The Great (?) Gatsby.

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So I finished The Great Gatsby. Can we all agree to be upset with Tom and Daisy?

The first thing I wondered with Daisy is how would modern feminists view her? I mean, I don’t consider myself a feminist. I do, however, have feminist tendencies. I’m used to men, my brother and father ruined me to this, opening my door to a building and fixing the major things. But I can drive myself and sit down myself, check my oil, etc. So I googled it. That’s what my generation does right? I found this website that defends Daisy. It argues that Daisy is trapped and scared. She is young. The affair she has with Gatsby was the only thing she does by choice. She has no other opportunity to make more choices. This site talks about the movie and it isn’t all that feminist but I found it interesting. I know that this is a character that was a typical type of person during the time period but Daisy tended to annoy me. I tended to keep askng myself why she didn’t leave Tom or confront him about his affair. But time period. Women were finding their identity and rebelling during this time period but not women like Daisy. She is still a Southern female. I hesitate to call her a woman because se was so young when she married, her chance to ease into adulthood was take away. I do like that in the beginning, Daisy and Jordan were compared to balloons. Not, particularly Jordan, but Daisy. She seems flighty enough to be a balloon.

I did like Jordan. I wanted her and the narrator to be together forever. Obviously that couldn’t happen. That would be too amazing. And I liked that Jordan had a typically male name and that she was a professional athlete. It was lovely. I totally appreciated her character and think that the book needed her. To me it felt better that there was a more stable woman in the book.

Tom, from the get go, is a guy you know is a bully. They describe him and I wrote ‘should have a moustache with that stance’ and the ‘description sets him to be a villain immediately’, which is something you need to do when you have a short book. I didn’t like him almost immediately. I do have written that it would be interesting to listen to Tom and modern politicians about foreign superpowers. I hate that Tom sent the husband over to Gatsby when it was his wife at fault. I understand why though. It was to get rid of his wife’s lover. Which is so hypocritical and ironic. He had a lover that was killed and the lover’s husband went to kill the lover. I did wonder at one point I did write down how I wondered why no one told Daisy and why she was clueless. I mean Nick met the woman and never told Daisy. (he was protecting her) This frustrated me because no one told her. But this was also the Twenties. You wouldn’t be able to freely talk about affairs. Tom is also abusive. I do not have time for that. No one should have time for that.

Both Tom and Daisy were described as careless people. And it’s really true. That’s what happens when you don’t care about people that aren’t yourself. Both of them are kind of narcissistic.

Gatsby wasn’t bad. He was just obsessively in love with the wrong woman. He makes Daisy more of an angel than she deserves. He does have an aloofness. I also feel like it’s interesting that people assume he’s killed a man. Gatsby does use ‘old man’ like it’s going out of style. It probably out of style because of him. I also like that his past was used to explain the present. It made for a good love triangle when he hates Tom. But everyone should hate Tom. I felt bad for him through most of the book. Especially when he died. Pretty much no one wanted to go to his funeral. So is Gatsby really great? I think that Nick thinks he is. And that might be the opinion that counts. It’s the narrator’s p.o.v. that counts. It would be interesting to see the same story from a different character.

Now we got the characters out of the way, let’s talk about the American Dream. this book is about the American Dream because who in this book doesn’t want to succeed. I feel like this was a big deal in the 20’s and prior. I mean after you had the Great Depression. I think it came back after though. Everyone wants to make their own fortune. My kids in Hungary wanted that. They feel like they don’t have a future in Hungary. So they want to go anywhere where they do have a future. A lot of them want to go to America and there is a decent amount of illegal Hungarians in the States but you didn’t hear that from me. They just want better. So the American Dream isn’t necessarily just American. The need to better yourself and to have opportunities are things everyone wants.

