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

2012-09-21

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 7: Layover in Bay Area, CA and Tips to Survive Returning to Your Hometown

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.


Castro Valley, CA and Berkeley, CA

[Hey so I stopped blogging my road trip redux after I crossed into the CA border arriving at my mom’s place in the Bay Area and I’ve been wanting to get back to memorializing the amazing epic journey. It doesn’t take a degree in psych to know that I stopped at California because suddenly it got emotionally difficult! My home state had a lot of baggage for me to unpack, but the trip was really healing on so many fronts so anyway, here the journey continues…]

In planning my trip I had budgeted the day after Thanksgiving to hang out with my mom and Grandmother and soak up a little bit of the Bay Area. I was ready to stop driving so intensely and excited to have a “destination” for more than a couple of hours.

It’s worth noting that I was miserable growing up and thus unable to appreciate or notice much of the beauty around me. I really love visiting the Bay now. Part of the impetus for this trip was to get to spend some time in California.

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View from Dolores Park in San Francisco. Why I only went to DP once in my entire time living in California I’ll never know.

Thanksgiving dinner was great, even if consumed late, and Mom was visibly overjoyed to wake up to find me, Grandmother and Macy in the guest bed (which comes down as a Murphy Bed on the wall of her quilting room which is also known as the “cat library”*). Mom adopted Bella, a rescue who literally walked into her classroom one day, inspired by Macy’s cuteness and charm. Macy truly is an ambassador for her breed and muppet dogs everywhere. Bella and Macy sort of got along, though it was clear that Bella was used to being the Queen of the Mountain and Macy was a charming interloper.

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A family portrait with Bella and Macy featured. Macy LOVES Grandmother.

Spunky came by and the four of us went to a local breakfast place. She and I have been friends for almost 14 years and she knows my family better than any of my friends. It’s nice to have that. Spunky’s straight and suburban-dwelling. Grandmother asked later “How are you and Spunky such good friends?” Spunky’s the sister I never had and we make up in emotional similarities what we lack in basic life commonalities. We’ve known each other through so much.

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Me and Spunky.

We went to Doug’s Place, a well-known omelet destination in Castro Valley. Their pancakes are great. I randomly saw someone I recognized from high school at the restaurant but I didn’t say hi. He and I were very close when we were sixteen/seventeen and had the weirdest falling out. We lost touch while we were still in high school. So how weird is it to awkwardly catch-up this much later? This is totally the kind of thing that happens when you are the prodigal daughter returning to your smallish suburban hometown.

I’m not one of those people who has a lot of lingering friends from that time in my life. I’m in touch with about 5 people out of my graduating class of 400 and I feel really great about it. I sincerely love Facebook for the opportunity to peep in on and chat with folks about their awesome kids or whatever.

I really struggled with whether or not to say hello to this high school dude. If I had been alone or circumstances were different I might have gone up to him–nobody ever died of awkward. But I was also trying to focus on my precious few hours with my mom and Spunky (I was slated to visit Grandmother again a couple days later when she returned to Palm Springs).

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Spunky with Bella.

Even though high school dude and I didn’t acknowledge each other, it was kind of cool to see this person, that they had a family (a really cute kid) and were in town for Thanksgiving, too. It was enough to see one another from across a restaurant. Why chat and make vague promises of facebook reconnect? Anyway, my hair and features are pretty different than they were in high school but probably he still recognized me.

Oh, home town discomfort you are so real. Being in Castro Valley was itchy like a scab! Where you grow up is loaded, especially if you didn’t have a great or happy adolescence. After Spunky left to go home, I was riding in the backseat of the car with my mom and Grandmother and seeing the Castro Valley suburban streets from the backseat was super triggering. Like I was a grumpy middle/high schooler again and I just needed a dose of my own present reality to snap out of it.

But see, I love my family and I want to see them! And I also love myself and I want to take exceptionally wonderful care of myself! So how do I go home and not get into a crazy spiral triggered by a really rotten adolescence?

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Self-care tips from the wall of Jonah.

I’ve learned through trial and error in my twelve years living on the East Coast a lot of coping mechanisms about how to have a good time going back to the Bay Area. I start with myself, I bring the version of myself that is most authentic and don’t get bogged down in acting like I’m still 16 like I used to do when I came home. I have a lot of things that help me stay connected with who I am now, like staying in touch with friends through my phone, journaling and reading. I also rarely sleep in Castro Valley, opting instead to stay with friends in Oakland or San Francisco. That helps the most, really.

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San Francisco view from my Prius.

A year and a half ago I was going through some serious emotional work and I actually made an important boundary to not go to Castro Valley at all and instead met my mom for yoga and dinner in the city a couple of times. It was great to see her on neutral ground and avoid the hometown land mine altogether.

Another thing I do is I don’t engage in diet talk. I’m far more practiced now, but my family (like many others) loves to talk about their bodies from a not Health at Every Size/All Bodies are Good Bodies perspective and it can be really hard for me to hear. It used to be so hard for me to work around that. I have a lot of compassion for it now and I am pretty good at detaching from it and not engaging. When people talk about their bodies it isn’t about me and I don’t let it be about me. I also don’t let people talk about my body on anything other than my terms. And I will say my family is really understanding about my politics and my mom is definitely much more embracing of the HAES approach than she ever was, which makes the diet talk stuff much less of an issue for me than it ever used to be.

I also find it a lot easier when I can bring a pal home with me but that’s not always possible. Going into this trip I set myself up for success by scheduling a 2 hour catch-up over tea with my dear friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, both because I wanted to hang out with her and also because I knew the break would be good.

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LLPS is such a hardcore babe!!!

No sooner was I having uncomfortable flash-backs to my youth in the back of my mom’s car then I was able to slip into my own Prius and go visit Leah. She met me on the street of her Berkeley neighborhood wearing a slutty apron. I met a bunch of her neighbors and housemates and we went over to her friend Jonah’s room to watch them make candles. Yes, Jonah is a chandler.

