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

2018-04-06

My Uphill Battle to Interrupt Fatphobia with Tee Shirts

A few weeks ago I was at a three day seminar about building up businesses. I won a tee shirt from her merch table and I went to go pick it up. The business guru had about a dozen shirt designs and several styles to choose from. However, when I went to select my shirt there was no choice available for me because there wasn’t even a unisex shirt that came in a size that fit me.

This is not an unusual experience for me, or for many fat folks. It sucks to feel left out of the inventory of 95% of stores. I don’t like this feeling and I totally don’t want this experience for my customers for Fat Kid Dance Party. I’m interrupting fatphobia and it’s an experience where fat people are centered!

PDX tour stop day two!

I started Fat Kid Dance Party by thinking about who was left behind in dance aerobics. I started my tee shirt journey from the same mustard seed. Who is left behind with traditional tee shirts?

In justice circles, the general call is for shirts that go up to size 6X. This is difficult to find but I basically made it my mission to do it. I feel especially hurt by so-called intersectional feminist stores that don’t carry plus sizes, or barely make it to a 2X. I wanted to create a different experience for my customers.

It is really hard to find a size inclusive line of tee shirt blanks. Different size bodies need different fit configurations and a unisex shirt isn’t particularly comfortable for me as a person with boobs. Even a unisex size 2X basically only fits up to a size 24W. It’s not enough. If you’re in justice movements and you want to validate intersectionality, you need to offer a size range that includes fat people.

Me and Jake in Seattle!

“Women’s” cut shirts are almost never truly size inclusive, a 2X in that cut tends to fit someone who is more like a size 14 not a size 24. Plus size bodies require a different fit and most shirt manufacturers are lazy about it. Often people printing shirts for their merch aren’t focused on inclusion and aren’t accommodating actual human diversity. (I would say a full 15% of attendees at that business seminar wouldn’t have been able to fit a single shirt at the merch mall.)

I hunted around last August for my sized to 6X tee shirt blank solution and luckily Rachel Kacenjar was already creating that.

Rachel has been designing and curating plus size clothes for well over a decade. She was on the hunt for a really good plus size tee shirt blank and knew she needed to design one. A bigger neckhole, a better shape. She found a manufacturer whose minimum order was $50,000 and by cobbling together orders (mine was $1,000, I’m sure other folks had more) and doing the labor of fulfilling all of those sub-orders, she managed to get it done.

With Julia who won my MVP for “traveled the longest to get to class” award in Minneapolis!

It was no small feat, Rachel had lengthy back and forth with the manufacturer to get the fit right and we didn’t get our shirts until the beginning of February. However, the shirts are incredible and so worth the wait!!

I worked on tee shirt designs with Genuine Valentine, a tee shirt company that primarily serves non-binary and queer folks and their allies. GV is a print on demand tee shirt service so as orders come in they are printed and fulfilled by a behind-the-scenes third party. That third party only allows you to buy their blanks and they only go up to 4X in unisex.

Minneapolis!

Fat folks have likely experienced a vendor charging more for a 2X or above tee shirt! True, it costs more to produce because of slightly more fabric and I have experienced the customer annoyance of having to pay $3-$10 more than a thin person. Not surprisingly, the slow as molasses manufacturer charged $2 additionally between the 1X shirts and the 5/6X shirts.

Since my primary goal is to interrupt fatphobia for my customers as much as I can, I just calculated what my cost for all the shirts was and divided it by the number of shirts to determine my cost. I also extended the same price to the print on demand shirts so the cost of all shirts is evenly absorbed.

The nice thing about Genuine Valentine as the home for my online print on demand tee shirt sales is that I can easily do kids shirts and non plus size. (It’s referred to as “straight size” isn’t that funny?) I included some wording in the description letting customers know extended plus sizes are available through my website.

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The shirts are made in the USA in ethical factory, screen printed by queers of color, graphic designed by a non-binary person and in every way as diverse as I could make them. The shirt material is really soft and I love mine. Best tee shirt I’ve ever owned, actually. I LOVE that the printing takes up a lot of space on the tee shirt because the best part of having a larger body is more landscape for art! Tattoos! Clothing! More landscape looks great decorated! #moreismore

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Yay tee shirts helping me interrupt fatphobia—YET—having two sources for shirts is so confusing! I’m still working on the customer experience buying them online. Anyone anywhere can buy the print on demand shirts through Genuine Valentine, but how to get the internet the limited edition fat 4 fat designed babe adorned version?

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Since I got the shirts printed by Stuzo clothing I have been selling them in person at Fat Kid Dance Party classes and on my tour! It is validating and exciting to see my shirts out in the wild! I love the shirts so much I bought all the stock that Rachel the designer had left of them and am printing a fresh run.

My dream is to have people go up to people they see in a Fat Kid Dance Party shirt or with an enamel pin, water bottle or whatever and high five for self care! (Jazz hands are the no touch high five if you don’t like high fiving!)

Jenny, Dara (in the non crop top version from Genuine Valentine), Kristen and I didn’t plan to all wear the Self Loving AF crop tops at the same time.

