Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Brand of Luck

I've always subscribed to that tired saying, "If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any at all," in an effort to joke my way around a fact of my life that I've gotten pretty used to:  I have crappy luck. Historically, that is. I mean, I know I'm blessed, so before you start flooding me with a bunch of nauseating quotable quotes that you read on Pinterest or got from your Facebook status shuffle app, I already know that life could be a whole lot worse. I get it. As a matter of fact, most of the things I grumble about are pretty petty in the grand scheme of things. That being said, anyone who really knows me knows that I've had my share of lousy luck, usually with varying levels of resulting hilarity.

Perfect example:  for my birthday last year, my husband and I, who never go anywhere or do anything, did something uncharacteristic and got tickets to an NFL game in Kansas City. The game was actually on my birthday. Since I am in love with Matt Cassel (and proud of it!!!!), I was stoked. I didn't even care that a car accident on the highway made us late and prevented us from seeing kickoff. Well, it bothered me a little, but it wasn't a huge deal. And I shrugged it off when we got to our nosebleed seats and my husband of fifteen years revealed for the first time ever that he had a problem with heights. Worse things could happen, right? Plus, he got over it after a good quarter of sitting in his seat without moving. But it put a real damper on my birthday when the main attraction (for me, anyway) had his hand crushed by a really mean Denver Broncos defensive player (that's right, Dumervil... I still have my eye on you, buddy) and suffered a season-ending injury. On my birthday. Did I mention it was my birthday? That's sort of a lighthearted glimpse at my brand of luck.

Until now.

Now... things are looking up. I'm hesitant to put that in writing, because I'm sure to end the streak by acknowledging it, but I feel like I have to tell the world. Even the not-so-great things that have happened lately have resulted in some nifty things. Yes, nifty! Now, I'm eager to give you examples:
  1. I was recently sick with a diagnosed case of Influenza Type A (even my flu is Type-A). Sickest I've ever been. Ever. "How is this lucky?" you ask. Because, it got me out of the most dreaded of chores: car shopping. My husband bought a new car last weekend, and I didn't have to be involved at all, except for dropping by the dealership a few days later to sign some papers. Best car-shopping experience of my life!
  2. Same bout with the flu got me out of being involved in selling the car we were replacing. As a matter of fact, neither one of us had to do a darn thing when it came to selling that car. It basically sold itself. There wasn't even a sign in the thing, but some guy who was lost in our neighborhood drove past our house, saw it, and knocked on our door to give us an offer. My husband gladly took it. Again, I didn't have to do anything, which was good, since I was still in a cold-medicine-induced coma.
  3. Oh, but when you sell a car, you need the title. Since I am a slob and a horrible bookkeeper, this was potentially problematic. Until the title practically called my name from inside the box at the bottom of a teetering stack of boxes in the corner of my garage. I walked right to it, without having a clue that it was actually in that box. Lucky guess? I think not. It was the voice of God.
There are several more examples just from the past week, but some of them are too personal (even for me) to put on my blog. Plus, I don't want you to hate me because of my newfound good fortune. I mean, nobody likes someone who's sickeningly happy and won't shut up about it. That's just obnoxious.

Anyway, plenty of... interesting... things continue to happen in my life. I mean, it's still recognizable as my life, after all. My two-year-old styled his hair with toilet water just this morning, right before we had to walk out the door to get to school and work. So, don't fret. Your life is probably still way better than mine. I just wanted to point out that things in my life have been good lately. Really good. And I'm not taking it for granted.

You can download my books (peppered with events based very loosely on some of the strange things that happen to me on a regular basis) by going to www.amazon.com/author/breabrown. Also, please visit my Facebook page and "like" me, even if you don't like me. I'm all about the numbers, and they're pathetically low right now (although I love and appreciate all of the people who currently "like" me).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank you, Instant Online Refills

Don't ask me how this is possible, but two people have found my blog via Instant Online Refills. Go there, if you dare. I clicked on the link on my blog stats page, of course, because I wanted to see what the site was about. It's honestly about prescription drug refills. The drug at the top of the page:  Viagra. Alrighty then. Never did find where people would be directed to my blog, but... I'll admit I didn't loiter long on the site. Regardless of how someone visits a drug refill site and ends up at my blog, I thank you, Instant Online Refills, for the pub. I can't get some of my relatives to tell people about my writing, but a random site about drugs will do it for me.

