ICYMI: Where I’ve Been Laughing While I Was Away

Hello Cats and Kittens,

How is everyone’s week going?

I’m keeping very busy as usual. Last week I kicked off my debut with a local performance group called Old School Variety Show as a storyteller. I shared two excerpts from my work in progress, Oops Baby. It was quite fun. Here’s a little teaser from my chapter entitled Have No Fear, Dad is Here. 

This past weekend I traveled home to hang out with my sister, but fear not, I was still in the blogosphere. Here are a few of my favorite funny tales ICYMI.

*****

Alice Whitmore, of Lutheran Liar Looks at Life, dishes all in her date with Steve Martin, The Jerk and The Dude. True story!

Andrea Culletto battles elephant rides and kid debaters (I’m not saying their coach was their dad, but it might have been their dad) in The Elephant in the Room.

Naughty PickleSummer Heacock of Fizzygrrl shares a humorous, gif-filled retelling of her encounters with hyper-religion. This recovering Catholic girl laughed her butt off at this post, but a caution to readers, it’s not for the fundamental of faith. Enjoy Are You There God? It’s Me Fizzy.

Brick House Chick had me screaming with her dietary rant, Cut the Carbs, They Say. We all know it’s not that easy, and this fiery chica was just saying so.

It might sound like a headline out of The Onion, but it’s a true tale over at Jenny Hansen’s blog More Cowbell. Check out her latest post, Hubby’s Jewels Threatened By Doctor With Tuna.

I can only guess that all authors aspire for this kind of acclaim, but The Bloggess is now #4 on Amazon if you search for “giant dildos”. Well That’s…Huh.

The hilarious woman behind Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing is sharing her response to How Do I Write Humor? (And Other Questions I Suck at Answering).

*****

And don’t forget, #Keanuthon starts tomorrow! Grab a copy of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Dudes, cause we’re starting at 8:00 pm sharp! I can’t wait to live tweet the movie with you! 

#Keanuthon

What’s made you laugh lately? 

Prepare Yourselves, #Keanuthon is Coming

The Husband and I have been planning to have a movie marathon for months now. A themed marathon. A celebrity-themed marathon.

A Keanuthon. 

We all have our celebrity crushes and idols. My husband’s is Keanu Reeves.

And Jane Fonda. But we’ll host her party later.

So, we’ve decided to host a #Keanuthon. A Keanu Reeves themed movie marathon for the month of September!

BEHOLD…

#Keanuthon

Here’s the scoop. 

Starting September 2nd, we’ll watch one Keanu Reeves movie every wednesday. And we’re going to live tweet the movie using the hashtag #Keanuthon. Find me on Twitter @jesswitkins and let’s talk all things Reeves-related.

Feel free to dive in the fun using whatever your favorite social media hangout is, just use #Keanuthon so we can find you.

At the end of the month, I’ll share a wrap up post featuring the funniest and best tweets and photos from #Keanuthon.

So tell all your friends! Head to the movie rental store (AKA: Netflix), and get ready for #Keanuthon!!!

It’s all starting with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Spread the word! #Keanuthon starts in one week! 

I Said ‘Yes’ For a Week, and Here’s What Happened: 5 Lessons Learned

I want to talk to you about…my schedule. It’s busy. I work as a freelance writer, am a board member for my nonprofit writers group, helped found and organize a monthly feminist education series, participate in a book club, attend twice a week rehearsals, and work a 40 hour day job.

You know what? I love it.

Say Yes to the Work

Working lunch. Working on writing assignments over dim sum.

Last week was really hectic for me. I had places to be every night of the week. But I think it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in awhile.

Here’s a little rundown…

Monday night started with a board meeting for my writers group. We are going to be hosting the Feminism on Tap gathering in October and since I work closely with both groups, I’m planning it.

Tuesday was a special treat wherein I traveled a couple towns over to meet with New York storyteller and filmographer, Jen Lee. A dozen area “makers” – artists, craftswomen, writers – gathered to learn about her latest collaboration, The 10 Letters Project, a correspondence documenting the creative process and how we critique ourselves. I was invited to attend because another writer and I were offered the chance to emulate the project.

