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

2017-03-24

Meet Iris and Virginia, the Cuties behind Cuties

Hey everybody! I am so thrilled to introduce you to my pals Iris and Virginia! I met them through their monthly pop-up gathering Queers, Coffee and Donuts and am so appreciative of all of the work they do to create fabulous parties.

Virginia (left) and Iris (right).

I love gender inclusive body positive community space. Being explicit about this gathering principle helps people feel at ease in new social circles. When I was planning my move to LA many people complained about a dearth of queer community events and spaces, but thanks to Iris and Virginia’s hard work, there’s a thriving new crowd about to inhabit a permanent brick and mortar space–Cuties coffee bar!

Not even a year ago we lost 49 gathered at a gay nightclub in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Not long after that was the Ghostship fire in Oakland, where queers were gathered in an underground space and 36 lost their lives. I think now more than ever brick and mortar gathering spaces that are funded and able to have safety protocols are so important for marginalized communities. We need safe(r) spaces and refuges where we can be ourselves and we need to rise up let our tragedies fuel our commitment to making space and our resistance to oppressors.

As a Femme presenting person I really love being in a majority queer space and hope that folks assume I am queer until proven otherwise. I also hope that in a space that centers gender non conforming identities that folks don’t assume pronouns based on aesthetic assumptions. Iris once joked, “Every time someone asks a Femme presenting person their pronoun preference, an angel gets its wings.”

The fundraising video for Cuties is groundbreaking! An example of how all media can work to be in solidarity with gender non conforming and trans folks–put people’s names and preferred gender pronouns! (You have to watch it!)

The first Cuties event I went to was a pool party with donut floaties! Here I am with my friends Dari and T!

Read below the vision behind Cuties coffee bar. If you have a few bucks to help create this vital gathering space, please donate. Perks include pronoun pins! A great accessory and fabulous gift! And if you don’t, please share about this on social media. Folks all over should know that this is happening.

Here’s my interview with Iris and Virginia, my questions are in bold:

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what background you bring to the Cuties coffee bar?

Iris is a genderfluid queer femme who has a background in costume design and the arts. Virginia is a transgender woman who started two online businesses. Her most recent business Tonx was an online subscription service for coffee which sold to Blue Bottle. We’re both from Virginia and we both love hosting. Creating a business around hosting and serving folks seemed very natural to us.

Cooper is their incredibly cute and sweet cat.

Did you start your events before or after you decided to open the coffee bar?

The coffee bar idea came first! We knew the process of finding a location and building out the coffee bar would take time. We also knew that we wanted to provide space and start building community right away so we came up with idea of “Queers, Coffee and Donuts.” It’s a monthly event where all folks on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and allies can congregate in a low-pressure social environment. There’s no agenda other than inclusion, good strong coffee and delicious homemade donuts.

What has been the part of Cuties that has made you the most proud?

Seeing how loving and supportive this community can truly be makes us incredibly proud. We love watching people connect at events we host. We’ve seen people find new partners, friends, roommates, collaborators… you name it. People are even finding jobs through one another! Our goal with Cuties from the start has been to connect the queer community in LA in a way that’s inclusive and supportive and it seems to be working! Seeing the results fills us up and keeps us moving forward.

What are the challenges you’ve been experiencing with the build out and starting a brick and mortar business?

Everything always takes a lot longer than you think! We had some delays in getting into our space which threw our timeline off but we just put our energy into fundraising and creating more events for the community. We also imagine that there will be some delays with the buildout but we’re trying to schedule padding into our timeline to accommodate for those. It’s a struggle to let go of challenges that come up that we can’t control but over the past year we’ve really seen the power of persistence and incremental work. Even when it doesn’t feel like you’re making progress even the smallest step makes a difference in the long run.

What’s your vision for a day in the life of the Cuties coffee bar?

