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

2014-01-23

I Got Back Together with My Ex and Started Relationship Coaching with the Lesbian Love Guru

This is the first entry in a series about my experience with Relationship Coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru. Follow the lesbian love guru tag on the blog to catch all the entries!

In November of 2012 I started dating someone who I thought was just going to be a friend with benefits. That turned into a super deep connection I wasn’t expecting. Neither of us did. I went with it and we fell into a “thing” we were calling “keeping company,” a delightfully old fashioned term she picked up from her uncle’s description of his courtship of her aunt thirty plus years ago. We had a lot of fun together but ran into a lot of static around a few areas, including communication. It took me until months after it ended to realize that how disparate our semantics often were. She would be saying one thing, using the same words I would use, but mean something completely differently than I was understanding. Like we’re both calling something an apple but really I mean a peach.

8868390850_f762dea0b1_oLast May. Photo by Grace Chu.

Things ended at the end of March when the fact that she didn’t want to be in a relationship, and hadn’t wanted to be in one in the first place, meant we needed to break-up. In our first iteration, things were just always so hard for us together emotionally, and when you don’t want to be in a relationship you don’t want to do the work to be together. She was also preparing for an epic, possibly forever, road trip. Selling all of her possessions, getting some part time consulting she could do remotely, and staying with loved ones a few weeks at a time. A life in an RV I’ve been visioning for a long time, a tiny version of which I took in 2011, but she was going solo.

I had thought we could eventually transition to long distance in some way, and we fell back into an “ambiguous” relationship status within three weeks of breaking up. Eventually that fell apart, too, she left town and I thought I’d never talk to her again. By the end of that ambiguous period I had my own reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with her. Our mutual frustration lapsed into a long period of radio silence.

I recognized that the grief I was feeling about the break-up was incommensurate with the loss. I started doing some spiritual work through the help of Katie at Empowering Astrology. She helped me cut emotional cords and end what she described as a karmic cycle Dara and I were in.

Cut to October, when we had a pretty organic reconnection. She was back in NYC for a couple of weeks and we met-up and made peace. I thought maybe we could try “benefits without friends,” as a way to just focus on what always worked with us. (Sex.) I could slot her into my life the way a few treasured friends have; when we’re in the same town we sleep together if our relationship statuses allow for it and the rest of the time we’re just casual friends that text every now and again. This was a mildly complicated idea for me because I knew I was still in love with her I just couldn’t be in a relationship with her.

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Life threw us a giant curve ball because when Dara was in town she happened to visit her GYN for her annual exam and they found a lump. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after she had gone back to LA (where she was at the time) from her NYC visit. (She’s been video blogging her experience with cancer.)

What does it mean when your ex gets diagnosed with breast cancer? I didn’t know. I knew I was still in love with her, that had never changed. I knew I didn’t want her to be my girlfriend because I’m really dedicated to loving unconditionally and to want her to be my girlfriend would mean I would require her to change… and I didn’t want to do that. So I resolved myself to just be there for her as much as I could be. “Open heart and good boundaries,” became my mantra. A witchy friend even prescribed a tincture of Ocitillo which I serendipitously found in a South Brooklyn apothecary.

We hung out when she got back to NYC to start treatment. It was really great and really easy. We hung out again. And then another time. The quality of conversation, the ease at which we were able to tread topics that would have been hard or hurty before was surprising. I was able to do the things that I liked to do to support her–cooking nourishing meals, being sweet to her, giving massages. As well as encouraging her to relax and do self-care, two things she is now learning how to do post-diagnosis that she’s never prioritized before. The ways in which I thought I needed her to change kind of melted away, and somehow I was different, too.

I was a little confused. I mean, when does your ex become your lover again? She has breast cancer and sex is life affirming. And all the in between moments were so magical. I kept telling my friends I felt like Dara and I were in a different dimension.

There was other stuff, too. I kind of thought I could be there for her but there’s no way she could show up for me, having cancer. And then my December 2013 took hold, three friends passed away in the span of two weeks and the week before Christmas I unexpectedly and quickly had to put my beloved cat ALF to sleep just six months after his brother Bear passed. And through it all Dara was a champion–supporting me, handling logistics, making sure I could bring Macy with me to the vet when I had to rush ALF to the kitty ER for his final moment. After my fiance and I broke up I swore I wouldn’t get serious about someone again until we had gone through a crisis together. Being with Dara in this iteration feels like we’re running a gauntlet–except we’re laughing, holding hands and getting through it in this hopeful and happy way I never knew was possible. Like if we can be this good in a crisis how nice will life be when we can just work and travel together?

1497957_10201768063297968_397615989_oAfter her first lumpectomy surgery (she had to go back in for a reexcision lumpectomy two and a half weeks later) I was in the recovery room with her and we made a game about how silly of a photo we could create with found hospital objects. Together we conceived her Rudolph look.

With the heady mix of old intimacy and new relationship energy, I suggested we might want to get relationship coaching. In fact, neither of us is willing to call each other “girlfriend” yet because we want to eliminate fears of slipping back into old communication patterns and the stuff that was so hard before. It hasn’t happened yet, we’ve done a great job of communicating through rough spots; often we just stop a conversation that feels like it could get sticky and awkwardly back out of it. But it could happen, and a professional might help us set the kind of foundation we never had before.

Enter Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru, who I met over the summer. I was thinking of working with her as a single person who wanted to open myself up to finding the future Mx. Branlandingham. When Dara and I were starting to become a “thing” again, I read some of the Lesbian Love Guru blog entries (full of incredible tips) and this one about High Quality Quality Time totally helped me. In the entry she suggested having a conversation where you figure out which activities create the deepest sense of connection between both of you. So I had that conversation with Dara one day cuddled up in bed. Thinking about what I needed in a connected moment helped me ask for that the next time we were both having a rough day. (The connected activity for me was praying together, by the way.)

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Hanging out in this week’s blizzard.

The success I had with applying the tips from the blog entry definitely told me that Christine would make a great coach for us. And there’s a huge difference from following advice in a blog and working directly with someone to create a program for you. That’s why I love coaching!

We corresponded via email and she offered me one of her free introductory sessions.

I talked to her on the phone during the session and she explained that her coaching can take different forms. Sometimes she works just with one of the people in a relationship, who then takes the work back and applies it to the relationship. Sometimes she works with both partners separately and sometimes she works with them together. I had originally envisioned the two of us on Skype with Christine building capacity for our communication, but she said she would want to start with a session where the two of us spoke to her on our own to get our perspectives.

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Christine also has experience coaching folks in polyamory, which was great for us because some of our stickiness is around establishing a foundation where we can create some kind of non-monogamy or polyamory that works for both of us. I’ve never successfully done non-monogamy in a primary relationship and Dara has been practicing polyamory for twenty years.

Even though she’s called the “lesbian” love guru, Christine actually coaches folks of all genders, on the trans spectrum and some straight couples. Because at the end of the day, relationships are relationships.

During the first session where we each spoke separately, Christine asked us for each of our versions of our first iteration, what areas of growth we wanted in our relationship and what we were hoping for out of coaching. Dara remarked afterward that she felt “heard” about our first iteration for the first time ever. Christine is really easy to talk to and is great at asking the right questions to open you up.

I’m excited to work with Christine moving forward. I’ll be blogging about the experience so stay tuned!

Christine is offering a limited number of free introductory sessions to readers of my blog (with folks later in the game on a waiting list). The first session is great–it’s a great way to see if she’s a match for what you want. Again, Christine works with established couples and single folks and people of all genders and sexualities (even though the landing page is geared towards women specifically). She’s really great and in that introductory call you’ll walk away with tangible stuff you can apply to your life to help you open yourself up to a great relationship.

Also, this week Christine and I were both featured in the Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit. Hopefully you got to catch our interviews when they were released, but if you missed them you can download them as a package (along with a slew of other great interviews about money, nutrition, love, travel, healing and body love). Click here to view more details

2013-12-17

Link Farm: Marriage is not a Coupon to Redeem, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Supporting a Loved One through PTSD

I have three things to share with you today that I’m pretty excited about. The first is an article I wrote for Autostraddle to celebrate the launch of their fancy new redesign! It’s all about marriage rights for queers and how marriage isn’t our only option.

