Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2021-11-16

Loving Her Was Like Driving a New Maserati Down a Dead End Street

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 11:04 am

Taylor Swift re-recording her legendary Red album has me all in the nostalgia of nearly ten years ago. 

The song Red sends me right back to a 2012 romance that is every bit driving a brand new Maserati down a dead end street.

I produced a monthly body positive queer dance party called Rebel Cupcake on second Thursdays for several years. For some reason August was a big month and the party was popping when I laid eyes on Dylan* for the first time.

My jaw might have dropped. I remember seeing her because she was very tall and easy to spot over the cluster of friends she was chatting with. I didn’t even consider my shyness (y’all I’m an ambivert, strangers can be hard for me) and walked to the group of friends and introduced myself. 

That was a fun night! Dylan is not in this photo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Hiring a photographer was always my best investment in those parties!

The first few things I learned about Dylan were kind of unbelievable. Not that I thought she was lying but that the Goddess brought her to my party.

Let’s start with aesthetic! Preppy, tall, fat butch with glasses. A fav of mine and fully my “type” at the time. 

She was super smart, had recently relocated from my hometown of choice (Atlanta) and she produced a talk show as a career job. My career goal at the time was to become a talk show host; meanwhile I was a lawyer with a nightlife side hustle. 

When telling my friends about her I called her “The future Mrs. Branlandingham” since I was still using a last name back then and also she was a great candidate for a future with me.

I couldn’t believe she even existed and immediately texted Rachael asking for her info. (Queers in Atlanta know each other like that.)

Cute shot of me and Rachael in 2018! I think this blog is really the love story between me and Rach. I love you to the moon and back beloved!!!

Nothing happened that night but I did get Dylan’s Facebook and sent her a message inviting her to hang out with me at a party I was hosting in a couple of days.

It didn’t occur to me that she thought I was just inviting her as a party promoter and not trying to spend intentional time with her in an alcohol experience while I looked cute. 

She showed up with another girl (a chubby red head—I was still mostly a redhead at the time) and made out with her in front of me. 

Not quite devastating, more disappointing. It inspired me to take a month off of dating because as I told my friend Leo about this experience I could hear it echoing the previous two girls I heavy flirtation with who chose to date someone else instead. Three times in a month is a pattern and the best way to break a pattern is to change your behavior.

Me and beloved Femme Bryn at Buffet! the party Dylan attended with that other chubby redhead. I had a great time anyway.

My month off dating was great, actually. I released all desire to date anyone and focused on self care and spending intentional time with friends. No regrets. I still made out with someone visiting from San Francisco at a party—I had declared to the Goddess if it was her will for me to connect with someone she should drop it in my lap. She did.

2012 was quite a banner year especially compared with my quiet pandemic forest life today.

I watched Dylan’s Facebook and saw her go upstate with that chubby redhead and break up shortly thereafter. 

A couple weeks later she texted to ask if I was going to Hey Queen, my friends’ party and a place I frequented. I said I would see her there. I remember nothing else about that night except all of our chemistry.

One of the promoters said watching us was like watching time stand still. We danced with friends til we were just dancing alone. I was counting the heartbeats til we might kiss.

My friend DJ Meduusa was playing the late night shift. We had recently lost our friend DJ Sirlinda, and he used to play Automatic by the Pointer Sisters for me frequently. Meduusa didn’t know that we had that connection but played it plus a Stand Back by Stevie Nicks. Perfect playlist for a perfect first kiss.

I remember leaving that night setting a first date for the following Friday. Just six days! And the night before was Rebel Cupcake and she was going to try to make it!

It was October, I had been planning my outfit and the theme for months. 90210 Peach Pit After Dark theme! Kind of a diner aesthetic meets all your fav 90210 characters.

My friend Nicky did perfect Brandon hair for working the coat check. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

My beloved first sweetheart who is still in my life and cheering me on is a giant 90210 fan and wrote me a trivia game for the party. Learn how to receive the love people are able to give you and your relationships can evolve really beautifully.

I took a train to Philadelphia that week to pick up my costume—a giant cheeseburger! My drag dad Johnny KingPin had made it for our cheeseburger obsessed friend Jess and I was borrowing it. It was cumbersome, heavy and ridiculous. I could not believe I was going through with this outrageous costume knowing my massive crush Dylan** might be there!

I’m a pretty committed person by nature and if a suitor cannot handle my flamboyance early on there’s not a lot of hope. The show must always go on even if I look goofy when I just wanna be sexy.

Dylan and I texted during that whole train ride to Philadelphia and all week long.

So she totally showed up! And I was dressed like a giant cheeseburger and I didn’t die! (I took it off after the show and just wore my cute red dress.)

Doing 90210 trivia right! With Sabina on stage. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Dylan wanted to take pictures in the photo booth together with our faces touching! And when my party host responsibilities were complete we made out in the grotto at Sugarland for forever! 

We parted ways with promises to see one another the very next night for our date!

I met her at a fancy farm to table restaurant in Williamsburg. Candle light! She ordered oysters as an appetizer and I don’t eat fish but I’ll try a fancy shellfish. 

We were there for a long time. Talking like catching up on a lifetime. SO much in common. I found her fascinating! We made plans for the very next day to have brunch. A second date within 12 hours of the original is very lesbian timing.

She walked me to the bus stop and we made out across the street from Peter Luger’s for a long time! I still haven’t eaten there in this lifetime but that make out under the yellow streetlights is what I think about whenever I consider Peter Luger’s. You can see it from the L train when you go over the Williamsburg bridge.

Beloved Femme Morgan made amazing cupcakes for Rebel Cupcake Peach Pit 90210. Photo by Kelsey Dickey and omg her fried egg hair accessory!

The next morning I was prepping my home for brunch and she texted because she forgot that she made plans with a friend, could we reschedule. 

I was gracious (ALWAYS STAY GRACIOUS) and figured we’d get something else on the books before she left for DC for work. 

She got sick. We didn’t see each other. We kept texting. But then there was Hurricane Sandy and everything was topsy turvy. She didn’t text as much. 

She posted those pictures of us touching faces from Rebel Cupcake on her timeline! Caption was something simple like “Bevin!”

My heart was so confused! I know now that mixed signals are a NO. Don’t try to read into anything to find a yes. The right people are a YES!

