Birthdays are the worst

On Monday, I was trying to write a Facebook status, but it turned into something that was way too long to post on Facebook, so I’m going to share it here because I need to say it all. It’s not exactly a short story, but on the other hand, it is about a story that was much too short.


Birthdays are the worst. To be honest, I thought it would be that day in early June. That day you left us, but no. It’s getting that Facebook notification reminding me that it’s your birthday and the CELEBRATE! “Let them know you’re thinking of them!”

Doesn’t Facebook figure it out that when someone has been inactive for years that they are probably dead?

Last year was probably the hardest. The year we all started to turn 30, and you were still 27, will always be 27. Maybe it the was the milestone, the things that you should have been there for but weren’t because life isn’t fair.

Our friends started to get married.

At Pheobe’s wedding, there was an empty chair next to mine at the reception. I know that it was just an extra chair, but sitting there I couldn’t help but think that it was there for you. This empty chair a reminder that you weren’t there.  I rode a train down, and the whole time I kept thinking about how I knew I had to hold it together because even though you should have been there, I couldn’t get upset and distract from her day. But, you know me, you know that didn’t happen.

I thought that as the years started to add up that it would get easier. I’d get used to you not being there, but as the events you miss get bigger, the harder it gets.

I know as we got older we drifted farther apart. We weren’t the same friends we were when we were 8 or 10, but to think that you wouldn’t be part the high school reunion, or at the weddings or the 30th birthday parties is just ridiculous. You would have been there. You should have been there.

It’s not as hard as it used to be, it’s not every day that I get struck with this terrible feeling like I’m missing an arm or something, but when I do it sudden and deep. When I smile when I hear Three Little Birds instead of getting choked up. Then I feel this weird guilt for no feeling it all the time. It’s not like I forget that you’re not here. I know it’s moving on, grieving. Trying to become whole again.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that you not here.

I’m still angry. I’m still mad at you for dying. I mad at you for making me sit at Pheobe’s wedding alone. For having to explain this flower tattoo on my wrist. For ruining a song that tells me Everything is gonna be alright.

I’m hoping that someday I will stop being mad, but I don’t see that time coming anytime soon. Not as our friends keep turning 30, and your brother graduates from high school and Facebook keeps telling me to remember to tell you I’m thinking about you on your birthday.

It’s not fair. It will never feel fair, but that’s the hand we were dealt, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I hope that where ever you are, in your own way you’ve made it to all these events. The birthdays, the weddings, the parties. I like to think that you are, that part makes it a little easier. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that your deep laugh isn’t there.

Every year I think about how lucky I am that the last thing I got to say to you was “I love you, too.” And if nothing else, I have that you knew that. I don’t have to regret that I never told you how much our friendship meant and how much I cared. I just hope you believed it, because what happened next… what happened next was unfair. And it will never feel fair ever. I don’t want to be the girl with the dead friend. But I don’t get a choice.

I hope where ever you are, you are at peace.

Happy birthday my friend, I miss you so so much.

Gratitude Journals

Long time readers of this blog, I’m sure, have been thinking “I wonder what happened to Deanna’s friend Jen? She talked about her so much the first month of blogging and then hasn’t mentioned her since. Did Jen finally get tired of Deanna constantly talking about Hamilton?” The answer to that is “probably” but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to discuss Alexander Hamilton. Although, I did almost have to cease our friendship because she sent me a snap chat incorrectly attributing the classic song I Write Sins, Not Tragedies to Fallout Boy instead of Panic! and the Disco, Jen has continued to be an important part of the behind the scenes of my blogging life.

My friend Jen is always doing cool things, like sleeping at concerts (that’s not true but we were just having a silly conversation about it). One of the real cool things she’s doing is most of the days in May she’s been doing Facebook Live videos where she discusses interesting and different ways to help improve your life and wellness. Whether it’s sleeping with your phone in a different room, tracking your steps, or fitness accountability buddies Jen comes up with a topic and discusses some pros about it and how to incorporate these different things into your life. She does ask me for advice on topics, but thus far has not discussed that all the children born to members of the BAU during the run of Criminal Minds have been boys and that two of those sons names are essentially the same. I feel like this is an important topic, but Jen does not.

