Listen To Your Mother: Why I’m Bringing it to La Crosse

Listen to Your Mother is coming to La Crosse!

It’s safe to say I’m really excited to be bringing this national production that gives motherhood a microphone to my city.

If you haven’t heard about LTYM, it all started six years ago in Madison, WI with a mom and blogger named Ann Imig. She put the first show together in two months, folks! This woman is a woman after my gamechanger heart.

LTYMNow, La Crosse, WI is 1 of 41 cities across the country (and Canada) producing a live on-stage performance of original, true stories about mothers and motherhood!

Every city has a different show. Yet every city is recognizing the humorous, heartfelt, sometimes hurtful, hopefully helpful stories that come from our mothers or from being a mother.

But here’s another cool thing!

It’s really inclusive. So the show is open to women AND men. You can write about being a mother. You can write about your mother. OR you can write about the person who raised you.

Auditions are coming up all over! If you’re interested, check out the participating cities and see if there’s a show near you!

For my local friends, auditions are at the end of this month, February 20th, 22nd, and 24th by appointment. And the show date is April 30th. You can visit the Listen to Your Mother – La Crosse blog for full details. 

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Why am I so happy to bring LTYM to La Crosse? 

Because we have a bustling arts community here with so much talent. And I’m sure a lot of people with great stories! No prior stage experience is needed. But what I truly love is the mission behind LTYM, who is committed to sharing diverse stories from all kinds of people. That’s what I love about freelance writing, interviewing strangers, performing improv, and working with my writers group.

Plus, proceeds from every show go back to an organization that benefits women and families. I’m thrilled to be working with the local YWCA for our show, whose mission is to end racism and empower women and girls.

IMG_5865My Local Production Team: L to R – Beth Erickson, Me, Molly Hilligoss

My production team is amazing! I’m super proud to be working with Beth Erickson, owner and editor of Jobe Communications LLC, and Molly Hilligoss, diversity and social justice advocate from the local YWCA.

We’ve been waiting a long time to hear your stories!!

Seriously, this is us gathering last November for an early Thanksgiving lunch production team meeting.

LTYM production team dinnerSince I had just signed them up for a lot of work,
I thought the least I could do was cook for them.

You don’t have to be a professional performer or writer to try out. You could have been on stage 100 times or 0 times. We’ll cast our show based on the full spectrum of stories we hear – kind of like making a great playlist.

So start writing, La Crosse!

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Everyone has a mother story.
What’s yours? 

“Read. Read Everything. Challenge Yourself.” Author Interview with Nickolas Butler

IMG_6763This past fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs, at UW-Madison’s Weekend With Your Novel conference.

Nick is a talented and humble guy whose writing is truthful and poetic. He’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and an advocate for aspiring writers everywhere.

Nick was kind enough to chat with me about his work. Because I’m a big fan of his book. 

And he’s giving a copy away to one lucky winner! 

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Me: Describe yourself in three words. 

Nick: Father, husband, friend.

What three words do you wish described you? 

Debonair, raconteur, smoldering.

Ha! Nice.
Describe your book in one sentence. 

“Shotgun Lovesongs” is a novel set in rural Wisconsin about the lifelong bonds of friendship, love, marriage, envy, and childhood.

book-shotgun-lovesongsShotgun Lovesongs tells the story of five friends discovering all the ways they’ve each changed, and yet how much they’re still the same. It’s a poignant and poetic look at growing up, surviving the messy bits, and owning your own life – good and bad. What parts of your life have you “owned” and what are you most proud of? 

I’m most proud of my family and the life we’ve built together, through some real challenges. I’m proud of my wife and her accomplishments, both professionally and in our community. I’m proud of my children, proud of the fact that I think they’re both kind-hearted and compassionate kids. I’m proud of my Mom, and her unflagging work ethic and generosity. Proud of my brother for being one of the best people I’ve ever met. My life has been extremely blessed. I feel very fortunate, every day.