It was Autumn and I remember walking all over Brooklyn listening to Red on repeat. Dylan was my Maserati! Why can’t we just get out on the highway? I still think of her when I hear that whole album. Our slope was treacherous and I was walking around in Park Slope thinking of her.

This was the same time I was meeting Dara. Dara was not my type in any way and I didn’t even realize our first date was a date. I genuinely thought she was just “picking my brain” in exchange for taking me out for drinks. 

We ended up making out but I didn’t let her go home with me. Partly because I wasn’t prepared for a visitor, I was trying not to be so much of a first date girl and I was confused and heartsick about Dylan. I remember thinking about Dylan during that make out and feeling bad that I was wasting a present moment joy by indulging my heartbreak. I still had so much to learn about grieving.

Finding Dara a cab home was nearly impossible but we did it (post Sandy Brooklyn was no gas for about three weeks and closed subway stations; chaos).

I was starting a new party the Saturday after Dylan got back from her DC business trip. I thought she’d show up to support and to see me. She texted that she might. 

But she didn’t. Instead Dara showed up. This was information.

Yes, I threw a party at an art gallery with a go-go dancer on a ledge!
The photos that night are not the best but this one of DJ Meduusa getting it and our go-go dancer Gretchen (whose web series These/Thems is fantastic) encapsulates the spirit of Yes Ma’am!

Dylan stopped texting me entirely after she didn’t show up to the party.

I got a psychic reading that week (one of my first). She told me that Dylan and I had many lifetimes together including the lost city of Atlantis. She was resistant to doing the work with me in this lifetime. 

She said my next relationship would be a “dress rehearsal” for the real thing. She didn’t give me clear advice about Dylan vs Dara.

I decided to follow Rachael’s advice to “focus on the person who is focused on you” and gave Dara a shot. Our second date was really nice and she prayed before she ate which was something I wanted to start doing and she’s so smart that again the talking thing. 

I think if I were to describe my sexuality queer works but truly I’m Sapiosexual–it has nothing to do with body parts and everything to do with brain.

A couple days after that date with Dara I ended up going to a show at Sara Lawrence college with a friend who texted right before “Oh yeah Dylan is coming!”

It’s a good thing nobody ever died of awkward because sitting in a backseat with the person you thought you might marry and still have so much sexual tension with…

It was clear she wasn’t trying to flirt with me anymore and I did my best to bravely be the cool girl in the friend zone. Still so confused.

Our connection was so good! Like a hot fast car you can’t take anywhere. I read recently that we become whole and complete ourselves but there’s work we can only do on ourselves in relation to someone else. I think I felt a lot of grief about the work we were going to do together? 

I had dreams about her for months. Even as I started getting hot and heavy (but not exclusive) with Dara. In one of those dreams one of my other soulmates showed up as a Spirit Guide and there was some kind of closure in it. I knew at that point Dylan was gone forever.

I kept her in my observation for awhile. She dated a bunch of different people who I noticed frequently ended after the first getaway together. I wish her the best. I never felt anything bad towards her. Mostly, just confusion.

The kind of ironic thing that happened was that LONG after we didn’t date I found out she had slept with Ria, my forever crush. So two hot butches I didn’t get a chance to sleep with had sex with each other. 

First of all, hot. Second of all, this was my favorite lesbian love octagon I’ve ever been part of. Third of all, I did hit on Dylan at Ria’s funeral because Ria definitely wanted people to have sex because of her. Dylan turned me down so I went home with my bestie Rachael and ate delicious food. A win.

I was an emotional mess but I was still cute at Ria’s funeral. One must shoot their shot.

That first round dating Dara also ended poetically, with her saying I love you for the first time as she broke up with me. (I hear that lyric in the ten minute version of All Too Well.) 

After we got back together I thought the psychic had been predicting Dara round one was dress rehearsal for Dara round two. But now that Dara and I have been broken up from round two: engaygement for two and a half years and I’ve done so much studying on what makes a good marriage and strong communication I think that whole six years was a dress rehearsal for whoever is my real future Mr/Mx/Mrs Bevin. 

*This is a pseudonym

**Dylan didn’t really look like Dylan McKay more like a kind football player on 90210 but it was a good gender neutral pseudonym. 

Also in looking back through Fall 2012 pictures I was in a performance art tribute to Taylor Swift in October 2012 at an art gallery. I did a piece about my first engagement to the song Speak Now. Since at the time Taylor was using a sharpie on her body to write lyrics before each of her shows we all wrote lines from the Riot Grrrl manifesto by Bikini Kill on our arms. That was an amazing show!

If you find value in this blog or in my work in the world, please consider supporting!

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https://www.buymeacoffee.com/bevin
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Podcast: Anchor.fm/bevin (Search “Bevin” on Spotify or Apple/Google Podcasts)
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2021-11-01

Remembering Ria Pell

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Bevin @ 12:05 am

I always thought I was going to sleep with Ria Pell. 

When she died at 45 years old this was not my first thought. (Was I even thinking? I was out of my mind with grief when I heard that news.) But eventually I settled on, “Huh, I never thought it would go down like that.”

Photo of Ria by Robin Henson

Over the course of a few years we went on a handful of dates together. Always really great dinner—she was a chef, and delighted in delicious food. Fantastic conversation, my favorite kind of foreplay. 

We got to make out in a classic truck, on dance floors, in dimly lit bars. A lot of cute sexual tension sitting near each other at a party. But never all the way. 

I’m continuing to develop my patience muscle but back in my early thirties it was a tremendous growth area for me. Ria Pell was worth the wait and I was patient, truly believing we would have sex eventually. I always had so much fun with her but was left with a see you next time.

She was the person who got me to realize that if someone tells you they are polyamorous more than twice you might want to listen to the tone in their voice when they tell you a third time.

I’m an obsessive photographer archiving my life. It was very uncharacteristic of me to leave blank corners undocumented, but I was always so intimidated by Ria I hardly ever took photos of her or with her! Going back through my Atlanta trips and photos and I’ll have photos of food she cooked and parties she was at but not her or us together.

My favorite phrase for this kind of long game is “We’re going to be queer for a really long time.” That can apply to straight people but it’s a fun little saying to inspire patience. Life is long and desires of the flesh not met the moment you feel them are not the end of the world. In fact, it’s especially delicious when you can pick them up later in life. 