I think that this is a book about relationships. Obviously. Live triangle, friendship, loyalties. How do you stand up for yourself and how do you right wrongs. It’s big issues.  I don’t think that relationships are the first thing that I thought about. But they were there. I was just frustrated on what was going on. They’re all stupid. Mainly just Tom and Daisy. But everyone has their dumb moments in this book. After sitting and thinking on this book for a few days, I have time to think about these relationships. I don’t want to be a Daisy. I want some sense when it comes to relationship.

Overall, I did like this book. It’s a good book to get a taste of a culture and an era. Because there is a lot to learn about both. I obviously could go on for a long time about issues addressed in this book. But I won’t. There’s actually a lot that I skipped in this review to keep it at a decent length. Since I’ve finished Gatsby, I’ve read Paper Towns by John Green and right now I’m reading Full of Grace by Dorthea Benton Frank. I may or may not do reviews on them. If there’s any questions about this review, please ask. Or if there’s any recommendations, please give them. I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll take them, but I’ll consider them.

Great and American and Novel. All together.

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I just recently finished reading James Rollins’ book The Blood Gospel. I love James Rollins. My problem with James Rollins is that I read one book and I crave more James Rollins. That’s how I love him. I can’t get enough of him. But I’m out of him right now. And since I’m avoiding work and I’m not near a really good library…not going to happen for a while. Ugh, there’s a void in my life now. (Yes, I’m being dramatic.) Yes, there are religious things in this book but if you read it, which I recommend everyone does because it’s James freaking Rollins, take some of the religious things with a grain of salt. But it didn’t disappoint. I want to read the rest in the series. I know I read over 600 closer to 700 pages of this series with just this one book but I want more.

Right now, I am about to start reading The Great Gatsby. It’s my first Fitzgerald. I know it might be a little bit generic for my first Fitzgerald. I probably should be reading The Beautiful and the Damned, which I have on my Nook but haven’t gotten to. (And FYI I’d rather have a real copy of it. Anyone wanting to donate any books. I’m down.) And people have told me to start with The Beautiful and the Damned. I’m just being a rebel. Historically, I have had people upset with me because I haven’t read Fitzgerald. Not in high school lit or college lit classes. No Fitzgerald. Yay North Dakota education system. So because I am fascinated by authors and where books came from and why, I did my research.

Things that I did know: he was in deep love with his wife. (The Great Gatsby is dedicated ‘Once Again To Zelda’. I mean this was his third novel.) From what my friends have said, I want to be Zelda Fitzgerald. Like he was romantic and she has books where she’s the basis of a character. I want to positively immortalized in a book. He did something to do with the first world war.

Things that I found out with reading: He was born in Minnesota, though did not stay there. I like Mid-western authors. Leif Enger being one of them. If you haven’t read him, try him. Not everyone’s cup of tea but interesting. He was seen as handsome, thought definitely not my type. He went to Princeton. Fitzgerald was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that he met and fell in love with a beautiful 18-year-old girl named Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. The war ended before Fitzgerald was deployed. The Beautiful and the Damned was his second novel, I thought it was his first but lie.

After Gatsby, Fitzgerald became more of an alcoholic and his wife Zelda had some issues with mental breakdowns. And she was admitted to a mental health clinic in Switzerland for a while. Fitzgerald died at the age of 44, believing he was a failure. On a personal level, get that. There’s a lot more of Fitzgerald. Click to find out more and to find where I got a lot of my information.

