Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bad habit.

I've got a bad habit. And I've been well aware of this bad habit for at least a decade, maybe two, okay, maybe three...



And for some reason, I just cannot seem to drop it.

It's nothing disgusting. I don't eat my own scabs, or sleep with a hair dryer running underneath my pillow. (No, seriously, I've seen a show on TV about both those scenarios!) But I do continuously, and habitually put myself into the same scenario over, and over, and over again, and I literally never break the cycle, and because of that...I continue to hurt myself with this bad habit again and again and again.

It's a problem.



I have a habit of investing more into people than they invest in me. Friends, coworkers, casual acquaintances, family members, colleagues, neighbors, etc.......it doesn't seem to matter what our relationship is based on, I always, always throw myself 100%, head over heels in...

Only to find out that the other person is only partially invested. Or, worse yet, not invested at all.

It's like a platonic version of He's Just Not That Into You happening on a constant loop in my life, and I cannot seem to figure out how to turn off the feed, get off the roller coaster, disembark the plane, jump off of the crazy train, or simply just establish and maintain normal relationship boundaries. Because POOF. Someone else comes into my life and I am all, hi, hi, hi, will you like me, you're funny, can we be friends, oh, you like the Real Housewives (or insert any odd, random topic of conversation here) too, cool, we should be friends, oh, you think I'm great, good, me too, I think you're awesome, so we should be lifelong friends and get matching BFF tattoos, and never, ever stop being the closest friends ever!



So then we become friends, or somewhat close--usually closer on my end than theirs, lets just be honest--and despite how much I threaten myself with bodily harm if I do it, I always spill my guts to someone, telling them my life story, sharing my worst stories, sharing my hopes and dreams, and going above and beyond for them--despite knowing darn well they likely wouldn't do the same in return.

And then, some time later, it hits me: I have created a very one-sided friendship that is worth it's weight in gold to me, but to the other person? They're very meh. I am disposable. I could come or go, and either way, they'd be fine. It's not that they hate me, they just don't really like me as much as I like them. And while that's not evil or torturous or illegal....it sucks for me. It hurts. And I keep finding myself in that situation over and over and over again. That I am disposable and easily discarded. Unworthy.

I hate it. Like, I really hate it.



And yet, I'm doing it to myself. What the actual frick is that??

Over the years, I've learned to tackle it with a preemptive strike. If I'm getting rejected, I'll reject them first. If I sense a rejection on the horizon, I'll walk away first. Still sucks, but at least I'm in control of the suckage. Certainly doesn't ease how painful it can be, though.

I straight up don't know how to stop setting myself up for failure all the time. Every time I meet someone new, or reignite an old friendship, or reunite with a relative I no longer communicate with, I promise myself: this is it. This time I am NOT going to tell them everything. I am not going to let them into my life. I am not going to trust them with all of me, straight out the gate.

And then I find myself like this just a short time later:



Followed very quickly with this:



Yeah. Sucks to be me. Again.

I have to learn how to improve my poker face, and to keep my cards to myself. Crap, I need to figure out how to have a poker face, and then I can learn how to keep my cards to myself. I need to learn how to remain a mystery to people. Let them find me cold and aloof. Better that than warm and weak. Let their questions go unanswered, and their texts unreturned. Why am I constantly giving, giving, giving, only to get ticked off when I get so very little back??

It's my problem, not theirs. I'm the one giving the milk away for free. I need to learn to be a much more aloof cow.



Unfortunately it's likely easier to retrain a cow, than to rewire my heart and brain. Seems like it's time to be done, though. This last blow was like that final punch that damaged Rocky's brain in Rocky Balboa. I have cavum septum pellucidum of the soul.



Ok, I don't. But I do have to take myself out of the ring from now on, metaphorically speaking. It's time to take better care of myself.

xoxo
Brooke

Monday, April 9, 2018

I'm moving home soon.

And I'm pretty much ready to pee my pants about it.

It's been a very long three years in South Korea, and while this experience has afforded us some amazing experiences, I am really, really ready to get back to my home country.



I want to go into a grocery store and easily find the foods I want and can easily cook with.



I want to understand what is being said to me and about me.



I want to befriend foreigners who live near me, help them however I can, and show them the love and compassion that was (and sometimes wasn't) shown to me.



I want to no longer be surrounded by sexist pigs who, while living in a very modern country, still behave like it's 1957, and that my place is at home, raising brilliant children, and agreeing with everything a neanderthal with a penis says. Yes, Korean men, I'm talking about 'choo.



I want to go back to church and be surrounded by a large crowd of fellow humans who believe the same things as me, and will support and sustain me.



I want to see movies with no subtitles. In fact, I don't think I'll EVER watch another subtitled movie again. Sorry, film industry.



I don't want to live amongst expats who consider themselves worldly, more sophisticated, and wiser than the average bear. (Psssst....you're not. You're a hot mess like the rest of us, except you have more stamps in your stupid passports.)



I want to take my dogs to a dog park, or better yet, a YARD, and let them run around off leash.



