Finally we learn some stuff about the Van Houten book. I thought it would be some type of self-help book, because with a title like “An Imperial Affliction”, it sounds a lot like a Ted Talk. No dice. It is a novel about a girl named Anna who gets cancer.
Hazel is quite upset that the book ends in the middle of a sentence at the climax of the plot (understandable, seriously, who does that?). For that reason she has written many letters to the author to ask about the fate of all the characters, except one. She’s inquired about everyone from the protagonist’s mum to her hamster, but not about Anna. She just assumes Anna dies and so asking about her is a moot point.

I have not mentioned this yet, but it is clear that Hazel expects to die fairly soon. Now I do not know a whole lot about cancer (thank heavens), so it is hard for me to know whether she is being realistic or negative. Even so, how she just assumes Anna is dead, really hammers the point home.
Hazel does not think she will make it to the end of her own story (aka this book).

After hitting the movies with her mom, Hazel gets some texts from Augie. It seems he has finished “An Imperial Affliction” and is craving the same answers as her. He too comes to the conclusion that Anna has died which is interesting since he, at least outwardly, seems much more positive about life with and after cancer.

Hazel calls him up wanting so badly to discuss her favourite book with the guy she likes. (I totally get it Hazel, I want my crush to read my favourite book too, aww.) Ahem, where was I? Oh right! Augie doesn’t have time for book club meetings because Isaac is with him and he is having a doozy of a mental breakdown.
Augie asks Hazel to come over and in the car on the way to his house, she thinks about her dad. I think this is only the second time she has mentioned him, I wonder if he is still in the picture.

In Augie’s crusty basement man-cave the boys are playing vidya. Isaac is bawling and completely unresponsive. It turns out the low sensitivity in his gf’s boobs has spread to her heart. In other words: she dumped him because he is going blind and I think I speak for everyone ever when I say: Bitch!

As the boys lose the game, Isaac freaks out and starts hammering a pillow against the wall. Augie lets him trash his basket ball trophies instead, hoping being able to actually destroy something will end his rampage.
We get a nice little description of the basket ball players from the trophies being smashed apart. Just like Hazel, Augie and Isaac, their bodies are ruined.

Will Hazel’s dad ever show up? How will Augie’s parents react to the great trophy smashing of 2012? Is Anna really dead? I dunno. Let’s find out!

Hazel Makes quick work of Augie’s gory book, sleeps in and is awakened by her mom who announces that it is Hazel’s 33rd half birthday. It is a bit strange, but I guess I get it. I mean her mom has been living with the fact that her daughter might die for a long time. Makes sense she would want to cram as many birthdays in there as she could.

Hazel makes plans to go to the mall with her friend Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn pretends to be British for some reason and uses the word “Awesomesauce” in her texts. I am unsure if this is Green trying to be young and with it or if he’s taking the piss. Also they agree to meet at 3.32 which is oddly specific. Why not just 3.30ish? Is this a cultural thing? Will 3.32 become significant later? Am I reading too much into this?
You can’t just leave random numbers around and expect me not to take notice! That’s like leaving a nice rock of crack, a pipe and a lighter out on the coffee-table when you know your junkie friend is coming over.

Anyway Hazel and Kaitlyn meet up at 3.32 and go shoe shopping, because that’s what teenage girls do, right? After a while Hazel bails, using the excuse of illness to get some alone-time. No mom (who’s hiding out in the food-court), no friends, no Augie. Just her, alone with some books. It sounds delightful!

While Hazel is blazing through the even gorier sequel to Augie’s book, a young girl asks her about the oxygen supply going via cannula into Hazel’s nose. We are treated to this sweet little and surprisingly non-sarcastic moment between the two. As Community’s Shirley would say: “That’s nice!”

A short chapter this time, but a chapter none the less.

Will Hazel’s mom get a life? Will Hazel finish all 37 gory books in the main series before page 100? Will her oxygen tank suddenly explode leaving 9 dead and 5 wounded at the local mall? Let’s stick with it and find out!