I spent six hours on wednesday night at the public library for a back to back film showing of Johnny Guitar, the 1954 film by La Crosse, WI born director, Nicholas Ray. I was representing Feminism on Tap and co-led a discussion after each viewing. (And during the second showing, I ate pizza with some of the library staff and wrote one of my freelance articles standing up in the library kitchen.)

10 Letters Project

Jen’s book with fellow storyteller/writer, Tim Manley. Everyone who attended also wrote their own anonymous letters and got to answer one anonymously too. Very cool experience connecting with other makers.

I hemmed and hawed most of Thursday over whether or not to audition for an improvisation group, but the writer I met on Tuesday and will be working with on the local 10 letters project was in the group and invited me to go. I went, expecting an audition and nothing more. It turned out to be a two hour improv workshop wherein I became a monster, a pterodactyl, an overtired mother judging a fake gymnastics tournament, and I pulled (imaginary) gum out of a guy’s mouth. At the end of the two hours, I signed up for the next rehearsal.

Friday afternoon I left work and headed to a dim sum shop where I finished my freelance assignments (due that day). Then I hit up the library book sale and came home with a bag of books just in time for date night with my husband.

Finally on Saturday, I attended the first rehearsal for the improv group, which started with a photo shoot for a newspaper article and show flyers. When I got home, my friend picked me up and we hit the shops so I could help her back to school shop for a family through the Salvation Army and find a wedding gift for her sister.

Wow. I’m tired writing this. 

It sounds exhausting. And it is a little, but in the best possible way. I’m a person that thrives on having lots to do. Too much time will make me bored and I will not leave the house or stop watching movies for days. You guys, I’m really good at watching movies! I can do it all damn day!

But here’s what this week of “YES” taught me. 

1. Saying Yes Leads to Amazing Opportunities

I made new friends and connections all last week. From future partners on events to kindred spirits in creativity. I’m looking forward to partnering with a new writer for our project, and through partnering at the library, I got valuable information about hosting film festivals that may lead to a future partnership. Whatever happens, the best part was it was all fun!

My book sale buys.

My book sale buys.

2. Saying Yes Gets You Out of Your Head

I can be a worrier. I overthink things. I love when I find something that takes me out of my head and makes me focus. I use to think only hard exercise could do this, but I was wrong. Improv allowed this. There’s no time to think in improv! I had to close my mind outside thoughts and completely be in the moment. I love making people laugh (that’s why I wrote a humor blog), but what I loved more and why I decided to join the group was because improv allowed me to get out of my anxious brain and just play. That’s a great life lesson.

3. Saying Yes Helps You Process Quickly

With a jam-packed schedule, I learned fast what parts of it I liked and didn’t like. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses are. I played a variety of roles – from the facilitator to the student – throughout the week. It helped me process where I am in my life journey and what I want to spend my time on.

4. Saying Yes Makes You Vulnerable

I was out of my element more than once last week, but I think that’s ok. I thought a lot about something a friend once wrote that moments in our lives where something big is happening cause us to panic about what we’re going to “give” of ourselves. What kind of impression are we going to make? What witty words are we going to say? But sometimes, those moments aren’t about us giving, they’re about receiving. What can we learn from this now? What am I listening to? What resonates? I took a step back a few times and reminded myself that I was in a “receiving” moment, and to enjoy the experience.

5. Saying Yes Makes Each Moment Matter

When time is precious and packed, then the things you’re doing with it have to be just as important. I’m glad I was able to still have a date with my husband and go out with a friend. You learn what things you’re willing to cut out in order to preserve others. Yes, I was busy. But I still spent quality time with the ones I love. In fact, I even called my mother. ;)

Tell me about a time you said yes and it led to something great. 

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Book LoversAugust 9th is National Book Lovers Day! So grab a friend off your bookshelf and spend some time reading today!

I plan on grabbing one of my books and cozying up in a chair to spend some time with my favorite characters. And I’ll be hopping around the blogosphere hanging out with my fave book bloggers.

I’ve got a few more titles on my To Be Read Pile Challenge completed, but need to do my reviews. So here’s what I’ve recently been reading!

