Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Author Archive: Jana

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v25

Not much to report this week. Which I like.

Reading. ARC of Grist Mill Road (why not actually read one before it releases?) and The Locals. Two because one is an ebook and sometimes I need a screen break. Nothing from the library or NetGalley.

Watching. Random shows all over the place and nothing consistently. I think I went 3 days without turning on the TV for me (I watched the American Ninja Warrior finale under duress). I did watch the Emmys. Mixed feelings on the Sean Spicer thing but hooray for all the history making!

Eating. Cookie butter Oreos. You must eat them, too. It’s a moral imperative.

Raging. Just when it seemed like fucking 45 was going to act like a human, he goes and acts just like himself again. From the golf ball gif to failing to recognize or show any sympathy for Mexico and Puerto Rico (and we all know exactly why, too) to the Rocket Man nonsense (so it’s okay to quote a gay man but not okay to make sure they have rights? Got it) and everything else he continues to do, I don’t even know what to do with myself some days. I can’t even rationally address the health care situation. I have never in my life had less respect for a person or been more afraid for my and my country’s safety.

Loving. Bagels. Not like I can eat them but I wanted to profess my love anyway.

Laughing.

Have a great weekend guys! See you on Tuesday!

Make it stop

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please know you’re not alone. And it might not seem like it now but it will get better. Maybe with medication, maybe with therapy, maybe with time, maybe with all three. But it will get better. And please, if you need help, reach out to someone. A professional, preferably. Especially if you’re thinking about suicide. You can find help at 1-800-273-8255 or via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or text HOME to 741741

Whether we realize it or not, all of our lives have been touched, at some point, by suicide. It might be personal, it might be professional, it might just be from hearing about Chester Bennington or Robin Williams in the news. But we all know someone who’s taken their life. And, more than anything, it’s hard to understand how or why someone would do that.

There is no simple answer. Depression is a complicated, shape shifting monster that fucks with your brain in any way it can and has no regard for race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, or anything else (we can talk about statistics if you’d like but really, depression does not discriminate). It strips you of everything you love and feel one minute, makes you feel everything on steroids the next, and in between it gives you moments of respite. Like a dog, it’s always there, following you around, waiting to see what you do next. But unlike a dog, it never brings you joy or comfort. It mostly just pees in your bed and shits on your shoes.

Depression loves to kick you when you’re down, too. Just when you think you can’t feel worse, it ramps up. It tells you you’re worthless and no one cares about you and all the things we think people feel about us (and sometimes we feel about ourselves) in a loud voice that screams above all the others. Not only that, it says it constantly and on a loop. You cannot escape it and it eventually becomes fact. It’s irrational and irritating and shrill and bossy and sometimes so loud the only way to make it stop is to just stop being. When you get that low, the only way to stop the hurt is to not be here anymore.

Suicide isn’t a rational decision because depression isn’t rational. I wouldn’t even classify suicide as a decision or choice. It’s an action that’s forced upon you by a lying murderer because you can’t spend one more day feeling like you don’t matter and that no one cares. And when someone take their own life it’s not because they want to cause more hurt. Revenge or spite suicide isn’t a thing. Someone dies by suicide because dying is less painful than living.

If you’ve never experienced true clinical depression–and if you haven’t, I would never, ever wish it on you–it’s hard to wrap your brain around how someone can feel like that. After all, aren’t we just supposed to choose happy? Just wake up and put a smile on your face and take on the day? Fuck that. If you have a sick brain, you can’t choose it. Because trust when I say anyone with depression would choose happy over this shit any day.

It’s a horrible thing to think that someone feels so worthless that they truly believe the world is better without them in it. Which is why it’s up to us to make a concerted effort to understand depression. If you have a friend suffering (and, to be fair, you might not always know if someone is hurting. We are experts at hiding it so please don’t blame yourself if you aren’t or weren’t aware), call or text them. Let them know that they’re safe around you to be whatever they need to be that day. Let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready. Be patient. Tell them they’re loved. Tell them something you like about them or recount a funny story. Reach out and keep reaching out even if they don’t respond. But more than anything, don’t give up on them. They need you.

