Emily Belden gained a spot on Today for covering her bedroom floor with pennies.
“Writing’s the only thing that has never let me down,” says South Loop resident and Total E-Bag blogger Emily Belden, who first gained national attention last year on the Today show and The Dr. Oz Show when she and her fiancé glued nearly 60,000 pennies to all 234 square feet of their bedroom floor. “It’s just my one thing to count on—that and vodka.” At just 27 years old, the Elmhurst native now has plenty to toast with the debut of her memoir, Eightysixed (Pandamoon Publishing; $18), a retelling of her most rollicking experiences as a 20-something living in Chicago. “The story is a comedy of misses,” says Belden, who compares the book to a certain female-focused HBO series. “When I saw Girls for the first time, I remember thinking, ‘Why is this familiar to me?’” she recalls wryly. “Then I’m like, ‘Oh, because this is my idea.’”
Slated to hit bookstores on February 6, Eightysixed is divided into three parts. The first opens with an ill-fated text message that causes the then-23-year-old Belden to discover the shocking details of an ex-boyfriend’s current relationship status, while the second part focuses on her ensuing years of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. “You see me come undone a bit, but it’s not a downer. It’s snarky, fast-paced, and really witty. My inner dialogue is there as well. I am no stranger to the absurdity of things that are going on; I’m well aware of it all.”
She is perhaps most proud of the memoir’s third and final section, which centers on a chance encounter with Floris, a chef from Holland who, during a weeklong visit to Chicago, introduces Belden to some of the city’s most renowned restaurants, among them Schwa and Alinea. “It’s not as funny, but so well-written,” she says. “You go from the really snarky stuff to a true, emotional pageturner, like, ‘Where is this going?’” She first documented this episode on Total E-Bag, where Belden—who works as an advertising copywriter—created Eightysixed. “I started writing the day I got that text,” she says of the message that opens the book. “I needed to get that stuff out.”
Belden is now at work on several other projects. She recently launched Happy Happy Gay Gay, an online card store catering to the LGBT community (proceeds benefit The Trevor Project), and she’s writing a satirical book about planning weddings, inspired by her upcoming May nuptials to entrepreneur Ryan Lange, with whom she created thepennyfloor.com. “We’re still reaping the benefits of having tiled our floor in pennies, so it is really funny,” she says, reflecting on their Today appearance nearly one year ago. “Ryan and I were like, ‘We wish we had something to sell!’ because it brought us so much traffic. ‘What can we do now?’” Available February 6 at Barnes & Noble