It’s early. Still dark out. We lift up the security gate and get the shop ready for the morning rush. Sleepy LACC students wander in before their first classes as the sun comes up, folks stop by after morning meditation at Against the Stream, people from the neighborhood come in for their morning pick me up. Slowly as the morning rush dissolves folks start settling in a bit. We have a slow, steady stream of everyone on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum (including allies) coming in and getting served. The afternoon shifts into evening. Some folks are out front in the vestibules cozied up on a date, tables are moved aside and chairs are set up inside and a screening of short films by queer filmmakers or maybe it’s a continuing sex education class or perhaps a Queer Mermaid Meetup. We close up shop after a full day happy knowing that our community had a safer and welcoming space where they could be themselves.

What informed the decision to open in East Hollywood?

The process of finding a space took us almost a full year. We were looking all over the city and saw hundreds of spaces. It was a very Goldilocks experience: this space is too small, this space is too large, this space is too expensive, this space doesn’t have enough infrastructure. The space in East Hollywood seemed to have a lot that was just right. The building is older and has some nice vintage details including dusty rose bricks and white moulding. The space is around 1,200 square feet and fit our budget. It was previously a coffee shop so there’s adequate electricity as well as some good plumbing already in place. We also love the location because we’re right behind LACC, a block away from a Buddhist meditation center. The Braille Institute and the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical center are both close too. While our goal is to center and support queer & trans folks our business is going to be kept afloat by the neighborhood around us.

Dari drinking coffee at Queers, Coffee and Donuts.

What’s on the menu for Cuties?

We’re starting small! You’ll be able to get some pastries and donuts with your coffee. Since so many of our community members are vegan and gluten free we’re featuring goodies from Erin McKenna’s Bakery. We’ve been serving their donuts at Queers, Coffee & Donuts monthly and they are a great option for folks who can’t have Virginia’s very glutinous and decidedly non-vegan donuts. Eventually we’ll start adding some grab and go items like breakfast bagels and sandwiches.

I have noticed that a lot of coffee bars in LA don’t have space for fliers (for real!). Since you’re a community space, what’s your vision for fliers/community message board?

In the shop we’re planning on having nooks for fliers for like events and classes but also informational pamphlets about PrEP or safer sex practices. There will also be bulletin board for people to share services, roommate requests, and more. We’re also excited to feature zines from queer & trans creators and have them on a rack for purchase. The flier nooks, bulletin board and zine racks will be positioned so folks will see them when they pick up their drinks. We’re also dedicated to keeping those resources up to date. It’s such a bummer to see a flyer for a cool event only to find out it was last weekend! We’ll also continue with our promotion of community events and services through our social media accounts and through our newsletter the “Cuties Weekly Brief.”

Check out the IndieGogo for Cuties right at this link (and seriously watch the video even without sound–you’ll see what I’m talking about with groundbreaking pronouns in the subtitles)!

Follow Cuties on Facebook!

Upcoming events for Cuties:

Queer Carnival fundraiser in the new space Sunday, March 26thTristan Taormino is doing a spanking booth, there’s a Shibari tutorial and lots of other fun, and I’m working the door!

Queers, Coffee and Donuts April 9th

I love that Cuties events often encourage optional costumes and Iris will always bring the fabulous costume to other events–like my birthday party! Pictured here with Tristan.

2016-05-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Leander recommends:

Easy hikes: Ventura botanical gardens, Rose Valley Falls

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

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

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

2016-02-10

LA Week Three: Overwhelm, Gratitude and You Can’t Make Old Friends

We’re in our third week in LA!

Dara went on her first business trip back to NYC on Saturday. She’s in leadership development consulting and packed up her sleeping bag coat to go back to the frigid temps for meetings.

I had a visitor for the weekend–my BFF from Girl Scout Camp, Spunky came down from Sacramento to help out at the house. When we planned the trip I told her, “This whole thing is probably going to be just house projects.” I had no idea the gusto with which Spunky would throw herself into the tasks before her.

spunkymopShe became very focused on giving us a bedroom that was cleared out and calm. Much appreciated!