The Picture of Dorian Gray
By Oscar Wilde

Read this one for my book club and we had a great discussion with it. It’s about a young man with the world before him who befriends a rather poor influence. By making just a few despicable choices, he alters the path of his life forever.

If you’re familiar with the paranormal aspect of the book, you know that Dorian never ages. He remains a beautiful and suave gentleman, while a portrait of him takes on every crooked and cruel act he does, displaying his true nature.

I thought this was a great eerie read and a classic I would recommend. When Wilde describes the portrait, hidden away in the attic, it left me cold!

I would also recommend the 1940’s film version of this story. The special effects of the times for the final view of his portrait are seriously terrifying! It’s one of the American Film Institutes Top 100 Thrillers.

Fans of Wilde’s work will be surprised by the artsy, dramatic voice in Dorian Gray as its very different from his other works like The Importance of Being Earnest. And I would recommend it for book clubs as we did have a rich discussion about Wilde and his book.

Persuasion
By Jane Austen

The last book I had to read in order to complete Austen’s six main novels. I hope to start in on her novellas this year and read Sanditon.

Persuasion is the story of Anne Elliot, a woman who abides by duty and what others desire of her before her own heart. As such, she refused the hand of the only man she has ever loved. But when chance propels them into each other’s lives again, will she have the gumption to share her true feelings? And will he have the heart to forgive her all these years later?

I am always delighted by the works of Jane Austen. Each one is a treat to read bringing lovable and not-so-lovable *cough* (Anne’s sister, Mary Musgrove) *cough* to life! Persuasion is one of her best. It has overbearing family members, silly schoolgirl crushes, a family feud, a mysterious cousin, hidden affairs and agreements, and oh yes – a romantic sea captain, Frederick Wentworth!

Persuasion is a tale about second chances and trusting one’s own mind. True to many of Austen’s works, the reader must know that not everyone can be trusted based on their first impression. Cold and stoic personages can be caring and charming, gentlemanly characters may be downright scoundrels. But that’s why you have to keep reading!

Death Comes to Pemberley
By P.D. James

Even if you watched the BBC miniseries, you really ought to read the book. There’s much more to the story and you learn a lot of details about what became of each of the Bennett sisters. For example, it is Kitty who remains at Longbourn taking care of their mother, not Mary!

The book picks up a few years after Darcy and Elizabeth are married. The household is preparing for a ball when suddenly Lydia, Elizabeth’s ill-mannered, flirtatious sister shows up announced and screaming that her husband is dead!

Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice know that Lydia marries the scoundrel, George Wickham, and he is no less changed in this fan mystery. It is not Wickham who is found dead in the woods behind Pemberley, but his best friend Captain Denny. Wickham is however, the prime murder suspect!

The author, P.D. James is one of Britain’s foremost mystery writers and she captures Austen’s voice meticulously. The last thing Darcy wants to do is save Wickham yet again, but save him he must if he wants to keep scandal away from his home and family.

I listened to this book on audio and it was a delightful mystery to get swept up in. And of course be reunited with all the best characters in Pride and Prejudice. Even Mr. Collins!

*****

That leaves just five more titles to complete for the TBR Pile Challenge. How are the rest of you doing? 

What are you currently reading right now? 

Any fun plans to celebrate Book Lovers Day?

I Really Do Hate Kayaking! Five Truths and a Lie Answers Revealed

Hey Lads and Lassies,

Thanks all for playing along with last week’s post Five Truths and a Lie. All of you made admirable guesses and many of you left your own five truths and a lie for me to guess, which was super fun. Thanks!

As promised, the answers are revealed this week and I decided to do so via vlog. Enjoy my muppet voice!

You’re welcome.

Still wanna play along? Leave five truths and a lie in the comments and I will try to guess which is the lie.
Or write your own blog post! Link back here so I can see it.
Happy week everyone!

Five Truths and a Lie, Round 2

Five Truths and a LieIt’s time for another edition of…

Five Truths and a Lie!

The game where I tell you six random things about me and you have to guess which one of them is a lie.

