My Inner Deborah Harry

My Inner Deborah Harry

Every now and then, a song will get stuck in my head and I just can’t shake it. Sometimes, it’s a song I hate–or perhaps that’s too strong. Let’s say it’s a song I don’t really connect with.More often than not, it will be music that ends up on my writing soundtracks. Yes, I make Spotify playlists that I refer to as the soundtracks of my novels.

Lately two songs keep popping up in my mind: “Heart of Glass”  and “Dreaming” by Blondie. Both songs keep popping up on my writing playlists and I find myself singing them in the shower at least 3-4 times a week. I’m sure my neighbours are sick of hearing me caterwauling these tunes. 🙂

When I was younger, I loved Deborah Harry. She was everything I knew I was not: cool, sexy, quirky and thoroughly her own person. Though I looked nothing like her, I tried to channel some of her “I don’t care” vibe whenever I was feeling particularly nerdy in a bad way.  I guess it was only natural–I had pretty strict parents who were always trying to make me look “presentable”. We were like the Cosby kids in my neighborhood in Philly. We always had to put on our best faces and pretend we were perfect. And we did a good job of it because everyone thought we were the perfect kids: always so polite, always so well-spoken and well-dressed (meaning boringly dressed). It’s why I always took an extra set of clothes with me to school to change in so I could be the real me, or at least the me I wanted to be. And that was when I channeled my inner Deborah Harry. I may not have been as cool as she was, but I could tell myself I was.

I think a lot of us who grew up in the late 70s and 1980s wanted to be her or at least have a little of her aloofness, coolness. Even when she was at her worst, she was still iconic. And when she made a comeback a few years ago, it just made me love her even more.

I am forty-something and I still love Deborah Harry Blondie. I think a bit of her ends up in all the characters I write.

In the novella I am working on, “Heart of Glass” is pretty much the theme for at least part of the story. I think Håkan and Jessica both have hearts of glass, though he’s probably a little more vulnerable than she is. He’s the one wearing his heart on his sleeve. And yeah, “Dreaming” is a pretty big part of the story too. So, even if the story is set in Stockholm and Sardinia, there’s a little nostalgia creeping in and Deborah Harry is there somewhere. 🙂

What about you? What song’s stuck in your head now?

 

I am living in a world of…dust

I am living in a world of…dust

A few years ago, I was diagnosed as having a dust allergy, which I thought was kind of funny since I nearly always forget to dust off furniture, etc until I actually see the dust before me. I also thought it was amusing that I live in a country where people freak out about a speck of dust anywhere and keep their homes so spotless you feel like you’re in a furniture showroom or a design museum and yet nearly everyone here has some weird allergy.

Most of the time, I can keep my little allergy under control by simply remembering to dust and vacuum (though I suffer for hours afterwards with a stuffy nose and sneezing). I try to be tidier, but I leave books and papers everywhere. It’s what writers do. I should add that I really hate cleaning and I wish I could hire a cleaning person to come twice a month, but my Swedish hubby objects to this, even though he does not like vacuuming or dusting. So…I suffer through the dusting and the vacuuming and dreaming I could have someone take care of this so that I too could come home from work to a spotless apartment.

At least my desk at work was free of dust and was tidy…until now.

Now the dust has followed to the office.

No, I didn’t bring it with me.

They’re renovating our office, so there is construction dust everywhere. It’s also pretty noisy, which is to be expected when they are tearing down walls and putting up new ones, resurfacing hardwood floors, etc. I put my headphones on and try to drown out the noise with anything from Hole to Led Zeppelin to Parliament Funkadelic, but it doesn’t always help.

And the dust…

It gets in your hair, in your eyes, in your nose, in your mouth…. Even though they’ve tried to seal off the areas being renovated, the dust still gets everywhere.  I keep telling myself this will all be over in a month, but having to wipe down my desk 3-4 times a day to get rid of the dust so that I don’t have a sneezing fit does get a bit annoying.

Maybe I need a vacation. If only I could take my laptop and work from Italy…. or the south of France…or Bali. 😉

A girl can dream, right?

For now, I just have to keep wiping down my desk, vacuuming and dusting at home, and dreaming of the day when I can arrange a cleaning service to miraculously take care of all dusting. I’ll blow my nose a zillion times a day, rinse my face off to get rid of the grit I feel on it…wash my hands to keep said grit out of my eyes….

