As some of you know, today I turned 31. And today Snarky Cards is 3.
And I’ve been having a lot of mental anguish over my family. So, it’s been hard to convince myself to celebrate my birth, or the birth of my loud-mouthed, bitchy company. But I have good news! Two pieces of good news!
First: Thank God for faulty birth control. Usually I don’t believe in faulty birth control. It always sounds like bullshit to me. I mean, there’s a 3% chance that birth control doesn’t work. It seems like there are a lot more babies attributed to faulty birth control than that. And I really hate it when people don’t own their shit. But right now, I love faulty birth control. I believe in faulty birth control. It’s my favorite thing. It’s real and it happens to regular people. That or, Stephenie’s got super-hero sperm. Which is what he keeps telling me. My brother, Stephanie, has knocked up his girlfriend, Christina. They are delighted. But I am more delighted. I don’t think that there’s any way for me to be more excited about another person. I now call Stephenie once a week to get updates on Baby Awesome. And I’ve been racking my brain, trying to remember all of the horrible things that he’s done in order to blackmail him into actually naming the baby Awesome. So far, Stephanie has declined. Almost all of the other names they are actually considering are Alisa-approved.
Here is Awesome’s first picture. Stephenie has very kindly circled all of the important parts of Awesome’s features, which may be hard to make-out, because Awesome is, at present, very, very tiny. Awesome will grace us with his or her presence on or around January 22, 2011. So, on this momentous occasion of my birth, and the birth of Snarky Cards, we will look forward to the birth of my new family, Baby Awesome, Stephenie, Christina, and Claire, finally becoming “That lady who lives with your Aunt.”.
This may be a good time for me to explain something. Stephenie is a boy. He was born Stephen Daniel Shumaker. I call him Stephenie because I was a really mean older sister. When he was 8, Joy and I gave him a choice. We would call him Stephenie or Becky. Becky was an option because our parents were convinced he was a girl, and had planned to name him Rebecca. It was a mean (but hilarious!) nickname, which somehow became less mean and more endearing. As most nicknames do, in time. I also tried to make him gay when he was in high-school. (because what’s more awesome than having a gay brother? Nothing.) It almost worked. I got him wearing my prom dress, shaving his legs, dating guys, and hanging out at the Billy De Frank Center. Which is the only gay community center in Santa Clara, CA. I tried to make him start smoking when he was 11. So, while it isn’t miraculous that he knocked up the illustrious and amazing Christina, it is however, miraculous that he thinks it’s a good idea for me to be around Baby Awesome at all.
Secondly: My cousin Deanna and I are going to be working, this summer on Snarky Cards Undies. They should be available in the next month or so. The first pair will be American Apparel Boy Briefs, with “Fuck you and your fucking Feelings.” We’ll have them available in stores, and online. This picture is a facsimile of what they’ll look like.
I’ll give you updates, while I work on them.
These are the two projects that gave me some solace. This birthday has been the hardest that I’ve had in a long time. When I started Snarky Cards I gave it three years. I thought that by the third year I’d have a book deal, and an apparel line, and I’d be mass producing them across the country. I probably would have gotten that far, had I had any funding. Which I also expected to get. But, finding funding, and a publishing company interested in producing a book of Snarky Cards has, thus far, eluded me. I’m continually surprised by the rejection that I’ve gotten from major and minor publishing companies. I’ve now sold 29.705 Snarky Cards. I have them in stores in Seattle, San Francisco, Eugene, and Salem, Oregon, Louisville, Kentucky, Brooklyn, NY, Detroit, and -of course- Portland. That’s five states and seven cities. It seems clear to me that a book would sell well.
Anyway, I thought it would be much farther along by now. My other project for the summer is to lose weight. When I was 20, I started therapy. And I gained about 40 pounds. As time went by, I gained another 20 pounds. For the last five years or so I’ve hovered around 200 pounds. But then I broke my leg, and I gained another 40. This summer I realized I was done carrying all this weight around. I think, in my 20’s, the weight comforted me. It separated me from the person I’d been when I was younger. My larger body was not the same one that had been abused. I liked being part of the big girls club. I liked my big boobs.
But my back hurt. And it kept getting worse. And this year I realized that if I lost all the weight, and replaced a lot of it with muscles, I could probably stop seeing my chiropractor. So, this summer, I’m losing the magic mountain that was my ass. And I’m going for a flat stomach. I’m eating more healthily, and I’ve started to find some solace in exercise. Now a nice long walk will clear my head, almost as completely as weed does.
So, I was hoping that I would be thin (and possibly buff), and outrageously successful by now. And I think I’ve been really hard on myself for the last couple of weeks, because instead of being super-thin and internationally famous; I’m thinner than I was, and moderately successful. It feels like failure.