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It was incredibly soothing! Jonah makes anti-zionist candles for Jewish rituals. At the time (just after Thanksgiving) they were making candles to fulfill orders, many were tiny collections of menorah candles for Hanukkah. I got to ask Jonah a lot of questions about the process and being in their environment with the warm smell of wax and all of the nettles drying along the wall was like being in a fairytale.

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Nettles drying above us! Reason #203 why the Bay is awesome is being able to harvest Nettles and make your own tea. I love Nettles tea.

LLPS and I got to have one of our power catch-ups on the bed while watching the candles happen. She took me to her house and showed me her tiny magical garden shack in the backyard, which was so much more incredible than I ever imagined from her descriptions over the phone.

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We hugged goodbye and I got back into the Prius and headed back to my mom’s house.

Mom’s BFF was over and we got to watch photos from her summer and some photos of her husband’s memorial service. I couldn’t afford to fly out to attend and was so grateful to get to see pictures from it and spend some time with Linda having grief community.

One of the things that sucks about living across the country from my family is that I rarely can take my family’s hand-me-down furniture. I wanted my mom’s clear glass dining table so bad! But mom saw an opportunity to give me the Kitchen Aid mixer that she rarely used and I gleefully accepted it!

Growing-up my ex-step-dad was notoriously selfish. Like, remarkably, irrationally selfish. Picture a 50-something year old man acting like a 4 year old. Mom and I weren’t allowed to use the Kitchen Aid and I’ve always wanted one. Mom got one not long after they divorced and she knew I would appreciate it like no one else could. So the Kitchen Aid (which, by the way, I totally use at least once a week) got nestled safely into my trunk. I always thought I’d have to wait until I got married or something to get a Kitchen Aid.

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Grandmother had to wear mom’s sweatshirts because it was “so cold” in the Bay Area. Which, compared to Palm Springs, it totally was.

I also raided my mom’s Lesbian Tea Basket** for a sampler of teas for the road, including a lovely hibiscus and some mint.

In the morning I said my goodbyes to Grandmother, Mom and her wife. I was leaving Macy in their care while I headed into San Francisco to go to a meeting I had scheduled into my trip right between visiting my mom and my dad. (I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics, which I joined as a result of an alcoholic boo but has helped me heal a lot of family stuff I didn’t expect.) I loved the idea of going into the city even for a couple of hours and was bummed I wouldn’t see my friends but didn’t have time on the road trip.

I went to my meeting, walked briefly through the Castro and took a quick detour in the Mission to grab a burrito before I left town. I also stopped at Multi-Kulti for a pair of sunglasses and some cheap fake eyelashes. My pal Alix Izen saw my twitter check-in and texted me to meet me for my quick burrito, which was a fortuitous and awesome catch-up.

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I got back on the road, crossed the Bay Bridge and headed to my dad’s house in Merced.

Next up! I visit Merced, CA for the first time in a decade and drive through some crazy fog!

*Let us not forget that my mom is also a Lesbian.
**I’m sure I mentioned this on my webseries before, but my mom putting all of her teas in a basket on top of the fridge was the original Lesbian Tea Basket and the namesake for my own LTB and starting the LTB web series.

2012-04-11

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 6: Salt Lake City to Bay Area, CA

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 Castro Valley, CA from Salt Lake City, UT via Interstate 80–through Utah, Nevada and Northern California.

I left Salt Lake City at 9AM on Thanksgiving. I didn’t realize until the night before that my Thanksgiving day journey was going to be a twelve hour drive. There’s a big difference between ten and twelve hours in the car.

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Stunning view from the parking lot of the Salt Lake City La Quinta.

When initially planning my trip I was planning to stop just Northwest of Sacramento for the holiday as one of my BFFs lives up there and we love spending Thanksgiving together.*

In a twist of fate Spunky was going to be in the Bay Area but my mom was hosting Thanksgiving at her house. And my beloved grandmother was going to be there, up from Palm Springs! My mom rarely hosts big holidays—she was a single mom and I’m an only child—and while she’s married now it’s not like there’s a big kerfuffle of family around. She often spends holidays with her best friend Linda or with my Aunt and cousins in Southern California. Linda’s husband, Peter, who has been in my life since I was 14, almost twenty years, passed away in a sudden boat accident at the end of August. After their loss, Mom offered to host Linda’s family (daughters, husbands, grandkids) at her house.

I was really sad that I couldn’t afford to fly out for the memorial service earlier in November. So the twist of fate that helped me be able to go to my mom’s for Thanksgiving was a wonderful opportunity to hug family friends in this tender time.

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In planning the details of the trip I never updated my estimated travel time from Salt Lake City to Spunky’s house to SLC to my mom’s house (another two hours). OOPS. So twelve hours in the car it was, and leaving at 9AM was way later than I wanted to start but I was so wiped the night before I needed to just let myself decompress and sleep. Lest we forget that my goal of driving solo across the country in five days was ambitious.

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I only lamented the lack of a human passenger on this trip a few times, and SLC was one of them. I drove past the Great Salt Lake and with a mind on hustling through my twelve hour drive without dawdling, I wished someone had been shotgun to read to me from my AAA guide books.

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My view of the lake.

As an aside, I am a huge fan of Sister Wives and have always wanted to do more than sleep in SLC, so it is a goal of mine to go back for a couple of days and poke around a little more. All the snowy mountains in the distance were beautiful!

After the Great Salt Lake I hit the Salt Flats. I had no idea what I was driving through until Macy and I stopped at a rest area and read a sign that told us about it. We took a little walk to the edge of the Salt Flats and poked my little boot into it.

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The next part of our journey brought us across the Utah/Nevada border. I stopped for gas, knowing from previous experience driving across the country that Nevada is extremely desolate with not a ton of consistent cell phone service or frequent gas stations. This oasis was exciting, there were casinos on one side of the block and the other side of the block were Utah pawn shops.

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It occurred to me in a moment of panic that the fact that it was Thanksgiving might mean I had no access to food on the road. What if all the fast food places in Nevada were closed for the holiday? I bought a lunchable at a gas station and threw it in my road cooler.