One day my dust hell will be over. 😉

 

 

Oh how I love pyjamas

Oh how I love pyjamas

I had this grand idea that I was going to write about the most perfect pair of jeans, but then something happened. I caught the flu. I have chills, I have fever rushes, I cough a lot, I sneeze a lot, my head hurts, I have zero energy. Needless to say, I’ve spent the last four days in my pyjamas.

Today I am wearing my Space Pyjamas from Asos Curve. I had to have them after watching Peter Dinklage do his “Space Pants” skit with Gwen Stefani on SNL. Even now, just thinking about that skit, I am giggling.

“Look at my pants with the eyes in your face/my legs are covered in outer space/SPACE PANTS!”

 

I adore my Space Pyjamas. They are soft and cozy, which is exactly what I need when I am feeling pretty icky. My skin feels pretty sensitive due to the fever rushes, so it’s nice to have pyjamas that feel cool and soft. And right now, these pyjamas are making me feel like all is right in the world, even when there is so much that is just….WRONG.

Space GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But, seriously, my favourite part of the day, even when I am feeling well, is when I come home from work and put on my loungewear (which is simply my pyjamas).  As soon as my pyjamas are on, I know I can relax, read a book, take it easy. And it usually means I am not planning on leaving the apartment for the rest of the evening. Ahhh.

So right now, when I have barely been outside the house, it’s imperative that I have the coziest of pyjamas. And right now, my Space Pyjamas are fitting the bill.

Do you have a favourite pair of PJs?

 

Oh Radio

Oh Radio

It suddenly occurred to me that I hardly ever listen to the radio anymore. I used to love listening to the radio. When I first moved to Sweden back in the mid-90s, there weren’t so many commercials on TV or radio stations. It was bliss. You could listen to close to an hour of music without interruption. There’d be one long commercial break so you had time to go to the bathroom, take a ciggy break if you smoked, or make more coffee and fix a sandwich. And in the early days when I couldn’t speak or understand Swedish, Sveriges Radio (their version of NPR) broadcast news from the US in English twice a day and even rebroadcast some programs from NPR.

Then something happened a few years later. Many Swedish radio stations started doing that annoying thing of squeezing in commercials between every 3-4 songs. Often the difference in volume was so high it felt like, during the commercial breaks, your radio was jumping up and down on your shelf or tabletop.

It also began to feel like every single station was playing the same music–and I didn’t like any of it. I eventually stopped listening to the radio. Instead, I listened to my collection of CDs and stopped worrying about new music. Sometimes I’d watch ZTV or MTV Europe to see if there was anything worth checking out. Occasionally something would jump out at me like Mando Diao, Saybia and Mew. But mostly I ended up listening to the same music I’d liked when I still lived in the US.

 

It went on like this for a while.  I found some online radio stations I could listen to, which was great. I found more new music to listen to–and not so many damned commercials. Can you tell I don’t like commercials very much?  Nowadays, I subscribe to different bands’ YouTube channels (like Mew, Lianne La Havas, Robyn, etc). But even with signing in, I can’t always escape the commercials. Some you can skip after a few seconds, others refuse to be skipped.

Lately, I’ve been listening to Chance the Rapper. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was seeing him on SNL that did it. I liked his performance of “Same Drugs” and now I’ve been listening to it a lot on Spotify. I have the feeling I’ll be listening to a lot more music and watching TV less. There’s a certain orange man I hate seeing on my TV screen, so Spotify and YouTube will be my saviours the next 4 years.

So now I wonder…everything changes so quickly these days, how will I discover new music in the future? And when will I ever listen to the radio again?

I Need Some Feel-Good Movies to Get Over This Feel-Bad Autumn

I Need Some Feel-Good Movies to Get Over This Feel-Bad Autumn

I am still trying to digest that Wednesday morning’s news. I almost don’t want to digest it, because just the thought of…He Who Shall Not Be Named sitting in the Oval Office makes me retch. So I feel that I need some dollops of happiness to dispel the grumpy clouds hanging over me.