Since I don’t have a guest sleeping situation yet (we’re still on the airbed), Spunky stayed with Rachel, her BFF from childhood. I actually feel like I’ve known Rachel for the entire 18 years I’ve known Spunky but we’ve never met in person. And now we have and she’s only 10 minutes away from me and is giving me her spare banjo! The top of my bucket list is to learn to play the banjo, and I had to sell my old one a long time ago. Life is really beautiful and opening up here in this new place.

I had three big tasks for me and Spunky on Sunday and we whipped through them in an hour. She kept looking at me and saying, “What’s next?!” I have never felt her intense glitterdone energy before, usually when we hang out we go out to eat or sit on the couch eating pie in loungewear and watching TV shows.

647924206_9e607c9da3_oAt my graduation from law school in 2003.

I had visioned for a house with lots of daylight. I lived on a second floor of a six floor apartment building surrounded by other four and six floor buildings for four years. I had no natural light and could barely keep houseplants alive. In the new house we are surrounded gloriously by windows and light. There’s a house behind ours on this lot so with that comes an intense lack of privacy. Dara and I have been discussing our $2400 furniture budget at length. We’re spending a huge chunk of it to move furniture down from my mom’s place, but getting blinds for privacy and insulation became really big priorities in the end.

My friends Lexi and Jamison have been huge inspirations to me in the moving process. They bought their dream home in September (I got to be their lawyer!) and I visited a couple of times before we moved away. They’re a couple hours North of NYC in the Hudson Valley. A STUNNING farmhouse with lots of gorgeous nooks and a tremendous garden. It was great to visit people who had just gone through the moving process because they gave me great advice and better expectations about how much work and money goes into setting up a house. Lexi said, “There’s just always something else you need.” And Jamison told me how good she got at going to IKEA.

15964179982_44222df845_zI met both of these babes separately, Jamison in 2004 at a conference for fat queer activists and Lexi through my then-roommate when she stayed on my couch. Now they are making a home together! It’s pretty magical when two of your favorite people get together like that!

Along with those inspirations, I loved their honeycomb blinds. They are simple and beautiful and insulating and filter in daylight. Hoppvals were the best and most economic choice for blinds, even as it is $300 to put them on all of our windows. Jamison said she got really good at installing them so that helped me feel not intimidated by the idea.

I’ve learned a lesson from my Mariah Carey closet installation process already, which is that my first idea might not work so it’s probably best to start small. (I returned $76 worth of supplies to Home Depot after that lesson, $40 in supplies I’m going to use for other parts of the closet.)

daraikeaThat’s Macy in her backpack.

Dara and I went to IKEA last Thursday for blinds, sundries and to explore ideas for future furniture upgrades. (We really want these desk chairs.) We set an intention to enjoy our time together, explore and have fun. This was to prevent IKEA Fighting which is apparently a Thing people do. (As seen in Season 6, Episode 6 of 30 Rock, here’s a cute snippet of IKEA Fighting on youtube.) I didn’t know IKEA Fighting was a Thing until Jacqueline sent me the episode after Dara and I got into That Huge IKEA Fight of 2014.

We spent 6 hours in IKEA Burbank and had a great time. Setting the intention and having clear boundaries and expectations was super key. So was making sure our human needs were met. We went to the restaurant twice, once for coffee and water, once for a meal. The vegetarian meatballs are really good–sweet potato, quinoa and black beans. And if you join the free IKEA Family thing you get a free coffee or tea every time you go to IKEA.

Because of my “start small” lesson about big projects, we only bought blinds for the front bedroom where we were planning to relocate. Spunky whipped through installing them and we discovered our measurements didn’t account for enough overlap so we needed different size blinds. Since she was so fast I had her measure out the kitchen and meditation nook for blinds, too, since that is the windiest room in the house because of the old windows.

spunkypowertoolSpunky was disappointed I didn’t relentlessly take more photos, as I had forgotten how much she enjoys Bevin Paparazzi. Next time I will be more diligent!