Last time, I gave you pretty outlandish facts about myself. Many of you are still in awe over my winning a year’s worth of chicken wings. This time I thought I’d go a little more subtle. See if you can figure out what the lie is.

All correct guesses win you bragging rights – let your friends know you are an amazing guesser and they should put you on their trivia team dagnabit.

Y’all ready for this?

Five Truths and a Lie

1. I own two mini staplers.
2. I wear men’s deodorant.
3. I have a fear of kayaking.
4. I built my own Little Free Library.
5. I dislike spearmint flavored gum.
6. I am medically allergic to the sun.

*****

What say you? Which is the lie? Answer revealed in next week’s blog!

Wanna play along? Give me five truths and a lie about you in the comments and I’ll try to guess which is the lie.
Or write your own blog post and link back to mine so I can try to guess too! 

Go Ahead, Let’s Get Fangirl

FangirlI’ve been known to achieve ‘fangirl’ status now and again. You can pretty much count on it whenever anything Jane Austen or Anne of Green Gables pops up. I know those aren’t the popular characters that teens fangirl over today. But, I can get down with those too.

I am Team Edward. A Gryffindor. Divergent. And Team Gale (in the book). Team Peeta (in the movie).

Oh and I’m a full-fledged member of Team Christian Gray needs a restraining order.

I have made real life, lasting friendships through joint fangirling. My pal, Misty, and I became soulmates after discovering a mutual love for the film Singles. And Reality Bites. Talking with Misty is like that scene where Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo are in the gas station and their jam comes on.

Yah, it’s like that. AND, that’s why I can send her a chalkboard thought bubble and she can send me a kabuki bottle opener and a cup with a Gremlin on it. We just GET each other.

Thanks to fangirling.

But back to my obsessions. It’s true, I can fangirl over just about anything. I have a loud, energetic, and passionate personality that friends euphemistically call “quirky.” Thanks, friends.

We all go back to what we know, right? And when I was growing up there were two things I came to know very well. Jane Austen movies and Anne of Green Gables.

And Rodgers and Hammerstein’s showtunes. So, three things.

Well, and Shirley Temple movies, so four. Four things.

And then came Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman…

I’m basically a WEALTH of nerd know-how! Like, if it involved singing, Regency Englanders or the fucking prairie, I knew about it.

What can I say, I was raised by old people.

These things haven’t left me. I still love all of them. Because I am a fangirl and my love does not wane.

My sole purpose of having a Pinterest account is a place where I can pin pictures from Jane Austen movies and Anne of Green Gables, losing hours upon HOURS of my day. You can check them out on my pinterest boards So Austentacious and You May Call Me Cordelia.

Here’s what you will find there:

I’m thinking of starting a new board called “Sashay-Bronte” where I can pin things from Wuthering Heights.

I recently scored a new addition to my collection of fangirl swag. I purchased a copy of Shirley Temple’s autobiography Child Star. It’s out of print and you can only get used copies now. Plus Target released the Little Darling Collection of her films, which is to date the most comprehensive of all the sets. I was pretty psyched about this. And I displayed my little “Good Ship Lollipop” of joy for my husband to see.

Shirley Temple

He wasn’t that amused. In fact, I think he may have been frightened.

No worries. His lack of excitement and psychiatric concern could not put a damper on my spirits!

Because I am a fangirl! 

*****

What do you fangirl about?
Do we share a propensity for all things Austen, Anne, or Shirley?
What are your favorite fangirl crazes that stick out from your childhood?

Summertime Madness Book Lovers Tag

Scooch in close you guys. I’ve got a secret widely known fact to share.

I love books. 

Book Swag LovinSome have gone so far as to call me a bibliomaniac! And to that I say, “Thanks for putting ‘biblio’ in front of that!”

I just really like to read. All genres. All authors. I love memoirs, historical fiction, humor books, creepy thrillers, erotica novels, creative nonfiction, and YA books too.

I am, however, none too crazy about dinosaur erotica. But I researched it once.

I’ve made it through four books on my Top 10 Books to Read This Summer. I would likely be further along except for…Outlander. ‘Nuff said.

