This thing was written in one hundred four minutes while looping Michael Stanley Band’s “Let’s Get The Show on the Road” and REM’s “Green Grow the Rushes” over and over and over and over and over and over…….
Last Saturday morning, a friend visited my amazing relationship therapist, Ellen about whom I have written many times here on this site. The friend needed some relationship advice. Her situation was confusing and, as I always do, I suggested “you should talk to Ellen….she is amazeballs.”
Ellen is, indeed, amazeballs. As you can see here, on July 22, 1999, she handed me that awesome title up there…..”you do work the same way you do women”…..as a few lines in my journaling notebook. She was right. I used to “do work” the same way I “did women”. Which is why I sought her out in the first place like an intelligent pig seeks out tasty truffles.
Here is Ellen’s card. If you need to talk to Ellen…..ever….give her a shout. Give her three things for me. A hug. My eternal thanks. And my love.
Whenever a friend goes to Ellen, and periodically just to pass the time, I leaf through the three notebooks of block printing and vague scribbles I made during those many, many sessions with Ellen, devoted to getting me over the behavior of “doing work the same way I do women.” Back to the therapy thing later. First, some John Green.
Also discussed here previously, John Green writes the most amazing stories characterized by strong female leads, artful turns of phrases, perfect word choices, and flawed, imperfect characters…..often with a redemptive aspect. Or death. John Green writes about four things. Love. Redemption. Death. Imperfection.
Had I not stumbled upon Ellen back in 1998, all of John Green’s books would have made excellent substitute therapy. You walk away from reading them smarter than when you walked in and desirous of being the best damn partner and friend in this galaxy and any tangential galaxies. And adventure. You walk away from each Green book desirous of adventure. And, of course, thinking of redemption, love, death, and imperfection.
Go buy all his books and read them. They are chew toys of books….you can knock them off in an hour or two. If you don’t have that extra ten hours to devote, here are a few most excellent excerpts from John Green books. Homeboy can certainly turn a phrase.
“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.” — Paper Towns
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” — The Fault In Our Stars
“I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.” — Paper Towns
“You don’t remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened.” — An Abundance of Katherines
“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” — Looking for Alaska
“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.” —Looking for Alaska
“Everything that comes together falls apart. When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you stopped suffering when they did.” — Paper Towns
“Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.” —Will Grayson
“Those awful things are survivable because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be.” — Looking for Alaska
“Anything that happens all at once is just as likely to unhappen all at once, you know?” — Will Grayson
“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” — Paper Towns
“maybe tonight you’re scared of falling, and maybe there’s somebody here or somewhere else you’re thinking about, worrying over, fretting over, trying to figure out if you want to fall, or how and when you’re gonna land, and i gotta tell you, friends, to stop thinking about the landing, because it’s all about falling.” — Will Grayson
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” — Paper Towns
“Being in a relationship, that’s something you choose. Being friends, that’s just something you are. [But] I do pick you. We’ve been friends too long to pick, but if we could pick, I’d pick you.” —Will Grayson
“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” — Paper Towns
“He wanted to draw out the moment before the moment—because as good as kissing feels, nothing feels as good as the anticipation of it.” — An Abundance of Katherines
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” — The Fault In Our Stars
“At some point, you just pull off the band-aid, and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.” — Looking for Alaska
“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” — An Abundance of Katherines
“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.” — Will Grayson
“I feel like my life is so scattered right now. Like it’s all the small pieces of paper and someone’s turned on the fan. But, talking to you makes me feel like the fan’s been turned off for a little bit. Like things could actually make sense. You completely unscatter me, and I appreciate that so much.” — Will Grayson
“But it is the nature of stars to cross, and never was Shakespeare more wrong than when he has Cassius note, ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves.” — The Fault in our Stars
“You can love someone so much… But you can never love someone as much as you miss them.” — An Abundance of Katherines
John green writes amazing passages and moving books. The man can pull feelings out of you that you never knew existed.
