Birthday Month

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Anyone else been having a tough couple of weeks? I know a couple of my nearest can attest to the bullshit of the last fortnight or so and I’m right there with them.

I’ve had some shitty tax themed worries hanging over my head (now sorted thankfully) plus the usual work stress but… it’s nearly November and that for me means ‘Birthday Month’, so I’m going to try and enjoy it.

There will be lots of nice things going on towards the end of the month but also next weekend (not this one, as I’m spending it cleaning, eating and sleeping), as Glynn has got us tickets to Brighton Film and Comic Con of all things!

The main draw for me is definitely George A. Romero, King of the Zombies (I can’t imagine him wandering around the hallowed streets of Brighton somehow) while my husband is excited about Spike from Buffy (I’m afraid I’ll lose friends when I admit I never really got into it). My dorky brother, meanwhile is beside himself about the appearance of Carl Weathers (of Predator/Rocky fame). So there’ll be something for everyone here.

Needless to say, the whole day is going to be a hoot. Sadly as a collective we’ve failed to agree on a theme for cosplay, so we’ll be going as civilians this time. If it’s really good, I fully intend to get into a costume for 2016.

Birthdays have always been a bit weird for me, I never really enjoyed them until I was with Glynn. He gets more excited about other people’s birthdays than they do and it’s so sweet. So now I can’t help getting carried away with the excitement. Work’s always a massive crack too, thanks to my amazing colleagues so hopefully we’ll have a good one this year.

I’ll be 38 fucking years old. 38 – nearly four decades, count them. That’s rather a good age I would say, so I’m going to enjoy it and embrace who I am because well I’m not going to change any time soon now, am I? I might be a clumsy, over-apologetic stumpy fingered sugar addict but I am mine.

So that’s me today. Feeling a bit better after those horrific weeks, no longer worried about taxes, forgetting about work for a long weekend and just generally staring at my navel thinking about being old again.

Happy weekend, all.

I Let You Go (Book) Review

I-LET-YOU-GO-400x618px1mayBefore I begin this, please be aware that I’m going to *spoiler the fuck out of it*.

(Pardon my French).

It’s impossible to review without letting a few things slip and since the premise of this book is built on a twist, it’s really not fair of me to just put it out there without warning.

If you’re intending to read this book then don’t read this post. Or… read it after. You might want to talk about it.

My Review: 

5 year old Jacob is hit by a car and killed on the way home from school one afternoon and the driver fails to stop. Jacob’s mother holds him in her arms as he passes on, and her life will never be the same.

Blaming herself for the accident, she feels all eyes are on her, accusing her of neglect and eventually, she leaves her home in Bristol to escape the past.

Jenna chooses a secluded cottage on a cliff in Wales to deal with her past, where she builds a new life, a far different life to the one she knew.

Meanwhile, DI Ray Stevens is on the case with his protege Kate, who won’t let the case go, even when their original campaign yields no leads.

Will Ray and Kate unravel this complicated story and finally find the driver responsible for robbing Jacob of his life – and find justice for his mother? And will Jenna ever put her guilt behind her and be happy again?

Only one way to find out!

My Thoughts:

Reading this book has opened my eyes to the concept of the ‘trigger warning’ and I wonder more than ever before about when and where they should be placed. I mean, I get that it must be hard to warn readers when you’re presenting a thriller with a twist that most of them won’t see coming but honestly, I went into this book expecting something completely different and getting way more than I bargained for.

I don’t know if I was ready to read another book about spousal abuse. It left me feeling uneasy and yes, unlatched memories I wasn’t up for revisiting.

The abuse suffered by our protagonist is way more violent than anything I’ve experienced (luckily) but Jenna’s dialogue as she realises her relationship has gone bad but doesn’t know how to leave, the heinous things her husband says to her and the way she almost loses her family forever, is all too real to me.

My own experience of psychological abuse (and it is abuse) is way more subtle and therefore harder to accept when you’re in it (e.g. “I’m imagining it, aren’t I? Maybe he’s right, I’m being paranoid.”) – but it’s still abuse. I started to read these scenes and I was like “Great. Another fucking man ruining another fucking life!”.