“Marriage is like a chlorinated community pool that we now have access to. I think that people forget that queers have been swimming in the ocean the whole time. We have always had to be creative about how we create our love relationships and, now that we don’t have to be creative, I hope we still can be.”

Check it out on Autostraddle!

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This dress is the closest thing I have to a wedding gown right now and I love it so deeply. Gratuitous shots of two of my favorite people and heroes, Barbara Carrellas and Kate Bornstein. The documentary about Kate is available to tour to schools and festivals, get in touch with Sam the director–I saw it last weekend and it is phenomenal.

The second thing is that it is December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. It’s a day of remembrance and solidarity for folks lost this year. Sex work is work, and it can be extremely dangerous as media, laws and other social constructs create a society in which sex workers are not seen as people who deserve protection and are disposable. Working to legalize sex work is something I’ve been interested in since I was in law school over a decade ago. Right now I work with Desiree Alliance, an organization that brings together harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers.

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Me and Jacqueline at the Desiree Alliance Conference last summer. The next one is in the Summer of 2015.

To borrow from my friend Fancy Feast, who says it so eloquently:

I would be nowhere without the sex workers in my life. Today and every day we need to be doing what we can as allies and advocates to make their work safer. That means all sex workers everywhere, not just the white ones, not just the cis ones, not just the ones with college degrees. Every. Last. One of them.

You can learn more about December 17th events and projects here.

The third link I wanted to share was this article about Supporting a Loved One Through PTSD or Panic Attacks. I’ve been going through a lot lately both on my own level with many deaths (three in total) and then also as a caretaker and supporter of a person with breast cancer. As of this morning, I’m maybe going through the process of putting down my other cat (I put down Bear six months ago). It’s a lot! And the last three weeks have been kind of a huge emotional roller coaster. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a difference in care and support and I liked this article and thought it might be useful for folks who look at someone going through a hard time and wonder what to do. For me, right now, it’s just folks being there and being willing to listen.

Often in the midst of the episode, the distressed person doesn’t necessarily have their full vocabulary and can’t articulate exactly what they need in that moment. Afterwards, they may avoid talking about it out of embarrassment, fear, or a desire to preserve the peacefulness of the present.

So how do you learn what is helpful?

If you’re like my partner, mostly through trial and error. However, this cartoon inspired me to draw up a list of tips, taking from my own preferences as well as those of some friends. They’re not universal, but they’re a starting point, I think, for the right mindset.

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My friend Avory cuddling ALF on Friday night.

2013-07-23

Mind Diet: Ways I’m Tuning my Radio Dial to Joy

Years ago I started calling my blog a chronicle of the relentless pursuit of my joy. I’ve known from The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (I highly recommend reading it or listening to the abridged audio book) that joy is a compass that helps you find where you’re meant to go in this world. It’s amazing how you can hear something and believe something but putting it into practice is really difficult. One step at a time, definitely.

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Photo by Grace Chu from Yes Ma’am this weekend.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a spiritual advisor/friend about my businesses and how I’ve been struggling to make financial ends meet for the last year while still carving out time to finish my book. I am a part time attorney with my own firm as well as give workshops and produce events. These are all pursuits that bring me different levels of joy and connection. Her insight was, “Maybe you don’t believe you deserve this life? Maybe there’s something blocking it?” Something resonated deep and I’ve been working on the deserve part of it ever since.

A bit after that I had three big, weird, hard and hurtful things happen within twenty-four hours–culminating in this subway harassment. I was doing a lot of crying about these things and struggling. I am a faithful person who believes in the ultimate good in the universe but I had some moments of looking up into the sky going “Really?”

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Me and Leo at Prime. Photo by Drae.

My friend Drae throws this party for queers over thirty called Prime. (Next one is August 17th in Brooklyn.) One of the amazing things she has at the party is free “Woo Counseling.” An intuitive named Shaina sits with you, does a read on you or clears your chakras. I agreed to work the door at Prime as long as I got to see Shaina first before my shift. I told Shaina about the three events and she said, “You’re doing great! These things are just telling you you’re on the right path! What you need to do is change your radio frequency to joy and this stuff won’t affect you so hard.”

She explained that we vibrate on different frequencies. It’s very similar to how thoughts control your life (see Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life for a great primer on the law of attraction). If you’re on a dial where you think everything is against you, shift it up a few notches and vibrate on joy. Focus on happiness, silliness, playfulness, creativity. I do a lot of regular practices to keep my creative juices flowing and focusing on joy is definitely one I had been letting slip in my artistic hygiene. I’m a very positive person, but even when you believe in positivity it’s easy to slip and forget to revel.

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Tying Miss Mary Wanna’s corset. Just an average Saturday night in a Noxema commercial.

So I took Shaina’s advice. I got even more focused on grounding myself every day. I turn my phone to airplane mode when I go to bed and I don’t turn it back on until I’ve woken up, had iced lemon water, written my morning pages, done my affirmations, given ALF his pill and told my dog I love her. Morning pages are a practice from The Artist’s Way and they are a sort of meditative, tenth step inventory, prayerful, garbage dump of thoughts longhand on three pages every morning. Some people do 20 minutes but I need to fill the pages and sometimes the thoughts come fast or slow.

I have a bunch of affirmations I’ve written for myself but I also incorporate these Badass Resilience: Black and Brown Femme Survivor Love and Desire Affirmations By Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Keisha Williams every morning. Looking into a mirror and saying them into my eyes if I can.

I feel pretty awesome that I’ve done all of these grounding exercises (and even some yoga) every day for four weeks, which is remarkable consistency for me.

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I went to this party on Pride weekend that was definitely a remake of the U4EA episode of 90210. Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography.

Shaina also suggested I have a “mind diet” and focus on my joy. Learn a song and perform it in a video, for no big deal other than to do it. I started learning a song but what I ended up doing with it was using the song whenever my mind was slipping to not joyful thoughts.

I also know that gratitude practice is really helpful for me to orient myself to joy. The idea is that if you focus on the abundance in your life it will attract more abundance.

Lately I have been taking note of these moments that feel like a Noxema commercial in my life. You know in the opening scene of Clueless where Cher narrates, “I know you’re going, is this like a Noxema commercial or what? But I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.” Cher totally doesn’t have a normal life, and neither do I. I think the first moment I thought of that I was watching a bunch of my friends dance on a bench at WHAM BAM in the twilight while Hall and Oates was playing.

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Noxema Commercial moment happened really soon after this. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

Every time I have a Noxema commercial moment I stop and acknowledge it. Either to myself or to my friends specifically. At a midnight beach party on the third of July, my friend Quito spent three nights staking out the perfect illegal spot for folks to converge on a beach in the Rockaways. It was so dark you couldn’t see anyone but the folks you came with. It was intimate, adventurous and completely beautiful. Last week late night pool party swimming with a bunch of queer porn stars and sex workers at a conference in Vegas. I was in the pool commenting to someone, “This is my real life.”

I appreciate these crazy adventures, I appreciate all the living I do through even the rough spots that hurt. I think the hurt is sand paper that’s smoothing out the parts that need it so I can fit myself to the next adventure. Maybe if I wasn’t hurt so hard when my engagement ended nearly six years ago I wouldn’t have the alchemy needed to have these Noxema commercials in the summer of 2013?

I think this plays into the “do I deserve this” question which is that since I am given it and I work hard for it, I do deserve it. I get to enjoy it and revel in it. I should do those things.

My friends have also been amazing. I have had a hard time being open to romantic interludes but letting my friends woo me has been great practice at heart opening. Three weeks in a row I got flowers from a friend just because they wanted to be sweet to me. Even the amount of kind words has been incredible. Jacqueline in particular has been the most romantic friend I’ve ever had, last week in Vegas she woke me up by spooning me when she knew I needed it and drew me a bath after she saw me having a hard conversation–this bath also had bubbles, rose petals, Prince’s “Adore” on repeat (one of my favorite Prince songs) and hotel-brewed hibiscus iced tea. Her game is FIERCE.