“What parts of my life have I owned”? I think when I was about 27 or 28 I took stock of where I was, what I was doing, and just decided that I needed to work a lot harder at becoming a writer, at becoming the person I wanted to be.

Shotgun Lovesongs is written from five points of view. How did get into each character’s voice?

It was definitely a challenge. Some of the voices/POVs came very easily – Henry, Lee, and Kip. And I can remember finishing one of their chapters and having to transition towards Beth or Ronny, and just really taking about five minutes to close my eyes, and slip into another psyche, another character. And sometimes it was easier, and maybe I’d only need a minute or two. Other times I’d have to walk away from the computer and get a cup of coffee, sort of collect myself. But it was also a lot of fun because each character illuminates the others in the cast. If everything is working right, you should get a more complex portrait of a character.

Did you have a favorite voice to write in?

I’d say Lee, when it comes to “Shotgun Lovesongs”. He’s very observant, in some ways, he thinks about the world musically, lyrically.

As someone who works a full-time job and gets writing in as a “side-hustle,” I appreciated your story about working lots of odd jobs along the way. What were a few of them and how did you carve out time for writing? 

There were so many…

When I was working at Star Liquor in Madison, I wrote after my shifts were done, around 10pm. I’d get home and still be wired, and just write short stories or poems. The thing is: when you’re trying to break through, you have to carve out time as aggressively as you can. This means sleeping less. Socializing less. Watching less TV. If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out how to make it happen.

You’re a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. What tool or skill-set did you find most valuable from that experience? 

Iowa was definitely a life-changing experience for me in so many ways. But I think the thing that really pushed me forward was the competition; just going to classes and being surrounded by some of the world’s best young writers. I’d look around and think, I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to read more and work harder.

I think it’s hard to improve your craft without exposure to great writing – either through reading or through teachers or peers. I don’t think you can do it by yourself.

Your book is a love story about Wisconsin. What’s your favorite thing about our state?  

There’s a lot to love and I could literally go on for pages describing favorite cities, state parks, restaurants, sports teams, etc. But for me it comes down to family. I’m surrounded by family and that means everything to me. Family and friends.

Best piece of writing advice? 

Read. Read all the time. Read poetry and non-fiction and fiction and plays and screenplays. Read foreign writers. Read everything. Challenge yourself. Don’t discard any writing – there is something to be learned in everything.

Set a deadline for yourself. Write down your goals. Work when other people are sleeping.

book-beneaththebonfireWhat books are you enjoying right now? 

I’m about to finish Don Winslow’s “The Power of the Dog”, which is fantastic. Imagine George R.R. Martin writing an epic about The War on Drugs. Annie Dillard’s essays. I’m looking forward to reading Helen McDonald’s “H is for Hawk”. I’m rushing through both of Peter Geye’s novels, which are fantastic.

Tell us about your next project! 

My second book, “Beneath the Bonfire” came out in May and is still in hardcover and my next novel, “The Faithlessness of Men” will be published in early 2017 by Ecco.

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Nick! I can’t wait to get Shotgun Lovesongs into another reader’s hands; it really was a book that stuck with me awhile after reading it. :)

*****

photo-nickolas-butlerNickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is the author of the internationally-best selling novel Shotgun Lovesongs and a collection of short stories entitled,Beneath the Bonfire.  He is the winner of France’s prestigious PAGE Prix America, the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Award, the 2014 Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award, and has been long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty Dunnan Award for First Novel and short-listed for France’s FNAC Prix.  Along the way, he has worked as: a Burger King maintenance man, a tutor, a telemarketer, a hot-dog vendor, an innkeeper (twice), an office manager, a coffee roaster, a liquor store clerk, and an author escort. His itinerant work includes: potato harvester, grape picker, and Christmas tree axe-man. 

He lives on sixteen acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married and has two children.

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Want to win a free copy of Nick’s book? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Have you read Shotgun Lovesongs yet?
How do you aggressively make time to write, or read?

