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

2020-07-28

Supply chain issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bevin @ 10:19 am

(This post is part of a series of daily letters from me to my future children reporting from the emerging paradigm.)

Dear Kids:

When the virus first broke out, we had no idea how it would affect our ability to get food and supplies. Mom went really hard in the garden this year so we were certain we would get fresh produce. For a second I thought about doing some canning.

Instead we just stocked up as was advised, for up to 30 days. I go into town once a week to replenish our water stash–the well water here is not delicious–and get supplemental groceries from the food co-op.

So far, at the end of July, four months into quarantine, I have only experienced two big disruptions in supply chain that have affected my life.

I ran out of PG Tips, which if you as my children don’t know that in my opinion this is the greatest commercially available black tea made for daily use then I have failed to prepare you for a great life. PG Tips. Remember this.

I’m trying hard to divest from Amazon, and it used to be I could get it at a little discount on PG Tips from them. Now it’s the same price or more than the grocery store (possibly due to better supply chain on the grocery end, maybe they got a better distributer, who knows).

Though I don’t have much money right now, I am incredibly intentional with how I spend it. So I spend at the Food Co-op which has the greatest impact on my local economy, rather than making Jeff Bezos more rich.

The Co-op (and the local Safeway, to be fair) throughout the pandemic, has had a few empty shelves due to distributor errors. They’ve had times where what they ordered didn’t come in at all and was just ??? when they would be getting things in. Nothing major, nothing irreplaceable. I just drank the rest of my stash of Irish Breakfast Tea from Trader Joe’s.

Finally they got some PG Tips in, in the 40 bag box not the 80 bag box I prefer. Not a huge disruption for an imported tea product. And like everything in this pandemic, it just took more patience on my part to weather the disruption.

The second big supply chain issue I had was Biscuit Reynolds’ food. He has lots of special needs, including a special food from Royal Canin that has two special formulas in it. I like to buy bulk to save over time, but the big bags weren’t available as he was running out of food.

I bought a bag from the online pharmacy our vet up here uses. And then as his food dwindled I heard nothing about shipping. I called, apparently Royal Canin was very disrupted by the pandemic and his food might not be available for a long time.

Panicked, looking at less than a week left of his food in my supply, I called the vet. I was able to get half his formula in a small bag from them (the Urinary SO, to prevent bladder crystals, arguably the most important half) and just had to suck up that I was spending way more than I budgeted for cat food and getting way less. July has been a weird month with more month than money.

But luckily he stayed fed and preventing bladder crystals which is a huge deal. And now his real food finally arrived and I’m just blending the two bags together as best as I can. He seems fine.

Someone predicted in the Fall we would really see supply chain effects from the coronavirus lockdown and I’m genuinely curious if we will. I’m staying adaptable.

xoxo,

Mom

Groomers opened back up in Phase 2 and so grateful he finally got shaved! He’s so much more comfortable.

This blog is entirely supported by Patreon. Every dollar counts to making this work sustainable and maintaining the archives of this blog. Thanks to my awesome Patronus supporters (as my mom calls them) for co-creating with me!

2017-05-03

Why Authenticity is so Vital: In Celebration of Ellen’s 20th Coming Out Anniversary

“As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways you cannot possibly imagine.”—Ellen DeGeneres

The 20th anniversary of the coming out episode of Ellen’s sitcom was April 30, 2017. It was the first time a lead character on a TV show came out; it was before Will and Grace, the Logo channel, and Modern Family.

For those of you who don’t remember, it was a BIG DEAL. Media was covering it before it aired and endlessly discussing and debating afterward. There was an all star cast of supporting characters and extras, including gay icons George Michael, k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge.

I found out from my friend H. Alan Scott that Ellen was celebrating the 20th anniversary of her coming out on her talk show because he was invited to be on it! His story about how he watched the coming out episode is detailed in this piece he wrote for Newsweek and on the below video from the show. (Believe me, I hinted hard that I wanted to be invited as a plus one to go to the taping but sadly he didn’t get a plus one.)

“It’s easy to forget now just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages… Not just for the LGBT community but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light remind us that we have more in common than we realize and push our country in the direction of justice.”—Barack Obama on the occasion of giving Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1997 was an interesting year. We didn’t have the internet like we do now. We didn’t have smart devices or social media. You had to call people or email to make plans and if you wanted directions somewhere you pulled out a map.

Ellen joked on her show that since we didn’t have Facebook yet in order to make a big pronouncement about your sexuality you had to get a sitcom.

They called the episode “The Puppy Episode” because when the writers told the executives she needed to be in a relationship by the fourth year of the show an executive at the studio said, “Well get her a puppy, she’s not coming out.” You can watch it on youtube in parts, starting here.

I spy Laura Dern, k.d. lang, Dwight Yoakam, Demi Moore, Gina Gershon, Jenny Shimizu, Billy Bob Thornton.

I feel like for gay people in 1997, it was kind of like the Kennedy assassination—people remember where they were when they watched it.