The high desert in Nevada is gorgeous. I saw a lot of mountains in the distance. Tried to get photos of them. Lamented that I hadn’t downloaded the audio book of Kerouac’s On the Road before I left. Started Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer instead. Started taking photos of Macy on the roof of my car because the scenery around her was so stunning. I felt like I could see forever, which is something I miss a lot living in the city.

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The day wore on, stopping occasionally in desolate towns for gas or a stretch. I ended up finding a McDonalds and immediately regretted eating it. I listened to Liz Phair’s “Go West” a lot, a song I heard with new ears on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway when I was in the midst of the grief/emotional crash times of last September and fantasized about hitting the road and disappearing for a few weeks. (The little nuggets of inspiration to go on this trip were all very tiny but persistent.)

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Nevada is a huge state and I was near the border of California as the sun started to slip slowly toward the horizon. I followed some signs on the outskirts of Reno for a Starbucks and was super delighted to find one open in a strip mall. Inside was a flamboyant boy who was excited to learn I was from Brooklyn. When I see that glimmer in folks’ eyes when I’m far away from home I encourage them. “It’s a lot cheaper than you think to live in Brooklyn. I pay $875** a month for half of a 2 bedroom. The Starbucks are always hiring. I throw a queer dance party called Rebel Cupcake. If you feel like you want to come to New York you totally should. Look me up.”

Anyway, seeing this young queer was the highlight of my trip that day. I just love seeing queer folks on the road.

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I started down the Sierra Nevada after I got through Reno and this was my second great OOPS of the day, timing-wise. Had I realized how treacherous that drive was going to be I would have gotten a motel room and called it a night. In fact I almost stopped a couple of times to do just that but couldn’t find an easy spot to do that while traveling down this huge mountain range.

Recall this was the end of November. The Sierras are mountains about three hours from where I grew up that I got to go camping and hiking in with my girl scout troops and sometimes we would be adventurous and go cold camping. Sometimes in college my sorority or women’s honor society would take a weekend trip and we would go rent a cabin in Tahoe or Reno and experience the joys of Nevada gambling and snowpack. None of these occasions required me to drive or put chains on a car.

I have lived on the East Coast for 11 Winters now (does this past year count as a Winter?). We don’t really have chain requirements here. Sometimes you get special snow tires for the winter but not me. I just review tips for snow driving before the season starts. (Another benefit to AAA membership—this road trip/car magazine that is really practical and interesting.) I have driven through a lot of scary snow storms on all of the local highways between Philadelphia and New York City. I don’t prefer to drive in the snow but that’s my life now.

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Macy, DJ and snack distributor.

However, I’ve never driven through steep, dark and twisty mountains like the Sierra Nevada while a rain/ice storm starts. Chains were not required but had the temperature been just a bit colder they would have. Of course, it was dusk so the risk of deer was real and a doe darted out in front of a car a bit in front of me. I was white knuckled and terrified.

This did not stop me from enjoying the last bits of daylight. Man, the mountains were beautiful. I stopped at a lookout area to pee in the woods (not even a single restroom along the highway during this stretch) and really appreciated the grace and glory of the trees, the waning light, the crisp air. It was the wilderness of my youth and I loved it.

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Earlier in the day.

I went about 30-40 MPH the whole time, sometimes slower. This is on Route 80, where cars were just speeding right by me, all self-assured about their driving in the slippery downslope of the Sierras. You do you, cars. I’ll do me.

I pulled off to go to the bathroom again (the whole stretch of mountains was probably close to two hours of drive time) but couldn’t find somewhere, so I just took a break and walked Macy in a closed for Thanksgiving grocery store parking lot. It helped me regroup, and it helped to smell the pine trees.

We hit the road again and I was so thankful to find we were finally in the foothills (near where Spunky lives) and Sacramento was imminent.

There is something about the smell in the air in Sacramento that just smells like home to me. I lived in Davis, CA, just 20 minutes from Sac, for four years during undergrad and I had so much fun (and depression, but that’s a larger story). College was a meaningful time for me and it was exciting to be there.

I always love driving through Davis, even if it’s just to get a quick cup of coffee or something. I stopped for gas on Mace Road. I wished it was still light and I wasn’t running late for Thanksgiving dinner (Mom was making me a plate) so I could have gotten a photo of Macy on a statue of a cow or on the UC Davis sign or in front of Thoreau or Regan Hall or something. One of these days I’ll bring Macy out for Picnic Day (the largest student-run event in the country—I was Vice Chair my senior year) or something.

I got back on the road and it was a quick 90 minutes to my mom’s house. I thought about going the back way zigging and zagging through tiny North/East Bay highways but the extra 10 minutes it was going to take me to go on 80 all the way to the end was sort of too awesome to give up. I drove past my birthplace in the North Bay and along Berkeley and across the Bay from San Francisco.

And then I was at my mom’s place in Castro Valley. It was 9:30PM (even with the hour change of time from SLC it took me 13 and 1/2 hours to finish my drive). Some folks were leaving and I got to say goodbye to them on their way out.

And on the inside of the house was my mom, her wife, Linda (who is like an aunt to me), Grandmother and more of Linda’s family. It was wonderful. And I dove right into that green bean casserole like nobody’s business.

Next up! My first day of rest and a quick trip into San Francisco!

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*I learned early on that the best way to plan this epic road trip was to let the plans shake out as they were going to and not force anything. In fact, other than the first three people I was stopping to see, I didn’t make any firm plans regarding arrival dates and gave everyone I was visiting a two or three night range, to be confirmed later. This flexibility proved to be crucial when accounting for road conditions, my whim and where the Goddess was taking me.