 

The Internet Gave Us These Amazing Gifts

18494555212_018fa1e261_z (1)The wide world of the interwebs has been on a role lately. It gave us these amazing gifts and scattered them across our Facebook feeds, blog readers, twitter timelines, and one of my particularly favorite time wasters, YouTube, and its endless rabbit hole of clips to watch.

With the new year already flying by, friends and family alike are feeling overwhelmed. Adding in the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman only heightened all “the feels” and I think we could all use a little entertainment that makes us smile, or better yet, bust a gut laugh.

I Give You These Gifts the Internet Gave Us

Go Ahead and Laugh

Because everyone loves a good pun, Comedy Central sent out the hashtag request to #InternetABook, and Buzzfeed collected 29 Hilarious Literary Internet Puns. Don’t judge me, but my favorite one was “Moby Dick Pic.” I died laughing.

Reaching ERMAGHERD status – James Corden and Tom Hanks acted out Hanks’s film career in a matter of minutes and it’s spectacular.

Stop everything you’re doing right now and take this quiz. Wes Anderson has to be one of my all time favorite film directors. I will watch anything that man creates, even if it was an ad revival to bring back yellow pages on the home shopping network. (But why would anyone want that?) Anyway…

Who Would You End Up With in a Wes Anderson movie? 

I got: Jane from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

“You and Jane share a tenacity and a love of words. Whether you’re also a journalist or not, you’re always searching for the truth and greater meaning in life, just like Jane. You’d make an effing great duo.”
Touchstone

Brace yourselves, children, because Anne of Green Gables is back! 

Breaking Bad Writer is Bringing Anne of Green Gables back to Television

Or check out celebrity nano-impressions by Ross Marquand! See celebrity impressions in common day snafus. My fave: Brad Pitt forgets what he was going to say.

 

In honor of Alan Rickman, let’s talk about that time he pranked Harry Potter with a fart machine. Don’t you wish you were a fly on that set?

And Now For Some Self-Care Super-Stories

August McLaughlin is my sister from another mother, and she penned this awesome post about 5 Empowering Questions to Ask Yourself Daily for a Groovier, More Impactful Life. I am all about the side hustle right now.

Kirsten Weiss of the Para Your Normal blog shared 5 Mantras to Boost Your Magick. Let’s just say, the universe has been telling me this for awhile, and I’m ready to listen.

My friend Liz from Be. Love. Live. is offering free life coaching now – and I jumped at the chance. Liz has 20 years of experience as a mentor and coach and her blog is one of my favorite motivational/inspirational blogs. It’s real, she’s on a journey too, and it’s full of her beautiful photography not stupid posters with kittens hanging from tree branches. (Note* I have nothing against kittens on tree branches.) Check out Living Intentionally: How to Take Control of Your Life One Moment at a Time.

“Raise your hand if you’ve felt completely overwhelmed sometime in the last six months.” That’s the comaraderie you’ll find with Heather at Hiya Tootsie who gifts us with How to Handle the Overwhelm: a 6 part strategy.

If inspirational just isn’t your thing, then I leave you with Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. He’s got this thing figured out, and it’s funny.

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What’s been making you laugh this week?
How are you following your dreams? 

 

Sh*t My Husband Says While Sleeping: Star Wars Edition

This is my husband, Joe.

To clarify, he’s the non-reptile one.

IMG_7254

Joe likes road trips, playing 2 recorders at once,
and making his wife sing songs with him. 

Joe also talks in his sleep. Sometimes he laughs about things like crackers and email, and other times he stresses over where to store hot water.

Whatever he says, it’s typically entertaining, so I like to share it with all of you!

 Recently, we went to see the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. We both really liked it! And I guess he had the movie on his mind one night when I overheard this…

Joe: Aiding and abetting…

Me: What?

Joe: Chewbacca lovers. 

Me: What about them?

Joe: I don’t know… They’re up to something.

Me: …

Han Solo

Then, a few nights later, he made this random statement.

Joe: I wish I had some coconut oil. 

Me: …

steve carrell

He claims that dream came from a Facebook ad in his feed about coconut oil being a fix-all solution for any problem. Sure, Joe. Whatever you say.

