I’m Anne. (Nope.)

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So I couldn’t sleep last night (it’s been an issue lately) and since I’m in the middle of a book, I looked for a book to review on my shelves. Couldn’t find one I wanted to do. Looked at my nook, figured out that I have a crap load of Jessica Sorenson. I did, a while ago, talk about Callie and Kayden. Which I still love. Since I last blogged, there’s one more Callie and Kayden books, 3 books of Violet and Luke and one of Seth and Grayson. I’ve read all of them and I think I wore myself out on them. True life story. But I do have a large section of her on my Nook. Which I haven’t been using as much since I’ve gotten back from Hungary. I’ve been really into physical books. I think it’s because I didn’t have many physical books when I was in Hungary. I missed them so I’ve been having a hard time controlling myself not to buy every book in sight. I also went downstairs of my parents’ house today looking at my books from my childhood. Why was I so obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club and the Sweet Valley Twins. I know a lot of those were hand me downs from my sister but I got a decent amount myself too. I feel like those series have gone out of fashion because kids want something a little more hardcore. And it’s a shame. They’re good for girls. Not always great for boys but still. Nothing seems reviewable at this time. I fell like I’d have to reread things to adequately review them.

I’ve started reading Persuasion by Jane Austen. It’s my first time reading it, though it seems like most of my Goodreads friends have. (just like Gatsby) It’s not a book that if you read an Austen in a Brit Lit class in college, (with an exception of like a specialty class) you won’t be reading it because let’s face it, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility win out. I had to read P and P in a weekend while working in a tourist town over Labor Day weekend. Not fun. All I wanted to do was go out to the bar and hangout with people because everyone hung at the bar and it was going to be the last time I saw them in almost a year. Not because I’m a big drinker. Because I’m not. I’ll drink a normal amount, actually no. If I’m out, it’s like 2, 3 max drinks and I’m like I’m an adult and responsible for these people. Anyway.  I’m only a few chapters into Persuasion. The reason that I’m not farther into it is because of work. Work sucks time away from reading and then I’m mentally and physically exhausted after work and I’m preoccupied before work so the only days I read anymore is days off. And I don’t always get far. I really need a new job, other than being a CNA, because this job takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally. But this book is about a woman named Anne who’s 27…like me! She’s engaged at 19 and then is broken up and sees the man again at 27. This isn’t a review of the book because I’m not all the way through it. But there’s a line near of the beginning of the book that stood out to me. It’s on page 5 of my edition.

“but Anne, with an elegance of mind and sweetness of character, which must have placed her high with any people of real understanding, was nobody with either father or sister: her word had no weight; her convenience was always to give way;-she was only Anne.”

I feel like I relate. I am only Megan. I have a lot of times where I feel like my word has no weight. I feel ignored. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m pretty much feeling like an Anne. But I don’t think that I match up with elegance of mind and not always with sweetness of character. I’m just not there. I know I’ve said that I’m more of a Bronte fan but I feel like this book is going to be relatable with me. I think that I’m going to enjoy watching her progression in this book. Because it’s Austen, there will be progression. It’s bound to happen. Austen does that. It’s who she is. There will be a post, I’m sure, about the book. I’m sure I’ll have an opinion. You just have to wait. Austen takes brain power for me right now. It’s not like when I was in college and can read P and P after the bar at 11 at night and have to work in the morning. I actually have to commit the brain power.

Side note. Hard week for me. The school I taught at started school this week and I want to be with my kids. Also, a lot of the people I know are posting about the immigration stuff going on in Hungary and I want to be there and doing something. I’m seeing posts on Facebook from ex-pats and Hungarians that are pretty much breaking my heart that I’m not there. I’m also angry I’m not there with people I love and a country that was home for 10 months. So it’s a week I’m homesick for Hungary. It’s what happens when you leave your heart somewhere.

Love You More.

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I finished Love You More by Lisa Gardner. Nope, not a love story. Definitely not a love story. It’s more like an episode of NCIS or Law and Order: SVU. It’s about this female co who is found brutally beaten and her husband dead and her daughter missing. The book is about how this detective named D.D. (woman, who I had to remind myself was a woman.) figuring out this case. It does alternate views. The first three chapters threw me off because I wasn’t sure what I was expecting and wasn’t sure who was going to be speaking. Then I kind of got into the grove and got into it so that the speaker wasn’t much of a problem.

The main theme of this book was ‘who do you love’? I found myself asking that question a few times to myself. I mean, obvious answers. Butt it’s an interesting concept. The main character kept asking herself and others that. To me it makes sense because of her past that she would ask who do you love? Even ask herself that. Do I think that the cop really loved her husband? Not totally convinced she did. I think the main reason she married him was for her daughter. She had a rough background and I think he brought a little stability even if he was gone half the year. I think it’s good the daughter had a father but what about the main character? What’s with her and love? Am I too obsessed with everyone getting some love?