Or maybe it's a more subliminal message than that, a cautionary tale of sorts: "Don't let your prescription drugs run out, or you could end up like this chick! [Click link, but only if you don't have heart problems]"

Dunno. But it made me laugh. And it made me post this impromptu blog entry.

I'm gonna go take my cocktail of prescription meds now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not Seizing Up

It's that time of year again! Time to check in with my zany neurologist, Dr. Z. Last year, she seemed more worried about my nail biting habit than my epilepsy, which I guess is a good sign that my epilepsy's not that big a deal. Although neither problem is going away anytime soon, for now at least, it appears at least one of those issues is under control:  the epilepsy. What a relief!

If someone would have told me at the end of 2008 that life would be like this in 2012, I probably wouldn't have believed them. Things looked pretty bleak. And it seemed with every passing month, things got bleaker. Or anytime things started to improve slightly (like when we figured out the right medication, and I made it my first six months without having a seizure and was given back my freedom, in the form of my driver's license), I faced some other setback (an unexpected pregnancy, because epilepsy medication and birth control don't play well together, apparently). I got really sick of people telling me "It could be worse" or that "All things happen for a reason." I knew both of those things, but when you're going through something that's turning your world completely upside down (and your world wasn't all that right-side-up to begin with), the three year old inside you kind of wants to kick those very nice, well-meaning people in the nuts or the ovaries.

Anger issues. I had them. Big time. I hated life, but mostly, I hated myself. I hated that I was flawed and had this problem that I thought I'd outgrown years ago but would now be with me for the rest of my life, according to doctors. I hated that things were never easy. You know, adversity sometimes brings out the best in people. That was not the case for me. It wasn't my finest hour.

Actually, I'm still waiting for my finest hour. Or something even approaching, "fine." But that's another blog topic, I guess.

After anger came apathy. I thought, "Well, if this is how it's gonna be, then I'll just check out. I don't care if there are people out there worse off than I am; this is the worst I've ever been, so it's the only frame of reference I have. And it stinks. And I don't want to play this game called 'Life' anymore." I would have sent out invitations to my pity party, but I really just wanted to be alone... all the time. Which is problematic when you live in a house with four other people, and you come from a large extended family. "Alone" is hard to come by.


I wrote a lot of fiction then, none of which is published right now. Most of it may never be published. It was simply the place I went when I couldn't stand being in the real world. I guess that was the "denial" phase of my journey.

I also went to see a "professional," even though it originally made me feel crazier than I already suspected I was. I spent many hours blubbering in his office about everything from my dad passing away to feeling like a failure and a bad wife and mother. I was so far gone that I believe I even had a meltdown about housework once (hey, cleaning toilets when you live in a house full of males can be stressful!).

And then... I snapped out of it. I mean, I'm sure it wasn't as sudden as that, but I guess I had a long enough streak of okay days, where nothing set me off or made me feel downtrodden (no hangnails, etc.) that I realized I was finally at a place where I could look back and feel like all that hardship was behind me. Not only was everything those annoying optimists said all those months before true, but I could actually feel it becoming my reality. I could not only list my blessings, but I could truly see them as blessings. Good things felt possible again. To use my son Jack's favorite word (besides "meow"), it was AMAZING.

So now, two doctors and three-and-a-half years after my re-diagnosis, Dr. Z's still more concerned about the state of my fingernails than about what's going on in my brain, because nothing unusual is going on in my brain. Yay! I don't take that for granted, either. I really wish they gave out "seizure-free" coins, like they do sobriety medallions. If I were crafty, I'd make my own.

In addition to this blog, I write chick lit and obsessively check my Facebook page. You can find my books on Amazon Kindle at www.amazon.com/author/breabrown. "Like" my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/breabrownauthor.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Vacation Fantasies

Since I'm on Facebook, I get to read about all sorts of interesting places where people go on vacation. A high school friend recently went snowboarding in Colorado. My niece and her husband--who already live in Australia, which is pretty cool--just returned from Thailand. A former work colleague seems to be in a warm, beachy destination every other week. Another long-distance friend regularly goes on cruises and teases us mercilessly with his pictures. My mom (not on Facebook, incidentally) spends a week every early spring in Gulf Shores, Alabama. People be travelin'!

I have used the past 2,683 vacation days of my life taking care of sick people, being sick after taking care of sick people, or covering for other people who are too sick to take care of my children. Okay, slight exaggeration. But not by much.

Today's exotic locale: home.