The beautiful Fat Kid Dance Party website is still under construction. Once that’s done I’ll have a merch section. In the meantime I’ve struggled figuring out how to sell my on hand special plus size shirts in a temporary capacity without confusing things too much with the side piece that is the print on demand option. But nevertheless I persist and I’ve heard that if you’re not embarrassed by your first iteration you waited too long to launch.

I really know how to do a Facebook live sale like a QVC show! I’m excited to sell some of my cute fat vintage hoard and all the tee shirts I have on hand! I’ve been going live weekly with the Plus Bus for several months selling plus size clothing and love doing it!

So if you want a tee shirt, tune in live on my Facebook at 6PM PDT on Monday, April 9, 2018! Turn on notifications so you get reminded when I go live every day to talk about loving yourself more!

2016-11-29

Bevin’s 2016 Holiday Gift Guide Centering Queer, POC and Women Owned Businesses

I have been doing a gift guide* for almost as many years as I’ve been blogging here (since 2008) and I always center work by queer, POC and women owned businesses. Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful about where we are putting our dollars! If you can buy your holiday gifts or handle your self pampering needs by supporting artists and businesses that are facing a loss of protection after Drumpf’s election, you are able to do a really concrete thing to help folks out. Money is energy in 3D form–it is important to put a damn in Capitalism, reroute it away from corporations and into the hands of folks whose lives will improve because of it!

If you can’t buy but can support folks by amplifying them on social media, that’s a gift, too, for a hustling entrepreneur!

I’m also highlighting folks who live in red states, supporting queers, POC and women in those spaces is especially vital now that racist, homophobic and misogynist nationalists are emboldened. We are in this together and redirecting our spending is an important way to connect and support social justice.

Make Good Choices
OMG OBSESSED. How about for the Femme Jewess in your life, this LIPSTICK MENORAH? Everyone should buy his and his or hers and hers or they and hers or whatever cups for your next queer wedding! I really want the Never Been Gayer mug to reaffirm my commitment in a Drumpf Presidency to get GAYER AND LOUDER AND WITCHIER. I want to buy everyone I know this Hannukah present, Oy to the World mug. NEVER BEEN MORE APPROPRIATE.oytotheworld

The prancing unicorn mug is a perfect idea for a weirdo in your life.youmakemefeellikeprancing

Make Good Choices on Instagram.

Tie By Hand
One of my oldest friends, Christie, just started a woodworking business called Tie By Hand! She makes a lot of really cute and useful accessories and toys. Dad gifts galore! I have always loved watching Christie create, she puts such love and intention to what she builds. 10% of proceeds go to Equitas Health the LGBT health center in Columbus, OH where she lives. Support a queer family living in a red state!

I think her bottle openers are perfect for the rustic masculine person in your life, elegant in their simplicity. tiebyhandbottleopener

The kids’ toys are wooden and adorable.tiebyhandunicorn

I am simply in love with this magnetic knife holder. tiebyhandwalnutknifeholder

Check out all of her unforgettable one of a kind gifts on her website and the LGBTQ mentorship program she is working to implement.

Paypal Christie@tiebyhand.com to buy any of her products!

Genuine Valentine
Genuine Valentine creates apparel for gender nonconforming folks and anyone who identifies outside of the gender binary. I’m so into the simple design and cozy styles. Run by a gender nonconforming roller derby playing drag king performing friend of mine, I’m so excited to share some of my favorite gifts.

This shirt is a great gift for someone who is interested in showing solidarity/acting as an ally for gender nonconforming folks! Comes in XS-3X.
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I have been giving gifts of clever onesies for all the amazing babies born into my life. I love the sentiment, Dolly Parton said in her Pure and Simple Tour that her mom did great by her to let her make her own path and parents could support their kids by just letting them be themselves. I think the Making My Own Path onesie is a great reminder of that great advice.
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The Future is Genderless–I love this kids’ shirt. genuinevalentinefutureisgenderless

Use code QUEERFATFEMME for 15% off orders at Genuine Valentine!
Genuine Valentine on Facebook
Genuine Valentine on Instagram

Furface Pet Portraits
If you know someone who loves their pet, buy them a digital pet portrait from Fur Face Art! Ketch is a queer artist who has two remarkably cute rescue pekingese dogs and draws really compelling art of pets! It’s been a longtime dream of mine to get portraits done of all of my pets! Order soon because Ketch usually gets full up closer to the holidays! furfaceartshihtzu
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Fur Face Pet Portraits on Facebook
Fur Face Art on Instagram

Hello Holiday

I found this shop through queer fat femme fashion icon Nicolette Mason. They are based in Omaha, Nebraska–red state! They also rep Black Lives Matter on their instagram, which immediately got my attention for folks I want to support!

