Grammar, Cosmic Coincidences, and a Different Kind of Hope: Reading Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

To start this post, we need to go back to 8th grade. Middle school. An absolute hellscape of memories some good, a lot bad. One day my best friend at the time started making jokes about a blog post that her language arts teacher had shared with her class for a grammar lesson. I find it really funny looking back now because while I still struggle with grammar and writing it doesn’t compare in the slightest to how atrocious some of my mistakes were back in the day.

The blog post in question was the Alot post from Hyperbole and a Half (laughing at the fact that I had to circumvent autocorrect to even type a lot incorrectly!) This post was (and probably still is) a perfect way to teach a grammar lesson to middle schoolers. It was an instant classic and many of my classmates joked about it for years to come. I’m actually pretty sure we referenced this all the way up to our senior year. Since I wasn’t in the same language arts class as my best friend, I decided to look up the blog when I got home. I think I read every published post that night. It became a favorite of mine and I realize now how deeply Hyperbole and a Half influenced my life.

I’m not sure I remember what my first blog was and I can’t even remember what site I published it on but I know that I was inspired by Hyperbole and a Half to start my own. I know that I posted a lot of angsty poetry on it and am honestly kind of glad I don’t have access to that content, my journals from that time are content enough. This blog was created in 2015 when I was really into lifestyle influencers. I wasn’t able to make YouTube videos so I decided to blog instead. The Tumblr account that I used religiously just wasn’t cutting it for what I wanted to use it for. I kind of fell into a zone of wanting to monetize blogging after seeing other people my age do it and it all went from there. Over the years I’ve realized that I’m not great at blogging, sometimes I consider starting a podcast simply because I have so many big ideas that don’t seem like they’d fit into one blog post. It’s interesting how content evolves over time and what we can choose to do with our platforms.

When Allie’s posts started becoming less frequent I would still check in on her blog. It was a little haven on the internet for me and I was always so grateful for how open she was about her mental health struggles. The blog was the perfect balance of humorous and real. Even when she “disappeared” from the internet I would always wonder how she was doing, couldn’t help but reminisce every time I typed the words “a lot”. Hyperbole and a Half was central to a period of my adolescence and I think I’ll always feel connected to that blog.

In the past few years, I’ve struggled with the idea of a “purpose” and have sunk deeper and deeper into this pit where all I can think about is the meaningless of life. It’s a big change from 19 year old me who cried about taking a Philosophy of Person class because I had to think about mortality. Now I think about it constantly.

I was at a crossroads when this article popped up on my newsfeed. I dropped everything I was doing and read it. By the time I had scrolled to the end I was crying. I ordered Solutions and Other Problems immediately.

Image: Cover of Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

The night that my preorder came in the mail I stayed up too late reading it. I cried a lot but I also laughed… A lot. It might have been one of the most cathartic reading experiences I have ever had. Solutions and Other Problems was raw and real and it was everything I needed in that moment.

It was comforting to read from the perspective of someone who has the same mindset on existence as I do. Too often I get existential and people try to be hopeful. And don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I appreciate it but most of the time, I don’t want to be hopeful. I don’t want motivating stories because it feels like pity. Sometimes it even feels judgmental and I can’t bring myself to think the way that these well meaning individuals want me to think.

Allie took the words out of my brain and wrote them out. She made me feel okay about the way I see the world. I don’t think that everything happens for a reason and I honestly curse the universe quite a bit for having had to endure so many of the things I’ve had to endure. Sometimes I feel trapped because other people tell me that I need to live for me but in the end, I don’t want to do anything because I don’t get the point. The more that I think about the title, “Solutions and Other Problems” I can’t help but love it more and more. Trying to find the solution to life is probably the biggest problem I’ll ever have.

This book is probably going to have divided opinions not only because of how long it took to be published, but also because of the content within. It felt like a pivot point for Brosh and was similar to how it felt like her blog content shifted after her first depression post. I gave this book five stars and am already ready to reread it but I could see that some people might find the overall message to be too negative or something along those lines.

I’m a pessimist at heart but this book gave me a small seed of hope. It reminded me that there are still things worth sticking around for. Just knowing I was here long enough to read more content from Allie made me proud for a moment. It’s the same thing I felt when I realized I got to see more Taylor Swift albums get released. It’s a different kind of hope but it’s worth being here for.

I know this wasn’t much of an actual review but I’ll link my official Goodreads review here once I finally write it. I just wanted to share the cosmic coincidence of finding hope in content that I’ve held close for 10 years now. I’m going to sign off now and I’ll talk to you in my next post.

