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

2016-05-20

Queer Fat Femme LA Adventures: Drive an Hour and Spend a Weekend in Ojai and Ventura!

Update about my blog and my web move! First of all, big shout out to Rachelle who is backstage at QueerFatFemme.com moving things around from one host to another and trying to make the site faster and less buggy! I am so grateful for her help and grateful I had the cash to get this process going!

Also, my most recent Reiki infused tea sale is technically over but the pre sale was less successful this time and scale really helps keep my costs down, so as long as the paypal buttons are still up at the Bevin’s Tea page I can take new orders and give you an update about when I can expect to ship it out. (I have to replace some inventory.) I’m in the process of starting with a graphic designer to make the logo and packaging as cute as it deserves to be and I am so excited to share with you my vision when it becomes a reality! Now back to this post I wrote while I was patiently waiting for my website to be moved!

[For some reason I can’t upload photos to this post and waiting on the magical Rachelle to help me figure it out. Check back later for a post full of photos.]

So once upon a time Dara and I did this road trip through California, celebrating post-cancer treatment life and exploring my home state and where Dara wanted to move but I wasn’t sold yet.

Since Ojai and Ventura are on my short list of best cities in California, we stayed overnight out there. One night at my Aunt Shari’s house in Camarillo and one night in Ojai at a great hotel.

My friend recently said to me, “Hey Bevin, I have a lover meeting me in LA for a laycation. Where should we stay?”

I immediately thought of our trip to Ojai and wrote this up for her. Enjoy.

Book a room at the Capri Hotel. OMG the design of the hotel is Mid-Century Modern Barbie Dreamhouse with more masculine style and Ikea stuff. The rock wall on the side of the lobby is a mid-century modern classic detail.

The Capri rules both because it is cute and it’s such a great party room. We got a free upgrade to an upstairs unit with a balcony (worth it, it’s cuter up there). It also has hella cute LED lighting outside on each balcony and on the walls so your whole room can glow pink for ambiance. Perfect for a laycation or just fun selfies. Or both!

There’s a Yelp deal you might want to consider, but they also offer other random discounts.

Our room had a record player with a selection of records I wasn’t excited about. But more importantly the record player had a radio on it and I immediately put on Old School 95.9, which had just launched in Ventura County. It is old school R&B and hip hop. They play Prince every hour, and they are amazing. Dara and I put on PJs and danced in our socks to 95.9 while we stayed at Capri Hotel. It was awesome.

So on your road trip into Ojai for your laycation, turn on 95.9 as soon as you hit the mountain before Camarillo. It will set the mood for an amazing weekend.

Stop in Ventura (the last coastal town before Ojai) and take a 10 minute beach drive detour. Exit Seaward on the 101, drive down Harbor past the In N Out, taking you along the beach to the pier.

You’ll come back the next day to really soak it in, but the Ventura coast line deserves as much attention as you can pay it. Literally every time I see it I think “I didn’t remember this being as beautiful as it is.” It looks pretty but there’s also something incredible about the energy there. I think it’s the wind. Anyway, it’s amazing. So classic CA gorgeous with a lot of beautiful rocks and scraggly sections. And the birds! Ugh, anyway, trust me it’s awesome.

I also want to shout out my friend James Leander for almost all the information on this post, including the above drive. They live in Ventura and JLV is basically the best local tour guide.

Hop on the 33 and enjoy the wiggly roads through the canyon into Ojai. You arrive on the main street of Ojai and the Capri comes up on the left side of the road.

Check in, “settle in” however that happens for you, and then take a break to go have an evening activity!

Do you like to ride horses? I feel like a sunset horse ride would be amazing there.

Do you just like to hang out and get coffee? Grab some and settle in for a cute conversation at Coffee Connection. It is only open until 5PM so get there early. Their coffee is great, I’ve always enjoyed it.

Do you like to do hippie stuff and watch a beautiful sunset? Go get the sunset action at Meditation Mount. It’s privately held land open to the public. It has a Buddhist center and a meditation garden. You park and then give an optional donation as you enter the gardens and and head towards the sunset.

When Dara and I went we had the misfortune to be there at the same time as a party bus full of late middle aged people from Santa Barbara spilled out. Everyone was carrying a glass of white wine and talking the whole time. So not the zen vibe the other people who were at the sunset were trying to cultivate. Still a beautiful experience and I could tell one of those ladies with the white wine felt uncomfortable because she knew she wasn’t fully present to the experience and she said as much to Dara, who makes friends everywhere she goes.