The book is, of course, more than that. It’s fairly gripping; the initial story is heartbreaking and it’s written quite well (but not amazingly). You might find yourself rooting for Jenna, despite the horrible accident she’s supposedly caused. You might find yourself rolling your eyes at the predictability of DI Stevens, the detective assigned to solve the case, as he battles with his feelings for a young, pretty colleague (but of course!). You might find yourself getting irritated that his wife Mags is painted in such a dowdy 2D light, despite the fact that she was an even better copper than Ray, before the kids.

And you might click your tongue at the idyllic retreat Jenna takes herself on to escape the past. Windswept beaches, a rescue dog and wellington boots. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? And just how perfect is her love interest, Patrick? So far so Sleeping with the Enemy (1991).

I know these aren’t really criticisms, as such. Just that most women escaping domestic violence don’t have the luxury of escaping to the wilds of Wales, I guess. I don’t know what I expected of this book really, if anything but it didn’t give me anything new, or thought provoking. It just turned my stomach and made me feel angry in the second half, especially when the true culprit of all the terror gets his underwhelming just desserts.

Maybe I’ve just over-saturated my consciousness with thrillers lately, and much better ones too, like The Girl on the Train. I’ll think very carefully before I read another book in this genre, even though it’s one I’m generally attracted to.

Book details:

  • I Let You Go
  • Publisher: Sphere (7 May 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 0751554154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751554151
  • Bought paperback (new)

Cockneys Vs. Zombies (Film) Review

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Another week, another great horror. Or, if not great, then at least great fun. Which, both Jillian and I have agreed is exactly what we needed after a few weeks of pure, unadulterated stress at both our works.

Anyone else having the shittest few weeks of their (working) lives?

Let’s see if our pick this week offers anything more than exactly what it says on the tin.

*Spoilers* 

Cockneys Vs. Zombies (2012)

Director: Matthias Hoene
Stars: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan

IMDB Synopsis: A gang of bank robbers fight their way out of a zombie-infested London.

My Review:

Brothers Terry and Andy are likely lads but with their hearts in the right place. Right now they’re plotting a robbery with the help of an unstable associate called Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas). What on earth could go wrong?

Meanwhile, the East End of London is undergoing a transformation with new builds going up all over the city. During the first stages of building it looks like the developers have uncovered a 17th century burial site, as you do. This may or may not have unleashed the undead into the streets – oopsy.

The same developers FYI are threatening closure on Terry and Andy’s grandpa’s care home which might have something to do with the upcoming robbery… Incidentally, this film would not have been the film it is if it hadn’t starred the sublime Alan Ford (Brick Top of Snatch (2000) to you and I). He makes it completely.

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The gang had arrived at the Annual Mouth Gaping Wide Open Championships – but who would walk away with gold?

So, the brothers move forward with the robbery with a little help (?) from an increasingly erratic Mickey, plus friend Davey Tuppence (Jack Doolan) and cousin Katy. Things go appallingly of course when the gang end up with more than they bargained for, both fiscally and literally. The robbery brings in 2 million but they gain two hostages along the way.

Lucky for them the surrounding police officers have bigger fish to fry what with the undead devouring them all, so they get away pretty easily. I don’t really get why they take hostages at this point but they do, in the form of Emma (Georgia King) and Clive (Tony Gardner).

One by one we lose members of the squad in creative and witty ways. There’s not much I can really say about this, just that it follows a typical zompocalypse format but funnier. Things kick off when Terry and Andy head for the care home, where Brick Top and friends have been doing a decent job of fighting off zombies until now. These aren’t just any old folk after all, but cockney old folk and therefore HENCH.

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“Ask me if I’ve got my daysaver one more time…”

Our heroes stop by Mental Mickey’s lock up on the way to Brick Top’s which happens to be packed full of every sort of ammunition. It’s Willy Wonka’s factory but with grenades and bullets. They also hot wire a double decker bus to accommodate the oldies.

(This is by far my favourite bit).

To the Questions section: Will the boys make it to their grandpa’s in time? Will Brick Top’s glamorous friend Peggy (Honor Blackman/Pussy Galore) give him reason to keep living? What will become of the boys, the money and the remaining members of our gang?

