But Wordsworth stuck with me when he said, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.” This book is a spontaneous overflow in the middle of chaos, not tranquillity. So it’s not a poem to you. It’s a half poem. It’s a “po.” It’s a Poehler po. Wordsworth also said that the best part of a person’s life is “his little, nameless, unremembered, acts of kindness and love.” I look forward to reading a book one day in which someone lists mine. I feel like I may have failed to do so. Either way, it’s obvious I am currently on a Wordsworth kick and this should give you literary confidence as you read Yes Please.
For some reason it took me years to jump on the Amy Poehler bandwagon. I was in love with Tina Fey and 30 Rock when it started running, but even though they draw a similar fan base I didn’t get into Parks & Rec until two months ago. Then I promptly binge-watched every episode of Parks & Rec and felt all empty inside when it was over. Good thing Yes Please debuted in the end of last year to fill the void.
I like Amy Poehler. She really grew on me as Leslie Knope, but I also just like Amy Poehler for being smart and funny and all womanly and blond. I was happy when I picked up Yes Please and found it full of comedic moments as well as really great, sage advice.
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. You may still hear the brain and all the shitty things it is saying to you, but it will be muffled, and just the fact that it is not in your head anymore will make things seem clearer.
The book is a collection of essays that ranges in topics from marriage & divorce, having children, refining improv and becoming a comedian and working on SNL, and things in between. I read Tina Fey’s Bossypants when it came out a few years ago, and also picked up Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so I’m overly familiar with the genre. Maybe it’s partially because I recently obsessed over Leslie Knope for months straight before reading Yes Please, or maybe I really do just like Amy Poehler more, but I found Amy’s essays to be relatable and funnier in a subtle way. I have yet to get sucked into The Mindy Project though, so maybe I should hold my tongue.
Throughout Yes Please there was a lot of namedropping which sadly went over my head (I fail at media trivia). It didn’t happen so much that I was distracted from the bigger picture or the insightful tidbits, but I think SNL fans from when Amy was on would have a heyday with some of the reflections.
I liked the way Yes Please was structured as light, comedic reading but still offered surprisingly apt wisdom. I was reminded, oddly, of meditation books that I have (tried to) read and practice, especially now looking back at my highlights. I could pick it up in pieces as part of my busy schedule and still know what was going on in the book. I laughed while I read about things Amy learned while on mushrooms or her insistence that she would never have a cell phone (fast forward to one of her last essays on the ways our phones are trying to kill us, all of which are hilariously true). Now if only I knew how to fill the Amy Poehler void since I’ve finished Parks & Rec AND this book.
“People are their most beautiful when they are laughing, crying, dancing, playing, telling the truth, and being chased in a fun way.”
“My separation had given me a major case of the fuck-its. Ambivalence can be a powerful tool.”
“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”
“I don’t miss the frustration of youth, the anticipation of love and pain, the paralysis of choices still ahead. The pressure of “What are you going to do?” makes everybody feel like they haven’t done anything yet. Young people can remind us to laugh more and get focused and make friends with our patterns. Young and old need to relax in the moment and live where they are. Be Here Now, like the great book says.”
“Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being. See what I just did there? I saved you thousands of dollars on self-help books.”