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

2014-12-17

Introducing Hell’s Bells, Handbell Butt Choir

One of the things I am most grateful for about my living situation is that my roommate is one of my favorite artists. The things that this femme creates are incredible. Like, stick in your head remember for a bunch of years incredible.

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Last month Damien started getting a bunch of packages and I was wondering what they were. She casually said, Ariel [Speedwagon] and I were thinking of creating a handbell butt choir. I responded, “Oh, really?” But didn’t get to all of my questions about it. Which were many. How are you going to get the handbells to stay in the butt? Do you know how to play the handbells? (Damien has churchy origins so I figured some time in a youth handbell choir was likely.)

Then the night came when Ariel was over (and Lizxnn) and the handbells were opened and I could hear them in my bedroom… clear as a bell. And this was clearly a thing that happened.

So much work went into this choir. Figuring out the mechanics of making butt plugs out of handbell handles. Casting the bell ringers–finding people who were okay with Christmas stuff, playing a handbell with their butt, and at lease slightly musically inclined, plus the more difficult aspect, whether their schedule permitted both performance dates and a couple of rehearsals. Artists in NYC are busy, especially during the holidays!

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They had to select the songs to play out of the thousands of holiday songs out there. They had to rewrite the music for the songs in some sort of music software Damien learned, and arrange it for handbells in the correct key. And learn what a key was. And decide which four notes were the best for the butts…

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I was impressed during this entire endeavor as it unfolded at my house and excitedly went to both performances. The finished product is in the below video. (You can see my little head cackling away with Heather, I’m in the bow in the front row doing backup videography for the first performance.) TOTALLY worth a watch this holiday season!

Not safe for work (unless your work is butt friendly). It’s really funny and heartwarming. Hell’s Bells Handbell Choir!

(Also I was definitely already calling the handbell player second from the left “Jingle Bells” because of their important role in that song… but then after you see the video you know why that name will be seared for life!)

For further holiday related video wonderfulness, allow me to remind all about the amazing Leo Christmas Hammer video from last year. It still makes me cry. Miss you Leo!!

2013-12-25

Leo’s Hammer and the Meaning of Christmas

My bestie Leo has been working hard to reclaim the Christmas spirit for the last couple of months. In the years since her mom passed it’s been hard and this year her dear ones have been watching her diligently working on figuring out what she can do to bring Christmas cheer back into her life.


Photo by The Think Theater Queer Photography. I swear Leo and I are just friends, we don’t date even though we take great photos together.

You should know a little bit about Leo. She’s extremely kind and generous, introspective and intentional, capable and handy. She’s also extremely dapper and wears a hanky every single day. In fact, one of the Christmas cheer things she’s done is to wear a hanky with snowflakes on it. She fixes computers as an IT professional for a living but she really loves working with her hands. Carpentry has become a recent passion of hers and she knows a lot about tools and what it takes to build things.


Leo at my house helping me weatherproof windows. Note the hanky in her left pocket.

We decorated for Christmas at my house, she got a bunch of us together to go to a holiday market outside with apple cider because it reminded her of her childhood Christmas tradition with her folks going around to tree lots in Jacksonville with warm beverages and finding the perfect tree. So we did the adult version of that and she had a flask to spike the apple cider.


The whole time we were at the holiday market I did a new exercise to be okay being un-partnered during the holidays by “Husbandifesting*” with holiday gifts. It was a visioning exercise where I told my friends what gifts I would get the future Mx. Branlandingham–a wooden brain teaser puzzle because they would be super into solving things but not so into getting lost in the iPad, a nice tie with a cool pattern on it, a pocket watch, etc… And I told them what Mx. B would get me–a gift certificate to a tea vendor I was excited about, a teapot with a steeping basket inside, a teal glowy glass lamp of a goddess for my altar. It made it really fun and my friends totally played along!

