Jana Says

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Author Archive: Jana

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v8

Reading. Finished Thirteen Reasons Why and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Started A Head Full of Ghosts and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (TJR’s new book. It’s on NetGalley. Highlight of my week, getting that book). Still haven’t picked up anything from the library. Full rundown of the library diet next week. 

Watching. Schitt’s Creek. I have no idea what compelled me to start this show but it’s so damn hysterical I can’t stop watching. I adore Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara together and everyone is funny, too. Even Chris Elliott, who I generally cannot stand. The show has a dry, sarcastic humor so really, perfect for me. It’s on Netflix and Amazon for those who are interested in checking it out.

Eating. Almond flour chocolate chip muffins. I think next time I’ll replace the chocolate with blueberries and possibly make it as bread but in their current condition, they’re my new favorite breakfast food. One of those with coffee and almond milk has become my go-to weekday breakfast (oh, and yes. I made a whole batch. Occasionally, I’ll do a weekly meal prep). 

Listening. True crime podcasts, all day, every day except for when I listen to Show Us Your Books. I’m currently working through The Accused, which is about a murder in Oxford, Ohio in 1978. Fascinating stuff because the main suspect was acquitted both criminally and civilly and it still remains unsolved. 

Ranting. I don’t even know where to start this week. The fact that, once again, we care where kids go to the bathroom? Or the fact that a Jewish cemetery was destroyed? Or the people who think the president doesn’t need to speak up or out about how fucking horrid it is? Or the new immigration policy that’s not really all that different from the one that was ruled against? Or oil being more important than land and clean drinking water? The level of hatred, and the need to continually institutionalize that hatred, towards anyone and everyone different is beyond what I can handle anymore. But at least that shitfuck of a human Milo Yiannopolis had his book deal revoked (because being a racist, misogynist pig wasn’t enough for Simon and Schuster to not give him the deal in the first place) and no longer works at Breitbart. You know you’re bad when you can’t work there anymore. It’s nice watching you go down in flames, motherfucker. 

Celebrating. My daughter was inducted into the National Elementary Honor Society. I have strong opinions on the fact that this is a thing but regardless of those, I’m so proud of her. She works ridiculously hard at school and to be honored in this way is amazing. I never put expectations on her for her grades other than she try her hardest and she definitely does. The best part is that she’s proud of herself and is never, ever ashamed of being smart. I’m pretty sure that means I’m doing something right. 

No big plans for the weekend other than driving to the beach to check out a new (to us) sushi restaurant while the child is at a sleepover. I’ll be back on Tuesday with my bookish recommendations to link up with Lauren and Bre for Add It to My List. 

 

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Ladies of the 80s: A Jana and Erin Playlist

We (Jana and Erin) told you last month, as we looked at the music from the Men of the ’80s, that we are unable to come up with any kind of sensible length of a playlist in the ’80s unless we broke it down for you.  There will be more to come because we will take a look at groups, and hairbands will probably get their own list, too.  So, you’ve probably figured out what today is all about…well, the title kinda gave it away…that’s right…it’s time for The Ladies of the 80s!




Awwwww the ’80s…when the ladies (and the guys) used Aquanet so our bangs could reach heights never seen before.  Spandex was king.  So were shoulder pads and blue eyeliner.  We saw Janet Jackson step out from behind the shadows of her famous brothers.  We saw her choreographer, Paula Abdul, step out from Janet’s shadow and become a pop star too.  Cyndi Lauper just wanted us to have fun.  Madonna wanted to feel like a virgin.  We had artists with established careers shine on the radio and in the movies (Dolly and Cher.)  The ladies danced, they sang, some yielded guitars, and most of them kicked ass. 

Erin’s note:  Before we hit you with our list, I have to give Jana props.  She came up with this ultimate playlist.  I just added a few touches to finesse it.  I wouldn’t have picked all the songs that she did, but as I looked at the total list, I thought she pretty much nailed it. Jana’s note: I really, really like 80s music. This was not hard to do. In fact, it was harder leaving songs off the list. 

As always, some of our picks are obvious ones and others are hidden gems.  We hope you enjoy!

Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Madonna – Dress You Up
Stevie Nicks – Edge of Seventeen
Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
Janet Jackson – What Have You Done for Me Lately
Paula Abdul – Cold Hearted
Pat Benatar – Hit Me With Your Best Shot AND Invincible (okay, yes, we normally try to limit ourselves to only one song per artist, but Jana felt strongly about her choice, and Erin did as well, and Pat Benatar is awesome, so, yes, she gets two)

 
 

Dolly Parton – 9 to 5 (our mutual love of Dolly continues to shine)
Irene Cara – Flashdance…What a Feeling
Alannah Myles – Black Velvet
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart (always reminding Jana of “Old School”. Jana’s note: please tell me it DOESN’T remind you of Old School?)
Toni Basil – Mickey (Jana’s note: I’m the mom of a cheerleader. This is kind of a must-have)
Juice Newton – Angel of the Morning (Jana’s note: her song, Queen of Hearts? A friend and I sang that to the literal Queen of Hearts, right smack in the middle of Disney World. #noshame)
Kim Wilde – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

 

Donna Summer – She Works Hard for the Money (Jana’s love for Donna almost rivals her love for Dolly…almost.)
Belinda Carlisle – Heaven is a Place on Earth (don’t worry, the Go-Go’s will be represented in our groups post)
Taylor Dayne – Tell It to My Heart (the original Taylor)
Joan Jett – I Hate Myself for Loving You (Jana’s note: I Love Rock and Roll is too obvious and Bad Reputation is the theme song to one of the greatest shows of all time. This was a hard choice)
Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time

Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly
Sheena Easton – Morning Train
Debbie Gibson – Electric Youth
Tiffany – Could’ve Been (fun fact: Jana’s first concert ever was Tiffany and New Kids on the Block…….another fun fact: Erin forgot this song existed, but when listening to it for this playlist sang almost every lyric.  How do our minds remember song lyrics like that?!)
Laura Branigan – Solitaire (Jana’s note: my husband thinks Gloria sounds like the theme song to SportsCenter)
Tracy Chapman – Fast Car



 
Now, it’s your turn.  Tell us your favorite song(s) by The Ladies of the Eighties!
 

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Waking at 5AM and other advice I ignore 

There’s a lot floating around the interwebz on how you can be more productive and use your time better. I find all that stuff fascinating and it’s why I read books about it, along with those articles and blog posts (and OMG, Pinterest. Holy shit is there a lot on Pinterest). I figure I can always do better, be better…self-improvement is never a bad thing. But what I’ve learned more than anything is that knowing yourself is better than following all the advice in the world. 

Knowing how you function, when you function best, what motivates you, what keeps you going…that’s the stuff that, at the end of the day, gets your shit done. However, without experimenting, there’s no way to know what works for you and what doesn’t. 

How do I know? Because I’ve tried. And what I’ve learned is that many of the go-to tips don’t work for me. For instance:

  1. Getting up at 5AM. Or some other ungodly hour. I tried to do that. To get up insanely early and be productive in those hours. It lasted about 4 days before I said fuck this and stayed in bed till a reasonable hour. I wound up not getting anything done because I was exhausted and my thoughts kept drifting back to my bed. So now I get up around 6:45 and work in the evenings instead.
  2. Weekly meal prep. I know many of you swear by it but it doesn’t work for me. By Wednesday I hate everything I’ve made or no one is in the mood for what’s prepared and have you ever tried to force feed a picky 10 year old with an attitude as big as she is? Peanut butter sandwiches only go so far and I can only fight so many battles. So I meal plan for the week and cook daily.
  3. Freezer meals. Not sure why so much revolves around food but here we are. I guess this falls under my dislike of weekly meal prep but I have done a few freezer meal sessions and OMG it is not worth the effort. Having a few is great in a pinch but I am not a freezer stocker. Not a big stockpiler, either, for what that’s worth. It’s a shit ton of effort and I always mess up something and the dishes. SO MANY DISHES. So, rather than freezer meals, I make sure there are leftovers or, if it’s a complicated recipe like stuffed shells that I’m making anyway, I double and freeze some of that.
  4. Gratitude journaling. At the risk of sounding like a bitchy asshat, I just can’t get into doing this. I’ve tried with pen and paper and with an app. I simply struggle with writing it down. I frequently reflect on what I’m grateful for but I am not, nor will I ever be, in the daily habit of writing it down. I get the benefits, especially the mental health benefits, but meh. Not for me.
  5. Eliminating TV. I actually wrote a post once listing a ton of things you can do while watching TV. Because I don’t think we need to demonize TV the way it is in many circles. It’s about striking a balance between how much and when and what else you’re doing but a show a night or a binge watch weekend? Nothing wrong with it at all. And honestly, I’m quite productive most days. That’s right. I watch TV AND I get shit done. Oh, and I read like 80 books a year, too, so you can do both.
  6. Eat the frog first. I wrote a whole post about this, too, but I don’t eat the frog first. I eat it last because for me, it’s more motivating to get the small, easy, simple, annoying tasks out of the way so I can clear my plate for the big one. Is it satisfying to get the major task done before everything else? Yes. Does it leave me with almost no energy for everything  else? Also yes.

I’m sure there’s more but I’m writing this on my phone because I’m too lazy open my laptop and also, you guys get the point. Not all the tips work for all the people so if you’re looking to improve, read all the things and then pick and choose what works for you. Experiment. Manipulate. Track how you feel when doing thing. Check progress and determine if what you’re doing really is worth it. Then make a plan or list and follow that. 

And know that if you don’t feel like getting up at 5AM, your day isn’t a waste, you’re not lazy, and sleep is a wonderful thing. 

What are some popular or conventional tips you forgo?

P.S. Next week I’ll talk about some advice I do follow. #balance

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v7

I do not understand why this bronchitis will not go away. Yes, it’s better than last week but the lingering effects are making me insane. I’m tired of coughing, I’m tired of medicine, I’m tired of being tired. I just want to feel better. 

Also, I’m avoiding politics this week. I need a week off. I’m still outraged and horrified and disgusted that we’re now at a point that party lines mean more than public good, welfare, and safety but I need to leave it alone this week. 

Reading. Finished All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Started Head Full of Ghosts. Still plugging away at Imagine Me Gone. Picked up Nearly Found which was on the list pre-library diet. Got one book from NetGalley (my sole diet infraction!). Thanks again to everyone who participated in Show Us Your Books and set your calendars for the next one on March 14.

Watching. Documentaries. Many. But the one that I’d recommend is Beware the Slenderman (HBO). Mother of hell, this one is disturbing. As if I wasn’t already paranoid about my daughter, knowing these girls were only 2 years older than she is now when they committed the crime freaks me the fuck out. 

Eating. Girl Scout cookies. The child’s BFF is a girl scout so OF COURSE we had to buy 5 boxes from her. Strangely, all the boxes are still in the house. If you have the opportunity to buy the s’mores ones, I highly recommend them. And, parenting win of the week: when we putting the cookies away, the child picked up the Thin Mints and walked them right over to the freezer without being told. GUYS. SHE KNOWS. 

DIY-ing. Now, it is a well-known fact that I am not crafty. I actively avoid crafts. But I’ve been wanting to free up some space in my bathroom linen closet as well as come up with a better, easier way to access my nail polish so I dug out this old spice rack from our garage, cleaned it up, considered painting it, nixed that idea, and hung it up in the bathroom. Once the great nail polish purge of 2017 is over, I’ll post pictures on IG. 

Meditating. It’s also a well-known fact that I have depression and anxiety. I refuse to take meds (please note, if you need meds, there is NO SHAME in taking them. I did for a long, long time) anymore and do whatever I can to maintain it naturally. I’ve heard all the benefits of meditating, especially for anxiety, so I download the Headspace app to my phone. I quite enjoy it, am considering paying for a year subscription, and would recommend it. However. Every time I use it, I fall asleep. And not just for 10 minutes. For like an hour. I can’t imagine that’s supposed to happen. For those of you who meditate, any suggestions?

Listening. This is my favorite song of the week. I’ve been trying to use my phone less which means I’ve been listening to the radio rather than streaming from Spotify when I’m in the car. It’s working out well. I like new music.

 

No big plans this weekend which is really nice. I need a weekend off from all the stuff. Hope your weekend is as relaxing! See you on Tuesday!

 

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Judging Covers with The Family: What edition is this?

This was supposed to happen last week and I think also the week before but bronchitis and forgetful and my family’s schedule often sucks. So, better late than never.

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

The Child says: It’s about someone who doesn’t like their life so far and what’s happening to them and they come across this place and they start to imagine themselves gone and away from everything. 

The Husband says: Seems pretty self explanatory. About someone who says imagine me gone and the other person says no, I don’t want to do that. They’re like the other half.  

Goodreads says: When Margaret’s fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings–the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec–struggle along with their mother to care for Michael’s increasingly troubled and precarious existence.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

The Child says: I think it’s about a family from a prairie and they’re traveling to Oklahoma to start a new life but it’s not how they expected it and the book is about what happened to them. 

The Husband says: By the looks of it, it’s about being out on the prairie because they’re growing wheat and it’s all the good things and bad things of farm livin’.

Goodreads says: As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Child says: It’s about a woman or teenager who is does have a lot of problems with herself and she doesn’t get very much help from her family and she has 13 reasons why she has these problems and what’s going on in her life that she can’t get rid of them. 

The Husband says: It’s about a woman who has a lot of problems and she doesn’t get rid of her problems because she has 13 reasons why she can’t. (Slams book down, confident that he got it right)

Goodreads says: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

The Child says: It’s about a place like out West and there are some crazy people who live there but the reason why they’re crazy is because the place is haunted and throughout the time they’re in the house, they start to develop ghosts in their mind and it’s about their adventure in a haunted house. 

The Husband says: Let me tell you about this book. It’s about a crazy person who’s schizophrenic who has all of these ghosts or people who aren’t real in their head and how they view things. 

Goodreads says: To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface–and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Jana says: I really have no idea how I stacked all these mental illness books into one month of reading. Should get interesting.

How do you guys think they did?

 

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