I’m so into the Girls Support Girls tee shirt–it comes in pink or white and all the way to 3X and is $33. Bust up internalized misogyny! Great gift for pre-teen and teenage feminists!helloholidaygirlssupportgirls
This Intersectional pin is sooo cute. Great gift for academics and social justice types who go to a lot of conferences and wear blazers or denim vests with bling. $13!helloholidayintersectional_2048x2048

Hello Holiday on Instagram
Hello Holiday on Facebook

How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh
If you have a pre-teen or teenager, especially a weird one, in your life, get them this book! As soon as I cracked this book I knew that every single teenager should read it and work through it. It’s part memoir, part workbook to ask yourself the right questions to get to know yourself. When you are growing up as someone who is not a “normal” it is really isolating and lonely! How to Be You is permission giving and beautiful. I think it is suicide prevention and self care to do the work to get to know yourself, especially during adolescence when it is particularly emotionally difficult to not fit in.

Jeffrey Marsh (they/them pronouns) grew up a genderqueer in a small Pennsylvania town and became a social media superstar with their affirming and positive Vine messages. You can buy it here on Amazon and I get a referral for the purchase, or buy it from an indie shop like The Strand or even better an LGBT bookstore!

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Jeffrey Marsh on Instagram.

Stuzo Clothing
Owned by queers of color, Stuzo Clothing, was nominated over five times on my solicitous Facebook and Instagram posts when I asked my followers and friends for recommendations! “A genderless clothing company designed to invoke thought and emotion” Stuzo has some cute presents! They have a store in LA and a robust online store. Also, if you are a person wearing their Koas Kontrol Coat at a party I will stop you to talk about it. STUNNING piece of art.

I LOVE the black mesh button up shirt–I think it’s so sharp and the kind of thing that is timeless if you have strong style. $75 but only goes Small to XL. (If you’re a bigger person who wants to wear it, contact them and ask them to let you know if they do a bigger run!)stuzomeshshirt

The LEZ hat is so stylish–the bandana brim is a fresh update to the tall letter snapback.

The Adipositivity Calendar
Photographer and Fat Activist Substantia Jones set out to show the world fat bodies in an effort to normalize them. Her cutting-edge work has evolved over the years, and she perseveres doing this stuff through a lot of internet BS from haters. Her play with light, her use of bodies to paint a picture is really beautiful and extraordinary. Modeling for her has been such a great experience. I’m plotzing over this photo from our shoot in June–my eyelashes and tattoo are so incredible in the shot. I feel like art!

Her calendar is an annual collection of never-before-seen shots. I’m in it this year for the second time! It’s such an honor to be Ms. July! (My shot is below–a special sneak preview! I’m a YARD SALE PIN-UP in a rainbow snakeskin lamé bikini.)adipositivity16-06-la-203-yardsale-tagged-1100

In Substantia’s words: Every freaking penny of profit goes toward defraying some of the costs of keeping the Adipositivity Project alive, so stuff ya some stockings with these things. You’ll be supporting fat activism, body positivity, and pushback against bigoted patriarchal jackwaddery. Plus it’s all pretty an’ shit.

Buying this calendar funds the body revolution! Sharing about it helps fund the revolution more! I would love to see Substantia make so much cash off this calendar she can shoot Adipositivity art full time and comfortably for all of 2017! (Share this post on Facebook!)adipositivitycal-page-07-july
Adipositivity on Facebook.

Xiomara Lorenzo Designs

Xiomara Lorenzo Designs makes 3D Printed Hoop Earrings. They come in a variety of bright colors and the process seems really cool. I love the large earrings, I feel like in a bold color they would make an amazing statement piece. If you have a Femme who loves modern design on your holiday giving list, consider these. I would get a color you know she wears a lot (red for red-lipped femmes is a solid choice). If I were buying them I’d get them in hot pink because I’m wearing a lot of black and white lately.
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Xiomara Lorenzo Designs on Facebook

Eye of Crow Herbs
My friend Lizanne is a queer femme herbalist out of Oakland who sells herbal remedy products. We bought some Tumeric Oxymel at the QueerCare LA event in June and we loved it. I am excited to try her other remedies. The 3 of <3s blend is great for anyone you know going through a difficult emotional time, including grief. And the Sleeptime blend would be great for someone you know who is losing sleep at night. Or Lickable massage oil for your lover/love interest/poly side dish / whatever. Lizanne rules. Buy her potions!
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Eye of Crow Herbs on Instagram

Stellarium Jewelry
Stellarium Jewelry is owned by a queer femme friend in Baltimore. Her pieces are beautiful, woo and striking. “Stones that are used in this work are hand selected for their energetic and aesthetic qualities.”

This crescent etching earring is a great choice for someone who loves the moon. stellariumcopperetchingearring

Black, White, and Grey Chalcedony Necklace with Sterling Silver Chain is so beautiful. The stone can help with self doubt or help lessen the effects of dementia and senility. Great gift for someone who could use a tangible reminder that you believe in them. stellariumhowlitenecklace

Last Craft
Last Craft is the work of the amazing Amanda Stilwell, a queer femme in Chicago. If you know someone who loves 80s/90s culture, shop here for them. The New Wave Tarot deck is really cool for anyone who loves New Wave and Woo (a pretty big cross section). As a fan of the movie Heathers and body positivity, I must shout out the Big Fun pin.lastcraftbig_fun_large