For those of us fighting depression, we have a responsibility to educate. To help end the stigma and make it okay for people to talk about their mental illness. To stop hiding in shame. To tell our stories and provide comfort and hope to those who are suffering. To give them a comfortable place to talk without judgement.

And to anyone who is suffering, let me say this again:

If you are feeling like you literally cannot live anymore, please, PLEASE tell someone. Doesn’t have to be family or a close friend. Tell a random person on the internet. Text a random number. Email me or reach out to me on social media. But just tell someone. Because, despite what lies the depression is telling you right now, your life is important. You are a good person. You have gifts to share. You will find the place where you belong, with people who love you for who you are. You are more than your debt, your bankruptcy, your job loss, or whatever horrible situation you are in. I’d even be willing to bet that there are people right now who love you just as you are and don’t give a shit about the rest. You will survive whatever it is you’re going through.

Because.

Depression lies.

You are worth life.

8 things I’ve learned about losing weight

Over the last 11 months, I’ve lost a bunch of weight. I’m not comfortable disclosing the actual amount but it’s enough that I need all new everything and that people I see regularly, including the owner of my gym, notice. I mean, I don’t see it but apparently it’s there.

I’m not saying that to brag or show off or make you feel terrible about yourself. Because honestly, this was a decision I made for me and if you make a different one for you, that’s cool. I support whatever you want to do and whatever is best for you. But after the 80th or so time of my weight being alluded to in conversation (and the final time by a woman for whom I have a ton of respect), I was sick of comments. I needed to change something (aside: it is never, ever okay to comment on someone’s weight. No matter how self-deprecating you might be in your comment, even as a form of commiseration, you’d be better off shutting the fuck up. If you think you should say something, don’t. Just don’t. This applies also if a person is naturally skinny because there are people who want to weigh more and simply can’t).

So I did.

Truth be told, it’s hard. So. Fucking. Hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you (incidentally, one thing you learn through losing weight is that sugar is in everything. Every blessed thing). But when you commit to doing it, you learn some things:

  1. Social media will either inspire you or make you feel worse. There is no in between. You will either look at pictures of people who’ve lost tremendous amounts of weight and feel like you too can conquer your weight loss or you’ll feel like it’s insurmountable and you’ll never be successful. You’ll figure it out rather quickly, which is nice, and once you do, go with it. For me, I can’t look at it because I’m in the latter camp. It’s better for me to ignore. I have enough self-esteem issues.
  2. Speaking of social media, you are under no obligation to declare anything on any form of social media. You do not have to post weekly pictures or check-ins of your weight loss or mention on Facebook that you’re on a diet or anything of that nature. If it helps you be accountable, then go for it. But if you’re like me, you need to do it quietly and in your own world. We live in this weird world of oversharing and being public about every fucking thing and if you’re fairly private, you feel awkward sharing and that may have to do with…
  3. The fact that you are fucking ashamed and embarrassed. Because OMG, HOW DID I GET SO DAMN FAT? Well, you might not say those exact words but I definitely did. Sharing my weight loss progress on social media meant and means admitting publicly what I say to myself daily. And because I judge myself so harshly I assume that others will do the same.
  4. However, you’ll need to get over your shit because without a support network you will fail. Specifically, having people who encourage you even on your worst days will make all the difference. For you it might be a FB group or an online community or your spouse. For me, it was friends I made at the gym (and trust when I say I struggle making friends. I’m weird and awkward and self-conscious so making friends was a huge step for me). There are two women there, not counting some of the instructors, who have helped me through this whole process probably even more than they realize. Without them I might have quit months ago. Also…
  5. Find exercise and an eating plan you can live with. Eating low carb and running isn’t going to help you if you’re miserable every minute of every day or dread doing it. Counting calories and Zumba aren’t going to work if you hate them. There are tons of options for how to eat and how to exercise. Find what makes you happy and fits with your life because that is the only way to keep at it on the days you really really don’t want to. But remember that…
  6. It’s okay to take it easy for a day. Or even a week. Most people cannot be committed to perfect eating and exercising 100% of their days. So it’s fine for you to go off-plan for a day and feel like a normal person. Just don’t step on the scale for a few days afterwards because it will kill your motivation and self-esteem and you will berate yourself more than usual. Fine, that might be just me but feeling “normal” is sometimes the only way to sustain the long arduous process of losing weight.
  7. While we’re talking about the scale, it is also essential that you have nonscale victories. Sometimes the scale might not move but a pair of pants you couldn’t fit into 6 months ago are too loose or your rings will fall off or being able to run a 5K without stopping. You must celebrate those victories in some way. I don’t care if it’s with new makeup or a manicure or an IG post or a piece of cake. You must celebrate and acknowledge your progress. Your mental health through the process will thank you.
  8. And finally, accept that this is not an easy thing to do. It’s not a quick process at all. Basically, losing weight fucking sucks balls. Hard. You will want to quit on more days you want to keep going. Getting off the couch in the cold and rain to go to the gym is awful. Eating with no restrictions is fun; counting calories is not. Your self-image will take a beating one day and you’ll feel amazing the next. But. If it’s something you want for yourself–and, let’s be clear. You must want to do this for yourself and no one else–it is worth every agonizing day.