My pal, Maren, from The Worn Bookmark just posted her Summertime Madness Tag with lots of great titles you should definitely read! And she invited others to play along. So, I’m joining in! And so can you! Share your summertime madness picks in the comments or in a post of your own! Link back so I can see what’s on your must-read list!

summertime madness

1. Show a book with a summery cover. 

I just finished reading this book about Bill Bryson’s road trip across America and it’s made me antsy to begin our own soon.

2. Pick one fictional place that would be the perfect destination for your summer vacation. 

It said fictional, so of course, I choose Pemberley!

3. You’re about to go on a flight to your Summer Vacation. But you want to read a book that lasts for the whole flight, so what novella do you choose?

It’s not really a novella, but it is a collection of essays which are easily read. Laurie Notaro is one of my favorite humor authors and this is one of her best books. I would gladly chuckle through the plane ride reading this book.

4. You have a case of Summertime Sadness. What happy book do you pick up to shine a smile on your face?

Samantha Bee’s book is hilarious! I loved her no holds barred, honest writing and her description of her family. This book would definitely put a smile on my face. I mean, just look at the cover.

5. You’re sitting at the beach all alone…which fictional character would be your beach babe?

So Maren and I have the same answer here. Jamie Fraser! This Highland hottie can double as my beach blanket babe anytime!

6. To match your ice cream you want an icy cool sidekick! Which fictional sidekick do you pick?

What better sidekick than the costar of all costars? I think Judy Greer and I could be great friends and get into all kinds of shenanigans over the summer.

*****

Your turn! What books on your summer madness list?

#WhatIf: A Strange List of Jobs I Almost Had

What if, in an alternate life, I was just like James Bond???

What if, in an alternate life, I was just like James Bond???

Do you ever look back on your life and consider the alternate routes it could have taken? What would have happened if you’d said yes instead of no to a question?

Maybe I’d be living in a different city, maybe I’d have lost or gained significant friendships, maybe I’d be driving a luxury car, and by luxury I mean one that came with cruise control…

I’m a storyteller and writer at heart. I often reflect on the choices one makes and the ‘what if’s’ had the choice been different. After all, that’s really just plot we’re talking about. How will the world around you change by choosing x instead of y?

My day job is in the process of transition and it got me thinking about the many different transitions my career has had to date. If I ignore actual position titles, and go by the tasks I completed day to day, then I have worked in the following fields:

  • professional alphabetizer
  • storage room cleaner
  • napkin folder
  • duster of knick knacks
  • pizza maker and garbage taker-outer
  • gift wrapper
  • sales auditor
  • bra fitter
  • coach and counselor for commission sales team (AKA: the shark pit)
  • latte maker
  • social media guru
  • sex trivia host

And that got me thinking to what I could’ve done in my career had a few application processes gone different. Imagine it, somewhere in an alternate universe, I am known as Jess Witkins:

  • district level lingerie manager
  • Catholic school secretary
  • organic farm office manager
  • grocery store deli worker
  • hotel night manager
  • bank teller
  • or if my father had his way, cake decorator  – which could work if y’all are in the mood for an “abstract” trend in the bakery business. God, remember that time I attempted to bake a tart??!

I can’t say I regret any of these “lost” positions. But I found it most entertaining to consider what life would have been like had I…worked in close proximity with nuns or spent eight hours shaving a honeyed ham.

Life would be very different. I might even pick one of these faux jobs and use it as a writing prompt just for giggles.

What about you? What alternate life would you lead had a past job application worked out?
Do we share a pension for habits and ham? ;)

Five Reasons to Fall In Love With #StitchFix

I’m in love with Stich Fix. The delightful in home personal stylist company that sends five items picked just for you each month.

I blogged about them before when I first signed up.

Since then, I’ve received a dozen fixes and have so much fun seeing what’s inside each box.

15536165707_21e4b6d04e_z (1)For Newbies: 

Stitch Fix is a personal styling business that sends a box of handpicked items just for you each month (or less if you prefer) for the cost of $20/month.

Using a style profile you fill out, their expert team of stylists hand select items for you based on your preferences and notes to your stylist.