Last Craft on Facebook
Last Craft on Instagram

Lockwood Shop
Lockwood is my go-to NYC gift store. My friend Mackenzi owns it and her buying is always on point. When we met 7 or 8 years ago she had one tiny shop in Queens and now she has four! It has been so inspirational to see her work hard and hustle her dreams over the years and I LOVE her baby and kids’ stuff. Like this Metrocard plush rattle!!!nyc-rattles-baby-metro-card_th

Or this dinosaur hand puppet!dinosaurhandpuppetlarge_th

Lockwood Shop on Instagram
Lockwood Shop on Facebook

New York Toy Collective
This dildo and accessories company is owned by a queer woman of color and it is such a labor of love. They work to foster a sex positive world and make gender affirming and fluid products. I met them while they were tabling at a party on mine and Dara’s first one on one outing! (First date according to Dara but since I didn’t know it was a date I don’t count it.) I have the Mason in hot pink and LOVE it as well as the Shilo. Quality pieces that have lasted for the past three and four years, respectively!

I got my Mason as my payment for modeling for New York Toy Collective (it was a “lifestyle shoot” and in the video from the shoot I’m juggling dildos–possibly one of the funnest things I’ve been caught doing on video). I’m super honored to be in this shot with Erika Hart, an amazing breast cancer body acceptance activist who is making big waves right now!
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If you have a friend getting married, consider one of these (or collecting gift cards) for Bachelorette party gifts or wedding shower gifts or I’m in your bridal party gifts. Or maybe give one to your partner to sizzle things up this holiday season! They can make a sex toy out of any genital through their 3D scanning!

New York Toy Collective on Instagram
New York Toy Collective on Facebook

Massage and Body Paint with Julia Cameron Damon
My friend Cam is an amazing body painter and masseuse. She’s based in Longmont, CO, so if you ever are driving through definitely get in touch with her about booking a massage. (I did that once driving cross country, stayed at her place–which is also an airbnb–and got a massage. It was perfect. It’s gorgeous in Colorado.) cammassagetable

If you want the most incredibly unique and romantic experience to give your partner for a holiday gift, book a body paint session with Cam! She will also fly out to you and do a whole body paint/photography session. It’s amazing, such a beautiful embodying experience. In Cam’s words, “Sometimes folk fly into Longmont Friday have dinner and a massage before bed. Then get up Saturday and we paint and shoot all day. They rest and leave Sunday–I have gift certificates for this experience too. Models come away with 100s of digital downloads.” Since Cam is deaf, it’s best to text her–303 243 2240. She does baby belly painting! She travels a bunch, so seriously just get in touch and talk about it. Read all about my experience with our body paint session in Brooklyn five years ago! cambevin

She posts her travel schedule on her Massage Facebook Fan Page.

Novel Idea Crafts
I love bibliophiles and bibliophilic intimacy, thus I love this woman-owned shop with cute crafts made from old books! Much of them are Christmas-oriented, but she does custom work and that’s what I would love to suggest. If there’s a person in your life with whom you have a connection over a book–like if you were Forrest Gump Jr. you might get your dad an ornament made with rolled pages from Curious George.
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The Paira Birds

If you want to give affordable, really cute art, Tabitha Brown’s digital portraits start at only $15 and really pop. I find them so compelling and joyful. Especially the fox clutching the tea mug (obvs) and many representations of Black folks. foxtea
I feel like this Trini Transistor is a great decor item for a kids’ room.pairabirdsboombox

Bevin’s Tea
Mackenzi said that I hadn’t mentioned my tea in awhile on my blog so I’m making sure to remind readers I’m building an energy healing tea business. The tea is a vector for energy healing when maybe you don’t have the time or money to go have a full Reiki session.

My goal is always to have delicious tea blends, so everything is luxury level blends of organic ingredients. I blend with certain healing properties in mind and emotional effects. Feelings tea is great for when you’re going through it, so is Find Your Chill (especially if you need a sleepytime aid). Dolly Mint is meant to help folks get dollars, stay positive, and ease digestion. Hibiscus Coconut has nettles for anti-inflammatory help and positivity enhancement. Self Love is caffeinated and meant for self loving. I also have a Lesbian Tea Basket sampler pack so you can try all the flavors. My Earl Grey is positively the most popular for folks re-ordering after having the Lesbian Tea Basket. I’m still working on getting up on etsy, but for now you can order it from this page on my blog! I want to make energy healing as accessible as your pantry!lesbianteabasketround1

Bevin’s Tea on Facebook.
Bevin’s Tea on Instagram.

*Inclusion in my gift guide is always free and it is a true labor of love–it takes me 30-40 hours to curate, write, html code, research and resize photos for this post. Dara reminded me I always say I want to start it sooner because I annually forget how long it takes. I’m totally indebted to my friends and followers who help me source a diverse roster of folks to include!

2016-02-26

LA Week Five: Turning Social

I’m loving these weekly check-ins about the transition to LA. I keep reminding myself of the power of six months, that in six months everything will be different, settled, and all of this transitioning stuff won’t be in the forefront of my mind all the time.