What do YOU think the Chewbacca lovers are up to? 

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And in case you missed it, celebrity themed movie marathons are back! Every wednesday night this January, we’re watching an Emilio Estevez film and celebrating #EmilioFestevez!!!

Watch along and live tweet the film using the #EmilioFestevez hashtag.

And now, there’s a Facebook group for that!! 

Movie marathons are bi-monthly, and if Twitter’s not your thing, you can hangout on Facebook too. Find out the movie lineups, share your ideas for future marathons, and meet other film-loving fools like you! Hope to see you there!

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Phenomenal Woman Mix Revealed and Winners Announced!

hair bun and headphonesHey fellow songsters!

Thank you all so much for the many music suggestions for the phenomenal woman and cafe mix cds this season! You fantastic people gave me 58 songs to check out!

I had a literal dance party listening to all the tunes you shared.

So it’s time to reveal the final playlists aaaaaand the cd winners!!

Check em out! Did your favorite bands and musicians make the cut?

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Congratulations to this year’s winners of the mix cds –
Amy Kennedy Fosseen and Julie Glover!!!

Happy jamming, ladies!

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Phenomenal Woman Mix

1. Little Red Wagon – Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound

2. Wherever is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile

3. Flashlight – Jessie J

4. Dangerous Days – Zola Jesus

5. Burning House – Cam 

6. Alive – Sia

7. Night Like This – LP

8. Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift

9. Lights and Camera – Yuna

10. Glow – Ella Henderson 

11. Sound of a Woman – Kiesza

12. Hold Me Down – Halsey

13. Ex’s & Oh’s – Elle King

14. Love Myself – Hailee Steinfeld

15. She’s Not Me – Jenny Lewis

16. A Change is Gonna Come – Leela Jones

17. Water Under the Bridge – Adele

18. Get Up, Get On – Jill Andrews

19. Buffalo Stars – Leila Broussard

20. Stay Gold – First Aid Kit

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Cafe’ Mix

1. Make This Leap – The Hunts

2. Diamonds – Johnnyswim

3. Riptide – Jasmine Thompson

4. Empress – Morningsiders

5. Hold Each Other – A Great Big World

6. Accustomed to the Dark – Theresa Andersson

7. America – First Aid Kit

8. San Andreas Faultline – Sugarcane Jane

9. The Heartache Can Wait – Brandi Carlile

10. Slow Motion – Phox

11. Sinner – Jeremy Loops

12. The Crossing – Meg Hutchinson

13. The Fairest of the Seasons – Anna Nalick

14. Let No Grief – The Wild Reeds

15. Shadowplay – The Saint Johns

16. Rox in the Box – The Decemberists

17. It’s Only Me – Dessa

18. Emmylou – First Aid Kit

19. Ends of the Earth – Lord Huron

20. Gulf Coast Highway – Red Molly

21. Acid Tongue – Jenny Lewis

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Find any new favorites?
What are you listening to now? 

 

 

Stuff I Meant To Get To And Just Finally Did

18314760839_a7c49e4737_zI’m a fan of the ‘Save Link’ option on Facebook. Only I’m terrible at actually going back and looking at all those saved links.

At any given point and time, my laptop has at least 10 tabs open of blog posts waiting to be read.

So, in honor of New Year’s being just around the corner, and it being a time of year for renewal, I thought I better clear out my digital queue.

Here’s what I meant to read, and just finally did.

Self Care Tips and Do Good Ideas

leap fail

How My 2015 Has Felt

My year has been another one of transition and change. It’s been full of stress. And I’m not a good model for slowing down. These posts gave me some food for thought. 

In need of some manageable, quick tasks to help you feel refreshed? Check out 15 Easy Things You Can Do That Will Help When You Feel Like Shit.

Want to reduce your stress level by 68%? Who knew all you had to do was read before bed!

And then when you’re ready to reflect, make some new goals, and treat yo’ self, read 26 Things Every Person Should Do For Themselves At Least Once a Year.

Ready to put some good in the world? 15 Things For When the World is Shitty and Terrifying.

Writing Tips and Blogs to Read

typewriter gifThis year I became a freelance writer, writing both for local magazines as well as online sites. And I’m still plugging away at my book. Here’s hoping I can reserve more time to write in 2016. 

Struggling with some aspect of your writing? Watch out for these culprits: Doubtful Writing Habits You Should Forget About.

How to Be a More Productive Freelancer in 20 Minutes is both a funny read and good advice from the seriously silly Schmutzie. Read for a laugh, stay for the tips.

Jane Friedman is a stellar resource for any writer and she nails it with 5 Reasons You’re Experiencing Writer’s Block.

Now, need a kick in the pants to get going again? Advice in Six Words: 17 Inspirational Writing Tips.

Just For the Fun Of It

funny witherspoonIt’s not Jess Witkins’s Happiness Project without a little fun involved! 

Because it’s not time wasting when important questions are being solved. Which Jane Austen Heroine are You? 

I got Catherine Morland. No surprise there. ;)

Because this is so real it hurts: What Marriage is Really Like.

And lastly, this beautiful round up courtesy The Bloggess, who shared all three Bad Lip Reading versions of Star Wars in We’re Those People.

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Your turn! Show some linky love in the comments below to the posts you’ve been reading or feel free to share one of your own. Let’s keep the blog hopping non-stopping! Cheers, friends! 

 

 

Final Book Reviews for the To Be Read Pile Challenge

2015tbrbuttonThe end of another year means that reading challenges are wrapping up all over. For the last three years I’ve participated in the TBR (To Be Read) Pile Challenge hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader. The goal is to read 12 books off your bookshelf that have been sitting there for more than a year.

Not a bad way to save money too! 

I’m proud to report I completed the challenge by finishing my book list.

My 2015 TBR Pile Challenge List:

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
  2. Persuasion by Jane Austen (1818)
  3. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1905)
  4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)
  5. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (1969)
  6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (1999)
  7. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012)
  8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
  9. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry (2011)
  10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (2004)
  11. Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James (2013)
  12. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (2012)

My favorite read was probably In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I hadn’t read it before and his attention to detail really makes you feel like you’re in the room with the characters. Plus, it’s based on a true crime, a despicable crime, and yet the way he writes it, the reader is drawn to the story of the killers and what happens to them.

The final two books I have to report on are: 

ketchup_clouds_pitcher_novelKetchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

I loved this book. It’s the story of a teen girl who starts writing letters to a death row inmate. And in her letters, she confesses to a crime that she got away with.

I listened to this one on audiobook and highly recommend the audio version if you’re into them. While being a YA book, it deals with a lot of serious themes such as family dynamics, first love, finding oneself, and guilt.

What’s interesting about this book is we never actually meet the death row inmate. He’s a key character as Zoe, the teen girl, tells her story to him, revealing aspects of his own crime as she reads about it. We learn about him, but we never actually meet the inmate. I thought this book was exceptionally well written and very interesting.

29044The Secret History by Donna Tartt

On the literary end of things, Donna Tartt’s Secret History also deals with a murder.

The book opens with a group of college freshman narrator. We know a body was found beneath the snow, and that the narrator was somehow involved, but we don’t know how.

Then the book zooms back to his first days at college, making friends, scraping money together for bills, and how Richard, the narrator, gets involved with a select group of students in a greek language class.

The students in the greek class are nothing like Richard. They come from wealthy families with summer homes in Europe and wear expensive suits to class and dine at fancy restaurants multiple nights a week. But Richard does his best to fit in.

Everything has a cost. And that’s all I’ll tell you about this one.

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For those of you that are looking to join up with a reading challenge in 2016, I must sadly report that Adam is not continuing the TBR Pile Challenge, but will have other reading challenges available you can check out on his blog.

So I partnered with Adam and some of my favorite book bloggers to find another reading challenge that focused on the stacks that no longer fit on my bookshelf. Here’s what they recommended.

2016 Reading Challenges

In 2016, I’m joining forces with Andi from Estella’s Revenge for the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge and Maren from The Worn Bookmark for her #2016ReadMyBooks challenge.

ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton.jpg

Both challenges focus on reading books you already own, but that can be actual paper copies as well as ebooks.

There is no set number you have to read, it’s up to you to decide what is manageable and what you want to achieve.

Andi and Maren are both setting goals of 100 or more! I am shooting for 24. That’s 2 books/month. So truly, go as big or as small as you want!

Another bonus, you don’t have to pick the book titles ahead. (This is helpful to me since my reading varies on my mood. I like that these challenges allow for flexibility.) I’ll be adding a page soon with my full library to list all my reading options. Feel free to share your recommendations with me in the comments too!

2016-read-my-books

If you have a blog, the hosts encourage you to write reviews of the books you read and share them with the hashtags above. You can also catch them on Instagram!

The first thing you have to do is count up how many unread books are on your bookshelf…and floors and desk and bedside table. 

I have a grand total of 161 unread books. 

And I asked for more for Christmas!

I’ll be kicking off the challenge with my gluttonous consumption of the Outlander series. I’m working on Voyager now.

So who’s with me?
Are you participating in reading challenges in 2016?
If you did any this year, how did they go? What was your favorite read? 

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P.S. Need help writing a book report? Check this out! ;)

 

P.P.S. In case you missed it, I guest blogged at Coach Daddy last week, hanging out with my pal, Eli Pacheco! I shared 3 books, 3 songs, and 3 quotes to inspire the world! Eli is always writing honest and inspiring blog posts. He just did a great one this weekend about gratitude. Stop by and hang out with us, it’s a fun group!

coach daddy

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful? My Awkward Moment Told in Gifs

Image-1 (1)“There’s a hole in my pants,” I realized, about 20 minutes before I was going to speak to a group of twentysome middle school students. 

About STDs. 

“There’s a goddamn HOLE! In my pants.” 

Naturally, I did the only thing I could do at that point.

I texted a friend ala Margaret Cho-style, as in “YOU ARE NOT GONNA BELIEVE WHAT I JUST DID!”

Let me backup.

I am transitioning to a new role in my job. I’m leaving my basement-located office work for the wide, open world of sex education where you get to say things like “Have you seen my uterus?” and that’s not considered a personal question. Also, the air smells like puberty about 80% of the time.

My colleagues and I are now learning the material for the multiple talks our clinic provides, and we were each given a focus talk to prioritize.

Guess who got STDs??!!

jerri blank what are you looking at

I mean I PRESENT on sexually transmitted diseases.

Anyway, I arrived at the middle school, checked in at the office and since I was there early, excused myself to use the restroom before heading to class.

It was there, in the bathroom, when I noticed I COULD SEE THE FLOOR THROUGH MY PANTS!

jerri blank shocked

I was wearing a brand new pair of dress pants I’d purchased the week before and not worn yet. The seam below the zipper had unraveled and created a diamond shaped hole, through which the orange tile floor was all too crisp and clear.

oh fudge
Oooooooooh, fffuuuuuuuuuuudge.

Only I didn’t say fudge.

Like anyone in a serious situation, I immediately took inventory of anything I could possibly use to fix this major wardrobe malfunction.

Hand soap. Paper towel.

“This bathroom is useless to me! I have nothing!” 

Leo crying

I debated my options. My limited options.

frank choices

“That’s it,” I thought. Only thing I could do was teach the class. I was going to have to make the best of the situation.

mean girls

I had worn a top that was a little longer that day, and had a tank top beneath it.

I stretched and pulled and yanked that tank top as low as I could get it to go.

Then I walked in front of that class like…

awkward gifHeeeeeeeey!

And for the duration of the 40 minute class, I kept my legs well crossed and stood in the shadiest corner of the classroom I could find while still being able to point to the front screen as needed.

When it was over and I packed up, I got in the car like…

kip yes
Nailed it!

