Divergent Art: Portraits of a Writer

Photographs by Ashli Moore; Writing by Alyssa Wisener

Alyssa LR Edits-3

   Much of my fascination with finding points of intersection and 
 interaction between "mutually exclusive" concepts and state of mind 
 stems from my own experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder 
 and Type II Bipolar Disorder. Years of psychotherapy from a very 
 young age have given me a lens through which to view and analyze my 
own cognitive dissonance in real time. 
   This is helpful in that it contributed to an ability to manipulate 
 my own mood states and thus gain knowledge of my various inner 
 selves; destructive in that having an acute awareness of my own 
 attempts to gaslight myself does nothing to ease my mind and 
everything to cause me to distrust my perception of the world.
   Aside from catharsis, the main reason I write is to keep a record 
 of all my disparate thoughts / feelings, with the hope that one day 
 I might arrange the shards into a rainbow mosaic opaque enough to 
 view a sun through without sacrificing my eyes.

Alyssa LR Edits-4Alyssa LR Edits-5

    Memoir is a bitter genre, a nether-realm of writers with business 
 unfinished and words unsaid.  Between the spoken, the written, 
 the thought-out-then-willfully-forgotten, lies a liminality. This is
 where I/we dwell.
    It is said that a ghost cannot cross over until the conflict that
 keeps them here is resolved. But what if the ghost cannot find the 
 conflict? What if the conflict doesn't want to be found, and will 
 stop at nothing to escape?  Shades forever dwell in houses, unseen
 yet viscerally felt by its occupants; spirits shove me under the 
 bathwater and stuff my throat with bubbles.
   How can I speak without first spitting out the soap?
   How can I imagine the story of another while drowning in my own 
 salty terror?

Alyssa LR Edits-8



 When desire is involved, anything is possible.
 It's possible that she was and is nothing at all like I describe.
 It's possible I have never seen her as an individual with her own 
 thoughts and purposes, instead framing her as a character in the plot
 of my own living novel.
 It's possible that I ascribed to her the exact qualities I was in 
 need of at the time. Qualities I still yearn for.
 It's possible that this story is more about the nature of desire 
 than the objective desirability of anything or anybody. 
 That this I write is about how I and the collective We project our 
 desires onto other people. How that says more about us and our 
 affectations than anything about the supposed objects of our 
 affections.
 Is that why I desire the one thing I can never possess?


Alyssa LR Edits-6
 A month into my third grade year, I stand atop a tall slide and 
 stare fish-eyed at the woodchips below. It's high enough to cripple
 me: not enough. I climb down and walk to the library to ask Miss 
 Sharon where the biggest slide in the world is and if it sits on 
 concrete. She calls my mom; Mom tells me that suicides reincarnate 
 as snakes, and that I'm too pretty to become an icky snake.
 A new doctor gives me a rainbow of highly regulated medications, and
 I learn to swallow my age in pills. A gulp a day keeps the feelings
 away. Once a week, I tell Dr. Smythe about how I never sleep because
 if I do, Bloody Mary will behead me. How the faceless girl sitting 
 near my mother's pillow will try to steal my eyes. How I sometimes 
 want to stomp on my younger brother's head and have my mom to myself
 again.  
    I don't tell her about Sean throwing my library books in the
 mud in front of Alison, nor how I saved up my allowance for months 
 to compensate the library for their loss. I don't tell her about how 
 Mrs. White dumped out my desk in front of the whole class because it
 was too messy, and how my drawings shot out the side, and how the 
 other kids saw what they were of, and then came up with new names to
 yell at me after Mrs. White "posted" me against a red brick wall at 
 recess and forbade me from talking or defending myself (not that I 
 would've). I don't tell her about how I read that the mere act of 
 smiling can trick the smiler's brain into feeling happiness, and 
 how I had grinned whenever I wanted to cry, and how all the smiles 
 stopped after Mrs. White had said to me, "You think you are so 
 cute?!"
    Though my selfishness on the slide was kept secret from the world 
 at large, it caused my mom to "lose face" and give up on the house. 
 I eventually improved somewhat; she stayed stuck. I -- a nine-year-
 old seeking death -- had damaged her and destroyed her house. Not 
 her mother's beatings nor my father's mindgames. ME. Mom hasn't been 
 back to Thailand since -- 20 years -- too afraid that her family 
 might see the stain on her character reflected in the sheen of my 
 scars.
    Of course, she never speaks of this. Her eyes harden at the sight 
 of my arms, my face that looks like that of the sister her mother 
 favored. Though I cannot speak Thai, my mom's gestures when on the 
 phone with her family tell me everything: she is coloring our family
 with flag colors and brightening the shadows with gold leaf.

 Which cracked first? The chicken or her egg? 
 Should we ask the farmer? Did the chip on the egg start small and 
 spread on its own? Did the chicken's foot help it along and the 
 farmer finish it? Did the egg's insides splash out to rot whatever 
 touched it? Could the hen smell the decay? Could the farmer? Is that
why the egg was left all alone? Is that why the crack in her lip 
sings when the wind hisses past?

Alyssa LR Edits-10



Thank you so much, Alyssa, for letting me share your work! 
Here's an "oldy but goody" picture of us hanging out! <3

alyssa and i

 

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