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

2015-10-08

Saying Goodbye to NYC: On Leaving, Change, Grief and Anxiety

I have this grief about leaving Brooklyn that hits me in waves. I am profoundly curious and excited about this new chapter in my life. I haven’t experienced a drastic geographic change in 15 years. I’m a totally different person than I was when I left CA. I’m so curious what it is going to be like. But also, I’m bummed about leaving a lot of the things I love about NYC behind. I’m working really hard not to let my grief and anxiety interfere with my ability to love the process and let go of NYC in a mindful way.

bevinatnybgOn my NYC Bucket List was going to the New York Botanical Gardens, which currently features an amazing Frida Kahlo exhibit. It includes fourteen pieces of her artwork and a whole recreation of the gardens of her famed home, Casa Azul.

When I was 29 and my fiance had just broken up with me and I was kind of a disaster, my friend Kelli Dunham gave me a cd about the grief process. I didn’t realize at the time that you could have grief about things that weren’t death. I just thought you powered through yucky feelings by ignoring them. Learning how to deal with grief and anxiety has been a long road and I’m still working through it.

I am going to miss my friends. I’m going to miss all of the tremendous cultural opportunities living in NYC–mostly all of my weirdo Downtown artist friends’ shows. I am going to miss Fall foliage (strategically moving just after foliage, when the gorgeous Gaywitchmas decor lines the streets and just before deep snow times). I’m going to miss the ability to skip car traffic and hop in a subway car to get places. There is grief about leaving that behind.

FridapyramidSince I’m moving someplace in a warm climate I got a lot of great ideas for my future gardens in LA. I love the way the colors of the plants popped against the bright colors of the buildings and pyramid at Casa Azul.

I want to approach this move in a mindful way that is as low stress as it can be. Last night I mentioned to Dara my anxiety level and she’s like “What are you anxious about?” I said, “Um, how about my impending move across the country?” Even the best laid plans and the most time you have to execute them still come with lots of unknown anxieties and that’s kind of buzzing along in the back of my head. I do all the things I know to do to handle my anxiety, including buckets of self care, meditation, faith that the Goddess has a plan for me and is taking care of everything behind the scenes on my behalf and still more self care. Yet still, part of having feelings that are difficult to experience is just acknowledging them. Hi anxiety. You are there still.

So my anxiety is telling me “Do ALL the NYC things you might possibly miss! Schedule ALL the hangouts with your friends! Fill up ALL of your time with moving prep!” But my self care mind is telling me, actually, slow the fuck down you started getting sick this week. Do what you can. It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will all be okay.

casaazul

Ever since I stopped doing monthly queer parties, I definitely changed how I interact socially. Going through chemo as Dara’s support was a big part of recentering myself towards hanging out at home. At first it was out of necessity and then it became part of how I interacted with the world. I think this is also a product of getting older, and have heard queer friends in their thirties, forties and fifties talk about shifting priorities and not focusing on nightlife for socializing any longer.

There’s also this thing where everyone in NYC is really busy. There’s a necessary hustle to living here because it’s not cheap and my friends tend to be working artists. So they hold down day jobs/day hustles, side hustles, artwork, gigs, rehearsals, etc…

Remember that line in Clueless where Cher’s dad says “Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes!!” In NYC I think that’s more like 45 minutes. The subway is convenient but it takes awhile, and busses take forever–often they just don’t show up. So if you factor in 45 minutes to get to Crown Heights from South Brooklyn neighborhoods it is hard to squeeze that into an evening. Am I naive to hope that things are a little bit different in a town where most folks drive?

bevinmacvictoriaThe other day I got to do one of my favorite things which was a spontaneous dinner hang with two of my favorite people at once! Mackenzi and Victoria!

I also just got kind of fatigued with how much work it takes to schedule a hang out in NYC sometimes. When people are busy and you get to the third round of times that don’t sync up… This summer I made plans with a couple of friends of mine 2 months out to go to Spa Castle. I totally guarded that time like a precious jewel because it was so hard to get it on the calendar and I wanted to see my friends.

I have also been on a journey to move towards centering self-care into my life–making taking care of myself a priority. Having blank space on my calendar to work on my day job work or my art work is important, it’s also important that I get to the gym, and not to burn myself out running around. Where I used to say yes to everything and fill up my calendar with back to back plans, now I’m more hesitant because I want to conserve my energy for the work I want to be doing in the world. I changed the way I eat, which means I cook for us a lot. It’s much easier and cheaper to eat a whole foods diet* if you cook at home, but that also means I spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning.

nybglilypond

So I had all of these shifts in my life, many of which contributed to my decision to move in the first place, but it also means so many of my precious NYC friends became people I see only every 4 to 6 months.