On Sunday evening after working on the house all afternoon, she left me with a list of blinds to purchase from IKEA. I was able to be in and out of the Burbank IKEA on a Sunday night in an hour, including returning stuff and having to get stuff on the Showroom and Marketplace floor. I set an intention to be fast and had taken the time to really acquaint myself with the store last week.

ikeabevin

Spunky came back the next morning ready to work in a tank top, we are having surprise summer temperatures during Winter here in LA. This is great for our really cold house with not great insulation. She knows a lot about windows and home improvement as a homeowner. Apparently there’s all this lingo and anatomy to windows, who knew? It reminds me of when Spunky lived in Minnesota for a few years and became an expert about farming.

Spunky surprised me with a bag full of cleaning supplies from Target. In addition to these amazing hand embroidered tea towels she made me, her generosity literally made me cry. Especially as she left town and gave me a chalkboard, something Dara and I have been wanting for the kitchen but haven’t found one on Craigslist in our budget. Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers are right, you can’t make old friends.

spunkyceilingShe got us this ceiling duster thing I never would have splurged on, but seriously you can dust ceiling fans, baseboards and ceilings in 95% less time. And then you can throw the microfiber dusters in the washing machine. It’s the future.

Spunky said she had fun doing work on the house. I’m having a really hard time finding it all fun, my feelings of overwhelm and frustration have kind of clouded stuff. I can’t wait to have her back in March to help me get our garden going. AND I can’t wait for it all to be done so I can throw a party, THAT is what I find fun!

Turns out moving furniture from the Bay Area to LA is really expensive! When I said yes to taking stuff from my mom I didn’t think it would cost much and I was again wrong wrong wrong about an element of this move. Hiring movers ended up costing roughly the same as renting a one way uhaul, gas, insurance and saved the time and effort of doing it ourselves. Not only the monetary cost–the logistics of going through the moving quotes and coordination process once more after having moved into this place and dealing with things on this end was not an efficient or practical use of my time or money and even moreso, threshold for frustration. In the end, we will end up with way nicer furniture than we would have gotten on craigslist, but I’m really at a deficit for mental and emotional health right now.

bellpeppers

Since Dara’s been gone, I’ve been able to really sit with my feelings and notice what’s going on. Everything is new and hard. I don’t have the day to day confidence someone has when they know where everything is. Even simple things like getting the dog’s eye medication prescription refilled is a long process. I’m literally creating new neural pathways every day mapping out my new life.

The closest I’ve ever felt to this in my life was when I moved to Camden, NJ from Davis, CA for law school. Everything was new, scary, exciting, full of possibility. But I was 1,000% less checked into my body, my mental, physical and emotional health. At least then I moved into a fully furnished dorm and didn’t have to deal with setting things up.

dishrackspraypaintSpray painted the best rated dishrack on Google under $25 to prevent rust, the biggest complaint in the Amazon reviews.

dishrackJust one of the amazing tea towels Spunky hand embroidered as a housewarming gift!

When Spunky was here it was a good distraction, but in her absence I’m breathing and realizing. I decided I need to take a break from working so hard on the house. Part of moving out here was to let myself have a break from seasonal depression and have easier access to good mental health. I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I don’t want to feel stressed out. Stress is supposed to support us when we are in danger and the rest of the time just floods you with toxins, spikes your blood sugar and wreaks havoc on your health!

Today I’m writing, did a great tapping meditation for turning overwhelm to calm, and putting myself in a better place. Once Dara gets back I will go spend some time doing what I know will reset me to a calm place and head to a $20 day spa and soak it out in a hot tub. (Macy has been having stress diarrhea and one of the best ways to keep her calm is not leaving her alone, so I couldn’t run off to the day spa yesterday like I otherwise would have.)

I’m also working on sitting in gratitude about everything. In one day I received a bag of citrus from my neighbor (a mix of lemons and grapefruit) and from my aunt (tangerines). I got to go have dinner with my aunt and learn all sorts of new things about my family. My friend Andy came over and helped with power tools and a saw! It is so hot I’m wearing summer dresses and it’s not below freezing like in Brooklyn.

andysawMy friend Andy was our very first houseguest and came over to support projects in the closet installation!