There’s so much more to the transition than I thought there would be. I guess I thought I could prepare and plan enough, since I spent months preparing and planning for the move. But I don’t think I had any idea what kind of energy it requires to not know where anything is and get acclimated to a whole new place. Most of the time when I’ve moved in the past I had at least a passing comfort with the neighborhood.

heatherwithdollymintHeather, drinking my Dolly Mint Reiki tea blend by a fire pit. #blessed

The biggest thing that happened this week was the launch of my Reiki Tea pre sale. People tell me I’m “brave” all the time but I don’t necessarily feel brave. It’s so scary to put your dream out on the line and be open to failure. It’s really vulnerable!

The Reiki tea blend business was a great idea and was very “safe” in idea phase. The sweet and awesome news is that as soon as I put the post up I made a sale (thank you Allison!!) and I’ve gotten enough orders that I’m nearly 20% of the way to making the B-School tuition! (Including $100 from Grandmother she gave me for my birthday and Christmas.) I had been planning a pre sale at some point but having the deadline and the big goal was really helpful. I feel good that at least I’m trying and I get to share this awesome healing modality with my blog audience!

barbtommyselfieWith Barb and Tommy!

This fifth week in LA was all about turning social. Up until this point I’ve seen a couple of folks a week, having been so overwhelmed with setting up the house I had to lay low, but people have been in town and it is good to take breaks and see people.

We also had to have a major overhaul of our travel plans and intentions. We thought we’d be done with the house set-up so much quicker, but we weren’t. We were going to go up to Las Vegas to support Dara’s mom in the Nevada caucus last weekend (she was a precinct chair), but Dara ultimately decided that we should stay home and get more settled in. I was going to go up to the Bay Area this weekend to go to Bryn’s SF memorial and when another friend of mine passed suddenly last week I knew that my self care interest would be served by not traveling. The grief pile-on has been kind of a lot.

I think I can sometimes use socializing and traveling as a way to not stay present. I love both of those things, but I know I also need to balance it by feeling my feelings, doing my self care work, etc… Traveling is a lot of energy and disruption. Not traveling these two weekends has been great because I was able to find a humane butcher at the local farmer’s market and get a pork shoulder and bones. I feel like once I make bone broth, maybe that’s how I finally feel settled? Anyway, it has felt great to eat nourishing food I spent a long time brewing.

greenspartyGreens!

It also feels super nourishing to get to see friends I’ve known a long time and who are familiar in a new and not yet familiar place! That has been a nice antidote to the newness.

Friday night we did a little York Avenue taco tour in Highland Park with our friends Kristen and Madeleine. I met Kristen eight years ago at the Femme Conference with her feminist burlesque group the Miracle Whips. (The Miracle Whips are also featured in the Glitter and Grit Anthology, a brand new book I highly recommend from Heels on Wheels!)

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The four of us, rather than choosing one taco place decided to try first the Vegan taco truck (delicious), then we thought there were street tacos but instead was a woman selling sausages wrapped in bacon (extremely delicious), and then another taco truck across the street from the Vegan truck that was “conventional” tacos and also really delicious. A street dinner for less than $10 each. I’m still trying to figure out my exact right condiment preferences for tacos. Definitely cilantro, but which kind of hot sauce? Onions? Radishes or no?

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Saturday morning Dara went for her first and last run along the LA River (it hurt her knees which were weakened during chemotherapy) and I went for an aura cleansing class in Hollywood. I’m thrusting myself into the woo lifestyles of LA and I feel really great about it.

I moved out here to work on my spiritual gifts and I am super into any class for $15 that will teach me woo modalities. This was taught by the owners of the House of Intuition here in LA, which now has three locations and the stores and products are great. I visited when I was here in May and so many folks told me it was a must-see. (They also have an online store.)

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The owners are queer women of color (a couple) and I learned SO much. About starting a business based on your intuition, building altars, magic, and the promised aura cleansing methods, which involves a ritual bath or shower. It gave me a lot of great ideas for enhancing my ritual for tea blending!

My friend Heather (co-editor of the Glitter and Grit anthology) was in town this weekend so I visited her at the apartment she was staying in. It was like a gorgeous human terrarium, with a running brook through the complex, a grotto, a heated pool with a fountain, a community grill, an outdoor fire place and a dry sauna. We used all of those things with Caitlin, another LA transplant from Brooklyn and Heather’s friend Monica. It was awesome to be around Femmes for the afternoon and just hang hard and look really cute.

poolpartyThis pool party was also my first time in a bikini as an LA resident.

I wore a semi-slutty dress over there because I have gotten so tired of wearing the same ten outfits. All of my clothes are still in boxes pending the completion of my Mariah Carey closet in our attic, but due to my weirdo packing some clothes have surfaced, including this super cute dress that is just so low cut I only like to wear it when I’m feeling really confident or with a group of folks I feel safe and supported by. Femme gatherings are great for fashion risks.

The truth is, I haven’t felt as confident since we got here. Being in that constant state of “I don’t know this area I don’t know where I’m going” has left me a little more vulnerable and thus less inclined to take risks or draw attention to myself aesthetically. I just want to hang out with cats / not get cat calls right now.

Heather’s partner Silas came home before I left and it was great to squeeze him and catch up! He’s directing and doing some other work on Transparent Season 3, you totally need to check his instagram for the dish. I’m so excited for his work coming out. Did you see the amazing video he directed for Peaches that came out a couple of months ago?