In fact, I think I need to lose myself in some movies that make me happy.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-20-14-18I think one of the first ones I’ll watch is The Untouchables, a French buddy comedy starring Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy. Don’t be put off by the subtitles–this film is definitely worth the extra effort. It’s all about the unexpected friendship between an affluent Parisian man who is left quadriplegic following a paragliding accident and his caretaker, a vibrant young man from the suburbs who has just been released from prison. At first, Philippe and Driss are both suspicious and dismissive of one another. Driss doesn’t really want the job, but the money is good. Philippe, initially not very impressed with Driss, offers him the job because he is the only person who’s applied for it that does not either pretend he isn’t paralysed or talk to him like his mental faculties are kaput. And it’s Driss’s irreverence that helps Philippe learn to love life again. And for Driss, Philippe helps him see his own talent and that there is more to life than what society tells him he is limited to. Well, I won’t tell you more–look for it on Amazon Prime or Netflix. I think you’ll like it too.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-20-52-51Another movie that always puts me in a good mood is also French and also a comedy. It’s The Fabulous Life of Amélie Poulain–also known simply as Amélie. You’ve probably already seen this whimsical romantic comedy. I know I’ve watched it…probably way too many times…but it always makes me happy. Quirky Amélie, who has always thought there was something wrong with her heart and who’s never been in love, suddenly finds herself falling in love. And along the way she causes a little mischief and plays Cupid. Just thinking about it makes me long to watch Amélie again! 🙂

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And the last film that could make me smile? Well, actually the list could go on, but I decided to limit it to three. 🙂 The Sound of Music never fails to raise my spirits when I am in a funk. It’s schmaltzy, but I love it and I watch it every year at Christmas or whenever I need a little frothiness. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a crush on Christopher Plummer (because of this movie) since I was six years old. Maybe it’s because the songs are so much fun to sing. Maybe it’s because I love going to Austria–and my love of going to Austria is partly because of The Sound of Music.

Wow! Just writing about these movies has put a smile on my face–well, except for the fact that He Who Shall Not Be Named is all over Swedish TV….wait…wait… think about Christopher Plummer singing “Edelweiss” again….ahhh! So much better.

So tell me: which films top your feel-good list?

 

Winter is coming…and I need shoes!

Winter is coming…and I need shoes!

It’s that time.

Yes, the dark days of autumn have arrived in Sweden, and now I have to wear socks and waterproof shoes again. See? I love autumn when it’s sunny and the leaves are changing colors. I hate autumn when it’s been cloudy and rainy for days and I can’t remember when was the last time I saw any proper sunlight. Right now, I feel like a zombie.

And my feet are cold.

So, yes, socks it is again.

And waterproof shoes.

Chelsea boots from Wera.

Chelsea boots from Wera.

I have a mission now to find some cute shoes that will be my go-to shoes for the season. Shoes that can take rain…snow….whatever curveballs Sweden decides to throw at me. Whatever I buy needs to be comfortable, stylish enough to wear to work, but laid-back enough that I don’t feel like I’m wearing someone else’s shoes. I’m a big fan of Chelsea boots because they’re pretty versatile. My old pair finally bit the dust, so maybe it’s time to replace them with a brand, spanking new pair?

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Tripoli boots from Läeder by Nature

Or maybe I need a pair of sturdy boots that can handle snow and slush, since it won’t be long until Kung Bore (the Swedish equivalent of Jack Frost) makes his first appearance. I used to have a pair of leather boots similar to these Tripoli boots from Läeder by Nature. I practically wore them to death, I loved them so much, and I’ve been trying to find the perfect replacement pair for ages. These could do the trick. Of course, I would need to buy some rag socks or boot socks to wear with them. The awesome thing with boots like these is that they just need to be oiled from time to time to keep the leather in good condition. Also, oiling them improves how well they stand up to moisture. Hmm. What do you think? Should these be my new boots for the autumn and winter?

Cool winter sneakers from Canada Snow.

Cool winter sneakers from Canada Snow.

If this winter is anything like last winter, I may not need proper boots. We hardly had any snow in Stockholm last winter. I spent most of the winter in leather sneakers with a sturdy outer sole. Maybe I could get through an entire winter with a pair of boots like these from Canada Snow that are more like sneakers? They sure look comfortable. And I could imagine wearing them with jeans, leggings, skirts…not that I wear skirts very often, but still. 🙂  And that sole looks like it could handle Stockholm slush and snow and all that jazz.

Of course, there is the possibility that I buy all three…we’ll just have to wait and see… 😉

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Which Swede Do You Want Him to Be?

Which Swede Do You Want Him to Be?

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Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, renowned for playing strong, silent types.

