Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2009-04-25

For the Love of My Wardrobe

I move tomorrow. And Monday. And a little bit yesterday. There’s nothing like having to take literally every article of clothing you own to the laundromat to remind you how much you own. That’s 2 Prius loads full. And I got rid of 12 white garbage bags of clothes during the Fat Girl Flea Market, so it is extra crazy realizing how much there is.

When I think about my wardrobe, though, I do realize that I have a lot of different aesthetics to maintain. I have a whole career wardrobe, which includes the business casual I use predominantly because I do transactional work and I’m a little flashy as well as the requisite suits. Even though I am transitioning to my new career which will involve some business work, I still need that stuff, because I will need to wear it and there’s no greater stress than needing a suit last minute, as a plus size girl.

Then there’s what I call the queer fat femme wardrobe, which is basically my everyday (and every night). Of course, everything has a different level of fancy–I have 5 different red halter dresses to illustrate this point. Is this a casual BBQ sundress situation or a tight wiggle dress night out? Is this something more conservative and less cleavagey I can wear to a baby shower with my ex-girlfriend’s parents (true story) or a flashy life of the party everyone will stare at me I look so good dress? Dressing Femme is complicated, everyone has a part of their body they don’t want to show off and parts that they do. I’ve even got parts I show off for political reasons.

And then there’s the whole performance wardrobe. Honey, I’ve got a ton of majorly unique and adorable costumes and only increase the amount the longer I work at a plus sized vintage clothing store. I had to get most of them dry cleaned as part of the transition to the new apartment, and the women at the dry cleaners were exclaiming over some of them. I am proud of my collection.

But just because I CAN explain why my wardrobe is so big doesn’t mean I NEED to. I don’t have to justify my clothes to anyone, that’s part of living as a Fierce Femme. It’s being who you are, loving what, who and how you love without justification to anyone but yourself. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of clothes, but I love them, I love myself and they make me really happy.

I’ve learned over the last few years you should only keep what you LOVE. While I do LOVE a lot of things, and I’m trying to do the best I can to weed out “stuff” from my life. But at this point I know with 98% certainty that everything I pull out of those laundry bags once Monday evening comes and I’m for real in my new place and starting my new life across the Hudson I am going to squeal with delight being reunited with my wardrobe.

So, yeah, the crimp in my back only one day into the moving process is all for the love of my clothes. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I leave you with a wonderful video I found starring my colleague in fat activism Marilyn Wann and some big moves dancers.

2009-04-15

Help Heal Fran for Leah’s Birthday!

My life looks like this: I plan an organize an event that takes literally hundreds of hours to put together, during lulls in the event I am surfing CraigsList on my phone’s tiny internet for apartments in Brooklyn. Because all of my stressors in my life are hitting a great glitter douche* of crazy all at once. I’ve seen 18 apartments in the last week and a half and haven’t found a good one yet. Mostly they are all recent renovations with no space and high rents that want me to be excited about stainless steel appliances. Seriously, all I want is some good counter space in the bathroom, closet space and a few windows. My future roommate agrees.

FemmeCast’s Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha came out for a clandestine visit/gig for API month at Swarthmore last weekend and it was a welcome distraction from everything to hang out and do life planning and road tripping with her. She went looking for apartments with me and I caught a bit on tape. (I want to start a video blog but need to figure out how to get the video editing software I need for PC. Eventually.) So here’s a bit of that adventure, for your pleasure.

Also, since Leah’s birthday is next week, she is doing a fund drive for her friend Fran Varian, whose writing is amazing. I can give $20 as soon as my next unemployment check hits, but what I can’t offer in cash I can offer in spreading the word. So if you have $10 to give, please do. I’d love to see Leah meet a fund raising goal for her fierce friend for her birthday.

Hey all

Hope this email finds you well. I’m turning 34 next Tuesday, yay! And
while I am open to give am open to gifts of makeup or books or another
skirt
besides the two miniskirts I wear all the time (I am a size 12-14 in
the ass), what I’m writing to ask is if folks could make a donation
for my birthday
to my friend Frances Varian, who is struggling with late term Lyme
Disease and is literally fighting for her life as an uninsured
working-class queer femme writer and badass.

Some of you know Fran: for those who don’t, she is an awesome abortion
provider, queer femme working-class writer and (can I say it again)
badass. You may have seen her on stage at any number of gay-ass events
in the Bay over the last few years, and she’s a former Seattle
national slam team champion. You can see some of her work here:
http://www.franvarian.com/, and here:
http://www.hipmama.com/node/30311.

Fran has been really sick for the past four years. What started out as
fatigue, muscle weakness and getting sick at the drop of a hat only
recently got
diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease- and when I say only recently
diagnosed, I mean that Fran fought for two years in SF to get anyone
to look at her increasingly frightening symptoms. Fran originally
believed she had fibro, and we were some of each other’s first
disability buddies. However, my health got better and hers got worse,
to the point where she now is dealing with heart problems, constant
nausea, spasms and seizures and worse stuff. She was diagnosed,
finally, a year ago with Lyme, an autoimmune disorder that is
having critical effects on her health, and which is difficult to
treat, both because of the lateness when it is finally diagnosed and
because of a medical industry that dismisses many patients who have
it . Late stage Lyme works a lot like late stage syphyllis in terms of
symptoms- some folks go into dementia as the spirochites that cause
Lyme go into the brain. Others die of heart failure in their 30s as
they penetrate the heart.