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“You’ve all got red on you!”

My Thoughts:

Look, there’s not much to say. This film is amusing and it doesn’t require any brainpower. It has a wonderfully old skool English cast and it has Brick Top in an action hero role. I’m in, all the way.

All I could think throughout this Zom Com (not sure this can be classed as a Rom Zom Com given the refreshing lack of romance), was: it’s no Shaun of the Dead (2004) – but then what is? It does the best it can with what it has.

Plus the cast, particularly Katy and Brick Top, look like they’re really enjoying handling all those big weapons.

My Rating: 4/5

Did Jillian enjoy herself? Check out The Pink Panther Snipes Again to find out for yourselves!

Magic

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It’s been a very stressful week so far and I’ve only worked one day of it. I refuse to blog about work, however, unless

absolutely necessary so all I will say is: stop the world I want to get off.

*Pukes everywhere*

On that note, and I really shouldn’t be doing this when I could be doing 78 other things that are integral to my job, I thought I’d give myself a break and use a blog prompt today. For some reason this one popped up and appealed to me.

Perhaps I’m just being extra-specially soft lately. Must be hormones. Lovely lovely hormones.

Do You Believe In Magic? (October 19th 2015)
You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

I am a mystical being, swathed in robes. Not sexy Gandalf robes but a more Snow Queen-y vibe, lots of swirling blues, whites and pale greys.

I can do magic because magic totally is a thing that exists and has existed since the dawn of time. It’s not lame supporting act magician shit but real miracle magic; great splashes of good luck when you most need them, or the discovery of a person who has saved your life just by being there.

It’s in a smile that makes you realise that shit ain’t even that bad; in a chance encounter. It’s learning to love again; learning to love yourself.

All that may sound trite but the true magic of the world is all of us in it together. Kindness and understanding is magic. Love is magic. Picking up the phone and hearing my mother’s voice is magic.

Don’t even try to persuade me otherwise.

My new abilities are complex, of course. They’re about suggestion rather than control, and all about promoting a positive vibe. I’m not talking about happy happy joy joy at all times, nobody can realistically keep a façade like that up for life, and as Frou Frou once said: there’s beauty in the breakdown.

Specifically I want my power to be the power of self-love. I want to spread the word that we’re enough. We’re all enough but even better than that, we’re freakin’ amazing.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years and I’ve spent way too long hating myself, feeling dreadful about my body and my looks and projecting that self-hatred outwards by criticising others. What right have I to demolish another person because I don’t feel happy (even if it’s ‘only a joke’, or dressed up as concern)? Other people’s bodies, clothing and sex lives are nothing to do with me, and never have been.

I try not to do this now and it’s going pretty well.

My power would be to help others reach acceptance, even though I know it’s an ongoing process. A wave of my staff (come on, I’m magical in this scenario, like I wasn’t going to have a staff) would put the thought into people’s heads, one by one: “I’ve got this.”

It would make them see themselves the way their loved ones see them – and eventually, once that magical seed was planted, there’d be no stopping them.

There’s an incredible arrogance to my magic, and I know deep down it’s not realistic. Self-love is a personal journey, not something to be passed on automatically, or taught – and who am I to pick up the mantle? But wouldn’t it be great if, just for one day, you had the power to make your loved ones believe they were beautiful/amazing/powerful, and without a doubt?

Oh yeah, and I can also shape shift.

What would your magical powers be?

Antisocial (Film) Review

“This’ll teach you to unfollow me…”

We all spend too much time navel gazing with our phones in our palms, hooked up to social media, failing to maintain human relationships… blah de blah blah. That’s the message in this week’s movie choice, anyway.

This week was my pick. I’d read people’s tweets about this Canadian horror film and thought it sounded good, despite the below average ratings on both Netflix and IMDB. Sometimes you find some right bangers by ignoring the naysayers and going with your gut.

Was I right to go with the stomach? Well read on, my friends! Read on.

As per: *Beware them pesky spoilers!*

Antisocial (2013)

Director: Cody Calahan
Stars: Michelle Mylett, Cody Ray Thompson, Adam Christie

IMDB Synopsis: Five university friends gather at a house party to ring in the New Year. Unbeknownst to them, an epidemic has erupted outside, causing outbreaks around the world.