One of the topics she has brought up recently is gratitude journals. I promised that I would start mine next week because this week is a terrible week to try to figure out things to be grateful for (you’ll learn more about that in my post on Saturday). So I decided that I would share the idea and toss it out to the blogosphere. Keeping this kind of journal is not easy, but I think that especially in a world where there is so much negative and mentally exhausting things are happening, it’s important to take a break and think about what makes you happy.

So I read a couple different websites about gratitude journaling and I’ve taken the basics formed this post. I got a really cute journal from DFTBA.com (the featured image for this post) and I’ve decided to make that my gratitude journal.

The “experts” say that it’s better not to over do it by writing every day but to keep it to three to five times a week. Thinking about it too much can add stress to something that’s supposed to help elevate it.

The biggest pointer that every website I read was to not rush it. Don’t jump into this kind of project looking to just put something superficial on a piece of paper to get it over with. Think about it and take time out of your day on days that you decide to write your entries and really think about what you’re grateful for.

The second piece of advice I found helpful was to think about things that surprised you. Write about the little things in your life that came up unexpectedly that brought a smile to your face. These are little moments to be grateful for.

Focus on the people in your life instead of just what happened. I’m grateful for Jen because Jen understands me when I send a string of emojis that don’t make any sense and deducts that it probably has to do with underpants. The things in our lives aren’t as important as the people. Gratitude journals should reflect that, but at the same time if you got a really awesome bicycle and now you don’t have to drive or walk everywhere, being grateful for the bicycle is also important.

Another piece of advice taking a few minutes at night to think about and write down why today was awesome– even of today wasn’t all that awesome, there was probably something that made you smile. That part is something stolen from the 5 awesome girls youtube videos that I always liked to think about. I had a blog back in the day that ended every post with why today was awesome. Why today is awesome can be superficial things or thoughtful things, just a reason why today was great.

I think that keeping this kind of journal can be extremely helpful when there are days when everything seems to just suck. We can look back at them and remember that everything doesn’t always suck and there are these amazing people and great places and silly moments that have happened along the way.

What do you guys think? Is this something you can do? Is it something you’ve done before? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

 

Until next time Internet,

 

Deanna

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday- Favorite Side Characters.

Top 5 Wednesday is currently being hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to learn more about the group or are considering joining in, check out the Goodreads group. Each week has a different topic, and you just post five books that fit that topic.

This week’s topic is our favorite non-main characters. Those characters that although the story isn’t about them, we love them anyway.

I, personally, have always had a fondness for side characters. With the exceptions of Dean Winchester and Batman, I’m pretty sure all of my favorite characters are not the ones the main narrative is about. So, let us begin.

1. Spencer Martin from Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlet series

So I have this cat.

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And his name is Dr. Spencer Reid. However, he is named after several Spencers. One of them, being Spencer from Suite Scarlet. When I got Spence, there were a weird amount of fictional Spencers in my life. 2010 was a Spencer heavy year in media.

Spencer Martin is the silly, actor, older brother of the title character. He’s a voice of reason, while also being the character dispenses this advice atop a unicycle. He’s holding secret rehearsals for a full stage performance of Hamlet in the basement of this parents’ hotel. Spencer Martin reminds me of a very good friend of mine from college. He’s just this weird, goofy guy that’s also so smart and thoughtful and takes care of siblings/friends. Exactly the kind of person you should name your cat after.

2. The Weasley Twins (Mostly Fred) from the Harry Potter series.

The Weasley Twins (mostly Fred) are my favorite characters in Harry Potter. They are funny and ridiculous. They cause the best kind of chaos by being themselves and reminding us that even as the world is falling apart around us, it’s important to remember to laugh. From the moment we meet these boys at Kings Cross to the moment Fred dies, these boys are smiling and laughing no matter what happened to them. They are a symbol of youthfulness and enjoyment. And I love them (mostly Fred).