Yesterday I woke up feeling terrible too. I walked around the apartment in my pj’s moaning about my life, checking my neck for wrinkles, eyeing my tummy. This week my friend Matt turned 40. I went to his birthday party, and it was fun. Usually I spend parties thinking “I should be working.” But this time, I let it go.I didn’t even bring my cards, I talked to people all night, not the Snarky Card Chick, just Alisa. Matt was drunk, and happy. And the party was packed. Everyone there was so happy to be there. It felt like a real celebration of Matt. “You know, I never thought I’d live this long.” His porch looks out on Broadway, and the city lights were luminous behind him. “I don’t know what to do with myself now.”
While I was moaning around the apartment Claire tried to think of things to say to cheer me up. “You don’t look 31.” She soothed. Nothing seemed to work. When I thought she’d given up she said “You know what? Matt’s party the other night was so great. If I have a party like that when I’m 40, I’ll be so glad. There were all kinds of people there, all ages, and all kinds. And Matt was so hot. And he was making out with his boyfriend all night. And it was so beautiful.” Somehow, that propelled me out into the night with my cards. And I made it as far as Kelly’s Olympian, which is one of my happy places. People recognized me as I walked through the door. A few girls shreiked “You’re here! I want some cards!” and a few boys said “Hey, I’ve heard of you. Can I see some cards?” which made me feel kinda famous. I had some celebratory whiskey. I went over to Mike’s house, where I drank more and hung out with him, and Todd (also of the famed Fenbi) and we got more plastered. Mike announced that he was going to church today. I said I’d go with him.
Which is why I found myself hung-over and surrounded by hippies at 11am this morning. I was miserable. Mike was a champ. I was pouty, and hung-over, and convinced that my life sucked. “I’m fat, and ugly, and I’m going to die alone.” I whined. Mike just made reassuring noises and hugged me. “I’m going to become a spinster.” I moaned later. “What’s a spinster?” Mike asked, reminding me that men don’t live in constant fear of becoming an old-maid. And I didn’t used to either.
And somehow, in the middle of the inspirational talk that Science of Mind pastors call a sermon, I started to realize that I can’t be this hard on myself forever. The service forced me to be quiet. Instead of whining or pouting or trying to be funny, I sat quietly in my pew, with tears running down my cheeks, trying to give up all of the shit I’ve been piling on myself. Mike occasionally patted my hand, to let me know that I wasn’t alone. But he seemed just as absorbed as I was in the message.
We had a hangover breakfast at Holman’s, and then I went home, where I laid in The Nest (a pile of blankets and pillows we keep in our living room) and Claire got me things. I got birthday texts from friends all day, but all I wanted to do was sleep away my alcohol poisoning. I took a nap, waking up to twilight. The cats cowered and Claire and I stood on our porch, watching our neighbors fireworks. She went to Safeway, to pick me up a birthday dinner, and on the street, halfway between our apartment and the store, she found us a new recliner for the living room.
She came home to get me out of The Nest, and we spent the next half hour pushing the damn thing back to our apartment, with the fireworks going off all around us. “It feels kind of apocalyptic.” She said, in wonderment. “Um, I think the apocalypse will be less celebratory.” We were very, very stoned. It’s been 5 years since I moved to Portland, and I’ve never gotten used to the idea of legal fireworks. This is Claire’s first 4th of July in Oregon. “You know there are going to be a lot of handless people tomorrow.” I predicted darkly. “Why isn’t everything catching on fire?” She asked. Finally, we rested in the parking lot of the strip club across the street from our place.
As we caught our breaths, she twirled around, gaping at the pretty lights in the sky. “What if the propaganda we grew up with is wrong?” She sounded puzzled. “What if when people set off their own fireworks they don’t blow their hands up and set their neighborhoods on fire?” I looked around us thoughtfully. “Well. Maybe everything we heard growing up was wrong. Let’s wait for the news tomorrow, and see how many fires and missing limbs are reported, and then decide whether to turn our backs on everything we believe in.” It’s comfortable and not-smelly. And it made us feel luxurious. We took turns sitting in it, while watching Murder She Wrote.
And somehow, I got through it. Thanks to Kelly’s Olympian, and my enthusiastic customers, friends, cats, and Claire, I made it through. And now that it’s over, I’m ready to make the underwear and lose my weight. And I plan to spend the next month figuring out how to be nicer to myself. And also: I didn’t plan on sticking with Snarky Cards after 3 years. I figured whatever size the company was by now, I’d sell it, and use the fame I’d garnered to leverage me a job writing television scripts. I didn’t make any plans for Snarky Cards beyond now. I can’t walk away from it just as it’s getting exciting. So, I’m going to spend the summer figuring out a new timeline for Snarky Cards Success. Maybe something a little more realistic this time.
Thanks for all the Happy Birthday Wishes, and thanks for digging my shit.