A few things I’m thankful for this year, in no particular order:
1. All y’alls. (Or, in the words of my native people, “all-uh-yas.”)
2. Kids who aren’t mine.
3. Shonda Rhimes and Jenny Lawson.
4. Miranda Lambert and Anna Nalick.
5. “Silver Linings Playbook.”
6. Therapy and progress therein.
7. Prescription drugs.
8. My friends — “Boyz II Men, ABC, BBD, the East Coast fam-i-ly.” (Yep. Said it. Deal with it.)
9. Four straight days with no alarm clock.
There are more, but those are my favorites. Enjoy your day, guys. Gravy be with you. (And also alcohol, because let’s be honest…)
Disclosure: I am a Shonda Rhimes fan (duh): Meredith, Addison, Olivia, Annalise. You name, I worship.
So it really should come as no surprise that I loved her first book, Year of Yes. I loved it on spec, really. Shondaland disciples understand. (Juju be with you. And also with you.) But I was still excited that it met and exceeded my expectations. It was great to read about SHONDA, not just to see her peppered into little bits of her characters.
As you may infer from the title, Rhimes dedicated a year to saying “yes” to things outside her introverted writer comfort zone: giving the commencement speech at her alma mater (Dartmouth, NBD); losing more than 100 pounds; making self-care a priority; saying “no” when necessary; accepting praise — as a woman especially — with a “thank you” and no attempt to negate or downplay your achievements. (Have y’all seen that Inside Amy Schumer thing? You should. We all should. And then we should all knock that shit off.)
Really the best thing I can say about the book is: it made me feel better. I hesitate to use the word “inspirational,” because UGH. But it was. It helped me during a tough time (specifically, the week I happened to be reading it, my brain was not being especially kind to me). But the book still made me laugh so hard my lady-belly ached. I had to put it down multiple times to laugh it out. On at least one page, Rhimes had me brimming with weepy tears, then cry-laughing two paragraphs later. It’s one of those comforting books that made me feel like things are actually pretty OK — I am a badass lady and I shall “power pose like Wonder Woman,” and if you don’t like it, you can just step right off.
I actually bought a LivingSocial deal for an audiobook site just so I could have Shonda Storytime. Maybe her “badassery” can infiltrate me via hypnosis osmosis while I sleep.
Her reflections on Mommy Wars were insightful and hilarious, even though I don’t have children. Standing up at a PTA meeting and shouting “Are you fucking kidding me?!” when they demanded homemade desserts instead of store-bought? Hero. But it also made me think about how I speak to my friends who are mothers, and to consider again the way women address and judge each other. (By the end of that chapter, you too will be all, “Whitney Houston. Curling iron. Solidarity.” Just trust me.)
My favorite chapter was the one about her weight loss, how food is amazing and DOES make you feel better, because it’s delicious but also because it’s a lovely, numbing spackle for your internal wounds. Oh, Shonda — you had me at “Cheesecake will always taste like love.”
My new favorite expression — and get ready, because you’ll see me use it in the future — is “veal practice.”
“Did I tell you what veal practice is?” asks Rhimes. “Oh! Veal practice involved me lying very still on the sofa trying as hard as I could to mimic the life of a veal. While eating veal. I wish I were kidding. It. Was. Magic.”
Veal practice, people. It’s gonna be a thing.
2015 was actually my own Year of Yes — a year that brought me Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy, Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook, and finally Year of Yes, the icing on the therapeutic cake (but only metaphorical cake because I try not to use cake as therapy anymore).
Rhimes’ book is, in essence, about deciding to stop living your life being small — meek, numb, detached. Going through the motions, doing only what you have to, not being present, not feeling joy. Sleeping, basically…hardly even living. I struggle every day NOT to live that way, but she’s right — sometimes it really is easier, so I can’t say I always succeed.
It was as if this year the book gods had bestowed upon me the exact books I needed to get my shy ass off the couch and out to an aerial yoga with a Creative Ladies’ Club full of women I didn’t know, to an oral sex class or a burlesque workshop, and to really deal with my family issues and these romantic ensnarements I can’t escape — Olivia Pope ahoy, y’all. (I suspect I won’t get past them until I find my own Jake Ballard, though, so I think I just have to wait that out. Plus, Liv totally screwed up that Jake thing. I mean, honestly — Jake taught you how to shoot, danced to Stevie Wonder with you, fingered you on a tropical beach, and brought you Gettysburger. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT, OLIVIA? You want “Olitz,” seriously? Fitz is a giant bitch-baby with an overly emotive forehead. Vermont is cold, and jam sucks — Jake shakes like jelly. For the love of God, Liv, go STAND IN THE SUN!!!!!!)
*pant* *pant* *pant*
I sense I have too many feelings about this.
So. You go get yourself a copy of Year of Yes.
And I? I will go enjoy some veal practice.
*At my request (pleading, really), the lovely people at Simon & Schuster send me a copy of Year of Yes for my review.
NBD, just meeting one of my heroes today. (I’ve met her once before, but hopefully this time I’ll be able to use my words.)
So, the therapy posts aren’t going over well, which is fine, it’s a little bit weird. But I wanted to share this, which was kind of an “up day” breakthrough. Plus, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and I think it’s important obviously to #endthestigma, but also…It’s not CRAZY. I joke that it is, and I shouldn’t, because it’s not. Some of us just need a minder. And this particular thing is something I think a lot of women struggle with.
“Feminists are like bees. They are adorable and fuzzy but people run away from them because they don’t understand that they just want to make things good. We’d be fucked without bees. Seriously. And yes, some bees are assholes and maybe one killed your great-uncle and there are some that you give the side-eye to when they start acting crazy but eventually you realize that you have to take the good bees with the bad bees and maybe just be picky about what honey you choose to eat. ”
More from The Bloggess on feminism.
The other day I emailed Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) to thank her being awesome, for helping me through a tough year, and for inspiring this blog. It was really her and a couple of my friends that made me think people might laugh at my silly little stories.
I got this back:
SO flippin’ awesome. Her name should be Jenny Lawesome. For serious. Or Jenny L’awesome if you want to be fancy and French about it.