3. Ginny Weasely from the Harry Potter series

So this post could quickly become “5 characters from Harry Potter who aren’t Harry because Harry is one of the worst characters in Harry Potter” but I promise Ginny will be my last Harry Potter character.img_4865

Ginny is so important to the story. She is so different from Hermione, and essentially all the other female characters. She’s not afraid to be who she is. I feel like we forget, partly because of the movies, that Ginny was possessed by Voldemort when she was 11 years old. She’s a person that Harry can talk to about what’s happening with him and Voldemort and not just feel bad for him. She gets it, she understands. She’s one of those women who stand out looking at the books. She’s an athlete and fearless. She dates who she wants to date and doesn’t care what people say about her because she knows who she is. She’s Ginny Weasley, and is that bothers you, too bad. She’s living her life whether you like it or not.

4. Iko from The Lunar Chronicles 

I  have only read the first 2 books of the Lunar Chronicles, but Iko stands out as a character that I know I will love the more books I read. She’s exactly the voice that I would have in several of the situations that Cinder finds herself in. The wide-eyed best friend that pushes their friend head first toward what looks to be the best for them. “He likes you, and he’s the Prince. DO IT.” I identify hardcore with Iko’s fangirling and sarcasm. I hope the best for her in future books.

5. Takumi Hikohito from Looking for Alaska 

Why? Because no one can catch the motherfucking fox.

But serious, John Green has a talent for creating characters that are relatable in different ways. We don’t know much about Takumi’s life, but I think that many of us have a friend like him. He’s the one that can call you out on you crap, like ignoring your girlfriend for several months or making you realize that maybe, just maybe, the earth doesn’t revolve around you. We all need a friend like Takumi sometimes. He’s a great character.

I should also point out that in a book full of beautiful prose, I remember 3 lines, that one about people being rain, one about Thomas Edison’s last words, and “No one can catch the motherfucking fox.”

What are your favorite sidekicks? I’d love to hear about them.

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Details

Publisher:  Harper for Teens
Published:  September 6, 2011
Genres:  YA, contemporary, Romance, Realistic fiction
My Rating: 4.25 Starts

 

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Anyone who’s had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It’s all about Before and After. What I’m talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy.

Sixteen-year-old Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss—a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.

 

My Review

This book was not as depressing as I thought it was going to be when I started reading it, don’t get me wrong, it’s sad, but I was expecting it to be sadder. In the first couple chapters, the destruction of Laurel’s life takes place, her whole family dies in a car accident in what could be a drunk driving accident but no one is really sure what happened. Laurel goes through what I found to be a very authentic grieving process. She does things that don’t make much sense, she fosters some kittens, she pushes all of her friends away, she tries to not be the girl with the dead family, but in her small town, she was never going to be able to escape that. This book follows Laurel for about a year, the beginning of this new part of her life where everything is different, and she had to relearn her whole life.

I’ve talked a little bit about survivor’s guilt and how it’s this terrible thing that makes you do the weirdest stuff, things that you would never do in a time before this huge event happened. You’re trying to elevate this pain that you feel because you feel such terrible guilt about what happened even though it was in no way your fault. Laurel’s whole character is created in a way that I understood and related to. Her journey through this grief is well thought out and feels real.

I loved the difference between how Laurel and David, who also lost part of his family, deal with the loss. Laurel is trying so hard to pretend everything is normal, and David knows it’s not and it never will be.

Laurel wanting to not be the girl with the dead family, wanting to spend more time at her job where no one knows her, is incredibly relatable. The whole story hit home with me on multiple levels.

There is an underlying sub-plot of romance, which I don’t really think is completely necessary but didn’t take away from the overall story. I think that part of the story feel right at the point where it comes into the story.