Then we party hopped to dinner with my friend Tommy who was visiting LA with his girlfriend (and Dara’s good friend) Barb. We went to this place down the street from us, Links n Hops, a SAUSAGE RESTAURANT. I am committed to trying all of their many kinds of sausages.

barbtommyFirst time seeing Tommy since my going away party in December!

Monday I finally went to the beach for the first time since living in LA and that was great except for super sad reasons. My friend Melissa Tracy, who is just a little bit younger than me, passed away suddenly last week. I have very few regrets in my life but I now definitely regret not aggressively pursuing a hang out with her before I left NY. We met when she lived in Baltimore, she moved to SF, then back to Baltimore, then to Ventura, then to Nyack, NY (near NYC). I will probably write more later about Melissa, but whenever I imagined her in Ventura I imagined her on this very specific beach I love there. I met up with my old friend James Leander who also knew Melissa and we said a prayer and lit a candle. It was super windy at that beach and I felt it was extremely auspicious that we were able to easily find a tiny candle cave to keep it lit.

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On the way back from Ventura I stopped in Camarillo to visit with my Aunt Shari. It’s so nice to just get to drop in and see my family! I watched the full moon rise over the mountains near East LA from I-5 on the way home. Did you catch the full moon on Monday? Celestial gorgeousness!

Tuesday we drove Heather to the airport and because avoiding traffic is a huge hobby of ours, Dara had a meeting in the late afternoon in Marina Del Rey (beachside town near LAX) and it was an adventure we made a day of it. We did a post-airport drop off Panera work date, had a post-lunch stroll on the beach, then back to another coffee shop for more work and Dara’s meeting. It was a looooong day but totally worth it for the beach break.

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Tuesday night I reunited with a longtime Femme friend, Jenni, who is another NYC area LA transplant, but had a year and a half jump on me. I got to make her dinner, which we ate with a huge pile of “to sort” stuff looming in the living room, but it was a super sweet reminder of what me and Dara are working so hard on our house for. I cannot wait to have dinner parties and regular parties and social things.

In fact, we planned a painting party/mild carpentry party this coming Saturday for some friends to come over and help us work on the Mariah Carey closet installation. It’s been hard for us to carve out the time and I truly love throwing parties way more than painting. I figured combining the two would be a really great way to motivate. Even if three people show up the extra help would rule. And then I get to be social and feel like I’m making progress on our house.

Oh also, we played tennis outside yesterday. Though the transition is still rough and scary sometimes, LA is definitely really sweet right now. I think, among the laundry list of physical, emotional and spiritual work to do right now is to really feel that I deserve all of the tremendous blessings that LA is offering. The weather is beautiful, the things we have access to are so phenomenal. I mean, my friend invited me over to swim in a heated pool and lounge by an outdoor fireplace at a random apartment complex just six minutes from me. Like, making this change has been a ton of work and hard, and it’s so much easier to not make change and just think about or long for what it would be like to make change. But pulling the trigger and walking through the gauntlet yields some pretty amazing stuff.

I’m really praying that pulling the trigger on starting the Reiki tea business is not scary for long and is one more beautiful blessed thing that I get to do now that I live here.

2016-01-27

How We Found Our House in LA

As soon as we decided to move to LA I insisted I would only move into a house. They have all of these houses out here that are 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalows, with little yards and washer/dryers and no walls sharing with anyone else. I’ve never lived in a stand alone house as an adult.

A huge part of why I was so ready for a departure from NYC was to live in an area that had less population density. Not that LA is a small place but it is more spread out. My apartment building was a huge pre-war beauty, with a Flintstones meets Camelot style grand lobby and truly the biggest two bedroom apartment of anyone I knew. But it was also a box in a building full of boxes, with people surrounding me at all times.

As I’ve developed my woo, I am realizing how much space I need, physical, emotional, spiritual. It’s helpful for me to get recharged in places where all I can see in one direction is what (in my belief) the Goddess made. Nature. The beach. The forest. The rolling Smokey Mountains. The desert. It’s also really exciting for me to get to live in a climate where my seasonal depression will be more low key.

When deciding to move to LA, here’s all of the factors that swayed me back to the left coast (I grew up in the Bay Area):

10% Seeing Grandmother more frequently
10% Seeing my Aunt/Godmother of choice more frequently
15% Developing a closer relationship with my family (who are all really funny and awesome)
25% Lessening/eliminating my seasonal depression
20% Living in a house
20% Further developing my spiritual and artistic gifts

Anyway, I knew having a house would be instrumental to all of that. (For more about our process, read this post.) When we visited LA last May, it was my intention to wander the city, get to know it and decide where we were going to live. Dara was just glad to be coming back to LA, she left it up to me to decide our neighborhood. (Obviously she still had veto power.)

grandmotheranddaracancersurvivorparkGrandmother and Dara at the Rancho Mirage Cancer Survivor’s park. (Dara survived cancer, Grandmother has thankfully not had cancer.)