In the same spirit of visioning for what she wants, Leo has been talking about this hammer for weeks. This very expensive ($200) very light (11oz) framing hammer that is titanium and does your taxes or something. At first I was like, that’s sweet, asking for what you want but where would I get $200 to buy you a hammer. But then I thought, well, maybe I could get it together to get friends to throw in for it. With all the stuff going on in my life I didn’t think I could actually rally the support needed to coordinate a Queer Kris Kringle army to buy a $200 hammer. But then after planning our outing to the holiday market, seeing how jazzed she was about reclaiming Christmas, I was like, “Fuck it, I want to make Leo happy, let’s see if we can do this.”


At the holiday market with Tommy, Marico and Leo.

Leo and I run in three distinct mutual circles that only overlap a little bit, so I’m kind of the perfect person to coordinate this. I started a Facebook message and put about 15 people on it who I knew loved Leo. I asked them to add folks to it. I asked someone to step up and take care of the paypal logistics (Jacqueline, with help by Miss Mary Wanna). Then more people added more people to the “Hey, That’s Leo’s Hammer” thread. Then out of nowhere we got WAY more money than we needed–good because the price of the hammer spiked to $199 from $169 the week before Christmas). Everyone just loves Leo so much they wanted to make her happy. So we did it! And then there was the natural queer processing about what to do with the extra cash and Tommy took care of that part, getting a gift card to a restaurant she likes near her house.

Our friends Miriam and Victoria had a holiday brunch and we totally commandeered their brunch to do the Leo surprise. Jacqueline, a very talented videographer, came up with the perfect way to surprise Leo on camera by asking her to “help” with a project she was doing on the meaning of Christmas. I think you’re going to love the results in this super touching video starring Leo!

*Husbandifesting is a word from Avory Agony about those visioning exercises you do to bring forth a masculine of center version of “The One.” I recently wrote a piece about marriage for Autostraddle that talks about all the different ways you can acknowledge love relationships that aren’t just about marriage. I also still believe for a loving, supportive future spouse while being happy with my life as it is in this moment.

2012-12-19

How to Stuff a Femme’s Stocking

I only intend the title of this post to be a slight double entendre. It’s not Gay Sex Week, so this post is mostly just about last-minute shopping for Femmes who have a stocking you’re either creating or participating in. I was inspired by a conversation this weekend with a friend who is stuffing a Femme stocking for the first time (first time seriously dating a Femme who celebrates Christmas/Gaywitchmas). I was spilling my guts about what it is delightful to find in that stocking and I thought it would be helpful to share with you, dear readers. And if you’re the person who wants to receive these treats, Femme or otherwise, you could always print this out and leave it lying around.

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Important and perpetual disclaimer–I subscribed to the umbrella term for self-identified Femmes. All Femmes are different and there are a million ways to be a Femme and receive gifts as Femmes. So look through this list and see what strikes your fancy about the Femme in your life. Pay attention to what they like and you won’t go very wrong.

Okay, so I think a stocking should be delightful and diverse. A hearty mix of useful, whimsical, practical and shiny things.

Make-up

I have always loved treats from Sephora. You can usually get them from the end caps near the check-out line. They have lots of great things.*

A favorite of mine is the Philosophy lip gloss. (That link is to a set but I know they sell loosies at Sephora for about $6/$8.) It tastes amazing and it’s extremely shiny. Probably if you’re kissing the Femme you’re stocking stuffing, you might want to purchase a flavor that works for you. Other flavored lip glosses work well, too, but I am a devout believer in the Philosophy ones.

Nail polish is always a winner, and totally something you can grab at the drug store when you’re scrambling last-minute. The Femme folks I know who use nail polish tend to have quite a stash and it’s always fun to add to it. You can get the NYC brand nail polishes at Target for like $3. Glitter polish is always a charmer and I would be impressed if someone dropped the $9 for an OPI Shatter. Or if you know the Femme is hella into nail art, get her a nail art set! SHANY Nail Art Set is $25.