I want to be able to smile at people my dogs unknowingly bark or growl at and be able to effectively explain that they're not rabid. They're just blind and deaf and stupid, but harmless.



I want to be able to go into a doctors office and ask for help, and effectively articulate what is wrong, what I've tried already, what doesn't work, what my health history is, and what my needs are... and not be told to see a psychologist. (Korean doctors don't like to be questioned. If you ask too many questions, they refer you to a psychologist.)

Literally not kidding.

I want to go to the beach and swim with other people who aren't afraid of the sun.



I want to go camping and get dirty in the woods.



I want to go back to working in the lunchroom at my kid's old school. I freaking loved that job.



I want to live in an American apartment with a pool and grass outside, instead of cement and no pools because Koreans are afraid of water (in addition to sun.)



I want to buy a real hamburger that hasn't been fancied up to the point of ridiculousness.



I want to be surrounded by normal, average, middle class people who aren't utterly dripping in pretentiousness.

I am so excited to go home. It's been a long three years.

xoxo
Brooke












Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Square peg, round hole.

Since moving abroad I have discovered something about myself, that I never realized would bother me as much as it does.



Am I the only person who gets annoyed-bordering-on-angry when they see people do this??

Okay, before you send me hate mail, let me explain: I am American. And not just that, but I am from rural America. I was raised around farms and fields and dirt and land, and nobody, and I mean nobody I grew up with, or was raised around, did this when they saw each other:


Usually we did this:



Or this:



And sometimes, when we really like each other, and haven't seen each other in a while we do this:



But we literally never do this where I'm from:



And I find it pretentious as h*ll.

I understand that this is a standard greeting in Europe, or even in bigger, more refined places in the United States, but for me, the country girl, it is weird and, dare I say it, fake, fake, fake!

Let me explain.

When I moved abroad, I was thrust into a city (where my husband's company placed us) that is new, shiny, and extremely expensive. Most people who live here (though admittedly not all--again, no hate mail please...you know who you are) live here for one reason and one reason only: status. This is where you come to live if you are young(ish) and have money to spend, and you want everyone who knows you to know how wealthy and successful you are.


People drive Ferarri's across the street to pick up their kids from school. Women wear furs when it's 65 degrees outside. Families buy or rent expansive, high rise apartments because the building holds an air of prestige. When people get together, there is a level of behavior expected that I was completely unfamiliar with. I mean, sure, I know better than to pee in the sink, or blow my nose on a cloth napkin, but the idea of rubbing elbows was lost on me. I would go to events and tick people off, because I waved and said, "Hello!" rather than embraced them for one of those fake cheek kissy things that people do for no understandable reason.

I mean, seriously. I've met women who openly detest each other, cannot stand being around each other, cannot tolerate the sound of each other's voice...who will stand up, offer a lean-in hug (not an actual embrace, because we don't want to wrinkle the Prada) and then air-kiss both of each other's cheeks.

Um....what?

This is me, every time I see it.

I'm of the mindset that: if you don't particularly like someone, and you don't particularly know someone, and you don't particularly want to be touching them..........why should you?

But still, I find myself here in this odd expat situation where it is expected that I greet people "properly," and I interact with them, regardless of whether or not I actually like them, or even want to, for that matter. There are expats here from countries in Africa, Europe, and all over Asia, and I understand, and accept, that in some of their many cultures, it is standard greeting procedure to hug and air-kiss each other's cheeks. But what really baffles me, is when I see snobbish American's doing it.

Why?



If you don't like someone, and don't know them, and don't really want to be touched by them, then why should you be? AND...taking my point even further...if I don't want to participate in the fake cheek-kiss thing, then why is that a poor reflection on me, or my culture, or my upbringing, or my manners?

Just because I don't want to pretend to kiss someone doesn't mean my parents didn't raise me right. My mother taught me to say please and thank you, to let an older person take my seat, to hold doors for someone, to help someone who is struggling, to eat with the correct utensils, and to never put my elbows on the table. I was also told that if I don't want someone to touch my body, I don't have to let them, and that smiling at someone and saying hello is every bit as polite and kind as air-kissing them, and that I am not required to adopt the practices of other people, in order to be seen as a well-behaved, polite woman.

My mother, whenever we went outside of our house.

Over the last few years, I have come to three conclusion about the cheek-kiss thing: 1.) Unless you are from a country other than America, kissing both cheeks of someone--especially someone you don't particularly like--makes you seem fake, fake, fake. 2.) Kissing someone on the cheek is not indicatory of good manners--as proven by the women in this silly little city I live in. Their ability to be fake just furthers my theory that pretentious people will do anything for appearances, but behind closed doors, they're hot little messes, just like the rest of us. And 3.) My lack of social etiquette, or pretentious social etiquette, more accurately, is not because I wasn't raised right. I have manners, and I use them, more often than most of the people surrounding me--I just don't like being fake. Period.

Next time someone tries to lean in for a fake-cheek-air-kiss thingy, I am going to do this:


If you want to greet me "politely," do this:



Or this:



Or even this: (I swear waves are the underestimated greeting.)