I remember very viscerally what it was like for me watching Ellen come out. I was 18 years old, in my dorm room at UC Davis. Wearing my bathrobe, alone on the couch I shared with my suitemates watching the cable that I paid for because TV was an escape drug for me at the time. Life was really painful, I was depressed and felt very alone. I knew I was gay but couldn’t be open about it. I was still so convinced that if I acted like everyone else and hid in giant, formless overalls I would somehow appear normal and being gay went against that idea. I also didn’t think I was going to get to own my sexuality because I was fat. Fat was, in my deluded opinion, not attractive and I didn’t think people who weren’t having sex should bother coming out.

I was super wrong. Owning your truth, that’s hot. Owning your body, that’s hot. Being true to who you are? That’s priceless and so liberating.

I don’t have any pictures of my Freshman year at UC Davis available but here’s one from two years later when I was out but still working through my relationship with fashion. Deepy appreciate this rainbow beanie. Pictured here with my very supportive through my coming out process friends Mary and Dianna.

“Your whole calling is about you being what you were meant to be.”—Oprah Winfrey

It’s very lonely being in the closet. When you don’t feel like you can be your authentic self, it’s hard to live freely because you’re always keeping a secret. If you’re out there and you are in the closet now, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and you’re okay. When it’s time for you to come out, it will suddenly feel more uncomfortable to be in the closet than the risks you take to come out. But, like Ellen says, the risks to be your true self are totally worth it.

Sitting right next to H. Alan in the audience was documentary filmmaker Alexis Fish, who had a big party for Ellen’s coming out episode. (I wonder if they overlapped at all at my birthday party last December since they were both there.) I couldn’t believe what an amazing experience it was for Alexis and her friends to watch the episode with community. I’m so glad I get to have that community now, and I’m so grateful for social media for enabling community to be even more accessible to folks in the closet these days.

Oprah Winfrey played Ellen’s therapist in the Puppy Episode, which I had completely forgotten about. She was a guest on this special episode of Ellen’s talk show. Needless to say, I immediately texted H. Alan “YOU WERE IN THE SAME ROOM AS ELLEN AND OPRAH.”

Oprah mentioned that she said yes to appearing on the Puppy Episode immediately, and she gets credit for that. There was so much backlash, the world was reeling because of something that today seems so pedestrian. We needed that backlash in order to start a very important conversation.

Laura Dern was in the episode and she didn’t get another acting job for a full year after the episode—because people thought she was gay. “I hurt straight people for this,” Ellen joked.

“It was hard, I lost everything. I got to be stripped down of everything and start all over again. And that was a wonderful gift to be able to start all over again and to realize that I was strong enough to come back.”—Ellen

Laura Dern said it exactly right while on the couch with Oprah and Ellen. “How incredible to be sitting between the two people who have walked us toward our truth in such extraordinary ways… To celebrate the bravery to remind people to be who they are. And whatever the consequence is of doing that, it brings everyone with you when you’re willing to be that true to yourself.”

Why, in our society, is it brave to be yourself? Because of the White Hetero Capitalist Patriarchy, that wants to keep us small, to punish difference and to make people feel ashamed of who they are. Media creates a feeling of insecurity for your benign human differences so that they can sell products to you to help you feel better.

On the talk show episode there were lots of celebrity messages of congratulations. “You widened the circle of understanding, connection and kindness,” Diane Sawyer said to Ellen.

Me and H. Alan doing partner yoga. I love that he’s always game for a silly photo.

There’s a power in being openly who you are. I continue to practice that by talking openly about things most people don’t talk openly about. Part of my impetus for using this openness is to eradicate shame. I truly believe shame leads to stress, which leads to cancer and other disease. It makes me feel so much better and happier to be open about who I am, how I struggle and the tools I use to move through the struggle. I can’t do it alone and I want to help you all know that you don’t have to do it alone, either.

Last summer, my friend Jeff Scult inducted me into One Golden Thread, a whole movement about being connected to other humans with a golden thread bracelet. He said when yours falls off you should pay attention to what you’re thinking about in the moment. I have been working on staying in gratitude as much as possible in order to eradicate the effects of trauma from the past few months.

With Ellen’s coming out on the brain, I was walking through my house thinking about how grateful I was to be out, to be living with my incredible partner Dara, to have our beautiful new home and how cute my closet is going to be when it’s finished. Then I got to our bed and was super grateful for my weirdo cat Biscuit Reynolds. As I leaned in to give him a belly rub he attacked the string from my golden thread and in one movement ripped it off of me.

I have now watched Ellen’s 20th anniversary coming out talk show episode twice and can’t get through it without crying multiple times. I’m so grateful for all she did to make the world a lot easier for the rest of us.

2017-04-28

I Need to Tell You About the Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System

I have always been so annoyed with cat litter and have tried SO many kinds over the years. I used Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat for Older cats and the formula for long hair cats for a few months when my beloved boys ALF and Bear were still with me. (I did one box with that and one box of clay litter. They appreciated the variety.)

I really appreciate that I’ve inherited all of my Grandmother’s cat stuff. She had a Persian cat throw pillow!

I tried the newspaper litter. I tried one bag of the “World’s Best” cat litter which I immediately hated because of the smell and it almost clogged my toilet. I pretty much never use the toilet for cat litter but it said it was safe on the bag!

There was the regular clay stuff, the clumping clay stuff and it always ended up with bits of litter everywhere. Oh man, one of my biggest pet peeves is being barefoot and having litter stuck to my feet. My Persian Princes would sometimes get the litter clumps stuck to their paws and then there would be weird clumps on my floor. Cat litter is as insidious as glitter but NOT as cute.