A few weeks ago, I overheard some newly arrived English speakers lamenting the state of Swedish manners. One of the women had only been here six months and was dealing with not only a new culture and a new language but also a newborn baby and a new husband. She swore her husband was no longer the social, happy-go-lucky Swede she’d met and fell in love with in Los Angeles. Now that they were in Sweden, he didn’t laugh nearly as much as he did before. He was too quiet now. Her friends all bobbed their heads up and down, agreeing that their husbands/boyfriends/guys of the moment were also suffering from this weird affliction. Said one young woman, “It’s like he fell asleep as sweet, funny Calle and woke up as a pod person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers!” Again, all of them nodded and wondered something had changed in their relationships, what were they doing wrong? Or if it was something in the air or the water that had changed their guys. I wanted to reassure them that they’d done nothing wrong. That the moment they went on vacation and left Sweden again, the old version of their boyfriends/hubbies/hot guys would return.

It’s what happens.

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Many Swedes become like Jekyll and Hyde–minus the murderous tendencies. 😉

It’s the Swedish version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–minus any murderous tendencies. It seems to happen to them all–their personalities change when they leave Sweden and go back to “normal” once they are back in the structured order of everyday Swedish life. Take the Swede out of Sweden and his mood lightens, he’s uninhibited and suddenly does not feel like he must do everything just so, he can be spontaneous, he can be messy, he can be like everyone else.

I confess. I went through it. I moved here in 1995 thinking that my gorgeous Swede would be as social and talkative and up for anything as the version of him I knew in the US or when I came to Sweden for quick visits. There were still traces of that devil-may-care guy–he still liked having sex at the drop of a hat, he still liked doing goofy things (as long as too many people weren’t watching), but he didn’t like going out as much and suddenly deciding we could go to the movies was out of the question since Swedish movie theatres insist that tickets be booked in advance (and Swedish movie tickets were and still are rather expensive). Inviting friends over? Why did we have to do that? I spent the first year of living here trying to figure out what had happened to my social butterfly of a hottie. I asked him, he shrugged. I asked other people, they seemed clueless too. Of course, they were all Swedes. They didn’t realise they were going through the change too.

Swedish-American actor, Joel Kinnaman--does he suffer from the same malady or does his American side cancel it out?

Swedish-American actor, Joel Kinnaman–does he suffer from the same malady or does his American side cancel it out?

And then one of my colleagues explained it to me–how her Swedish husband had transformed and how she felt as though she was now married to two men–the fun out-of-Sweden Swede and the Stockholm version of her hubby. She advised me to embrace this duality. “You get two husbands in one,” she said with a laugh. “Just roll with it.”

So, I followed her advice. It made things easier in the long run, but I also tried to figure out just why it was this way. Some people say it has to do with how isolated we are in Sweden–we are not really part of the  European continent, separated as we are by the Baltic Sea and Öresunds Strait from the rest of northern Europe. We don’t have the same joie de vivre that they say southern Europeans have. Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight during the winter? Or maybe it’s because Sweden was a pretty poor country until some time after World War II? Or maybe Swedes are naturally quieter than everyone else (until alcohol is involved)?

I still don’t have the answers, but I kind of like having two husbands in one. And he’s pretty good-looking to boot, so that is always a nice bonus. I like both sides of him–his silent side that can be so serious you wonder if you are in a Bergman film–and his more laid-back side that comes out whenever we’re on vacation or at home on our own at the weekend. So if you ever meet a gorgeous Swede while you’re on vacation and he charms you enough to make you consider moving back to Sweden with him, just remember that you are getting two husbands in one…and make the most of it. 😉
Alexander Skarsgård in Zoolander

 

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Duran Duran, I Love You

Duran Duran, I Love You

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 07.21.41Yesterday was Duran Duran Appreciation Day and somehow I missed it. I am not sure how this happened. I was a teenager way back in the 1980s. Yes, I am showing my age and that’s okay. I still remember the first time I heard a Duran Duran song–it was “Hungry Like the Wolf” and we’d only just got MTV at my parents’ house in West Philly, but I hadn’t seen the video yet. My dad was the keeper of the remote control and he wasn’t interested in music videos. No, I *heard* “Hungry Like the Wolf” on the radio. I can’t remember the name of the station–maybe it was Hot Hits WCAU FM? I just remember experiencing insta-love with the song and trying to figure out when I could buy the album even though I’d only heard that one song.

