We were so impressed with Jami’s vision and depth of experience! After working with other designers, it was Jami that designed the right logo and branding to fit our company. Jami performed beautifully in branding our company, designing our website and laying out our print materials. Her work ethic is stellar and she is always fun to work with!
Jami did a wonderful job of tapping into what I was looking for before I even knew what that was! I highly recommend Jami for both her creative chops and for her deep knowledge of how websites work. I absolutely love my site! Thanks, Jami! [Read more…] about Jennifer Kogan
This blog post was originally written for and published on The Broad Collective, a now defunct local blog here in Athens, Georgia. I lifted it from there to republish it here because… it’s mine, all mine!
“I woke up this morning, literally at the Holiday Inn here in downtown Athens, we went out last night to Last Resort and then walked down to Go Bar and listened to music. I went back to the hotel at 1am and woke up this morning thinking, “This is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Why would you open up a bar?” and then as soon as I opened my computer, there’s a google alert to a Wikipedia page about Church and I thought, “Oh. Well, I should just do it!”
I first met Grant Henry in the summer of 2010 in Atlanta.
I was a struggling writer, lapping up every little bit of my unofficial mentorship with Grant’s best friend, writer Hollis Gillespie. Back when Hollis’ writing school, Shocking Real Life Writing Academy, was in Castleberry Hills, I came to
fan girl support her at an open house event she was hosting during the Castleberry Hill Art Stroll. I ended up tagging along with her after the evening was winding down to the Elliot Street Pub.
It had been raining, so the stroll was more or less a bust and about fifteen minutes after arriving, long enough for us to order drinks, Hollis pulled an old-lady and decided to call it a night. So I was left there with Grant and these two really nice gay guys that I can’t remember much about. There was a rag-tag group of circus performers that would later come to be known as The Imperial Opa Circus that was set to do a performance during the stroll, but when their show was rained out, they negotiated with the owner of the bar for some free beers in exchange for an impromptu performance in front of the bar, right there on the dead end street.
As much of a technofile as I am, I am incapable figuring out how to get the dark, shitty cell phone video off of my four-year old Facebook feed. At the beginning of the video, you can hear Grant ask me something to which I reply, “I have no idea, but he’s got a fanny pack, so I’m on board.” The performers gathered around each other and created a human pyramid. After that, there was a fire show and a guy that juggled metal buckets full of nuts and bolts. That night, Grant gave me a ride back to my car a couple of blocks away on the back of his Sister Louisa art scooter. It was . . . the best night of my twenties, easy.
That summer in Atlanta was the beginning of a lot of change for me – I had no idea at the time, but within a year, I would move to Athens and six months after that, Colin proposed to me. When I look back on it now, that summer in Atlanta was the most beautiful, poetic send-off from the city that I had loved so much for so many years. When change comes, it sneaks up on your silently and swiftly.
Shortly after we met, Grant opened his bar in the Old Fourth Ward named — deep breath — Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, or Church, for short. It stuck out like a sore thumb on a city block that was only just beginning to breathe again after years of being forgotten. But it was popular. Celebrities stop in all the time to challenge Grant to a game of ping pong or purchase art from Church’s walls.
This man is incredibly lucky. Or smart. Or he sold his soul to the devil. Or he’s secretly the second coming of Christ. Or . . . he’s just Grant. With a deeply religious upbringing, he was the quintessential people pleaser in his youth, abiding by whatever he was told by his teachers or parents or the church. He was never raised to do anything authentic. Whatever they gave him, he played it. He lived that way for thirty years fearful that, to live authentically would mean he would have to detach himself from the love his family.
Grant ended up in seminary and when prompted to declare that only through Jesus Christ, salvation is possible, he had to leave seminary.
“I could say that salvation might be possible through Jesus Christ, but I know people from different religions . . . Pushing organized religion out of my life just really broke my heart.”
This is when Grant’s alterego, Sister Louisa, was born. A sort of art therapy for Grant’s broken heart, thrift store paint-by-numbers and velvets from decades ago were given new life sharing the testaments to Sister Louisa’s inclusive brand of faith.
Sister Louisa was a nun in a convent near Baton Rouge, Louisiana that fell in love with the convent’s janitor,“Luscious” Lamar Thibideau, and left the convent in disgrace and took to her art. Luscious digs up old paintings from the garbage and Sister Louisa transforms these castaways into art.
The manifestation the Grant went through in this period of his life was the beginning of living theFuck Fear philosophy.
“I lived it – I was in hell. I’m not going back.”
Meeting Grant in 2010, at the cusp of great change in my life, of finally declaring to my old life that I was going to Fuck Fear, I am so intensely fond of Grant. He showed up at just the right time in my life . . . I was ready to receive his gospel.
