The Year of Yes

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006
by Maria Dahvana Headley #24
(note: I have a stack of other books yet to be written up, but I've decided I'm going to try keeping up with the new ones, while catching up with the old ones. It might even work!)

I just finished reading The Year of Yes. Despite all of my recent "YES" evangelism, this was not a book I planned on reading, at least not any time soon. Headley's yes (say yes to any man who asked her out for a year) and my yes (try to get my head out of the sand in general) seemed so vastly different to me that it did not appear to be a must-read.

Another reason I wasn't in a rush: I've seen Headley speak twice in the past four months -- at Wordstock and Live Wire -- and honestly, I felt like I'd already heard it all. Sort of like attending a series of parties with someone who tells the same amusing stories. I get it, I've heard it -- you're quirky/feisty but vulnerable. However, a friend had the book from the library, finished it early and offered to lend it to me, so I said yes! It turns out that our yesses are not necessarily so different, despite the fact that thus far mine have not involved helping a transvestite in Marie Antoinette drag navigate a bathroom stall. (did I mention that in addition to quirky/feisty/vulnerable, she's also colorful to an almost wearisome degree?)

It was an interesting read. I spent half of the book really annoyed by her attempts to Make The Reader Love Her, but then she'd turn it around by admitting she was doing it, or blurting out something that really struck home with me about being more generous of yourself. That these moments fell between descriptions of her unconscious wiggle walk and her general adorableness is just the way it is. Actually, I think I ended up liking her more, or trusted her more anyway because she kind of pissed me off from time to time. It adds a certain veracity, I guess.

My favorite of her date stories was definitely Journey To a Ten Cent Universe, in which she accompanies a train conductor to Coney Island for the last day of the summer season. Not just because of the bedraggled amusement park atmosphere (although I very much enjoyed that), not just because there's an iguana (!) and a cupcake, but also because she has her big epiphany there. Or at least the epiphany I found most relatable. The whole episode is strange but sweet.

Ultimately, I found the message of Yes to be one of breaking out of old patterns and habits even when it hurts, which god knows is difficult. The success of Yes requires a kind of bravery and a willingness to be vulnerable that I find somewhat terrifying. Perhaps I should have started with a Just Say Maybe campaign!
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