Well, once I actually saw the video I was hooked. I know I wasn’t alone. I think every girl in school was gung-ho for Duran Duran, and we all had our favourite band member. I was partial to both Simon Le Bon and John Taylor. 🙂 How many of my teenage dreams were fuelled by “Hungry Like the Wolf”? Probably too many.

At some point I remember going to Plastic Fantastic, the record store that used to be located on 40th Street in University City, and buying my coveted copies of Rio and Duran Duran. I was such a Durannie that I bought them on vinyl *and* cassette (which was perfect since I could listen to them on my Walkman). Later that summer, I bought the Duran Duran video album. I think it probably corrupted me. 😉

My parents shipped me to Virginia for the summer and Duran Duran came with me. I converted a couple of my cousins to Durannies, listened to “Save a Prayer”, “Hold Back the Rain” and “New Religion” non-stop, screamed along to “Planet Earth” while in the shower and generally drove my grandparents insane. In between reading books I probably shouldn’t have been reading at the time (it’s what happens when you find your aunt’s copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying), I was trying to write my own short stories and singing along to Duran Duran. It was the soundtrack of my summer.

Of course, I wasn’t *just* listening to Duran Duran. Around the same time, I ‘d discovered WKDU, Drexel University’s radio station and they’d introduced me to the Psychedelic Furs, Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk, Joy Division, the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. Somehow, I managed to get my friends on Spring Garden Street to listen to some of the same music I was only just finding out about. In between listening to LL Cool J, Run DMC and Schoolly D, we were also digging Duran Duran and the other new bands from Europe that college radio was introducing me to.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. I was in Richmond, Virginia working on my master’s degree and suddenly, after a few years of somehow not listening to Duran Duran, I heard Simon Le Bon’s voice singing “Ordinary World”. It was the first song from the new period of Duran Duran that I loved since “Land” and “I Don’t Want Your Love” from Big Thing.

I was working on my thesis and babysitting, trying to earn a few extra bucks since my assistantship was definitely not helping me make ends meet. I loved “Ordinary World” from the moment I first heard it. It ended up being the soundtrack for my thesis. I am pretty certain that at least two of the short stories in my thesis were inspired by the video, if not the song.

Now fast forward again and Duran Duran are still making music that creeps into my life and gets stuck in my head–and yes, I love it. “Come Undone” inevitably ends up on playlists for my new writing projects, as does “Pressure Off”. Their music is still inspiring me as I write and I still adore them.

How do they do it? They keep reinventing themselves and staying relevant. They never do the cheesy “80s Night” tours or cruises that some other bands have had to do. Whatever magical elixir they’ve found, I am willing to drink it down as long as they keep making music that ignites within me and keeps me feeling inspired, carefree and bedazzled.

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Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

A few months ago I injured my knee while walking to the bus stop. What I thought was a simple sprain turned out to be so much more and extremely painful–namely, a torn meniscus, a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (also known as the ACL) and incipient osteoarthritis in my left knee. Yes, I’ve got it all at the moment. My orthopaedic surgeon is taking a wait-and-see approach and I’m doing physiotherapy (which is helping a lot, actually). I have to do special exercises just for my knee every day…and now they tell me to… lose a little weight.

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Yes, Kevin Hart, I wore that same expression on my face when they said it!

The foodie in me is not happy about this, but I do have some extra pounds that I’d love to see magically vanish…so I am trying to take a reasonable approach that involves cutting back on certain things, namely carbs, and not completely cutting out all the things I love.

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Did someone say bread….? Yum!

I freely admit it: I am a carb junkie. I love potatoes. I absolutely adore pasta. Got waffles? Yes! Sourdough bread? I am in ecstasy. But…these are, of course, the very things I need to cut back on if I am going to lose the first 5 kilos my physiotherapist says will help my knee feel better.

At least it’s summer. And usually during the summer–as long as it’s hot (which there is no guarantee of here in Sweden) I tend to crave other thing than…bread, pasta, comfort food. Lately, I’ve been craving roasted veggies–tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, red onions, carrots, you name it. I’ve also been longing for a good Caprese salad since my June trip to Matera, Italy.

