we meet no ordinary people

"Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." - C.S. Lewis

Christian. Feminist. CrossFitter. MD. Nerd.
Who I Follow

I decided that this song is the theme song for Paper Towns. It’s just so deliciously applicable.

Asker theanga Asks:
"You can love someone so much...But you can never love people as much as you can miss them."
will you just... talk about this some?
nomeremortals nomeremortals Said:


Sure! This is one of the most-quoted lines from my novel An Abundance of Katherines. Let me begin with some context: Katherines is a novel about a child prodigy named Colin Singleton who has been dumped over and over again by girls named Katherine. Colin is an annoying kid who struggles socially, and he also—like many contemporary teenagers and adults—believes that the most important thing a human being can do is Be In A Romantic Relationship.

Our obsession with romantic (i.e., sexualized) love is really fascinating to me, because I think it is 1. relatively new, and 2. kind of distinctly capitalistic in a bunch of interesting/troubling ways. (Like, I think the romantic love obsession hinges at least partly on us being taught by every advertisement we see that real fulfillment can only be found in a romantic/sexual relationship. Advertisements tell us this because it turns out people are more likely to spend money on items for their sexual partners than for their nonsexual partners, which goes back to like base evolutionary calculations. You also see this behavior in lots of other animals, but right, I am DEFINITELY DIGRESSING.)  

So anyway I think one of the byproducts of our obsession with romantic love is that it ends up feeling as if *losing* a romantic partner—the process of missing them—is more intense and powerful than being with a romantic partner, because when you are dating someone, the contemporary culture would have you believe that you are In The Natural State of Things. When that relationship ends, you have been thrown out of Eden and find yourself lacking the one thing that is supposed to make your life worth living, which is of course a far more intense experience than Being In The Natural State of Things.

But this is not the only way to construct romantic love, and in fact you will probably find that no romantic relationship on its own can lead to a fulfilling life and that the vampiric romance novels and Hollywood movies (and to some extent, also the John Green novels) that indicate otherwise are telling you a pleasant and attractive and arguably-corrosive-but-also-arguably-helpful lie.

What Colin must eventually seek is the kind of romantic relationship wherein you love the person more than you will later miss them. (Such relationships do exist. I promise.)

In short, Colin Singleton believed in the validity of that quote in the middle of the novel I wrote about him. But that is not to say that I believe it, or even that the novel believes it by its conclusion.

All that said, novels belong to their readers, so my opinion isn’t that important. If people find something in my stories that they think is true or interesting or helpful, I am always grateful.

tl;dr: Many people (including the character in my novel) think you can never love people as much as you can miss them. I think in the end you can—and must—love others more than you could ever miss them. 


End caps.

"It’s telling them they’re not wrong, or sinful, or bad, if they have sexual feelings. Or even if they have sex. It’s teaching them that sex happens, whether people always make good choices or not. And it’s giving them the tools to ensure that when they’re ready, they’re smart and cautious and conscientious."

  • Dad: So, how's it going?
  • Me: Fine.
  • Dad: Have you talked to any of those guys we gave your number to?
  • Me: No.
  • Dad: What are you saying to them to scare them off?

On introspection and why it is so needed.

No, I am not scared of looking like a man. Nor is it your job to tell me you think I do.

If I knew how to be live-off-the-land crunchy, I would go off the grid.

"There is no more wasteful entity in medicine than a rushed doctor."

And all at once I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn’t being Margo Roth Spiegelman: she felt empty. She felt the unscaleable wall surrounding her. I thought of her asleep on the carpet with only that jagged sliver of sky above her. Maybe Margo felt comfortable there because Margo the person lived like that all the time: in an abandoned room with blocked-out windows, the only light pouring in through holes in the roof. Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made — and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make — was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.
Quentin Jacobsen, in John Green’s Paper Towns

"I wish it were different. I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel aroundon the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotageand go black in the eyes and say, ‘I don’t fucking care if you like it.’”