Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Author Archive: Jana

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v10

What a week. Not so much from the I got a whole lot done perspective but more in the wow, this week has gone by in a fog perspective. I have approximately zero clue what I’ve done, where I’ve been, or anything at all, really. But I guess it couldn’t hurt to try to figure it out. 

Reading. Finished Nearly Found and The Best of Adam Sharp. Started Difficult Women. Got one new book from NetGalley and none from the library. Still working on my priority list and once I get through the books mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m comfortable starting request library books to read along with the NetGalley ones. And don’t forget, Show Us Your Books is on Tuesday!

Attending. Meetings. A lot of meetings. Mostly over the phone, which is nice, but some have been in person and that’s no fun. Plus they leave me feeling drained and not wanting to talk to anyone. Even more than usual.

Celebrating. My kid. She had a hell of a week, starting with winning a bid to compete at Disney World in May and ending with straight As, yet again, on her report card. This was like the 4th or 5th consecutive report card with straight As. We don’t pressure her to do anything except her best so the fact that her grades are all self-motivated makes it even more amazing.  

Using. Remember how I talked about my introvert activism? Well now you can add lazy activism to the list. I learned about this website that will MAIL THE POSTCARDS FOR YOU. You type your message, pay a small fee for the postcard plus postage, and they do the work. There are now no excuses to not contact your representatives. NONE. 

Watching. Big Little Lies. When I found out they were adapting this into a TV show, apprehension took over. Liane Moriarty isn’t exactly a spectacular writer but this was an excellent book and we all know what can happen in that situation. But it’s on HBO, which is helpful, and wow! I’m pretty damn impressed at how good it is! It’s true to the book and incredibly well done and well acted. I’m glad it’s a limited run, though, because it would absolutely start to suck beyond the 7 episodes.


That’s it for this week. Hope you all have a great weekend! I’ll be at a cheer competition on Sunday and doing absolutely nothing on Saturday except reading and sitting on my couch. Looking forward to seeing you all on Tuesday for Show Us Your Books!


Judging Covers with The Family: Two months in a row!

Time for another round of Judging Covers! This one should prove to be even more interesting because a) I couldn’t remember the title of one of the books I plan to read and b) my husband actually bought me one of these and claims to not know what it’s about.

I think he lies. 

Let’s see what they have to say. And if you like any of the books below, click on the cover image to go right to the Goodreads page for that book. No searching necessary. 

The child says: A poor little girl who lives in a small falling apart house in like a field and her parents don’t treat her very well and her dad is constantly working and her mom isn’t nice to her. It takes place around the 1900s, maybe the 1800s.

The husband says: A young girl from the Mississippi Delta and it’s about her growing up poor.

Goodreads says: Follows the Hess family in the years after World War I as they attempt to rid themselves of the Anti-German sentiment that left a stain on their name. But when the youngest two daughters vanish in the middle of the night, the family must piece together what happened while struggling to maintain their life on the unforgiving Iowa plains.

In the weeks after Esther and Myrle’s disappearance, their siblings desperately search for the sisters, combing the stark farmlands, their neighbors’ houses, and the unfamiliar world of far-off Chicago. Have the girls run away to another farm? Have they gone to the city to seek a new life? Or were they abducted? Ostracized, misunderstood, and increasingly isolated in their tightly-knit small town in the wake of the war, the Hesses fear the worst.

The child says: This one is about a…like a murder mystery type of book. It’s about a kid’s brother who goes missing somewhere and he is looking for him even in the most dangerous places until he finds out he’s dead. 

The husband says: I think it’s about…hmmm….long silence…someone’s brother who lives in the middle of nowhere who gets into trouble and the other brother or sister has to come help him in the backward ass world the brother lives in. 

Goodreads says: Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place.

The child says: Oh, I know what this one is! You’ve talked about it before! So it’s about all these 80s movies and these people writing letters to them. I forget some of it but it’s a love letter to 80s movies. Me: That’s what it says on the cover. Child: Yeah…it gives it away. #smartass

The husband says: I think there’s a particular aspect to 80s movies that is unique to that time period and this person is writing about the uniqueness about that time period while showing the iconic The Breakfast Club closing scene. Me: John Bender! Child: The Criminal! #proudmama #ihavedonemyjob

Goodreads says: From the fictional towns of Hill Valley, CA, and Shermer, IL, to the beautiful landscapes of the “Goondocks” in Astoria and the “time of your life” dirty dancing resort still alive and well in Lake Lure, NC, ’80s teen movies left their mark not just on movie screen and in the hearts of fans, but on the landscape of America itself. Like few other eras in movie history, the ’80s teen movies has endured and gotten better with time. In Brat Pack America, Kevin Smokler gives virtual tours of your favorite movies while also picking apart why these locations are so important to these movies.

The child says: A memoir in 21 songs. 