The best I found with ALF and Bear was lightweight cat litter. It was a mix of clay clumping litter and the cedar stuff and was a miracle as far as I was concerned, at that point carless in Brooklyn. I had to buy it at Petsmart on Atlantic Ave and take the bus home, with many pounds of cat litter in my granny cart. Let me tell you, lightweight litter made a huge difference in the schlep and in scooping.

When I was pondering Biscuit Reynolds and waiting for the right moment to bring him into my life, I saw an ad for Tidy Cats Breeze on Petfinder.com. I want to support businesses who support pet rescue organizations and websites. I went down the internet rabbit hole researching it months before we adopted Biscuit Reynolds. I knew the litter system I wanted to try before I even had a cat in mind.

It’s been over six months of cat litter dream life–I do not say this lightly, I LOVE MY CAT LITTER SYSTEM.

Here’s how it works. You have a litter box, but instead of tiny pieces of clay litter, it’s got bigger pellets made of some kind of sustainable material (I can’t find it while writing this article but I remember from my internet rabbit hole that it was plastic and foam). The pellets are about the size of a piece of rabbit food. You don’t use a ton and they last for about a month, with regular refills from your stash.

The pee goes through the tray through small slats into an absorbent pad (puppy pads in a specific shape for the box), which is supposed to be changed once a week or more depending on how many cats you have. Biscuit Reynolds drinks A LOT of water because of his Urinary Tract Diet food, and I still only need to change it once a week. When you forget to change it, you will start to smell it and the tray gets soggy and needs to be drained in the toilet before you toss it and rinsed. When I do it just once a week I don’t need to rinse the tray. I use the plastic sleeve from unsolicited newspapers/advertisements that end up on my doorstep to throw away the pads. They’re the perfect size.

Cat poo hangs out in the top amongst the pellets and you are meant to scoop it daily. I didn’t like the scoop (Biscuit Reynolds gets mushy poos every fourth turd, and it makes the scoop messy) so now I use plastic grocery bags and pick it up like I pick up Macy’s poo when she goes on a walk. Dara hates poo so I have a pledge that I will try to immediately remove poo. Biscuit Reynolds LOVES to immediately poo once I’ve grabbed the last poo.

Since we live in California there’s a law against plastic grocery bags, they cost 10-15 cents and aren’t the cheap disposable kind and are more sturdy. I import them from Dara’s mom in Las Vegas who generously supplies us with a huge stash when we see her.

Other than his smelly mushy poos and when I’ve gone longer than a week without changing the pad, I have never had a smell from the box. It is pleasant, the pellets are easy to throw back into the box and I’m dealing with 90% less litter outside of the box than I ever did before.

I change the whole box of pellets out monthly and give the litter system a full scrub inside and out with all purpose cleaner during that change.

I think the cost compared to what I was paying before in conventional litter (where I would have to scoop pee out constantly, and change the whole box at least weekly) is roughly the same. The pads and the pellets aren’t cheap. I buy it on Amazon 100% of the time and have done a lot of math to figure out cost per pad and cost per pound of pellets. Buying in bulk is the way to go. (Here’s a link to a listing for 10 packs of 4 pads each, which is 40 pads, for $61–which is just over $1.50 per week for the pads.)

A couple of Amazon reviews offer some cheap solutions about cleaning the pellets, but I find that because of mushy poos I have a lot of natural attrition and can’t clean (nor do I really want to do that work). Someone suggested using airsoft pellets for airsoft rifles which are waaaaay cheaper. I might try because they come in fun colors.

Anyway, I am truly obsessed with my Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System and have recommended it to at least 10 friends. Try it out, there’s a money back guarantee. It’s $29 for the first month’s supply of pads and pellets and the box, which is a mighty bargain for a cat box.

I will always disclose when I’ve received compensation for a product review and I am just an honest fan of this litter system. If you try it let me know how it goes for you!

Femme Stoner hotel room party with crafts, snacks and squishy faced muppet pets. Katy’s arm makes an appearance.

As an aside, if you find yourself moving and you have a cat, keep your whole supply of litter accessories with you when you go to the hotel. I kept two weeks worth in the car with me when I moved but I still haven’t found the box that has the Tidy Cats Breeze pads in it so I had to buy more prematurely.

2017-03-28

General Life Update

Beloved readers, here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. Anyone following me on Instagram probably knows about what doozies life has been hurling at me lately.

Me and Dara at the Cuties fundraising carnival on Sunday. Their fundraiser is going on for a few more days, you can still donate to this vital safe(r) space for queers in LA!

Your Girl is Getting Great Press

I’ve had a couple of fabulous interviews come out in the last week!

Fat Sex Week XXL is coming! It starts on Thursday and I’ve already gotten press about it. I love serendipitous press. I was nominated as a Sex Hero and I was already thinking about another Fat Sex Week because a lot of great content was floating my way and poof! Check out this fabulous chat between me and Noah Michelson Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Voices about fat sex, why Fat Sex Week matters and what you can expect! (Spoiler: Fat Sex Week is always fatter than a regular week.) What an honor to be called a Sex Hero!

Me, April Flores and Tristan Taormino, also big time sex heroes!