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Soooo, how was YOUR week?

 

Before I Met Keanu Reeves, I Also Ran Into Bigfoot

Many of you now know about my serendipitous run-in with Keanu Reeves. I still don’t understand quite how that happened, but I’m glad it did as it was awesome. What you don’t know is that I also ran into Bigfoot.

Jess Witkins Meets Keanu Reeves

I was planning to write a very different story for my blog that weekend. A story about a hiking trip that Joe and I went on.

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I know, I know, we all know how THAT goes. One of us ends up missing

And to that I say, at least we’re consistent, which is a prime foundation to have in a marriage, especially when one party may have pooped their pants while hiking thereby ruining all shreds of romance forever. 

So before Joe and I ended up at the bar where I glanced out the window and commented “That guy looks like Keanu,” we were hiking.

IMG_6058Sure, sure, this is exactly how it’s supposed to look. I always crawl through death branches to get from point A to point B. 

True to form, Joe rarely lets me pick what direction we go since I’m supposedly the one that got us lost the first time. But then, he went and picked a trail that looks like this!

IMG_6104

Me: “Well this looks like a dark and treacherous path.” 

Joe: “I’ve made my peace with it.” 

It doesn’t even phase him anymore!

When we crept upon the creepiest cavern looking structure, we debated.

Me: “Oh look at that. I bet that’s the witch’s cabin.” 

Joe: “That’s just a rock formation.” 

Me: “That’s what she wants you to think.” 

Amazingly, we were not witch-napped and forced to eat sweets until our bellies burst and no one made pies out of our intestines and such. But it was a close call, lemme tell you.

On a sunnier trail, we fell into one of our usual conversations comparing our relationship to various film or book references. You know, a “you’re Wild Bill Hickock and I’m Calamity Jane from Deadwood” or “you’re Lonestar from Spaceballs, but I’m Dot not Princess Vespa.”

And then Joe tried to sum us up with this…

Joe: “The difference between us is that I’m more crass, but you have the dirtier mind.” 

Me: *leans in really close to his ear and whispers* “You’re welcome.” 

And then this is the part where I’m guessing Joe got sun poisoning. Or temporarily possessed by aliens because I shot this photo….

IMG_6083Pretty funky lighting, amirite?

And then he did this…

Who knew, Bigfoot’s in Wisconsin?!

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How was your week everyone? 

Call for Music Suggestions: The 2015 Phenomenal Woman Mix

IMG_6738Since 2007 I’ve made my ma and sis a Phenomenal Woman Mix CD at Christmas. It’s a collection of the best songs sung by women. In 2012, I expanded that to include a second CD called the Cafe’ Mix, which basically housed all my favorite tunes heard at coffee shops (which is where I hang out). This CD can have female or male singers on it.

Sure, in the age of ipods and wireless mini-speakers, a gift like a mix CD could be considered outdated, or worse…lame. But this remains one of their favorite gifts and one of my favorite giveaways of the year!

Because this is the part where you give me music suggestions!

And in turn, once it’s completed, I gift the cds to TWO lucky commenters who shared suggestions with me!

To get started, here’s a look at last year’s line-ups. And here’s a few I’m currently thinking of for this year.

Phenomenal Woman Mix

“Hello” by Adele

I don’t really feel this song needs explanation. It’s Adele’s new hit. It’s going on the cd.

“Alive” by Sia

I’m a Sia fan, especially of her music videos. This one did not disappoint.

“Lights and Camera” by Yuna

Yuna is an artist that has crept up the past three years, and I’m happy to add this tune to the mix.

Cafe’ Mix

“Empress” by Morningsiders

I’m loving the piano part in this song.

“Sun Hands” by Local Natives

The final verdict on this one is still out, but I do like it.

“Lost Cause” by Priscilla Ahn

This melody is haunting and beautiful.

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Now, as Joan Jett says, hit me with your best shot!
What song recommendations do you have for me to add to the
Phenomenal Woman and Cafe’ Mixes? 

I can’t wait to listen! 

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