Anyway, we had all these cute dates but it started as a long distance crush. I was visiting Atlanta for the very first time. January, 2005. I met my bestie Rachael on the internet in 2002 thanks to early blogging! She hired me to Femmecee the first Femme Mafia ATL masquerade ball.

Ria made a lasting impression.

Ria was the DJ. (Yes, she was a chef and a DJ! SWOON! Good taste in food and music are a really nice life!) She was an imposing presence in many ways, you just knew she was in the room even if she wasn’t holding court. 

But then again when was she not holding court? People were drawn to her. I’ve been studying Jerry Garcia, who was reluctant about leadership but he was like a default leader because of what he created. I sense that in Ria, too. She didn’t want to deal with the bullshit of community organizing and still did it in order to create things. Shows, parties, it’s where folks gather and Ria connected so many kinds of people!

Day before my 31st birthday party (December 23) Ria came through this party. I didn’t take a pic with her but I did take a pic with these two strangers! Why did I let myself get so nervous around Ria that I would chicken out about asking for a pic?

I have missed her so hard in the last couple years dealing with impossible situations I could have used her counsel about.

Ria caught my attention by being hot and having great taste in music, but it was eating at her world famous brunch restaurant The Bluebird that won me over. 

I ate there twice in one weekend it was that good. If someone tells me they are going to Atlanta I tell about The Bluebird, which is still open and you can still eat their biscuits.* And the brisket. Get the pancakes with bananas on top as an appetizer for the table.

You will wait for a table and you’ll like it.

Rachael and I have been besties now for 19 years. Her home in Atlanta is always my gaycation home. A place I can go, reset, party, eat great food and relax. Rachael is a Taurus and excels at all of those things. For a time Rach was engaged to one of Ria’s besties and I took that proximity as a giant moment to step out of my comfort zone and text something flirty to Ria. 

Omigoddess Rachael put up with relentless Ria chatter from me. That crush brewed for years. This is us waiting for a table at The Bluebird. Always worth the wait,

I think Nobody Ever Died of Awkward is one of my best blog posts and when you read it I’m talking about texting my Big Crush Ria. 

Ria did all kinds of sweet things for me in our time as friends/crush/long game. Nothing major but she had a way of connecting dots with thoughtfulness. 

We talked about our dreams a lot at our dinners and one of hers was to open a supper club kinda restaurant. Hearing about this for a couple years and then getting to witness her pursue the dream was so rad. I LOVE getting to witness people I love unfold their dreams.

At the Christmas Eve soft opening of Ria’s restaurant Sauced! I’m glad at the time I was still drinking–those cocktails were incredible!! Also lots of pics of food no pics of Ria! I want to say I was always kinda mesmerized talking to her so maybe I was just “in the moment.”

My Head Cheerleader heart loves to celebrate my people taking steps towards their dreams. 

She had opened the Bluebird in a punk rock DIY make it happen ask for forgiveness kinda way but now opening a new restaurant it required permits and bureaucracy which she hated. 

Bureaucracy is the opposite of punk rock. 

Exploring menus before the opening of Sauced she visited NYC and took me out to dinner. 

I’ll never forget when she picked me up for that date from my work at a Brooklyn fat queer resale clothing store. She was wearing overalls. I remember her laughing in the store and I just loved her laugh.

In my old Los Angeles kitchen I had a pic of Ria and my step mom Liz, two ghosts I love to cook with.

I think I was probably the only gal in NYC that night going to dinner with a Southern babe in overalls and I was really twitterpated about it.

Dinner was delicious, we had bacon peanut brittle as an appetizer.

Ria’s soft opening of her new supper club Sauced was on my birthday, Christmas Eve. I spent my birthday/Christmas with Rach that year and we had a night out celebrating my pre-birthday. Christmas Eve Eve. Ria came through to wish me happy early birthday and mentioned she was going to go back to Sauced to baste short ribs.

I felt honored (still feel honored) that in the stress of a restaurant opening she took an hour to come connect. I think of her every time I make short ribs now. Labor of love with a delicious result.

Ria’s truck. She was thrilled when she bought this, it involved a long trip many states away to pick it up.

On my birthday we went to the soft opening and she walked over to our booth and handed me, wordlessly, her version of the bacon peanut brittle. Way better than the one in NYC.

Looking through pictures for this post I found a thoughtful cherry shot she had made after I mentioned liking them two days before. Little thoughtful acts of service.

Ria looked like a tough guy but she was ultra-tender. In this culture it’s easy to forget that “tough guys” have feelings, too, and we all do. She was a Pisces, she cared about stuff in a way I think folks who stopped at a surface level with her might not understand. Pisces = FEELINGS. Pisces are also great at communicating without words.

We went out for lunch the day after she filmed Top Chef in NYC. She didn’t tell me whether she won and it didn’t matter but was delightful to learn that she did win. Not long after that she sold Sauced. I never got to connect with her about it but I was genuinely bummed about not getting to eat those short ribs again. 

One year when I was in ATL visiting with my new sweetheart I mentioned “Ria might hit on you. Choose your own adventure.” Ria was polyamorous and liked masculine folks more than Femmes and I knew chances were good she would hit on her. 

She didn’t hit on that sweetheart, but when I found out she had sex with another one of my dates that I never slept with I felt like it was some kind of frustrating but delightful joke. Ria was slutty and charming. 

Rachael and me at Ria’s funeral. In a classic truck. What an emotionally chaotic time and what a beautiful experience. I promise if I go to your funeral I will look this good.

Ria was the Mayor of Queer Atlanta, she knew everyone. Her funeral was epic. I’m so so so grateful I got to go, ride in a long line of classic cars celebrating her life and be at the graveside service. Thousands of people in a big march to the graveside. Unforgettable, just like her.

Someone played “My Way” at the graveside and I vowed I’d live a life that deserved that song at the end.

I still eat at the Bluebird every time I visit Atlanta. I still think about her all the time. 

I take a pic with this logo every time I go visit. What a blessing to get to remember her with a good brunch experience–the greatest meal.

Recently, my photo with the Bluebird logo was featured in an article about Atlanta brunch with a nice memorial to Ria. It’s wild to think she’s been gone nearly eight years. I’m glad folks are still talking about her. Thanks for reading my memories.