When I was doing my “should I or shouldn’t I” thinking about moving I realized that if I move away and am still working somewhat bicoastally, I’ll still see my NYC friends about every 4 to 6 months, just in more concentrated doses during visits rather than sporadically during our busy New Yorker lives. I’m hopeful that will work out.

Each time I catch-up with a friend I haven’t seen in 4 to 6 months (or sometimes longer) I am struck at how connections don’t necessarily have to have time limits. I love the experience of having so many friends with whom I have connections that time does not expire. That’s radical, beautiful abundance. It’s kind of weird to be like “Okay, so in the past 6 months all this has happened” with someone who is not a friend from out of town, but that’s a totally legitimate way to sustain connections with people we don’t get to see day to day. And in NYC there are few folks we get to see day to day unless we work or live with them, roll in a crew that prioritizes group hangs, or you see your neighbors often. (I have some neighbors I really love who I rarely see because our schedules don’t overlap.)

meandamandaAmanda moved away from NYC years ago and it is always a joy to get to see her again! Photo by Sarah Jenny.

So in part, my handling of moving anxiety and grief is going with the flow when it comes to getting my last minute NYC enjoyment in. I can’t possibly go to all the museums I’d like to see before I go, I probably won’t get to squeeze everyone before I go. Having an abundance mentality, where I know I can try to see folks as much as possible, putting it out there that I want to have hang outs while I’m decluttering and packing, sending around potluck invites, prioritizing quality time AND self care… Even looking at my life and being able to acknowledge that I’m having grief and anxiety is huge progress compared to who I was just 8 years ago. That’s what I’m experimenting with to handle my grief and anxiety.

That and remembering that I get to see lots of people I love once we are headed to LA. Both on the trip out through the South and once we get there. Life is change, the Goddess is change, and with change comes grief and anxiety.

bevinpyramid

*It is also not cheap to eat a whole foods diet and food justice programs that work towards making whole foods more accessible to low income folks is work I really admire and want to amplify. Do you do food justice work and want my help amplifying? Please get in touch!

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.

2009-08-20

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Relatables

First of all, thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on Jessie’s photoshop work! I told her if this were the Lez Sep 70s we would totally have put on bandannas and crawled up to the top of that billboard with wheatpaste and spray paint. Luckily we’re in the cushy aughts and can do this shit via viral internet magic.

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Cherry Poppins here is wielding spray paint at Jessie Dress. Okay, it’s spray glitter. Again, the cushy aughts.

Now! Additions to the Queer Lexicography!

This first one was brought to me by the gorgeous Mira Bellwether.
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Codefriendant: If you meet any of the following criteria, you might be codefriendant. 1. You text every morning when you wake-up? 2. You rarely do anything on your own if you have the option of your friend being there? 3. You are so close that everyone you meet thinks you’re a couple? 4. You fight like you’re in a relationship? 5. You had sex a few times and it made you feel really complicated? 6. They had sex with someone else and it made you feel really complicated? 7. You have bad boundaries?

“Every morning Josie gets into bed with me and my girlfriend. I get that they’re best friends but their codefriendancy is making me feel like the third wheel in my own relationship!”

Process Aggressive: I’m not positive who came up with the term, but it was brought to me by someone who has experienced this. Before I define Process Aggressive, it’s important to know the base term, “processing”. Processing is thinking and analyzing a topic to some great length with specific reference to the involved parties’ feelings and thoughts. Primarily processing is used to describe talking about relationships, but you can process lots of things like politics, policies and ground rules. Processing is often abused, to the extent of overthinking, overanalyzing and overdiscussing something so that you’re going in circles.*

Anyway, process aggressive is a great way to describe someone who insists on processing. You either do not want to process or do not wish to continue processing and the other person is insisting that you process.

“I told JiJi last week I didn’t want to process with her and then she came up and put a note in my pocket. She’s so process aggressive!” This example of process aggressive is especially egregious because it involves invading personal space to get a point across. Not okay!

Story Dropping: This one was from my friend Gina de Vries. Story dropping is where you tell a story about someone but don’t use their name. Writers do this a lot, I am especially prone to it. It’s a great way to relate your life but not reveal too much about the person so that it’s not obvious who the person involved is (unless, of course, they already know the story or enough about both of you to guess).