Bring your late, casual dinner back to the hotel and enjoy it on the balcony. The green pork tamales at La Fuenta were amazing. Just get those. I think whatever else we got was forgettable but not the tamales.

The next morning, wake up and go swimming at the Capri Hotel pool. Then get your beach bag together and head to Ventura for the day. Have brunch at Cafe Nouveau if you like maple bacon beignets and free coffee while you wait for a table.

Or have brunch instead at Le Petit Bakery at the Ventura Harbor, which has extremely beautiful scenery and is worth it.

Or if you are boozy and like a bloody mary bar (my favorite way to drink bloody marys when I still drank booze) head to Social Tap, which is next to my very favorite sitting beach in Ventura.

If you are a babe who loves to thrift shop, Main Street on the Northern end has so many great thrift stops. Many of the vintage pieces I love the most came from Ventura. Point your Maps at The Arc Foundation thrift store (their prices are going way up, so they aren’t as good as they once were) and then head South from there.

If you want to just hang hard on the beach, the San Buenaventura Beach is my favorite for being close to a bathroom and having breathtaking views. If you want to take a cute walk and see some interesting shore and watch surfers, go to Surfer’s Point at Seaside Park. The people watching is really interesting, and so is the eavesdropping if you don’t mind lapses of silence with your boo to then gossip afterwards about what you heard.

Ventura is also great for renting a surrey or a bicycle and going for a cute paved path cycle along the waterfront. Dara and I got a surrey with a fringe on top and it was really challenging to drive that thing and also really fun. We rented it for an hour for $15 from Ventura Bike Depot.

After your day in Ventura, watch the sunset at any beach and then leave before it’s dark. Go past Ventura North on the 101 and then go back to Ojai the back way on the 150 and enjoy dusk along the seashore. But keep an eye out for deer on those back roads at dusk and dawn.

Grab dinner and dessert at Boccali’s, their strawberry shortcake is not to be missed.

(If you’re gluten free skip this and just eat a whole pint of strawberries from a roadside stand instead. The fertile farmland around Ventura County produces the best strawberries of all time.)

The next morning, after you check out of the hotel, go for an amazing hike!

James Leander recommends:

Easy hikes: Ventura botanical gardens, Rose Valley Falls

Medium hikes: Arroyo Verde Park (you have to pay on weekends), 2 Trees (iconic, but illegal. also, i would say this one is hard but it is also less than 2 miles to the top), Punch Bowls

Hard hikes: Gridley trail and Pratt trail are both awesome and in Ojai.

It’s clear I love Ventura and Ojai–you will love them, too! I’m so excited to continue exploring the backroads of Southern California!

2011-03-16

Ways to Tell a Queer Femme is Queer

There’s been a lot of buzz around the internets lately about Femme identity. I am unsure where the controversy began but I think it had something to do with this post on how to spot a queer Femme by Fuck Yeah Femmes. The curator of that Tumblr sent me a message asking me the following question:

Hi Bevin! I’m glad you liked my list of femme traits and tell-tale signs, I am interested to hear what you think could be appended to the list! Some people commented that the list was not “inclusive” enough and I definitely didn’t intend it to be definitive. Those are only my ideas, certainly a broader picture will emerge if many different femmes give their perspective as well. So here goes: “Ways to Tell a Queer Femme is Queer?” “Ways to Get a Femme Girlfriend?”

FYF certainly didn’t write a definitive list. I mean, it’s totally subjective and I read it as a playful narrative, almost a fantasy sequence. I love it because I see so much of my unbounded Femme sisters in it. I also understand the question about determining whether a queer femme is queer. It can be so frustrating to feel that we are “hiding in plain sight” and the chance to teach someone how to see us is really exciting. (As a side note, I plan to answer “Ways to Get a Femme Girlfriend” in a later post.)

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Spot a Femme in the Wild. The Femme author in her natural habitat, on stage. At my birthday party doing 9 to 5 at Rock N Twang Karaoke at my second favorite BBQ restaurant in NYC, Hill Country BBQ. It was so fun. I’m wearing a lei made of cookies and sex toys, a gift from Kit Yan.

