A Good Marriage

Why Be Perfect When You Can Be Perfect For Each Other?

My husband likes to record me when he thinks I’m doing something especially brave. Brave being a very generous word for me sticking a pinky toe out of my tiny box of security. Like when I rode a city bike in Montreal.

I’d fought the idea the whole trip, declaring that there was simply “no way.”

“I have no idea what the rules are.”

“I don’t know the city.”

“I can’t.”

“I’m just not comfortable with it.”

My husband didn’t push. Maybe he knew I’d crack, maybe he didn’t. But Montreal is a big city, and by the time I changed my mind the bottoms of my feet were pulsing like heartbeats and I knew sightseeing was over if I didn’t change my tune.

So I rode the bike, my dress flapping in the breeze, giving glimpses of my underpants to passersby as I pedaled along. It should be noted that when I’m done caring, I’m truly done caring.

“Don’t film me,” I warned. I could see him trying to subtly lift his phone over his shoulder, attempting to capture the moment like a gleeful parent does their child’s first steps. So proud. But definitely going to run into a parked car if he didn’t put his phone away.

We’ve developed an extremely successful travel style in our twelve years of marriage. I am the planner. I love researching destinations. I read local blogs and devour articles and restaurant reviews. I book the flights, the hotels, the restaurant reservations. I buy the train tickets and plot our route and sketch out our itinerary.

My husband is the spirit. He is loose and relaxed. He goes with the flow and when we’re together I get infected with the same ease, the delicious feeling of possibility. Without him, I get rigid and stressed. Without me, well, he’d be fine. But, I plan a damn good holiday so I’m still an asset.

A few years ago we were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary with a three week trip to Italy. We were in Florence, at the meeting point for our walking tour to go see Michelangelo’s David and no one from the group had arrived yet. I was getting more and more nervous, positive something was wrong, but I knew this was the meeting place.

Except, it wasn’t. We were doing two walking tours in Florence and I’d somehow switched the meeting places. I was descending into a full on panic attack as I pulled up the map on my phone and saw that we were at least six blocks away from the meeting spot and the tour was supposed to start in two minutes.

“We’ll never make it!” I wailed.

My husband looked me in the eyes, calm as ever, and said, “I think we can.”

It was all I needed.

So we ran. We sprinted through the freshly rained on streets of Florence , dodging tourists and yelling ‘scuzi’ as we went. Sliding on the cobblestone streets, I biffed it hard and fell, slamming to the ground on my side, much to the delight of onlookers.

“Are you – “

I was already up and sprinting again.

And we made it. We made it with time to spare. Because, as the tour company explained, wide eyed at our disheveled appearance, they always wait an extra five – ten minutes for stragglers. Well, whatever.

I had a gash on my hand and my leg from when I fell, but relief and exhilaration made me invincible. And of course, my husband took a picture of me, smiling and displaying my bloody, gashed up hand. So proud.

It takes a really solid, trusting partner to hand over the reins when we travel the way he does. He openly admits that I’m better at it and I openly agree that he’s right.

I’ve had to admit my own shortcomings in other aspects of the relationship. A hard one was admitting that he has better taste than me when it comes to design, but he does. When we plan a renovation, we both come to the table with ideas and his are always so much better.

He’s thoughtful where I’m flippant, careful where I’m unrealistic, and he’s original, where I’m tired and cliched.

The research I pour into travelling, he pours into product purchases and reno projects. I’ve tried to match his enthusiasm … and I just can’t. I don’t care. So I hand over the reins.

It’s a hard thing for people to swallow.

“You let him make all the design decisions?”

Yeah. I do. I don’t want my house to look like crap.

He still runs all his ideas by me first in case I want to veto. And I do the same with our travel plans.

Partnership is identifying weaknesses and strengthes. It’s working together. And it’s taking pictures of each other when we’re being brave.

5 Foreign Crime Dramas All Murderinos Should Watch

Sick of North American Crime Shows? It’s Time to Expand Your Horizons

You’ve done it. You’ve finally done it. You exhausted all options for gripping, bingeworthy crime shows. Now what?

Don’t worry, your Netflix queue doesn’t have to be empty. There are still excellent shows waiting for you, as long as you don’t mind going international.

Don’t let the idea of reading subtitles throw you. The writing is top notch, the tension high, and unlike so many North American shows that sometimes choose shock value over good writing, the reveals actually make logical sense. So grab some popcorn and get ready to solve some murders.

1. The Valhalla Murders

This is one of the best crime dramas I’ve watched in a long time. It takes place in Iceland, so you know the scenery is spectacular. It’s moody and intelligent with strong leads and a series of murders that only grow more dark and complex the further the main characters, Kata and Arnar, dig. Even better, there’s no will they/won’t they romance between the two of them, replaced instead with a professional comradery that makes the ending ten times more satisfying. However long your list, this needs to be at the top.