I’ve been telling everyone about Jeffrey Marsh’s incredible book How to Be You (seriously should be required reading in high school) and so admire their work helping people to love themselves. Jeffrey and I have such in sync life purposes.

I was totally thrilled to be interviewed for their new Facebook fan page. We had such a beautiful conversation about how I came to be a body liberation activist and how my turning points to love myself came about. Check it out here and be sure to like their page! (Like my fan page while you’re at it! I’m always popping in great articles and self empowerment.)

I Started Fat Kid Dance Party

A month ago I launched my new dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). When I heard about EVERYBODY the new body positive gender inclusive gym opening up just six minutes from my house I had to figure out how to get involved. I started taking dance aerobics in LA and was frustrated that the classes were so fast-paced and not really open to all levels, even though they said they were. So I decided to do it my way. I had been producing body positive queer dance parties, this just meant that I was not only Femmecee and Producer but I was the choreographer and DJ, too.

This is what a gender neutral locker room looks like! Now if only they would install in a make-up mirror/vanity for the Femmes of all genders who want to put on their face/take well-lit selfies.

I spend hours on this every week as I learn this new art form and healing modality. I’m so excited how I’ve been able to use the concepts I’ve incorporated in the workshops I teach about body positivity into lessons during aerobics numbers. It is a very unique class and, I think, very healing with high joy vibrations. I’m getting great feedback from folks coming (bring friends, it’s so much fun in a group). Last week we did a cheer dance routine to all Missy Elliot songs, we did an aerobics dance for peace, a Prince song exploring body postures that give confidence, a 90s dance retrospective to Vanilla Ice and more. Every Thursday at 7:30PM! When you sign up online ahead of time, your check-in at the gym will be very fast.

My philosophy is if I would go to a dance party wearing it, I can use it to teach class. I love wearing overtly political shirts to teach aerobics. You can grab this and many other fabulous shirts/tanks/onesies from Genuine Valentine!

Since I often use exercise to prevent depression, I think my partner Dara genuinely believes I am going to be a happier person because I’m an aerobics instructor. Using an actual line of factual reasoning from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde.

We’re Finally Moving

My beloved Grandmother POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) on January 26, exactly a year after our lease on our little house in LA began. Two days later our landlady told us she was selling our house. Things here haven’t ever been great—it’s an old house and took a lot of work to become comfortable. We put heart and soul into it and even did a very DIY remodel of the attic to create a Mariah Carey closet for my clothes and Femme accoutrements.

Photo by Jes Baker of the Militant Baker. I’m still working every weekday monitoring her social media.

Our landlady used to live in the house behind ours that shares our driveway and while she was there with her grown children it was chaotic but not awful. We even had some really sweet holiday gatherings for Seder and the High Holidays in the courtyard between our houses. However, she moved out in October with her son and things got way worse. Basically, her daughter is selling meth and we suspect that at times have been cooking it. (Based on tells, like rotten egg smells, SO MUCH GARBAGE, etc…)

This is the Epic High Holiday. I used glitter burlap to artfully cover their weird pile of junk that included three old TVs (one was a big screen) that sat there for months until they cleaned it out and immediately replaced it with a broken down convertible that is now collecting a different pile of junk. But this pic is a great example of that old adage “When life hands you a pile of junk in the middle of your event space, break out the dreamy twinkle lights and glitter burlap.” Photo by Rick Sorkin.

I’m a person who believes really strongly in body autonomy and people getting to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do to them. That’s why I don’t shade fat people who make choices about weight loss and that’s why I don’t shade folks who use whatever drugs they want. However, one of the first things I learned as a young adult was “Never trust a tweaker.” That’s really stuck with me and I keep my distance. I also work hard at a 12 Step program for families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts and I know the realities of that life very well. It’s been hard to have that energy so close by, the Trigger Train is making all stops.


The foot traffic next to our house has been rough. Imagine strangers constantly streaming past your living room and kitchen windows. It’s like having a coffee shop open up but not exactly coffee. The worst part is Macy, my dog, now has cancer and I highly suspect it’s from the stress and energy of the people passing. If you’re not a spiritual person, from an earthly logic place any dog would get stressed by so much foot traffic. From a spiritual place we had Syd, our energy healer, come by to do a healing for Macy and Biscuit Reynolds and she described the energy of the person walking by as being “hit by wasps.”

Things got to the biggest breaking point when we were up in San Francisco for my friend Amanda’s memorial. The folks in the back house had a party and someone was screaming about a gun. 9 cop cars and 2 helicopters later our pet sitters left Macy alone in the house overnight and I just hit my own breaking point. I knew I couldn’t be present for a memorial while scrambling to coordinate pet care from afar. We turned around and drove home the next morning. (Only one arrest, they are very good at hiding their drugs and guns.)

Anyway, we’re happy to have finally found a place! It was a difficult search. I’ll write a post about it in the future, but we were looking at a leap in rent no matter whether we got a smaller 2 bedroom house or a bigger 3 bedroom house. We could say yes to this paradise in Eagle Rock because it is well set-up for a room to be an occasional air bnb, which will help with our rent jump until Bevin’s Tea becomes wildly successful. And once we get the motor fixed, we will have a hot tub! Healing Oasis!! Thank you to everyone who sent us good vibes, woo, and prayers that we would find a great place!