You can get your own copy of Solutions and Other Problems from the following:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // IndieBound (where you can find your local indie to shop from)

You can also find me in these places:

Twitter: @/nihilisticactus

You can add me or follow my reviews on Goodreads here.

Readerly: @/sideofadventure

If you’re interested in supporting the blog my Ko-fi is here.

Happy New Year: Blog Goals For 2020

Hi everyone!! Happy New Year!

I hope that the end of 2019 went well and that the holidays were peaceful. I ended up taking a lot longer of a break than I expected and I have to admit, it was really needed. Truth be told, I haven’t completed a book in a few weeks but in my typical fashion I am in the middle of at least seven. I spent December watching a lot of Netflix and a lot of Disney+. I started crocheting again and made a whole bunch of Christmas presents and am about 1/3 of the way done with my first sweater!

I’ve tried staying off social media more in the last few weeks and it was so nice. So now that it is the new year, I’ve decided to break my hiatus and make a comeback on the blog.

I have a few goals for this upcoming year in regards to the blog and I will probably be sharing a few personal goals at the end of this post as well.

Starting off, I would like to continue growing my follower count. I don’t really have a specific number in mind and I’m not going to stress about that but I feel a sense of joy and pride when I realize that people are reading what I’m saying and I really want to be able to continue to share my thoughts with more people.

Post at least once a week. I tried to be consistent, but personal things always seem to get in the way so I know that I can’t hold myself to a specific schedule. While I would love to try, I don’t think that’s going to be possible, at least not now. So, even if all I can get out is a weekly post and not a review or something like that, I just want to make sure I’m committing to creating content. A half goal with this is also to post more lifestyle themed things. While I absolutely love the book community and what I have fostered in my theme over the last year, this blog started off with a far bigger variety of posts than what it has now. I think that this, in part, was why I felt so burnt out and fell into that huge reading slump. I loved writing posts about hiking and I had so many ideas for posts centered around makeup that I never bothered writing because I just kept trying to focus on book posts. This definitely doesn’t mean I’m stepping away from book blogging (I think this blog will always be books at the center) but I do want to put it out there that I’m going to write a lot of different posts this year!

Find a way to review books in a way that makes sense to me and makes me happy to put out posts. Okay, so I was really proud of a lot of my posts from 2019. But at the same time, there are a lot of posts that I really wish I could have done differently. I’m not going to say that I hated any of the posts that I put out, but I think I need to rework the way that I write reviews. So that’s a big goal of mine. I started to change things up a little towards the end of the year and I’d like to continue on with honing in on a reviewing style that fits me.

 Add pictures. I used to be a photography fiend. For a long time I even wanted to be a photographer. But after high school I put my camera away and I haven’t really picked it up since. So a lot of my posts have been devoid of pictures and while I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I miss having pictures scattered in my posts. I miss being creative. I think it’ll be interesting what I come up with for this goal but I would like to focus more on creativity this year. So hopefully you guys will see some stuff with that in the near future!

Last goal for the blog, READ MY ARCS. I started off so gung ho when I got access to ARCs on NetGalley and now (especially because of my reading slump) I’ve fallen so behind on my ARCs. And so this year, my goal is to get caught up on my ARCs and limit how many I request until then.

I’m really excited to start off this year and get posting again. I have a few posts from last year that I was in the middle of writing that I want to get put up by the end of the month and then I’ll just see where the universe takes me.

In terms of personal goals, I want to focus on time management and cleanliness this year. I also want to foster healthy personal relationships and do a lot of hiking. I would also like to try and focus on my health and figure out all the issues that I have.

Spring semester starts in a little over a week and I’ll be taking a writing class and French. I’ve heard that French takes up a lot of time so we’ll see how well the time management goal of mine starts off right out of the gate.

Do you guys have any big goals for this year? I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I think this is going to be a year of change and I couldn’t be more excited.

Happy New Year, again! And I hope everyone finds some joy and peace this year ❤

 

Changes In My Reading Life

So it’s Friday. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to skip out on the topic from this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I really liked this topic (it’s about changes in your reading life!) and I felt it could be a good post for me to use to get back to writing blog posts. I’m also planning on writing about my favorite bookmarks soon because I had the whole thing planned out and then never got around to taking pictures so I do really want to share those with you too!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I started reading big books in kindergarten. I was still 6 when I picked up my first Harry Potter book and I guess you can say that the rest is history. I don’t remember a lot of the books that I read back then but I do know that I was a big fan of rereading books. I think that right there is one of the biggest things that’s changed. In elementary school, I would pick up the same books every single year. This included rereading Harry Potter (the entire series up to whatever book had just been released), and books like Love, Ruby Lavender and Running Out of Time.

