Welcome to Hollis Gillespie’s writers war room! There will be atrocities committed and plenty of collateral damage, so put on your fucking helmet because I’m not slowing down to hold your fucking hand. Okay. Reminder: Sister Louisa is not a person or an artist, but a product, brand, business, and series of pretentious hipster-encrusted black holes that passes as a bar franchise in the state of Georgia. Grant Henry, the rich-ass proprietor of said sinkholes, is arguably a person but also a PUBLIC FIGURE.
Now the last you saw me I was reading the Match.com profile that my ex-husband had stupidly posted using, as his profile picture, an image of him holding our daughter. (And by the way, you know the caption above the profile text, where Match.com suggests you put a quote or something that represents you? ExZilla put a verse in there from a Springsteen song that read, “The door is open but the ride ain’t free.” I swear to fucking Christ on the cross. The door is open but the ride ain’t free.)
Now, believe it or not, I still give half a shit about my ex-husband. He is the father of my stunning daughter and try as I might to hate the holy crap out of him, I can’t. I don’t have it in me. Also, I know what happened to him at the end of all this, what he paid for the shit he put me through – a payment harsher than any I wanted or requested – and, goddammit, I feel the tiniest bit bad for him. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I hate that I feel bad for him. Feeling bad for him got me into this fucking mess.
Back when I left my husband I had a good friend named Jim who was a powerful corporate attorney here in Atlanta. I’ll never forget what he told me when I informed him I was filing for divorce. He told me: “Don’t look a snake in the eye before killing it.” I knew what he meant. But if the snake is the father of your kid . . . all I’m saying is it’s so hard to have a heart and kill a something at the same time, even if it’s a snake. It’s a horrible truth that having a heart is a fucking handicap when it comes to family court.
Did you know that 70% of fathers who fight for custody win custody? I’m aware of the adage that most mothers walk away with the kids in a divorce, but that’s because most fathers don’t fight for it, probably because they believe the bullshit that Dad’s don’t stand a chance in court. So I am offering this to you, my readers, as sage advice both to fathers facing a divorce, as well as mothers facing the same:
- Fathers, if you fight for custody, you will win 70% of the time. You do not have to try to look perfect, as all of your imperfections will come across as adorable to the officers of the court. For example, do you get up late and have to slap together a school lunch for your kid that includes leftover pizza from the football party the afternoon before? Adorable!
- Mothers, if you think your uterus will serve as some open-sesame in family court, you are in for a big fucking shock. It’s not enough to show you are a good parent. You have to show you’re 100 times better than the other parent. Your imperfections are far from adorable to the officers of the court. Even your “perfection” will be seen as an imperfection, get it? For example, do you get up early to perfectly pack an insulated school lunch for your kid that includes a thermos of freshly-made, organic gluten-free mac’n’cheese? You’re not adorable, you’re OCD and subjecting your child to your sickness. Get it? You almost can’t win (Well, 30% of the time you can).
But mothers and fathers both, if you do lose, it’s not the end of the world. Your loss is just at the courthouse, on a piece of paper that no one reads anyway. It exists in Family Court World, not the real world. It’s a fucking piece of bureaucracy that can be corrected. Just be patient, take your punches and get out your fucking toothbrush to start scrubbing away one tiny piece at a time at the disgusting shit-encrusted Tijuana toilet that your custody case has become. If your ex is an ExZilla like mine was, he’ll get drunk with power, make astronomical mistakes to the point where even the officers of the court won’t find it adorable anymore, and boom, one fucking agent-oranged film deal, one collapsed print industry and one bankruptcy later, things will be looking good again.
Remember that tornado that came through the city of Atlanta in 2008? It came through the fucking center of the city! I remember watching some footage from a surveillance camera pointing down at Centennial Park Blvd. or some such, and one of those carriage horses, you know those docile horses hooked onto a carriage carrying stupid tourists around the inner city (I remember I took one of those carriage rides in 1990 when I first moved to Atlanta, and I asked the driver, “Where do people live downtown?” and he answered, “People don’t live downtown!”), somehow that carriage horse broke free and was galloping, like a full fucking gallop, like it wasn’t a downtown street but the goddam green plains of Montana, it was soaring down the street, muscles flexing, mane flying in the fucking wind. I was a beautiful thing, watching the force of nature in both beast and acts of God that night.
(And speaking of forces of nature. Don’t fucking fuck with mothers, people. On this I am taking a definite side. Women in general and mothers in particular are strong-ass motherfuckers. We may have people thinking they’ve got us beat, that they’ve got us docile and strapped to a carriage, obeying their instructions with bovine indifference, but that is just us biding our time, taking our punches, getting stronger, waiting for that opening, that act of God maybe, and then you’ll see what we’re really made of, you’ll see us break for it, muscles flexing, mane flying, soaring like the fucking wind.)
The morning after the tornado came through Atlanta, my girl and I went through Cabbagetown and Grant Park to assess some of the amazing damage. The tornado had clipped the corner of the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, slicing a chunk off the top floor, for which I thank God because if not for that beautiful renovated factory deflecting that tornado, it would have come straight at our house, and if it could bust a chunk of brick and steel off the top of a building, just think what it could have done to our tiny little clapboard two-bedroom. Anyway, the next morning, my girl and I were walking through the neighborhood, seeing if anyone needed help, and marveling at the massive trees, some with trunks as thick as redwoods, that had broken in half and now lay across the street.
I took this as an opportunity to teach my girl about strength, and how strength is rarely found by being big and rigid. Because see the little trees? The ones that were flexible? They were all still standing, while the big and rigid ones were laying cracked in half like chicken bones.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for the next episode in which I talk about the time Grant Henry (that’s right, I haven’t forgotten about you, motherfucker) first talks me into accepting a role in a reality show, and then when things get rolling and the producers come to Atlanta to start shooting, Grant shows up at their hotel with a plan to literally kidnap a key player in the show, tie him to a tree, and try to talk him out of participating in it with me. I shit you the fuck not. In the meantime, YES I AM GOING THERE, below is a button for you to tip me if you like what I’m doing.