I went on GoodReads today to mark that I was reading Gatsby. I scrolled down to see who’s read it and what they thought of it. I’m a failure. Most everyone I know has read this. There are 24 reviews. Out of 60 people I’m friends with on GoodReads, maybe not so bad but still. I’m kind of a failure. With a degree in English Lit, I should have read this book before. Or at least Fitzgerald. They’re mostly good reviews and there are some of my friends that have marked it to read so I’m not completely alone. And I do think I have to put in a disclaimer that I have seen the DiCaprio version of the book. (DAMN DiCaprio hasn’t gotten the recognition anywhere. My kids in Hungary even know it. When I asked what you associate with the Emmys they say, “Not Leonardo DiCaprio”.) So it’s not like I don’t know the general story. (And if we’re using movies as the pure basis for judgment of the novel version, we’re in trouble.) I was going to start reading this last night but I was really tired after running after my brother’s kids for a while. (“It’s not kicking, it’s hitting with feet.” Where do they come up with that?) So I got like a page in and was like, yeah…no. I’m sleeping. From what I can see, Fitzgerald isn’t mindless. I have to put more thought into it than a modern novel. It was also written in another era so I can’t go into it thinking that the vernacular is going to be natural to me. I could, and have, go off about vernacular and how language has seem to go down hill in recent times but I won’t now. It’s refreshing though to read a book where it makes me concentrate, which Gatsby will do. This isn’t a long book. My copy, published by Scribner Paperback Fiction and was bought for $3.80 at a used book store last year, has 222 pages starts on page 5 and ends on page 189. So that’s 184 pages of story.

There is a great emphasis in this book about the American Dream. Which, for me, is different for me now after being overseas for a year. But I’ll talk about that in the review.

After reading a few reviews on GoodReads, which we all know is the literary Bible, (sarcasm. I point that out because not many people get my sarcasm.) people say that this is the best American novel ever. I’m skeptical. Anyone that says that anything is the best ever, I’m not sure I believe it. But at the same time, my expectations are high. Expectations are high because the people that have told me good things about Fitzgerald are people I respect deeply. If this book disappoints, it’s going to be an epic disappointal. And people will hear about it. This isn’t a long book so the review shouldn’t be to far away.

Reconstructing Amelia.

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The last post was obviously emotion based. I’m not going to apologize for it. I know some of you are confused by that like why would I apologize. I’ve had several people say things to me that insinuates that I’m being dramatic. I am being dramatic but I’ve watered down what’s going in me quite a bit. And some of the dramatics need to happen. Not all of it, but some of it. So no apologies. I’m sure I’ll rant and rave about something that dramatically again. But I will try to water those down with posts that are not dramatic. So today, we’re going old school post. Book Review. It won’t be a long one but it’s a review.

Reconstructing Amelia is by Kimberly McCreight. Now, I’m moving to our other farm and my copy is over there so if I mess something up, it’s because of that. It’s about a (lawyer) woman who’s teenage daughter, who’s painted as perfect at the beginning, seems to have committed suicide because she got caught cheating. The book goes between the mother dealing with Amelia’s death and Amelia the months prior to dying. Then there’s blog posts and Facebook posts. All of it’s tied together. One thing that I noticed about half way through reading is that it’s compared to Gone Girl. I should have noticed that before because it’s on the front cover and the back cover and it’s notable. I didn’t notice it because I was more interested in what the book was about. At first, the comparison kind of bothered me. Any comparison between kind of bothers me. A book shouldn’t be compared to another book. I’ve done it before but when it gets to a level of ridiculousness, it bothers me. And this is on both covers. Think the publishers want to sell their book by jumping on the success of another book? But I kept reading. I see the comparison. There’s a lot of stuff that comes out throughout the book. Amelia’s involvement with a secret club, things she did with and for the club, Ben’s identity, Amelia’s father, what happened on the roof when Amelia jumped, Amelia’s relationship. There’s lots twists and turns like Gone Girl. But it’s different. It’s watered down.

I generally liked it. I’m not always a fan of the flip flopped views, it’s hit or miss, but I like this for the most part. It was almost, ALMOST, cinematic. But it was why it had a flip flop view system. I think that the author wanted to move things along and keep the intrigue going and it was done relatively well. Could it have been done better? Probably. But done pretty well.