I’m Throwing Myself into Spiritual Work and Grieving

Clinging to anything leads to suffering. I know that intellectually but I struggle with that a lot in grieving. I’m definitely still mourning my Grandmother big time but without a lot of capacity to do so because of the new aerobics class, house chaos and the moving. I’m also grieving all the stuff I wanted to do in our current house to bring it to fruition that I don’t get to finish.

I have been struggling to stay in faith these past two months about finding a place that works for us, and trust that something better was coming along. Many thanks to Alex, my fabulous psychic, for the pep talk that there was something better.

A quick trip to Sacramento last week while Dara attended a conference was just what I needed. My bestie and soul sister Spunky just moved to a fabulous new apartment in Sacramento. We toasted to NOT SETTLING and trusting the Universe to always deliver bigger and better with change.

Energy healing, going to an astrologer, card reader or psychic, or attending a class like a sound bath meditation, yoga or any of the Heal classes at EVERYBODY is a combination of therapy and spiritual practice. I have been throwing myself into all of these things because I know they help and will help me keep my energy moving. Grieving is part of life, and as someone with a lot of losses I want to do my best to process it and still really LIVE. It’s hard to live when you’re stuck in grief and sadness. This blog is a chronicle of my relentless pursuit of joy and I believe you can have joy no matter what, but that you gotta look at and acknowledge your darkness and sadness in order for it to pass.

When I know I’m not processing my grief enough it is really helpful to throw myself into healing modalities. It’s a thing you can do helps to turn on a spigot and let all the feelings out. About a month after Grandmother POTSA, I realized I was constantly in classes and environments where people were guiding me in taking deep breaths.

I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Danielle’s classes at EVERYBODY. They are strengthening, Barre, and yoga infused and so great. A three pound weight packs a bigger punch than you think!

If you feel so moved, take a deep breath right now. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, four times. This Four by Four breath I learned from Tara Magalski, is a real savior in centering.

The next big spiritual work I am going to do is to let strangers pack my house. I will leave my current house with Macy and Biscuit Reynolds on Sunday, let Dara supervise the packers we are paying to pack up our house, and come back with the pets on Monday to the new place. We both have had a lot of work taking up our time, we knew getting packers was essential to our being able to move quickly. Dara said I should just leave and let her handle it (she admitted later it was both a gift for my sanity and it will be easier for her without me around).

California is gorgeous right now. Due to all the rain this Winter the wildflowers (and bugs) are poppin! The hills look like they’re painted orange but these are just swaths of flowers. So beautiful.

I’m a controlling Capricorn and have serious issues with people moving my stuff around but I also know this will open up my capacity to write more and get more done. I can heal more folks and do more work in the world if I learn let other people do things that bring me stress. Plus, my friend Katy is in town and was just going to chill at her pet friendly hotel all day and invited me along. Yes please, Universe, I will accept this gift and learn these lessons while being a fat babe at the pool with Katy.

Bevin’s Tea is Still Brewing

I’m still hustling my tea business, though much of my business development was put on the shelf in October when Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Right now I’m kind of a low-key tea dealer, selling to my friends and folks through my blog. Soon I’ll launch on Etsy, once I have the photos done and new labels designed. I am thinking about investing in a fancy label printer and I’m also deepening my work as a healer so that the blends become even more powerful energy healing. I want to return to blogging the process of developing a product based business, because the more work I do with Marie Forleo’s B-School the more I realize how much I benefit from reading other people’s small business journeys.

Got to hang out with Jes Baker a couple weeks ago when she was in town for a speaking gig at a college!

So, beloved readers, get ready for the launch of Fat Sex Week XXL on Thursday! It’s going to be fatter and louder than ever before. For now catch up on the last Fat Sex Week!

2017-03-13

Introducing Our Rescue Persian Biscuit Reynolds

When I first saw the Harry Potter movie that starred Crookshanks the cat, I became singularly obsessed with getting a squishy faced orange cat like him and the lasagna obsessed Garfield comic from my youth. When it came time to get a cat (in 2007) I was on the hunt for rescues that had a squishy faced orange cat, which in cat speak is known as a “red Persian” or an “exotic short hair” depending on the texture of hair you want to deal with. My second choice cat was a Himalayan, the same kind of cat my friends Becky and Christie had. Himalayans are a cross between a Persian and a Siamese, which I now know to mean extra loud.

Fate stepped in and I got the goldmine. Two cats were available for adoption from a woman whose daughter was allergic to them, they were older boy cats (my fav because boy cats are more snuggly and older cats are more mellow). One was a red Persian and the other was a Himalayan.

A Family portrait I had done by Kelsey Dickey the day before Bear POTSA. They were totally fine with me picking them both up at the same time.

I had eight beautiful years with ALF and Bear and I still miss them a lot. I had a hole in my heart after they left. I learned that cats and dogs provide really specific energy work—apparently purring cats heal via specific vibration. The first time I felt a cat purr was at bookstore a few months after ALF passed and I burst into tears, not out of sadness but more of a release of something pent up.

To say Biscuit Reynolds was planned is an understatement. As soon as I knew we were thinking about moving to LA (we started the “thought process” over a year before we left NYC) I had to suspend my only recently begun search. It wasn’t fair to get a cat knowing that I would have to move him cross country. I also was having no luck finding Persians in NYC rescues and there is a Persian cat rescue here in LA so I figured I’d just hold out til we got here.