Nowadays, I don’t reread a ton of books. At least not yearly, anyways. 15 of the books that I’ve read this year were rereads (two of which the books were completely new to me this year but since I’ve read them twice obviously I’m counting them). With the amount of new books that I hear about now I couldn’t imagine rereading the same books yearly like I used to. But back then I’d only find out about new books when I’d go to the library or the bookstore and even then it was mostly just if I went to the bookstore. I liked to check out the same books every time I went to the library because that’s just who I am lol.

Another change for me is that now I actually read e-books! I’m a huge fan of my Kindle and I also read a decent amount of e-books on my phone through the Libby app (my library has greatly stepped up their e-book selection and ease of checking them out and I LOVE it). When I got my first Kindle, I think I was in 7th or 8th grade and I don’t think I ever actually read books on it. I did, however, play a lot of Angry Birds. I think I also discovered fanfiction after getting my first Kindle? I can’t really remember that timeline though. I’m still trying to find this one fic that I was obsessed with but still no luck.

I don’t know why, but I used to feel like reading e-books wasn’t really reading books. I always reached for physical books instead of e-books. It was the same thing with audiobooks, but I also have come to realize that audiobooks really aren’t for me! I’m still a little jealous of people who can listen to audiobooks with no problems.

I still read plenty of physical books but I also frequently reach for e-books. I’m a big fan of getting books when they go on major sale ($1 or $2 books are my kryptonite). I also feel less gross when I spend too much time on my phone when I actually open my e-book apps instead of just scrolling through social media.

This next change I actually find kind of comedic. Back in the day if a book was written by a male author, or had a male main character, I probably wasn’t reading it. I want to say that John Green was the first male author that I ever read extensively from (oh and Lemony Snicket) and I’ll read books with any type of narrator now. I’m trying to reach for more diverse books and authors and I think that’s a really important change in my reading life.

The last really big change in my reading life is that I finally delved into reading adult books and actually seek out adult books instead of reading strictly YA. So, back before I started spending too much money on things (cough books… and makeup and just all the things) I would get all or most of my new books from the library. Now at my library, the YA and children’s sections are right up front but the nonfiction sections and adult section are allllllllll the way at the back of the library. And you know what the worst part is?? YOU HAVE TO WALK PAST THE LIBRARIANS AT THEIR DESK TO GET TO THEM. So obviously, anxious past me NEVER went to the sections in the back of the library.

When I finally did hit up the adult section, I was completely overwhelmed with how many new books I had to choose from. But slowly and surely I’ve been reading more and more adult books and finding that I enjoy a lot of them. Now that I’m 23 it’s getting harder to exclusively read YA books so branching out has been really great. It’s the same thing with nonfiction books. I read way more nonfiction books now than I ever have and I enjoy it immensely. Like I mentioned before, I’m working on reading more diversely and also trying to just read widely. I love most genres and storylines and I’m willing to pick up most books to try out!

I have seen myself change so much in recent years with my reading and I love being able to read things more critically but also still have that ability to fall in love with stories without seeing only bad. I love finding new authors and new books and discovering tropes that I never realized I loved. I think reading is such a different experience for everyone and it’s genuinely so interesting to see differing opinions and reviews. I am so thankful that I discovered this community and that it’s been such a welcoming and fun experience.

I’m very much looking forward to 2020 and new books and experiences. Happy Friday everyone!! Talk to you soon 🙂

 

Mid-Year Blog Goals

Adventures With a Side of Espresso

This post is definitely more for me than for all of you reading but maybe you’ll get a little bit of enjoyment out of it. Now that it’s June (ugh I hate that it’s already June) I feel like I need to try and come up with some goals for myself for this blog for the rest of the year. I’m hoping I can come up with five but I guess you’ll just have to keep reading to see what I come up with.

1 Get 100 followers by December 31!

I would really just like to keep growing traffic and followers and though my blog has slowly grown over the years I would really like to have at least 100 followers by the end of the year. I feel like if I really took the time to focus on blogging and marketing my blog then I could definitely get a lot more traffic than I am right now but that means actually putting in the effort to market my blog and I can’t help but get cold feet about whether it’s even worth it.

