Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Rescuing Memories from My Chemo-Brain

quitting work memeGod, I love Google Drive. Writing a scene today triggered a memory of mine from 2013. I wrote a resignation letter to my boss at The Shittiest Job Ever™. And this letter? It was something else. I remember telling my dad about it at the time and he was like, “I’m not telling you not to send it, but are you sure it’s wise to leave like that?”

He wouldn’t have been a very good dad if he hadn’t wondered out loud about my maybe possibly kinda burning bridges. But I was 33, not 23. So believe me, I had thought the damn thing through.

“Dad,” I said, “You don’t understand.”

The letter WAS TWO WHOLE PAGES LONG and CC:ed to HR not just because it was standard procedure but because they also needed to have it spelled out that there were capital-R Reasons I was leaving without giving the standard 2 weeks’ notice. It was the most fuck-you thing I’d ever written that didn’t contain any actual cuss words.

Anywho, I was thinking, Gee I really wish I had saved that, when I  vaguely remembered sending it to a co-worker and a couple of friends via email after the fact. I searched Gmail for “resignation letter” and found the link (that I’d sent out more than five years ago) to the Google Drive doc. Was it still there? I clicked excitedly. Yes!

Reading it opened a memory floodgate in a corner of my brain that was just collecting dust post-chemo. I don’t have plans to write at any length about that job in my memoir because it’s largely irrelevant to the story I’m telling, but a steady trickle of memories from that same period started pooling at my feet—memories that I had only partially been able to recall began flowing in much more complete form. Which, you know, makes writing about them exponentially easier.

As of today, I have 34,027 words in my first draft.

Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Emily Writes a Memoir

adult coloring page wallpaper

So, that whole writing a book/memoir* thing? It’s still happening. Somehow I’ve managed to type up more than 25,000 words. That puts me halfway to my goal of 50,000 words for the WIP. (Oh my God, I have a WIP!) Now, I do have a pipe dream of getting this thing traditionally published someday because: medical bills, so 50,000 might be a little light in the end. But for today, drafting something that long is monumental. Feeling well enough to slog out a thousand words a day is even, uh, monumentaler?

Here’s the reason I’m so giddy about this project: I’ve been writing professionally for more than a decade, but always for someone else. Even when clients found me through my blog and said, “I love your voice! Write for me!”, in the end most wanted to make the thing theirs. Totally understandable, BUT! having this chance to write for me—about only the things I want to write about, in no one’s voice but my own—feels surreal, and a little indulgent. Even though I know I’m only afforded the time to do it because I’m tumored and disabled. Dan is super supportive and is picking up the domestic slack while I disappear inside myself for a few hours a day, probably because he wants me to make him look good when it’s time to write his chapter.

It’s already apparent my FitDesk hours for September are going to be less impressive than last month, but I’m making my peace with it. Yeah, I know the whole point of the FitDesk is to be able to work and ride, but I really like writing on the couch.  I still try to ride regularly and color (see above), but I’m not feeling robust enough to pedal for 90 minutes a day and squeeze in a couple hours of writing. Chronically sick bodies require an abundance of rest, you know.

That’s my update. I’ll see ya when I see ya.

 

Coloring page taken from Art Nouvuea: Coloring for Everyone.


*Even though “memoir” is technically what I’m writing, and I love reading the genre, I hate the word “memoir.”

Brain Tumor

Best Bundt Cake Ever

pistachio cake 2“Hey, Em,” Dan said. “I noticed the cake stand has been empty for a while.”

I laughed. “Dude, it was just washed last night. It’s only been sitting empty on the dining room table for, what? Twelve hours? Not even twelve hours!”

But, point taken.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “you go to Meijer and get the stuff I need, and I’ll make you a cake. You pick the flavor.”

Twenty minutes later, Dan had returned with three cake mixes and nine boxes of Jell-O pudding. “The grocery gods heard my cries for cake and decided to hold a 10 for $10 sale on cake mix and instant pudding!” He held a plastic bag aloft.

The recipe below is adapted from Dangerously Delicious’s Pistachio Pudding Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Ingredients

CAKE MIX
1 box yellow cake mix
3 boxes pistachio pudding dry mix
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 C milk
1 C sour cream
4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all cake ingredients in stand mixer and pour into greased bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place cake on serving plate and cool.
  4. Skip the frosting.

Emily’s Notes

Change the flavors! The pistachio cake is delicious, but last week we swapped chocolate cake and pudding mix, and it was heavenly.

This batter is thick and heavy. The original recipe says to use a hand mixer, but the motor in mine just couldn’t hang and I’m still to weak to mix this effectively by hand. I let the Kitchen Aid do the heavy lifting for this recipe.

This cake is really dense and really delicious and just the right amount of sweet for me. After trying it with and without frosting, I prefer it without.

Yes, I wrote about this cake once before, and I am writing about it again. It’s that good.

Brain Tumor

One Year Apart

 

The picture on the right is from one year ago today: August 23, 2017. It popped up in my Facebook memories, and I was like Whoa! I am not just 45 pounds heavier, I’m also swollen from taking steroids. (Dexamethasone is a wicked drug.) The picture on the left is one I took this morning, because I wanted a side-by-side comparison.

I don’t have a lot to say about it other than I am fascinated.

Brain Tumor · Writing & Freelance

Getting Back to Freelance Writing

My long-term disability insurance policy doesn’t run out until May 2019, but it does run out. So naturally, I’m already worrying about how we are going to replace that $900 each month and thinking about the possibility of getting back to freelancing after a two-year medical leave of absence from work of any kind—freelance or otherwise.

In the moments when I’m able, I’m preparing myself for a return to work, even though I can’t just yet and there’s no promise that I’ll be able to next year. To start, I’ve been thinking up a to-do list that might be helpful in case I’m healthy enough to freelance again. If you think about it, I’m like a Doomsday Prepper, except I’m anticipating that something good will happen to me.

Cleaning up my Twitter Timeline?

Most professionals would advise me to back away from the political posts and maybe stop swearing at my congressional representative (who, I should note, would like to see me and others die from our illnesses rather than ensure we have full access to medical care) on Twitter.

However, I’ve got brain cancer. And whether it’s because deep thoughts about my immortality have made me less concerned with people who don’t like me or it’s because I’m more inclined to carpe the fucking diem, I’m leaning more toward continuing to tweet whatever I want.

What about that LinkedIn Profile of Mine?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t bothered much with LinkedIn since about 2013, and it’s been nice. It was helpful back when I was actively seeking freelance gigs, because it served as my resume, but the useless notifications were so annoying. When I started working at Wolfram, I didn’t do much more than update my job title and add a few new connections. I think I’ll check in with my freelancing pals and see whether they find it helpful on the off chance maintaining some sort of presence there is helpful.

I Signed Up at Upwork

As far as I can tell, this is the site that used to be oDesk. I used oDesk to land quite a few gigs back in the day, and it could prove to be a nice place to find work again in the future. I created a profile, set up my payment account, browsed the jobs listings, and even put in a couple of brief proposals for some small projects I’m confident I could handle even right now.

While there are plenty of contractors looking to take advantage of desperate workers on the site, there are also a few real gems to be found. I like the idea of submitting proposals for jobs that interest me and avoiding wading through and replying to random contacts through my website.

About the Website…

That’s something else I need to consider. Am I going to go back to a more professional emilysuess.com that focuses on my work, or keep this site as it currently exists? I could create completely separate sites for my professional and personal homes on the world wide web. I’ll continue to mull it over.

I’ve got a lot to consider.