Our adoption photo.

Of course, even after we found our house, it was months before we were finally ready to get a cat. Honestly, we still weren’t ready I was just in need of special cat bonding and healing. My friend had just taken her life via suicide and I decided we would just go to the next adoption event Dara was in town for and see if there was a cat we bonded with. She travels a ton for work, and the one time I went to an adoption event without her I didn’t get the cat I applied for, partially because Dara wasn’t with me.

It was the day of the Dolly Parton concert at the Hollywood Bowl, not the most ideal timing to schlep to Santa Monica (it’s 40 minutes without traffic), but I was determined. We got there just as it opened and they were still decorating the crates the cats were in. The abundance of gorgeous Persians was so wonderful and most of them were boys.

Biscuit Reynolds is named for a favorite Southern food, reminiscent of a few folks I’ve lost, and one of Dolly Parton’s leading men with a strong mustache.

You guys, the politics of rescue orgs is really interesting. There was one cat that was already spoken for. After interacting with all of the rest of the cats available for adoption we both really liked this orange and white Persian on the end of the cages. We hung out with him and talked to his foster mom and the rescue owner about adopting him and they were so weird about it. They didn’t like him with a dog simply because they didn’t know how he would interact with a dog. Our dog Macy is the ideal cat companion dog because she defers to cats to set the boundaries. This was not a selling point.

Anyway, we went out to grab a coffee and talk about the cat situation and came back and he was already adopted by someone else. We found out that it was someone who was a friend of the foster mom. I don’t understand why they didn’t just say, “We’re saving him for my friend.” It would have saved us from certain heartbreak about losing that cat!

Macy and Biscuit are on instagram as BiscuitandMacy.

We hung out with a couple other cats, this white Persian who I recognized from the Facebook feed for months who had a lot of special needs. Dara was pretty adamant that my time with ALF and Bear in their last three years—subcutaneous fluids for kidney failure, sundowning, peeing in the hallway—was enough special needs and we needed an easier cat. Plus she wasn’t feeling him.

Enter Biscuit Reynolds. I hadn’t considered him because I misunderstood which cat was spoken for. He looked just like the original cat who went to the friend of the foster mom. He was super snuggly with us and really sweet. The thing I wanted most in a cat was a good snuggler. He was supposedly 4 or 5 years old, had been surrendered by a previous owner who had adopted through the rescue. The owner was a touring musician whose roommate let Biscuit get out and he got lost for a few days.

He was on special urinary crystals preventing diet and he “peed differently than any other cat” the rescue owner had ever seen and I might have to give him a bath once a week. I didn’t see that as a red flag. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time and I didn’t think through the lifestyle requirements of a cat that needs regular bathing, and honestly, most Persian cats need regular bathing and grooming to help with their maintenance.

He is so chill about wearing outfits which is a major plus for me!

Once I had him in our home I realized a lot about Biscuit Reynolds. I could tell he was in a LOT of pain based on the way he was sitting and how he never cleaned himself. If your cat stops cleaning himself, you need to take him to the vet, you’ll notice when they develop an uptick of knots in their fur. I wish I had noticed that about ALF, I would have caught his kidney disease sooner and he wouldn’t have collapsed.

I could also tell there was definitely something wrong with how Biscuit Reynolds pees (if you watch, it comes out in just tiny drips, not a stream). He also pees a lot more than a normal cat because his special food makes him more thirsty. His butt is basically a longhair trap for pee and he walks around with wet “pee butt.” The wet pee butt makes his skin really tender on his hind quarters.

We asked the rescue to pay for a trip to their vet to work on his pain and his pee butt. Cat pain meds for chronic conditions are hard because they have sensitive livers. After a couple of trips and a lot of tests, we know he has a pinched nerve in his back (no idea how he got that). We found out he’s actually 7 and that he was in such bad shape when returned to the rescue from his life outside he needed blood transfusions! Their vet had no idea what to do about his peeing other than to keep him shaved. I was grateful for the help with his pain management and the full testing workup we got but not super satisfied about the pee butt situation.

We finally found a medicine that helps somewhat—Gabapentin, which is usually used to prevent cat seizures in a higher dose. We give it to him along with Vet CBD oil with an oral syringe. This is just simply a way of dosing liquids to a specific measurement and then squirting in his mouth. I can tell he is feeling better because of how he acts, the variety of positions he lays in and that he now grooms himself.

Biscuit Reynolds is basically a small friendly monster. He makes these incredibly loud snorting noises when he grooms himself. He excretes gross stuff on his face from his eyes (standard for Persians), he dunks his whole face into his water so he ends up looking really weird and a little scary until it dries, and he has a pee butt. We try to bring levity into the situation by calling him Mr. Peebuddy (pronounced like Peabody) and giving objects like papers we didn’t put away or the floor a daily Peebuddy nomination.

Monster face. We’ve since started cutting the extra floof off the sides of his face because it gets matted and knotted from the water.

He’s the weirdest cat I’ve ever had. He doesn’t eat anything but his food. No treats and no chicken! What cat ever rejected chicken?? He also doesn’t like catnip and is not motivated by it, which is great for me as I have two blends of Bevin’s Tea with catnip in them, since it is soothing for humans. But hard to get him to want to use a scratching post by putting catnip spray on it.