In this book, there’s a lot about high school culture. Mean kids/girls, social media, school activities, pier pressure. I wondered how I would have reacted in that situation at 15. (which is how old Amelia was) First of all, I don’t think I would have done some of the things Amelia did for this secret club. I was a little bit of a loner thought and no one really cared. And I went to a very small school so if there were a secret club, everyone would know about it (which they did in the book) and everyone would know about the things you had to do to get in. I think, that part, I would have laughed at the club and wouldn’t have done it. Amelia did it because, I think, she wanted to be accepted by some of the club members and if you read the book you know which member I’m talking about. I would have had a hard time with the mean girls though. I never felt bullied in high school and I was always somewhat accepted but I was also involved in enough, not much but enough, and I was also a little protected by my class. So I never had to deal with bullies like this. So I was lucky. Not everyone is that lucky.

I like the emotion in this book and thought all emotions were appropriate. There’s a lot of emotion that the book has to deal with because of the subject matter. But it was good. Do I recommend it. Yes.

Re-Entry is Making Me a Horrible Person.

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Warning: This is going to be a re-entry post and it’s going to be emotion driven. If this offends anyone, please remember that I’m not trying to offend or scare anyone from experiencing another culture. I’m just hitting brick walls every which way I turn and I need an outlet.

When I made the decision to go overseas for a year, it was only going to be for a year unless God told me something different. Starting from basically last February when my original company went under, it’s been, I feel, very dramatic and tumultuous. So I’ve felt that it was time to come home and not go back. The last 2 days I was in Hungary, I keep deep sighing. Like this is almost over. Sigh. I have to travel and I’m not a great traveler. Sigh. I have made acquaintances and built relationships, which I was supposed to do being with a Christian non-prof company, and I have to leave them. Sigh. Where is my life going? Sigh.

I have been back exactly 12 days. Not home home but in the states for 12 days. I knew that there would be reverse culture shock, that I had to give myself time and that a lot of people wouldn’t really understand how overwhelmed that re-entry can be. I also knew that there would be an expectation that I would continue to be who I was before I left and that my reverse culture shock would be over within days. It’s not. I’m so much more angry now. It seems that I have more attitude, my sarcasm is out in full angry, bitchy force. Even my inappropriate, insensitive jokes have been on the rise. Being that I feel that this whole experience has been rocky, I can’t stop this from happening. No matter how hard I try, it’s happening. And depending on who I’m dealing with, these emotions and how I’m reacting to things, makes me feel like a horrible person and it’s been hard to dispute that I’m not a horrible person. I have been horrible to people who haven’t deserved it and I can’t help it. I start with good intentions and then end up being horribly sarcastic or having an attitude and starting fights. Then at the end of everything, they feel like the ass. This shouldn’t be happening.

But it is. And I have no where to turn to. I feel like I’ve complained so much in the past year to so many people. I feel like I have given up the right permanently to ever say anything bad about my life ever again. I’m not the person who complains. I shouldn’t be complaining how I’m having a hard time keeping up with conversations, how the words aren’t coming like they used to, how I can’t find anything or do anything normally anymore. I shouldn’t want to be back in a country where I’ve had probably the toughest year of my life. I shouldn’t be sobbing about how I’ve wrecked certain situations. I should be fixing them. But I’m not. It’s all building up and making me worse.

And it’s hard to cry with people. I’ve never been a crier. If I had to cry, historically it was in complete privacy. That’s just how my family works. To me, personally, I wasn’t going to have people see a weakness or see how silly some of the things I was crying over were. (trust me, some of the reasons were silly.) I cried a lot over in Hungary and it wasn’t always for me. I cried with people, in front of people and for people. Some tears were for me, or for a friend, or in mourning or for a relationship. I get home and where do I cry? Who do I cry with?

The last couple days, especially, all I have wanted is to be alone. No other people in any way. Not physically, phone, text, social media. Nothing. All I want to do is be by myself and exist. I know that it’s probably not going to help me any in all of this, so I’ve tried a little. It hasn’t been good. It makes me want to retreat more. Being a hermit is looking more and more good. For me and for others. Again making me feel horrible.

I have been trying to keep a strong front. I feel like it’s crumbling. All I want is normal and not to be a horrible person. I should be able to pull myself together and be a strong person for myself and for others like I usually do. My life isn’t that horrible that I should fall apart. But it’s not what’s happening. I have been having conversations with God lately about this whole situation. I’ve talked to Him about all this and asked other questions. I’ve asked why is this so hard. Why does it feel like You’re taking this relationship away from me? Why? So far, no answers.