Grant had been coming to visit Athens along with his friend, Steven (of King of Pops fame), tagging along while Steven delivered those delicious pops to town. On one trek, Grant and Steven jumped into his Rolls Royce, aptly named, The Hot Buttered Rolls, and literally headed down the Atlanta highwaaaay with a cooler big enough to put a body inside in the backseat, loaded down with pops.
After dropping off the goods, Steven and Grant went to The National for lunch and were stopped by two sweet old ladies for some friendly southern pleasantries. “Who are y’all?” one of the ladies asked. Grant replied, “Oh, we don’t live here. We’re from Atlanta.” After some more prodding, and some introductions, one of the women declared, “Oh! Are you from Church in Atlanta? My daughter lives in Atlanta! Do you know her?” And that’s the story of how Grant met his friend Margaret’s mom, Mayor Nancy Denson.
The rest of that day, the locals were all prodding him asking, “Who are you?” and upon realizing just who this bespectacled, fuzzy faced, Happiest Man Alive really was, declared over and over, “We love church! Are you opening a church in Athens?” At the World Famous . . . then Manhattan . . . then Little Kings. So Grant said, “Fuck it, let’s open a church in Athens!”
He drove around Athens with Steven scouting out locations and ended up at Dynamite trying to buy a large velvet painting of a Chihuahua behind the counter for his daughter who was just moving back to the States after living in Mexico. It wasn’t for sale. “I don’t see a price, but I don’t care. I want it.” The clerk said, “Do you collect velvets?” So Grant pulls out his phone to show the clerk pictures from Atlanta’s Church, and the clerk declared, “That’s Church!” And Grant grins from ear to ear, “That’s my bar.” Turns out, a friend of the clerk’s had a vacant bar space down on Clayton Street and walking out of the store without the Chihuahua painting, Grant dialed the number of the friend who met him downtown minutes later and that same day, walked into what is now Church Athens.
If you had told Grant a year ago that he’d be days away from opening a bar in Athens, Georgia, he would have laughed his infectious laugh at you, but that’s the funny thing about change . . . swiftly and silently . . .
So what can you expect from Church Athens?
If you’re familiar with Church in Atlanta, you won’t be surprised by much, but for those of you that have never had this religious experience, you’re in for a treat. The walls are covered in art – some will make you laugh, some will make you gasp – and there’s going to be a special bit of art spinning from the ceiling, a female mannequin, dressed as a priest complete with pasties on her exposed breasts and a strap on . . . yes, like . . . a dildo. Vintage furniture and on the way to the VIP-lounge style Boom Boom Room, a coat rack full of choir robes and wigs. And the best damn sound system in Athens, including a microphone suspended from the ceiling for making announcements.
Behind the bar, a 40″ tall velvet of Adam & Eve will be flanked on either side by Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Elvis and Michael Jackson. And in the future, Grant plans to make use of that wasted space above the bar and install a roof top patio.
For sustenance, you’ll be able to nom on Hebrew National hot dogs, mac & cheese, meat-free chili and coleslaw and of course, Ruffles and onion dip. There will always be free goldfish on the bar. Expect the Spiritual Sangria and perhaps even a slushy version of the Spiritual Sangria.
The bar still retains that gritty, dive-bar feeling but Grant has really dropped serious change where it counts. He’s bringing in some of his staff from Atlanta to work behind the bar including Jon McRae, General Manager.
According to this beautiful lady, the bar will finally be opening it’s doors this Friday night at 4pm after doing a family and friends soft opening on Thursday.. Regular hours will be Monday-Saturday from 4pm-2am.
I don’t know about you, but I plan to be there on opening night to toast my friend, the Happiest Man Alive.
I didn’t always think I was such an introvert… But since working for myself, freelancing sans bra on the couch most days, I have come to CHERISH the silence of solo work. And my introverted ways have come bubbling to the surface.
One way my introversion manifests is in never answering the phone. I used to think this was solely a control thing for me — but I think it’s more than that.
I had an exchange with a potential client this weekend for a project sounded like a LOT of fun — something totally different than what I typically work on. But I had to turn the work down because he was not respecting my boundaries. After setting an appointment for Tuesday morning, he left me a voicemail and then emailed me the following day and ALL CAPS REQUESTED that I CALL HIM on a Friday afternoon without giving any sort of reason. I emailed him to tell him that I would call him on Tuesday morning at our scheduled time. Then he called again this morning at 9am to let me know that he had some things come up and wouldn’t be able to make our appointment and, could I make time for him today instead.
I… I had barely poured my first cup of coffee and he’s asking me — before we have even spoken — to rearrange my day because his schedule has changed…?
No. The answer is no.
It’s timely because I just spoke last week on Brown Bag Business Chat about boundaries — why it’s important to have them and why it’s even more important to maintain them.
Watch it here (it’s 30 minutes, seriously, you’ve got time):
And seriously, check out that still frame. Thanks YouTube.