He is just as snuggly as we hoped but I had forgotten to affirm that I wanted a cat that smelled great and was self cleaning. We now have blankets to provide a safety barrier between us and the cat. I have to mop the living room and bedroom floor all the time, use disinfecting wipes on the couch and recliners (thank goodness for wipeable furniture) and use cute towels or doilies on the other furniture he sleeps on. I make a DIY febreeze with essential oils, vodka and water. We clean soooo much more often, which is probably a net positive given how much I hate cleaning but hate the idea of pee butt more.

Biscuit Reynolds is OBSESSED with outside. Persian cats aren’t great indoor/outdoor cats because they have high maintenance coats. ALF and Bear didn’t give any fucks about going outside and they were very easy. We take Biscuit outside on a harness and leash and let him roam around. I tried walking him with Macy one time and that was not so successful since Biscuit Reynolds doesn’t like to walk in a linear fashion and mostly wants to crouch in the grass and chew on it.

I bought him some grass to eat in the house, he refused it. Outside grass only.

We are now getting him groomed as short as possible with no frilly cat stuff like puffy paws so that he’s easier to keep clean. We keep his water bowls small but numerous so he can’t quite dunk his whole head. Our groomer gave me this spray to help neutralize the pee smell on his hindquarters. We are trying a custom diaper next to see if it keeps him dry and still enables him to poo in the litter box.


Biscuit Reynolds turned out to be a lot more maintenance than we thought. If we knew going into it how much care he would require Dara would have easily talked me out of it. However, since my experience caring for my Grandmother while she POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) I am rethinking how I feel about “care.” Caring for her was an incredible bond that I’ll never forget. I am rethinking the care I provide my pets as bonding. I wanted to snuggle with a cat but in my tender care it gives me and Biscuit Reynolds a sweetness that is more intense than just having cats, feeding them and scooping the litter box.

I feel like given how much we tried to not get a special needs cat and still ended up with one, it’s like this special lesbian cat work we were called for. We’ve already given him energy healing with Syd, our healer. I also give him Reiki all the time. And on the docket when our money situation is more abundant, we want to seek out a specialist to do a surgery on his urethra to try to correct how he pees. We also got a message from our healer about seeking out essential oil therapy for him so if anyone knows a healer in the natural/herb arts for pets please let me know! Or if you’ve had a similar situation with a cat let me know!

I know the care intimacy is working because within a month I genuinely felt love for him, and it keeps on growing. I’m also kind of obsessed with him because he’s so weird, so sweet and so handsome.

2016-10-21

You are Stronger Than You Think: Grief, Resilience and Capricorn Resistance

Last week I was shaving my newly adopted cat’s legs in an effort to mitigate his pee smell from peeing on his legs. “Shaving Day” was not a success and continues to be the official low point in our three week relationship. Lucky for me, it was a very consumptive process because I missed the texts from my mother when Grandmother went missing.

biscuitreynoldsHe’s so cute but the pee smell is so gross.

After I released Biscuit Reynolds to his 18 hours of post-shave sulking, I checked my phone. Mom’s series of texts were heart-wrenching, but I was already relieved to have read the most recent one. “I called Eisenhower and talked to Grandmother. She was in the hospital getting tests. She’s being released right now.” The first texts talked of asking me to join the hunt looking for Grandmother. She lives independently and doesn’t love her cell phone so we have to catch her at home in order to reach her. Mom hadn’t reached her in too long and got worried. On a whim she called Grandmother’s favorite hospital and asked for her room—and got her!

bevingrandmothermay2015Me and Grandmother in May 2015 on a visit from NYC. Being closer to her geographically was a big reason I wanted to move to LA.

I’ve been kind of wrapped up in my grief around Amanda’s suicide, so I was glad for a happy and swift resolution. Then I recounted the story to my partner Dara and started weeping. A coping strategy I have from my traumatic childhood is to be able to stay separate from my Feelings during crisis. I’m a complete rock star in crisis, I can solve shit, I can organize, I can motivate—I know how to stay safe and I know how to keep other people safe. This is a great skill but not great for emotional health and the Feelings always come. The weeping while I was telling Dara gave me the warning bell that I wasn’t done having these Feelings about Grandmother going missing.

Later that day I walked into Target and then started melting down. Have you ever sobbed at Target? It’s not cute. Part of what has been hardest for me with Amanda isn’t just the loss of her, it’s how much I identify with her and it’s scary. If the world was too hard for Amanda, will it be too hard for me? This thought often propels me to make the phone call even though I feel awkward talking about my Feelings in Target. I know I need to not isolate and I need to ask for help. So I called Bridget (she’s been so amazing this past month).

grandmotherbevinshermansMe and Grandmother at Sherman’s on Friday. When I asked the waitress for Shabbat candles for the table she was very confused.

I got through everything and then talked to Grandmother. Her test was a biopsy on a mass on her lung. She had gone to urgent care because she was coughing up blood and then they sent her right to the ER who admitted her to find the mass, do the biopsy. Grandmother didn’t call us because she doesn’t get a cell signal at the hospital and “didn’t know anyone’s numbers by heart.”