But I am trying. I keep telling people that. I’m trying, I’m working on it. Sometimes it might not seem like it but I am. I’m a work in progress.

Late Night Post

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I can’t sleep. This is the first night since I’ve been back that I haven’t been able to sleep. There’s a lot of things going on that are keeping up.

Yesterday I helped my sister move to Fargo. I don’t necessarily like my brother-in-law. So on top of going through culture re-entry, I have to hold my temper. I didn’t hold my temper very well at the end and both my parents kind of reprimanded me. I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have but felt that I was being rude regardless so he told me not to be crabby. Today I have had the remnants of being frustrated and it’s affecting how I’m reacting to people. Which is unfortunate.

Some of this frustration is from re-entry. I don’t feel understood a lot. I’m not expecting total understanding but I want people to know that I get frustrated more easy now. And it’s for reasons that may seem silly. Things like going to church is a big deal. I need my distance. I want to be alone a lot of the time. I have a hard time being upbeat. Hugs (though I’ve never liked them) are a huge deal now, even from family members. All these things come so much harder now. People aren’t asking what’s going on. They just assume I’m okay. And they’re not seeing how I’m actually acting and picking up on cues. Which is frustrating. I recently got told during a confrontation that I need to heal and I wouldn’t have minded the comment but it was said like I didn’t know I needed to do it. I’m fully aware of a lot, healing being one of them. I think that another problem I’ve been having is that I am having a hard time telling people what’s going on and how to say it without it coming out bitch like. Even when not talking about re-entry things come out bitchy. It’s a hard thing. If I go away again, I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending in the States again. We’ll see how things go.

Weird Things

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I am back home. In an up-coming post, I’ll talk about how I’m feeling about everything but I wanted this post to be a little heavier because a lot of my recent posts have been a little heavy. And I personally need something a little less heavy. Heavy has been my life lately.

I got back into the country on Thursday and I’ve already noticed things that don’t make sense to me anymore. Here’s a list of that.

1. Bathrooms. Here, the lights are in the inside of the room and there is a handle. In the, I don’t know, million times I’ve gone to the bathroom so far, most of the time I have hit the wall outside for the light or tried to pull a string or hit a button to flush the toilet. Also, the actual flush sounds less violent here.

2. Tissues. They’re so soft here.

3. Browning hamburger smells so good. I’m sorry to vegetarians for that but it’s true. I was browning hamburger on Saturday morning and it was lovely. The meat quality in Hungary is different and I never bought it over there because it looked gross to me. For a cattleman’s daughter, that’s a big deal. So when I smelled good beef browning, it was great.

4. Americans are loud and talk fast. I had to jet out of church on Sunday because I was really overwhelmed. It’s not like there was a lot of people in church, there was maybe 20, but the guest speaker seemed to speak very fast, (it was actually normal paced) there were kids talking during the service and everyone speaking after. My parents don’t get how overwhelming that is. I’m used to blocking out a lot of language because I don’t understand. Now that all I hear is English, I pay attention and I get a headache.

5. Driving Uh yeah, I’m a lot slower and more cautious now. It’s been 10 months. It makes sense.

6. I don’t know any news Dad was looking at the news on Yahoo and was like this is the guy? I was lost until he explained the guy was the shooter in Charleston. I also didn’t know people escaped from prison 2 weeks ago. I should have paid attention to the news more when I was in Budapest.

7. So many Americans in America I know that sounds like a given but when you live in Europe, you don’t really notice if people are from other countries (except Americans, you can spot an American from a mile a way. See number 5.) and you move from country to country pretty flawlessly. Then you move back to the states and all there are is Americans. Ugh.

8. I’m immune to paprika We made homemade chicken nuggets (which uses paprika) and mom and dad were like ‘there’s so much paprika’. I didn’t notice. I like paprika.

