Monday, November 28, 2016

The Apology That Will Never Come.

My dad's nickname for me was Bear. 


It's been almost two weeks since my dad died, and I've been struggling to find things to write about. Not because I don't have things to say, or lack the ability to say them, but because I just haven't felt like my words were poignant enough to do him justice.

I didn't realize my dad's worth until he was gone. Not that I thought he was worthless--he wasn't at all--but because I wrongfully assumed that because he'd been absent a significant portion of my life, I didn't miss or need him, and could easily live without him. I hadn't considered what it would feel like not to have him because of death, rather than choosing not to have him in my life because of our shared stubbornness and anger. Those are two very different reasons not to have someone in my life.

Death is permanent. It removes all choice from the matter. Almost two weeks ago, my choice was taken away from me, and the hurt that caused was greater than most hurts I've experienced. It was up there with losing our daughter. We're talking rage, tears, swearing, bed-ridden, gnashing of teeth type stuff. It was ugly, it was painful, and it was not something I had the luxury of excusing myself from.

The way I described it to my kids was this: I'm in a forest. And I can't go around it. I can't go under or over it. I can only go through it. That doesn't mean I'm falling apart or want to throw myself off of a building. I'm simply obligated to go through it, and so that's what I'm doing. (And unfortunately for everyone in my life, this forest--for me--means lots of dinners out, lots of makeup and wig free days, lots of sweatpants, and lots of tears out of nowhere. I listened to one of my favorite Christmas Carol's today, Christmas: Baby Please Come Home, by U2, and I wept. Just wept. It was silly and trivial, and I don't really have an explanation, but about 10 minutes later I felt much better, and went back to my housework.) Like I said, I'm just in the forest right now.

The good news is, I have a faith base. Not to trivialize anyone who has no faith base, or who believes that once we are dead, we're worm food, and that's that. Because hey, who am I to tell you what to believe. In fact, as much as I am deeply devoted to my faith, I am not foolish enough to think that I might still have a thing or two to learn about who we are, where we came from, and what comes next. I absolutely do, and my father's death has proven that. My religion is right for me, and clinging to it during times like these is what keeps me grounded--and keeps me sane. But I'm not egotistical enough to think that I've got the hereafter completely figured out. I don't. It's by definition unfathomable. It's not meant to be figured out. The only thing I'm meant to understand is that something does come after this. And that's where my dad is now.

Without going into details too personal and precious to share without slitting my gut open and pouring my insides out for you all...it is sufficient for me to say that I have been given consolation that my dad is healthy, happy, and more clear-headed and rested than he has ever been. He is working through some things--guilt, shame, sadness--over the mistakes he made in his life, but is now aware that we all make mistakes and that we'll all have a period where we have to work through that process of absolute self awareness and accountability. But, to my relief, he is at peace as he goes through this process, and that's all I could possibly ask for.

I know now that his life, especially his life as a child and an adolescent, were infinitely worse than I'd ever imagined. That the father he grew up to become was just a fraction of the pain he endured, and that despite being flawed as a parent, he'd done his absolute best, and that I have much to be grateful for as his daughter. It could've been so much worse. But it was not. I'm indebted for that.

He has asked for my forgiveness, and I've given it. I've asked for his forgiveness, and he's given it. My dad and I are square. And frankly, will probably have a better relationship in his death than we'd ever had a shot at having during his life. He is with me. I feel it. It's been proven to me. He's better now, as am I. We've healed. I still grieve, deeply. But not with anger and disappointment and rage. Now it's with gratitude and fondness, and because I miss him desperately.

I'm learning to accept the apology that will never come. My dad's apology came post death, but I have hurts with people in my life that I may never, ever get apologies for. And it has officially become my responsibly to accept those unsaid sorries. I've spent the better part of my 40 years trying mercilessly for other people to nourish me, when their wells were dry. They couldn't nourish me. I've got to nourish myself. And the first way I can do that is by accepting the apologies that will never come. Once I've done that, I'll do the next step towards feeling safe and whole as a person. But for now, that's a good step. I'm pretty sure my dad is helping me with this. He's able to help us now, in a way he couldn't do when he was alive.

I'm starting to write again. This may turn into a situation where I write a book because my heart is begging me to, rather than what the logical part of my brain is telling me to. For example, The Art of Being Indifferent was written after we lost our daughter. I had to write it, otherwise I was going to implode. That's what I'm feeling right now. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this phase of my life....