**My rent is also a little cheaper now, BTW, and I know folks who pay $500 who live in tinier places or in Queens.

2012-01-06

New Episode of the Lesbian Tea Basket–Hostess Gifts

There is a new episode of my web series The Lesbian Tea Basket, where I rate and review tea and reclaim tea parties for lesbians. I was heading on my Gay American Road Trip and needed a hostess gift that wasn’t too expensive and spoke to my personality. It’s great! Even if the host(ess) doesn’t drink tea, chances are if they are hosting one lesbian there will be another and we are a tea drinking people.

I have opinions about teas (obvy) and know about lesbians (I’m listening to Indigo Girls right now) so I made a big ol’ craft about it and walk you through making your own lesbian tea basket craft. My BFF Brian films and provides hilarious commentary. Also I am not wearing make-up like Oprah on a behind the scenes show or whatever. Enjoy!

Also if you want to catch all of the tea baskets in one long stream of things, check out this Steeping With The Lesbian Tea Basket on the youtubes.

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!

2011-12-21

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 4: Longmont, CO, Queers and Wealth

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 Longmont, Colorado from Chicago via Interstate 88, Interstate 80, Interstate 76, CO 52–through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado

I departed Suzanne and Jen’s around 6:15AM. I am a big fan of hitting the road early on long driving days for many reasons. Maximizing visibility by driving during daylight. Safety reasons (better to break down during daylight). Abundance of bathroom breaks (when alone I don’t stop at rest stops after dark). I freely admit to stopping to pee every 50-100 miles. Usually about every 100 but if I’ve had coffee it is more frequent. But the major benefit to me for leaving early is getting to arrive at my destination with some amount of the day left.

This driving day was going to be a big challenge, and I knew it. My AAA trip tik had estimated the drive at 16 hours, which was incorrect, as google maps GPS on my phone quickly alerted me when I plugged in the destination. I sensed there might be something up with the AAA estimate when Suzanne looked at me wide-eyed over the dinner table in Chicago “You’re going to Cam‘s tomorrow? I’ve driven there from here–we had three drivers! It took a long time!”

I’m not afraid to drive for a a great distance (obviously, taking this journey by myself) and know to add about two hours worth of stops when calculating the time it will take.

I believe one day google maps will create a feature called “Bevin time” where it knows I walk approximately 3 minutes slower than it assumes for public transit directions and transfers and when calculating road trip directions will add a 7 minute stop for every hour traveled, which I think it my average amount of stopping time including meal breaks and all the iced teas I require to go the distance.

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In preparation for the trip I had with me a printed AAA Trip Tik from the travel office, maps for every section of the country I was driving through, AAA guide books and a printed updated AAA Trip Tik from my computer (my route changed a little bit from when I had spoken with the AAA agent). All of these resources were free with my $55 yearly membership. However, despite all the trees used in the creation of my navigation safety net, 90% of the time on my trip I used google GPS for android. Tree-free.

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This was super helpful when I got within 30 miles of each destination, as obviously, most of the folks I was staying with lived near my route but not quite on it. Sadly, the GPS navigated me in a circle in Chicago’s early morning “Oh god I hope I get out of the city before traffic starts” commute. I felt like I was in a toilet bowl going in circles trying to get on I-88.

I sat in some traffic and the toilet bowl finally released me into the suburbs and onto the Illinois turnpike. Playing “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” was pretty perfect considering how gray and entirely un-enthusiastic that road was.

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The sunrise was entirely obscured by gray clouds and the overcast Illinois turnpike was really boring. All morning I worked with the spiritual tool of finding beauty in anything–here’s a gorgeous colorful train working its way across the landscape, here’s a pretty farmhouse I wonder what their holiday traditions are? Another game I like to play on the road (or on public transit) is writing stories in my head about people and what their lives are like. The more unexpected the better.

I was surprised to find at the rest stop that the line for McDonald’s at 7:30am was almost out the door but the line for Starbucks was non-existent. I happily bought some oatmeal and iced coffee and went back out on the highway.

We got to Iowa and highway 80, crossed the Mississippi with little fanfare. Maybe it’s years and years of Indigo Girls fandom but I have high opinions of the Mississippi River and the fact that it costs $12 to cross the Hudson into New York City, $5 to cross the Delaware River, and there’s barely a sign warning you that you’re about to pass across the colloquial demarcation of this country? I mean, I am not complaining that this was a toll-free crossing, I’m just saying get a bigger sign. Have some build-up. I barely had a chance to crane my neck looking for steam ships.

Iowa was hilly, as per Dar Williams’ foreboding, and a little more interesting than Illinois. I noticed here was where folks started staring at me openly at rest stops. I wasn’t even wearing something that scandalous.

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I stopped in Des Moines at a Panera (my favorite road food) for salad and a half sandwich. Walked Macy along a strip mall’s faux sidewalks and kept going.

I was delighted that the rest stops in Iowa had weather tracking tv screens and I was able to determine that the weather was going to shift to clear once I got to Nebraska.

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Before there was clearing, there was more overcast.

This was a Tuesday and Tuesdays for me are my spiritual homework day. I am in an anonymous fellowship that focuses on healing relationships through focusing on yourself. Keeping Tuesdays sacred has been an important part of my dedication. Driving as long as I was I hoped to take a moment with the sunset to do some reading and reflecting. I thought maybe I’d catch a rest stop in Nebraska for that.

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The break in the clouds was really dramatic for me.

Ten hours into my journey I was craving more coffee–good coffee–and the possibility of a Starbucks once I was long past Omaha seemed far-fetched. I pulled off for a McDonalds restroom break somewhere in the middle of the lengthy state and somehow the only Starbucks for 200 miles appeared on my right hand side. I stopped and had the aforementioned goddess rest break with Macy in the outside sitting area. It was sunny now and the sun was starting to perform her swan song.

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The rest of Nebraska went by in a blur, with a brief stop at a Goodwill to get my shop on for Double Chin Win (the pop-up vintage shop for all sizes I am developing with Leslie).

I got a little stressed out about timing my arrival to Cam’s. The GPS seemed to stretch on forever, but she texted that she was a night person. Preparing for my arrival she had asked what kinds of food I liked and had made a lasagna from scratch which she was going to pop in the oven when I was an hour away.