2 Finish my Harry Potter quote series

I realized that I started this series in 2015… And obviously now it is 2019 and I have only made the first two posts in the series. I AM A FAILURE (not really but holy cow these posts are sooooo easy to make I can’t believe I haven’t finished it yet). Stay tuned!

3 Post weekend posts at least once a month

I would really like to increase my post volume at least once a month. I’m going to keep myself on my schedule of posting MWF but I want to try and make posts on Saturday or Sunday at least once a month if not more. I just need to get a day where I can sit down and block out many hours to just focus on the blog and get a bunch of stuff written ahead of time. Sometimes I just find this hard to do because a lot of my posts right now center around reading and I can only read so many books so fast! And hopefully this weekend was a post filled one because I wanted to get all my end of May posts up at the very beginning of June and I really don’t want to waste whole weeks each month to posts that simply wrap up the previous month.

4 Make my first affiliate sale

So far I’m only a part of the Amazon affiliate program and I’ve gotten exactly one click as of the time of me writing this post. I would really like to branch out into other affiliate programs and hopefully if I can increase traffic to my blog I can also start getting some affiliate purchases. I’m still really looking into how all of this works but it would be cool to have this work out!

5 Create one creative post a month

Whether this post is sharing pictures that I’ve taken and edited or something that I’ve painted or even just pages I’ve done in a coloring book I really want to start bringing art back into my life and I’d like to share my progress. I feel like this one is going to be really difficult for me considering how uncreative I’ve been feeling but we’ll see! I will also rope into this writing. So if I happen to write a poem or short story that I feel is good enough to share then that will count as a creative post as well.

Bonus goal:

Monetize my blog. Honestly if anyone out there has any advice on this topic I would love to hear some! I’m incredibly technologically challenged so I really can’t do much in terms of websites and whatnot but I would love to turn this into a bit of a more profitable venture. The reasoning behind that is just because I have a really bad habit of feeling like I need to monetize my hobbies but I also have been putting in a significant amount of hours writing posts recently that I’d really like to actually have something to show for my time.

Rereading this post, I think a lot of these goals are just me wanting to focus more on blogging as a job and working to create good and enjoyable content (even if it’s only that to myself). I really do love writing and blogging and it would be awesome if I can take it above and beyond just doing it for fun. Here’s to hoping everything goes to plan! Have a great week everyone!

Trying To Be Niche

I have a lot of interests. I have a lot of hobbies. I like a LOT of stuff. My problem is that I don’t always like these things all the time, I don’t always do these things exclusively, and I am so far from consistent it’s not even funny.

Right now, I really want to read, and I want to write, and I want to go back to school. I can finally listen to music again and I’m getting excited about wearing makeup again too. I don’t have a car to take on hiking trips and I honestly don’t know where my motivation to take pictures went but for some reason I have no interest in saving memories anymore. I can sew and crochet and take a decent picture now and again… Oh and sometimes I like to binge bake things and watercolor painting is one of my favorite things to do (even though I haven’t done it in months now).

I’ve read three books in the last week and every blog post idea I’ve had has been about books. I’m excited about what I’m doing when I don’t think about it, but then when I do pause to think about it I wonder why I even want to. Would people even be interested in the posts I want to make? I want to talk about books, both old and new, how many people will even be interested in old book reviews?

And what about posts that aren’t about books? No matter what I do I will never be able to force myself to stay in a box of one type of post. And sometimes I wonder if that hurts me in the long run when I’m making posts. How many people come to my post to see adventures and end up disappointed about books? Or come to see books and then turn away when I make a post about makeup? I want to be a diverse blog but I feel like I should be niche… But that’s not me.

In the long run, I think I will be forever self conscious about what I write. Every post I can’t help but think that I was too rambly or I wasn’t informative enough. I feel like no one will read my stuff, yet I write like everyone could read this at any moment. I know that I’ll post whatever I feel like posting, because in the end, I like to post things I’m excited about. I just hope that I’ll be able to find people that want to read along with me no matter what I post about.

So I guess what I have to say to conclude is if you found me for book related posts, enjoy! I have plenty more of those to come… And I hope you like all the random posts I have interspersed. And for in the future if I get burnt out on book related posts or if I just stop reading for a while again (which I know will happen, especially if I end up being able to go back to school) I really hope that everyone can find something they enjoy in what I write then too!

Anyways, happy Monday everyone! I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday.

17 Things I Want To Do In 2017

I have never followed through on resolutions. Never! Not once! So I’ve decided to make a big resolution to never make another resolution. Instead I am going to make a list of 17 things that I would like to do in 2017.