The gifts of LA are tremendous. It is my overwhelm that is making it hard to enjoy them! Gratitude practice, meditation, focusing on self care is not the exact antidote for being overwhelmed, but they are good helpers.

I’m also reminded of the power of six months! Spunky and I used to use this for heartbreak, but it’s true for all major life changes. In six months my house will be together, my Mariah Carey closet will be finished and all of the boxes will be unpacked.

citrusgift

2016-02-04

LA Week Two: Progress Not Perfection

When we were planning our move to LA from Brooklyn, we agreed that I would spend the first couple of weeks here setting things up. I genuinely believed that spending most of my time for two weeks would be enough to get us unpacked and functional.

I was really really really wrong.

We got our house fast, and we literally had one day to prepare before we moved in. I spent that day setting up our movers, electric, gas, renter’s insurance, wifi and whatever other services I’m forgetting.

artsyfleaWhile we were yard saling we saw this flea market near our place off the freeway. We thought we’d go see what cheap furniture we could get, but as soon as we rolled up we realized this was an LA answer to the Brooklyn Flea, a super expensive bougy “after” market for flea market items that have been flipped. It’s called the Artsy Flea. $11 hot dogs. Not our budget, but really cute to walk around in and get ideas. Plus we signed up for a local CSA.

We started at a deficit in terms of comfort. We have an airbed leftover from when Dara was going through radiation treatment and got a great free sublet three blocks from the radiation hospital so her daily radiation treatments didn’t have to involve a schlep. We bought her the fanciest airbed we could find on Amazon and it’s actually pretty comfortable. So we had that in the trunk going cross country for times when we needed a physical bed in order to stay with folks. But since space was a premium I only packed one blanket, one set of sheets and two pillows.

Our first night in the house we FROZE. We have these original from the 1920s windows that are basically like being outside because they don’t stay flush to each other and there’s no window insulation. That one quilt was not cutting it. As I talked about in my last post, we were also eating out of a cooler for a week while waiting for our new fridge.

I just had no idea how much work it was going to be to move into a house (even if it’s roughly the square footage of a big two bedroom apartment if you don’t include the attic). Those first couple of nights we had no furniture and then our movers came two days later with all of our boxes and our furniture.

closetworkSlowly working on my closet installation.

Especially moving into a house with only five pieces of furniture. I decided I only wanted stuff that sparks joy in my new house, so while working towards that I left behind anything that didn’t spark joy or wasn’t worth the cost to move cross country. I knew I’d be furnishing from thrift stores and yard sales and craigslist. (Since we’re living off savings we had a pretty minimal furniture budget, and most of that budget is paying to move a sofa, a bed and my childhood ephemera from my mom’s house. She’s selling her 3 bed 2 bath in the East Bay–Castro Valley–if you’re interested.)

I actually prefer furnishing this way, because it gives me more liberty to DIY (I love crafting and working on furniture is like leveling up for me). Because I lived in Brooklyn with no outdoor space, anytime I wanted to spraypaint it was a hassle. Weirdly waiting on weather (sometimes it is endlessly and unpredictably rainy, snowy or too cold) before getting to paint things and use clandestine parts of my apartment building. I just hoped people walking by wouldn’t go into the nook I was leaving things in to dry and steal them.

In contrast, I took a break from writing this post to go put another layer of spray paint on boards that will soon be shelves in my closet. And I can just leave them out in the back because they’re not going to get screwed with.

launchpadI am so into this Craigslist find–this curio cabinet was $60. I can’t wait to find my lampshades and get my lamps rolling.

My DIY passion has also created an EPIC list of projects I want to do to prepare our home. We’re setting up a memorial garden for all of our loved ones who have POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) in the side yard by the fountain. I’m planting an herb garden behind the house. My pinterest is poppin with ideas.

