How do 50 years fly by so quickly? I’ll be 50 in one month on September 9th. As I approach my sixth decade I remember so easily my childhood as if it was yesterday. I feel the same until I look both in the mirror now and at pictures of me in high school when I thought I looked so grown up.
Happy New Year everyone! I selfishly had so much fun writing last year’s Woodsy recap that I thought I’d sit down, have a tasty beverage, and reflect on all the events that took place, or I took place in, “wink wink” this last year. I also welcome the challenge of only being able to pick a few select nuggets out of all that excitement! And away we go….
So in January, I rediscovered Instagram. I signed up for it when it first launched a couple of years ago and just didn’t get it. Facebook, Hipstamatic, Tumblr, Flickr – it’s all too much!! But I decided to give IG another chance and was instantly hooked! I felt like an amateur photographer – I looked at everything around me differently, imagining different filters, angles, and wondered “Is this IG worthy?” I spent this year capturing moments, places, people, thoughts. I followed friends and others who’s lives I admired, dogs I adored, cars I coveted. My friends became annoyed with me constantly on my iphone like a teenager. Instagram is like a window into your world that you’re willing to share with others. I think it can be amazing. Facebook for me became a thing of the past until they bought Instagram – that was a bummer #bigtime. Continue reading
Seeing my dad in prison is like seeing a different person. My once powerful father that I looked up to for everything, now dressed in double denim, sometimes shackled and occasionally strip searched. Our visits and phone calls center around his case, the trial, the appeal. Our last family photo of him in his own clothing was taken in early 2000. He has aged significantly since then; we all have. Where there was once a family unit, there’s now four disparate individuals related by blood. I feel like an adult orphan and I blame my father for this. He knows I’m angry with him–for my family’s tenuous situation, his selfishness, and the countless hours spent in jail and prison–but he dismisses my feelings, calling them, in his words, “bitterness.”
However, having now lived through his eleventh year of incarceration, I realize the importance of remembering and preserving the good times and memories I have with my father before his arrest. Amid the feelings of loss and a lack of control over my life, I do still have a father, and the fact that he’s serving a life sentence doesn’t alter that truth. When I see him now, it’s like seeing a shell of his former self with a new personality; as if he was body snatched and replaced with a clone. In these times of frustration, there’s an ever-present yearning to escape–through travel, through isolation, or by acting on self-destructive impulses. So as a means of self-preservation, it’s essential to occasionally honor and give life to the brighter childhood memories, and remind myself that I’m a daughter, a daughter with a father who loves me.
Last week Sandy Banks, in her column, “Cheaters Run on Overdrive,” referring to the recent Tiger Woods and Jesse James sex scandals asked, “how such powerful, high-profile men could consort so carelessly with a procession of B-list porn stars, wackos and strippers. Weren’t their smart, beautiful wives enough?”
As a woman who grew up around strip clubs and is now a strip club owner, the short answer is: No. They weren’t.
But what about the long answer?
I grew up in a close-knit family. Mom was a nurse who often worked the late shift, and Dad, a former highway patrolman, began managing a strip club when I was eight years old.
In the early years my parents spoke about the club as cryptically as possible. “What do people do there, is there dancing?” I asked Dad. It was the 70’s, and I was obsessed with anything disco-related. “There is a stage where people can dance,” he looked down sheepishly while my mom stood there, frozen.
While it began as a taboo subject, it later became a source of pride for my father. Try as my parents did to shelter us, the day eventually arrived when Mom had to work, the babysitter canceled, and we had to celebrate our own version of Take Your Daughter to Work Day.
Dad laid out strict ground rules: We could tap dance on the stage, play Space Invaders in the arcade or drink Shirley Temples at the bar, but we had to stay out of sight in the back office once the doors opened.
We met dancers named Crystal, Amber and Destiny. I could swear I met one named Jello, maybe it was Pudding. But my favorite was Kelly, who looked a lot like our babysitter.
Kelly loved us like her own and made sure two young girls didn’t die of boredom while passing the hours upstairs in the back office. She asked about my cat Coco, complimented my Holly Hobbie doll. We both loved The Bionic Woman.
Dad would fill me in on the dancers’ back stories. Many were single mothers. One even had a C-section scar.
Some things you hear about stripping are true: it’s a lucrative business, and a good stripper can earn more in a night than most of my friends do in a week. Add to the formula single motherhood and limited career options, and it can start to make a lot more sense. It’s the stigma that makes it hard.