So… Here are ten reasons why I am not answering my phone:
- I am actively working on another client’s work right meow
- I am taking some necessary downtime after having spent hours, perhaps, deep in some complicated code
- I think I probably need to poop soon
- My ringer is off
- I’m actually talking to/spending time with/engaging my child, husband, friend, client, self.
- I don’t have your number programmed into my phone, so I don’t know who you are
- I have your number programmed into my phone and, since I know who you are, I’m intentionally not answering
- I’m defining my own boundaries around our directly-connecting phone relationship
- I know you’re going to email me in a minute anyway and, when you email requests or questions, I can keep track of them better and provide you better service
- I don’t want to talk to you right now — this doesn’t mean I never want to, just not right now
It was so much easier to teach my son about gratitude when I was extremely poor. It was a hard, but teachable moment having him watch me put groceries back on the shelf or rifle through trash bags full of donated clothing from friends. Those moments of deeply rooted gratitude for the small things we did have are hard to find now that we’re no longer living in poverty.
Part of the issue with ingratitude and entitlement with my son lies squarely within the margins of his development — he’s 11 1/2… When I tell my friends that he’s being ungrateful, I get a lot of pats on the back and, “Brace yourself,” comments because we are not, in fact, having a unique experience. But I’m seeing more and more that because I am ABLE to give him more, I do. And because he gets more, he’s growing up in a world where he thinks this “more” is baseline.
I have carefully constructed a career path that not only brings me joy but also affords me the opportunity to be available to my son. I drive him to school, pick him up from school, attend most practices (his stepfather and I alternate duty there) and go to all his games… It’s important to ME to be present and available to him and to demonstrate to him that he is a priority in my life over work and friends and really, pretty much everything. And by just BEING there, he’s starting to act like I’m *supposed* to do these things for him… Like, not having to ride the bus is a right, not a privilege.
My son got a rude awakening this morning when he, in all seriousness, declared from his bathroom after several attempts to get a response from him that he was pleading the fifth.
Then, when my look of shock and disbelief surprised him, he scowled his little prepubescent brow at me and declared that it was his CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to not answer me.
So, the morning went downhill after that (surprise) and I lectured him about how this house is not a court of law and he doesn’t get to plead the fifth.
I know I can’t get all THAT angry at his mouthy, sarcastic back talking — it’s kind of a cornerstone of who I am. But I need to figure out a way to help him read the room because that shit was NOT funny this morning. Right now, it’s a little funny, but at 7:15 this morning, I was NOT laughing.
And honestly, I’m looking around at my community and I’m like, “Fuck, man. This is kind of your fault, too!” We live in such an entitled culture — people cutting in the carpool line (oh my gahhhhhhhd I could write about this for WEEKS), people walking past garbage on the street and not picking it up, people dripping their coffee on the counter when they’re putting their cream in it and not just wiping it up themselves with a damn napkin! Yesterday, I watched an able-bodied, well-dressed woman reach for a bag of chips off the shelf at the grocery store, knock down another bag and look at it, look up at me looking at her (with, no lie, probably a stank face because resting bitch face is real life) and then spin on her high heels and walk away, leaving the stray bag of chips in the middle of the aisle like snack roadkill. I noisily picked it up for her and put it back on the shelf, but she never looked back and — I’m being real here — I don’t think she really even was AWARE that I was trying to make a big deal out of her bullshit.
On the ride home from driving him to school this morning (which may be off the table from here on out), I was riding in the left lane and the guy next to me in the right lane was in SUCH a damned hurry that he had to keep tapping on his brakes to not ram into the guy in front of him. We were all coasting at about 50mph in a 40mph zone, so it was just kind of like, “Hey guy… Chill the fuck out.”
After Atlanta Highway split, the impatient brake tapper was finally able to break free from the confines of traffic and he sped off, I’m guessing at upwards of 65mph at least. A few minutes later, as I was approaching the light where I turn to go to my neighborhood, there’s the speedster, approaching the red light and he is traveling in the right hand lane and there’s a car ahead of him, already stopped at the light. There is no car immediately to his left in the next lane, so he just sort of slides over into that lane, no blinker, cutting off the person that was approaching the light in the left hand lane… ON HIS PHONE.
And I wanted to park my car and go SCREAM at him about how fucking entitled he was driving.
I guess the hardest part about teaching entitlement and gratitude is that we have to, as parents, embody it. That’s how you teach it — you can’t just yell gratitude into a kid. (I need to hear that one again, “Jami, you can’t just yell gratitude into a kid.”) There’s no way for us to go back to being so insanely poor to teach him gratitude. It’s up to me to try to frame my position around the things we have and the places we get to go and the things we can do from a place of gratitude that actually resonates as true emotion.
I can’t fake gratitude. I know that I’m grateful for what we’ve got, but I need to work harder to show him that I’m grateful.