Just like last time, I'll leave you with this: accept the apology that will never come. Regret is an awful, ugly beast that can swallow you whole, and my wish for you is to never feel it. The joy and forgiveness I feel now is so much better.

Take care.

xoxo
Brooke





Sunday, November 20, 2016

This guy.




This guy inspired the character of Billy Cole in my first published novel, The What If Guy, though his life was much different. He eventually moved away from the tiny town of Fairfield, and explored places like Asia and South America. He, like Billy, was funny and craggy. He was a red neck, albeit a worldly one. He cared about his kids, but didn't show it the way he likely wanted to be able to. He was funny, and angry, and dry, and confusing, and wise, and dark. He was smart, but agonizingly self sabotaging. 

He didn't like me all the time. But he loved me all the time. I didn't like him all the time either. But I loved him all the time.  

Our relationship wasn't what I wanted it to be, and it didn't get fixed in time. When he died, it left a hole in me so deep, so gaping, that I'm floundering. This grief is unexpected, but worthwhile. My resentment and anger has consumed me, but its all sort of mixed in with this deep, unwavering love--which I guess all kids have for their folks. It's like this weird melting pot of emotion that I'm having an awful time processing. My brothers are able to set aside any resentment and rage, just focusing on the love and respect. I wish I could do that. Maybe I will eventually. There's just so much of it all. I feel bogged down and drowned in it all, even the good feelings.

I never knew why we couldn't get in synch. It wasn't for a lack of trying. I tried for years, until the effort and demands became to great, and the payoff too small. So I bowed out. I wish I'd not done that. Though at the time I'd thought it was the right choice. Maybe it was. Who knows. All I do know is: he taught me to laugh--deep belly laughs that make you snort and fart. He taught me to cast (10 and 2, 10 and 2...). He taught me to look at people who underestimated me and tell them where to stick it. He taught me how to swear. He taught me how to try, and try harder. He taught me to find huckleberries. He tried to teach me math. And he is teaching me--now that his life has ended--that regret is infinitely worse to come to terms with than accepting an apology that would never come.

Always accept the apology that will never come, otherwise you'll find yourselves with a sh*t ton of regret, friends.

Enjoy your peace, Dad. You've certainly earned it.

xoxo
Brooke







Friday, November 11, 2016

Favorite television heroes...

Since I am working on book 4 of the This & That Series, and happen to be balancing not just one, but two heroes, I thought I would devote a blog post to my top TEN television heroes of all time.

Granted, these are my picks. You will likely have different picks. Go to the comments or to my Facebook page to tell me who your picks are. I'm curious!

P.S. They're in no particular order, because I couldn't choose between them if I tried. I'm not a monster!

Ahhhhh....Dylan McKay. My favorite 90's bad boy. No matter that his head--with all that hair--was bobble like. It only mattered that he dumped Brenda, which meant he was further available to love me.

Yeah. I'm not a massive George Clooney fan now. But back in the late 90's? When he was on ER? Oh Lord. I loved him with the might of a thousand solar flares.

There aren't enough hot Asian actors on American television. And I'm not just saying that because I live in South Korea. But Glenn Rhee was the bomb-dot-com. He was adorable and lovable and loyal and very, very handsome. RIP, Glenn. *shuddering sigh*

Uncle Jesse from full House epitomized why I went on to have a Greek fetish. (No, no just the baklava.) He is divine. Truly ageless. The man doesn't age! He just gets hotter? What the heck??

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVES me some LOST. And one of my favorite pieces of eye-candy on LOST was none other than Jin. His transformation, life, and death were all more than I can think about without falling apart.....again.

You may not know this, but, when I was 12 years old, I was engaged to Kirk Cameron. Yes, yes, it's true. He didn't know about it, and it never came to fruition, but I truly believed that we were destined to meet, fall in love, and marry. 

Le sigh.....I loved coach on Friday Night Lights. He epitomized the perfect supportive, loving husband, a rare treat on Prime Time television. I adored everything about him in every, single episode. Which I watched loyally...until they were all gone. And then I mourned.
Nick is the most lovable loser on the planet. He is unmotivated and a borderline alcoholic, but he is also a witty, sharp tongued genius, a great friend, and (if you've seen the show) one HECK of a good kisser. I...just...can't...even...

Everyone knows I've got a MASSIVE crush on Rick Grimes, even though he resembles a Sasquatch now on TWD. He is amazing. I hope he wins an emmy this year, because he's truly amazing. And tasty. I mean, come on. Look at him! 

