Over the weekend, I was alerted to the fact that a TikTok video viewed by millions used my author photo as the face of taco salad orderers everywhere.
Okay … I guess that’s right, because I do order taco salads. Having a severe dairy allergy kind of mandates that I select the safer option when ordering at a cheese-laden Mexican restaurant.
The comments beneath the video — which made me feel my creaky middle age — spurred me to write an oped about the experience of having my face used in a viral TikTok video.
The experience reminded me of the time when, on Christmas 2020, a student of mine let me know that my photo had been used by a YouTuber who wanted to “infiltrate” neighborhood Facebook groups using a fake account using my supposedly trustworthy face.
Here’s the link to the oped published today in the Boston Globe:
I rang out the wretched 2020 and rang in 2021 with interviews about Uncomfortably Numb: a memoir with podcasters and the host of a YouTube series.
We talked about adjusting one’s life to an unexpected turn of events (like having the world shut down because of COVID, as well as, obviously, getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis), the impulsive decisions we can make when we’re under stress (like “panic adopting” a puppy just months after getting diagnosed with MS, as many folks have done amid coronavirus shut-downs), and the impact of about writing about very personal topics.
Dianna Gunn, of the Spoonie Author Network — a network “devoted to sharing the stories of disabled, d/Deaf, neurodiverse authors (and/or authors who manage mental illness and/or chronic conditions) and educating abled people about what life is like for us as ‘Spoonie’ creatives” — conducted an interview with me where we discussed how a multiple sclerosis diagnosis upended my life and forced a stubborn me to pace myself when it came to my day’s activities (something with which I’ve had mixed results).
Weeks later, Chris Moore, of The Situation and the Story Podcast — which interviews authors about “the ways our various identities and intersectionalities inform our stories and make us who we are” — chatted with me about writing this intensely intimate memoir which covers rough emotional terrain, from my own illness and questions about who I’d be as a writer if some of my symptoms worsened, to the death of my mother with whom I had a challenging relationship.
Then I heard from a California-based neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis, Dr. Brandon Beaber, who asked if I’d speak with him about Uncomfortably Numb and my experiences as an MS patient.