Not to mention the amount of logistical fuckery and hours on the phone with Time Warner because it turned out our landlord gave us the wrong address for the house, so while we were physically living in the space, we had to fix our address by one digit on everything. And Time Warner has required six hours on the phone to work this out. I seriously wish I had just canceled the service, returned the equipment and asked for a fresh install because it has wasted so much of my time. We also ended up with no electricity for one night because of the electric company and the last resident’s unpaid electric bill and the address issue. We signed our lease during Mercury Retrograde, perhaps I could have expected logistics issues.

I have experienced the weird period of time after a cohabitation break-up or a move where you don’t have appropriate furniture, but I just didn’t remember how frustrating it can be.

homedepotcarSo many trips to Home Depot, and neither my car nor Dara’s car has backseats that fold down. I didn’t even know they made cars that didn’t have backseats that fold down.

Not having furniture right away means a lot of creative adapting and literally looking around my house and seeing projects. Which is very difficult and kind of stressful for a recovering perfectionist. It can mean I am only seeing myself in a deficit. I’m awash in an environment full of shoulds. I should do this. I should do that.

It’s hard to look around and give myself credit for having unpacked 10 boxes that day or managing to carve out a work station to get some work done. (I’m still working for a few clients remotely.) I don’t see the curtains that took us hours to find while yard saling and thrifting, washed and managed to put up. I forget to really look at my fridge that I’ve owned for almost a week and get to put my veggies in!

csafirstdeliveryThe local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivers to your doorstep! It felt like Santa came on Wednesday morning when I walked out to find my box of veggies and farm fresh eggs!!! I get to pick the vegetables that come in my box, too, which was my major complaint about my last CSA, other than having to go pick it up without a car and how heavy kolrahbi is. If you’re in the LA area and interested in signing up, use my referral code: farmfreshtoyou.com BEVI4286 so I get credit for free veggies and you get $10 off your first box. The veggies and fruit are roughly the same price as going to the grocery store, could be cheaper if I bought a bigger box.

Since I like to think of stress as an optional and toxic energy, I work hard to find my positivity and my chill. I am trying to see this as an adventure and carving our amazing house out of the possibilities is a slow and fun process. I am trying to stay in gratitude and keep the “We did all this!” perspective rather than the “We need to do ALL THAT” overwhelm.

I have been creating this thing I’m calling “Mega Bed” out of the airbed. We borrowed two sleeping bags from my aunt after that first freezing night (it is SO nice having awesome relatives nearby). Every pillow and blanket I pull out of boxes ends up on Mega Bed and makes it the ultimate in comfort and nest. Without a sofa there’s not a lot of places to really kick it in here.

megabedMega Bed.

I set up a staging area for things that don’t have a place yet. It makes me feel better to have a place to unpack to even if we don’t have a home for it yet, and gives me a way to really see at a glance what we need in terms of organization.

And the other day when doing work it felt like literally everything was a communication cluster fuck (Monday–it felt astrological) I just decided to take a break from it, went and took a bath and watched and entire episode of Property Brothers. I just went for self care for 45 minutes and then when I came back 90% of what I was struggling with before had emails in my inbox with resolutions.

macyinherbedonporchAmong many of our needs right now are endless pet beds, we have to drag Macy’s one bed everywhere in the house we go hang out in.

That reminded me how important my self care is in all of this. I need to carve out space/time to take care of myself otherwise the overwhelms will get bigger and the stress more persistent. I’m living my dreams, I don’t want to ruin it by being stressed out.

I put up a list of all of the things I love about my house and our progress on the fridge. To help me keep a positive perspective. I started working on a daily routine because routine is a form of self care, so is scheduling! I started our first meal plan. Eating in alignment with my body is important to me and has been really hard while we’ve been traveling and in flux. And eating out of a cooler before the stove worked.

Also, I keep remembering, it’s only February 4th and we’re already living in the house we visioned for. That’s spectacular progress.

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