2. La Mante

The French are good at everything, aren’t they? Leave it to them to give us the world’s classiest serial killer. In La Mante, a copycat is repeating the crimes of La Mante (the mantis), a woman who gruesomely murdered eight men before being caught and imprisoned. She offers to help the investigation track down the killer before they can finish their homage, on one condition. She’ll only work with her estranged son. Is it a little over the top and unrealistic? Yes. Is it utterly fabulous and supremely watchable? Double yes.

3. Trapped

Yes, we’re back in Iceland. I can’t help it, their shows are spectacular. In Trapped, an icelandic town gets snowed in by a massive blizzard just as a body floats to the surface and a ferry full of suspects arrive. Help won’t arrive until the snow stops, so the local police force of only three officers are on their own. As they investigate, they uncover a lot more than murder. It seems their sleepy town is brimming with secrets.

4. The Forest

A teenage girl makes a desperate phone call to her teacher in the middle of the night. When her body is found in the forest days later, police go from investigating what they thought was most likely a harmless prank, to realizing something dark lurks in their peaceful village. And when two more teenage girls go missing, the clock starts ticking. Will they find two more bodies, or will they catch the killer in time? As they hunt for clues, one inevitable truth comes to light: small towns often hide the biggest secrets.

5. Case

When a young girl is found hanging in the theater of a local ballet company, it looks to be suicide. But why? The girl was smart, happy and thriving, or so it seemed. The detective on her case isn’t satisfied with simply accepting the coroner’s report and moving on. She and two lawyers are determined to go down the rabbit hole and unravel the secrets surrounding her death until they find who’s responsible.

There we have it. I guarantee at least one of these shows will scratch that itch. And if you like one or all of them, please feel free to share this article with anyone else you think would enjoy them.

Thanks for reading! Now go forth and watch!

Bullet Journaling is Making Me Less Efficient and I’m Okay With It

I love bullet journaling. I love scrolling through pinterest and looking at new ideas for spreads and gaping at the ridiculous cursive and calligraphy skills. I love watching doodle tutorials and reading articles on how to decorate, on ways to become more efficient, on all the new trends for the new year or the new season. And I love filling out my actual bullet journal.

Why do I love it all so much? Not because it makes me more organized, efficient or goal oriented. It doesn’t.

It really doesn’t.

I like it for the opposite reason. It’s the perfect way to avoid doing any actual work. I plan and decorate away, feeling blissfully productive while simultaneously getting nothing done. Just look at this beautifully decorated To Do list I won’t complete! Behold this gorgeous habit tracker I’ll start forgetting to fill out in a week or two! You know what I should do? Make a Habit Tracker Forgetting Tracker so I can keep track of all the times I forget!

That dentist appointment seems suddenly inspired when it’s etched in calligraphy and surrounded by flowers.

It’s the perfect way to glamorize a life that’s not particularly interesting. That dentist appointment seems positively inspired when it’s etched in calligraphy and surrounded by flowers. And really, why ‘do’ any of those To Dos when you can draw another colourful border and add a few more sleeping cats?

If I spent half the time I use decorating my goals page or my ideas page actually working on said ideas and goals I might actually accomplish something. And wouldn’t that be terrifying?

Maybe the real reason I love bullet journaling is because it’s a shield I can hide behind. I’m not procrastinating, I’m planning. And as long as I’m busy decorating my bullet journal, coming up with new things to track and schedule, I don’t have to try. I don’t have to actually put myself and my work out there. Maybe the root of my love of bullet journaling is just a plain old fear of failure. Ugh, how boring. I wonder if there are any ideas on pinterest for bullet journaling your fears that I could use to really spruce it up and… I’m getting off topic.

If I spent half the time I use decorating my goals page or my ideas page actually working on said ideas and goals I might actually accomplish something. And wouldn’t that be terrifying?

So, what do I do? Do I throw out all my coloured pens and pencils and run my bullet journal through a wood chipper? Maybe. Or maybe I recognize that wasting a good chunk of my productive time colouring in decorative flowers and filling in little boxes on a habit tracker I’ll never analyze isn’t the best use of my time. Maybe I pare it down and avoid the clear time wasters.

Like the grocery lists. Who brings a bulky journal with them to the grocery store? Use your phone. And the ‘style’ pages. Really? Do you really need to describe your style… to yourself? And inane pages like ‘my morning routine’. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but if you haven’t figured out how to get up and get ready yet, I don’t know if a journal page covered with smiling fried egg doodles is going to help you.

It’s the cookie, not the answer.

Let’s be real. Bullet journaling is never going to make me more efficient. But it is relaxing. So maybe I keep it, with the understanding that it’s not a stand in for productivity. It’s the cookie, not the answer. Bullet journaling isn’t going to make me a success, but it can help me perfect those little rocket ship doodles. You know, just in case it ever comes up.

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Ten Great Halloween Reads You Might Not Have Heard Of

The time of ghosts and spooks is upon us, which means it’s time to shelf the beach reads for a month or two and dig into something a bit more atmospheric. There are the classics of course. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and etc.

