Story Published in November 2015 | Interview conducted in June 2015
Clara Brocken moved to the USA in 2005. At that time, she was one of the most powerful gangster... on an online mafia game called www.bootleggers.us! As she was dominating the smuggling market, other players ganged up against her, resulting in Clara spending a lot of time "in Jail". That is when another top gangster - using the code name of Imitation9 - teamed up with Clara and busted her out of jail whenever she got herself in digital trouble!
That is how Clara and Robert first met. They started talking online a lot. After a few months, they decided to meet IRL that following summer. So Clara packed her stuff for a summer vacation in California and never returned!
Listen to her video interview to hear her story! Spoiler: it ends up really well. :-)
As you can notice in the interview above, Clara is a real sweet person in real life, who has nothing to do with the bootlegging expert she is online. After coming to California in the summer of 2005, Clara and Robert got married. They decided to relocate to Little Rock, Arkansas to be closer to Robert's family and start their own. A year later, their first daughter, Rachel was born on Valentine's day.
Rachel is now eight years old and she has grown into an easy going, extrovert and book addict child. Clara usually checks out 75 books at time for the entire family at the local library. Rachel really loves the Fairy series. The more fairies, the more unicorns and colors, the merrier!
Four year later, Clara and Robert had their second daughter, Brianna. Brianna is now four. She is a little more shy and reserved compared to her sister. Brianna likes reading as well, but she really loves Dora the Explorer. If it was left to her, Brianna could watch entire seasons of the show in a day. Shake! Shake! Shake!
Rachel and Brianna get along together, but as every sister, they fight. To help with the fighting, and promote collaboration, Clara came up with a "good point/bad point" system. If they reach 5, they get extra play or TV time.
Clara had almost no problem adjusting to the USA and Arkansas. She loves the slower pace of life in the South and appreciate the gentleness of the local people. At first, she was very impressed and scared of tornado alerts but she quickly adapted to the natural elements. She loves being closer to nature and seeing deers in her garden. The only aspect of her Arkansan life Clara really can not stand is... the summer heat! Clara is a winter person and really dislikes how the temperature can reach 105F°+/40,5C°+ for months in a row in Arkansas. "In Belgium, when you have a heat wave, you suffer a few days and you are done. Here, it is so hot, you have to stay inside for a few months!" Clara says.
When I asked her if she missed her culture or language, Clara told me that it did not really matter to her anymore because she has stayed really closed to her family in Belgium and they take the time to visit often. On the top of it, Clara really enjoys speaking English and she loves the wider opportunities available to her. She treats each day in the US as an adventure. She has never been bored since she moved to America!
Family is very essential in Clara's life. The family make sure to spend quality time together every day. The most important time of the day is the family hug! Every night, before the girls go to sleep, they powa in the living room and hug each other. They have been doing it for a couple years and they still do it every day. It is very moving to see.
Ever since she moved to the USA, Clara has always been a stay-at-home mum. But now that Brianna is about to start elementary school, Clara has the time to invest in herself. She decided this year to continue her studies in order to become a medical sonographer. She got a full ride scholarship at a local community college. Clara is finishing all her per-requisites class which she can take online. She talks about her experience of going back to school as an adult in the interview above. She excepts to graduate in a few years.
In her free time, Clara enjoys reading a lot, assembling puzzles and cross-stitching. She is not scared of taking craft projects that require a long time. She recently completed a 5000 piece puzzle in 20 days. She really love building puzzles, that is why she never frames them when she is done. "There are not as fun in a frame" Clara smiles.
Last year Clara became Moderator on bootleggers. It is her way to thank the bootlegging community for everything it brought to her life. Clara and Robert had invited the founder of the site to their wedding, unfortunately he lived in a different country and could not make it. But he did post a comment to Clara's profile - which Clara feels very good about because it which rarely occurs! The founder of bootleggers is a very busy man.
Clara & Robert still play the game to this day. It resets every few years to keep things interesting. They have to make their way to the top again. There is no doubt that Claar and Imitation9 will strike again!