I think this book is a good one if you are looking for something a little bit deeper but is still a fairly quick read. This book is very character driven– the plot revolves very tightly around what is happening emotionally to Laurel. I enjoyed that because of the process that Laurel goes through to deal with her grief.

Have you read this book? Or know a book that is like it to recommend? I’d love to hear about!

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

 

Fierce Fangirl Friday: I have been emotionally compromised

CAUTION: this blog post contains spoilers to the 2 part Supernatural season Finale so if you haven’t watched it, don’t read this. Because I will spoil it.

Welcome to Fierce Fangirl Friday❤

Fierce Fangirl Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Jackie over at toomuchofabooknerd where you have the opportunity to do some healthy fangirling on your blog!

Whenever you have something, anything to fangirl about – whether it be a book, TV show, music, celebrities, your pet, the universe, finding your soulmate or just a recent meal that you’ve had – Fierce Fangirl Friday is your opportunity to do so! It doesn’t matter if it’s a recent obsession of yours or something you’ve been loving for a while!

The rules are simple ones, make sure you ping back to Jackie, and whenever there is a Friday that you need to fangirl, about anything, even if it’s not what your blog is usually about, have at it.

The Image I have set at the featured image was created by Jackie and it states in her post that we can use it, so I have. Thank you for creating it. 


I have not been a watcher of Supernatural since 2005, I didn’t get into it until I got really into Tumblr in mid-season 6, but I have watched every episode.

I have been through a lot in my time in the SPN Family. I spend many weeks a year in a state of shock and anxiety and not feeling okay with what happened, or angry because characters who aren’t main cast members are killed off and probably won’t come back.

Last night was the 2 part season finale of Season 12. Toward the end of the second episode, My Friend, Jared Padalecki tweeted  “How are  you liking the show?” and I replied, “I have been screaming for the hour and 51 minutes.”

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That’s how it was going.

THEN

the last ten minutes of the show happened. And I am EMOTIONALLY COMPROMISED.

Supernatural Season Finales are rarely fun. We’ve had what looked liked a deadly car crash, Sam’s died, Dean’s sold his soul to a demon, Dean’s died, Lucifer has been released for hell, Sam has died, Purgatory is opened, Dean and Cas are presumed dead/in purgatory, the angels fall from Heaven, Dean dies/becomes a demon, they kill Death/release God’s sister, and last season then a beacon of hope happened when Mary came back to life after being dead for over 30 years.

BELOW LIES SOME SPOILERS I AM NOT JOKING

AND THEN LAST NIGHT

The first episode of the night was emotional enough. Dean finally got to say all the crap he’s been through and not blame himself. He hasn’t done anything like that since he shot himself in the dream in Season 3. Sam had a moment where he took responsibility and also did something by himself without feeling like he needed Dean in order to do it. Dean got to use the grenade launcher. I cried, I screamed, I cried. All the Winchester’s hugged. the British Men of Letters mess was cleaned up, and then I leaned back and thought “We have a whole nother hour of this nonsense.”

To be fair, they did tie off the threads of the season well and started new ones for next season. I am still in a state of raw and intense emotion.

One thing must be addressed before I go off the rails. The fact that Cas used the alias “James Novak” and thought no one would find him is amazing. It is only slightly less obvious than using the alias “I am Not Castiel.” But does he still used Jimmy’s driver’s license? Did he go to the DMV and renew Jimmy’s ID so he would have identification? Oh, Castiel and your shenanigans. *sobs for several more hours*

I don’t think Rowena or Crowley are dead. I’m honestly on the fence about Crowley, but the show and it’s writers have gotten so much crap about killing women that I don’t think they would kill off a character like Rowena without giving Ruth an on-screen death. That’s not fair to her and doesn’t do justice to her character. So hopefully she’ll be back. If Crowley is dead, his last words “Goodbye Boys” and how he died was excellent for the character. So if Mark Sheppard is back, excellent, if not, Crowley’s death was redeeming and good for his character.