Sawyer.........*deep breath* There isn't much that needs to be said about the character of James Ford, AKA Sawyer, except that he OWNED that crazy island, and he also owned my heart. I never, ever get tired of hearing him hurl insults. 


What do you think about my favorite TV heroes, though? Pretty tasty, eh?

xoxo
Brooke

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Elections.

Now that the elections are over, I only have one thing to say...


xoxo
Brooke

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My friend is a genius.

I have a local friend here in South Korea, who is also an American expat, like I am.

She posted this yesterday, and it struck a cord with me, so I decided to share:

It's already Election Day here in Korea, and I like most will be watching the polls over the next couple of hours. I just wanted to remind us all of something that seems to have been forgotten this election. Tomorrow, after the polls close.....
Your neighbor will still be your neighbor.
Your sister/brother will still be in your family.
Your child's teacher will still be teaching. 
Your best friend will still be your friend. 
Your mail person will still bring you your bills.
Your government will still have a job to do.
We will continue to pay taxes, live in our homes, buy our groceries and love our families, regardless of whom we all vote for. That has what's been lost this election year. The RIGHT to agree to disagree. Our nation is great because we have so many opinions. Not allowing voices to be silenced. Just remember tomorrow, after the polls close, we all still have to live together. Live, work, laugh and cry....together. I dearly hope, that no matter what the outcome of this election that the people can see that. That they can rise above differences and work towards something better. 


She's pretty smart, wouldn't you say? Kudos, June.


Wish more people would consider this.


xoxo

Brooke

Monday, November 7, 2016

Intimidation.

So I recently spoke at a book club who read The What If Guy, and a sweet reader (who is an aspiring author herself) asked to take a selfie with me. She then sent it to me on Facebook, and in our brief conversation she admitted that it'd taken her a long time to build up the confidence to reach out to me.)

I was aghast.

I mean...I'm just me. I'm nobody special. I'm just a wife and a mom and an author, who writes books that make her small readership laugh and cry at the same time. Which is nice and all, but I'm no JK Rowling. I'm no Nora Roberts. I don't own my own island. I haven't had any of my books turned into movies. I'm nothing especially interesting or exceptional. I'm just me. Except that I also happen to write books for a living.

But I remember being that person a few years ago. A few short years, if I'm being honest. I would get stupefied when I saw authors who had "achieved" more than I had. I met some of my favorite authors, and when they spoke to me, I could scarcely speak. I have a picture of myself and Kristan Higgins, and I look completely hysterical. I was, for the record. When authors more successful than I tried to befriend me, I crumbled and shied away. What could I possibly have to offer to a friendship with that person?

But with enough time--ahem, about 6 or 7 years--I outgrew that mentality. And here's why: because I trashed the totem pole mentality. I had to. It was killing me. I was holding myself back from potential connections and friendships. I was handicapping myself by shrinking away from people, determining that they had to be better than I was, and that I was lower than them. And one day....I just stopped! I decided that I was no longer going to bend to my insecurities will. I decided to talk to anyone. Spend time with anyone. Say yes to anyone I wanted to get to know. Stop holding myself back.

Sure...sometimes I got rejected. But MOST of the time, I wound up making a new friend, gathering more knowledge about my field, and broadening my network of awesome writer friends. All because I got the h*ll out of my own way!

So this is what I told that aspiring author:

Don't be intimidated by me. We are one and the same. I'm just a few steps ahead of you in the game. But that doesn't mean that I don't struggle with confidence, that I don't struggle with believing in my work, that I don't have days where I write total garbage, and that I don't ever worry about rejection. I worry about all of those things, I'm just older than you, and started in the Business earlier than you.

That's also a sign of a true writer. If a writer looks down on someone because they aren't published yet, or because they write a genre you don't like, or for any reason really, then they truly aren't meant to be an author. Real author support each other, even if they're writing completely different genres, or one of them is a New York Times bestseller, and the other has sold five copies total.

The thing is...none of us are better than the other. We're all just in different places in life. Especially in this publishing game. Real authors support each other, build each other up, and help each other out. If you have the opportunity to build a friendship within the industry, then freaking build it. You never know, you could be meeting the person who winds up becoming one of your best friends! Why deny yourself the opportunity to meet a best friend?

xoxo
Brooke

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Guess what's coming soon?

Book 4 in the This & That Series!

Hooray! Corinne is getting her own story!

(As requested by my loyal readers, Candace's younger, ball-busting sister is finding love...in a most unexpected place.)

More info to come soon...but for now, enjoy my delicious cover!



Squeeeeeee!

xoxo
Brooke