Totally didn’t see the killing the brother thing or the people that were in the ring of horribleness. Most of the time I can see a twist coming but not those two things. I like that I didn’t guess those things. It makes reading more fun. But then I didn’t try to guess.

Overall, good book. I would tell you what I’m reading but I haven’t completely committed to a book.

Life Update. Re-entry Version.

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Now I usually do 2 posts in a day but today is an exception because I’m at mom and dad’s (who have internet) and I’m working the next few days so I’ll be preoccupied.

A few weeks ago, I posted about how I thought that re-entry was making me a horrible person. And it was really raw for me. I still can’t go back and read it. That post is partly why I’ve been doing just book reviews. I mean, not much is going on in my life, but re-entry is very personal to me. And I’ve been dealing with it a lot since I’ve come back. But I’ve been dealing okay. It helps I’m not living with mom and dad. I have my own space. If I haven’t mentioned before, I’m living over at our other farm. It’s a little big for me but it works. Anyway. I have my own space and can come see my parents and my brother’s family (who have a house on the home place) whenever I want. I also feel like I can come and go as I please more. I feel like I don’t have to answer to anyone. It also lets me deal with things better. I’m journaling more which I wasn’t doing at mom and dad’s because I always felt like I was being intruded on. Living alone is a good thing.

So overall, I don’t feel overly overwhelmed by American culture anymore. Well, with the exception of yesterday. I went to the chiropractor yesterday and it’s a good thing because I was really out of whack and my knee was weird, which affected my calf. So it’s nice to feel normal and not have walking be a pain and sleep without waking up because I randomly hurt. Anyway, I met up with a friend of mine at one of the colleges in Bismarck, because there’s 4, to return a book she lent me on re-entry. This friend spent 2 years in China with Cru and now is working with Cru at Bismarck State College. So we’re sitting at the Student Union, which has changed drastically since we went there, and we were just catching up and talking about re-entry. We had this discussion about how difficult it is. We came to the conclusion that it’s never easy, it’s just different. Then at the end, before I left, she mentioned that she recently went back to a journal entry she wrote after she got back from China and how she struggled with God and the struggle has gotten more intense since then. I totally relate. I feel like it’s been underlying since I got back. I even journaled about it last night. After I left, I went to eat and then I went grocery shopping. Since I’ve been back, I haven’t had too much trouble with shopping. Except with toilet paper. Toilet paper has been a challenge for me…..to buy. I still know how to wipe my bottom. But I’m shopping and I’m trying to find something and I’m just frustrating because even though there’s signs, I can’t find this thing that mom asked me to pick up. So that was frustrating.

Then the check out. This is the major issue. In Hungary, I’d have to carry back my groceries back to the Bazis, where I was living. So I never bought any more than I could carry. I got my groceries on the conveyer belt and there was someone in front of me and I look down and I panicked because I couldn’t carry all of it. It took a lot of mental talking down to stop me thinking like that. Then they bag and put the bags back in the cart for me. Which is great. It is. It’s a service that’s so beneficial but it made me  uncomfortable. What do I do with my hands? What do I do with my face? Do I make small talk with the cashier? Because all my cashiers in Hungary knew I was American or at least not American. And they’re used to American teachers from the nearby school. So they know to keep the conversation to a minimum. But I got out okay. No tears, but I wanted to cry. Actually I almost did on my way home. I felt very convicted about how these people are bagging my groceries and putting them in my cart, when I am fully capable of doing it myself. It’s a minor thing but something that just bothered me. The rest of the day yesterday, I felt misplaced. But I’m better today.

And before yesterday, with yesterday included, I’ve put on a front. Being similar to how I was. Making jokes, being sarcastic but there’s a large part of me that isn’t like that anymore. It’s how it is. I will always have moments that I don’t feel American. Like I don’t belong anywhere. It was my new normal. As I almost typed, it’s my ‘nermal’. I could also do a series on how I feel misunderstood and the things I feel misunderstood about, but it doesn’t feel right to do now.  I feel like it’s something that I need to heal from more or get more comfortable with myself before I do. So maybe eventually.

I’m Conflicted

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I have this thing. I have a love/hate thing with John Green novels. I have just read another John Green book. I started with The Fault in our Stars and I loved it. Green writes a convincing girl. I’ve talked about it before. I then read Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. Meh. They both have very similar concepts. The Vlog Brothers was one of the YouTube channels that I watched a lot in Hungary. I love the Vlog Brothers. But I definitely have thoughts. I just read An Abundance of Katherines. There are definitely running themes in his books.