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So I’ve been on this mind diet for a month and I have to say I had to suspend a little disbelief about it (as in thoughts of “I don’t know if this is really working”) because I’ve had this weirdo cloud over me for awhile. I know that I can hold multiple conflicting emotions at once, which is not something I realized I could do until a couple of years ago. For example, just because I have some sadness and hard feelings that creep around doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy other things and experience moments of joy. Conversely, just because I have the mind diet doesn’t mean that suddenly everything was great. Being joyful requires work, tons of self care and conscious orientation towards exuberant joy.

But I think it’s really working. It’s been one month exactly since I began it. Because I was doing such good work focusing on my feelings, I could parcel out things I might need some bigger help with. I emailed Katie at Empowering Astrology about it and she said it was work I could do on my own, but if I wanted to have a 30 or 60 minute session with her to work on it we’d see if Spirit wanted it and the money would come. And then, the very next week, I won a session with her in a raffle at a conference I went to. It was very random and serendipitous. The session I had with her yesterday helped me feel more empowered and lively than I have in months. Not since my break-up/extended break-up remix and my cat passed away.

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Perhaps just the presence of the divine Jacaueline Mary in my life makes it a Noxema commercial?

I might write up my session more in-depth when I figure out the words for the twists and turns of the universe lately, but today I’m just enjoying this simple joy, release and lightness of being. Here’s a write-up from my first session with Katie.

So, to summarize, this is how my mind diet tuning my radio dial to joy went down:

1. I ground myself every morning.
2. I focus on gratitude.
3. I do silly things.
4. I shift negative/hard thoughts towards joyful ones.
5. I pay attention to my feelings.
6. I ask for help.
7. I let love in.

For sure I am going to keep these practices up. I would love to hear in the comments how you tune your radio dial to joy!

2013-04-26

Untapped Cruising Territory: OK Cupid Mixers

Almost exactly three years ago I started this blog project where I was going to explore places to meet potential dates in New York City that were outside of my comfort zone. I wrote one post (and the adventure did get me a date and a hot make-out, after the fact). Almost exactly two years and fifty weeks ago I rekindled a romance with an ex in LA and stopped needing to cruise because I was back in a long distance thing. Secret monogamous* style.

But, it’s Springtime again! I am looking forward to expanding my horizon! And when a pal of mine who works for OkCupid** offered me a comp ticket to a Queer Women’s Mixer at the Dalloway bar (the newest lez bar in Manhattan) that was exactly one month to the day from my break-up, I thought it was a sign I should try something new. So welcome to post number two in my Untapped Cruising Territory series! Three years later.

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The Dalloway Bar is next door to a doggie day care that has a window for Peeping Lesbians.

Part of moving on is about dipping your toes in the water, finding that fine line between pushing yourself too fast and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so you can grow.

The event: OKC has started to create a little Web 3.0*** action by facilitating events! They have beer tastings and book swaps and lots of other hipster nerd activities to partake in. This one was just a happy hour for folks. You had to preregister on the site and you could even preview people’s tiny photo icons on the website. Pre-cruising at events, like on Fet Life! This event was just a happy hour, with the intent to meet folks. Very low-key.

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Why this is untapped for me: The Dalloway is a bar I’ve only been to once for a friend’s fundraiser. It’s a sort of gaystream place and I hang out in queer gender weirdo crowds. In a big city like NYC we can self-segregate a bit and I am totally guilty of this. (Hence a blog project to not do that so much!) Also, though I am a total extrovert, I hate small talk! I like authentic, deep conversation with people and the whole “being socially lightweight with the questions I ask because you’re a stranger” thing is not my favorite. This is why I want to be a talk show host! I want to get the meat of the question. So happy hour/networking things are hard for me because it’s pretty surface and shallow.

The Outfit:

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You can’t really tell I’m wearing black leggings and hot black motorcycle style boots with studs on the straps.

I went with something casual but signature. I’m a big believer in wearing colors, especially amongst New Yorkers who tend towards greys, browns and blacks. Next time you’re out in Manhattan after work hours see what I’m talking about. I think when you’re doing a thing about meeting potential dates it’s important to look as true to yourself as possible. I mean, you want to be impressive but without compromising authenticity. I didn’t wear red lipstick until after the sun went down. This is not a hard and fast rule for me, this was just because I knew I wanted to sample the Dalloway’s happy hour truffle fries and didn’t want to worry about having to reapply.

The Wing Femme:

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Bridget. Who could basically teach a class on how to be a great Wing Femme. She knows exactly when to draw someone in and when to back quietly out of a conversation. She knows when to remind you the day of the event that you look like a babe, and when to follow-up the next day to remind you that you’re a babe and a great catch. (Hella important traits when making first forays into dating after a break-up.) Bridget’s pretty incredible.

The Scene:

Approximately fifty queers in a swanky basement happy hour space. Before we even got into the bar I ran into another friend whose break-up is about three weeks younger than mine and I commented, “Didn’t you just get your heart broken yesterday?” But sometimes your friends drag you out as soon as you become single to remind you of the vast pussy possibilities out there.

The Dalloway has their own singles night at 8PM every Tuesday, so they were creating this a combo event. You had to be on the pre-paid ticket list for OkCupid in order to get in, and the swanky door folks offered the glow stick tagging bracelets for anyone who wanted them. Options were Single, Taken or D.T.F.**** I selected D.T.F. Why not? It’s pretty representative of how casual I’m interested in being right now. Getting what you want is all about being clear with your desire.

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The thing to do with singles mixers, according to my bestie Victoria, is to make it your goals to meet as many people as possible and not expect to meet the love of your life. I mean, sure, I believe in love at first sight, but that’s for times like at a friend of a friend’s birthday party or over produce at the food co-op and not at a singles mixer. This is just about a numbers game.

What I liked about the happy hour was that everyone was there explicitly to meet people so folks were a lot bolder than they normally would be because there was a group understanding about interacting. So people seemed to free to just float up to a group of folks and start chatting.

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I stayed close to Bridget and let her do the fishing for us. It seemed that between me, Bridget, her friend Blakely and this other girl Jenny she knew, that we kind of group dated other new folks. “Oh, hey, tell us about yourself,” until somehow they hit it off with one or none of us.

I enjoyed some diet coke (I’m not drinking alcohol anymore as a lifestyle choice), truffle fries and a slider. It felt a little weird to be eating at a happy hour where not a lot of people got food, but I was really hungry and honestly if someone is going to be weird about me eating some truffle fries I just don’t think they’re a good match for me, friend or date.

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The slider was really good and so were the fries. But they totally were expensive even for happy hour pricing, at $5 for a mini burger and $7 for fries. Pricey place, that Dalloway.

The verdict: I spent two hours at the mixer and by the end was pretty done talking to new people. I enjoyed my time but small talk is, again, a lot of specific energy and I was excited to go back to talking to my bestie/wing femme. Also I saw a girl out of the corner of my eye that I swore was my ex’s ex (but maybe she just looked like her) and I freaked out a little.

However, I totally met two people I would absolutely go on a date with, so I think in a crowd of fifty that is a total win. I didn’t ask either of them out (or even flirt that much, I’m not that great at subtlety) because I know at this delicate stage I can’t handle even a little bit of rejection. But it is really reassuring and awesome to know that there are babely babes I want to chat up date-style and have hot make-outs with out there and it’s a small queer world, our paths will cross again.

As I left with my friend who is way more freshly broken-up with than I am, I lamented that no one else was flagging D.T.F. and she proudly lifted up her shirt cuff to reveal her yellow wristband. We had a great laugh.

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My friend Regan.

After the event I noticed that we can now see the actual profile listings of the other folks at the mixer, I guess to help facilitate follow-up!

Bridget says, “They call it ‘Okay’ Cupid not ‘Exceptional’ Cupid or ‘Extremely Effective’ Cupid.”

