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Called In Sick At Workplace to Read Solutions and Other Problems

by Bia Ahmed, December 2, 2020

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I was about to fall asleep when out of nowhere, I remembered how much fun I had while reading Allie Brosh’s book Hyperbole and a Half. I felt like going back to reread it again and to see what the author has been up to all this time. I wasn’t expecting to find anything new since Allie didn’t post anything on her blog for ages and also disappeared off the face of the internet for years, but I still hoped to find something new. So I visited her blog out of old times sake, and there I was stunned to find a snippet taken from Allie’s new book Solutions and Other Problems that she published recently.

I couldn’t help that tiny screech that escaped from my lips when I realized there is a new book, and it’s already been published recently. Straight after knowing that, I canceled all my plans for the next day and called in sick at my workplace; there was a bit of guilt attached to do that, but I needed this. It’s been a while since I got this much excited to read a book, and I was eager to start on with this; I don’t usually take leaves unless necessary and this I definitely counted as an emergency.

I didn’t sleep the whole night and spent the next day curled up on the couch, on my bed, on the bathroom floor, under my bed with this book. It was like old times. Reading Solutions and Other Problems made me feel like Allie Brosh was speaking directly to me as a close friend, and I wasn’t just a bystander in someone else’s stories.

I found myself nodding along with her opinions, laughing like crazy at times so much that my sides started to ache, and then getting teared up when she shared her experiences, how much she had to face during these last six years. She struggled to define the bond she shared with her little sister—her confusion and racking guilt when she lost her to suicide, her declining health. One moment being fine while the next fainting in the bathroom and finding out that her body has been riddled with not just one but multiple tumors. And then getting divorced in the process too.

The one thing that impacted me the most in this book is that Allie never made it feel like she’s self-pitying or blamed anyone for what happened with her. This whole time she was talking matter-of-factly and was trying to explain her absence to her fans. It just touched me on an emotional level that how someone who’s faced so much in life can still manage to radiate so much happiness and positivity.

Her work has helped me before, and it just felt like it was just at the right time that I found out about this book. I have a tendency to isolate myself when I start having resentments about myself. It’s like at times I feel like the lowest of the low and hate to reach out to friends in case I come off as trying to seek attention; the situation would go so dire that it would go days and I wouldn’t get in touch with anyone out of fear of them seeing the way that I see myself and leave. When she ended this book with the chapter ‘Friends’ with what situation she found herself in after her marriage ended and how there was no one to go to and the loneliness there was but didn’t want to share with anyone out of fear of coming off as weak and needy.

She learned to pull the pieces back together as an attempt to befriend her own self, I had felt that. I tried describing what those phases are like, but reading this book made me feel understood that someone out there had the same feeling. And now I don’t have to describe it. I can just point to the words of a more skilled person and say ‘it felt like this.’

Allie Brosh’s story left me with a bittersweet feeling of being alright. Of seeing things from a different perspective and finding joy even in mundane stuff, her idiosyncrasies and her way of using humor as a coping mechanism —it all just felt too damn person, and in the end, I just wanted to hug her to tell how much her work has helped me.

This book left me emotionally overwhelmed and thoroughly satisfied. The plethora of emotions I experienced while reading this book was something that I thought wasn’t much of a possibility for me to get so engrossed within a story anymore that I’m past feeling this way about books.

After finishing this in a day, I looked up and saw myself staring in the mirror with dark circles under my eyes, unkempt hair, and a ridiculous grin plastered on my face with the feeling of contentment I get from reading a really good book, This graphic novel Solutions and Other Problems made my whole day! I lowkey don’t want anyone to read this because this was a really personal read, and I don’t want anyone to discover because it’s mine. It would be like a personal attack if anyone read this and decide they didn’t like it.

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