Augie apparently drives like my grandma. My grandma Ruthie comes from a very strict religious background where there was no drinking, dancing, playing cards or having fun. If you were a woman you stayed home, took care of the kids, gutted fish and in no way did you drive a car. So she didn’t get her license until my grandpa died and she had no choice. She was 55 years old at the time (not that she would ever make any excuses, she is fucking bad-ass!). Augie’s excuse is a prosthetic leg. I guess we all have things to overcome.

As they drive along (haphazardly) Hazel explains her entire medical history. I won’t bore you with it (and I may have only skimmed it myself), but I think it suffices to say she was dying, then got a drug that shrunk her tumours and bought her some time.

They make it to Augie’s house in one piece (technically two pieces and an oxygen tank). It turns out his home is also The International Museum of Motivational Quotes. I bet his dad has worked 25 years at some crappy office job and brings home a new motivational poster every week. Oh yeah, they call them “Encouragements” which just sounds so creepy (and slightly cult-ish).

But behold! All of a sudden something amazing happens! Augie’s parents call him Gus and I pee a little. Remember my little tirade about his name in the last post? Well it seems like cleaning the customer restroom at Metro Convenience “The one stop shop for your needs!” is his destiny.

Poor Augie gets immensely cock-blocked by his own father, who insist he and Hazel watch their movie upstairs and not in his crusty basement man-cave. Sexy-times: 0, Hygiene: 1. You go, dad!

The pair do however dip into the basement (not a euphemism) to look at all of Augie’s basket ball trophies. He gets all existential about how silly sports are and I finally find myself able to relate to this character. I completely agree. It does seem strange to make grown men run down a track and then put hurdles in their way. Is it some form of punishment?

But enough about Augie. No seriously, I thought Hazel was the protagonist, am I wrong? The story is told through Hazel, but so far I know much more about Augie than her. Well we will know more in a moment, because now Augie demands Hazel tells him about her fetishes (no really). Instead she decides to talk about how she loves reading and she mentions her favourite book. It’s the mysterious Van Houten book from the quote at the beginning. It is called “An Imperial Affliction” and it is apparently the knees of some bees. (I’m totes hip with the fresh lingo dudebros!)

Then there is some hand holding, some movie watching and some talking in a parked car, coincidentally my favourite conversation-location. There is something about the non-permanent state of sitting in a car together that just makes for great conversation. Augie puts this magic to good use and gets Hazel to promise to call him when she has finished his favourite book (which is based on some video game).

Will Augie die in a car crash on his way home? Will Hazel hate his book? Will Augie’s mom sow Hazel her very own “Encouragement” pillow? Join me next time for the third chapter in this thrilling tale!

Before all of the hype around The Fault in Our stars, I didn’t even know Green was an author. I enjoyed his YouTube series on world history and I knew he did some other YouTube videos with his brother, other than that I knew nothing about him. But as always with a new (to me) author, I am ready to have my mind blown. So chapter one ho!

First a Peter Van Houten quote. It seems no modern book is complete without a fancy quote at the beginning. At times it relates to the story, but mostly it seems to be there just to ensure us that the author is really smart and has read high-brow literature. Now I didn’t know Van Houten so naturally I googled him. Turns out the dude is fictional. I guess he’s part of the story somehow. Dunn Dunn Dunnnn…

Oh yeah and then for good measure an author’s note to say that fiction isn’t reality. Good to know, now let’s get to the actual story (which is totes fictional you guys!).

Hazel likes to stay in bed, read and think about death a lot and for this reason her mom and doctor believe she is depressed. To me she sounds like a teenager, but ma and doc dump her in some youth group therapy. Cancer youth group therapy to be exact because Hazel has the cancer and it sucks balls (both the cancer and the therapy).

In sucky cancer youth group therapy (SCYGT) Hazel meets a boy with bad posture named Augustus, and can I just have a moment to say how bad I feel for this kid. I mean cancer is bad enough, but Augustus. Dude, with a name like that you either own it and become a roman emperor or you give up, let people call you Gus and take a job as an janitor at the local quick-mart. I am sorry to say, I am not liking his chances on the whole roman emperor deal.

Anyway Hazel uses a bunch of adjectives to describe him, but ends up deciding it’s way easier just calling him hot. She proceeds to spill a bunch of “Oh but he could never be interested in an ugly-duckling like me boo-hoo” crap which I promptly ignored and then comes a really fucked up sentence if you take it at face value.

