Yesterday was better. Yesterday, I got to grocery shop alone so I went to Whole Foods (where you can spend a billion dollars on exactly three items). I listened to a live jazz quartet in the cheese section. I reveled at how nice shopping was without someone tagging along touching everything and begging for treats. Oh! And I made Art. Each year about this time, I make a vision board (some call these treasure maps, others visual prayers)--I just cut out pictures, words, or phrases that seem interesting or pull at me or represent things I'd like to have, do, or be. Then I glue them down onto something--paper or posterboard or into a journal--in collage format. Have you ever done one of these? They do actually work, but (a) you have to look at it and meditate on it quite a lot and (b) be serious. And also leave some spaces between the images and words so God can get in.
Instead of doing my regular vision board, though, I saw that my writer hero Liz Gilbert likes to do a color board--she finds colors she'd like the new year to feel like. So I grabbed the book I'd intended to use as my 2015 vision journal, a couple of magazines, and started cutting out anything that appealed to me. Then I glued them all into a mish mash collage. Anyone can do this, these color or treasure boards; no artistic ability required.
M did one with me. Let's compare a grown up's vision of what a new year should feel like to a 6 year old's:
|This is how I'd like 2015 to feel: splashes of bold, wild color with some calm, soothing ones.|
|This is how M wants 2015 to feel: cute like a lion, pretty like Oprah and whoever that other woman is. With a bar code.|
I love other human beings like this, and it's one example of why I picked Liz Gilbert to be my ultimate writer hero--she attracts nice people. I am very, very into nice people and people who attract nice people to themselves these days. I would like to be surrounded, in 2015, by nice people who help one another, who are sources of strength and courage and good attitudes. I would like to be one of these people as well. I am no longer interested in being judgmental or mean or closed. 2015 is going to be a doozy for me, for Miss M, for a lot of people I love, and I am desperately seeking Niceness right now. With splashes of wild color here and there.
.....It does occur to me that being strung out on Twitter may be why I'm suddenly into very, very nice people these days. Have you ever spent a day, a week, a month strung out on Twitter? It's full of snarky people--who are very smart and very funny, but many times do it at the expense of other human beings who are having a really hard time. Hey Humanity, can we stop being snarky at other people's expense when they're having a hard time? There is a fine line between poking fun at someone's eccentricities, with the implicit understanding we are ALL a bit wonky and deserving of being poked fun at, and just being mean because you need to feel better about your own eccentricities.
On the flip side, you can find some really compelling, wonderful people to follow on Twitter. I found a really lovely website today called The Bitter Southerner (I identify with the title...except for the fact I'm really more of a bitter Southern Yankee) and a story on it titled "We're All Freaks." The story is about The Clermont Lounge, specifically the ladies of The Clermont Lounge.
If you aren't from Atlanta, you may not know about this place. When I met C and we started dating, he lived about a mile down the road from The Clermont Lounge. It's an Atlanta icon. C lived in a very upscale apartment complex in a neighborhood/area Atlanta calls Poncey-Highland. Atlanta's very odd in many many ways, and one of these ways is that its neighborhoods class up then class down sporadically, with no rhyme or reason. Like, you'll be driving and driving and going: ooh! Look at all these lovely, posh houses and then BAM! you're locking your doors because there's a crackhead on the corner beating on windows of cars stopped at red lights, drinking from a paper bag, offering blow jobs for $5. I've never seen anything like it--I'd leave C's apartment at 6 AM to go to work, drive past several expensive, nice townhomes until the road dead ended into a grocery store parking lot everyone here calls "Murder Kroger" (called that because once upon a time 1000 years ago, two people got shot in front of it--and also, this is how Atlantans locate one other: "drive past Murder Kroger til you see the Big Chicken. Then take a right at Disco Kroger and that'll take you to Spaghetti Junction. If you find yourself OTP, you've gone too far." It's a language only we speak, and you have to live here for about 10 years before any of it makes any sense). I'd take a right at Murder Kroger, go past the police station, and then turn left on the crackhead corner to get to I-85 and a sense of normalcy.
At any rate. The Clermont Lounge is at the bottom of, and behind, The Clermont Hotel. The hotel was once a swanky place to live, if you were an upper middle class flapper. Ninety years later, it was pretty much bedbug-ridden and a place crackheads on the corner took their $5 clients to (though it's getting a big update now, and let me tell you: people here were freaking their freak because there was a moment when rumors about closing down The Clermont Lounge were flying around--it's safe, in spite of all the failed health inspections).
So The Clermont Lounge is behind the hotel, down a steep hill. It's a dive bar, with strippers, and its claim to fame are its ladies of the night (and sometimes day) with names like Blondie who can do things like crush beer cans between their breasts. Celebrities like to go here, for the sheer freakishness of it all. (I know for a fact Lady Gaga does.) So do non-celebrities. And strippers? Well, this is where strippers go to die. (No, actually, I'm just kidding--quite frankly, The Clermont Lounge welcomes all working ladies, regardless of age, ethnicity, ability, etc. And I read something long ago about the strippers getting to keep all of their earnings, which pretty much makes it stripper nirvana).