If you’re curious how I’ve lost weight, it’s simple. I use the app Lose It, eat mostly protein and veggies (with some exceptions. You can pry my cheese out of my cold, dead hands), and take a variety of exercise classes (boxing, Pilates, and BodyPump. I’ve also started running 3 days a week. I double up some days if I need to). That’s genuinely it. Nothing gimmicky, nothing tricky, nothing else.

Also. Who you are doesn’t change whether you’re thin or fat or somewhere in between. You will still be you and who you are is just fine. But if you want to change the packaging, I say go for it.

Let me be clear. I’m not at all qualified to tell you what you need to do to lose weight. You should consult a doctor or nutritionist or even a health blogger. I’m just a formerly fat lady who’s less fat now. And, if I may, I’m kind of proud of that.

P.S. Set your own goals. You know how much you want to weight or what your ideal clothing size is. Aim for that and don’t let anyone else dictate what it is. Unless it’s a doctor. Maybe listen to a doctor’s suggestion.

P.P.S. When I say fat, it’s an adjective. It’s not a moral judgement. Fat does not mean bad or less than or whatever else we as a society use it to mean as a value or person’s worth.

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v24

My to-do list looks like this: 1. Get my shit together. That’s actually the only item on there. I am a mess lately and the harder I try to fix it, the worse it gets. Not sure why. I think I need a weekend to just get ahead and that’s not happening any time soon. So I’ll just settle for being a shitty, messy adult. It’s pretty much my only option. 

That being said, here’s some snippets from the past few weeks so you know what I have and haven’t been up to:

Reading. Finishing up Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions. Picked up 3 new ones from the library (The Locals, Janesville: An American Story, and Bird Box), got a couple from NetGalley that I probably won’t read until a year passed the pub date like all the other ones I have, and have a couple I need to buy. I think I need a readcation or readathon is in order. 

Watching. After bingeing the shit out of Rectify, I don’t have the emotional bandwith for another show right now but am looking forward to a few new ones, including two on Netflix, one of which stars Regina King who is one of my all-time favorites (it’s called Seven Seconds for those who are curious).

Planning. All the things I’m going to buy. Losing weight is an expensive thing. Not so much in the methods for losing it (calorie tracking and running are mostly free) but the end result means new clothes and bras and ring guards and I hate to shop because there’s a whole bunch of mental problems that going along with it. And I still have more I want to lose so everything right now is interim and I get to do this again in a few months. Awesome. I also have fun things like a Paperwhite and books and makeup I plan to buy, too. Those do not cause me stress or affect my mental health.

Needing. A change of scenery. I admit that the view from my backyard isn’t terrible and I’m not that far from the beach but I’m getting itchy feet and need to see somewhere new and different. I’ll be in Dallas in a few weeks and I hope that satisfies my need but I’m not convinced it will. When you need a change of scenery or your wanderlust kicks in and you don’t have the time or tons of funds available to actually go on a real trip or adventure, what’s your favorite way to scratch the itch?

Drinking. Obsessively consuming the maple pecan cold brew from Dunkin Donuts. You can have your PSLs. I take these any days over that shit.

Winning. Mother of the year. I told my child she is garbage chicken. 