The last few hours were spent on I-76 into Colorado, total blackness on the road with big signs warning about “Big Game Crossing.” Yikes. My hitting a deer fear went into overdrive, brights on and heavy tears from the end of Just Kids alternately working for an against my clear vision.

Arriving at Cam‘s was amazing. Her house is so bright and lively, lots of vivid colors and interesting art to look at, sumptuous furniture just begging to lounge on. Not only had she held dinner for me, she offered a massage. She’s a professional massage therapist and this was the third state we’ve done massage work in. (We have set a mutual goal to massage in every state. I can’t wait for Hawaii.) In fact, I think she’s one of the only massage therapists I’ve used in the last couple of years.

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OMG the lasagna was extraordinary.

Her in-home massage studio is so incredible! It is just beautiful and warm and if you live near Longmont, CO you should book an appointment. She makes her own massage oil and I got my choice. Also Macy accompanied me. I was hoping she would settle down and sleep in the peaceful mood but we were practicing “Attachment Travelling.” She pretty much wouldn’t settle down until Cam put her on the table with me.

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I knew that my self-care in traveling required that an 18 hour drive day needed a morning off, so Cam had planned an omelette bar. She took post-it notes like a short order cook and we could pick pretty much anything we wanted. All the cheeses. Spinach. Red and green peppers. Onions. Top that off with a skillet full of bacon and sausage and it was probably the best breakfast I had until I hit Atlanta.

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I met her sweetie John and Macy met their gorgeous black cat and feisty puppy Riley who stood outside the back door holding a series of toys trying to entice someone to play with him.

The morning in Colorado was stunning. I arrived in the dark with no idea that the Rockies were just on the horizon outside of their sliding glass door.

I felt so warm and welcome at Cam’s. Beyond cared for. Wrapped in a tortilla of love and care.

Cam keeps a guest book in her massage studio and asks folks to sign as they come through–it’s an idea she got from our friend V and I think it is wonderful. So many of our tribe travels through it is nice to remember who stopped in.

The toll booth workers in Illinois were chatty–the first woman I gave my dollar and change to gave me two biscuits for Macy. The second toll booth worker told me, as I heaved my teal Cynthia Rowley bag I got for $20 onto my lap, “You must be rich to have such a big purse.” I told him I was just well-prepared.

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It’s so interesting folks’ perception of wealth and monetary ability. You can’t tell anything by looking at people about their net worth. Honestly. Even the “expensive shoes” trick is a farce. My big purse has more to do with being raised poor than it has to do with being of any means. A scarcity mentality coupled with wanting to feel secure that I am prepared for anything with a sprinkling of being captain distraction and not particularly good at editing. I battle this constantly. I genuinely appreciate when people do not comment how heavy my purse is when they hold it for me. Yes it’s heavy but I do have hand sanitizer and am prepared with a hanky when you need it. You need lip gloss? I have seven. Three shades of red lipstick.

I think wealth has everything to do with your attitude about life and how succulent you live rather than your monetary means. I say yes to opportunities and live on faith (faith it til you make it) and have far less means financially than I could if I just shut myself away in corporate America making someone else rich. I think that by living my life this way I am a wealthy person. Simultaneously, I genuinely do not know how I will pay my rent on February 1.

Obviously there is a balance–I am sad that I can’t be the Lesbian Bette Porter to every queer arts organization that needs $1,000 to launch something incredible. I wish I could fund all of my schemes. I don’t want to live without health insurance. But I am super grateful to have cultivated my adventurous spirit and find more fulfillment from that than I would from making a hundred grand a year. And goddess knows how much it is worth in dollars the quality and quantity of incredible friends in my life who enrich it daily through words of affirmation, kind acts and lots of other ways.

I also think there’s a significant issue with queers and other folks from marginalized groups valuing themselves and the work that they do. Job hunting like I am now I have to put a value on my time and my skills–it’s really hard! I have to remember just like I believe myself to be wealthy because of the value I put on my experiences and the wonderful life I have cultivated, I need to believe myself to be worth the money people pay me and valuing myself monetarily takes a lot of practice. It is important to remember that when I am hired for an event as a performer or workshop presenter or at a company as a lawyer or as a social media maven, I am selling not just my time but also all of the years of experience and education I have behind me. All those years working for free as an event producer in high school, college, girl scout camp, the drag king community, gay prides, etc… add up to someone who has an effective and valuable knowledge base.

That said, the wealth I enjoy in the life I have cultivated, on this trip of a lifetime, certainly womanifested when I visited Cam. There is no amount of American dollars that could have bought the love, comfort, sweetness and generosity I received visiting Cam. Our friendship is wealth. And for that I am eternally grateful.

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I am welcoming another QueerFatFemme.com Blog Benefactor on board! Domino Dollhouse is an online retailer of gorgeous, sexy and exciting plus size clothing. I have been a huge fan for a long time and got to paw through her collection recently. I was impressed at the quality of the garments and found them to be great value for the money.

My favorite piece from the collection came home with me.
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Birthday Bash dress. This one has a price point of $169 (worth every penny in my opinion). But most of her dresses hover around $60-$80.

The Ava Adorable dress is only $54.99 and sooooo cute.
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This Full Skirt looks so foxy on lots of different people (I watched folks try it on all weekend during the final Indie+ show at Re/Dress). $54.99 and comes in grey. There is a similar style in black as well.
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Marianne Kirby models the Minnie Day Dress $79.99.

I also own the Tail Feather dress. I received many compliments when I wore it on my road trip. It was easy to roll up in my suitcase and look cute and casual.

She sells vibrant clothes up to a generous 4X, totally boss leggings and accessories.

Tracy, the designer and total babe behind Domino Dollhouse, is offering a special coupon code for QueerFatFemme readers! Enter “QFF15” (case sensitive) at check out to get 15% off your Domino Dollhouse order!

Thank you for your support of QueerFatFemme.com, Tracy!!

2011-12-13

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 3: Cleveland, Chicago

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.