The husband says: It’s about 21 songs and the guy is holding a CD player! Me: What does that have to do with anything? Husband: Because CDs could only hold 21 songs max. I got the hidden meaning. #imsureyoudid

Goodreads says: In Party of One, Holmes tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales—in the vein of Rob Sheffield, Andy Cohen, and Paul Feig—of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a music geek who finally learns to accept himself. Structured around a mix of hits and deep cuts from the last four decades—from Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” and Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better”—and punctuated with interludes like “So You’ve Had Your Heart Broken in the 1990s: A Playlist” and “Notes on (Jesse) Camp,” this book is for anyone who’s ever felt like a square peg, especially those who have found their place in the world around a band, an album, or a song.

How’d they do? Have you read any of these? 

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My introvert activism

With 45’s presidency in full effect, we’ve reached a level of activism in this country (and around the world) that I’ve never seen in my almost 40 years. If you’re like me, you want to get involved any and every way you can except there’s one problem. You are a raging, textbook introvert. Crowds intimidate you. Confrontation, particularly on Facebook, is difficult. Calling people on the phone is nerve-wracking and while good for an introvert in theory, is almost as difficult as confrontation. 

Basically, if you’re an introvert with a people aversion (like me), typical activism is not your cup of tea. But, fortunately, there are still things you can do to support your cause or #resist. I’ve talked a little bit about this before but here’s what else I’ve been doing:

  1. Voting with my money. I don’t have a ton of disposable income right now (thanks, Disney World. #cheermomproblems) but I do set aside some to contribute where I can like the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. I also frequent stores, businesses, and other places that align with my beliefs and don’t support hatred and discrimination. 
  2. Social media. While I don’t engage in discussions on FB, I will share posts on Twitter or support other activists on their social media platforms. For instance, a friend of mine is a concert producer (like big time. Runs the shows from behind the scenes) and she frequently uses the hashtag #damselinsuccess on IG. There’s also an IG account where they share what they’re working on and highlight other women (similar to Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls). Following them, commenting, letting them know I support what they’re doing is sometimes the encouragement activists need to keep going. 
  3. Wear my label. I know this is mental health thing but it works here, too. Steph is really good at showing her feminist wear, and sharing others who make various products, so you can check out her site for ideas. But a simple, easy way to let people know where you stand is by wearing it. On your shirt, on your wrist, on your car. It’s subtle, maybe it’s passive aggressive, but that’s just fine by me. 
  4. Write letters. Or postcards. Calling is not my scene. I’ve never been a big phone person. I’m great face-to-face or in writing but the phone makes me weird and nervous. So you can imagine how hard it is for me to pick up the phone and call my representatives’ offices. EVEN THOUGH I know their job is listen to me, write it down, and move on, and they’re not judging me (seriously. My husband worked for Senator Carper and it was literally his job to answer the phone, write down constituent complains, pass them along, and then stop caring about it), it’s still difficult. So letters it is. 
  5. Buy or make things. I’m not crafty at all but if I was, I’d be making signs for my friends who do attend protests or making jewelry to sell or whatever other creative, artsy thing I could do. I could write a book like my friend Sheila and her friends did (and all the proceeds from the book go to Planned Parenthood) but let’s be honest, I’d write it and then not promote it. So instead, I’ll buy the things and share the things made by people braver and craftier than I. 

I’m sure as time goes on, I’ll find other ways to make my voice heard but for now, this will have to do. 

Other introverts, tell me what you’ve been doing? Anything working really well for you or anything working not at all?


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Weekly six-pack, 2017, v9

Reading. Finished A Head Full of GhostsThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Nearly Gone. DNF Imagine Me Gone. Started Nearly Found. Requested a book from NetGalley and picked up nothing from the library.

Watching. Nothing, really. Got all up to date on Schitt’s Creek (I *might* have done a celebratory jig when I found that channel airing the current season) and other than that, haven’t turned the TV on. Except to watch 45’s address to Congress. I’ve always wanted to see how a tyrannical, misogynistic, xenophobic garbage human with terrible ideas would talk to legislators so I’m glad I can cross that off my list. 

Worrying. About Barkley. He’s almost 13 and is definitely starting to show his age. He inexplicably hurt yet another one of his legs and if this keeps up, we’re going to need to carry him around everywhere. Which sucks because he loves his walks and his independence and gets cranky when he can’t do what he wants. And I won’t be around this weekend to spend every second watching him. I can 100% assure you I’ll be checking in 47 times a day.

Ranting. I’m not even sure this qualifies under a rant but I don’t know what other word to use. I could spend time talking about Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos’s inappropriate comments but I’d rather focus on something that’s hitting way too close to home for me. The rise of anti-Semitic incidents around the country. First of all, I cannot, with every fiber of my being, understand the level of deep-seated hatred that would cause people to shoot at a Jewish preschool or call in bomb threats to a Jewish community center or destroy a Jewish cemetery or vandalize a park with antiSemitic graffiti. Second of all, WHERE IS IT COMING FROM? I truly don’t get it. I mean, I get that anti-Semitism has been on the rise since November, and it’s been around forever and will mostly likely never cease, at least not in my lifetime, and that the president has made hate cool, but what the actual fuck is going on? WHY NOW? Did something happen and I missed it? If anyone knows, please clue me in because this is wholly and on every level unacceptable. And for those who don’t know, I am Jewish. My mom works in a temple, in their preschool. I should not have to panic every day my mother goes to work, or my sister, who works at a JCC. Just like the parents who send their kids there shouldn’t have to panic. This is bullshit fucking nonsense and it needs to fucking stop. (At least there’s some people in government willing to do the right thing. And please do not say anything to me that the president or representatives don’t have an obligation  or responsibility to condemn these acts or put measures in place to stop them or that he did make a half-hearted comment on Tuesday night. I’m not having that discussion).  See also: all the other hate that increasing in this country.