The fact that Grandmother might have cancer was a lot for me to take. Dara just celebrated two years out of cancer treatment in August. I, unfortunately, know a lot about cancer from supporting her through it. In spite of looming work deadlines, Dara offered to come with me to Grandmother’s the next morning to keep her company while she got the biopsy results from the doctor.

cancersurvivorpark1In May 2015 we did this photo shoot at the Cancer Survivor’s Park in Rancho Mirage, CA. We had NO idea Grandmother would have cancer–that’s the one thing that doesn’t really run in our family.

That night I was snuggling with Dara in “the nook.” My thoughts started floating to the grief places and I was crying. I realized I was soaking her shirt with my silent tears and I rolled over to my side. I felt like I was getting away with something. When you’re grieving sometimes you think your sadness, hurt, confusion, anger, depression is too much for your loved ones. Because often, it’s too much for you. Normally I spit in the face of anything that says I’m “too much” but I’m an independent Capricorn and sometimes I like to seem more together than I really am. Crying silently on my side of the bed felt like I could be more of a mess than Dara thought.

I instantly related to Grandmother. Like me and Dolly Parton, Grandmother is a Capricorn. So is my Great Grandmother and my Great Great Grandmother. An epic line of Capricorn women who in each past generation with deepened misogyny had to seem together and not lose it in front of anyone about grief and abuse and alcoholism and who knows what other trauma legacies are in there. Capricorns are the goat climbing the mountain. Persistent, ambitious, success-driven, not showing weakness. The cardinal Earth sign. The Keep It Together and Look Good Doing It sign.

I understood Grandmother’s reticence to ask for help when she got swept away to the hospital, to sit in a bed by herself and not call her kids or grandchildren. Just to do it on her own and not bother anyone. Getting away with not seeming like a mess or like she needed anything.

cancersurvivor2

I felt glad to relate to her and understand her motivation to isolate. I understand it with love and not judgment. I was also glad to be forcing myself on her to support her through the diagnosis the next day. I was sure she didn’t need someone to be there. She is always so happy and grateful when I come to visit I knew it wasn’t an imposition.

Dara caught on to me crying eventually and got me tissues and was her rock star supportive self. She drove two hours with me into the desert to Grandmother’s house in Rancho Mirage. She sat at the table with me and Grandmother googling the diagnosis, a mass on her lung but possibly a type of adrenal cancer or maybe lung cancer I still don’t know. She showed Grandmother her chemo karaoke video from her cancer vlog “Cancer Can Be Cool” and talked Grandmother through her experience with cancer treatment and how Dara insisted on positivity from everyone in her life.

daragrandmotherchemokaraokeDara worked so hard on that Chemo Karaoke video–she filmed it on her birthday during a chemo infusion at the Memorial Sloan Kettering chemo center where she got her treatment.

My idea was to go out to Sherman’s, our family’s favorite restaurant, a Jewish deli. (Better than most places I’ve been to in NYC—there I said it.) I wanted us to have a celebration for Grandmother’s cancer survival and success. I believe in the power of positive thinking more so than just about anything in my faith arsenal. If you’re going to go for a positive attitude might as well celebrate and have fun.

celebrationfood

We’re in the day by day diagnosis phase right now, where we wait for the next test result, next doctor referral. It’s maddening to a Capricorn like me who wants to plan and know what’s happening. But that’s not how the world works and I have to keep using lots of tools to be cool with it. I’m on my second listen to the just-released audio book The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein and it’s got a lot of tools for working with the flow of the Universe, womanifestating and for finding serenity.

I told Grandmother that part of my vision for being a rich lesbian is having a big ol’ compound where she would be able to live in her own space in our house, hold court with my friends (who all love her or will love her, she’s so charming) and she won’t have to deal with telling the gardeners they are not doing a good job she can just tell my house manager. But since I’m not yet a rich lesbian I need her to hold on a lot longer. We gotta beat this.

cancersurvivorpark2The Cancer Survivor Park in Rancho Mirage is really great. Worth a visit if you are in Palm Springs.

There’s a lot to worry about, both me and her. She’s older than she looks and that means she gets a lot of ageism when people look at her chart instead of her whole picture of human health. I can certainly relate to doctors looking at weight and not the whole picture of human health. She is always concerned that she won’t get to live independently anymore. I want to be able to be there a lot for her treatment but we just adopted this cat and he stressed out with us gone for one night that he started pooping blood. I just recommitted myself to finishing the memoir I shelved during Dara’s cancer treatment.

I get that worry is a misuse of imagination. I’d rather focus on how fun it will be to make art projects and adventures out of her cancer treatment. We almost convinced her to sing a Dolly song for an instagram video to help me promote Dollypalooza LA on October 29th! She’s got cute stories about being almost famous early in her life, about being constantly mistaken for a celebrity while living in Beverly Hills and now I think everyone thinks of her as an older celebrity while she’s tooling around Palm Springs. We are hopeful she’ll consent to being part of Dara’s cancer vlog. Grandmother is basically a gay icon waiting to happen.

daragrandmotherwalkingHeart emoji. Literally every time I write a gratitude list Dara is at the top.

Before Amanda died, the phrase “You are stronger than you think” kept popping into my head. I didn’t realize it then but that was the Universe telling me I am ready and resilient, even as I don’t really feel either just yet.

cancersurvivorpark3

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