I considered a pretty wide stretch of spaces. My Grandmother is in Rancho Mirage (two towns over from Palm Springs, I’d call it a low-key ritzy retirement area). The area has great developing professional industry. Which is good for me because I have to start my day job career over again. It’s two hours from LA proper, though, and it’s even farther from the beaches. But it’s 15 minutes to the mountains and the desert from Grandmother’s house.

My beloved Aunt/Godmother of choice is in Camarillo, so are two of my cousins and their kids. My family immigrated there from Canada when my mom and her siblings were pre-teens. It’s a magical place with a lot of energy for me. I know a bunch of awesome queers in the next town over, Ventura, which is a gorgeous sleepy beach town that I adore.

I have some awesome friends in Long Beach and considered that for cheaper rent and access to the beach. We stayed there for a couple of days during that May trip and got a feel for it.

We stayed a couple of nights on “the Westside” as I’m hearing folks call it, the area of LA by the airport and the beaches. We were in LA proper at a hotel (Dara had a work conference, I was “conference wife” in the fancy hotel room) and seconds from Marina Del Rey, a gorgeous beach town. Not far from Santa Monica and Venice, both totally captured my heart I loved them. I really thought I might want to live out there.

But then we visited my friends in the Northeast section of LA (Highland Park, specifically) and there were wild parrots flying overhead, it’s nestled into these amazing hills with huge regional parks with hikes and views of the sunset and an abundance of those 2 bed 1 bath bungalows with detached garage art studio spaces and yards. And then we went to a party at another one of those houses with a bunch of awesome queers and I realized it reminded me of the best parts of living in Brooklyn. It was going to ease my transition to start in a neighborhood where I knew folks who were easy to get to.

sunteaMy first pot of sun tea. The first thrift store we went to on Sunday had this beauty and two matching glasses for only $5! The first brew I’m doing is my reiki infused tea “calm” blend because me and Dara need to find our chill during these unsettling house taken care of times.

We visioned hard for the house we wanted. We wanted to be able to see the sunset every day while I drank iced tea. We wanted a porch, a yard for Macy, a garden for me, at least two bedrooms plus a sunroom/office. Abundant closet space, a nice bathtub, a great kitchen, on site laundry, and no shared walls. A driveway. I also loved my joke about having an avocado tree. My friend James Leander (in Ventura) had an avocado tree and said they got “bathtubs” of guacamole. My rent in Brooklyn included NO guacamole.

Every time we Craigslist researched the neighborhoods we were interested in living in, we always saw listings for bungalows for $1800 a month. One time we saw a place with a FRIGGIN’ COMMUNITY POOL for that much. I immediately imagined teaching a fatty and allies aqua jog classes in the pool.

night1intilehouseFirst night in our new house!

But when we got to actually looking for our house, we weren’t finding much of anything. We cut our road trip short in New Orleans after I got sick and wasn’t getting better on the road, heading straight for Tuscon and then Dara’s mom’s place in Vegas. We had intended to spend a week with her mom getting our stuff sorted to head to LA to look for houses. We started looking and things were bleak. Here are the websites we looked at:

Craigslist
Westside Rentals (free to search, $60 for the contact info for each rental)
The Rental Girl (not a ton of inventory)
Padmapper (GREAT for apartments, not great for houses)
Lee’s List (you have to get invited by an industry person and it costs to be a member, but there are listings there in NYC and LA, really great for short term rentals, house swaps and furniture, too)

Here are the neighborhoods we looked at (for my friends who are in the process of moving to LA), these were all within about 10 minutes of someone we know:
Lincoln Heights
Cypress Park
Highland Park
Atwater
Silver Lake
Los Feliz (Dara used to live there)
West Hollywood
Echo Park
Eagle Rock

Among all of those we found five possible contenders for houses, and getting a response was really difficult. Among our first round of reach outs was this quirky looking place with blurry photos but great tile work. “The house with the great tile” wasn’t going to be ready to see until after the weekend, which was great timing for us.

housewithtileThe front walk is all fancy tile from the 1960s. Having never remodeled a home I had no idea how expensive nice tile is.

We kept looking every day at the rentals and found maybe five other places that could work. Several were snatched up before we even heard back from landlords. Dara’s persistent, so she reached out to folks to express continued interest when we didn’t hear back.

The house with the great tile scheduled a go-see with us on Tuesday for Wednesday, so we had to last minute pack up the car and find a place to stay in LA. Grandmother came through so we arrived at her place at midnight. We left extra extra early the next day to make sure we wouldn’t hit traffic and miss the showing of the house.

Once we got there I did a snapchat video saying, “Are you our new house?” because I love snapchat and thought this could be a funny ongoing series while we looked at houses. There was another couple visiting the house, too, and the landlady showed all of us. She didn’t realize we weren’t all looking at the house as one big group, even though Dara was actively trying to cock block the other couple because she already loved the house.

It’s a quirky place. The backyard area is shared with the rear house and is cobblestone. The house is basically original from 1920. Almost 100 years old. The rear area has a shared garage space that is full of storage. There’s a cellar with a washer/dryer hook-up. The landlady is an antique tile dealer and she took great pride telling us all about the fucking gorgeous tile backsplash throughout the kitchen. There is a breakfast nook that gets morning sun. AKA A SUNROOM. There’s a built-in BBQ from the 1920s that would be a great open flame grilling situation and/or a fire pit for parties.