It still feels profoundly unfair that someone so magical doesn’t get to be here anymore. May her memory remain a blessing. And omg I’m now so much closer to how old she was when she went to be with the Goddess–it’s WILD how she was only 45.

She was born in New Jersey. My obsession with New Jersey has only grown since she passed. My first joint in recreationally legal cannabis New Jersey (a pandemic development) will be in her honor.

I know now that what’s most important in love are experiences with loved ones. And Ria gave me such great experiences. I’m so grateful.

Her obituary was really incredible read it here. There is just so much more to know about Ria, and you can definitely still have experiences of people learning about them after the fact. Chopped Season 13 Episode 10.

*If anyone has her recipe for biscuits or anything else please email it to me! Fatkiddanceparty at gmail


If you find value in this blog or in my work in the world, please consider supporting!

Patreon.com/fkdp
https://www.buymeacoffee.com/bevin
Fatkiddanceparty.com/classes
Instagram: @fatkiddanceparty @bevinsparty
Podcast: Anchor.fm/bevin (Search “Bevin” on Spotify or Apple/Google Podcasts)
Email list: http://eepurl.com/dyX3db
Tee shirts: https://genuinevalentine.com/collections/fat-kid-dance-party
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Cash App (totally inspired by Ria): $BevinBoss
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I have no photo credit–if you know it please send it my way. Ria’s email was Boss @ bluebird or whatever the url was. I really liked that and have intentionally adopted her boss spirit in some ways. I think our loved ones like when we connect with something we admired about them and as a memorial try to be more like that. Anyway, thanks for reading this.

2013-09-03

Five Ways I’ve Learned to Embrace the Velocity of Change

A few years ago a friend of mine suddenly got a girlfriend. We were besties and spent a lot of time together, so I wondered why I was feeling weird about it. I was definitely happy for her, I liked her new beau and I was excited for her to get laid. I sat with the feelings for awhile and I realized what I was feeling was fear—specifically fear of change. I knew that changes in our friendship were bound to happen. We were both single and had a lot of nights free that we spent together. Eventually that situation changes.

IMG_0410.JPG
For this post I’m using photos from my Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip. I went on that when I needed to shake up the energy in my life.

I parceled it out and realized that the changes were really triggering my fear of abandonment. My parents divorced when I was 18 months old and my dad was mostly out of the picture while I was growing up. That’s a pretty classic recipe for adult fear of abandonment.

Once I could label that it gave me something to do on my side of the street. I could address my fear of abandonment without blaming or getting mad at my friend just for being happy. I don’t ever want to be mad at my friends for following their hearts and being happy! I want them to be happy. This fear of abandonment is something I’ve worked diligently to remove over the last several years, and it involves a lot of embracing the velocity of change.

I’ve noticed my friends going through a ton of big changes lately. Huge new jobs—dream jobs. Sudden moves. Losses of many kinds. A lot of them have gotten into romances in the last few weeks–it reminds me so clearly of that time where I thought I was going to lose my friend. I’m still having to remind myself often that I’ve weathered these kinds of friendship changes before and it is going to be okay.

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Being a hipster in Austin, TX at their monthly Femme night.

I’m positive all of these big changes aren’t just isolated to my friends. Since this is probably relevant to my readers, too, I thought I would do a round-up of some of the things I’ve learned along the way about embracing the velocity of change.*

1.Accept that change is part of living.

I like to remind myself that when things are changing and tranforming that I’m really living. The only constant in life is change. When I get a little dizzy with the “too much too soons” about change (because sometimes the good and the bad changes seem to happen in a flash without warning) I remind myself of that Pearl Jam song titled Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. For some reason, when I was a fourteen year old devout Pearl Jam fan I heard that song and I would get so afraid that would be me—changed by not changing at all. And given how resistant I was to change at that age (and for many, many years after) it is a miracle I have gotten as far as I have.

I’m also the kind of person who initially resists even the little changes (I have feelings when my roommate moves around the appliances on our countertops), so my square one about change is generally negative. Accepting change as a constant has helped me hop away from that negative box faster than I used to.

Since change in life is a constant, accepting that as true—we cannot grip the happy times just as we cannot escape all the hard times—is actually a relief. When I’m having a shitty feeling I like to chant to myself, “Everything is temporary.” That helps.

Re-envisioning change as a good thing, a sign that my life is dynamic and magical, works for me.

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Having my cards read by a roaming psychic.

2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Similar to the sentiment above, sometimes seeking out change is a really good thing. I’ve made big changes in my life before—I moved across the country at age 21. That was the first big thing I ever chose to do that forever altered the direction of my life. And it wasn’t my first choice, I really wanted to go to law school at my alma mater but I didn’t get in. Rather than hang out another year in Davis and re-apply I just bit the bullet and moved to Camden, NJ.

This was absolutely the best thing I did for myself at that young age. Without friends, a sense of safety or comfort, I really had to learn who I was. And I found myself. The year after I moved I started identifying as queer, made peace with my body and learned that femme was a thing you could be and it was awesome. I don’t know how long those changes would have taken if I’d never moved. I don’t know if those changes would have ever happened! I had no idea how resilient I was until I had to be.

Me and Jessie Dress
Slow dancing with that dreamboat Jessie Dress.

3. Small changes are good practice for the big ones.

Despite my desire to see change as a good thing, I remain a contented, homebody earth sign. I am so comfortable with things I’m familiar with I have to consciously seek out the discomfort of change. I try to push myself once a month to go to an event that’s out of my scene, I encourage myself to do new stuff. The weird panic I feel even for something as small as taking an unfamiliar subway stop is actually great practice for the big changes I have no control over. The tiny panics are prep. And once I’ve done it once it expands my worldview just a little bit more.

I also like to instigate change just to shake up my energy. Moving things around in my room, doing a purge of a drawer, slightly changing my hair, getting a piercing or a tattoo, going on a trip, these all help me feel change energy in order to shift my perspective on my life.

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Macy interacting with some chickens.