 

This weekend I’ll be heading up to my parents’ house for the final visit to my childhood home. My parents are moving shortly and I need to say goodbye to the place they’ve lived for 32 years. It’s bittersweet but I know it’s necessary for them. Hope your weekend is less emotional than mine and I’ll see you guys back on Tuesday!  

Show Us Your Books, September 2017 edition

Although it’s been 5 weeks since our last SUYB and when we have an extra week in there I get an extra book or two read, such was not the case this month. The culprit? The TV show Rectify. I found it on Netflix and it proceeded to consume me for about 2 solid weeks. It’s not that many seasons or episodes but it left me emotionally spent. I’m not a crier but I cried MULTIPLE times, sometimes multiple times an episode, watching it. It’s a mystery, character study, and scathing indictment of our criminal justice system all at once and it centers around a man freed from death row after spending nearly 20 years on it for a crime he did not commit. You have to see it. I implore you. 

Anyway, you’re here for the books so that’s what I’ll give you. Don’t forget to visit Steph and the other bloggers who’ve joined us to talk books this month and if you’ve been on the fence about joining because you don’t feel like you read enough, I say fuck that and join us anyway. The average American reads less than 10 PER YEAR so at even one book a month, you’re above average. And we want to know what you’ve been reading! Share with us! Next one is on October 9 and we’ll be celebrating 3 years. It’s a big deal.

Reviews copied and/or embellished from Litsy.

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose. This book just didn’t do it for me like I’d hoped. It started off interesting enough but the level of detail about art and conspiracy theories I had to retain in order to follow half the plot was simply too much. It became distracting and it felt like this was an art version of The Following but less good. Lee’s story and subplot were engaging enough but overall, I struggled with this one. However, I can absolutely see why people would love it. But I did not. 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. My god, what a book this was. It was beautiful and haunting and not at all what I was expecting. Sometimes when a modern book takes place in the 70s or 80s, it feels gimmicky but in this case it was perfect. Given the storyline around AIDS, it would not have been as powerful if it had taken place now. This book also had a central theme around art but unlike The Readymade Thief, this one connected with me. 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. This is a good book. Not amazing but a solid read. The separate yet connected plots kept me intrigued and I had no interest in putting the book down. She’s a strong writer who knows how to tell a complicated story without being obnoxious about it. The characters are complex, she doesn’t tie up all the loose ends, and she smacks you hard with the unexpected that’s balanced with the easy to guess and it’s just the right about of fucked up. WAY less fucked up than Pretty Girls. So that was nice. 

The Cleaner by Paul Cleave. This was my 3rd book of his and he does not disappoint. He has quickly become my go-to for a violent psychological thriller because: he’s a great writer who messes with your head, knows how to develop a fucked up plot and characters, and he’s darkly funny. The only thing that bothered me about this book was that Joe, the main character, reminded me so much of Joe from YOU with the ego and narcissism and sociopathy and murder that it was hard not to think of them as the same character. But like I did with YOU, I read the sequel and I will read the sequel to this one as well. 

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave. If I read two books by the same author in one month, you know I like them. He is such a phenomenal storyteller and writes about fucked up things in such a different way and it makes it difficult to not stay up until 3AM reading. This one is WEIRD and so so unique for a thriller because it’s thrillery with twist after twist and such a blurring of good and bad and morals that you don’t actually know who is responsible for anything. I mean, you do, but not in the way you normally think about it. 

The Dinner Party and Other Stories by Joshua Ferris. Short story collection so if you don’t like short stories, this should be a hard pass for you. I have loved all of his books I’ve read. They’re weird and interesting and I appreciate the elements of realism. And I felt that way about some of the stories in this collection but after awhile they all felt like a rehashing of the same story with the same characters and it became repetitive and uninteresting. However. Any book that pays homage to Coach Taylor is okay by me.

TL; DR: The Paul Cleave and Karin Slaughter books are must reads for my fellow thriller lovers. Tell The Wolves I’m Home is outstanding. Maybe don’t read The Dinner Party and The Readymade Thief.

Currently reading: Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions. I’d hoped to have it done by today but life happens. 

Now it’s your turn. Link up below and Show Us Your Books!

 Loading InLinkz ...