In season seven, when Cas walked into the water after eating the leviathan, there weren’t any wings. When angels die, if they are really dead the scorched outlines of their wings appear on the ground. Because there were no wings there was no proof. No wings no proof. All we got was a trench coat floating away, and then we got Cas back and everything was good.

Until yesterday.

Dean kneeling over Cas and seeing those broken wings on the dirt. Well, I have been emotionally compromised. It’s not okay.

So as far as I know, and this was basically the first coherent non “WHAT HAVE THEY DONE” posts on Tumblr after the finale, Misha Collins is a signed Season Regular for Season 13. The big fan convention in Rome is this weekend, so we’ll find out for sure if Misha is leaving the show and announcing that he’d been signed was hiding that they were going to kill him. Castiel has become such a part of the fabric of the show, and such a part of Dean’s life that the show will be so different with no Cas that I don’t think the producers would do this to us. As far as I know, Cas walking into that lake was supposed to be the end of Cas, but the fans were… what’s the word… angry? Jerks about it? Flipped out? that they brought Cas back, and Misha has been a regular cast member ever since.

This can’t be the end of Castiel. It can’t be. His death didn’t mean anything. The death of Castiel can’t be meaningless. They can’t do to him what they have done to so many characters (Charlie Bradbury) and kill him for the emotional reaction. Crowley’s death had meaning and sacrifice. Cas got stabbed in the back by Lucifer. Castiel doesn’t get to die that way.

And the season 13 had better fix this nonsense.

I did reach out to Misha Collins for comment, but he’s been in a very weird twitter silence since around noon yesterday when he told all of us to record our live reactions to the last 10 minutes of the second episode of the finale.

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

Formulas in Storytelling

There is nothing wrong with a good formula. I read an article a while ago that said something to the effect of “There are only seven stories, and we’ve been reading and watching them over and over for hundreds of years.” (There are also, like, 5 characters types which are the 5 personalities in detention in a 1984 movie directed by John Hughes even the other characters in the movie fall into the categories depicted by the main cast, but that’s a different blog post.)

For example, Star Wars and Harry Potter are the same story. It’s the Over Coming the Monster story, the Hero’s quest. The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit are “voyage and return” stories. These stories have the same plot outlines, and comparisons can be drawn between these, but taking a step back and digesting the stories as whole pieces instead of just the bones, the stories are dramatically different. Harry and Luke Skywalker both go on a quest to defeat the world’s biggest evil of the time, but the story stories differ dramatically as to how the authors get their main characters there. Shrek also falls into this category, but I think we can all agree that Shrek and Harry Potter are a little bit different.

So when does this become problematic in my opinion?

I read mostly YA literature. Quite a bit of it tends to fall into troupes and can become formulaic to a fault after a while. It feels like you’re reading the same book over and over.

I feel that this is a huge issue with YA fantasy, it’s basically the same plot with little deviation between series. It feels, to me, that if I read one high fantasy YA novel, I’ve read all of them, only the character names are different. The same things happen: a parent dies, the teenage child must defend the dead parent’s honor, with an unlikely companion they go off on an adventure, the main character finds out they have some kind of power, but not only that they have the STRONGEST power that has been seen in a long time if ever.  It can get boring kind of quickly if I read enough of them. It’s the Defeat the Monster, Hero’s quest story, but unlike Star Wars and Harry Potter, it feels like the same story.

Does that make sense?

I’m going to use a couple examples of books that I’ve read recently. Ever the Hunted and FrostbloodBoth books I have reviewed here in the not too distant past.

 

I mentioned this is my review of Frostblood, that it had most of not all of the same elements of Hunted but pulled them off better. The two stories follow almost the exact same storyline. Even the amount of traveling between places and going back to certain places is very similar. There are a few substitutes and a little bit of a change of scenery, but they read almost identically.