I've been to The Clermont Lounge three times. It's not really a place you want to go to every week--I mean, you can. But they'll take all your money, and then you might have to work there. So I've gone twice with friends, once with C. The first time, we didn't stay long--it was a lot to take in but mostly one of the girls in the group got freaked out by bare nipples (as if she didn't have her own? weird). The second time, I think there was a group of rowdy frat boys there and that made one of us nervous (okay, fine. It was me. I was nervous). I'm far more freaked out by rowdy frat boys than bare nipples, let me tell you. The third time I went with C, and that time was when I kind of fell in love with the place. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I mean, it's a strip club. On principle, I generally disagree with the concept, because I disagree with how we treat women and use their bodies and put them in situations in which they feel using their bodies to make money is their only option. I don't like this, I abhor it. And yet. I think The Clermont Lounge is rather kind to its workers, in terms of these situations and the ones they have found themselves in. And so I sort of give it a pass? I guess? I'm still sorting out my feelings about it. I certainly don't want my daughter working there, and I harbor tremendous feelings of white collar privilege guilt about having landed the Life Lottery with options so I don't have to work there. And yet, I'm okay with it if other women want to work there because that's their choice and what if they have no other options? There are worse jobs they could be doing. This is what my internal conflict looks like about lots of things, by the way.
What I do know is that it is rife with stories. If you need some good characters or character development ideas, you should grab a friend or five (it doesn't seem to be a place one should venture into alone, at least not the first time) and go here.
Have you ever seen the movie WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? with Betty Davis? There's a stripper there who I feel channels Baby Jane very well, and she enchanted me. Later, I found out I had gotten to interact with THE Porsha, who often likes to dress up like Red Riding Hood or Little Bo Peep (which is who she was that night) to dance. I met her in the ladies' room--I was applying more lipstick (you just DO this, when you go to this place) and marveling at the rotting Las Vegas feel of even the restroom, when she came in. She told me I was pretty and asked if I'd come alone. I thought she was another odd bar patron hitting on me, and let her know: nope, I'm taken. She was sweet, and told me to have a good time and to be careful.
About 20 minutes later, she was doing her Little Bo Peep burlesque in front of me.
So here's the set up: you go in, and you need about 5 minutes to breathe it all in, get your bearings. The bar is also where the strippers work--you sit and drink, watching ladies of all shapes and sizes in various forms of undress in front of you--the bar is circular with a catwalk in the middle. This is where Porsha danced for me. She didn't take much of anything off. I figured this was because she was old school and back in the day, strippers didn't necessarily strip--an ankle or a bare shoulder were considered risque. But then? At the end of her dance? Right in front of me she lifted up her dress to reveal: NO UNDERPANTS. It was like looking at the sun, y'all. I mean, seriously: it wasn't anything I haven't seen before...I just wasn't expecting it after a rather tame burlesque show. I'd have been fine had someone clued me in that was her big finale.
(Side story: once, when I was 8, I was lying on the floor at my paternal grandmother's house watching TV. My grandmother bent over me in her nightgown to pick up something from the living room floor and I got an eyeful, and to this day when I think of my grandmother, this is pretty much all I can see. Psychological trauma. The Clermont Lounge with Porsha incident was very, very similar: Unexpected and jarring, though not unfamiliar.)
Afterwards, off stage, she came and asked if I'd enjoyed her show. (I'd given her a $10 bill after the flashing, in a shell-shocked stupor). I said I had and she told me to come back any time; she liked pretty, nice girls. And I have to say, in spite of the shell shock from the unexpected, I was completely bewitched by her at that point because I could tell: this was a genuinely sweet human being who was making Life work for her in the best way she knew how. I was amused and flattered and if I'd had a $20 bill on me, I'd also have given her that. But it was fine since she'd already had gotten all my dollars.
So I get why The Clermont is a draw for all kinds of people. I understand why it's iconic. Down South here, we not only embrace our freaks, we love them up. We stick them on the porch in a rocking chair, put a glass of MeeMaw's best sweet tea in their right hand, give them a hand fan for the other, and talk about them gently behind their backs. We say things like "Bless old Bubba Junior's heart. He done got the head sickness. 'Member when he was a li'l ol' thang and dang near kilt himself jumpin' off Brown Taylor Bridge? But y'all know his mama and granddaddy done the same thang so guess he just gets it honest." Southerners mourn their crazy and accept it, all at once. It's why Faulkner got away with writing A ROSE FOR EMILY and nobody down South even blinks an eye at that tale--everybody here knows a Miss Emily. They either live down the road from her, someone married her into the family, or she's their aunt. And she is what she is, and so be it...while people up North still analyze stories like this to pieces because seriously, William Faulkner, what the fuck?!
So don't make fun of people having a harder time in life than you. If you're laughing with them, it's funny. But I've read things where people just go to laugh at these women, and that's not funny. They don't take themselves seriously, but that doesn't mean they have the kinds of hearts you can break.
I have no idea what this has to do with color vision boards. I do see the connection between getting strung out on Twitter. Don't get strung out on Twitter, kids. It leads to flashing strangers at bars. Make a color board instead. And get some sleep. (O! Sleep! Thou art elusive these days. I'm typing this at almost 3 AM. If I don't start sleeping better, I'm going to get put in a rocking chair on a porch with a sweet tea while people write crazy stories about me behind my back.)
Here. Go watch Anthony Bourdain be mesmerized by Atlanta's most famous stripper/poet/beer can crusher: