references to books that would make the most sophisticated (slash pretentious) college student who is getting an English degree proud to recognize, and truly life-changing sentences.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

-John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

Here are five good reasons to read any John Green book.

1. You will be forced to remember the people you dated in high school, and the way you remember them will probably make you laugh and wince and then, eventually, smile with nostalgia. 

In An Abundance of Katherines, there’s this guy who has dated only girls named Katherine. This (of course!) felt like a giant statement… that perhaps we all date a different version of the same person until one fine day, you finally will yourself to change and then, and only then, can you find the one you are meant to be with. This book also made me think that maybe “meant to be with” is a naive statement. I still don’t know what “meant to be” means and sometimes I feel like I don’t even know what love is. The characters in Green’s books find love in different ways, but they’re usually very quirky teenagers with a view of the world I had never considered. A lot of them have a much straighter head on their shoulders than I ever have managed in this life.

And I did remember all the past boyfriends. I did cringe, but then I remembered those old hand-holds, the kids we named at the age of fifteen, the breakups, and finally, the fun moments that made it all worth it.

Even though this is a post about John Green, a Feist lyric comes to mind

The hardest part of a broken heart isn’t the ending so much as the start.

Though it’s hard and painful, try to remember the good times; try to remember the good part of a relationship and let yourself smile with the memory, rather than cry with the end of that relationship.

AND remember… age has nothing to do with it. The feelings I felt when I was 14 are just as real (even if misguided or hormone driven) as the emotions I feel on this very day.

Also…. a thought….

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

2. You will be humbled by the fact that there are tons of people who are smarter than you are. 

It’s hard to admit, but yes, there are thousands and thousands of people who analyze more thoroughly, who have better grammar, and who actually understand quantum physics.

“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
― John Green

3. You’ll want to create a fantastic nickname for yourself and all of your friends. 

Looking For Alaska

Miles= Pudge

Chip= The Colonel

Alaska= Alaska (but her name is so odd, it’s like a nickname)

An Abundance of Katherines

Colin= so important, that the other Colin in the book is called TOC (The Other Colin)

Hassan= Daddy

Katherine= Katherine The Great, K-1, K-19

Old People= Oldsters (not the most original, but still poignant)

The Fault In Our Stars 

This book was perhaps too serious to have awesome nicknames, but I think you get the point already.

Do you have any nicknames? Mine include Mel, Lou, Melly, Mel Bel and occasionally, Twin or just Meredith… who is my twin.

4. The hurtful truth of death, depression, illness, heartache and sorrow will cut you to the core. Get ready. 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”

– John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

I literally, literally, cried for probably 75% of the pages in The Fault In Our Stars. It’s about teenagers with cancer. And then, it’s about so much more than just teenagers with cancer. It’s about teenagers with hopes and dreams. Teenagers who love and want to be something great. They want to go places, read all the books, have all the conversations. They want to see, even when they have cancer in their eyes. They want to go on walks, even when their lungs cannot handle much more than a walk to the mailbox. They want to fight for a good cause, even when their last checkup confirmed cancer- everywhere.

“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.”

– The Fault In Our Stars

How could you not cry?

Or not look outside and see that the sky is still there, you can still see the birds, take in the fresh air…

Or feel selfish for the last time you felt sorry for yourself?

A great quote from another book I read, Norwegian Wood: “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes feel sorry for themselves.” It kind of fits the situation.

5. You will laugh a lot. John Green is HILARIOUS. 

That was one of my favorite things about his writing. His characters are always saying the funniest things. The kind of I’m-actually-laughing-out-loud-as-I-read-by-myself type of writing. He’s nerdy and isn’t afraid to show it. More often than not, his protagonists are also nerdy and very smart and have the oddest friends who keep the humor pumping out of each chapter. There are always light moments amidst the dark. That’s a good reminder, too.

I will read his other books as soon as I get my hands on them.

You should start reading John Green NOW.

“My responsibility is to try to tell true stories. To me a true story is always hopeful, but never simply, uncomplicatedly happy.”

-John Green

Well said, John. Well said.

And thanks for writing.

Love, Lou

 

 


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“I’m the Scratchy Stuff On the Side of the Matchbox.”

Norwegian Wood.

It’s a Beatles song about an enigma of a girl.

“A riddle wrapped in an enigma.” – Norwegian Wood

It’s also a novel written by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

For a week, while I read this book, I was swept away into the world of Toru, a young nineteen-year-old boy, who is dealing with loss and heartache and sex and love and finding himself among people who…have problems.

But who doesn’t have problems?