I don’t know why his running themes bug me so much. It’s not like I haven’t read other authors with running themes. Lurlene McDaniel and death. Ann Rinaldi and historical novels. And they’re both y.a. authors. But there’s a difference there. I am an adult, not a pre-teen or teen, reading John Green and I’m not feeling that I’m reading about the same characters. In all his books, I feel that Green has the same main character. A teenage boy with some nuance, usually intelligence, and a girl that challenges him to do more. There’s a road trip or something that helps changes the boy, not necessarily the girl. Obviously, Stars is different because of the p.o.v.

I didn’t get to deep into Kathrines. I kind of felt like I was reading something I already had read. It’s not like I hate John Green’s books. They are entertaining. It’s just repetitive. I do like John Green as a person. But that’s on the basis of the Vlog Brothers YouTube channel and their podcast.

I’m going to start a book called Love You More.

Recently I watched the made for television movie about L. Frank Baum’s life. It’s the one with John Ritter and Blanche from the Golden Girls. If you’ve been around for a while you will know that I’ve had a fear of The Wizard of Oz the movie. Nothing cures this fear. Blame my sister for that. Anyway. I decided to watch this movie at like 9:30 at night. Not too late but late enough for me to get creeped out. There’s parts of the movie where John Ritter/Baum are telling the story. And they do this dream sequence and it’s oversaturated with color and it’s so creepy. I turned on the light. 27 years old and I’m scared of an innocent movie. Again blame my sister. I did text her and blame her.

The Pact

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I have most of this week off. Worked Monday and don’t work until Saturday. It’s nice, but what do I do with all my free time? Well yesterday, I did laundry and watched Law and Order: SVU and did laundry and read The Pact by Jodi Picoult. Then I was on a Sprite kick because I hadn’t ate well all day and that made my tummy upset.

I haven’t read Jodi Picoult before. This is actually the only book I own of her and I bought it used. I’m not sure where I got it anymore. But it’s used, definitely used. I do have a friend that really likes her. I do remember picking up this book and thinking that this friend really likes these books and I should give her a try because why not? I could like her writing style. Alert: Spoilers ahead.

So my problem, right away, is that the cover advertises the book as a love story. Yes, there is a love aspect in there. Emily and Chris are deeply in love. But it’s mostly about Emily’s death and the aftershock of it. It is a book with elements. Some books you have a book that’s all about love or all mystery. This book you have the past where Chris and Emily are growing up, up until Chris passes out and the present when they’re dealing with court and stuff, and the parents and how they deal with a daughter dead or a son accused of murder. So instead of a love story, it’s probably better to say it is a book of emotion.

At one point, I mentally made a note that this kind of reminded me of Serial. Serial is a podcast that told the story of a 17-year-old kid accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend. (same thing in the book except that Chris and Emily were going to get married eventually) During the trial, when they were describing Emily, some of the characteristics made me exclaim, “Emily and Hae Min are the same person!” They were all the same age, the act happened in the same year. I mean, there’s similarities there. But I’m relatively sure that Jodi Picoult didn’t get the idea from this actual, real life case. But I could be wrong.

I liked getting the parents’ point of view on everything. My first instinct was to concentrate on the kids, and a lot of the book is, but the parents are going through a lot too. I really didn’t like Chris’ dad. I felt that he kind of abandoned Chris. He didn’t even testify because he could be accused of supplying the gun. I did find it interesting that Chris’ mom and Emily’s dad got to be good friends for a while. (notice for a while) I don’t know if I could do that. But Emily’s dad didn’t think that Chris did it. Emily’s mom, on the other hand, became anti-Chris. I think I’d be like that. My only child was killed. I’d be angry. I didn’t like how much we got on the lawyers. They aren’t what the story is about. It should have been about the 2 central characters (Emily and Chris) and the 4 side characters (The parents). They are who the story is happening to and who are the driving forces in the main characters lives. The lawyers aren’t that big of a deal.

The interspercing back story was story. It wasn’t trailblazing, I’ve seen it before. But it was done relatively well. You got to see the interaction between all the main characters and see Emily and Chris develop into their relationship. At one point, there was someone on the stand they were describing Emily and Chris’ relationship and they were describing it as their personalities kind of molded together as they grew up. They countered each other. I was intrigued by that. But psychology usually intrigues me.

Overall, I didn’t mind this book. I didn’t mind it but it isn’t my favorite. I talked to my friend last night and she said that this book wasn’t her favorite of Picoult. Well, okay. Obviously need to try another one. Right now I’m reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. I’ve read like 3 of his other books and 2 I’ve been only semi-impressed by him. So we’ll see with this book.

Still Allice….Still Me.

