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

2012-10-25

Book Review: Cheryl B.’s My Awesome Place

I am totally delinquent posting this book review since I read a preview copy from the publisher a couple of months ago during my Summer of Memoir. I’ll be honest, I’ve had a really hard time writing this review because Cheryl B., the author of My Awesome Place, was my friend and she is dead. This is not a spoiler alert, it’s in the first line of the foreward by Sarah Schulman. “Cheryl Burke died of medical malpractice in June 2011 at the age of 38.”

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Cheryl B., Diana Cage, Molly Equality Dykeman, Me and Kelli Dunham at Nerd Love in February 2011, Kelli and Cheryl’s Valentine’s Day show.

But the book is out and Cheryl’s friends and her literary executor put together her memoir work so that it could be published and we can know more about her life. Like what it was like to grow up in Staten Island and New Jersey in an alcoholic home with a controlling mom and a dad who broke a plate of spaghetti over her head when she told him she got into NYU. How she drowned her feelings in alcohol and drugs but also learned how to trust her creative spirit. How she became this amazing poet and performer and made a name for herself in the 90s on the slam poetry scene, touring the country and writing plays.

How she dealt with continuing a relationship with her family even though it wasn’t at all easy. Working through her father’s death. Watching her good friend go through cancer and acting as his caretaker. How she bounced back from a guidance counselor who told her to be a toll taker on the NJ Turnpike and clearly she is a genius artist (that part of the book actually made me angry).

It sounds like everything in the book is heavy stuff. And even though a lot of it is, Cheryl moves through the words with such energy it becomes easy to understand, move through it and laugh a lot. Cheryl’s really well known for her sarcasm and wit and that blankets the book.

I felt like it was such a gift, to get to know her better through this book. I had no idea what she lived through and how she managed to become the caring and wry person I knew. I knew she had been ten years sober but I didn’t know the extent of her survival.

I also enjoyed her journey to her sexuality. It’s trite to say it’s a coming out story, but it is a really compelling path to dating women and starting to have serious girlfriends and then having a boyfriend and navigating people’s reactions and judgments around queerness and bisexuality. I think folks who have experience dating across the gender spectrum will find this aspect very relatable.

Cheryl B

Similarly, she was fat as a teenager she talks about navigating in a world when she went to college and lost all of her weight and got skinny. I wish the book had gone into that more, but it is relevant to her story and dealt with sensitively and not like some kind of narrative where the main character gets skinny and suddenly everything is okay. Everything is certainly not okay with Cheryl when she loses weight.

Her cat is also a central character and I deeply appreciate that aspect. It seems sometimes that Sabrina the cat is the only thing keeping her alive.

Kelli Dunham, my friend and Cheryl’s widow, wrote the afterward about her cancer and finding the support network of her friends.

Cheryl B and Bevin at Speling B for Cheryl B.
Me and Cheryl at the Spelling Bee for Cheryl B. I organized with my fellow Re/Dress Shop Girls. She was heartily nerd identified and this was a great way for folks to show their support for Cheryl both monetarily and spiritually.

Writing this review I had a memory of Cheryl before the spelling bee coming to Re/Dress and changing behind the counter into these black patent leather stiletto boots and I remember thinking “Man, Cheryl is such a bad ass.” And there is a scene in the book where she walks up and down Manhattan in black stiletto boots looking for a job as a cocktail waitress and I thought “Man, Cheryl is such a bad ass.” And maybe that’s the message of this book. Cheryl was a bad ass and you can be, too.

It’s hard to promote a book when the author isn’t around to do a book tour or go on the Today Show or whatever. It’s also really awesome to support small publishers and Topside Press is really awesome and providing a venue for a bunch of queer and trans authors to get their voices heard. Buy Cheryl’s book! (If you order it before the end of Friday you can get a free ebook in addition to the paperback.)

2012-10-23

Window Shopping with Simply Be

Hi friends! This featured post is brought to you in partnership with Simply Be, as an introduction for my readers. The words are all mine, but Simply Be and I both believe everyone deserves to look amazing at every size!

Simply Be offers clothing in UK sizes 10-28, US 8-26.

I’m super into the Gok Wan retro lingerie collection for Simply Be!

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This bra and high waisted brief combo is so killer! I also really appreciate that the photographs for the retro collection are pin-up styled because, lez be honest, that’s the look I’m going for with my underthings!

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I also love the Gok Wan Divine Outline shaper. I love shapers used as tools and not for body shame. Last night I performed in a performance art tribute to Taylor Swift and reinterpreted the Taylor Swift song “Speak Now,” her wedding busting up song. And I dressed like a bride. And dressing like a bride means bridal shapewear and that kind of stuff is no joke. I came home with some intense marks on my body. I was actually longing for a piece like this outline shaper that’s just about squishing in the right place and not about digging into me with a ton of extra boning. Fashion! (P.S. Shapewear is great for staying warm in the Winter!)

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A friend of mine was just raving about Simply Be bras and I deeply adore a Marilyn Plunge bra. I think the essential garment I wear every day is a plunge bra, regardless of how cleavagey an outfit happens to be.

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This Joe Browns Honeycomb Knit Dress is to die for! I love this for workwear or hanging out. I actually am totally adverse to regular sweaters and prefer sweater dresses where I get to choose where my waistline is.

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Great for going out, the Stud Detail Tunic Dress! I think it’s super sexy and edgy but is still something you can wear to your significant others’ corporate cocktail party.

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I love retro looks in modern fabrics and the Ring Printed Dress With Collar blends this well. The peter pan collar is so sweet and I still think the dress is sophisticated and not totally twee.

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The Joe Browns Fur Collar Coat is really close to the coat I wear all the time in the Late Fall. I created mine by pairing a vintage fur collar with a jaquard coat, but this is actually all the work done for you. And I get compliments every single time I wear it. This coat with the rose details is incredible.

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Simply Be also carries a ton of wide calf boots, including Legroom Boots Extra Ultra Large Calf Width. That’s a lot of superlatives but they are super foxy!

2011-11-15

Introducing Plus Size Brand Marisota

Hi friends! This featured post is brought to you in partnership with Marisota, as an introduction for my International readers. The opinions and language are all mine!

I was asked to look through the plus size ladies wear from Marisota. The first thing I do when I find a new plus brand is check out their shapewear and lingerie.

Well-made plus size shapewear is hard to find and I really appreciate the variety on the Marisota site. I am not a shapewear proponent for everyday, but it can help wiggle you into an outfit, smooth out a line, help prevent chub rub or act as a strapless bra that won’t migrate. The building block for a lot of fat style for ladies, men and gender benders is often found in the wonders of a foundation garment.

Marisota Plus Size Ladies Wear
I love the Gok Wan Osaka Shaper. Super cute Cherry Blossom print. Goes up to 46C.

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I’ve never found a plunge body shaper going up to size 48C. Naturally Close Plunge Bodyshaper.

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They have tons of bras all the way up to size 50. Like this babesauce navy situation Milliarosa Underwired Bra.

Marisota Plus Size Ladies Wear
Their boot selection is extensive and they carry lots of wide width calf styles that go up up up in fit. Like these Patent Riding Boots!

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I’m also a fan of this Zandra Rhodes Vintage Print Dress.

Marisota Plus Size Ladies Wear
And really intrigued by Joe Brown’s Ultimate Coat. There is so much going on but I think it could look really cool. I am into statement pieces as outerwear as a means to combat the Winter blah blah blahs.

Sadly they don’t ship to the US–yet. I will let you know when I find out that they do!

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