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A cute compact mirror is also a rad neutral stocking stuffer. If you don’t know what a compact mirror is, they look like this. Sephora has them. Get the Femme a design that seems to speak to their personality. All of the compacts I’ve ever had came as gifts and I really appreciate them.

Any other tiny sample of something fabulous and chichi is nice, too. I got a great sample of mascara once from my ex-GF that I loved (also from Sephora).

Fun Jewelry

Maybe the Femme in your life is a big fan of glamping and partying in the woods. Put in the stocking some glow in the dark earrings or a battery operated light-up necklace! Both bring the party to where you are.

A cute pair of earrings or a big bracelet (make sure it will fit their arm) also make a great stocking stuffer!

Bath Products and Pampering

LUSH is where I send anyone to get things for me and I know they won’t go wrong. All of their products are handmade, not tested on animals, natural, and they smell phenomenal.

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If the Femme is a bath taker (and you’ll probably know if they are or not) Bath bombs are amazing. I’ve gotten them with glitter, confetti, fragrance, soap flowers in them. You just pop them in the bath tub and they do their magic fizzy thing and create an incredible experience. The Sex Bomb is my favorite.

(I generally steer clear of those bath sets from the drug store. Most of those products aren’t great for the skin and could be toxic to the delicate flora of the vagina if this Femme has one of those. Just some Femme real talk for you.)

Massage bars (from LUSH or elsewhere) are great! They melt right on the skin since they’re mostly cocoa butter or something similar to that.

Massage oils are also rad! My mom just gave me a couple of bottles of arnica massage oil she got when she was in Spain last Spring and it’s actually really great. I mean, it’s nice to have someone to give you a massage, but even for the Femme without that, I used it on my heel when I hurt it during a work-out, since arnica helps sore muscles. But any massage oil with some good essential oils would be rad. Mall staple The Body Shop has some, too.

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I made this ornament myself in honor of my friends’ first Christmakkuh together.

Practical Gifts

I highly suggest you tread lightly in this arena. Part of stuffing a stocking is not filling it with useless junk that your recipient is never going to use. So I know a bunch of folks who all agreed that some practical stuff is really helpful. My friend’s mom always gives her a pack of razors, deodorant, other drugstore type purchases which would save her money over the year.

As a Capricorn I appreciate a dose of practical in the context of something larger (as long as there’s still plenty of whimsy involved). If you snoop in this Femme’s medicine chest or bathroom and find out the exact moisturizer they use (I’m talking exact, take a photo of the bottle and compare at the drug store) or the exact lotion, that could be rad. Why stuff a stocking with “filler” when it can be rad and useful?

Sexy Gifts

Are you doing it with this Femme? Do you have an open sexual kind of friend relationship? Lots of sexy stocking stuffers available to you!

Panties! A lacy thing is really nice to find in the stocking. One year a partner bought me lingerie that was too small but we ended up using it for ripping off. But do try to get the sizing right. A quick peek in a lingerie drawer can answer all the questions you might have.

Cute small sex accessories! Swing by your local small feminist sex toy store, like Self Serve Toys in Albuquerque, NM and ask them for stocking stuffer ideas! A magic bullet vibrator or a butt plug might make it a really happy holiday for both of you.

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My friend Leo took off her bowtie at a Christmakkuh party this weekend and several Femmes made audible noises. It was like watching Magic Mike in person, only Leo had no idea. This is why it is good to learn how to come correct and tie a bow tie proper!

Kitchen Stuff

If the Femme you’re shopping for is kitchen-identified, a couple of clever kitchen accessories are a greast way to go. I love this owl kitchen timer from my friend Mackenzi’s store in Queens. And this Vespa Pizza Cutter!

Big Fillers

If the Femme in your life is a crafter, you could stuff the stocking with fabric samples, like big swatches of tulle or even a poofy crinoline skirt. For those of you who don’t speak Femme, this is a crinoline skirt.