And my friend who works for OkCupid says this:

With OkC, your experience depends a TON on your priorities & expectations. It is great if: you want to meet a lot of people fast, if you’re pragmatic about casting a wide net and proactive about making the first move, if it’s important to you that the person you are meeting for drinks shares some values or interests with you, if your dating prefs are very specific or unusual in some notable but maybe not immediately apparent way (poly, kinky, looking for sex only, etc.) or if you feel like you are otherwise “not for everybody” and would prefer to get hit on by people who are ready for this jelly (see also Bevin’s note about fat strippers doing really well on OkC.) OkCupid is a BAD idea if: you’re sensitive to rejection or deeply bummed out by strangers ignoring you, if tend to assume it’s “me not them” when people aren’t into you, if you’re skeeved by people you don’t consider suitable checking out your profile or contacting you, if a ‘we met cute’ story is important to you, or if you have high expectations around the level of connection you’ll have with the people you meet.

I think that’s a pretty great nutshell for online dating in general, but especially the OkC situation.

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What’s next on the Untapped Cruising Territory for Bevin? I’m going to try my old ideas from 2010, lesbian softball game, the Park Slope Food Co-op, and A Brooklyn Meat-Up (though I don’t remember what this was). And my friends keep telling me about this Lesbian Herstory Archives speed dating thing for 30+, but I’m not so sure about that.

*Secret monogamous is where neither party has agreed to monogamy but both end up just defaulting to monogamy because they don’t want to do it to/date anyone else.

**For those of you who don’t know, OkCupid is a dating website. It’s good for urban queers and our pals. I know many people who have met their partners from it, especially fat burlesque performers who like cisgendered nerdy dudes. It’s a thing.

***Web 3.0 is where you use social media to meet people in real life! Damien Luxe brought this term unto me.

****D.T.F. I learned from watching Jersey Shore, means Down To Fuck. It’s a hilarious conversation starter.

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These people made out at the mixer, I believe they might call this a success.

2013-04-08

Lean into the Discomfort and Breathe: 10 Strategies for Moving Through Grief and Loss in the Wake of a Break-Up

I love to match make for my friends, and occasionally this comes in the form of me logging into someone’s OK Cupid account while we’re hanging out and soliciting people for them. It’s often a lot easier to hit on someone if your friend is doing it for you.

One of my besties let me loose on her iPad and OKC profile last Fall and reported that she ended up getting a few dates from my efforts. Ironically, one of these dates ended up talking random shit about me to my friend. This date said she didn’t like “Bevin or Sarah Jenny,” another party promoter friend of mine, because we “seem happier than normal,” in a way that was about maybe we didn’t deserve to be happy all the time. (My friend, of course, stood up for me and isn’t going out with this girl again. When the date was informed that Bevin was the reason they were even on the date the girl about died.)

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Me and Sarah Jenny in November. I want to point out that SJ and I are both fat femmes who promote parties but we’re really different people and don’t look much alike. I want to believe this girl didn’t say we’re “happier than normal” because we’re both fat and maybe don’t deserve to be happy because of that. I think being happy in a society that tells you that you should hate yourself is a radical act.

I take this (and most) criticism from people who don’t know me with a giant grain of salt. This statement says more about the person than it does about me.

I’m sure a lot of people perceive me to be very happy, perhaps event “happier than normal.” Most people who are not my close friends or even my acquaintances only have a really limited view of my experience. On my blog and in public I tend to focus on the positive, joyful things about my life. That’s a choice I make to live in a positive framework. But, please do not mistake that I am living a happy 24/7 lifestyle because that is far from the case.

Right now, for example, I feel like dead flowers in a vase. My resting state is sort of wilted and sad. The person I had been keeping company* with for a few months in an intensely connected, spiritual, sexual, emotional, intellectual powerhouse kind of way broke up with me two weeks ago. I am heartbroken and focused on healing. My creativity has been sapped and I’m back in a familiar yet different place of heartbreak.** I contain a lot of conflicting emotions at once, which is a hard place to be in because it can feel like a war is going on. I love her and want her to be following her path which, right now, excludes a relationship. I also love us and want to fight for us.

In helping other heartbroken and healing folks out there, I made a list of strategies I am using right now to get through when the only way out is through. My friend Elisabeth told me last week, on a particularly bad day when I listened to too much Taylor Swift (she helps until she hurts), “Lean into the discomfort and breathe.” Much easier said than done, but I know it can be done because I am actually doing it right now.

I am also using things that have been helpful from the Heartbreak MFA post I wrote in 2010 and from Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide that she wrote in 2007. At least all of this collective pain is turning into a break-up survival treasure trove.

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At Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox Mariah Carey tribute last week. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

1. Remind yourself that Feelings are temporary and Feelings aren’t facts.
I know feelings are temporary. I know this from a strong belief but also I know this because I am living Feelings on about a six hour cycle. If I feel really shitty right now probably in about six hours I’ll feel less shitty or differently shitty.

2. Be in the present moment.
When I can get into the present moment fully, I can sometimes distract myself. And sometimes I just really let loose and have a lot of fun, dance with my whole body or engage in a full gut laugh, or a full experience of art. But those in between times are a killer and the sadness seeps in.

I never knew how to “be in the present moment” (which sort of sounds like new age hooey, but it really works) until I practiced it. Here’s a beginner trick. Look around where you are and do an inventory of noticing things. Like when I’m walking/traveling my Feelings are the most dominant so I try to check in with my surroundings. “Look, there’s a cute bird,” “Look there’s a place where the wires look like they spell a lyric to a Bruce Springsteen song,” “OMG that sunset is painting the sky full pink and orange how beautiful.”

3. Stick to the plan even when you don’t feel like it.
Making sure I have plans outside the house with at least one other human and at least once a day has been crucial. I work for myself by myself, my beloved roommate has been on tour this whole time, so I can get really lonely, especially because of that void left by the person you used to talk to multiple times a day. Even though sometimes these plans outside the house involve a lot of internalized kicking and screaming, faking it till I make it often means I end up having a great time and usually/almost forget about my heartbreak for several minutes at a time.

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During the entire performance at Rebel Cupcake last week I felt elated. I realized during the second act, “Good lord I haven’t felt bummed out in over a half hour!”

4. Name your feelings.
I’ve learned that Feelings just need attention sometimes in order to move through them. Being okay if I can’t name them at the moment and maybe just getting into the quality of the feelings. “Sucky” and “bummed” totally suffice in this category.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Going to the gym, doing all of the regular self-care work I usually do but treating it like my job is crucial right now. I actually have a really hard time eating when I’m emotionally distraught and I’ve been scheduling meals out with friends a bunch so that I can distract myself enough to eat. And at home I make sure I have V8 and smoothies and vitamins so I can just get something in there even when I don’t feel like eating.

Have you ever written out a list of what it means to take excellent care of yourself? Maybe now is a good time to start.

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The genius of Shane Shane. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

6. Doing whatever spiritual work makes sense to you.
I’m a really spiritual person, so much of these things fall into my regular self care, but some are special things that might fall into “treat yo self.”

Here’s a list of spiritual activities that help me:

Prayer
Meditation
Tarot reading
Astrological reading
Past life reading
Yoga
Meeting with a spiritual group
Doing rituals by myself or with a group***
Attending or listening to services (I don’t belong to a religion but appreciate spiritual wisdom in many forms and listen to services via TV or podcast by folks who preach positivity)
Going out to sit in nature and watch birds, the ocean, the trees or whatever
Gratitude lists (there is so much to be grateful for)

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket
Jacqueline reached out to me upon hearing about my break-up to offer her tarot services. We met up at Teany and now are blossoming a new friendship! Also it really helped me sort through my stuff.

7. Feel your feelings right now. Be a liberated hot mess.
There’s a lot of empowerment from feeling your feelings as they come. I’ve been crying a lot, wherever whenever, just to let it out, and thus have added to my old lady chic by stuffing tissues in my bra, every pocket and keeping my fancy hankies in all my handbags. I already did that hanky thing, it’s just more diligent.)