“A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy . . . well.”

Okay, listen, I get what she’s saying, I do, but that may not be the right way to say it. She comes off as, well, as a superficial bitch. (Wait I am not obligated to like this book am I? Are you all going to be really mad if it turns out I hate it? Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?)

Augustus reveals he is afraid of oblivion, but that’s okay because Hazel has memorized a monologue for just such an occasion, leaving Augie fanning himself and going “Well I do declare! Aren’t you something else!”. It is official; we have our Romeo and Juliet locked down by page 13. That’s efficiency at work people!

After SCYGT Augie, Hazel and their mutual friend Isaac hold a brief competition in sarcasm mostly in the vein of “Cancer really sucks huh guys?”. Isaac then bails to go get his horn on with his gf who apparently has lost all sensitivity in the chest-region. Poor girl…

Augie non-smokes cigarettes which he claims is a metaphor for living life to the fullest or toying with death or whatever. Honestly it is pretty fucking lame, but Hazel is all “hot damn this sexy bod is all deep and shit” and so they head to his house to do the funky monkey dance watch a movie.

What will our kooky teen aged cancer patients get up to next week? Will Augustus change his name to Chad? Will Hazel start smoking for real to one-up him? Will Isaac’s gf regain feeling in her boobs? Join me next week for more sarcastic fun-poking at cancer (srlsy, they do that A LOT!).

GET RRRREADYYY TO RRRRREAD!

That’s right! We are going to read, or at least I am. See I read a whole lot, so why not add that to all the fun we’re having here? So I am going to read a book that’s been pretty big in the last few years. They even made it into a successful movie and yet I hardly know anything about it. Which book?

Why this little thing naturally!

fault

What do I know about it before starting the book? Well not a whole lot. I haven’t even read the summary on the back cover. Here is the underwhelmingly short list of what I do know:

  • The protagonist is a young woman.
  • She is sick somehow (cancer maybe).
  • There is also a guy.
  • I don’t know if he is sick as well.
  • Oh and I think the young woman has to walk around with an oxygen tank or something like that?

I think that’s it. Anyway the book was recommended to me by my friend Søren and I will see what it’s all about.

I will do a chapter every Wednesday and the first chapter will be next week. Get excited you guys, I know I am!

Mind games

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Life-thingies

When I was growing up and living with my parents, my mum would bake bread every Sunday. She still does in fact, I am just rarely there to witness it. Every Sunday she would be in the kitchen, radio on, quietly humming along and kneading dough for buns and loafs. She would roll out the buns, nice and round with practiced hands. Repeating the same roll-scoot-scoot-roll over and over, like she was kneading out the rhythm of a foxtrot.

In the windowsill her wristwatch and her ring would sit glinting, the sure sign that she was hard at work. They had been exchanged for the old washed-out apron with the vertical stripes and the stains of a thousand home-cooked meals.
When a familiar song came on the radio her clear voice would search for the words and fade in and out of the passages she knew. At noon the radio station would play the bells from the city hall in Copenhagen and the smell of freshly baked bread would be wafting throughout the whole house.

The bells ring out the oldest written melody in Denmark, “Drømte mig en drøm i nat” (Dreamt a dream last night). It is not an elegant melody when played on gigantic bells, instead I always found it to be rather haunting, but a strange thing happened once I moved away from home. Whenever I hear those bells, I smell freshly baked bread.

The first time I remember it happening was on a bus filled to the brim on a hot August afternoon. The bus smelled anything but nice, more like sweat, cigarettes and diesel, but the radio was on and the clock struck twelve and suddenly the smell of my mother’s freshly baked rye bread was wafting through the air. I closed my eyes and I was standing right there in our kitchen with the cracked floorboard by the door and my father’s million bottles of oils and vinegars in the windowsill. I sniffed at the air trying to retain the image, but it only lasted for a moment and I was back on the cramped no. 41. If only the other experience had left me as quickly, it was not nearly as pleasant.