My Review: 

antisocial_ver2_xlgThe films starts with two fashion bloggers recording a vlog into the camera. As the opening credits roll, a bloody scene plays out before us, as one of the girls appears crazed and attacks the other. It’s a fight to the death as the victim fends her off. What’s going on there then, eh?

(I, for one, would totally accept this as an alternative to all the perfection of the top vloggers, call me ungracious).

We then move on to Sam who’s at uni and has just broken up with her horrible boyfriend. Sadly, he’s more into doing his own thing than speaking to Sam about whatever it is she clearly has on her mind and the two go their separate ways via video chat. Within seconds, he’s updated himself to ‘Single’ on social media site, the Social Redroom, the little shit.

Sam hastily removes herself from the Redroom to avoid the usual online bullshit and wanders about looking sad for a bit. In a lecture, people clearly have way too much time on their hands, as they’re gossiping and laughing about the break up behind her back. Sam agrees reluctantly to go to a NYE pre-party at her friend Mark’s house to take her mind off things.

Meanwhile, something odd is happening on campus…

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“I can’t believe I’m still getting Farmville requests…”

Sam’s a bit of a cold fish when she gets to Mark’s but the crowd gathered there do their best to welcome her. Things are going swimmingly until Jed (who isn’t on the Social Redroom, key point for later) stumbles across a news item about a violent attack at their campus. They don’t really think too much about it until later in the evening, when a random breaks in and is accidentally killed by Steve (Romaine Waite).

Well, that’s what you get when you burst in on sexy time, Random Stranger. Unfortunately, Steve is rather distressed to have caused a murder and tries to ring the po-po to own up. 911, however, is playing a recorded message due to being overwhelmed by calls, so the gang can’t report the accident. 

This also alerts them to the fact that shit be cray out there, so they turn on the TV and their laptops and phones, and gather more intel on a new disease taking hold of everyone around them, not just locally either. Things are getting serious, yo.

Sexy times in horror movies = always something awful round the corner
Sexy times in horror movies = always something awful round the corner

Once they’ve grasped the full gravity of their situation, the group seal themselves into the apartment (pretty sure they forgot the upstairs window the first intruder tried to get through though, just sayin’). They have to be strict about keeping infected people out so when their close friend Chad comes calling, bleeding and disorientated, they have to leave him outside to fend for himself.

Fair enough though. The group are torn on this decision but believe as long as they can wait it out together free of infection, they’ll be fine. God bless them. No sooner do they come to this conclusion, weird shit begins to happen. First off, are the hallucinations. Tentacles appear from mobile handsets, down people’s throats, in their eye sockets, all curiously around the same time as being online, specifically logged into the Social Redroom. Hmm.

Then come the nosebleeds which mark the beginning of the end. Finally, the uncontrollable and ultra-violent rage, egged on by mysterious figures and whispered voices. One by one our friends succumb to the symptoms and it ain’t pretty.

While this is all kicking off, Jed maintains contact with his friend Brian (Eitan Shalmon), who’s trapped on campus and therefore reporting things as he sees them in the ‘outside world’. It seems he’s having an even worse time than our Party of Five.

You see? This is why I never make plans on New Year’s Eve.

Red is very much in this Autumn...
Red is very much in this Autumn…

Jed is our gateway to all info as he follows the story, showing our friends everything he can find about it online. Including the surviving fashion vlogger who is amazingly still logged in and asking for help. The friends message her and she explains more about the story but is in a bad way, infected like her friend has been. Eventually I think her head explodes.

Our friends lose their shit bit by bit and don’t come off well, as the infected are killed off. Even more curiously, the survivors learn that after death, the deceased can still post to the Redroom, straight from their deceased brains.

Jed finds a video made by one of the Social Redroom execs, who confesses that they’d deliberately planted a virus into the program to pull people further into it, making them want to post more pictures, write passive aggressive status updates (probably) and annoy each other with games requests (to paraphrase).