I’ve been very honest about my feelings to everyone. Obviously I’m a social butterfly, but the thing about me is that I cannot stand small talk. I also know how empowering it is to be honest about how you are and so I just let people know. Sometimes I soften the blow by making a joke out of it. (“This is my lot in life as a lesbian.”) But even though I soften it being real about my experiences helps me get through it. Authenticity is a very important value to me.

I’ve learned stuffing my feelings as a coping mechanism, hiding from them or doing that classic escapism, rebounding, just makes me have to feel them worse later. Feeling shitty comes with a late penalty. I’d rather just get the grief over with.

Sometimes I feel a little bashful about how sad and needy I am right now, but I know I have people who are safe spaces for it. Spunky has done a lot of watching me cry on google video chat when there’s nothing more to say. (Also, though I am wary about being an energy suck, I actually got a great compliment from someone about how positive I am being in my grief.)

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I was sitting like this eating with my friend Bridget before the party started and Hana walked in and said, “All I can see is tits and barbeque.” Tits deep in BBQ is one of my favorite things to be.

Reaching out for help has been great for me, and letting people who have capacity to lend an ear, text, dinner out come to me has been really successful. Using facebook filters has been a great way to all-call for this. Also, it’s nice to get sympathy from people (and I got a lot of sweet, supportive comments on the “I’m going through a break-up I can’t stop crying” post). That first day when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without crying, my eyes were so puffy I could barely see, I was supposed to go to a dinner party. I debated going (especially since my ex had been invited so there would be all those weird “She was supposed to be here” realizations) but then I realized that this group of people is part of a spiritual work group I’m in, they support me, and if I had to keep running to the bathroom during Seder to cry they would get it. It turned out that it was a perfect distraction, and I didn’t have to worry about “sparkling” with these women, I could just bring my sad self.

It’s incredibly amazing how, if you learn how to receive, times of heartbreak can really show you how loved you are.

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Moment of woo before Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Doing new things with your appearance.
I rarely wear my hair “flat” to my head because I like big hair. But I’m just trying a new thing because new things while I’m feeling intense discomfort help me feel better. And also there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming your body after a break-up. I am vaguely considering going all the way blonde.

9. Proceeding with unconditional love.
I used to play the victim role big time in my break-ups. Learning to acknowledge my loss without vilifying a person in it is a new experience for me. I am hurting, that is my truth. She can’t be in a relationship, that is her truth. I learned a lot from this relationship, including what it is like to really experience unconditional love and conflict from a loving place. I want that to be our experience in a transition place from sweethearts to whatever we’re going to end up being, whether that’s friends or Boston Friends**** or just people who were very connected once but don’t really interact anymore.

This is very difficult work, unconditional love. Especially when that’s not always modeled well, in families, in past relationships, even in the media. How often do you see exes who remain friends in popular culture? How often is it complicated? (Also, as an aside, I think we can all agree that Rayna and Deacon on Nashville are totally Boston Friends.)

My friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me today, “I hope you are being sweet to yourself and opening your heart to transformation.” That’s what I’m intending to do with this break-up. Transforming myself through love. I think with love all things are possible, even hope from a really sad place.

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10. Throwing yourself into a big art project.
This was mentioned in a previous break-up post, but this time around I’m combining my love for traveling in the wake of a break-up (my last one had me heading out on a cross country road trip two weeks later) and my love for consumptive art projects to get through loss. My friends Sarah Jenny and Avory of Hey Queen asked me to produce the decor for the “Queens of the Road” themed party this weekend the day after my sweetheart broke up with me. I thought it was a very serendipitous call to action and I’m knee-deep in hot glue, maps and glitter getting ready for this upcoming weekend.

*Our actual relationship status. Our previous relationship status was “dating or whatever” after I said, less than a month into it, “If we’re still dating or whatever this summer I want to go…”

**It’s sort of crazy how much I can open myself up to loving even more after every heartbreak! And then I feel hurt again when it’s over in a new and different, yet somewhat familiar way. It is a comfort to remember I got over this before, in bigger and worse break-ups, therefore I know there will be gifts waiting for me on the other end.

***A ritual I did recently, after I pulled a tarot card that told me I needed to exfoliate, was to rub my skin with oil, soak during a long, meditative bath, then took great fist fulls of epsom salt and scrubbed my skin invoking newness into my life. I rinsed off and smoothed it all out with lotion.

****My new friend Jacqueline gave me that expression for “More than Friends.”

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This is my “Know Your Own Strength” tattoo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Tattoo by Jason June. New year’s intention by me.

***
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2013-02-20

FAT SEX WEEK: Three Books To Help You Have Better Sex While Fat (Regardless of Whether Or Not You’re Single)

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work, as long as fat girls in lingerie are safe for your work.)

On Friday I discussed seven ways to be a good ally to your fat lover. Now I want to give some tools for folks to become better lovers to themselves–as in, learning to get in touch with your body so you can have better sex.

Growing up fat (or having a body that is in any way non-normative) in a fatphobic society is very damaging. It was very traumatic for me to feel like my body was always “wrong” and I definitely did not feel like I had access to owning my sexuality. In some ways I completely dissociated from my body and interacted with it as little as possible. (I write more about my experience of disembodiment in this post.)

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Look it’s me and my new pal Devin who was kind enough to loan me her ass for this photo when I saw how hot it was. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I used to feel afraid to leave relationships because I was afraid the sex would never be as good as it was with the person I was with–a deep scarcity mentality. “So and so knows my body so well, so and so does this trick how can anyone replicate that?” Those kinds of thoughts. It was as though all those years I wasn’t getting laid because I was checked out from my body I needed to make-up for by staying with the wrong kinds of partners. Like I might never get banged properly again.

I’m here to let you know, dear reader, that these fears were false. If anything, sex has gotten better and better as I’ve gotten older and I know the reason is that I am the common denominator in the good sex I have.

I think each break-up from a relationship with good sex is like getting a gift bag! You learned how to have new and improved sex with that lover. You learned how your body responds to different stimuli, you got to experience someone’s body in new ways and come up with more party tricks to bring to other lovers. Hopefully you explored more your capacity to flourish under someone’s touch. This partying gift is amazing!

You can keep the learning going, single or while in relationships, with a cadre of lovers or while between regular bouts of getting banged. Doing the work of getting to know your body and getting to know yourself sexually is a gift you give yourself for the rest of your life. There are lots of different ways to learn about sex–there is so much knowledge available to willing explorers. Below are three body positive resources that will help you get in touch with your sexuality from a body positive perspective!

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Holly Amory at Rebel Cupcake in February, NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Mind Blowing Sex: A Woman’s Guide by Diana Cage

For people who have bodies that are female in origin, or who have sex with people’s whose mechanics are female in origin, this book is an amazing resource. I’ve read a lot about sex and sexuality but I still learned so much from it.

“Desire, sexual satisfaction, and orgasm truly are fraught more often for us than for men… [T]he ways in which we have been taught to fuck don’t always serve our needs and desires.” Diana talks about the female body from a place of empowerment and learning about the mechanics of your body physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is written from an incredibly feminist perspective. It is woman-empowering and body positive. I didn’t realize how much of our eroticism and what we learn about sex is based on male-centered desire. Ugh, patriarchy is such a boner-killer!

The book includes lots of work book sections where you get to explore your desire and what turns you on. And physical exercises! I felt more in tune with my body and my desires after I read it. (I also got some funny looks on the train while reading it…)

You can get it through my amazon link here, but request it from your local feminist sex toy shop! I’m always surprised when I go into Babeland and I don’t see it on their shelves, mention it to the people who work there but they don’t stock the shelves.

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Me and author Diana Cage.

Fucking Transwomen Zine by Miranda Bellwether

For folks who have transwomen bodies or who partner with transwomen, this zine is incredible! So many great tips for sex and the ways to have fulfilling interactions in a body that is not taught in sex ed and is ignored in the vast majority of mainstream sex how-to literature.

I also think it’s great for anyone who has sex that involves a penis whether or not they identify with it presently. Miranda spends several pages of the zine talking about the soft penis, which is basically ignored in sexual literature but “You can actually do more with a soft penis than a hard penis–if you are creative.”

