This has been a week

October 21, 2018

First, I had an IBS episode, which was not as bad as you might think except it was terrible because I was an emotional, weepy mess. If you know me at all, you know I don’t tend toward the emotional OR the weepy, so I thought I was probably dying (this is not really an understatement as I always feel like I am effectively losing my mind if I cry for more than, like, five minutes especially if there’s no evident cause). Anyway, it turns out my instincts about living to regret the croissant and many cookies I ate last Friday were right on and also the emotional response can be explained by science.

Then, Dana Johnson came to visit our school as part of its writer in residence program. (This is a good thing, btw. She was amazing, and when I asked my students the most important thing they learned this week, quite a few of them said “Just try even if you think you’ll fail,” which was a thing she mentioned in her talk. So! Yay for that!) Right, so that’s good, but her visit also led to me having a slight existential crisis because she’s in charge of the PhD in writing at her institution and while I absolutely am not interested in finishing the PhD in literature, the idea of a PhD in creative writing still excites me. Is it possible? Maybe. But do I want to devote the time to it? Who knows?

Right, so that existential crisis ALSO dovetailed with ANOTHER existential crisis about my writing after I went to a networking event for screenwriters because, yeah sure, I could pursue that PhD, but I could also just be writing and is this part of my shadow artist deal where I’m always doing something alongside the art that’s not really the art? Because, again, I could be writing. And I keep getting put in these places and situations where I am meeting and surrounded by people doing the work and I want to do the work but also let me study the work some more while not doing it.

And did I mention that I love teaching? Like, I love it. But do I love it more than I love that I want to write? And I recognize it doesn’t have to be either/or, but the kind of writing I’m interested in (TV writing) doesn’t seem to leave space for both. EXISTENTIAL CRISIS.

Okay, so I am already in the middle of that existential crisis when I finish reading Meeting Your Half-Orange (review below), which spins me into another direction of intense self-reflection around this idea of believing you can find your half-orange. So I stayed up journaling about that.

Also, my writing group was supposed to meet Friday night, but I realized on Thursday just how much grading I have to get done by Tuesday because it’s MIDTERMS and how did I not realize that? And whose idea was it to assign a paper that’s due next week anyway? And how are my students supposed to write their paper if they don’t get feedback on the paper before that one? So yeah, now I see that I have FOUR SETS of papers to grade over the weekend and that’s not even counting the two sets that are still in my office being ignored. Or all the stuff in Canvas that I am 100% behind on. So I had to cancel my writing group, which also continues to feed into the existential crisis, of course.

THEN, I go to work on Friday for a meeting, and I am in a supremely pissy mood. Just…not great. This is not helped by the fact that my phone finally stopped working properly so that Apple could force me to finally do the software update, which made me fifteen minutes late for the meeting and I hate being late for stuff.

Surprising no one, this meeting (which was not a bad meeting) did not help my mood–mostly because we spent most of it dealing with how to address a faction at work that seems to be anti some of the work we’re trying to get done.

So when I got to therapy, I laid down on the couch (a first for me; it felt very TV/movie which I joked about) and spent time venting about work which I did not want to do. And guess what? It turns out the reason my mood was so pissy is that work was super triggering all of my ACA (adult child of an alcoholic) stuff. It’s all very walking on eggshells, let’s make the angry people happy to keep the peace, etc. etc. And so I had just shut down.

So to recap: existential crisis + existential crisis + existential crisis + crisis of faith + soul crushing reality of all the work I need to do + alcoholic work situation ALL HAPPENED basically within two days.

So, yeah, I was a mess. Just like Chidi having his breakdown on the last The Good Place.

chidi breakdown

Everything is fine. (source)

The good news is that once I figured out (with the help of my therapist) why work was upsetting me so much, I immediately felt much better. It all goes back to my first point about wanting to know why I’m reacting a certain way. Plus, and more importantly, it reminded me how far I had come because I used to feel the way I was feeling on Friday ALL THE TIME. Like, that is just how I walked through life every single day–looking and feeling miserable. And, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the existential crises or the amount of work or crisis of faith that broke me. Nope, it was the alcoholic-feeling situation. Of course. Of course.

I’ve obviously been super feeling “For Every Mountain” by the Kurt Carr Singers these past few days. I am just grateful I don’t live that way anymore.

