My ongoing, completely one-sided, love affair with Amy Poehler

As I mentioned (forever ago, in a blog post I’m totally sure she read) I really wanted Amy Poehler to write a book. And then she did! (In 2014, I’m way late to the game on this one.) I’m going to pretend she did it as a special favor to me. It’s called Yes Please and it’s wonderful.

I suppose I should acknowledge that even if this book were bad I would probably still love it because of Amy Poehler’s general awesomeness. Parks & Rec is one of my favorite TV shows. And generally everything she touches is gold: Broad City, Mean Girls, Arrested Development, Inside Out… Her level of involvement in those things varies drastically. But she is somehow related to all of them and they are all great. Also she seems like an excellent person in real life. And Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls warms the cockles of my cold, cold heart. [Side note: Had to look up cockles to make sure I was spelling it correctly (I was) and apparently only in this idiom it means depths. If it’s not in this specific phrase it means mollusks. Words are weird, you guys.]

So the book is…not really a book. It’s kind of an overview of an autobiography with a lot of snippets of life advice and random pictures thrown in. All of which I felt was hilariously accurate and pretty obvious if very hard to follow in practice. I aspire to someday be as self aware and strong as Amy Poehler advises people to be in this book. Also, from the stories, it sounds like Amy Poehler does too. A lot of the stories are stories of her past mistakes and how she acknowledged and moved on from them but somehow makes them all sound very universal. Here’s an example quote full of things that are obviously personal examples but that is still, somehow (I assume), true for everyone:

“That voice that talks badly to you is a demon voice. This very patient and determined demon shows up in your bedroom one day and refuses to leave. You are six or twelve or fifteen and you look in the mirror and you hear a voice so awful and mean that it takes your breath away. It tells you that you are fat and ugly and you don’t deserve love. And the scary part is the demon is your own voice. But it doesn’t sound like you. It sounds like a strangled and seductive version of you. Think Darth Vader or an angry Lauren Bacall. The good news is there are ways to make it stop talking. The bad news is it never goes away. If you are lucky, you can live a life where the demon is generally forgotten, relegated to a back shelf in a closet next to your old field hockey equipment. You may even have days or years when you think the demon is gone. But it is not. It is sitting very quietly, waiting for you. This motherfucker is patient. It says, “Take your time.” It says, “Go fall in love and exercise and surround yourself with people who make you feel beautiful.” It says, “Don’t worry, I’ll wait.” And then one day, you go through a breakup or you can’t lose your baby weight or you look at your reflection in a soup spoon and that slimy bugger is back. It moves its sour mouth up to your ear and reminds you that you are fat and ugly and don’t deserve love. This demon is some Stephen King from-the-sewer devil-level shit.”

I would argue that this is excellent life advice (that I am personally terrible at):

Figure Out What You Want (image from Yes Please)You can see how many post-its I put in this book for things I liked and might want to come back to in this picture. It’s basically all the pages.

But that this, while still completely true, is somewhat less important (although I did text a picture of it to a bunch of tall jerks I know the second I read it):Short People DO NOT Like to be Picked Up (image from Yes Please)

Also, as you can see from these images…this book does not have all that many words in it. I mean, sure, it is not all artsy-layouts, but there’s more of them than you’d think. So it’s a pretty quick read if you’re bored sometime. I hear the audio book is also excellent because she reads it herself (and Seth Meyers reads the chapter he wrote) and that it’s hilarious. (Disclaimer: I have not actually listened to the audio book. People have just told me that it is also good.) I know some people who were a little indignant about how short the actual text was and how some of the text is dedicated to writing about how hard writing is. And while those things were not my favorite, this book still is.

So, in conclusion, here’s one more quote from this wonderful human’s book: “Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please. I love saying “yes” and I love saying “please.” Saying “yes” doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no, and saying “please” doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission. “Yes please” sounds powerful and concise. It’s a response and a request.”

Do Whatever You Like (image from Yes Please)



Gillian Flynn???

I think I am in love with you, Gillian Flynn.

You also scare the bajeezes out of me.

Probably this is partially my fault for only reading your books when I’m alone in strange cities on business trips. Somehow I read Gone Girl alone at night in a hotel in Pittsburgh, Dark Places alone at night in a hotel in Boston, and Sharp Objects at night in an AirBNB also in Boston where I was alone with the stranger whose room I was renting (who turned out not to be a murderer, but I didn’t know that at the time). None of those were a great time to be reading interpersonal horror* (a phrase I’m making up now but for which there probably already exists better terminology…someone let me know what it is and I’ll fix this). Why do I make obviously poor situational reading choices? Like when I started reading Preacher comics on the airplane while I was sitting in a middle seat. My seatmates definitely assumed I was a monster. I should definitely work on that.

Back to you: you are an excellent writer. You and Tana French are the only two people who write books that I genuinely cannot put down once I’ve started reading them. I worry about your characters while I’m out in the world unable to read more because I’m doing dumb things – like working. Your characters and the world you writer for them feel real – and, again, terrifying. I’m honestly sort of annoyed I’ve never seen any of your books shelved in the horror section of a bookstore. (To be continued: I have a whole rant about how book stores sort things based on useless trivia like the author’s gender. BUT ANYWAYS.) And I will fight anyone who says they could have guessed the endings of your books before they read them. A+ for plot twists that don’t seem cliche.

And on top of all that, you seem like a really kickass person, based on the few interviews I’ve read of yours. Particularly this one with the Guardian where you respond to the recurring accusation that your books are misogynist because none of the women in them are likeable. But there are a bunch of others that are also excellent.

I especially liked this bit from a post on your website:”I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains. Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes (as if we had nothing more interesting to war over), not chilly WASP mothers (emotionally distant isn’t necessarily evil), not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either). I’m talking violent, wicked women. Scary women. Don’t tell me you don’t know some. The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side. Dark sides are important.”

In conclusion, please write more books before I go on any more business trips so I can have something terrifying to read while I’m gone.

*Interpersonal horror: (as defined by me) horror but where the monster lives inside someone you love. Like how interpersonal violence is the smaller cruelties that people exact against each other every day instead of, like, the bombs of movie violence.


You know when you set up a blog and then neglect to post anything in it for over two years? No? Then you’re probably better at being a person than I am. Because I definitely did that. 

Gonna fix that starting today!