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So since about Tuesday, Wednesday for sure, I’ve been really anxious. About nothing really. But a couple things that have happened since Wednesday; rough time at work, other….things, stuff like that culminating this weekend, I’ve been an emotional wreck. Enter Still Alice by Lisa Genova. This book may or may not been the start of my emotionalness. I really don’t know for sure if this is what started my funk. But it definitely attributed.

Okay first of all, I love the iridescent like white cover with blue lettering on it. So much better than the movie cover. Second of all, synopsis. Alice is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and is known for her work in linguistics. She finds out that her memory problem isn’t just her getting older. She has early onset Alzheimer’s. This book is mainly about her experience. It is a piece of fiction.

I was very nervous about starting this book. It’s a book that my book club in Budapest is doing for the month of August. I wasn’t nervous because I wasn’t going to be back for book club for this meeting or ever, for that fact. I was nervous because of my history with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. My mom has been a nurse in the same nursing home since I can remember. I remember her being at work and wondering around looking for her and seeing people with dementia and never really knowing how to deal with them. I did eventually get used to it. It’s different when you start working in a nursing home that has dementia residents. I have a different attitude towards dementia now that I’ve worked with it more closely. It’s this weird combination of being numb and broken heartedness. Some of the people I work with, I knew before the dementia kicked in and a lot of them, I’ve seen get worse. You deal with them so they’re settled but you hate seeing them not remember where they are and worried because they don’t know where their spouse is, so on and so forth. You also see people that you once knew as kind and loving people turn into mean people. Being at the nursing home and doing a little education, I understand that. How angry do you get if you misplace your keys? For people with dementia, their lives are ‘I can’t find my keys’ times everything. They can’t find anything in their minds. Of course they’re going to be angry. Even watching family members with these residents is rough because sometimes they come out of their family members rooms looking defeated because that’s not the person they grew up with. The children want a conversation of the past with their loved one and that loved one can’t remember that the person talking to them is their child.

And then there’s the fact there is a history of Alzheimer’s in my family. Watching the only man I knew as grandfather go downhill as a teenager was rough. I was grandpa’s little girl. My grandma has said, very openly since grandpa’s death, that I was always grandpa’s favorite. Being the younger of two girls and being near the end of the line of cousins, grandpa did dote on me and did spoil me probably more than the others. But the adoration was both ways. Near the end of his memory, my grandmother and I were the only two he remembered consistently. I was a month and a half away from graduation, coming home from a school trip when he passed. For a while I was angry that grandpa wasn’t alive and coherent for my graduation like he was for pretty much everyone else. (with the exception of my 2 younger cousins that grandpa never really got to know) So yes, this book was rough on me. I knew it would be. I read the synopsis, I didn’t go into reading this book blind.

So what did I think about this book? I don’t want to say I enjoyed it because you watch a woman’s journey to not remembering. It does hurt. You want to shake her and say ‘Alice, you put your Blackberry in the freezer. Don’t you remember?’ You so desperately want her to remember. I do think that this was very accurate portrayal of how things go. Genova definitely did her research. My book has book club questions and then an author interview at the end. Genova talks a lot about who she dealt with when she was working on this book. I admire her going through so much work for this book. I appreciate that work.

I definitely loved how the family reacted. Because everyone seemed to have their own take and their own opinions on what should happen with Alice and her care. And I feel like it would be very easy to write the family in a way that would make them all of like mind and all agree on what should happen. A lot of times, families will disagree. It’s what families do on a regular basis and the fact that a family member has dementia doesn’t always relieve the tension. Sometimes families agree, but not always. So I loved that there were arguments and tense moments. I also loved that this book showed the family’s sadness when Alice didn’t remember something. Which brings me to the point that this book is through Alice’s point of view. I wouldn’t have thought about writing a book through her eyes. But I think it got a stronger point across. It got the point across that people with dementia still see and can process things that are going on. They might not know who you are but they still know that there’s tension. And being from Alice’s point of view you see the slow but rapid decline. There always seems to be an area of life you forget faster or it doesn’t seem like you’re losing your memory as fast as you think you are. I feel like this book aptly describes the process of losing your memory from that person’s point of view. The confusion and the frustration.

I remember very clearly when my grandfather stopped driving. Grandpa was a trucker, so driving was a big deal, and his license expired and he had to go take the test because he didn’t renew it before it expired. He failed by 1 point. We all expected grandpa to not deal very well. But he dealt fine. When Alice stopped working as a professor, I feel like she dealt very well. I would want to deal that well. She did keep one of her students that she was close too and reading that student’s graduation scene made me want to cry.

Through all of this, I did appreciate this book. Will it be a book that I pull out all the time to reread again and again? Absolutely not. I have too many emotions that go along with dementia. It’s too heavy of a book for me. But it is one that I would loan out and tell people to read.