My friend Rachel Cupcake (designer of Sweetooth Couture and Cupcake and Cuddlebunny) lives in Cleveland. Since she was in town for the final blow-out weekend at Re/Dress, we negotiated a fatty friendly way of passing off the key and I was able to feed her cats for her.

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This is from Rachel’s recent collection, I think of it fondly as a labia coat, but she calls it Candy Ribbons.

To Cleveland from Brooklyn via Interstate 80–through NYC, NJ, PA, and OH

I spent way longer packing than I intended and had breakfast with my friend and revelator Taylor Black. I didn’t get on the road until 5:30 and I met much Holland Tunnel traffic on the way out of town. It was 7 hours to Cleveland once I got through the tunnel, much of which was the desolate wilderness of Pennsylvania along Interstate 80. I love to stop at the Panera bread near Dover, NJ and used that as my first stop, stashing half of my sandwich for later in the journey.

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I took this photo of the Alexis Bittar store while in traffic at the Holland Tunnel. Have you seen the Chloe video on Accessories?

I took turns surfing for pop stations looking for the new Rihanna song and listening to Just Kids by Patti Smith
on audio book.

I experimented with gas station rooibus tea (sub par), making a mental note to pick up a box of something good, and had a glorious moment during a dreary wet stretch of 80 around 11 PM.

A flashing road sign told me to tune to an AM station for road warnings and when I did it was playing a staticky version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” the song I had been spending the first part of my trip surfing pop stations to locate. Suddenly there was a glow from the other side of the mountains―probably from a tiny town’s streetlights, but in the darkened wet road and at the beginning of this epic journey I took it as a sign of hope and joy ahead.


We found love in a hopeless place.

*SAFETY TIP* I needed to pee around 1 AM in Youngstown, Ohio. Everyone keeps telling me to “be safe” and one of those ways is not being on the road that late, but this was an exception. I rely on my instincts for safety and pulled off in what looked like a populated area. I found a new, brightly lit 24 hour dunkin donuts not far off the freeway where I knew I could pee safely. There was a woman working behind the counter and a man using their free wifi super late at night. I bought a decaf coffee and continued on. If I hadn’t found something close to the freeway and well-lit I would have continued until I did.

My directions had me take several small Ohio highways to Cleveland, I drove through a bunch of farmland and woods and popped on the brights scanning for deer. (I hit a deer once in New Jersey on the road home from work and am now super paranoid about it.)

I arrived around 3AM and met Rachel and Michele’s cats. Snacks the Kitten was a highlight, since he is pretty much an internet celebrity. Macy was very Snacks curious, but they didn’t really interact much.


To Chicago from Cleveland via Interstate 80–through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois

Because of my late night I decided to have a mellow morning. I also needed to revamp my ipod and download that Rihanna song from itunes. Rachel and Michele have a gorgeous house with incredible details. I loved that there is a xylophone in the dining room, a sewing machine and a copy of a bell hooks book on the table in the kitchen. I enjoyed a cup of coffee with truvia and almond milk (luxuries not found on the road).

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I hit the road and got on the Ohio Turnpike. As a woman who does a lot of road tripping, I have a favorite rest stop system and Ohio’s is the best. They are like airport terminals, huge, clean bathrooms, well-lit all night long, and they usually have a sandwich shop. I got Einstein’s for lunch (turkey sandwich) and they all have good pet areas.

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It costs $10 to cross Ohio and the bathroom facilities alone are fairly worth it.

I was delighted by Indiana–their rest stop had a huge selection of fresh fruit in to-go containers and I got some red grapes. Sometimes being on the road for long stretches your highlights involve pre-school snack options.

My Prius turned into a time machine and I turned back the clock an hour. I was heading to the Western side of Chicago to stay with my friends Suzanne and Jen.

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Genuine Chicago traffic and that’s the tower formerly known as the Sears tower in the distance.

They live in a beautiful house with hardwood floors and the entire second floor is their bedroom and private living area. It was super cozy and full of great photos of them from their youth. I know Suzanne and Jen from Michfest and I really enjoy the opportunity to see my worker pals outside of the woods. I think we get a better chance to connect than we do during the Festival when we’re constantly on the path heading someplace else.

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Me and Suzanne at Festival.

We went to dinner at 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. It was beyond delicious. We chatted about a lot of things, especially their upcoming trip to Tanzania. They are going over winter break to visit friends who are doing volunteer teaching work. (They’re bringing supplies and collecting donations for supplies if you have the ability to give $5 or $10.)

I was really touched by Jen’s story about how her parents reacted to her coming out. Jen’s folks don’t welcome Suzanne in their lives and their religious fundamentalism sees lesbianism as a choice. It was really sad to hear about that, harsh words from her parents’ pastor, and reminded me very clearly the need for the families we create. There is so much love we have for each other in our communities and it is so important that we hold each other in our hearts and homes. It is really a wonderful feeling to find family in our identities and our communities.

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On the steps of the El train. It was mostly like I didn’t visit “Chicago” and just visited Suzanne and Jen–too hard to fit in anything else in a 10 hour stop. I learned that quickly on the pace I needed this road trip to take, that I had to make choices about where I actually lingered.

I have had to work to be queer and visible but it didn’t cause problems in my family or cause employment discrimination, but these are things that happen to queer folks every day. My family situation isn’t particularly easy, and I am actively doing work to heal it, but I am at least accepted for being my whole authentic self and haven’t encountered much homophobia from my extended family.

During the holiday season it can feel especially isolating to be excluded from our families of origin for lots of reasons–geography, family trauma, and belief systems that excommunicate queer kids.

Getting to visit Suzanne and Jen, experience their hospitality and love in their home, was so heartwarming. Not just as a wonderful love oasis on a solo road trip, but also as a reminder of how important family of choice is for queers.

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Their house, before dawn.

Macy loved the visit and meeting Sylly, their old black and white cat who was very curious about Macy’s dog food. Rocket, the other cat, wanted nothing to do with Macy.