Fran is literally fighting for her life, as an uninsured woman with a
disease that is misdiagnosed and dismissed throughout the medical
world. Her fight has made her move to Durham, NC to live with her
partner, because it’s cheaper than the Bay and she’s found doctors who
will help her- a choice that carries the cost of isolating her from
the community that loves her. She’s had a PICC line installed in her
arm since last fall, and is in the middle of an intense course of
intravenous anti-viral and bacterial treatment that her docs say is
her one shot of beating this. And, she’s paying for the whole damn
thing out of pocket.

What I really want for next year’s birthday is Fran healthy, able to
move back to the Bay ) and reading poetry next to me. What I really
want is for my friend to not be another story of a working-class queer
femme fireball who died a preventable death of an immune disease in
her 30s- like Heather McAllister, the amazing, beloved queer fat femme
icon, who died of ovarian cancer as an uninsured woman in her 30s two
years ago. As a chronically ill woman who knows that I have lived and
gotten better because of the support and love of my community, I am
reaching out to my community to help my friend.

Anything you can spare will go to help Fran and her partner Dante to
pay for her treatment. You can donate here:
http://www.helphealfran.org/
My goal is to raise $2,000 for Fran in the next two weeks, which will
enable her to pay for her next round of treatment.

Please donate on her website, but if you don’t mind dropping me a note (brownstargirl at gmail dot com)
letting me know how much you were able to give so I can track how much
is going to Fran, it would rock.

In love, lipgloss and revolution,
Leah

*Glitter douche is a word I just learned from Cherry Poppins. Used by Kings N Things in Austin, TX, it describes the act of anything that “is that crucial moment in a performance (often drag pieces) when you grab glitter and toss it out over the audience. The glitter could also, say, come from an object, such as an umbrella opening dramatically and showering glitter out over the stage. We also occasionally make use of ‘confetti douches’ or ‘rose petal douches.’ Regardless of the material used, a gender performance show wouldn’t be complete without douching of some sort.”

Here I am trying to picture all of the moving parts of my life as little pieces of glitter flying all over the place. Instead of a shit storm, which is sort of what it feels like.

2009-01-10

Brian says this man was sent to me by Jesus

My roommate and I are having major apartment drama that involves a lot of work being done and the living of our lives out of bags and in a maze of our stuff. The second of the service technicians came to visit yesterday to help rectify the problem (fingers crossed).

He was a sweet man from Mexico, named Luis. He was flirtatious and asked me about my tattoo and said he wanted one. Asked me if I had a boyfriend. I replied in my way, Oh, no, I don’t. and followed up with my fictional girlfriend. I find having a fictional girlfriend lets people know you’re not interested without making them feel bad.

He chatted me up about my fictional girlfriend and we talked about a couple I know of who do the international distance from Mexico City to Brooklyn. He commented, “There must be a lot of love there!” And he flirted with me some more (apparently I look about 23 years old–no kidding he says) and I responded, “Oh Luis, if I weren’t a lesbian I’d have such a crush on you.” He then told me about his daughter who is a lesbian.

She’s in her mid-twenties and he said, “I just love her so much but I feel like I failed as a father.”

I talked to him about a lot of stuff. About how it’s a testament to how good of a father he was that she loved him enough to be honest and not hide from him. About how she probably wants all the same stuff he wants for herself (to be happy, to have a family, to be proud of who she is). And about how the best thing he can do as a father is to love her unconditionally and be open to changing his mind about things in order to love her.

He said, “I don’t know why I feel like I can tell you all this stuff–I’ve never told anyone about her, not even my brothers.” I said I’m just the kind of person people trust.

He said a couple of funny things, which was that now he can’t watch his favorite kind of porn because it’s lesbians and he thinks of his daughter and he doesn’t want to be reminded of her during those moments. I said, Luis, you have to know lesbian sex is nothing like in those movies. They are nothing at all like the sex your daughter has. It’s seriously so much different.

When prodded as to how, I said, Well, first, take a look at those nails and think of how sensitive your backdoor area [here I make a sweeping gesture to my bottom] is. Imagine how it would feel to have those nails anywhere near your parts. And also, Luis, I bet you are really good in bed–nothing that those girls do would please each other. You know that.

And he said, “Yeah. You know, I always think girls who have sex with girls probably are better with each other in bed. Because they understand each others’ bodies.”

That’s true. But what’s more true is that when people are really honest with themselves and their partners about who they are and who they love, that’s getting you so much closer to being true to yourself. The kind of lover who knows themselves, knows their body and knows what to ask for is a good lover. So gays and lesbians have an advantage in that they already had to be honest enough with themselves to say who they love, so they are already have the skill set to be better in bed.

“So how did you know that you were gay?”

Oh, well, I never even knew that there were gay people until I was 14. And then when I knew that they existed it made so much sense how I was feeling.

He also asked if I’d ever done it to a man, to which I said no because I wasn’t going to get into gender. I also sidestepped his comment about him being glad his daughters didn’t dress like a man. It’s about baby steps in intervention.

He was so sweet and talked about his daughter and how she gave him a plasma screen tv and a surround sound system for his basement theater (his dream) this Christmas. I told him to go home and call her and tell her how much he loves her. And to never be ashamed of her because him showing other people how much he loves her because she is being honest about who she is will help other people whose daughters are also lesbian.

I signed his form and he thanked me and I have to say this has been my absolute favorite moment in this hellacious apartment debacle. I hope that I helped him understand a little bit more about gays and lesbians and I hope that he’s still able to watch porn that he enjoys. It’s all about good boundaries. I reminded him. I don’t think about my mom* when I watch the Crash Pad series! ::Shudder::

*My mom is actually a lesbian but I didn’t tell Luis that.

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