The zine is full of sex how-tos, body knowledge and autobiography.

Buy it here for only $5! All of the money goes to Miranda!

Ecstacy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas

I did a book review of this book last year, but I wanted to give it special mention here. This is basically a body love “you are worthy of erotic pleasure exactly how you are” goldmine. It’s a workbook, so you’ll need a notebook to go along with you on your sexual exploration, but the work it gives you is worth it.

People of all body types and levels of sexual exploration, especially if they feel cut off from their own sexuality, will totally benefit from a trip into this book. I did most of the work in this book while not getting laid regularly and it really helped me feel more in touch with what I wanted from sex when I was having it again rather than be caught up in the ideas of what I wanted from sex. Really cutting through your own bullshit (and the bullshit we are fed from society about what we should want) and identifying what our desires are is incredibly liberating. It also makes it much easier to find the right partners to explore with!

Read more at my book review and interview with Barbara Carrellas.

Buy the book!

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Me, Barbara and her partner Kate Bornstein at Rebel Cupcake in May, 2012.

Stay tuned! FAT SEX WEEK wraps up tomorrow!!

2012-08-01

50 Shades of Glitter: On Self-Examination and Shifting Desires

I know some folks whose dating histories are full of first timers on the road to Lesbianville. I have plenty to teach a queer newcomer but that just has not been my path, I’ve never been the first queer for a straight person. However, I am often the first Femme folks have ever gone on dates with or slept with. It’s kind of fun to introduce people to what Femme can be and shattering stereotypes. I find most folks who haven’t dated Femmes before me had a lot of really intense ideas about what Femme is or is not and what Femmes do or do not do.

This also has the bummer byproduct of hearing a lot of femmephobic things from folks who are otherwise attracted to me but who are somehow intimidated or otherwise put-off by my Femme characteristics. This has happened a few times and I’m always left wondering if folks really mean they don’t want to date Femmes or they just don’t want to date me. Frankly, I would be less offended if it was the latter because I think most of the time it speaks to unexamined misogyny and Femmephobia to declare that you don’t date Femmes or aren’t attracted to Femme characteristics. Further, just because you might not be into Bevin’s brand of Femme doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be into other brands of Femme.

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Here I am dressed like a gay Narwhal on a queer booze cruise in May. Heather is also pictured.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I see Femme as a diaspora of femininity. There are a lot of definitions of what Femme means to folks, sometimes this is an identity that is static and sometimes it is fluid and only applies some of the time or to some elements of peoples’ identities. I think Femme is a really sparkly umbrella big enough to fit over all of us. Femme is a venn diagram of femininity and empowerment and the way it manifests on different bodies and sexualities is extremely varied. For some Femme is a gender. For me Femme is how I fit into my sexuality but my gender is something else entirely, much more Muppet.

If we’re coming from a place of acknowledging there are so many different ways to be Femme, why is it valid to make a blanket statement that people aren’t attracted to Femmes at all?

I also want to make it clear that this post is as much addressed to Femme-identified folks who don’t do Femme on Femme Action (FOFA) as much as non-Femme identified folks.

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I’ve addressed this tired line before, focusing on debunking Femme as high maintenance. Now I want to focus on shifting desire and whether the idea that one can actually say they all the time never are attracted to Femmes.

Also, gender presentation is such a mystery. Sometimes it changes! And chemistry and desire are such mysteries, but I think desire is the kind of thing that can be cultivated.

I was talking about this with my pal Quito on a boat cruise on the East River a couple of months ago. Quito is someone who I said once their gender was Gonzo and they enjoyed that description. They were really sweet, openly sharing about being intimidated about dating Femmes. Quito said that the Femmes they know are really ferocious and embodied in their identity. Quito’s eyes got big when they said it and there was more and I wish I had taken more notes. But I understood that they were intimidated.

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I really adore Quito so very much.

It’s an interesting statement because while there’s a lot of ferocity there is also a lot of tenderness. Most of the fiercest Femmes I know are pussycats on the inside. I also am reminded of the constant drone of hearing “You’re too much” as a reason to not want to date someone.

I think there’s also an element of inexperience that impedes folks from feeling like moving toward Femmes. Like, if you’ve always done it to the same kinds of folks maybe you don’t know what the experience of certain feminine elements you’re not familiar with is going to do or how it might be different from sex you’ve had before. Maybe you might be bad at it. Maybe it might not be something you like.

For example, one time I got to inaugurate the first time someone had done it with someone who was wearing fishnets. There was some fumbling but it was incredibly hot. I think that’s true for any kind of new sexual experience. I, personally, intend to continue having new and hot sexual experiences well into my golden years. With new and hot things I don’t understand in my present erotic consciousness and new and hot people.* It’s also really exciting and fun to tell the person you’re with that you’re new to something. Perhaps instead of being intimidated by Femme, you confess to your potential new lover “I’ve never done this before.” People love to be the Marco Polo of sex and turn you out. I always give out sexual first time/best time awards when they are earned. Honestly, if I found the right boy scout I’d actually create patches.

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Also doing something for the first time, while fumbly, might just tell you something is not your thing and that’s cool, too. So maybe that’s desire that comes out of trying something that’s not for you.

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And maybe it’s the person who you don’t want to explore with. But if it’s the person just say “I’m not into you like that” or “I’m not feeling chemistry with you” or something along those lines.

But maybe before you say it’s the person interrogate your desire for a second. Are you balking because of them or because you’re feeling intimidated by a new desire? Or feeling some internalized shame for being attracted to femininity and you have some internalized misogyny to work out?

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For every Femme who wears fishnets and heels there are just as many Femmes who wear sneakers and jeans. And also! Also! Femmes who wear fishnets sometimes also are the Femmes who wear sneakers and jeans. For me I feel Femme all the time, no matter what I’m wearing and maybe sometimes people aren’t Femme identified in their sneakers and that’s cool for them. But I think that all permutations of Femme or not-Femme right this second all desireable and can be desireable.

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So, can desires change? Can folks who have never really found Femme attractive or maybe find a Femme attractive in spite of never being attracted to Femmes before shift their desires or get over the shock enough to pursue it?

I was really compelled by this quote by the late Mark Aguhar.

is desire an unacceptable weapon because so many people refuse to believe desire can be controlled

What Mark said popped into my mind a bunch of times while I’ve been pondering this post the last couple of months. I think this can mean a lot of things but here I find it resonates that desire can be directed. Maybe your fear and intimidation by something new is hard to wrap your head around?

Cherry Poppins, a friend from the Bay Area, came to town not long ago and she told me that when faced with a dearth of tops in her town decided to abandon her bottoming only lifestyle and learn how to top in order to get laid. She said she shifted her desire in order to expand her dating pool and it worked. She believes very strongly that desires can change.

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For me, when I examined my internalized fatphobia and began the journey to loving myself and loving fat bodies, I became very attracted to fat people. They were my primary interest for a long time, for a sense of personal safety and kinship. Now my desire is much more body diverse since I can look on a fat person and find them attractive because I am not plagued by my own internalized shame triggered by seeing another fat person.

And I think there’s a lot to plain old chemistry. As someone who has gotten a lot more selective about who I am attracted to (and how much bullshit I will put up with), chemistry can be really hard to find. I don’t want to squander opportunities for hotness with someone because they are triggering something in me that is bringing up shame. I want to work through that and get to a place of hotness.

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There is an undeniable amount of masculine desirability privilege in queer communities. It’s far more socially acceptable in most circles to go after a masculine of center person or a genderqueer person than a Femme. My roommate Damien Luxe is quick to point out this is misogyny and femmephobia at work.

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I wonder if we, as a community and as individuals, start to interrogate our desires and work to unlearn our ableisms/racisms/sizisms/homophobia/misogyny/femmephobia/ageism (etc…) if desire will change? I think it can.

I also think we can be more intentional and mindful with each other in the ways we express our chemistry and desire. I know it would sting a lot less and feel a lot better if folks said something that sounded like they gave a rejection more thought than the same old line of “I’m not interested in Femmes.” It just sounds like a punishment for an identity that is perceived as mutable but for many of us it is absolutely not.**

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Gay Narwhal is not mutable.