He apologises deeply for the infection which was all their fault and then he guides those who haven’t shown symptons to a link that could possible save their lives. Meanwhile, the founder of the Redroom (poor man’s Zuckerberg) has been assassinated by a crazed individual.

The link shows how to remove the tumours causing the infection from the brain, by drilling into the frontal lobe and pulling it out (tentacles!). Sadly, by this point Sam has been pulled back into the Redroom by Mark (who she now professes to love) and has the tumour too.

I’m going to stop here because I’ve gone on way too long and you can see what happens at the end for yourself.

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Altogether now… “You’ve got red on you…”

But of course, before I wrap up, to the Questions: Who will survive? What is Sam’s big secret? Will she and Mark live happily ever after? What will become of both Jed and Brian?

Is being permanently logged in such a bad thing? And, finally, have you even got to the end of this review without picking up your phone to check Facebook?

*Checks Facebook*

My Thoughts:

Much like Starry Eyes, this film was trying to make a point and I appreciate that. I like a horror film that attempts an original take on something we have seen a lot of before. I mean, the infected and the living dead are tales as old as time but the social media angle is still topical, still relevant and therefore, still interesting. To me anyway, being a massive social media WHOREBAG.

“I didn’t even want to come to this fucking party…”

The performances are good. I liked Jed (a Canadian Nick Grimshaw) and Sam isn’t simpering as the lone surviving female (oops, spoiler). She does get to wear a white tee too, the lone surviving female uniform (see Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn (2003)) when she goes out to kick infected butt, so you know she’s serious.

NB: I’ve just learned coincidentally, and just now so I promise it hasn’t influenced this review at all, that Michelle Mylett is the bestie of one of my close friends. How cool is that? 

All in all, I enjoyed myself. Could of done with more horror moments (I wasn’t scared) and I like my horrors on the jumpier side if possible. But I liked it.

Does it make you think about your own overuse of social media though? I suppose so, Facebook does sometimes feel like a mild disease I wish I could cure. Then I realise that it’s probably half the people I still follow, who shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard that I could do without (those damn Minion memes, man).

Will I ever quit (aka cut out the tumour?). Probably not.

My Rating: 3/5

What did Jillian think of this one? Let’s go see for ourselves, shall we?

A Little Miss Guided

This is not me (via
This is not me (via Unsplash)

It’s with a start that I realise I haven’t done my annual Autumn-loving post and it’s already mid-way through October. I mean, who am I anymore?

I don’t, however, think there’s much I can add to previous posts that hasn’t already been said. Pumpkin Spice Latte, chunky knit scarves, crunchy leaves – you know the drill by now.

So I thought I’d do something a little different (ish) and blog about clothes (I won’t lie, mostly inspired by Tatty’s great Layering post). I know I do this semi-regularly when I talk about my ASOS wishlist (well I’ve done it twice) but I thought I’d mix it up and talk about one of my favourite plus-size brands, Missguided.

As I type this I am posed with the question: if a clothing brand offers a plus-size range, does that make it a plus-size brand, or must it cover only plus-sizes to qualify? I guess the the answer is: who actually cares? As long as there’s enough material to go around my ample body. Which there seldom is with ‘regular’ brands but that’s another post for another day, yo.

So, to my top picks from Missguided’s new plus-size range:

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Asymmetric Shirt, £28
Printed Silk Shirt Dress, £28
Checked Shirt Dress, £30

Oh em gee, check out these over-sized shirt/dresses! I particularly yearn for the gorgeous print of the middle number, look at that wonderful autumn palette. Want.

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Skull Print Jersey Dress, £20
Suede Slit Front Midi, £28
Drop Hem Cap Sleeve Chiffon Top, £25

What office wardrobe doesn’t need a little injection of the macabre round Halloween? Plus, that skirt is to die for. TDF!

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Slinky Wrap Dress, £30
Faux Leather Skater Skirt, £20
Cape Dress, £35

Christmas Season will soon be upon us and I’m pretty sure I’ve worn the same dress (or v. similar) to our work’s do two years running. This year I think I’ll treat myself. The green and red dresses aren’t my usual style but what’s a party for if not to go against the grain? I happen to believe I would rock the shit out of both. The leather skirt is just cute, I’d dress it down with a casual tee.