You don’t pay any shipping to or from. And your $20 styling fee goes toward any items you wish to purchase. If you keep them all, you get 25% off the box!

Pretty sweet, right?

You can sign up here using my referral link. 

Love it? Refer your friends and get a $20 credit for each person that signs up!

Not convinced? 

Here are five reasons I think you should try out Stitch Fix.

(And no, they’re not paying me to do so. I just really like this company.) 

1. Your stylist WANTS you to love your fix.

My first 6 fixes or so had a different stylist each time. But after I got a fix from Alix, I was hooked. She has been styling for me ever since. She pays great attention to my notes – which I make specific to help guide her. And she checks out my pinterest board for more inspiration on what looks I like. I have kept more items because she pulls colors and details I like. By pinning things of Stitch Fix’s profile, I’ve also received some of the items in my shipments.

Like this pom pom scarf.

Like this pom pom scarf.

And this tank top.

And this tank top.

2. Avoid malls, fitting rooms, and try things on with what you already own!

If malls and fitting rooms overwhelm you, or you often suffer from buyer’s remorse. Stitch Fix could be a great solution for you. When your shipment arrives, you get 3 days to try stuff on – AND DO TRY IT ALL ON! And since you’re at home, you can mix and match the items they send you with what you already own to see various looks and feel good about your purchases.

And bonus, you’re stylist also sends you style cards with two looks for each item she sends you. This will give you tips for how to wear the looks and what colors are great to coordinate with it.

I nabbed this lace kimono top and dressed up a basic tee and print scarf.

I nabbed this lace kimono top and dressed up a basic tee and print scarf.

3. Feel pampered.

Everyone deserves to feel good about their wardrobe and that it expresses their unique style. I love that Stitch Fix feels like a treat. The items are packaged neatly and their customer service is exceptional. I had one bad fix that was not my style at all. I left detailed notes about why the items weren’t right me and I immediately got an email apologizing and thanking me for my feedback. I was not turned off and found my next fix much improved.

Plus on the style cards you receive, your stylist also writes you a personal note. I love that Alix always refers to the events I have coming up and how she picked out pieces to wear for them. Makes me feel like I am shopping with a good friend.

15469656661_0bc7f1b558_z

Here’s how beautiful the fixes come wrapped and one of my style cards.

4. Find unique pieces for your wardrobe.

I grew up in a small town, and even now, there is one mall where everyone shops. It’s nice to have some unique pieces in your closet that you won’t have to worry about someone else showing up in the same thing. I tend to ask for workwear in my fixes and I love the bright colors and unique prints my stylist sends me.

This bright magenta top has lace sleeves making it fun and romantic with jeans but easily dressed up with black pants or a skirt for work.

This bright magenta top has lace sleeves making it fun and romantic with jeans but easily dressed up with black pants or a skirt for work.

Pardon my headless horseman shot. LOL - But this tank and skirt came from Stitch Fix. The tank has lace detail on the back and shoulders and the skirt is a navy and cream comfy knit but very dressy for work.

Pardon my headless horseman shot. LOL – But this tank and skirt came from Stitch Fix. The tank has lace detail on the back and shoulders and the skirt is a navy and cream comfy knit but very dressy for work.

5. They are great social media friends.

I follow Stitch Fix on multiple platforms. Their blog has great style tips for every season and occasion. They share what’s new on Pinterest and Instagram. They tweet back to clients when you write about your fix. And they have a photo contest every friday where you can enter to win a Stitch Fix credit. Just tag your photo with #StitchFixFriday!

Here is one of my #StitchFixFriday photo submissions. The sweater and jeans were in my fix.

Here is one of my #StitchFixFriday photo submissions. The sweater and jeans were in my fix.

*****

What are you waiting for? The most you can lose is $20.
Give Stitch Fix a try

*****

Want to see what else came in my fix? Here are a few of my fave fix items.

photo 1 (9) photo 2 (8) photo 4 (6)

Happy fixing! Be sure to send me pics of your first fix so I can seeeeeee!

What is your most dire wardrobe need?
Mine was shorts. Why do they make them all so… so short? ;)

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