The next installment on the road trip is Longmont, CO! Stay tuned!

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I’ve welcomed a new blog benefactor! Elisha Lim’s Sissy Calendar is available NOW and can still ship to you in time for the New Year. It’s really gorgeous and celebratory of femininity. It is also universal, so usable year after year. If you spend $30 in Elisha’s Etsy store (that’s a calendar and a couple of greeting cards, or two calendars) and mention “Bevin” in the notes section you get a free greeting card with your order!

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2011-11-30

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 2: Packing

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.

I am a scattered packer. I am also a procrastinator and while I was very on it in terms of preparing to leave I left packing until the day I left. I eased my anxiety by reminding myself if I needed something I could get it on the road and packing the car was going to take exactly as long as it was going to take. I pecked around my house like a hen gathering things to the couch, relying primarily on my reusable grocery bags to separate things. Macy got her own bag. I meant to bring her Macy-friendly carrying bag but I forgot it. Luckily I haven’t needed it yet.

I packed a bag of snacks―crackers, granola bars, lollipops, some tortillas that would go bad at home. Two water bottles, which is a good thing as it is helpful to have a lot of water available for me on the road. I also have a flat of bottled water in the trunk just in case. I enjoy hydration and I know this means I need to stop to go to the restroom every 100 miles.


Sees Little Pops are my favorites.

I packed three warm-weather dresses and three cold-weather dresses (Northern and Southern route realness), a pair of jeans, boots, teggings, socks. Lots of versatility.

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My friend Fae is on the road, too, and for her six month epic trip she is using the Garanimals method of outfits―everything coordinates so she can just mix and match her three skirts, tops, accessories, two pair of shoes, etc…

I have many layering pieces. A hoodie, a shawl, a coat, a sweater for under the coat, a fur collar. I didn’t bring a scarf but picked one up in San Francisco for lighter layering than the fur. These all live in the backseat behind my driver’s seat so I can easily grab something or deposit something if I need to on a rest stop.

I also packed a fancy party dress and a pair of glittery heels. You know, just in case.

Making musical deliberations was serious business. I packed my laptop and the hard drive that hosts most of my music collection so I could periodically update my ipod. I burned discs of artists I needed to have on hand at a moment’s noticed. I loaded my $99 kindle with several audio books in various genres. Just Kids by Patti Smith, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Squirrel Meets Chipmunk by David Sedaris, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. My friend Elisabeth loaned me the David Sedaris box set as well. I have well over 100 hours of stories and music to listen to.

I have found so far that I like to listen to lively funny books at night and the more serious books work for the daytime stretches. I also downloaded Rihanna’s “We Found Love” when I left and I listen to it once an hour. Dance music is helpful for those squirrely moments or when I start to feel a little weary.

Since I was going to be staying with so many friends I decided a good hostess gift would be little Lesbian Tea Baskets. I recorded an LTB episode of the preparation of the tins (it’s on the hard drive I left at home, though), but basically I filled sachets with loose tea, tied them with ribbon and put them in decorative tins with a note from me and Macy thanking folks for their hospitality. I figure even if my hostess doesn’t drink tea, she might have guests at some point that do. And it is consistent with my branding. Basically I really thought my BFF Rachael in Atlanta would be tickled pink and I went with it.

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Macy sort of stuck between luggage and the wall in a La Quinta elevator.

I prepared an overnight bag, so all I would have to do is minimal grabbing of items for my overnight stops. The rest of my clothes and laundry live in another suitcase that stays in my car except for layovers and the occasional “Oh, we’re changing clothes for dinner” unexpected couture moments.

So, that’s what I brought!

On the day I was leaving I did stop for a mani/pedi at the place around the corner from my house. For $20 I knew it was worth it to get it done and I am prone to snacking on my hang nails during long drives if my nails aren’t kept up.

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My beach sheet has been helpful more than once.

2011-11-29

Lesbian Jack Kerouac Gay American Road Trip Part 1: Planning

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.

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A previous Lesbian Jack Kerouac adventure in San Francisco.

I have an inspirational calendar above my desk that has stated for November “Open your arms wide and beautiful moments will come to you.”

After a sudden break-up just two weeks before the end of a two month protracted lay-off experience, I decided to embark on an epic journey. My goals for my Gay American Road Trip were to shift my perspective and my energy. I felt very bogged down in sadness and lacking traction in my life, which was very frustrating. Creatively blocked, I hoped new perspective and big skies would clear things and make way for new blank pages in the chapters of my life.

The decision to go on the trip was solidified quickly, just two weeks prior to leaving. Everything fell into place, and with places to stay popping up from friends it didn’t feel nearly as alone as a solo trip might. I also have a very charming and friendly seven year old Shih Tzu dog who loves to nap in the car. It is hard to feel alone when in the company of a canine companion.

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“Macy you can sleep while I drive,” I adulterated classic Melissa Etheridge lyrics as I packed to leave.

I decided to hop out of town right away―literally the day after my last shift at Re/Dress. I was ready for that energy change. Already a difficult nine and a half hour day working retail, adding community sadness and the agita of uncertainty plaguing me and my fellow Shop Girls, I wanted to shed this juju immediately. Since I had a gig go go dancing at Hey Queen on November 19th I knew that my first chance to leave was November 20th. So I did.

The reactions of my friends, advisers and family were similar―overwhelmingly supportive but very concerned for my safety. As a single 32 year old woman traveling through the heartland solo, I need to be vigilant about safety, but strike a balance where safety vigilance did not compromise the feeling of complete and utter freedom the road offers. As a lifelong Girl Scout and devout traveling adventurer I am familiar with both wilderness survival and road survival. I will be offering my safety tips throughout this blog series.

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Getting things in the rearview mirror, somewhere near Reno, Nevada.

I have hit the road before. When I moved across the country at 21 I departed with my college best friend who decided in Minneapolis to take a train back home. So I had already driven halfway across the country by myself and knew what that was like. I’ve driven the two days to Atlanta, GA from Brooklyn and driven back and forth to Michfest several times. I knew my limits and my preferences and I also knew I liked being alone in the car. I definitely would not have gone cross country on a solo road trip if I hadn’t had experience.

