Just in case you know absolutely nothing about me, my name is Emily, I’m 39, and I have a malignant brain tumor on my brain stem. I’ve known about the tumor since 2017, but the doctors think I’ve had it for way, way longer. Like maybe even since childhood. I mean, it would certainly explain those previously unexplained dizzy spells I had as a preschooler. The ones that caused my eyes to roll around in my head and prompted me to ask, “Mommy? Why is the room spinning?”
In recent years, the tumor has taken a lot from me. Not just my health, but my job, my savings, and any feelings of certainty I once felt about my future. Still, as I recently told a disability insurance representative, “It’s not a terrible life, considering.”
And now, as I sit here pondering that conversation with Susan (not her real name), I wonder if that’s where the interview went wrong. Is that the thing I said that made Lincoln Financial Group decide to yank my long-term disability policy? Was admitting to her that I still enjoy some things in life why I suddenly find myself less $900 a month and hastily relinquishing my right to privacy?
Mostly. Probably. But the need to make some money isn’t the only reason I’m publishing the hairy details of my life for distribution on the internet. There’s another reason. A reason you may or may not believe: John Green told me to.
Yes, that John Green. The award-winning author whose books have been adapted for the big screen. The famous YouTuber who is one half of Vlogbrothers. The guy who just five days ago published a video interview with Michelle-freaking-Obama. The John Green who has no earthly idea I’m bringing him up right now.
“But Emily,” you are probably saying to yourself, “Are you really going to name drop like that? It’s kind of tacky.”
Yes. Yes, it is. And, yes, I am.
What can I say? I need a place to live. My husband needs a place to live. Boomer and Izzy need a place to live. And if bringing up a decades-old endorsement from a very successful author helps keep the roof over our heads? Cool.
But back to John’s involvement in this endeavor. I met John because I answered a Craigslist ad for a part-time literary assistant in 2007. I worked for him for about a year, during which time I got paid to read his work-in-progress, Paper Towns, about a dozen times. (Can you imagine?) His dog Willy—may his adorable, scruffy little heart forever rest in peace—once chewed my shoelaces.
It was a few months after I’d left John’s employ that I began blogging about divorcing my miserable ex-husband. Looking back on those old posts, even I have to admit they were some of the most entertaining pieces I’d ever written—in a miserable, realty-TV sort of way. The things that John said that always kind of stuck in the back of my head? “Your blog has gotten fantastic. I mean I'm sorry about the divorce and everything, but my, it's delicious.” Then he added, “Keep up the good work! And let me know if you ever write a memoir.”
I swear to God! He really did say those things, and I can prove it because he typed them in a Google Hangout, and as you know, Google Hangouts and Gmail save everything you’ve ever typed. And that’s not concerning at all. Nossir.
But I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle a memoir back then. All I wanted was to be rid of my ex and never think about him ever again. Ever. But time is a great healer, and after ten years, I no longer feel the urge to scoop my hippocampus out with a melon baller every time my brain conjures a memory with my ex in it.
Yes, folks, I think I’m finally ready to do this.
So here’s where I disclaim what you are presumably about to read. With a few exceptions (like my husband, Dan, and John, for example) names and certain identifying details have been changed. This is not to protect the innocent, or the villians for that matter, but to cover my own ass. I'm sure you understand.
The first chapter of Who You Gonna Believe? goes live (for Patrons only) when I reach 20 subscribers at any tier. But first, does anyone know how to get a hold of John these days? There’s something I'd like to let him know.
March 24, 2019