My name is Alisa Starr. I make Snarky Cards: Brutally Honest Greeting Cards. I sell them in bars from a box that hangs beneath my boobs. Last week I ran out of cards, so I spent the better part of the week hiding out in my apartment, painting. IN the olden days, when I would isolate myself in a frenzied paint attack, I would really, really isolate myself. No phone calls, no visitors, no going out for anything but food. I would plonk myself in front of the tv and make myself paint for 12, 18 and sometimes 20 hours in a row, schnelling myself to go faster and faster until I ran out of food and cigarettes. When I finally released myself from the apartment, It was like coming out of some sort of horrible Art Camp. I was sleep deprived, hungry, lonely, and cracked out on tv and nicotine.
Apparently, that’s not how I roll anymore. I blame swmming. I’m not allowed to simply hole up in the apartment for days on end anymore, because I have to swim every day. I paid for a summer pass, and the cheap part of me gets angry if I’m not getting my money’s worth. The rest of me just likes the way that my arms are starting to look.
So, I go swimming and then I go home and paint. And then I sleep, and then I go swimming some more. There’s plenty of food in the apartment, and the swimming keeps me from smoking too much. And last week I had my new friend Fletch over, to paint with me. Patrick (my old room-mate) came over too. I painted, and we got stoned and watched Murder She Wrote and Voyage of The Mimi. Which, if you are interested, is available on Google videos. The Voyage of the Mimi is one of my few childhood memories untainted by suckiness. The moments where we watched Mimi in class were sacred to me. I think that my penchant for the show explains why I prefer Ben Affleck to Matt Damon.
Somehow this middle ground unnerves me, making me think that I’m not working hard enough at painting. For all of last week I worried that I wasn’t going fast enough. But at the end of my 4-day paint attack, I had 387 cards. So I think, in retrospect I was probably worried about nothing.
Tonight, when I started out selling for the first time since the paint attack, I was feeling nervous about talking to people. I got stoned before I left the house to figure out why. I think that this swimming and losing weight thing is complicated. A few years ago, I was thinking about losing weight, and I realized that in the mythology of my head: memories are stored in your fat cells. And part of the reason I’d gained the weight in the first place was so that I wouldn’t have to have some memories. I trapped them in my body, and then buried them under layers of boobs and stomach and ass.
I don’t know if it’s true or not. I do know that my body remembers things my mind doesn’t; like the elementary backstroke: the first time I got back in the pool, after years of not going in the water, I laid on my back, and just started moving. It wasn’t until I’d been doing it for a few days that I started realizing I heard “Chicken, Airplane, Soldier, Glide” in the back of my head as I was doing the stroke. My body remembered before my mind caught up.
So, while I’m not sure that everyone stores their memories in their bodies, I’m pretty sure that I do. And as I work on my body, I realize that all of the feelings I was keeping trapped in my stomach, ass and my thighs are coming to the surface, as my muscles get stronger my fat hovers above them, until it finally evaporates, leaving the feelings I’d stored in it behind when it goes. This is the first time I’ve ever used my body like this. This is the first time that I have ever liked my body. This is the first time I’ve ever thought of it as anything but imperfect; an annoyance. I’m sad that I spent my whole life being disconnected from myself. I’m sad for the little girl; and the girl in her twenties who didn’t get that her body belonged to her.
And I think some of that grief is just normal. Losing weight is just as traumatic as gaining it. And some part of me is sad that I won’t have the layers to defend myself anymore. Sad that I won’t be able to keep people at bay with my girth. Anyway, so I was feeling all these feelings at the bus stop, waiting for the 75 to carry me away from my musings when I stopped and I saw this written in sidewalk chalk. As I was taking this picture a couple walked by “I guess someone hit every stop” the boy said to the girl, looking down at the chalk.
I stared at it, after I’d gotten the picture just right, a little dumbfounded. For once my life felt scripted. I felt bad, and someone had written something on the sidewalk that cheered me up. It was like finding simplicity. All of a sudden, a station wagon pulled up to the bus-stop, and my friend St. Christopher opened his passenger door. I ran, up and got in. “You have 30 seconds or less to catch me up on your life.” He grinned at me. And I felt the glow of understanding that I always feel when I’m with him. Simpatico.
The rest of the night went quickly and easily. I made just enough money, and I got to flirt and talk to my friends. The bartenders were hot, and I got to fondle my friend Mark’s ass. Which somehow always makes me feel like a winner. By the end of the night I had enough money to pay my electric bill and get groceries.
So even though this losing weight thing isn’t easy, The Universe is providing me with comfort in my trials and tribulations. Thanks for listening, Internets.