4. Remember all the times I weathered change.

When I started getting that panic about, “OMG the summer is ending and all of my besties are in relationships and I am going to spend all of my Saturday nights alooooooone,” it was helpful to stop and remind myself I’ve been through this before. Some friends just bail when they start dating something. That’s not about me at all. (You know, when they become the “I have to check ‘our schedule’ friends.” And the friends I have now slipped in there for the friends who slipped away. It’s the ebb and flow of life. My closest friends, our relationships have weathered a ton of changes. Including long stretches of not talking or moving long distances. But those are the kinds of friendships where you can pick up the phone and it’s as though no time has passed at all.

I’ve realized I never know what a friendship is going to look like when it starts and it is only time that tells me whether it will endure the shifts in our lives.

Just like friendships, I’ve gone through a ton of other changes that, at first, felt like a huge crisis but eventually became great opportunities. The whole memoir I’m writing is basically about how I weathered some tremendous changes in my life. (My wedding was called off six months out, I lost my job of five years and six months later was forced out of my apartment.) The good thing about those changes was (spoiler alert) I learned how resilient I am.

When I got laid off again by a small business I worked at for a three years, I learned it definitely gets easier the second time around. Applying this even to unfamiliar change is really helpful to shift my perspective from fear to curiosity. I don’t know what life is bringing me with each new change, but I know I have a choice about how I look at it.

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We were in Louisiana long enough to stop for gas and this photo at a rest stop. Definitely need to get back there and do NOLA!

5. Use your shitty feelings to teach you about yourself.

As someone who likes to learn and grow, I’ve found that often my shitty feelings are trying to teach me something about myself. Like how my panic around my bestie getting booed up taught me about my fear of abandonment, often there’s a lesson in my resistance to change.

Leaning into the shitty feelings is something I learned from my life coach when I was being life coached by Lynnee Breedlove. He told me once that if you imagine shitty feelings like an ocean wave that going through them is the best way to get to the other side. (Rather than fight them or just get out of the ocean altogether.) He said he likes to send up a prayer of “Thanks” whenever he’s facing a yucky change, reminding him to stay in gratitude.

I’ve got a couple of book recommendations. One is by SARK, a thought leader I enjoy who writes playful and deep books. Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity is an amazing book! SARK details a year where she lost a partnership, the death of her mother and her beloved cat companion. She walks through the process of turning these losses into opportunities to grow. It’s playful and deep and taught me a lot about learning how to embrace changes as they come. There are a ton of questions to ask yourself, workbook style. But even the narrative alone, if you’re not ready for the work, is worth the read.

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At Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium in Atlanta.

For the spiritually inclined, I also really enjoy Transitions by Julia Cameron. She wrote the Artist’s Way, so when I saw this in a tiny twelve step bookstore I visited when I was traveling cross country I snatched it up. Lately I’ve been reading the bite size reflections on change before I go to bed. It’s really amazing perspective on the good elements of change that we often can’t see through our pain. I like it a lot. It’s non-denominational and talks about God in the Spirit/higher power sense.

The result of my friend getting booed up years ago? We drifted apart. But it wasn’t nearly as hurtful or catastrophic as my panic at the time acted like it would be. I weathered the changes in our friendship and I’m confident I’ll keep weathering all the new changes my friendships have to offer.

*I am borrowing this term from an affirmation in Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams.

2011-03-15

Magical Smoothies

{Also, stuff I’ve been up to lately}

I have given up on caffeine and refined sugar again (after a happy Fall/early winter free of both and physically feeling great) and other than being ever so tired I’m doing okay. I’m sleeping a lot right now. Curse the late winter blah blah blahs and the traitor daylight savings sun that makes it seem like it should be a lot warmer than it really is!

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My BFF Rachael came to visit from the sunny Southland of Hotlanta. We ate pizza and I met her fabulous and charming beau at long last.

Smoothies are really helping this time, the natural sugar pep is waking me up and ever so tasty. To this end I’ve started concocting smoothies from basic ingredients around. I just made this one up and was super happy about it.

1 banana
handful of frozen peach slices
handful of frozen mango cubes
handful of spinach borrowed from roommate
Enough Trader Joe’s reduced calorie pink lemonade to cover 2/3 of the stuff in the blender
Just a touch of cream
1 packet of lemon-lime emergen-c

It is tart, sweet and smooth. Emergen-C is also helping me to get some energy and not feel so run down and caffeine desperate.

When I went to California, I squealed at the plethora of Jamba Juices. I grew up in the Bay Area, smoothies were always a thing but they started really catching on when I was an undergrad at UC Davis. I was seriously bummed when I moved to Philly and they weren’t as easy to find.

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I attended Mackenzi’s “Come As You Were” 90s party and two of the other party goers were dressed like women I’ve slept with.

A decade later Jamba has joined me out here but they’re all in Manhattan and I rarely leave Brooklyn. Nearly daily on my mid-Winter trip to California I availed myself of the joy of the convenient locations and quick pick-me-ups that made my epic social plans possible.

I decided I was going to start using my awesome blender (leftover from previous tenants, specifically designed for margaritas) to make smoothies and cast about for recommendations for “boosts” like those freebies you get from the Jamba. I’ve had a few suggestions. I’m considering Greens+, a generic whey protein powder, or spirulina. But before I drop a bunch of cash on supplements I want to research more and talk to my doctor.

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I produced an all queer 20 minute retelling of the Outsiders. I also narrated it with Heather who was the director.

The one drawback of being all smoothiecore in the dead of Winter is that it lowers my body temperature. I drank one at work one day and wondered why my teeth were suddenly chattering and it took awhile and a hot tea chaser to feel normal again. I run pretty cold.

That said I am excited to learn all of these new smoothie recipes out there. Soaking cashews overnight is my next adventure.

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I also worked on my taxes for my accountant. Do you have self-employment income? Do you have assets of any kind? Get an accountant.* I’ve been with mine for longer than any other relationship I’ve had, more than hair dressers, pets, or girlfriends. He’s awesome and totally worth the trip back to Philly. Instead of a photo of me stressing out over spreadsheets and drinking tons of hot chocolate last week, here’s another hipster photo of the queer Outsiders. Promise better photos as soon as Nogga posts them!

*I suggest getting one via recommendation from a friend.

2010-05-12

In Solidarity With Those Who Have Been Called “Too Much”

I have a bestie who lives far away. When we used to visit only once a year and not keep up with each other regularly, as soon as she would pick me up from the airport I would ask for the current love life run-down. She is polyamorous and it was (and still is) always an interesting mix of folks.