Photo by Randi
Photo by Randi. This is me and Victoria, showing our pal Clare where baby tutus come from.

You can get tulle at a fabric store. I have a stockpile of it for various craft needs at my home. Also, as a knitter, I love yarn but you should be sure you’re getting the right kind of yarn (something soft and natural fibery is a good choice) and stop by your local yarn shop or craft store to get it.

Also, body glitter or a big pile of craft glitter is never a bad idea, either.

And for whimsy, why not a coloring book with a set of crayons? Last year my BFF Brian and his BF Arnulfo got me the Cunt coloring book. It was hours of fun!

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Arnie colored that himself.

Feet Warmers

Socks (like these moustache socks!) and slippers are classic stocking stuffers! You can easily grab slippers at a small local gift shop or Target. Another great idea is a pair of tights! Tights are vaguely sized and at Target there are only like 3 sizes and you can probably guess which size the Femme falls in. I find the 1X/2X Target tights fit my 5’7″ 24W bottoms well.

I also love Avenue tights and personally don’t feel I can ever have enough textured tights in my life. But this is another lesson in paying attention which is the kind of thing that makes one a great date or good at courtship. Does the Femme wear tights in the first place? What kind do they usually wear?

And if you’re in a situation where you’re providing the stocking, you can get them at lots of places, like Target, any drug store, etc… I suggest pinning a brooch or a letter to the stocking for a personalized touch!

*My ex fiance hit the jackpot in my stocking the last Christmas we spent together when he just showed up at Sephora and said “I need stocking stuffers” and the shop girls really helped him out and everything he bought me was a winner. That was the last time I got a stocking but this year I got the cutest stocking-style Femme care package that really made me feel all glowy inside.

2011-12-23

Christmas is Coming Look Busy

When I settle into it and pay attention I really really really love the holiday season. I love having lots of social plans. I love the colors. I love the music. I love the fact that folks coat their houses in glitter and lights just for the joy of sharing festiveness. My friend Silas pointed out tonight that it is awesome that other people do lights, buy them, put them up, figure out how you maintain security in your home and provide a power source from a 100+ year old brownstone. Dust them off after snowstorms and pack them up when Christmas is over. And we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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Being single and child-free around the holidays can be really hard. I mean, I totally admit to having some holiday blues here and there. My life has lots of reasons to have the blues, I am unemployed and also the whole Seasonal Depression thing. (There is no light! I am a plant I need to rotate toward the sun!)

However, in the last few days I have felt my life perk up noticeably and I think it was because I let myself settle into the joy of the season. On my own terms and not because a TV show or commercial told me to.

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Christmas sweaters for everyone.

First, I recognized that I was putting too much pressure on Christmas THE DAY. There is so much in this season that is worthy of celebrating that it’s sort of like living your Senior year of high school for Prom only and forgetting about all the other amazing stuff you get to do like graduate, sneak around behind your parent(s)’ back, pick colleges if that’s your thing, get a letter in badminton or choir or whatever. There’s a lot to the holiday season that have nothing to do with one day and just about a generally agreed “We are going to be festive this time of year, OKAY.”

Second thing that helped me get into the holiday groove was seeing community care taking. In our queer misfit community more often than not we’re looking to each other for our joy and wonder in this season. Families are super hard to rely on and I have really enjoyed seeing the ways in which my queer community (especially nearby) is really there for each other this time of year.

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Macy in candy cane jammies is so cute it hurts to look at her.

I still have a relationship with my family of origin but they are 3,000 miles away from me, geographically and financially out of reach most holidays.

Thirdly, I just LET GO. More often than not, I have had some giant bummer during Christmas. I feel like twice I had huge partnership break-ups that lead up to me going home for Christmas only to be sort of miserable anyway because I missed my ex. Focusing on Christmas THE DAY means there is so much pressure on it being good and I just needed/wanted to be bummed the fuck out.

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I mean, CANDY CANE JAMMIES. Thanks for the prezzie, Miss Mary Wanna!