“I open Best Lesbian Erotica 2008 and I’m story dropped on pages 35-47. This is what I get for fucking that writer for three months. At least we didn’t have licky licky lesbian sex.”

Tentacles: This is a great term when you’re at a festival or event that involves camping. You can use the term to describe people who are camping with you but not in your specific tent.

“We have a lot of tentacles, which is great because someone is always in charge of getting ice for the coolers. It’s not so great because one of my tentacles is camped really close to me and has loud sex every night.”

*I have an aversion to collective organizing because of the hyper processing involved. I also don’t like processing relationships unless we’ve made out a few times and/or you’re a good friend. And even then, I like a sharing of perspectives and once we’re going in circles or not making progress, I prefer an agreement to come back to things once we’ve cooled down. I have a Virgo rising, I feel very attached to efficiency.

2009-06-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition

I have the following updates to the Queer Lexicography to present unto you.

The first, courtesy of Zuleikha Mahmood, co-founder of the Femme Sharks.

Critically underbanged. It’s a great alternative to the term “dry spell” but can also be used to describe Lesbian Bed Death and any really unsatisfying sex. She used it in a craig’s list ad of all places, to request that someone help her protest her state of being. It worked, too, she totally found her recent boo from it and is now contentedly well-banged.

I think it’s also important to use this term during times in which your critically underbanged status has more to to with your own choosiness than any lack of interest. I am not going to settle or have sex with people who I am ambivalent about. It’s nice in periods of critical underbangedness to have such a colorful turn of phrase to use.

The second, courtesy of Glenn Marla, Tranny Superstar and oft-contributor to FemmeCast.

Tragic. It’s an alternative to the term depression, since being depressed is such a sad word that means inaction. When you’re depressed you’re sitting around like a lump, but tragic is an action word. So next time someone asks you how you’re doing, instead of saying “depressed” you should say you’re “tragic”. I find it’s a great way to spur me to action and making art out of my sad feelings. (In fact, Mr. Marla, together with Silas Howard and Heather Acs, put together an amazing piece of theater called “Tragic Magic” which was all about taking really horrible things in their lives and turning them into beautiful art. It’s moving and wonderful and when they go on tour through the Pac Northwest, CA, etc… this summer you need to bring your friends. Fan them on the Book.)

Of course, sometimes you give into the depression for a little while and listen to some hardcore Tracy Chapman (Smoke and Ashes anyone?) and play Bejeweled Blitz over and over again.

Trampage. Brought to you courtesy of Ms. Cherry Poppins, head whatever of the Femme Mafia ATX.

Trampage is a great word to describe sleeping your way through a town. For example, “My recent trip to Austin was a total trampage, I hooked up in a boxcar, a gay bar, an abandoned theater, my friend’s couch and in a van.” That was not my trip, I’m just using it as an example. But if anyone wants to invite a Femme to ATX sometime for some abandoned theater action, I might be up for it.

Femme Date. This one is totally just so obvious it can’t be attributed. It’s awesome to ask someone out on a Femme Date. In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.

I had a lovely Femme Date with Zoe last night, because I wanted some one on one time with her to find out about her recent Toronto trip to see her sweetie and try out a new restaurant in my neighborhood. It was marvelous. And tonight I had a wonderful Femme friend of mine ask me on a Femme Date because we’d never hung out one on one. It was wonderful, we went to a wine bar nearby and had a couple of glasses and some cheese and great conversation. She was very chivalrous and ordered for me and it was quite lovely.

If you’re somewhere and know a Femme you want to get to know better, I highly recommend asking her on a Femme Date. Or if you’re just hitting a dearth of romantic action, being romanced by a friend (or romancing a friend) in this kind of sweetly platonic way, is really a wonderful way to feel special intimacy. Also, when you are having lots of romantic regular kind of dates, you should still have Femme Dates to build community and have those wonderful special bonding moments that Femmes have together.

It’s a great way to have an adventure and do those fun things you do on creative dates (pull out a guide book for your home city and find something fun you’ve never done! explore a new restaurant! split a bottle of wine and hang out in your backyard!) with the addition of a Femme bonding focus. I also suggest Butches, Genderqueers and the Trans do it, too! More buddy time!

In other news, if you’re in and around NYC for Pride (Sunday, June 28, 2009) you should march with the Femme Family!! Meet at noon at 54th Street between 5th & 6th Aves. Look for our van! RSVP and keep track of updated info at our Facebook invite! All femmes and allies invited!

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