One time, the list included a girl she was particularly fond of and things were going quite well, except that the girl’s other love interest was quite the opposite of my bestie. “I don’t know how to describe her except that she’s just… very beige.”

What made the situation, and Beige herself, so vexing was that the love interest was starting to spurn my bestie for Beige. “I just don’t know what she sees in Beige. She’s the exact opposite of me.”

This love push and pull between my bestie, that girl, and Beige would go on for years, with the girl bouncing back from monogamy with Beige to my bestie and back again.

I have incorporated the descriptor “Beige” in my love vocabulary now. It’s hard to describe what Beige even means, as a personal trait. Maybe it’s just the absence of bold color? I just know it’s pretty much the opposite of glitter. I identify as glitter, which to me is a color.

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Vagina Jenkins has been told that she is “too much”. Also check out her kickstarter so she can bring her too much to your town!

Glenn Marla has a performance piece in Tragic Magic where he talks about people who have been called “too much”. I’ve been called too much my entire life–too fat, too loud, too feminine, too “lipstick” when I first came out, too expressive, too blah blah blah blah blah.

I hate it. I love big and I always express myself. When I am excited about something I get louder, and I really like to be excited. I am effusive in my praise of people, and when I’m with someone in a romantic context I can make them feel like the only person in the room. I’ve been told this by multiple partners, which is why I tend to date Leos. I have also been told that I am a lot different than people expect by a lot of lovers.

I LOVE romance. I really enjoy giving and receiving special attention and courtship. I am so not the kind of girl who can play aloof–I just don’t have time or inclination to pretend to be something I am not. If I can “take it or leave it” I’ll just leave it.

I was told by someone I went on a couple of dates with that I was “a lot to get used to.” It brought up a lot for me–I had so much rage around being told that and it took me a few weeks to unpack. It felt like being told I was too much, even though I know that wasn’t the intention. I guess this post is my way of turning that unexpected rage into productivity.

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Heather has been told she is “too much”. Me, too. That’s why I got big hair, to go along with my big personality.

Heather and I were talking about being too much and how people get so scared and run to the easy, non-threatening beige. “It’s so unfortunate because they could have something so good and so easy, but instead they run away like a coward and don’t want to deal. If I wanted to date people who didn’t want to communicate and were douchebags I’d just go back to straight dudes.”*

We’ve both been left for people who didn’t hold a candle to us. It sucks! I don’t even know how to tell you how to deal with that except just to let it show you who that person really is. If someone prefers beige to glitter than it tells you that they don’t have it in them to date you and they don’t deserve you.

I go out with people and I see they have all of this potential and then all of a sudden they’re dumping you in a picture text message from the Gossip Girl set.** It can take a minute to realize that they really just showed you all you needed to know about them from their bad behavior.

I don’t know what it is like to be left for someone who is fabulous. I’ll let you know if it happens. I don’t usually get left for someone else, though, I get left because people aren’t emotionally ready to deal with anything, not even the conversation where we come to some agreement about what our casual romance, Romance, or ROMANCE could look like.*** I mean, everything is negotiable. And if it isn’t then at least you know it isn’t and that in and of itself is some sort of answer. I just think it’s worse being left in the dust holding nothing and wondering what the hell happened.

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My BFF Rachael, the Donna of Femme Mafia International, has been told that she is “too much”. Hey Atlanta, check out her new monthly Friday Femme Centered party starting THIS Friday, Friends With Benefits. Info here.

My friend Taueret has a tattoo that says “I love harder than expected.” I think that’s true for a lot of Ferocious Femmes and other flamboyant queers. I think it scares people. I mean, it’s true, some of the most scoundrely scoundrels I have dealt with let loose the “I love yous” within a week of starting to date me, which I ate up. I like to think that I am learning how to temper it a bit and be a little bit more skeptical about professions of forever(!!), and of course not profess love too early. But I do believe in showing people affection. And when you’re enthusiastic about people, actually saying “You’re awesome!” instead of hiding who you are and how you feel.

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Taueret. Frankly I just don’t understand how there can be too much of her love.

My bestie Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me once on the heels of another fizzled romance that she feels like this agent who incites change–that she tends to somehow be that catalyst for the people she dates to suddenly start working on their issues, and then they are sadly no longer emotionally available to date. It feels very frustrating when this happens over and over again.

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I feel like if Leah is an agent who incites change, it is somehow made less threatening and more appealing by her propensity for wearing hot miniskirts. I’m just saying.

There’s no great answer to this. I want to tell you all there is absolutely someone out there for you and that suddenly your Prince(ss) charming will show up and tell you that you are SO much instead of TOO much. I do firmly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. I just also know from personal, current experience that it takes empyreal patience to find someone who is in it for the full flamboyance, nurturing, love, whatever you have to give.

It took so much work to become the confident, courageous, colorful and caring person that I am. I won’t quiet it and I won’t be shushed just to make someone like me back. The right romantic interest, friends and community would want me to be my most vibrant self.

Being a risk-taker in love is going to pay off. I will always have experiences worth writing about, good and bad, I will always have things to learn from. I will always keep changing and keep growing. I am the kind of person who needs an adventurous risk-taker to come along for the ride. I encourage everyone to take risks, big and small, in love and in life as much as you can. It is what makes life so much more interesting than beige.

I had a great date with a really hot, fat, tattooed older butch who said they didn’t like make-out parties because “I’m a specialty food. The people who are attracted to me are really into me. But there are lots of people who aren’t.”

I have found a lot of empowerment from this statement. Being a specialty food is something special. It makes me a lot more interesting–going through the work I have had to go through to unlearn self-hatred and myriad of other things has made me a really fun and fascinating person. It makes the days I feel good really fucking shine, for no reason in particular. It means the work I do as a Queer Fat Femme performer, writer and activist is to create visibility. I hope my visibility helps all of the young Queer Fat Femmes out there have an easier time with dating when they’re 31. Maybe in 10 years Queer Fat Femmes won’t be such a speciality food (but will still be special!).

There’s no magic formula to making someone not intimidated by you. There’s no magic formula to helping people get over a lifetime of hatred to love themselves enough to want to date someone who is nice to them. It’s true for any marginalized identity, fat folks, dis/abled folks, people of color, trans folks, survivors, queers, etc…

I can give you this answer: There is only patience and confidence that as a community, if we love each other enough and work to help one another heal, we’ll create queers who are confident enough to love out loud and give glitter (and orange, purple, and paisley) a chance.