*Monogamies permitting, etc…
**Let’s talk about this at FEMME CONFERENCE 2012! Clickie for more information on the conference, August 17-20, 2012 in Baltimore! I’m performing Saturday night and I would love to meet all of my blog readers who are in attendance!!

2012-01-04

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 5: Wyoming, Salt Lake City and Freedom

Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.


To Salt Lake City, UT from Longmont, Colorado via Interstate 25, Interstate 80–through Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

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Longmont is basically spitting distance from the Rockies. GORGEOUS. Majestic.

I left Cam’s at noon to pick up a prescription at a local drug store. I called my doctor because I just felt the slightest hint of an oncoming urinary tract infection and that is NOT CUTE on the road. She called in the prescription. Whatever it was went away quickly with the short course of antibiotics and I am glad I took action for my health instead of hoping it would go away on its own.

I enjoyed that the gas station in Colorado was blasting country music like we were in the South and there were lots of cute men in cowboy hats hopping in and out of pick-up trucks. This was my first time in Colorado. I drove through a few small towns outside of Fort Collins on the way to I-25 and stopped at a Goodwill looking for Double Chin Wins. Nothing doing. As I said in my yelp review, the pricing was great for end-users but not for vintage resalers–whoever is doing the pricing at the Goodwill in Fort Collins is very conscious of value, which is actually great for them. But I prefer thrifting where I get to determine what the treasure is, you know?

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Once on the highway I was still feeling the buzz of the love from Cam’s house and how nurtured I was feeling. I was enchanted by the expansive rolling beige hills of Colorado and just as I was about to enter Wyoming saw a big buffalo cut out sign. Thinking “It would be really cool if that was actually a buffalo ranch” BAM, there were buffalo. Roaming.

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When I-25 intersects with I-80 in Cheyenne, the freeway makes a great curve. I was so overtaken with the beauty of the sky there. I had a spiritual moment.

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There is something so incredible when the sky keeps going on forever like that. I felt lighter. I felt open. I felt that energy shift I had been longing for during the last few months of loss and change and grief. I felt free.


Cue MEN’s “Who Am I To Feel So Free”

My break-up in November was the last straw that sent me packing on this trip. I was sort of intent on it working through the holidays and the winter, figuring even if we weren’t forever times compatible we could provide some joy and comfort to one another in the meantime. That she dumped me out of the blue rather than work on things was a shock. It was also a complete blessing in some ways because it liberated me to do the soul-searching and processing I needed to in order to rise from the ashes of my life.

Cue June Carter Cash & Johnny Cash “It Ain’t Me Babe.”

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We had been monogamous and it was the first time I was in complete monogamy monogamy for several years. My fiance and I were non-monogamous with a few rules and didn’t really use it. And anyone I dated after that was never a girlfriend girlfriend. I had once been “secret monogamous” (so declared by a friend) because I was seeing someone and even when presented with ample opportunity I didn’t stray. So being for real monogamous for the first time was a weird mindset shift. If I was attracted to someone I might feel guilty or have to internally process that “Okay, we’re all gonna be gay for real long time,” or something. It’s not hard for me to practice monogamy but I am the kind of Femme who just wants the theory of freedom more than the practice. Monogamish.

My friend Heather weaves this great metaphor. I am a wild pony and I like my corral door to be open. Line the corral with lots of snacks, I’m not really wandering. But when the door is closed it just feels so closed.

So I had been feeling the effects of a closed door. Not necessarily in a bad way and not that I won’t be monogamous again. But this was three weeks after my break-up and I was still doing my internal conditioning of “You can’t act on this attraction because you are monogamous.” And then having to remind myself, oh, no, you got dumped. You’re free again.

And this freedom just settled in like clouds shifting in the sky as I drove through Wyoming that day. I felt good.

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It was stunning. Wyoming is beautiful country, I just can’t believe it honestly. That song Cowboy Take Me Away (cue Dixie Chicks) always always reminds me of it. I went through the Northern part of Wyoming when I was 21 and moving to New Jersey from California and was similarly struck with its gorgeousness.

Since this was the end of November, the weather was shifting and there was visible snow. It was sort of exciting. I stopped for gas often, every 100-150 miles instead of every 200-300 miles as I had previously (my tank will get me 350-400 miles but I am a girl scout and I am prepared). I was stopping so much both because of my peeing needs and also I kept fearing there would be some long loooooong stretch of highway with no gas stations. Wyoming is long and the cell service is somewhat spotty at best.

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Sounds tasty. It was the day before Thanksgiving.

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I love a great sunset–best part about driving East to West is watching the sunset everyday.

So the gas stations had snow on the ground and it was really really cold. Macy had on her sweater. We kept going toward Utah. The best part about this part of the midwest is that they typically have Diet Dr. Pepper in their soda machines. It is my favorite fountain beverage and hard to get outside of the surrounding Texas area.

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I stopped at a Sonic for some tater tots for dinner, lost the screw in my glasses when I changed out of my contacts, did some girl scout macguyvering looking around for an eyeglasses repair kit in my car (found it). Took Macy for a good walk in a Wyoming strip mall, atop some rocks overlooking the glowing highway.

I entered Utah and it was pitch black. The drive of I-80 to Salt Lake City is super mountainous and scary. Lots of “look out for deer” signs and twisty turny stuff. I had never been to Utah but was freaking out more about the road and whatnot to notice.

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This is still Wyoming.

I switched my audiobook to the more upbeat Bossypants by Tina Fey. I gripped the steering wheel. I made it to Utah by 9pm. I was road worn.

Cue Starkville by Indigo Girls. A song all about being road worn and love lorn.

I sat in that hotel room (super grateful for the microwave and fridge so I could enjoy leftovers from Cam’s lasagna) and felt all buzzy from Diet Dr. Pepper, updated the music on my ipod and wrote a very hysterical and lengthy email to a friend. Sadly determined my drive the next day was another 12 hour stretch. My previous Salt Lake City to Bay Area projection had been incorrect. I wanted to make it to my mom’s house in the East Bay by dinnertime but wasn’t sure I could physically wake up in time to get on the road by 6AM.

I decided to let the goddess decide (no alarm set) and fell asleep watching an infomercial for the genie bra. [Which, by the way, doesn’t actually make those women’s boobs look great. You’re better off with a well-fitting real bra or wearing a sports bra. I am not sold on the genie bra.]

I was buzzy and road worn, but I was free.

NEXT STOP: East Bay!

2011-11-09

New Episodes of the Lesbian Tea Basket

My friend Fae stopped by today and mentioned she hadn’t seen a new Lesbian Tea Basket recently and I realized it’s because I haven’t posted them to my blog! How negligent.

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Me doing an Outfit of the Day photo in what Leslie deems a “classic model pose.”

Darlings, cozy up to your computers and watch two sorta bummed episodes. I have mentioned previously that my job of three years is ending (second layoff in 3 years–where are the small business bail outs, Obama!?!) and quite suddenly last week my relationship of four months ended. Ironically right after I bought a box of tea, so it’s tea associated.

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Leslie’s version of this pose.

My life is no stranger to upheaval these last few years. Lately I have been sad and feeling my feelings about these unexpected transitions but I also am ultimately hopeful. I’ve also decided to use this precious time while I’m looking for a new day job to take off on a post-layoff, post-break-up road trip. Opening my arms wide to beautiful adventure, seeing all the many dear friends I am so lucky to have scattered across this country and spending a few days in Palm Springs with my gorgeous Grandmother.

Grandmother and Me and Macy

I’m going to do some research for my memoir about my step-mom (with a more in-depth trip to come, hopefully with funding and a documentary camera). I am going to see the Grand Canyon for the first time, hang out in Austin and Atlanta and enjoy life with renewed vigor.

My dog Macy is coming along with me and it is all falling together really well. The Heartbreak MFA suggests throwing yourself into a big art project and this road trip feels like that art project.

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Leslie says this is the “classic fashion blogger” pose. On one leg and staring down at the ground like you’re looking at a puppy.