Right, so, like I said, it’s been a week. But a lot of good also happened this week. Like I said, the Dana Johnson visit was super inspiring, I talked to my daughter a ton because she was on fall break, I got to see my friend Ellie for the first time in weeks, I went to acupuncture and got a massage, I had a pretty significant breakthrough in therapy that didn’t make me want to bash my face in, I’ve made decent headway on grading since Friday, I learned how to make a flower crown at OldVine Florals with members of my book club, and I went to a Halloween party. Oh, and The Good Place was brilliant and perfect and made my heart happy.

So you know. Life is good.

I also read some books.

Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect MatchMeeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match by Amy Spencer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2 stars for reading experience, 4 stars for impact = 3 stars overall

Okay, so my baseline about dating is not optimism, which means I am both not the target audience for this book but should also absolutely be the target for this book. I say that because Spencer assumes a level of hopefulness in her readers that I didn’t have going in. And that’s most of what colored my reading experience/reaction to the book.

Reading experience (2 stars): I sometimes found the overly perky language super annoying–to the point where I had to remind myself several times that I was reading a BRIGHT ORANGE book about OPTIMISM. You know, just to get my head back right. There’s also a weird bit about feminism in here that was slightly off-putting but also let me know who Spencer’s real target audience is (white women of a certain social class). (The class thing is also evident by all her examples. “Make a change in your life” often translated to moving across the country or visiting foreign countries or some other ridiculously expensive thing.) Also, the bit about the “grubby glow” made me roll my eyes, but that’s also because I probably need a book specifically about dating as an ugly (or unapproachable, if I’m being kind) woman.

However, I will note again that as a dating pessimist, reading/finishing this book was always likely going to be a chore for me because the level of buy-in I had was in the negative range, so people with more positive attitudes toward the topic probably won’t resist as much, which means their mileage may, of course, vary.

Impact (4 stars): All of that said, I journaled a bunch while reading the book and then, after I finished, I wrote about five pages in my journal before going to sleep and then, in the morning, wrote several more. It also made me rethink some people and experiences in my life. So, yeah, it was annoying to read but this will probably go on my end of year list as a book that changed my life. 🤷🏾‍♀️

View all my reviews

Front DeskFront Desk by Kelly Yang

Made it to pg. 174 before tapping out.

I like what this book is about; it’s just not holding my interest.

View all my reviews

I also read a manuscript a friend sent me because I’m fancy.

As for current reads, I just started the latest Rick Riordan Presents book.

The Storm Runner by JC Cervantes

I’m only on the first chapter, but I have high hopes.

Have a great week, everyone!

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  1. 2flash4words

    Okay, so…I was with you throughout the whole existential crisis that wasn’t actually an existential crisis but rather a coping mechanism for an unpleasant childhood, and I love that you had a breakthrough in therapy…however, you lost me when you gave your review about Meeting Your Half-Orange, only because you thought this book wasn’t for you and you needed a guide on dating that was geared toward ugly women. 😮 excuse me, but you are far from ugly or unapproachable. I find you fascinating, hilarious, kind, and yes, beautiful! Just needed to add my two cents. Most importantly, Thank you for sharing yourself so openly!

    • Akilah

      Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say.

  2. Katy K.

    Hang in there, Akilah! Oh, how I hear you about being triggered at work by things that go back to childhood…. i have had that happen before. And yay, Good Place! I’ve been watching it on Netflix lately… so good! Also – though I haven’t seen you in person, the person I know here is beautiful.

  3. The Widow Badass

    Sorry you had such a tough week, Akilah. The Akilah I know from reading your blog is a strong, beautiful woman. I am also the adult child of an alcoholic but my dad didn’t make his alcoholism apparent to me until I had already left the house (Mom was extremely good at covering up for him, and I was the typical self-absorbed teenager). I get what you wrote about being a peace-keeper and walking on eggshells – a role I played in the family for many years as a young adult. And am still taking on, both at work and within the family. I have to often remind myself: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Even when it kinda sorta is. Might help?



    • Akilah

      Yes, very helpful! I realized, too, that a lot of it is not knowing how any given meeting could go. So stressful, ugh.

  4. Ally Bean

    I’m sorry that you had two such sucky days in a row, but I am amazed by how well you can explain what happened and why. I’m not as emotionally articulate as you are, so your process encourages me to be more so. I grew up walking on eggshells [but for different reasons than yours]. Regardless, I know that warpy need to please/ be a perfectionist so well. You’re doing better today?

    • Akilah

      Yes, things have been better. Thank you.

  5. K E Garland

    Hope you have better days this week 🙂

  6. Andi (@estellasrevenge)

    That is a week, my friend. THAT is a week. I totally get it. I’ve been consumed by…things. I won’t even go into them. I just hope you’re feeling much better and that things are still on the up and up.


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