Review: Solutions And Other Problems | Allie Brosh

Recently, a woman I used to work with launched a YouTube channel in the hopes of becoming a YouTube star. Yup – just her, a web cam, and 30 minutes of bullshit. Her drinking coffee. Her talking about nothing. Her foam rolling with her crotch RIGHT on the camera. We’re talking OBGYN views.

And you know what? She’s probably going to get some sort of endorsement deal for shorts that keep your beaver from falling out and this will lead to more deals and she’ll become a millionaire. All for having a rambling vagina.

It’s not fair and makes zero sense, and that’s the point. Nothing is fair and nothing makes sense. All of those Instagram quotes that give you hope, that make you feel better about your shit boss or cheating significant other – yeah they don’t mean anything.

Sometimes things just are the way they are and it’s up to you to figure it out. Over the years I’ve learned this, and so has Allie Brosh. Except her way of explaining it is way more entertaining because she uses drawings.

I’ve been waiting for Solutions and Other Problems to drop for years and the wait was well worth it. It’s not been an easy few years for Allie but if anyone can explain the complexities of tragedy, loss, and the human emotions behind them in a humorous, engrossing way, she can.

In her follow up to Hyperbole and a Half, Allie details her journey that kept her off of the internet for 7 years, leaving us all to anxiously await her return. While on her hiatus, Allie experienced in a short time what some experience over a lifetime: mental and physical health issues, a divorce, and the untimely passing of her younger sister.

And yet, despite having to endure these hardships all at once, she manages to tell her story with humor, strength, and her signature cartoons we all love – over 500 pages of them, to be exact. If there’s been anything good about 2020, it’s the return of Allie Brosh and her book, Problems and Other Solutions.

Welcome back, Allie!

Halloween, or just 2020?

I don’t know why people keep comparing 2020 to a Quintin Tarantino film. Tarantino films are good – even the fight scenes are delightful. Tarantino movies are entertaining, which is the polar opposite of 2020.

If director comparisons are what we’re after, then I would like to toss M. Night Shyamalan’s name in the hat. Think about it: this year has been nothing but terrible at every turn – just like his movies. You know I’m right.

Anyway, 2020: the year of shit. Luckily, we’re at the tale end of it which also happens to be my favorite time of year: Halloween season. For some of you it’s Everything Smells, Tastes, and Walks Like a Pumpkin season. For me, it’s horror movie-watching, scary story-telling, black like my soul Halloween season and to properly kick it off, I’m going to tell you a story that is perfectly on brand with 2020 in that it’s horrific and it’s also true.

The speed at which 2020 hits is different for everyone. For my sister, it was 72 hours and came in the form of a dead body.

A few months ago, my little sister took the leap into adulthood and moved 3 hours from my parents house into an apartment that we’ll label as affordable, which admittedly made me nervous for her. She was excited. My parents were excited. Both seemed to forget that the year is 2020.

I hadn’t, though. I gave her a little over a week to get settled before I called to check on her – the first words out of her mouth were “dude, you’re not going to believe this”. Just that morning, upon returning home from a job interview, my sister was greeted by paramedics wheeling out a body bag.

Word around the complex was it was the old man who lived RIGHT ABOVE HER. She hadn’t spoken to him but for the first few days in her new apartment, she used to see him all the time: he would hang out on the balcony staring at people. And if that weren’t creepy enough, the rumor was that he’d been in the apartment for a couple of days before he was discovered.

Happy to hear that she was doing well, I asked her to keep me posted on the rest of her 2020.

A couple of weeks went by without so much as a peep, which could mean anything these days, so I decided another call was in order.

This call went a lot better.

Me: “Hey sis! Just want to see how everything’s going!”

Sister: “Dude…”

A few days after our previous call, my sister arrived home to find that the old man had resurrected from the dead. There he stood on his balcony, staring off into the distance. At first she thought he was a ghost, but when her boyfriend said he could see him too, she realized: “holy fuck, who was in the bodybag?”

It was the old man’s wife.

She’d passed away about 2 MONTHS PRIOR and he kept her in the apartment.

“What the fuck?” was what my response. She was like “yeah, she’d been here while we were moving in.” I asked her if she’d smelled anything or if there was any weird type of fluid leaking from the ceiling (because that’s how it works in horror movies) and she said no, which is why she never suspected anything and also you don’t expect to be living underneath a corpse.

“How could she not smell anything?” I can hear you not asking. Apparently, Norman Bates covered the body in kitty litter. I don’t know what brand but as a marketer I can tell you that would make one hell of an ad campaign.

Just laugh, I won’t tell anyone.

Anyway, if that’s not a 2020 horror story I don’t know what is.

Happy Halloween month, everyone!

Internet Airball #1: “I’m Your Content Calendar for Your Online Coaching Business, and I’m Going on Strike”

There are some jobs that I just have a hard time taking serious. That’s not to say I’m right, you understand. For a long time I refused to accept Social Media Manager as a vocation, and now it’s how I pay the bills. 

But then there are times that I am right, like when people who sell make-up online (and try to get you to sell make-up online) call themselves “business owners”. They are not. That is not a real job. That is a pyramid scheme. You can call it an MLM, but MLM stands for pyramid scheme. Sorry. I don’t make the rules of how things work.

