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At this point, Shonda Rhimes is a 44-year-old woman. It’s her birthday, one of her most favorite days of the year for it means there should be a party. Granted she doesn’t like parties but more so the idea of them, the magic of them, and watching people have a good time but nonetheless, it is her birthday. So, what better reason to change her life around?
Main Plot (with Commentary)
Topic 1:January 13th
There is something about eternal youth that seems to be part of Ms. Rhimes’ being. Whether it is reminiscing about playing in a pantry, at 43 still acting like the baby of them family vying for attention or musing about the idea of a puppy party – no matter how you look at it, Ms. Rhimes isn’t as stuffy and old as she somehow became. Heck, even if you take away the more juvenile activities, Rhimes makes it seem there was a time when she would wake up, after drinking, asking herself where she cried, what she was singing, and WHO SHE SLEPT WITH! A quite shocking thing to hear her say and not on some respectability politics type of nonsense, but just because Rhimes has been dancing around sex and her relationships since the book began.
But, as said in past reviews, there remains the question of what happened? When did this crazy Shonda Rhimes we keep hearing about, and becomes a bit more wilder each chapter, become practically a shut-in?
Topic 2: Rock Bottom
Still, that question remains unanswered, but it seems on January 13th, 2014 Shonda realized that the girl who would find corners to watch people having fun has not turned her head away from the party. Now she faces the corner, like a punished child, and the only person she can blame for being put in time out is herself. Effectively, she has hit rock bottom by saying “No” to so many things and to so many people. Never a “No” to something professionally, or some kind of competition, for she is a self-proclaimed “Type A, obsessive, workaholic control freak.” But definitely, a person who said no to life in such a way that even with children, an enviable career, and all her education, it isn’t enough. She questions if all those sacrifices she made throughout life really were supposed to make her feel like this, put her in a place like this, and with those questions perhaps came some of her final “No.”
Topic 3: Dartmouth College
To test the year of yes, really test it, it would mean Shonda challenging the boundaries of her comfort zone. Saying yes to cook-offs and dates isn’t enough. No, she really has to put herself out there. As her publicist we get to know in the next chapter desires, she has to put herself in front of the people. The people like you and me who would buy her book, the people who watch her Thursday night programming and question characters’ decisions, weep with them, and invest in them like they are real. She can’t hide any longer behind famous actors, she has to come to the forefront. She has to be a beacon for Black women, women of color, if not women in general, who may at times question whether all the work and sacrifice may ever be worth it? Well, there is Shonda.
Which perhaps was the thought behind the president of her alma mater, President Hanlon, calling up Ms. Rhimes for a 20-minute commencement speech. One of the first major challenges to Ms. Rhimes commitment to the Year of Yes. Which, with 6 months to prep, or come up with an excuse, she says yes to. So begins the change.
I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want a choice. Once I saw the unhappiness, felt the unhappiness, recognized and named it … well, just knowing about it made me itchy. Like itchy on the inside of my brain. Continuing to say no was not going to get me anywhere at all. And standing still was no longer an option. The itchy was too much. Besides, I am not a person who can see a problem and not solve it.
— “Chapter 3: Umm, Yes…?” Year of Yes
So you made it out of a uterus a long time ago. Big deal, […] so did everybody else on the planet. What else you got?
— “Chapter 3: Umm, Yes…?” Year of Yes