*I want to say there are plenty of straight dudes who are not douchebags.
**True story. “Thought of you. Also let’s not see each other anymore.”
***This is why Unicorn Dick is described as that fantastic head, heart, lust, timing combination–timing is often a bitch. Um, also, I hate this trend amongst queers where it feels like we can’t talk about “WHAT IT IS THAT WE’RE DOING” because it’s so threatening to have words for it. Come up with something creative but don’t avoid talking about it because it’ll scare someone away. It just leaves you left with no ending because there was no real beginning. Dangling participles are sucky in grammar and suckier still when they hurt your heart!

2009-07-14

Update about the Femme Conference

Filed under: Events and Announcements — Tags: , , , , — Bevin @ 12:25 pm

From Conference Chair Christine De La Rosa… Please consider donating or hosting a pass the hat $10 a plate event or whatever in your town! The Femme Conference changed so many of our lives, including mine! That’s where I met Leah and many many other Femmes.

If you are wondering what the Femme Conference is all about, I did TWO episodes about it on FemmeCast, Episode 5 and 5.5 are all about the conference.

And I hope to see you all in Atlanta in 2010!

Hello all you fabulous Femmes and allies!

Your Femme Steering Committee hopes that you are having a wonderful year. As you may have guessed it is about time for us to start gearing up for 2010. We are very excited about Femme2010 and hope you are too! For those of you who were with us in 2008, you know that we ran at a $3995.07 deficit. We have managed, through generous donations from Femme Conference supporters, to raise $1606.45 to offset the deficit, but we are still short $2388.62. You can check out the financials page for 2008 here.

http://www.femmecollective.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1:2008-financials&catid=4:femme2008&Itemid=6

While we are excited about planning for 2010, we, as a collective feel it is important to bring the Femme Conference out of the deficit first. This is where you can help us. Please consider making a donation of whatever you can via our Paypal donate button located here.

http://www.femmecollective.com

Additionally if you are interested in hosting a fundraising event for the Femme Conference, just let us know so we can figure out the logistics and help you with it! Any overage that we have from this first round of fundraising will go directly towards the production of the 2010 Femme Conference.

Thank you in advance for your support. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Femme Collective Steering Committee

2009-07-04

Correspondence: Aqueel or Michael

I was interviewed on Charlotte Cooper’s amazing blog, Obesity Timebomb. Check it out here!

Also, Friday, July 10th is the Femmes of Power East Coast Launch Party in Atlanta, GA! Check out ME femmeceeing, my oft-mentioned BFF Rachael, Cherry Poppins from Austin, TX, the incomparable Vagina Jenkins, Ms. Stewart and Clover who were all featured in the book. There are rumors Ulrika Dahl, one of the authors, may be in attendance. It’s going to be a PARTY, so get in your car and get over there!
***********
From the myspace mailbag:

TO: Bevin
FROM: Aqueel
RE: hi

Hi, Nice profile 🙂

Just wondering, do u ever flirt with men ?
If not, would you ever flirt just for fun ?

Michael

Dear Aqueel or Michael:

First of all, thank you very much for the compliment on my myspace profile. I’m not shy to admit it took me years and a lot of websites with glaring and obnoxious blingie flash advertisements to find just the right theme that projected a high femme flourish without being hard to read. Aside from aesthetics, I really love language and have worked hard to express just exactly “Who is this Bevin Branlandingham” within the confines of the Myspace writing prompts*. Language is important, Aqueel or Michael, don’t you agree? Evolutionary psychologists have said humans know over 60,000 words. “We have all these words because we like to mate with people who caress us with language.” It’s totally true.

Of course, let’s be real, I’m not using myspace to get ass. Like a lot of people, these days I’m mostly on The Book. The interactivity of The Book means I can passive aggressively flirt with as many as 6 people at one time. And, frankly, that’s my preference. Overt flirting works for me here and there, but I am so hapless and flummoxed when I’m attracted to people often I can’t do any real cutesy flirting and people have no idea that I’m interested. It’s a struggle for me that I am trying to overcome.

Often, I do flirt just for fun, and it’s way more fun to flirt with people I’m not actually interested in. For example, my friend Glenn Marla and I flirt a lot, but he and I have a lot of good boundaries** and it’s just flirting.

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Through our flirting we’ve actually concocted this story about how we were once high school sweethearts at performing arts high school, and we would lie in bed and sing Madonna lyrics to one another and broke up 12 times and one of our songs was “Hungry Eyes” from Dirty Dancing. Even though Glenn is 4 years younger than I am, it’s still fun to imagine how Baby Glenn and Baby Bevin would be in love. Like the Muppet Babies but with fat queers.

So, Aqueel or Michael, to answer your question, I do flirt with men, and sometimes I do flirt for fun.

I’m not sure if there was a subtext to your question, and I’m thinking there probably was because of the smiley face. Emoticons are the building blocks of text-based flirting. So if you sent me that message to try to start something up with me, I’ll tell you now I’m at a full stop because of this quote from your myspace profile.

“I believe in me, I believe in you And you know I believe in love I believe in truth though I lie a lot.” [Emphasis mine.]

Listen up, Aqueel or Michael, I have had way too many scoundrels in the last couple of years to put up with even a second of any of this business. Scoundrels who would lie to my face and yet claim to have a big ol’ truckload of integrity and, like you, believe in truth. I recognize now that people often show you who they really are right away, you just need to learn how to look.

I asked Dan Savage in Episode 88 of the Savage Love Podcast how I could develop a bionic bullshit detector. I really think in the last year I have, and it’s saving me time and energy I’m not spending on scoundrels.

Scoundrely quote aside, the fact is that the rest of your profile isn’t that interesting. Maybe do some caressing of language and upload a few photos and you’ll have better luck in future endeavors.

*I even managed to get a code to defeat their ridiculously rigid gender binaries and sexuality misnomers. Sure, I’ll let someone call me a lesbian when it’s convenient, but ultimately I do identify as queer because I do not acknowledge a gender binary and most of the people I date don’t identify exclusively (if at all) as women.
**Good boundaries are hot.

2009-06-29

New Minisode of FemmeCast Now Available!!