But what if you’ve already read them, or you need/want something different and fresh? Maybe you’re looking for a new twist on vampires or something with a bit of humor. Maybe you need something to make sleep impossible. Well, don’t worry. I got you!

The following are some great Halloween reads you might not have heard of, but will definitely enjoy.

1. HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER – Lish McBride

Okay, yes. If you follow me on twitter or Instagram, you know I go on about this book a lot. And yes, I will always look for an excuse to recommend it to people. But that’s because it’s brilliant and an absolute favourite. It centers around Sam, a (you guessed it) necromancer. Except he’s only just discovered he’s a necromancer, thanks to a fast food prank that puts him on the radar of Douglas, a powerful necromancer that wants to join forces… or else.

This book and its sequel or straight perfection. It’s funny, original, and has a fabulous cast of characters, including a re-animated talking head. What more do you want?

2. SERVANTS OF THE STORM – Delilah Dawson

Looking for something with more of a creep factor? This will do the trick.

After a hurricane blows through Savannah, Georgia and takes the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly, with it, Dovey disappears into a medicated haze. But something truly sinister blew in with that storm. Dovey will need to stop her meds and follow it into the darkness if she wants to save her friend and her city.

This one is legitimately creepy. It had me on the edge of my seat and screeching at Dovey like a lunatic until the final page. Read this one with the lights on.

3. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN – Holly Black

It’s not Halloween without some vampires, and not only did Holly Black take on one of the world’s most overdone monsters, she managed to give it new life (no pun intended) in the process. From the book jacket:

“One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.”

This is the book that made me fall in love with Holly Black. Read it, friends. Read it.

4. HEART-SHAPED BOX – Joe Hill

Time to get back into the scary, and for that we turn to the master, Joe Hill. From the book jacket:

“Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre … so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it. The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit.”

I loved this book so much, even though it gave me some pretty intense willies. From the moment that box arrived, I was filled with dread and the tension continues to build with every page. It’s a truly phenomenal ghost story, and when you’re done with it make sure you read HORNS as well, also by Joe Hill and also a masterpiece.

5. REST IN PIECES: THE CURIOUS FATES OF FAMOUS CORPSES – Bess Lovejoy

Throwing a little non-fiction into the mix. Why? First of all, it’s delightfully macabre, which is perfect for getting into the spirit of Halloween, and second, it’s fascinating! Lovejoy tells the stories of what happened to many of the famously dead and the results are both hilarious and horrifying. You honestly won’t be able to stop reading and frankly, you’re going to have some killer dinner party stories (at least if your friends are any fun you will).

6. I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER – Dan Wells

Creepy and original, Wells manages to mix two perfectly terrifying ideas: serial killers and demons. From the book jacket:

“John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential. … Now for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside of himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.”

If you’re looking for a page turner, this is it. Perfectly crafted and researched, this one kept me up all night.

7. SUNSHINE – Robin McKinley

I couldn’t resist adding another vampire book. ‘Tis the season, right? And like Holly Black, McKinley was able to completely re-invent the classic monster, with excellent writing and plot to boot. From the book jacket:

“There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her…”

I’m not going to beg you to read this… Okay I am. It’s just so good!

8. JOHANNES CABAL THE NECROMANCER – Jonathan L. Howard

Oh, how I love this book! It’s so clever and satisfying and utterly perfect.

Johannes Cabal makes a deal with the devil and the battle of wits begins. He must collect 100 souls in one year in order to get his own soul, which he traded earlier in life, returned to him.

Is there anything else I need to say to convince you? How about that it’s funny and unexpected and did I mention already that it’s perfect?

9. THE BOY MEETS GIRL MASSACRE – Ainslie Hogarth

We’re back to creepy. And this one is a slow burn, a deeply, deeply creepy read. From the book jacket:

“Noelle takes a summer nightshift job at the infamous Boy Meets Girl Inn, even though she’s well aware of the grisly murders that happened there decades ago. That’s why she has a diary – to write down everything she experiences. But the inexplicable freezing drafts, the migrating rotten-flesh smell, and the misplaced personal items don’t really scare her. Noelle has bigger problems: her father’s ailing health, her friend Alfred’s inappropriate crush, and the sore spot on the back of her head that keeps getting worse.”

I’m not going to lie. I had to take breaks while reading this one because I was getting too freaked out.

10. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M.R. Carey

Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to leave you hanging. What’s a list of Halloween reads without zombies? Especially new and exciting ones. Carey re-imagines zombies in this brilliant work, making them both eerie and terrifying, as well as sympathetic. I’ll let you read to find out what I mean.

One thing’s for sure, you won’t be able to put it down.

All right, that’s it friends. Make sure to share this article with friends who are also looking for something good to read this Halloween. (I’d love it if some of these became book club picks). Follow me on Instagram and twitter if you’d like to see more of what I’m reading on a regular basis. Now, go forth and read!