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees and super simple: the only ingredients you need are

  • ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • good quality mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

That’s it. It doesn’t need to be more complicated. Pull out a shallow bowl or serving dish. Slice the tomatoes–not too thinly, you’ll want thicker slices to really enjoy this–and set them aside. Drain and slice the mozzarella. Again, not too flimsy slices. You want to savour the texture and the flavour. Pick a goodly amount of basil leaves–no point in stinting since–again–this is all about flavour.

Now don't you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now don’t you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now start placing the ingredients on your plate–tomato slice, mozzarella, basil–repeat–until you’ve got this lovely vision of red, white and green that makes you dream of Italy. Sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper over this beauty. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And you’re done!

Told you it was easy. 🙂

Now if you want to jazz it up, you could roast the tomatoes or use dollops of burrata (a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) or add some fresh baby spinach or toss in some strawberries or use crema di balsamico (a thicker, slightly sweeter version of balsamic vinegar that’s good on just about everything) instead. Go wild with it. 🙂 I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Caprese salad so I stick with the basics.

The great thing with a Caprese is that you can have it as a side salad or as your main dish–and it’s so pretty that people think you slaved over it when it took no time at all. Simply pretend it was so much more difficult than it really was to pick the perfect basil or slice that tomato just so.

So next week when I am in Philadelphia (where it’s always hot during the summer) instead of Stockholm (where you never know what sort of summer weather you’ll get), I have the feeling I will be eating a lot of Caprese salads.

Are you a Caprese salad lover? Or does some other bit of salad loveliness speak to you?

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Seventeen Years — How the Heck Did We Get Here?

Seventeen Years — How the Heck Did We Get Here?

Today my husband and I are celebrating seventeen years of marriage. Which feels weird. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been married that long, but then again it also feels feel like I’ve known him all of my life. Yesterday someone commented that marriage longevity was almost unheard of these days. We both laughed it off and counted off celebrity marriages that didn’t last more than five years. So it got me thinking about how the Swede and I have managed to keep our marriage strong, even when dealing with the wacky cultural differences and my general grumpiness–yes, I think I am pretty similar in temperament to a Border Terrier. I am cute and cuddly and grumpy. But I digress! I think I’ve come up with 5 reasons that–after over twenty years of being a couple and seventeen of them being married–the Swede and I work so well together.
1. We don’t live in each other’s pocket
Even when we first met and we were sometimes attached at the hip (and the lip), we gave each other space. I have my moments when all I want to do is read or write. Or when I am moody and just want to be alone. The Swede is the same. He needs his personal space, and I give it to him. Just because we’re married doesn’t mean that we can’t have separate interests. And I think this is a mistake a lot of couples make. They don’t give each other personal space. And just as every relationship needs quality time together, it also needs quality time apart. Sometimes I go on vacation by myself, he does the same. When we’re together again, we feel recharged.
2. Mutual respect
We respect one another. Even when we’re driving each other crazy, we always respect one another. Even when we’re angry at one another, we don’t intentionally say or do anything to hurt one another. I admire his intelligence and his integrity. I love that he stands up for what he believes in and that he always makes me feel like I am the most important person in his life. Whenever I am about to make an important decision, I always think about the impact it will have on both of us–and not simply on myself. And though we may both joke about our celebrity “free cards”, we both know we only want each other.

Our free cards
3. We talk it out
There are those moments when we misunderstand one another or we get into huge arguments. I won’t even pretend that we never fight. We do, just like everyone else. It took us a few years to figure out a good way to come back from those horrible moments. And now we talk it out. Sometimes I rant and he just waits patiently (he is a very patient man). Sometimes I have to wait a long time for him to verbalize what is bothering him–he’s Swedish, they don’t like confrontations or arguments, so this is kind of new for him. But we try to talk everything out and we NEVER go to bed angry at one another.

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4. We make each other laugh
The Swede is a consummate goofball and I absolutely adore that about him. Though he may look stern and serious (Swedes have mastered this look–just watch any Swedish film: Max von Sydow, Stellan Skarsgård…even Alexander Skarsgård–they’ve all mastered that stern look), he will say and do things just to catch my off guard and set me off into a fit of giggles. And I do the same for him. We spend a lot of time laughing. Lately, we keep making each other laugh with our impression of the now iconic Peter Dinklage SNL skit, Space Pants. Yup, we never get enough of Space Pants.

5. Love above all else
At the end of the day, it’s all about love. I know that I love him, and he loves me. And I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else.

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