After a brief hiatus, FemmeCast returns with a minisode all about the sweet stuff (or the not so sweet stuff we turn into a good story)!!

Host Bevin Branlandingham is joined by Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, hosting live from a road trip journey earlier this Spring.

Miasia tells her favorite story of street harassment, you can find her website and book her bellydancing at Miasia.org
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Bevin relives a drunken adventure in search of an ice cream treat with FemmeCast Sexpert, Rachael, Femme Family NYC Madam of Hospitality Chris and The Gay Dr. Phil.
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Bevin and Leah discuss “cotton candy pink sugar pussy brain” and how you can make it so finding love and good sex doesn’t mean losing yourself, your friendships and values to a content and cow-like existence.

What we’re listening to:

Gravy Train!!!, “All the Sweet Stuff”

Jill Sobule, “San Francisco”

Stay tuned for our next episode, Thinking Big! or A FemmeCast Guide to Courtship, coming soon!

Subscribe via Itunes


Subscribe via RSS

Stream it live in this magic pink widget doohickey or if you have to download it and take it home, right click here and select “save link as”.

Stream it live right here, scroll down in the widget to find Episode 8.5!!

Get this widget!

2009-06-03

New Gossip Album!

First, an announcement. I go to Atlanta with some frequency, and I am thrilled to announce that I’ll be Femmeceeing the Femmes of Power launch party on July 10, 2009. 9PM at Bellissima . The ATL Femme Mafia and I are putting together a fierce and amazing line-up and I guarantee a Femme Fabulous weekend. Get your posse and plan your road trip!!

In other Queer Fat Femme news, The Gossip’s newest album is set to release on June 22, 2009! I’ve already got my g-cal notification set up!

I really love the Gossip’s music, but I will admit openly my giant heart on for Beth Ditto, the Queer Fat Femme lead singer. I was interviewed about her for the Lez Style Blog and I’ll just quote myself here since I’m a lazy blogger.

Bevin Branlandingham of FemmeCast told LezStyle that “in Beth Ditto…I saw an out, queer fat femme owning her sexuality and hotness and never apologizing for it. Seeing someone else do it who was younger than me only inspired me to hurry up and get through my fat shame and start making something of myself. As she’s gotten more media exposure, I’ve seen Beth challenge notions of ‘cute’, ‘pretty’ and ‘fashionable’ in really hysterical ways. She’s a brave and amazing artist.”

So if you don’t know who Beth Ditto is, familiarize yourself! I only lament that I didn’t keep the copy of On Our Backs that had the hot pictorial of her and her transfabulous BF doing it in a bathroom. That pictorial changed my life.

Via QPDX, I found this adorable infomercial explaining the title of the new album, Music for Men.

Here’s their first single for “Heavy Cross”, which is dance magic as far as I’m concerned. And if you click through the link to QPDX you’ll find a download of the song!

2009-05-26

What’s the Fattest thing you’ve done today?

Right now I’m on Gaycation with my Bestie Rachael (The founder of Femme Mafia International and FemmeCast’s Sexpert), which basically means I get a cheap flight to Atlanta and come live down here for a few days, going to parties and living life cheaper than in the Big Apple. Plus I love the South with a great passion.

One of the nicest things about Atlanta is that socializing is fundamentally different. I find in NYC we’re all so busy and it takes so long to get from one part of one borough to another that we tend to meet one another at events and restaurants instead of loafing around in our apartments being casual and relaxed. Plus our apartments are pretty small. In Atlanta they have big houses that cost less to rent per month than my 2 bedroom apartment.

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Me, Rachael and our friend Angela during a dirty south bar crawl (through all the dirtiest gay bars in Atlanta).

Since I don’t have TV at my house, I binge on BS tv when I’m gaycationing with Rachael, cozied up in her king size bed. Last time I was here she introduced me to the Real Housewives of Atlanta*. This time I discovered the magic of the BBC documentary Should I Smoke Dope? It is hysterical watching this reporter get high for thirty days and try to record it for posterity. “I don’t want to eat the crisps but then I wake up and I’ve had four bags and a chocolate cake!”

Part of the joy of not watching TV regularly is not being exposed to commercials, and especially diet commercials. I have now seen this new Weight Watchers ad campaign** about Hunger as a cute fuzzy monster plush doll. It’s as though Hunger is a Muppet. He even tap dances like he’s on a vaudeville stage.

The concept of the commercials is that these women (and only women) ignore/defeat their Hunger, despite the fact that he’s hella cute and chilling in the vending machine at work. However, I think Hunger is totally awesome and I want to take him with me everywhere and make sure he gets chorizo when he needs it.

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I introduced the concept of the fattest thing you did all day in FemmeCast episode 3.5. In brief, last summer Glenn Marla came up with the brilliant idea that fat people (and fat allies) should start cataloging the fattest thing they do every day***. It’s a great way to train yourself to relearn fat as a good, positive and fun thing instead of the mean, crappy word it usually is. I also like to use humor to gain some power/control over oppression and it’s fun to joke about oppression with your other fat and fat ally friends.

The fattest thing I did today was try to go into a Weight Watchers (clinic? meeting space? storefront? what are they called in strip malls?) so that I could see if they had Hunger plush dolls. They did, but they weren’t open, sadly. I totally want to have one to bring with me to restaurants and take photos with, doing lots of creative things with Hunger. And also maybe have one with a squeaker inside for Macy, my Shih Tzu, to play with.

Not that I’m saying hunger is a good thing, I’m just much more likely to want to have fun with it in order to make fun of the diet industry. I think instead of trying to fight hunger, you should try listening to your body and what kind of information your hunger is giving you. And let it give you a good show when it is tap dancing.

*My favorite quote from that series is “Have you ever seen such beautiful feet on a man? I am fifty years old, have you EVER seen such beautiful feet on a man??” That series is delightful.

**I also really like the F-Word write-up about the Hunger campaign and Janeane Garafalo’s schilling WW.

***This also works with other identities. To celebrate queer femme identity, I like to have all of the Femme Family Madams do a go around before each meeting answering the question “What’s the Femmest thing you’ve done today?” Today Madam of Southern Glam, Amanda, tweeted “femmest thing i did today: use a power sander on my newly purchased antique makeup vanity.” That’s my favorite answer so far.

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