The problem is, there is no one “us.” Identities like Femme are deeply personal and there’s no one way to be Femme. There are certainly overlapping characteristics and generalizations that exist–which is how we find each other and create community. Tenderly paw in paw we find ourselves a niche (or several) in queerdom. But it is essentialist to say “This is a trait common amongst Femmes,” because as soon as you think you’ve isolated one commonality about Femmes you’ll find a whole pile of Femmes who belie that trait. This is simultaneously awesome and complicated when you’re trying to spot a Femme in the wild.

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Spot a Femme in the Wild. The Femme author in her secondmost natural habitat, the dance floor. Photo by the ever so talented Amos Mac at Stay Gold in San Francisco.

Personal identities are fluid.
I’m 32 and while I settled into Queer Fat Femme about a decade ago, there are a few permutations I enjoyed for awhile but have since moved away from. I don’t feel comfortable with the term “High Femme” anymore. I think some people use it to mean ever so very Femme or indicate some extreme extent of feminine expression. I’m totally a girl who will wear bright make-up at all times of day or night and I feel completely comfortable over-dressing for any occasion because my self-expression matters more to me than fitting in. However, using the term “High Femme” just sounds like hierarchy to me.

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Fancy Femme? Flamboyant Femme? Giant Eyelashes Femme? How Many Blingies Can I Fit in My Hair Femme? I Do the Opposite of Coco Chanel and Add One Accessory Before I Leave the House Femme? Photo by Dee Dean Leitner from the Hard French Winter Ball.

I totally understand that it is a term steeped in history and tradition, and anyone who self-identifies as High Femme is fine by me. But in terms of my Femme expression and identity, I prefer to think of us as living in this gorgeous glittery rainbow venn diagram of overlapping adjectives, none “higher” or “lower” than another semantically or otherwise.

venn-diagram

Is this splitting hairs? Likely. Do I care? No. My personal identity is exactly that, personal and individually tailored to who I am. It gets to be as nuanced as I care for it to be.

Also, let’s keep in mind the heart and loins are complicated entities, their relationships with the individuals they’re attached to change often. We’re all going to be queer for a long time* and probably do queer really different twenty years from now.

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Jessie Dress tagged herself as a Glitter Femme.

Discussion of fluidity aside, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you spot a Femme in the wild? I’m going to approach it from a different angle, which is share with you how I determine if someone is queer in the wild (leaving Femme out of it momentarily).

One thing I do is assume everyone is queer until they out themselves as straight. Straight people don’t have to worry about the pronoun game, and generally not particularly strategic about telling you genders of the folks they do it with. This game works for me a lot, especially because I typically out myself right away. Usually when you do that your fellow queers will find some way to out themselves and you’re basking in mutual rainbows of recognition.

When this doesn’t work and I spot no visible gay signifiers (Ani DiFranco tattoos, gay lady jewelry), I either ask them directly or ask their friends.

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Source.

Asking directly works for me because I have the sort of inquisitive personality and ability to put people at ease that nine times out of ten makes people feel okay telling me things. This is why I am a talk show host. However, this doesn’t always work and going to the friends to find out is great. This is also what I do when I want to know if someone is single and I am too shy to ask them.**

Now to deal with the Femme question. I think a casual, “So do you identify as Femme?” directed at the person is okay, but this question needs to be addressed with a lot of sensitivity and care. You may be Femme positive, but the person in question may not. I remember being told, just after coming out, “You’re a LIPSTICK lesbian!” and I felt so shamed about it! I didn’t know there were Femme positive communities out there, I didn’t know being feminine could be empowering and get me laid.

Casually dropping hints about Femme positive websites you visit or events you’ve been to/wish you could go to is a nice way of fleshing out identity and creating a safe space for that kind of stuff. Also a nice way to heavily hint about queer stuff.

And here’s the thing I’ve discovered through my personal relationship history anecdata: I’ve never seriously dated anyone who was Butch identified. I am super Butch postive, lord knows I love me a fat Butch. But, what I find attractive in another human is far more complicated than even personal queer identities. So if you’re out there looking to “spot” a queer Femme, I mean, maybe the Femme part isn’t as important. You do you, go to the kinds of events that have the kinds of people you want at them (or start those events), the right people are going to cozy up to you and you’ll be basking in the magic of the great rainbow queer venn diagram in no time.

*Hat tip to Glenn Marla for that nugget.
**Friends are great for the single question, too, because they’ll give you the real scoop. Relationship status is sometimes even more complicated than identity. “Poly but complicated rules,” “Single and totally off the market dealing with serious life stuff,” “In five long distance relationships and only looking to date locally.”

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