9. Totally normal to sleep between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. My sleeping is still off.

10. Got way to used to the 24 hour clock How do you know if it’s morning or afternoon? I’ve seriously thought that since I’ve been back.

11. Doctors I went once in Hungary and it was very socialized. Not like here. Going to the doctor here will be weird.

12. Dryers I did not see a dryer in Europe and air dried everything. Yesterday I was trying to figure out when I need to do laundry for something to be dry. There’s driers. Never mind.

There’s probably more that I think are weird, but this is so far.

Few Thoughts on Leaving Hungary.

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I come back to the states in 6 days. There’s so much emotion that goes into that one sentence. But this year has made me more emotional than I ever have before. I think when you’re living overseas (especially when you’re a single woman), emotions are amplified by a million. I’m extremely excited to leave, completely sad that I’m leaving. I’m scared for numerous reasons and dreading traveling. I’m in the process of getting things done and getting the last few things. But sitting here, writing. I’m getting the anxious pit in my stomach. I know with how rough these last 10 months have been, a lot of people won’t understand my hesitation for leaving. But no one has really seen the whole story. No one has seen the little moments. Or heard the questions and one liners that were so perfectly spoken by my students. Or had the bonding moments (superficial or not) with the random people that have been a huge part of my life for 300 days. No one knows how many times I’ve asked myself why am I here or the times I’ve thought, this is why I’m here. Yes, I have consciously been aware of how long it will be until I go home in the sense that I will be going back to a place I’ve known my whole life. But now I am also consciously aware of how Budapest has a piece of my heart and that I will leave a little bit of me here and have that hole replaced with Hungary.

There’s still a lot of pain in me. There’s been big events that I’ve missed back home, I’ve practically ruined one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m going to carry those things with me for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of guilt. I can’t change what’s been done or said. I get that. I wish I could change some things though but I knew that coming to Hungary meant that life was going to be tough and life was going to be real and I was going to miss things and relationships would change. Sometimes terminate. (None of my relationships have terminated. Don’t worry. Some have changed dramatically and you know who you are and I’m sorry. I’m trying.) But the thing is, I’ve never been a completely open person. I keep my emotions to myself so that other people can hurt. Until this year, that’s worked for me. I was able to deal under these circumstances. But this year, with emotions amplified, I can’t function like that. I won’t be able to function like I used to for a long time, if ever. I would have eventually come to that point without Hungary but moving here sped it up. I’m sure a lot of people have noticed a change in my blog. I’m writing a lot differently. I need to. I’m sure eventually I’ll get back to writing like I used to, but now this blog is more self-centered. Because I need to throw whatever is in me out into the universe. I can’t leave what’s going on in me inside. It’s why I’ve started journaling like crazy. It helps me get the emotion out.

I don’t know what people expect of me. I know some people will expect me to be the same Megan I’ve always been. I’m not. As much as I fake it, I’m not. There’s a lot more anxiety and much more insecurity and less confidence in some areas. There has been a lot of tears this year from me and there’s going to be a lot more. I’ve cried and will cry for other people and for me. But there will be people that understand. Mainly those who have experienced this themselves. Some others too but it will be harder for them to understand why more than one native English speaker is overwhelming or why going to a restaurant or going to a grocery store with more than one or two options is overwhelming. It’s a special circumstance I’m in, but I’ll get through it.

Yesterday was the last technical day of teaching. I didn’t do anything. One class gave me a picture of them and chocolate. They told me they loved me. I love them too. I didn’t expect to love these kids and this country as much as I do. I expected love but not this deep. It’s a reason I don’t want to leave. I have laughed and cried with and for these kids. How do I move on from that? How does anyone move on from that? I get told by people who have gone back after living overseas for a time and they tell me to give myself some time to heal and don’t put a time limit on it. Leaving in under a week, I realize that I will never completely heal from Hungary and I don’t want to. This country has helped shape me in a way that no one has expected.