This book didn’t exactly have the craziest plot twists. It didn’t keep me on the literal edge of my seat. What it did do is stir emotion inside of me that I didn’t know I had. It was a steady story, much like life – when taken a certain way- and Murakami created a novel in which the reader feels similarly to the protagonist. There were times when I felt as if my mind were his, his was mine. I wanted to see the girl from school again. I wanted to know why people had left me behind. I wanted to know why I was worth loving…. and why the passing hours of the day only grow harder to bear sometimes.

“Every once in a while she’ll get worked up and cry like that. But that’s OK. She’s letting her feelings out. The scary thing is not being able to do that. Then your feelings build up and harden and die inside. That’s when you’re in big trouble.” – Reiko

The setting is this: Toru, now a grown man, has a flashback to a girl, Naoko, he promised not to forget. The entire book is a flashback, though that’s easy to forget. In a way, isn’t all of life one big flashback? Living in the present takes guts and stamina. No one can keep it up 100% of the time.

As a young man Toru is in love with Naoko. She isn’t completely mentally stable. What the problem is exactly, isn’t known. Just like in life. And though she wonders why he cares about her… why he won’t give up… his answer is this: “So what’s wrong if there happens to be one guy in the world who enjoys trying to understand you?” 

I thought that was one of the sweetest things I’d ever read. I know I want to be understood. I’m sure you want to be understood, too. It only takes one person getting you to make life more complete. Some of us have found that one person. Some of us are still waiting. And sometimes that person comes out of nowhere, taking us completely by surprise, causing us to ask one simple question: “Where did you come from?”

Where did this book come from???? (I ask, because I love it so much and can’t believe I hadn’t already read it.)

One fictional character I’d love to get to know even better is Reiko. She’s older. She’s full of deep wrinkles. She’s been at a mental facility for years and years. She is an excellent musician. She’s wise. She’s even sexy, when it comes right down to it. She’s an incessant smoker. She is wise, so wise.Reading this book, I was most struck by the idea of “being the scratchy stuff on the side of the matchbox.”  

This is how Reiko describes herself. She knows she is an excellent teacher. She knows she can inspire people to be better versions of themselves. She might not be the flame, but she is what can allow the flame to catch.

So then I thought: “Is it better to be the scratchy stuff, or the match?”

I once wrote a blog about being your own catalyst. I’d been told that I was the scratchy stuff (in a way… of course, that exact phrase wasn’t used.) I had issues with being a catalyst for someone else rather than my own. I wanted to inspire myself. I wanted to have that kind of power. Not until reading Norwegian Wood and meeting the character Reiko did it occur to me that there needs to be both kinds of people in this world. It also hadn’t occurred to me that we can be these types of people at different times, depending on who we run into. That’s the beauty of love and friendship and relationships. We’re all constantly pushing each other to be better. Sometimes we need a shove. Sometimes we have the wherewithall and stability in our own lives to finally, finally, give someone else a nudge for a change.

After all that high and mighty talk about being my own catalyst, it took a simple question from someone else to get me to change certain aspects of my life. A question (or two) as simple as, “Do you want to leave? What do you want to get away from?” made me realize that all the signs were there — that a change was coming and I’d better be prepared. I’m thankful for this new catalyst.

But back to Toru, the young boy. He’s a sweetheart. A real genuine gentleman.

“A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to do, but what he should do.” -Nagasawa, Toru’s friend

He’s even kind enough to keep around a girl who pretty much only talks about strange sexual situations, ones she imagines herself in and ones she simply considers to be interesting, and keeps drama high with ignoring and giving the silent treatment time and again (even when he deserves it), which is exactly what Midori does. While the girl he loves (Naoko) is in a place for mental instability, this girl who is unstable in other ways enters his life. Toru never mistreats anyone. He tries to stay true to his word. For a 19 year old kid, he certainly does a good job.

He’s the kind of character we don’t mind following around. The kind of guy who might lose it at any moment, yet keeps himself calm in even the worst of circumstances. Looking at him, you wouldn’t necessarily know he’s a complete wreck. Then, once again, he’s isn’t a complete wreck… he’s helping someone else get better. I loved Toru because he represented a great life lesson — that you never know what’s going through someone else’s mind. The most cool, calm and collected person could be raging inside with fear and doubt and dread. They could be a blank slate, through and through. The point is, we just never know.

You should take time to read Norwegian Wood. Be prepared for the darkness to seep in at some points. Be prepared to underline those sentences and let them soak into your soul and change you. You know how there are those quotes about “the perfect sentence?” Well, this book is full of ’em. Just take a look.

Because….

“Life is like a box of cookies.”

Bet you want to know what that means, right?

Love, Lou