Happy Saturday, happy Halloween, and happy last day of October!
This post is to address the last occasion listed above, and that is the last day of October, and more specifically, the end to October’s Reading Challenge. As a true procrastinator, I finished Yes Please¹ just an hour or so ago, but I promise that had more to do with my phobia of finishing books and less about the timeline because honestly, a month to finish a book is really a generous amount of time. And yes, it’s a true phobia. But that’s for another post as well, and maybe for that one I’ll try to find the “scientific” name for “fear of finishing books.” Anyway, let’s start.
I am familiar with Amy Poehler because of Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live, and I suppose I should mention Mean Girls. After reading, I am also now familiar with her as a cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade and Smart Girls at the Party (I didn’t realize how big this last one was, I thought she mainly just used it as her Twitter handle). I’m telling you these things as an explanation of why I picked up and purchased this book, and why I recommend this book if you too admire her work.
I was a little disappointed with the beginning of her book. She mainly talks about how difficult it is to write a book, and if it wasn’t for her lovely snark, beautiful straightforward attitude, and ability to make me chuckle I would have been A LOT disappointed with the beginning of her book because unlike the rest, it just seemed to be going nowhere. Maybe that was her point. But she does set a theme for the entire book, whether it was purposeful or not, in the preface. Here’s a snippet:
“How do we move forward when we are tired and afraid? What do we do when the voice in our head is yelling that WE ARE NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT?”²
“Well, the first thing we do is take our brain out and put it in a drawer. Stick it somewhere and let it tantrum until it wears itself out…And then you just do it. You just dig in and write it…You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing.”²
Those last five words are repeated a few more times throughout the pages, and it truly sums up Amy Poehler’s success with writing the book, and her success in life. Her chapter “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend” is really the best explanation of “The doing is the thing.” She describes an experience she had when someone randomly dropped a script on her lap on a train, and her following internal reactions. Basically, “Good or bad, the reality is most people become ‘famous’ or get ‘great jobs’ after a very, very long tenure shoveling shit and not because they handed their script to someone on the street.”³ Yes, yes, a million times yes. Amy Poehler herself says she is one of the lucky ones³, but I think this sentiment is important for people who are feeling discouraged (like me) and for people who think successful people are in their positions because they had it easy (some do, I know). That shitwork may be the medium through which you meet some of the most important people in your life, that shitwork could open so many doors, and perhaps that shitwork could lead you to close some that you really need to in order to get more ahead.
This is just one of the many examples of great advice and lessons, as well as the reflections Amy Poehler gives us insight into, but I don’t want to ruin your personal experience with those grand revelations, because that is what reading is for after all – it can be quite a selfish act, reading.*
In addition, I loved:
- The chapter by Seth Meyers, another comedian and writer I adore.
- The pictures, notes, and extras included by Amy Poehler that illustrated parts of her life on an entirely different organic level.
- Stories about her personal life. I can’t relate to her in regards to drug usage (apart from alcohol), marriage, having children, or some of her more specific childhood experiences, but I’m so glad she included what she did.
- Her tone and attitude (have I mentioned this already?). They were more intense than I expected, but absolutely wonderful.
- The Parks and Recreation chapter, “Let’s Build a Park.”4 I cried. I feel like crying now thinking about it. Creator Mike Schur annotated and helped her write this chapter, and it was absolutely everything I was expecting it to be.
- The paper that makes up the pages of the book. No, seriously. If you see this book in a bookstore and don’t plan on buying it (for some strange reason) at least pick it up and flip through it touching each and every page. They are thick, glossy, and just wonderful to touch.
So all in all, I definitely recommend this book, as well as everything Amy Poehler has done that is accessible. If you’re like me and find it obnoxious when people who didn’t grow up with as much technology as we have now go off on tirades about “well we had to actually meet up with one another,” or “we had to go to the library to find out things,” then you will find part of the end obnoxious. But, a couple of eye rolls will alleviate those feelings and the way Amy Poehler chose to end her book is ultimately heartwarming.
So thus ends October’s Reading Challenge. I hope, if you haven’t already read Yes Please that you find the time to do so. Check back tomorrow for November’s Reading Challenge intro, and as always, thank you for reading.
¹Amy Poehler, Yes Please (New York: HarperCollins, 2014).
²Poehler, Preface, xv.
³Poehler, Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend, 219-221.
4Poehler, Let’s Build a Park, 245-269.
*Write a post on how reading is selfish