Over the years, I have been quick to dismiss choice for matrimony as a result of terrorist activity. For years I have said that the reason I chose to get married in 2002 was a direct result of 9/11/2001. That’s not to take away anything from my ex-wife….we shared a lot of laughter and such during those five years we were together…it’s just that I imagine I would have married anyone with whom I was throwing around “I love you’s” when I got trapped in Saalfeld, Germany on 9/11. Given that me being in love is as rare as the periodical cicada of the genus Magicicada, the confluence of those events was odd.
I spent September 7-9, 2001 in New York City with a group of friends from California and New York City. One of the friends was the lead writer on MTV’s “Celebrity Death Match” and we had a most excellent tour of the MTV studios, followed by a significantly large amount of cocktails and the Jets home opener on Sunday. Immediately following the Jets loss to the Indianapolis Colts in their home opener, I drove to JFK and took the red eye to Frankfurt, Germany for some work meeting things. I had been dating my soon to be fiancé for almost six months on September 9, 2001.
Our meetings were in Saalfed, Germany…in the old East Germany……seven hours east of Frankfurt. Or five if you drove really, really, really, really, really, really fast. I generally made that drive in five. Saalfeld was founded somewhere around 1010 and the hotel where we stayed while in Saalfeld was built right around that same time. As was the manufacturing facility where we had our meetings. It’s a pretty, little city. Looks like this:
When the planes hit the World Trade Center, we were in afternoon meetings and one of the administrative assistants pulled my CEO and I out of the meetings. With a pained look, she brought us down to her computer terminal and showed up the towers on fire. After seeing what was what, the CEO and I walked back to our hotel. He tried to call his wife and children and I sat there watching people jump out of the windows at the Word Trade Center on the ten inch black and white East German television bolted to the wall. It was right about then that, for the first time in my thirty-seven (then) years that I realized something might be more important than work, work, work and solitude. I envied our CEO trying to reach his wife and children and thought that looked like a cool thing to be able to do as an adult when the shit hit the fan.
This was the hotel….it was really, really, really old.
This was the room with the ten inch black and white East German television…..
Two years into relationship counseling, in 1999, Ellen made me write out this list here….a description of what I though the perfect relationship was. A few months back here on Mind of Mully, I shared the sixteen traits of the perfect mate Ellen had me write. This paragraph was another exercise. And not actually putting it to use seemed to be about as smart as taking tennis lessons for four years and then never actually playing tennis with another person on the tennis court. You may as well play someone if you are learning to play, right?
Our return flight from Germany was scheduled on 9/12. Clearly, we were unable to make that flight, given the grounded flights, air space bans and new regulations. Three days later I was on the first flight that landed Cincinatti since 9/11. We were the first flight landed at CVG since 9/11 and as many times as I have connected through Cincinnati at all hours of the day, I never experienced silence in that airport like I did on 9/15. We walked off the plane to deafening silence. Nothing. No other passengers and only security guards. Out of thousands of weekly walks through airports over the years, that walk was the most memorable.
Correct Wine & Cheese Pairings
Fresh and soft cheeses love crisp whites, dry rosés, sparkling wines, dry aperitif wines, and light-bodied reds with low tannins. Wines with apple, berry, stone fruit, tropical, melon, or citrus flavors work best. Avoid big, tannic red wines like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Bordeaux blends.
Cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Burrata, Chèvre, Feta, Halloumi, Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, Crottin, Bûcheron
Pair with: Riesling (dry to sweet), Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Champagne, Cava, Chablis, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Provençal rosé, Beaujolais, Lambrusco, White Port, Fino sherry
Semi hard and medium aged cheeses have a firmer texture and stronger flavors. They need medium-bodied whites, fruity reds, vintage sparkling wine, and aperitif wines that offer a balance between acidity, fruit, and tannin.