I’m sure there will be more Lesbian Tea Basketing, but in the meantime please enjoy these newish episodes from this past month!

Lesbian Tea Basket #15: Consolation Tea

Lesbian Tea Basket #16: Lipton’s Herbal Ginger Tea and Sunbeam’s Electric Tea Kettle

I highly recommend this electric tea kettle.

2011-08-22

Music Monday: Lovers!

Filed under: The Whole Shack Shimmies — Tags: , , , — Bevin @ 2:23 pm

I spent part of my afternoon at the coffee shop on the corner. I know the barista because she’s a musician who has toured and recorded with some of my pals and I complimented the music playing. She said “I listen to it for the bass.”

People listen to entirely different aspects of music–some are in it for the beat, some for instrumentation. I feel that music is a language and I’m always in it for good lyrics and an emotional journey. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens, I want to feel ALL the feelings in the music. Sometimes I want it to hurt so good.

You know who will give these feelings in a way that my fellow musical emotional cutters will totally appreciate? Lovers will give it to you in the hurty way–hard and with a tortured look in their eyes.

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Photo from LoversAreLovers.com


“What a drag not to know how you are, or which of us got the raw deal. I was a dagger but in whose heart? I was the dirt beneath whose wheel?”

I’ve loved Lovers, this magical queer outfit from Portland, OR, for years. I first learned of them from a mixed mp3 dump from an old friend of music I needed to listen to during my catastrophic break-up in 2007. On it was a pre-released copy that was labeled only “Track One”, “Track Two” etc… so it was just words and private emotion. So special, but totally eclipsed by the genius of their latest release, Dark Light.

I saw Lovers live for the first time at Michfest a couple of weeks ago and have renewed my love for them from a firey and passionate place in my heart reserved for the most poetic and heart-breaking music.* You know how some music can take you on an emotional journey and relies on the instruments? The way Carolyn Berk sings you can tell she’s feeling every moment.

Some of the songs, like “Don’t You Want It”, are so heartwrenching you see Carolyn singing and it’s like she’s saying all the things you needed to say when you were broken on the kitchen floor wracked with sobs and she is sobbing right there with you.

Just watch her do it, here in this video.

Even if you never listen to a Lovers song, read the lyrics and you’ll know what I mean.

I think if you like The Blow, Rilo Kiley, The xx, Camera Obscura, you’ll definitely like Lovers. Though I like Lovers best of all of these bands, so there you go.


(There is a link from this video to this indie rock playlist that includes a free download of Barnacle.)

The new album is supreme, but if you want to dally in some of Lovers’ earlier incarnations I’ve loved the songs “Let’s Stay Lost” and “Where Are You Tonight?”

But, really, you just want to go spend $8.99 at Amazon and buy yourself Dark Light, turn off all the lights and enjoy your time with Lovers. Or if you’re in the UK prepare for their upcoming tour your way this Fall.

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They are so tender and so good looking. Photo also from LoversAreLovers.com

*I wore a big sunhat and sunglasses to the show so no one would see when I openly cried during the show which I totally did.

2011-07-26

Hey Brooklyn! August 11th Rebel Cupcake Sad Songs Say So Much!

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I really love sad songs. It’s fun and indulgent to listen to a tragic torch song. I’m a super glass half-full Pollyanna optimist, but I do acknowledge that sometimes queers get so caught up in the “We have to show how happy we are all the time” act and sometimes it’s just plain hard to live a marginalized identity. It’s really lonely sometimes. Especially for those of us who maybe don’t have families around the holidays or who date emotionally absent folks.

With this in mind I curated a sad songs Rebel Cupcake. I’m not afraid to go there at a dance party cabaret. I tapped my pal Kit Yan, amazing slam poet, who is about to give up his crown to the successor Mr. Transman on August 28th at Murray Hill’s pageant. Kit knows how to write a heartbreaker of a poem. He’s also doing a kickstarter pre-sale of his new album, check him out and support queer art!

The infamous Taylor Black is a really talented singer and guitar player and knows the plight of the tragic homosexual.

And to top it all off, Miss Mary Wanna returns with a sad burlesque number. I just told her “Work it out onstage, girl.” I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

After the show we’ll dance to songs about heartbreak!

I’ll be back from my sojourn in the woods and I might sing an off-key version of Vision of Love if the mood feels right. More info on the show here!

Remember to get on the texty texty list to get in for $5!

2010-12-24

Hard Candy Christmas

This Fall I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself and my art and doing a lot of growing. I have also been spending a lot of time video chatting with one of my BFFs, Spunky, who lives in California. I took time off from my retail job (Re/Dress, one of the three prongs of my current career spiral path) thinking I would somehow by the grace of the universe be able to afford to go out there for Christmas. See my mom, see my friends and heart family and mellow out in some warmer weather.

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World Famous *BOB*, me, Glenn Marla at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

Things have been tight financially for the last couple of months. My main source of my three-pronged career path income has been really slow for lots of reasons, mostly the market and climate. Thus, around Thanksgiving I realized it was going to be toast to any plans to vacation for the holidays. Self-employment/entrepreneurial realness.

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I got written up as one of the 45 Hot Entrepreneurs in Go Magazine in November, though. I think it’s an awesome stamp in my celesbian passport. I have yet to get laid from it. I like to call this photo a Clark Kent/Superman juxtaposition. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

But then I realized that I was having trouble digging into my memoir, my friend Damien has been having great luck working during DIY artist retreats. I could afford to drive to Philly, I have heart family that lives there and needed a cat sitter. It worked out very serendipitously. So, I’ll be going away, doing no work other than art and self-care for several days.

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Damien, watching art. She’s doing so well on her push-up-a-thon! Photo by Quito Ziegler.

And, yeah, it’s sort of sad and isolating sometimes to be single at the holidays and not with your family or whatever. But then I remember my very saddest Christmas ever, when my ex-fiance and I had just broken up the month before, I was going to California to see my family without him on a trip we had booked together. I remember waking up on Christmas day with this ache in my chest, knowing he was with his new girlfriend and her family I couldn’t even begin to think about what to think about through all of that sad. It was so crushing.

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World Famous *BOB* has a tissue for you and for me. November Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

What really got me through that time was Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” I had just bought her autobiography on cassette tape and was really digging into my passion for her. It’s such a good song from one of my favorite movies (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas).

This year I’ve been hearing about everyone’s hard candy. Having a family or not having a family is hard. Both are hard. There’s either the pain and isolation/liberation and joy of not having obligations on the holidays. Or there’s the expectations upon expectations upon performance upon pleasing everyone upon love upon celebration of being with family. I think hard candy is part of life and it can bring you sweetness or toothaches. It’s just how you saddle up for the ride.

I have had a lot of blessings and amazing things going on in my life this year. I’m so grateful for this magical unicorn life I get to lead, the costumes I get to wear without even thinking about it, the lives I get to change just by making the art I feel compelled to make. Just this year I can count on both hands all of the new incredible artists and friends who have come into my life and are changing it. I have so much. And even as my birthday and Christmas plans have fallen through because I got the flu for Christmas I feel really lucky I didn’t make elaborate travel plans so it was easy to just sit here under the covers and rest. And now I have some presents to open up while I try not to move too far from the couch.

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Also grateful to have reached a doctor so soon before Christmas. She said “Have you been taking it easy?” I said I’ve been “taking it normal.” Photo by Quito Ziegler from a lesbolesque performance I did before I got the flu.

I got woken up from a nap today by the UPS man delivering a package for my birthday from my far away BFF in California, who I’ll luckily get to see at the end of January. I’ve been able to book a trip to get Rebel Cupcake on the road to Oakland (more info on that soon). So it all works out!!

As a Happy Holidays from me to you, I present this touching video from Rebel Cupcake 7: We <3 Dolly, burlesque legend of our time World Famous *BOB* performing Hard Candy Christmas.

I hope wherever you are you are safe, happy and full of love.

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Me and Sophie at Rebel Cupcake 8: Holidays on Fire. Sophie stopped by my sick bed today to bring me a care package of birthday candles, mac n cheese and feminist literature. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

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