I often fantasize about where I would go if I never had to use a vacation day for something as dreary as illness. Usually, that's across the pond to jolly olde England. Really want to go there someday. Really not gonna happen for at least the next eighteen years. I'd also like to take a cruise. Or lie on a beach for seven days straight, drinking pretty drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them. These are equally unlikely scenarios.

Parenting, if done correctly (whatever that means), is the most rewarding job you'll ever have. At least, that's what people say over and over and over, until you almost start to believe it. But consider having a job where you sit in the same small office day after day and never get a vacation day, unless you're nearly on your deathbed. And your boss (or bosses) aren't much for workplace morale. As a matter of fact, they're kind of jerks most of the time. Sure, sometimes they throw you a perk or say something funny or--very occasionally--give you a thank you for all your hard work. But, for the most part, they're too focused on their jobs to really care how you get yours done. They're very busy and important, you know?

Who put a gun to my head and told me to have these germy kids? I don't know, but when I find him or her, it's not going to be pretty.

Until then, I must make lemonade (preferably hard lemonade) out of these lemons. Sick days are for writing. The Secret Keeper fans will be glad to know I'll be working on Book 3 between my stints as drug mule (uh, Tylenol only) and all-around nursemaid/slave.

In Book 3, life is getting very interesting for Peyton and Brice, as well as the other characters you've come to know well, some acquaintances you'll be getting to know a little better, and some folks that you'll be meeting for the first time. Time to crank this muthuh out!

You can download my books (they're great for sick days!) at www.amazon.com/author/breabrown.
"Like" my Facebook page! www.facebook.com/breabrownauthor 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I'm a Christian WRITER, but not a CHRISTIAN Writer

I know, it's confusing. So, let me explain:

I am a Christian. A Lutheran Christian, to be more precise. I am a writer. A chick lit writer. However, I am NOT a Christian Chick Lit writer.

Still confused? So are some readers out there.

For the majority of you who have not read the books in my Secret Keeper series, here's some background info:  I talk a lot about Lutherans in those books. I do this for several reasons. First of all, I've always been told to write what I know. Well, I know Lutherans, having been one my whole life. Also, Lutherans are very entertaining. Just ask Garrison Keillor. He's made a career out of us. Third, it just kind of happened that way, because when I got the idea for the first book, and it involved a pastor, the only sort of pastor I knew well enough to write about convincingly was a Lutheran pastor.

With me so far? Now, here's where it gets tricky (for some).

Just because I have Lutherans in my books doesn't mean my books are Christian fiction. To jump to that conclusion is like saying a book that has a character under the age of 18 in it is a children's book. Or that a book that mentions music is a songbook. Okay, maybe I'm oversimplifying a lot, but you get the idea.

I don't have anything against Christian fiction, but I don't write it. And I don't market my TSK books as Christian fiction, even though I extensively discuss Christianity (and those zany Lutherans) in them, because... well, readers of Christian fiction would be pretty ticked off (and rightly so) if they picked up one of my books, expecting to read something... Christian-y... and were slapped in the face by the first f-bomb they saw (Chapter Five in The Secret Keeper). Or were confronted with a semi-steamy sex scene (you'll have to find that yourself). Profanity and premarital sex are not elements of Christian fiction... ever...

This I know, for the Bible tells me so!

If people feel "misled" that I don't label my TSK series as Christian fiction, but then I dare to utter the name "Jesus" in my books (and not as a curse word) or have my characters discuss their Christian viewpoints, then... too bad! My characters are multi-dimensional. They have foibles and faith. They say bad words; they say prayers. They don't fit into boxes or under neat labels. And neither do my books. I hope that's what makes them interesting and keeps readers coming back for more.

You can download my hard-to-classify books at http://www.amazon.com/author/breabrown

And while you're online, please "Like" my Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/breabrownauthor

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fishbowl Writing

Since I live in a house with other people who tend to rely on me for things like... oh, I don't know... providing food and other life essentials, it's sometimes difficult to write within a one-mile radius of them. I actually think my middle child would prefer to run a mile to ask me for something than to ask his father, who may be sitting as close to him as on the same couch. Therefore, I often flee... er, escape... er, relocate... to somewhere public when I want to write without being asked for yogurt/apples/juice/water/milk/attention/CPR or polled on important, immediate issues such as, "What's your favorite cat?" There's a certain chain of cafes that receives my patronage 90% of the time, because there's one fairly close to my house and another close to where I work. It's a warm, fragrant, comfortable place with free Wi-Fi (although it's sluggish, which can be frustrating when I'm researching important things for my books... or looking at pictures of attractive actors with English accents), and I frequent these places enough that I feel at home there, but the people who work there don't know me by name... yet. It's an ideal balance. Now, if all the other patrons would simply... go away... it would be the perfect place to write.