Preparing the Car
*Safety tip.* Prior to leaving I did a few crucial things to ensure my car was ready for the road. I have a Toyota Prius, a dream car I bought myself when I was making $80K a year as an attorney in a small firm before I got laid off and tried my hand at living on less than a third of that per year as a part time Shop Girl and part time solo attorney. The solo business has dwindled to about nothing this year and I am looking for a new full-time gig to replace both of those. I have had to scramble like hell to keep making payments on my car but I love it and couldn’t get out of the loan. So why not celebrate all I’ve sacrificed to keep it by taking off on this trip?

I only go to the dealership to get the Prius serviced. They do safety checks every time I go in and I knew I was due for an emissions service (about $200), which would also help with better gas mileage, and when I was there for the service they surprised me with the need for a brake fluid service (another $200). But making sure it was safe for the road was really important to me.

Preparing the Dog
Macy got her shots updated and a fresh rabies vaccine before we left town (the rabies certificate is packed with us). I also treated her preventatively with Frontline for fleas (who knew what she might get exposed to on the road). I bought extra poop bags, brought a full bag of food, some small tupperware to keep a single portion of food in for our overnights, a couple of extra small tupperware for her water needs, some treats and her favorite lamby toy. I also packed a down blanket to put on the seat next to me, which was something she could dig in and also easier to clean off than my interior.

I also researched pet-friendly hotel chains. I knew we would need to spend a couple of nights in hotels and wanted to prepare for Macy’s welcome. Motel 6 is nationwide and La Quinta is located in most of the cities I might need to stop.

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Peaceful La Quinta moment. The one in Ventura had some kind of ambient wave noise and moon you could watch.

As of this publication I have stayed twice in La Quintas and I find them super comfortable and affordable. ($52 and $62 with my AAA discount plus taxes and fees in Salt Lake City, UT and Ventura, CA, respectively when booked online at La Quinta’s website.)

Planning the Trip
I had about 17 days to spend on the road―with my next gig in Brooklyn being Rebel Cupcake on December 8th. I did a gas estimate on gasbuddy.com to find out if I could afford the gas―hey estimated $450 for round trip to Palm Springs, CA, where my fabulous Grandmother lives. I looked at the route and plotted some places in between where I could stay and where I wanted to visit.

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I’ll be honest that the “End of the World” episode of Parks and Recreation that aired in the beginning of November was a great inspiration to me in the conception and the plot of this trip. Characters April and Andy take a spontaneous road trip to watch the sunset in the Grand Canyon. I knew that was a spot I wanted to see― have never been there and it is only a few hours east of my Grandmother. I wanted to visit Austin and Atlanta, Southern cities where I have longtime besties and there are handsome Southern butches to give this freshly single Femme a little hope at the start of a long Winter. (Sometimes even just window shopping is like eating a full meal.)

I also have friends who popped up on Facebook and offered places to stay. My dear fried and co-creator Cam lives about halfway from Chicago to my mom’s place in the Bay Area. I have a lot of friends in Chicago I could count on for a place to rest my weary head.

*Safety Tip.* I am a member of AAA and believe that to be an everyday safety need as a single lady driving around in a city full of potholes late at night. If I need a tow not only are three included in my yearly dues, but it comes with a tow person who is vetted by my auto club. Helpful for peace of mind. And for around $55 a year in Brooklyn, it’s a huge value considering all of the discounts and benefits from membership. I’ve had AAA since I first began driving and my mom added me to her membership and it has saved my ass on many occasions.

To plot the route, I started plugging in addresses on AAA’s online Trip Tik planner. As a member I can save trips on their website when I log in and it was helpful to keep updating it as I confirmed with friends and got their addresses. (I found with google I had to keep updating my route from scratch.)

I copied a calendar from my wall (the inspirational one) to use the grid to fill in travel times and how long I wanted to stay each place. I started working forward from my departure date, filling in the daily hours and miles traveled and writing where I would sleep that night. I knew my comfortable daily travel was 840 miles, but I could do 1,000 if I had some rest the next morning. I also am a big fan of leaving at the crack of dawn so as little night driving happens as possible.

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This is what greeted me at dawn in Illinois.

I didn’t intend to reach anywhere specific for Thanksgiving― wanted to take exactly as long as I could safely to get across the country and back. Not setting deadlines was helpful for that. (Had I been accompanied by a willing co-pilot we could have done it in 3 days.) Luckily I was able to make it to California for Thanksgiving, 5 days after setting foot out of my door in Brooklyn, much to the delight of my mother.

After I worked my way out to California on the calendar, I began working my way back from December 8th counting backward the route it would require to get back to Brooklyn. This way I could see exactly how much fudge time I had in the middle of my route to plan my brief layovers and make my plans to see folks.

I planned a time in the mileage for an oil change around 3800 miles when I knew I had a day off from driving.

I had to drop a lot from my itinerary―honestly this trip could have taken me a full month. I wish I could have gone up to the Pacific Northwest to see pals in Portland, Olympia, Seattle and Victoria. I wish I had longer to soak in New Orleans―a town I very desperately want to spend a chunk of time exploring. But that’s the thing about travel and the open road, there is always more to explore. It’s with an abundant spirit I say I know I’ll be back and I will see more.

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Somewhere in central Wyoming.

I also ordered some travel books and maps and a Trip Tik book from my local AAA office. I really haven’t used them much, though they are great to have as back-ups and good driving tips, local speed regulations and whatnot.

*Safety tip.* Other safety items I always have on hand in my car are a flashlight, spare tire, shoes, car manual, cell phone charger.

So that was how I planned the trip. It took several days to plan, but the planning itself was very invigorating. When I’m not on a computer at my Grandmother’s I’ll post a map of my route.

In sum, I plan to be on the road for 7800 miles and 17 days.

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