So these are the items I’m most coveting right now. I actually really enjoy Missguided from a quality and design point of view. It might not be the largest range yet, in comparison to ASOS Curve (The Queen of Fat Fashion) but it’s a start.

It feels to me as though the plus garments have actually been thought about and constructed with the body in mind. I’m not actually that sure what the fuck I’m talking about, just that the few things I’ve picked up from the range in the past have been spot on. So I definitely intend to shop here more (any time you want to stand up and be acknowledged, Mystery Benefactor, I’m ready).

I will say that the website is dreadful and needs a lot of work. (Don’t worry, I’ve helpfully tweeted to tell them my thoughts). But from a value/customer service/quality/selection/sizing point of view, they’re doing okay.

Great accessories too.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a little creative inspiration, check out the new Missguided offices. Who wouldn’t feel positive taking a meeting in the Unicorn Stable?

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Anyone got a pencil? (Via Missguided)
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Swing out, sister (Via Missguided)

Christa the Great

Hello followers of Christa! I’m Jillian, aka, The Pink Panther Snipes Again. Tonight I’m taking over Christa’s blog. Why, you ask? Because I’m truly terrible at following blog deadlines—this is part of Writing 101 (which ended 2 weeks ago I believe).

Overall, I felt Writing 101 was something of a flop because I didn’t write every day, I didn’t necessarily put a lot of effort into the posts I wrote, and I didn’t even follow half of the damn prompts. However, I did meet some cool bloggers and am FINALLY checking off the box for the prompt involving swapping blogs.

Obviously there was no question my blog swapping partner would be my partner in crime, fellow film critic, and blog wife. You may have noticed me lurking around here all day, every day. But who knows? Maybe you’re some random internet creep who stumbled upon my blog and you have no idea what’s going on. So let’s have a little context then, shall we?

Even though Writing 101 was somewhat disillusioning, Blogging 101 was basically the best blogging decision I’ve ever made as it led me to Christa. I can’t recall if she commented first or if I did, but I do remember reading one of her posts about being a ginger and admitting to my extreme jealousy of her lovely flowing red locks (still am).

Our relationship moved pretty quickly, as it didn’t take long for us to watch and review modern classic Ginger Snaps. You know shit’s getting real when you critique films that use lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty together. I feel I should also give Hayley of A Stitch to Scratch a little shout-out for fully endorsing the blog collab. She’s definitely blog Maid of Honor—at least.

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But let’s take a moment to appreciate Christa, feminist, ginger, writer, and all-around badass. No one else has ever endured so much bad horror with me and been so ready to watch anything and everything. Because of the collab, I’ve watched so many films that are now favorites, like We Are the Best! and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. We’ve also seen absolutely vile things happen in some of the horror films, and watched countless movies that aren’t even close to being good bad—just bad. Yet Christa keeps on with the blog even when I choose an absolutely terrible film or one that just doesn’t sound particularly interesting.

Unrelated, but what am I going to do--NOT include this picture of a cat high-five in this post?
Unrelated, but what am I going to do–NOT include this picture of a cat high-five in this post?

It’s clear I couldn’t ask for a better blogging collaborator, but I also couldn’t ask for a better person and friend. This year has been all over the place for me: when it’s been good, it’s been fantastic, and when it’s been bad, it’s been miserable. I may have had several breakdowns via Google Hangouts, and Christa always says the most perfect thing, usually along the lines of “Fuck ‘em.”

I curse the universe for making us live so far apart, but it could be worse: we could live in different dimensions and never know the other existed (I’m a bit into sci-fi, which is another thing Christa just rolls with b/c she’s cool like that). Someday we will watch Pride & Prejudice & Zombies or something equally bizarre, and we may not even blog about it. We’ll just leave you all wondering.

Oh, who am I kidding? We would blog about it. We would blog the shit out of it.

Here’s to Christa, our mutual appreciation of James McAvoy, tea, books, absolutely psychotic men in films, and fried food.  And to many more collaborative posts!

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Images via https://unsplash.com, which I’m sort of obsessed with now.

If you’re missing Christa too much, you can head over to my blog to see her post!