 1 Blog consistently

I’m horrible at being a blogger. That’s pretty obvious to me, so this year I’d like to try and blog at least five days a week. I want to act like this is a job!

2 Crochet

I am in the process of opening an Etsy shop of crocheted items that I have made. Obviously in order to do this, I need to crochet things. I need to make things and I need to crochet every single day.

crochetingawasoe

3 Take more pictures

I just want the memories.

aftonawasoe

4 Journal more

I’m working on a post about reasons to start journaling and I realized just how awful I am at journaling consistently so on top of blogging consistently, I would also like to journal consistently (every day would be amazing but I’d be happy with a few times a week, even just once week where I sat down and got out all my craftiness and emotions out would be awesome).

5 Workout

Starting off today I’m doing a 30 day workout calendar from Blogilates with my boyfriend and I’m hoping the two of us can hold each other accountable and workout a lot this year. We both really want to get into shape and I’m hoping by doing it together we’ll actually follow through.

6 Culture myself

Hahaha. Well I really just want to go to more museums, look at more art, go to London (hopefully!!). Hmmm. Yeah, that’s about it, I just want to appreciate stuff more. I want to go to plays and learn about history and people.

7 Go on a road trip!

Summer road trip to Seattle is currently being planned!

8 Meal plan

I’m one person. I hate making food for myself. I know that I need to take better care of myself and eat better and it’s so difficult for me because of all the food issues I have. I want to start meal planning and using the groceries I buy and really experiencing and enjoying food.

9 Develop an evening routine

Most nights this past semester have involved me working on homework until around midnight and then falling into bed and looking at my phone for over an hour until I’m finally tired enough to fall asleep (this “routine” also usually involved me forgetting to brush my teeth or take my makeup off). I want to have a routine that will help me wind down and maybe help with my insomnia some.

10 Cook more

This goes along with the meal planning. I started off the school year cooking a lot and I really enjoyed it! But then I started a second job for about a month and began to live off of granola bars and microwaveable meals which spiraled into me redeveloping some poor food habits and ended with me kind of never eating or eating really poorly. So I would like to cook more meals, I have a Pinterest board of recipes collecting dust and I intend to change that this next semester.

blueberrycheesecakeawasoe

11 Wear more lipstick

I love lipstick, I think it looks great on me. It makes me feel super bad ass but I rarely wear it because of my stupid anxiety. I always feel like people are judging me when I wear it. So now that I’m trying to care less about what people think of me I want to wear as much lipstick as I possibly can!!!

lipstickawasoe

12 Do more artsy things

I just painted a few days ago for the first time in about a year and it made me realize just how much I missed doing artsy things. When I had really bad insomnia in high school and middle school I used to stay up until two or three in the morning and just paint or draw or color and I really really miss just being so uninhibited with my artwork. I want to do more collages and paintings and use the adult coloring books I have.

13 Be cleaner and more organized

I have lost my student ID more times than I can count just because I put it wherever I please instead of keeping it in one specific spot. I have also run out of mugs (which is a feat for me because I have about 10 at school) just because I haven’t done dishes for so many days. I want to live with less clutter. So along with this I want to try and minimize my belongings. I’ve already done so with my books which is a pretty big deal for me.

14 Go on adventures

I want to be spontaneous and go hiking and just have fun.

hikingawasoe

15 Save money

Kind of self explanatory. I spend too much money, should save some more than I do. So I also need to learn how to budget.

16 Read more widely

I’ve really developed a wider reading range recently and I’d like to continue to read different genres and authors and learn things and be different from my younger only reads dystopian novels self.

bookandcoffeeawasoe

17 Treat others better

Tell people when I’m thinking of them. Bake cookies for my friends when they’re stressed out. Help people when they’re down on their luck.

I basically just want to be more consistent and have more fun this year. That’s basically it.

What do you all want to do this year?

Hello, 2016!

Looking back at my horrible attempt at Blogmas I realize that I really shouldn’t have tried to take that on. But hey!, At least I got some posts on here after many weeks of being absent!

Now that we’ve made it to 2016 I’m not saying it’s going to be a resolution of mine to write a certain amount of blog posts each week or even each month. Instead, I want to focus on making blog posts that I am proud of. I want to start taking pictures again and really making content that I look back on and know that I put my all into it.

I’d like to spend some time over my winter break working on posts and taking the time to work on this blog and put the effort into it that it deserves.

I hope you all had wonderful holiday celebrations and a happy new year. I’ll talk to you soon.