Cheeses: Havarti, Edam, Emmental, Gruyère, Jarlsberg, young Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Manchego, Tomme d’Alsace
Pair with: Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, white Rhône blends, Riesling (off-dry), Gewürztraminer, Champagne, red Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Dolcetto, Barbera, Zinfandel, Merlot, vintage Port, young Tawny Port, Amontillado sherry
Stinky cheeses call for light-bodied wines with demure aromatics that complement rather than compete.
Cheeses: Époisses, Taleggio, Morbier
Pair with: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauternes, red Burgundy, Pinot Noir
Blue cheeses need wines with both oomph and sweetness to balance their bold flavors and usually very salty, savory body.
Cheeses: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Cambozola, Bleu d’Auvergne
Pair with: red Port, Tawny Port, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry, Banyuls, Recioto, Tokaji
Harder cheeses love full-bodied whites and tannic reds. Their nuttiness also works with oxidative wines like sherry, and their saltiness makes them terrific with sweet wines.
Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, Cheshire, Comté, aged Gruyère, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Asiago, Parmigiano Reggiano
Pair with: Aged white Burgundy or Bordeaux, white Rhône blends, sweet Riesling, Viognier, vintage Champagne, Vin Jaune, red Burgundy, red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Petite Sirah, California red blends, red Rhône blends, Zinfandel, red Port, Tawny Port, Madeira, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry.
And for crying out loud, when you pair up and serve up wine and cheese, toss some tasty nuts in there for a change of snacking pace. Get some roasted pine nuts. Even better? Google “Vino Volo”. Buy three pounds of Vino Vola’s marcona almonds…..brown sugar covered almonds with rosemary and sea salt then……(wait for it)…….carmelized! They. Rock. Marcona almonds are so tasty they will make you sob like a baby. You are welcome.
Back on point. The correct musical pairing for all John Green books is either REM or the Michael Stanley Band. In re-reading all my John Green books on plane rides from June 18 to August 18, I listened to all REM and Michael Stanley Band songs and documented them. Scribbled poorly in the back pages and on random margins. Which is why you never want to borrow books from me. Unless you are a fan of scribbled margins and random underlying. Feel free to listen to Michael Stanley Band songs and REM songs when you dive into some Green. Again, you are welcome.
Ellen had me do a lot of exercises between 1998 and 2001. Lots and lots and lots. None made much sense on their own. In retrospect, read through at the same time years later when a friend visits Ellen for a first session, they pull together nicely. Like a Seinfeld episode. Ellen is the Mr. Miyagi of relationship counseling.
At the time, when I was without a doubt the worst relationship partner and an average to slightly above average friend….self absorbed 73% of the time and sleeping the remaining 27% of the time….. I thought it was a silly exercise. She said…….in less than three pages, write out who you want to grow into one day” I wrote this in 1999:
When I wrote that, I was 7% of that description. 8% on a good day and 4% when I was being careless. Or when I was hammered.
Each year when 9/11 week rolls around, I remember walking through that eerily quiet Cincinnati concourse on 9/15/2001 and thinking “man, it’s time to get married”. This year on that week, leafing through Volume One of the Ellen Journals and seeing those three pages, I realized that the marriage, being a husband (albeit for a brief period), and the subsequent years have gotten me to 68% of that description. That’s pretty cool And since I’m going to live to be 173, I have a full 124 years to get the remaining 32% nailed down. So, that’s even more cool. Plenty of runway.
There are countless saying like “he who dies with the most toys wins”. I think if you and I had John Green out for bourbon flavored drinks and we asked Mr. Green to please complete the following sentence…”She/He who dies _______________”, Mr Green would answer with this. “She/He who dies with more relationship beginnings than ending….wins”. And that would be the right answer.
If you are with someone right now and it’s clicking on all eight cylinders, I hope that is your last beginning. If you are not with someone, yet want to be, I hope your next beginning is your last first beginning.