Because you may not know this about me, but I'm going to tell you:  I'm a spaz. Therefore, I'm often worried that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously doing something to embarrass and draw unwanted attention to myself. Writing in a public place does not mix well with this paranoia.

For example, someone always seems to be in my eye line who appears to be staring at me every time I look up from my laptop monitor. That person probably thinks I'm staring at them every time they happen to glance at me. This inevitably results in a monkey-see, monkey-do sort of game that psychologists and sociologists and anthropologists and other -ologists (zoologists!) love to see. I swipe at my face with a napkin, in case the person is staring because I have something gross on it. The other person, thinking I'm tossing them a hint, does the same. Or vice versa. In most cases, I outlast the other person (because I've conditioned myself to be sedentary for hours longer than when most people begin to develop blood clots). He or she finally leaves, only to be replaced by someone else who plays the game with me for the next hour or so.

It doesn't help that I regularly do things to reinforce my worries that I'm doing something mortifying for everyone to see or hear. Case in point, the time I had my earphones plugged into the wrong jack on my laptop, and so I kept bumping up the volume on my music, frustrated that nothing was coming through them. Turns out, I was blaring my music for the whole room to hear. I finally figured it out when I got enough dirty looks and it struck me that it was odd for a place that  normally plays classical music on the P.A. system to be playing Jet's "Are you Gonna Be My Girl?" Oh, wait! That's what Pandora's playing for me!

Or I'll sit there with food dribbled down the front of my shirt. Or I'll knock my drink over. Or someone will walk behind me just as I'm looking at a picture of a scantily-clad guy (for research purposes, of course). Or, worse, they'll see the reflection of such a picture in the restaurant's window behind me. Whatever. Unlike the "Pandora incident," these are all theoretical embarrassing moments, but you get the idea. I have a knack for doing awkward things, which is why my oldest son doesn't go out in public with me very often, and I don't really fault him for it or want him to go out in public with me, so it works out just fine.

And when my insecurities (and faux pas) aren't the problem, the presence of other people is. In addition to "The Starer," there are five basic types of people who tend to like to sit near me (even when the place is pretty empty) when I'm writing in public. They are:
  1. The loud laughers (groups of women most of the time, I hate to say);
  2. The talkers, who have such interesting lives and no qualms about discussing them, no matter how personal;
  3. The table-drummers;
  4. The under-the-breath singers; and
  5. The conversationalists, also alone, but who think I must want to talk, since I'm alone, too.
Since it's a public place, I don't expect it to be silent. That's what earbuds are for. Earbuds can only do so much, though. Usually, I can drown out the talkers and the under-the-breath singers, but I can't concentrate with music playing so loudly that it drowns out the laughers. The table-drummer is more of a visual distraction than an auditory distraction. And the conversationalist doesn't give a damn how many times I have to pop out my earbud and make him (yes, it's usually a guy) repeat himself so I can respond to his unwelcome question or comment.

And before you suggest it, writing at the library isn't the answer, either. Libraries are no longer the quiet, tranquil places they used to be (I refuse to say when I was growing up). They're overrun by loud children and their parents, who seem to walk around in a daze wondering, "Noise? What noise? My children's ultra-sonic screams deafened me months ago! I don't know what your problem is." And since libraries are free hangouts, where you don't feel obligated to purchase anything for the privilege of using their electricity and Wi-Fi (no matter how crappy it is), the percentage of Type 5 patrons is vastly higher, and they can be even more persistent in their efforts to chat and/or less diligent about hygiene. Not always. But often.

The point is, Virginia Woolf was pretty messed up, but she had it so right when she said everyone needs a room of one's own. A room where nobody else is staring (or appearing to be staring) or hearing your music or asking you inane questions or expecting you to be a nurturing mother with an unlimited supply of Go-Gurt. The question is... as conditioned as I am to work in the midst of so many distractions, would I even know what to do with myself in such a room?

Probably not.

Download my books, largely written in public, coffee-scented venues, at www.amazon.com/author/breabrown 

"Like" my Facebook page, while you're at it! http://www.facebook.com/breabrownauthor
(The "please" is implied in both statements above.)