Because whether or not I am from rural America, I know what real vs. fake is. And this...



IS FAKE. (Especially if you're American.)

But for the record, if Tom Hiddleston were in town, I would slap a fat one right on his kisser. No fake cheek kisses for me. I'd go right for the golden ticket, yes sir.

xoxo
Brooke

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Characters I relate to.

One of the blessings of being book obsessed AND an author for a living is, I am always able to find people I can relate to. Granted many of those people don't actually exist in real life, which is sort of depressing if you think about it too much (so I choose not to.) But....it is also sort of uplifting to know that different authors and screenwriters out there have managed to create characters that just make sense to me, which means... someone like me exists out there is someone else's imagination.

Which means I'm not that obsolete.

See? Uplifting.

Here are some of the characters I've managed to relate to over the years. I hope my list will not only explain my own personal brand of weirdness to each of you, but will also prompt you to consider which fictional characters you relate to the most. If for no other reason, other than that it's fun, think about it.... who do you relate to?

1.) Lucy VanPelt.





Lucy is crabby. I am, too. Just ask my husband and children. Actually, you could probably ask most of my extended family, too, and they would likely agree. I've been told that when I was a little girl, I was as "grumpy as a bear," thus creating my father's nickname for me: Bear. But in my defense, I don't mean to be crabby all the time, just like Lucy doesn't mean to. She is suffering with often being regarded as a leader, but very few people actually listening to her. She is suffering with unrequited love. She offers psychiatric advise that nobody takes. Often times nobody even pays attention to her, unless she's screaming, and losing her crap. (I can relate to this on a deep, menacing level, as I have struggled with this issue my entire life.)

2.) Elphaba.





Elphaba (from the book, Wicked by Gregory McGuire) was a dark, sinister character. She did bad things, the wrong things, and self sabotaged herself on the regular. She wanted a good life, wanted nice things...but couldn't bring herself to choose the right regularly enough to actually succeed. Musical Elphaba was every bit as cynical and downtrodden, but had a much more positive outlook, and the ability to do the right thing, whereas the book character didn't. I can relate to Elphaba because I, too, tend to self sabotage. When things are just too good, I'll blow it. I always do. And if asked, I will always self deprecate. I do not believe that people believe in me, and when I'm told otherwise, my first thought is usually: what's in it for them? "I'm not that girl." <3

3.) Susan Hefley.





My kids tell me--all the freaking time--that I bear an uncanny personality resemblance to the mom on The Wimpy Kid movies. Apparently (according to said children who won't be receiving their allowances for a month for saying this) I am geeky and enthusiastic, but clueless. I want to connect with my kids, but my efforts are often lame and childish. I can't dance. I was, at one time, obsessed with miniature Lightening McQueen cars because our youngest would WAIL without having one in each hand--much like Manny's tingy. I am every bit as exasperated by my children as Susan, and I usually "wear glasses" like she does, too.

Wow. Just wow.

4.) Gertie, from Poor Gertie by Larry Bograd.



Poor Gertie was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I read it again and again and again, and even bought a copy online as an adult--it's out of print, so it was a big deal. Years later, one of my children took the book outside for some reason and left it. It rained and it got water logged and ruined. I was devastated. Utterly destroyed. Anyway, when I read about Gertie as a kid, I related to her so much, because she wasn't popular in school--I was at the bottom of the heap, as well. She came from a family living in poverty--I was from a very poor family, too. She only wore hand-me-downs--I didn't own a thing that hadn't been previously used. And she used art to escape her life--just like me. (I used to cartoon all the time.) When I read Poor Gertie, I felt a familiarity that I never felt with anyone or anything else, and her life with her mother and Grandpa became home for me.

5.) Luna Lovegood.





Much like Luna,  I, too, never fit in. I was weird, said the wrong things at the wrong time, wore stupid, eccentric clothing, and often left my peers giving each other side eye, and saying "Oooo-kay?" when I walked away. Unfortunately for me, I was never as proud and pleased with my weirdness as Luna was in both the books and the movies, something I *wish* I could go back and fix. Like Luna, I was teased, often mercilessly. Boys gleeked at me all the time, which, in case you're unfamiliar, is essentially spitting. Boys literally spat on me during every class, throughout all of middle and high school. Kids detested me because I was the little sister of two popular athletes, but was so awkward and weird and socially inept that I legitimately enraged them. "How could she possibly be related to Joe? What the h*ll?" I wish I'd found my self acceptance the way Luna did. I wish I'd become part of the crowd who defeated Voldemort the way she had. But alas, I just stayed very, very awkward for my entire adolescent experience. Reading the tidbits about Luna saying things that irritated Harry and Ron, or watching how the other kids hid her shoes in one of the movies brought tears to my eyes. It's a lot less fun to live as Luna in the real world.

What fictional character do you most relate to? Take some time and try to figure it out. It's nice to know you're not alone, even if the folks you're the most like exist only in someone's imagination...

xoxo
Brooke