There are two bedrooms and the bathroom is a “Jack and Jill” bathroom (with breathtaking antique tiles, natch). The Jack door to the bathroom is totally fatphobic, I have to turn sideways to get in. The master bedroom isn’t huge but it has a door to the side yard where our landlady built a fountain. When I read fountain in the Craigslist listing, I thought it was a like a standard fountain but it’s a five tiered cement trough left over from watering animals she thinks. Now it is a fountain that trickles below the master bedroom window. The side yard is a private yard that has great shade for plants that don’t need full sun and maybe room for a hammock. And oh, yeah, a really tall avocado tree. When I saw that, that’s when I started really thinking this house could be a contender.

I had really been visioning for a version of our friends Madeline and Kristen’s gorgeous house, so when this didn’t look like it right away I didn’t see it. But then when I was able to really take in the quirks of it, I could see this was so much of what we had visioned for. And sometimes when things don’t look right away like what you wanted you don’t notice it.

We hung out long past the other couple (they were gone in 10 minutes) and I noticed that the sun was starting to set–and we could watch it from the front porch. I could easily make sun tea on that porch with the afternoon sun.

But the best and quirkiest part of the house was the weird staircase ladder to the stand-up attic that runs the length of the house. As soon as I got up there I saw that it was a prime place for me to put in a Mariah Carey closet.

atticphase1I have already borrowed my uncle’s shop vac to start working on my closet build out.

Ever since I saw Mariah Carey on Cribs she’s been my closet idol. Like, her closet situation is on point. I love my clothes, they have taken up roughly half of the footprint of my bedroom in my past several apartments. I knew it would be a challenge to cohabitate with Dara and my clothing. When I’m a rich lesbian I will have an entire suite as my closet. With a circular shoe chair.

circularsofaI saw this at a furniture clearance sale in Mid-Wilshire today.

Anyway, the amazing tile house had a ton of applications, but the landlord didn’t like anyone who had seen it. I mentioned casually my FAVORITE piece of small talk, “I don’t know if you’re an astrology person, but, it’s Mercury Retrograde, it’s not a great time for contracts or communication.” That’s how you have to intro it–“I don’t know if you’re an astrology person, but…” and it will open up spiritual convo if the person is into it. Usually they are.

Turns out, in addition to dealing antique tiles she’s been a tarot reader for 35 years and does energy cleansings and house cleansings. The houses energy was clean (I could feel that) and you know how many energy clearings were included in my rent in Brooklyn? None.

We paid the $30 application fee for the credit check, went back to Rancho Mirage and spent forever on the application, emailing it that night. The next day, when our landlady emailed us to say we got the house, we were in the living room of my Grandmother’s jumping up and down all three of us hugging.

Grandmother was a real estate agent in Beverly Hills for years and said, “Remember this feeling,” before she gave us lots of rental advice of taking photos of everything so we get our deposit back.

We had to quickly drive back to LA to sign the lease and put down the deposit on Thursday (remember we saw the place Wednesday), moved in on Saturday even though the floors were still tacky from the refinishing. We had to do a lot of cleaning and I have a huge task of cleaning out the attic and building out my closet.

But you know what I have? The house I visioned for. I believe in thinking positive and dreaming big. As someone who struggles with depression, thinking positive is a big piece of my self care. I can easily slide into the vortex of thinking there’s no house available for me and I have to settle. But I kept on believing for it and I worked for it (we spent SO much time looking at places and A LOT of time on our emails to landlords and the rental app). I really believe in the “ask, believe, receive” idea of the universe (Notes from the Universe is my jam), and we really went for it.

Dara kept saying that we were cutting our road trip short because our dream house was waiting for us. And I kept praying to have the house hunt be easy on us. And even though there’s a ton of stress when you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other end of the unknown, I find it worth it to lean into it and try to have fun along the way.

Also, the house happens to be in the exact middle of all the neighborhoods we were looking at. And we’re 9 minutes from Chase and Taylor, 9 minutes from Kristen and Madeline, 13 minutes from my awesome cousin Sooz and her GF Masa. Every time I look someone up it’s so fast to get to their place!

I’m super excited to blog about the process of fixing up the house. Right now it’s like we’re camping–the house is drafty as fuck and it’s 42 degrees at night, we’re sleeping on an air mattress, our landlady still hasn’t gotten us a fridge so we’re eating out of a cooler. (Perhaps most awesome is being just 6 minutes from Dara’s bestie TR, who lives in a legit log cabin on a hill in Echo Park with a gorgeous view–being so close has been pretty crucial for us in these times with no fridge because we’re keeping Macy’s homemade dog food in TR’s freezer.) But we’re also making a home and I look forward to our house being comfortable and even more the place of our dreams.

viewfromTRporchThe view from the legit log cabin where I am writing this blog post because our house doesn’t have electricity right now because of the former tenant’s delinquent bill and LADWP bureaucracy. I feel like Megan Draper up in this hill because her house on Mad Men was nestled in a hill like this.

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