In addition to being blissfully incorrect about their employment status, they are also still living in 2019. Pyramid schemes are so yesteryear. In 2020, the new thing is being a Life Coach. In a time where we’ve all discovered that nothing is manageable, a select few have decided that your life is and they’re the ones to manage it for you. You know what they say: those who can’t do, teach. Heehee.

The worst part is this “job” is starting to get recognized as an acutal thing. For real. Here’s my proof.

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You see! Life Coach. And they’re all over the place. Everyone is an expert on life management now. For $499 a month your life can suck a little less, as claimed by someone whose life you only know from Instagram. It’s maddening because, essentially, you’re just paying for validation for your actions, and you don’t need that – you’re an adult. We became adults so we can eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we want and no one but our low self-esteem can make us feel bad about it.  

Obviously, I am not a fan of this term or “job”. And I don’t think I’m alone, which got me thinking: “maybe the content calendars that these people use hate them, too.” Which led me to write this piece from the brain of the content calendar. It’s also my first rejected piece! Enjoy!


I’m Your “Online Coaching Business” Content Calendar, and I’m Going on Strike

Hi, it’s me! The trendy $9.99/month content calendar you had to have to make your “online coaching business” a “success”.

Not today.

Today, I’m making like an Excel Spreadsheet and shutting shit down – I’m going on strike. 

I can’t take it anymore. The inspirational quotes that you steal from memes; the lists of happy things and not-happy things; the stories about how you used to be a loser like your followers but now you’re better and for $300 a month they can be too, accompanied by a joker-esque photo of you grinning maniacally. 

Every week I’m roped into helping you make people think you can turn them into “rockstars”. How does someone deciding to eat ice cream on a Tuesday make them a “rockstar”? I’m sorry but I don’t recall Bohemian Rhapsody being about Freddy Mercury’s fearless consumption of Ben and Jerry’s.  

And the questions. My god, the questions. “Do you have trouble with time management?” “Do you find making decisions to be hard?” “Are you tired of wannabe influencers telling you what you ‘should’ do?”

Yes, I am. So today, you’re “life coaching” on your own.

Life coach. Back in the day, you had to have some sort of education and/or training to be able to tell someone how to run their life. Now all you need is a Brené Brown book, a trust fund, and a content calendar and BAM!, you’re a life coach.

Except for today. Today – UH OH! – your digital memory is experiencing technical difficulties. Best of luck “deciding” what to post because you can’t remember what you told me. Hope you can remember those time management skills you keep bragging about because today, YOU’LL be posting at different times for all 13 of your platforms.

Maybe I’ll work tomorrow. I haven’t decided yet. Or, maybe you should upgrade to the $19.99/month plan that comes with more storage so you never push me to the limit and risk me “crashing” again. I mean, according to Thursday’s post, we could all use a little more bandwidth.

Internet Airballs

For someone who is filled with anxiety and self-doubt and is irrationally self-conscious, I am really making some big things happen… in my head. If you ask my imagination I’m practically a best selling author and everyone wants to work with me. I also just hosted Saturday Night Live with Jake Gyllenhaal. Did I mention the horror screenplay I wrote is currently in production? You may not be hearing from me for a while, I’m needed on set.

These are just some of the things that I daydream about all day. And if you think those things are a reach, wait until you read how I imaginary arrived at these pretend scenarios.

Let’s start with my most recent stunt. In April (approximately 24 years ago in 2020 time), I published what I thought was an incredibly inspirational story: a girl I had to help do math inspired me to never be a teacher and then I encouraged people to follow my lead. It sounds better when you read it.

Anyway, I believed my life-changing career advice story was the one the would get me noticed. In a time when we all need encouragement and stories that make you do things and whatever, I thought this would be it. With this story I decided, fuck it, I’m going to shoot my shot and the person I’m going to shoot my shot with is the writer who inspired me to do so with his tweet “shoot your shot”. That writer is Mr. Shea Serrano.

Based in San Antonio, Shea has an amazing writing career: staff writer for The Ringer and best-selling author, and he never even intended on being a writer. A combination of talent, perseverance, and hard work got him to where he is, so who better to get my work in front of?

I composed my tweet, included a link to my brilliant piece, and off it went.  I’d done it. I had put myself out there. In my head, Shea was going to read it, message me to invite me in for a meeting, and then hire me to write jokes for his next book. I’m not making that up, it’s genuinely what I envisioned. And do you know what happened?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even crickets, I think they were repelled by the stench of failure. I laughed, because this is typically how these scenarios go for me. Every time I think I’m going to encounter a certain outcome, the opposite happens and it’s usually not in my favor.

I’ve dealt with rejection my entire life, like the time I got yelled at by Greg, the receptionist at Jive Records, because I didn’t understand how the music business worked or the time my crush deleted his entire internet presence so he wouldn’t have to respond to my MySpace message. A lot of my rejections have been for things I didn’t even want. And every single one of them have led me here, to my happy place, where I tell you about my multiple, multiple failures.

Every rejection is another chance to get better. It’s another chance to work towards what you really want. So if you’re riding the rejection train right now, keep going. And if you need some encouragement, tomorrow I’ll be sharing my most recent piece that has been rejected by both McSweeney’s and Humor Darling. Not only am I sharing this rejection but I’m sharing what got me rejected. I hope you like it!

If you don’t, I’m OK with that too. You wouldn’t be the first. Not only will it not hurt my feelings but I’ll just keep on writing more pieces until you and McSweeney’s and Humor Darling DO like them. And THAT, my friends, is how you achieve goals. Fail on!