Wondering. Or maybe we can call this rant #2. So the child has another cheer competition this weekend. Fine. It’s a competition to earn a bid to Disney World. Also fine. But you know what’s not fine by me? The fact that it’s only been in the last week we’ve been told the cost for the competition and, should they get a bid, we have roughly 6 weeks to pay for the entire trip including our flights (I’m not driving to Orlando from Delaware. Not ever. I drove from Delaware to Florida one time only, in college, and that was enough). Now, for some people, coming up with roughly $2500 in six weeks or less isn’t an issue. For us, it’s a huge a bit of a challenge. Now, I knew this comp was the goal so I’m not complaining about going or even having to pay. But seriously, a couple of extra month’s notice would have been nice. Just sayin’…



Have a great weekend! I’ll be coming to you live from Richmond, VA where I’ll be suffering through supporting my daughter at a cheer competition. See you back on Tuesday with a topic I haven’t decided on!



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February library diet results and March challenge

As you guys know, I’m on a mission to change habits this year, one month at time. To do that, I’m giving myself monthly challenges and tracking my progress. In January, I did a spending freeze and those mindful habits did in fact carry over to February (except that one day I went a little nuts but you know. It happens) and in February, I put myself on a library diet. I was not allowed to put any new books on hold but was permitted to pick up ones that had been on hold prior to February 1. I also wasn’t supposed to get any new books from NetGalley, KindleFirst, or anywhere else. 

Let’s visit how I did. 

First, the failures. I got a few books from NetGalley but dammit if it wasn’t worth it. I’m not 100% sure which ones came in in February and which ones were January but if I had to guess, it was probably around 4 out of the 8 new ones I found on my Kindle. So, basically, my entire March reading list is from NetGalley. I’m fine with that. 

Now, the successes. I put ZERO books on hold at the library. That’s eBooks and regular books. Let me tell you, after Show Us  Your Books this month, it was hard to do. I’ve said before that I have no FOMO except when it comes to books and when I read people’s enthusiasm for certain books I need to read them NOW. But I calmed myself down and, rather than head to the library app immediately, I made a priority list for books to put on hold as my situation fixes itself.  Also, I bought ZERO books. I have a couple I want to buy for the column I write but I might just reach out to the publishers for copies (hey, it can’t hurt!). And I got ZERO books from other people. I always feel pressure to immediately read books given or gifted to me and not receiving any made it possible to work through the library pile. 

What’s next? Well, now that I know it’s possible to go a whole month without requesting books from the library,  I have no desire to permanently do that. I did learn that I don’t need to put all the books on hold at the same time and that I definitely need to space it out. Having a priority list is going to be key for me, as is culling my to-read list on Goodreads. There’s some shit on there that needs the boot. 

I also learned that having a huge library pile stresses me out. I feel enormous pressure to get through all the books in the pile in a fixed time frame (thanks, due dates) and it makes reading them somewhat less enjoyable. To combat that, I’ve decided that there should be no more than 5 library books on my nightstand at any given time. I can do 5 books in 3 weeks. 

And this might sound strange, but there’s a weird satisfaction in reading what I already have. I have a ridiculous amount of books on my Kindle and on my bookshelf and it’s feels good to just pick from those rather than waiting for the library to get around to giving me a book. Makes me feel more in control. Which is nice.

The library diet it accomplished exactly what I needed it to so we’ll deem it a success.

Moving on to March.

I struggled big time with what I wanted to do as a challenge this month. I know I wanted to do something around reducing decision fatigue but couldn’t figure out from what aspect. So after a ton of thinking, I decided to go with makeup. When doing my makeup and nails, I spend an inordinate amount of time deciding what to use and it’s frustrating because I always think I should have done something else. Which is fucking stupid. But that’s how my brain works and ordinarily, I roll with it.

For this month, though, I decided to pick one palette, one eyeliners, one mascara, two lip gloss/lip sticks, and two nail polish colors (visit my IG for which ones) to make it easier on myself as well as quicker (foundation and eye shadow primer are not included since I only have one of each). When I decide to put on makeup, I want to just do it and move on with minimal decisions to be had. Yes, I know that using a palette still provides a ton of options and involves decision making but it’s still less strenuous and less choices than I normally have.

Baby steps. 

And to be clear, this is more of a can I do it challenge rather than a habit change challenge. I want to prove to myself that I can reduce the amount of choices I have and be absolutely fine. 

And who knows? I might wind up with a signature color.

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