A moment ago I was watching a movie, X-Men: First class to be exact. The first few scenes has a young Erik Lehnsherr (later Magneto) in a concentration camp. An Evil Nazi German wants to experiment on him and learn about his mutation. The scene was in German and as I had not put on subtitles I had to concentrate to understand what they were saying. As Evil Nazi German spoke of Evil Nazi things, I could suddenly smell the car-deck of the old Great Belt ferries. I felt nauseous and trapped.

Now normally I have no issue with people speaking German. I might even understand some things if they speak slow and clear. I don’t recall German ever making me nauseous, but something about Evil Nazi German’s voice or inflection made me remember the frequent messages in multiple languages announced over the tin-can PA and the terror those foreign words made me feel.

I know those ferries no longer sail, haven’t for 17 years, but the fear they made me feel as a child is still very much alive inside me. The seemingly endless sea-sickness, the cramped car-deck that made you feel like you were trapped in a maze of sedans, the distinct smell of oil, seawater and exhaust and the constant fear that we would sink and die. I was utterly terrified and I just experienced all that again. The mind-numbing fear of a small child roaring through my adult head and rooting me to the spot.

Man I need a smoke!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a story of what love hate (and drugs) can make you do.

It was a little past 4 in the morning at the Big Gay Party and we were closing up.
The DJ had played his last song and was unplugging a myriad of cables. The bartenders had cried “Last call!” and were mopping up the dregs on the bar top. The floor guys were doing the same thing they had all night; running from the kitchen with empty trays and returning with them brimming with bottles, glasses, lemon slices, straws, lime wedges, chewed up gum and other delicacies. The cloakroom girls were slowly drowning in the rising tide of guests in dire need of their coats, caps and handbags the size of a small car.

As I always do at that particular time of the night, I positioned myself slightly down the corridor that leads to the cloakroom. From there I could catch people drunkenly trying to get back to the bar and I had a decent view of any trouble that might arise.

Closing time is a tricky time. The potential for trouble naturally increases when the entire party crowds together in a narrow hallway. People are drunk and tired, but still hyped up from the mood and the music. They know they ought to head home, but at the same time the morning bars are tempting with their siren song of “Just one more. Postpone the inevitable loneliness and have just. one. mooooore!”
All the little insults, the shade thrown, the stinky eyes sent throughout the night coupled with alcohol, tight quarters and pushing and shoving, run the risk of turning a small misunderstanding into a fully fledged brawl in this pressure cooker environment.

As I stood there, keenly watching the crowd and trying desperately to forget my sore feet, one or two stragglers passed me from behind. The staff check every room carefully to see if anyone has stowed away and usually someone has. Most often in the bathrooms.
Suddenly I heard what could only be described as an anguished roar coming from behind me. I spun around just in time to see a girl rushing down the corridor at full speed. A small bull dyke coming straight at me, fast and with a burning hatred glowing in her eyes. All I had time to do, was to try and step aside, but I wasn’t quite quick enough.

She hit my left shoulder hard. I reacted instinctively, wanting to get her away from me. I wrapped my arm around her waist and pushed her backwards.
Now I am not really sure what happened. Maybe I used more force than I meant to. Maybe she was smaller than I thought. Maybe the adrenaline and pain kicked in and I lost control. Maybe I have latent mutant super strength. I don’t know. All I know is I ended up sending her flying across the floor. It looked like something out of an action movie and I was horrified that I might have hurt her, but at the same time proud that I did something that looked so cool.

We were instantly surrounded by bouncers and as they picked her up and asked her what the hell she did that for, she looked at me with those dazed, glazed, bad trip eyes and mumbled “Sorry, I thought you were my step-dad”.
After checking she was otherwise okay, all that was left to do, was to find her friends and have them take her home.

Poor girl!

And poor my shoulder when I woke up the next day! Ice packs are not just for athletes. Sometimes chubby lesbian bar-managers need them too.

The following party she showed up, even though she was obviously banned. She didn’t make a fuss and she told the bouncer she hadn’t come to party, she just wanted to speak to me if I had a moment to spare. Naturally I took the time. She was very apologetic and said the incident had opened her eyes. She would try to cut down on the partying. She was nice. She had even bought me a chocolate bar as an apology.

I like chocolate!