It’s extra hard for me sometimes to get into the holiday groove and create plans for Christmas because my birthday is Christmas Eve. I don’t like being the extra sheep at someone else’s family because I want to celebrate my birthday. And sometimes I get so bogged down in “How can I make my birthday perfect” that I don’t just let the wonder of casual plans happen. It is also hard to transition from “This is how we celebrated your birthday as a kid” to “This is how we celebrate your birthday as an adult” when your birthday is on a holiday.

This year I just really let go. I didn’t make any plans happen for Christmas, I just let everything I was putting into the holidays be Rebel Cupcake: Holidazzle on December 10th and after that allowed the month to roll out as it did. And it rolled out really well.

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My look for Rebel Cupcake: Holidazzle was “Fat Red Head Amy Winehouse Christmas Tree Topper.” With Leslie and Mackenzi.

I made cookies for a cookie party in Philly. I love that every year I get to see my niece Etta around Christmas time.

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I stayed in Philly an extra day and was able to go to my friend Miss Mary Wanna’s cervical pink apartment for a tree trimming party the next day in Philly. Four dogs ended up being there!

For a holiday potluck I signed up to bring music and joy. I made a boss holiday mix to play over ipod speakers and wore a christmas sweater set from Quacker Factory and a bright gold skirt.

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I accompanied my pal Lissa to a Murray Little Christmas, Murray Hill’s annual Christmas show. It was so hysterical and heartwarming.

We got queso afterward and it was exactly what I was craving. And apple cider.

I met my pal Leslie out at the Bryant Park holiday market and hung out chatting about our forthcoming monthly shopping event Double Chin Win watching the ice skaters circle the rink. Posed by the tree.

I didn’t have money to buy gifts this year but I did a lot of personal shopping for people. (For last minute gift ideas see my tumblr post–if anyone goes with the My Cherie Amour serenade please let me know.)

It’s weird how there is this societal pressure to Have Something To Do on December 24th and 25th. My darling friend Heather made a proclamation: “Henceforth, I do Declare Dec 25, a Day of Eating Nachos & Doin Whatever the Fuck You Want.”

I loved the invitation to come by her apartment (happily around the corner from me).
“Please rsvp w/ nacho supplies & other snacks & friends!
This is what we have.
We will have everything we need.
Me. You. Us.”

On Christmas afternoon my BFF Brian (neighbors with Heather) will be making Christmas ham and I am bringing the main dish for the lone vegan attending. Green chili. Garnished with a red tomato.

Mackenzi popped the birthday question by asking me if she could take me to a Chinese/Jewish fusion Christmas party on my birthday called Woks and Lox (I love New York). Of course I said yes.

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Silas and Macy at Solstice.

I started creating an intentional spiritual practice about 15 months ago and this is the first time I felt drawn to honor the solstice. I got a last-minute invite to a queer solstice party and did a small letting go ritual around a bonfire. It was so lovely. I spent the late evening cleaning the objects on my altar and smudging my house–the solstice is for letting go of things and it felt like the cleansing of energy was exactly what I needed. And I feel lighter now.

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Next week there’s a really fun last night of Hannukah party to attend. And Sarah Jenny is making me a birthday cake for her Christmas Eve for Jews and other Misfits potluck.

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Sure, there are things I miss about the holidays with a partner. I like having the person I love most in the world close at hand and upon whom I am able to shower attention and love. In a different life path I had kids by now and I’d be doing what my friends Christie and Becky do by being Santa for Etta. But that’s not the path I’m on and that’s okay. And by letting go of control of the path, and the direction of December, I was able to have a really amazing month absolutely chock full of the holiday spirit (and cookies, I’m actually sick of cookies).

So, here’s to celebrating the spirit of joy in our darkest times with chosen family, calling family of origin so my mom can wish me a happy birthday eve (she loves doing that, and I really love that she does that) and making some incredible Christmas nachos. Red and green, of course.

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