I sure that there are people who can look at Harry Potter and Star Wars and say the same thing, but I don’t see Harry Potter as Star Wars if there were wizards. There are different elements that make each of those stories uniquely those stories that aren’t just the character names. One that stands out to me is that Harry isn’t naturally super talented having never picked up a wand. He is talented, and has a great deal of natural talent but isn’t out of the Dursley’s and casting Patronus charms. He has to work for it and does work for it. Many things come easy, but he works for it sometimes reluctantly. Luke is given a Lightsaber after coming off the moisture farm is the greatest of all time, and he’s pretty into it the whole time.

Reading Hunted and Frostblood I felt like I was reading the same book, and I honestly feel that way when reading a lot of YA fantasy novels. They rely too heavily on the formula and don’t create enough originality. It’s hard to separate the stories. I feel like I should mention that it’s not the writing that’s the problem. Both books are very well written, the authors are incredibly talented.

Fantasy is a genre that I could never write. There’s a lot that goes into it, world building isn’t a strong point of mine. As much as I would love to be talented enough to write something like either of the two books I’ve mentioned, I don’t have the writing chops. I know a lot of work goes into creating the world, but I feel like the basic formula needs to be built upon to get that one of a kind fantasy story that stands out in a world drowning in YA fantasy stories.

I also read a lot of YA romance, and a lot by the same author, many of those books are set in the same town. Although many follow the same or very similar storylines, I don’t feel like I’m reading the same book except one character really loves french fries and one loves music. These kinds of books can fall into troupe instead of storyline very quickly too. I’ve been lucky in being able to find books that are just different enough to feel like different books.

What is it about YA fantasy that makes it feel so formulaic? Is it that there have been so many in a short period of time that they drown each other out?

What do you think? Do you feel like some genres fall too hard on the formula and not enough on making it different? 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

Top 5 Wednesday- Summer reads

Top 5 Wednesday is currently being hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to learn more about the group or are considering joining in, check out the Goodreads group. Each week has a different topic, and you just post five books that fit that topic.

This week’s topic is a look ahead to the not so distant future to the summer and our favorite summertime reads. I’m not the biggest believer that books have a certain season that they should be read, but I do tend to read more in the summer, and I do tend to read shorter quick reads. So without further ado.

1. Every single book by Sarah Dessen.

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A few summers ago, I think it was almost 7 years ago now, I read all of Dessen’s books up to Along for the Ride which was the most recent release at the time. Most of her books are fun summer romances, some of them take place during the school year, but most are about summer and the beach and love. Thankfully, there is a new one, Once and For All due out next month! I am excited.

 

 

2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

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This is a book is about a girl, Ginny, who’s dead aunt sends her on a mysterious summer adventure/vacation. There’s some love, and a lot of adventure. It’s a fun summer read. I loved it, the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope is also fantastic. All of Maureen’s books are fantastic but I think 13LBE is the most summer.

 

 

3. Ally Carter’s Heist Society series.

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The way I sell this book to my friends is: it’s the TV show Leverage but with teenagers. Right now there are 3 of them, and they are quick reads. There are art heists and mystery and characters in shades of gray. You end up rooting for people who should technically be the bad guys. These books are great one sitting books that I just love. Perfect for sitting under a tree in a park or under an umbrella at the beach.

 

 

4. All Three of Carrie Fisher’s memoirs

I listened to the audiobooks of these three books, but I think they would be great physically reads. Carrie Fisher was such a gifted writer and just so funny. The books are quick reads to read during a day trip to a lake or whatever. Very entertaining and beautiful books.

5. The Peaches Trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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These books are very similar to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. They are about a group of friends in Georgia near a peach farm that is a big part of the town’s economy. There is love and pushing the boundaries of friendship as they girls come of age and start to see their town a little bit differently.

 

 

 

Those are my choices for summer reads. I’m excited to hear everyone else’s and add some more to the list as summer inches closer.

Have you read these? What did you think? Anything to add to you list?

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna