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

2017-05-17

The Life-Altering Power of Changing Your Mind

On Friday, Dara and I flew up to Seattle to visit my mom for Mother’s Day. The whole flight was a huge comedy of errors and a GREAT opportunity for both of us to practice the life-altering power of changing your mind.

This was a hard trip for me to plan, since it’s just three months after we lost Grandmother and the first time we were leaving Macy and Biscuit Reynolds after our last pet sitters left them alone after an emergency. Even the thought of booking our flights was hard for me, so Dara sweetly took over logistics. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get us seats together for our flight.

There was once a time I believed I did not look good in red so I never wore it. What a great thing I changed my mind about! Photo by Dara.

Since we each had a window and an aisle, Dara figured we would easily convince the person in the middle switching for Dara’s aisle seat. However, when we arrived at my row the woman declined as she was traveling with her son. Dara and I said our goodbyes and proceeded to have individual opportunities to adjust our thinking on our flight.

Flying while fat is rough and one of the best benefits of being in a mixed-size relationship is being able to sit next to each other with an arm rest up. The first thing that woman did was make sure her arm rest went down–I can always tell when someone is trying to mark their territory on a plane.

This was my first opportunity to change my mind. I didn’t dwell on it, I just let that armrest go down and moved on to my next thought. Earlier in my life, I would have spent the whole flight stressed about squishing as far away as I could from that woman and assuming I was constantly in her way. My ability to obsess about other people’s perceptions of myself and my size was unparalleled and it made me miserable. Now I shift my focus to my own life, my art, my work in the world and focusing on my own comfort during a flight.

Next up was the wailing baby. It was clearly several rows behind me but its discomfort was loud. I put in headphones and turned up 9 to 5 so I could continue conceiving of aerobics choreography. I almost always stop myself from feeling annoyed at kid noises to change my thought pattern to compassion. As uncomfortable as it is to be a passenger on a flight with a wailing baby, it’s way more uncomfortable to be a parent dealing with a wailing baby. I prayed for the baby that it would find comfort and moved my thoughts away from it.

Our flight was delayed by a half hour, which gave me a head start on free movie watching. I absolutely love when flights have on demand movies available, I consider it a $5.99 bonus. I started that Will Smith movie about grief, “Collateral Beauty,” from a totally analytical place. I’m cooking up a grief book idea to help me through my grief about Grandmother and I want to consume as much as I can about grief theories. I did not think about the trigger truck that I was inviting into Row 21 of this Delta flight. The beverage service didn’t happen until I was at the emotional climax of the movie.

Suddenly, the woman next to me knocked over her fresh hot cup of tea and it landed all down my thigh, my leg and in my boot. It scalded at first and I blurted, “Ow, ow, ow!” The woman was very sorry and apologized a bunch of times. I was gracious, telling her it was okay, but still needed to advocate for my needs with the flight attendant. It’s hard to ride that line of being generous in spirit but also making sure that your needs get met, I certainly wasn’t going to sit there with a sopping wet leg and no napkins to soak it up, but punnishing her in any way for something that was a mistake isn’t appropriate. Punnishing people for mistakes creates a psychologically unsafe environment and I believe really strongly in creating a life/workplace/home environment where mistakes and accidents are just part of getting to a good experience/output/joy. Dara’s consulting business focuses on this a lot.

I did what I could but that scalding hot water turned cold really quickly. I could have sat in misery but I just kept turning my attention back to the movie and trying so hard not to ugly cry. I didn’t want that woman to think her spill was making me cry but the jarring hot water when I was being really touched by grief was difficult. I was so thankful that the flight attendant checked on me again and I asked for a blanket–it really saved the rest of the flight for me.

I had to do a lot of changing my mind in order to be ready for this wonderful relationship with Dara. I had to humble myself that I didn’t know everything and learn how to do relationships, dating and communication differently. Totally worth it in every way. Photo by Rick Sorkin.

During all of this was epic turbulence. At least twice the plane dipped very quickly. Both times my first thought was, “Well, I guess this is it.” I don’t really have a fear of dying, I think when you’re destined to go that’s your moment. But I shifted my thoughts to visualizing our smooth landing in Seattle so that I wasn’t sitting there in fear of my impending death.

Dara’s experience of the flight was similarly bumpy. She was one row in front of the crying baby and even worse was the father, caring for the child alone, was *yelling* at it. She was having total empath feels for this poor baby who wasn’t even being soothed. The first sudden drop on the flight happened when she was in the bathroom alone! She thought the plane was going down, too, and considered running down the aisle to me so that we wouldn’t die separately.

The person across from the aisle from her started barfing, the sounds and smell were awful for her (chemo was really, really hard for Dara). When the second intense plane drop happened the woman next to Dara started crying and freaking out, which didn’t help Dara.

I asked Dara how she dealt with all of it and she said she would take a deep breath (nose closed during the barfing) and put her focus back on her work. Taking her focus away from the things disturbing her/grossing her out/freaking her out helped to take the power away from those external influences.

When we got off the flight we arrived at the shuttle bus terminal to go to the deep woods where my mom lives on the Olympic Peninsula only to find out that it was sold out. By then I was hangry and overwhelmed and had to carry all our luggage because Dara’s still in post hysterectomy no carrying more than 5 pounds mode.

My problem solving skills were weakening, but after fifteen minutes of trying I figured out how to take a Lyft not at surge pricing to the Seattle Ferry Terminal. They Lyft ride plus the ferry was a little bit cheaper than the shuttle for both of us and it was a negligible difference in how far mom had to drive to pick us up. However, we arrived at the Ferry ticket booth thirty seconds after they announced that they had final boarding on the ferry we were trying to make and had to wait another hour.

When I first heard about EVERYBODY, the body positive gender affirming gym opening in LA, I didn’t know how I was going to participate. By changing my mind about my capacities, I realized I could take all the work I had been doing as a body positive warrior for self love all these years and channel them into dance aerobics. If Richard Simmons could do it, I could to! I’m building up my following and would love to have you join me on Thursday nights!

As luck would have it, the waiting area has a gorgeous view of the Seattle waterfront, the Commuter Cafe at the Ferry terminal had these incredible salads that are hella cheap (take that, $15 tasteless LAX breakfast burrito!) and we were able to just sit and enjoy ourselves and finally debrief our wild flight.

One of the skills I’m most grateful for every day is the ability to interrupt my thought patterns. I can sit pretty steadily in a hell of my own creation if I don’t do this because once I go down that spiral it picks up steam.

I was really taken by how both Dara and I survived what could have been a completely miserable experience by choosing to change the directions of our thoughts and focus on something else. I find gratitude lists are a helpful way to change thought direction, I use the Serenity Prayer sometimes, I take a macro look at the situation from lens of an outside perspective. I use the six month rule–will this matter in six months?

Mom got stuck behind a draw bridge on the way to pick us up (things are slow out on the Olympic Penninsula) and she arrived five minutes before we did on Bainbridge Island to pick us up. The timing worked out perfectly, even if not as planned.

I was always a cat person and it took changing my mind about dogs in order to be open to Macy in my life!! She’s changed everything for the better!

2017-03-28

General Life Update

Beloved readers, here’s what’s been going on in my life lately. Anyone following me on Instagram probably knows about what doozies life has been hurling at me lately.

Me and Dara at the Cuties fundraising carnival on Sunday. Their fundraiser is going on for a few more days, you can still donate to this vital safe(r) space for queers in LA!

Your Girl is Getting Great Press

I’ve had a couple of fabulous interviews come out in the last week!

Fat Sex Week XXL is coming! It starts on Thursday and I’ve already gotten press about it. I love serendipitous press. I was nominated as a Sex Hero and I was already thinking about another Fat Sex Week because a lot of great content was floating my way and poof! Check out this fabulous chat between me and Noah Michelson Editorial Director of The Huffington Post Voices about fat sex, why Fat Sex Week matters and what you can expect! (Spoiler: Fat Sex Week is always fatter than a regular week.) What an honor to be called a Sex Hero!

Me, April Flores and Tristan Taormino, also big time sex heroes!

I’ve been telling everyone about Jeffrey Marsh’s incredible book How to Be You (seriously should be required reading in high school) and so admire their work helping people to love themselves. Jeffrey and I have such in sync life purposes.

I was totally thrilled to be interviewed for their new Facebook fan page. We had such a beautiful conversation about how I came to be a body liberation activist and how my turning points to love myself came about. Check it out here and be sure to like their page! (Like my fan page while you’re at it! I’m always popping in great articles and self empowerment.)

I Started Fat Kid Dance Party

A month ago I launched my new dance aerobics class Fat Kid Dance Party (For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression). When I heard about EVERYBODY the new body positive gender inclusive gym opening up just six minutes from my house I had to figure out how to get involved. I started taking dance aerobics in LA and was frustrated that the classes were so fast-paced and not really open to all levels, even though they said they were. So I decided to do it my way. I had been producing body positive queer dance parties, this just meant that I was not only Femmecee and Producer but I was the choreographer and DJ, too.

This is what a gender neutral locker room looks like! Now if only they would install in a make-up mirror/vanity for the Femmes of all genders who want to put on their face/take well-lit selfies.

I spend hours on this every week as I learn this new art form and healing modality. I’m so excited how I’ve been able to use the concepts I’ve incorporated in the workshops I teach about body positivity into lessons during aerobics numbers. It is a very unique class and, I think, very healing with high joy vibrations. I’m getting great feedback from folks coming (bring friends, it’s so much fun in a group). Last week we did a cheer dance routine to all Missy Elliot songs, we did an aerobics dance for peace, a Prince song exploring body postures that give confidence, a 90s dance retrospective to Vanilla Ice and more. Every Thursday at 7:30PM! When you sign up online ahead of time, your check-in at the gym will be very fast.

My philosophy is if I would go to a dance party wearing it, I can use it to teach class. I love wearing overtly political shirts to teach aerobics. You can grab this and many other fabulous shirts/tanks/onesies from Genuine Valentine!

Since I often use exercise to prevent depression, I think my partner Dara genuinely believes I am going to be a happier person because I’m an aerobics instructor. Using an actual line of factual reasoning from one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde.

We’re Finally Moving

My beloved Grandmother POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) on January 26, exactly a year after our lease on our little house in LA began. Two days later our landlady told us she was selling our house. Things here haven’t ever been great—it’s an old house and took a lot of work to become comfortable. We put heart and soul into it and even did a very DIY remodel of the attic to create a Mariah Carey closet for my clothes and Femme accoutrements.

Photo by Jes Baker of the Militant Baker. I’m still working every weekday monitoring her social media.

Our landlady used to live in the house behind ours that shares our driveway and while she was there with her grown children it was chaotic but not awful. We even had some really sweet holiday gatherings for Seder and the High Holidays in the courtyard between our houses. However, she moved out in October with her son and things got way worse. Basically, her daughter is selling meth and we suspect that at times have been cooking it. (Based on tells, like rotten egg smells, SO MUCH GARBAGE, etc…)

This is the Epic High Holiday. I used glitter burlap to artfully cover their weird pile of junk that included three old TVs (one was a big screen) that sat there for months until they cleaned it out and immediately replaced it with a broken down convertible that is now collecting a different pile of junk. But this pic is a great example of that old adage “When life hands you a pile of junk in the middle of your event space, break out the dreamy twinkle lights and glitter burlap.” Photo by Rick Sorkin.

I’m a person who believes really strongly in body autonomy and people getting to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do to them. That’s why I don’t shade fat people who make choices about weight loss and that’s why I don’t shade folks who use whatever drugs they want. However, one of the first things I learned as a young adult was “Never trust a tweaker.” That’s really stuck with me and I keep my distance. I also work hard at a 12 Step program for families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts and I know the realities of that life very well. It’s been hard to have that energy so close by, the Trigger Train is making all stops.


The foot traffic next to our house has been rough. Imagine strangers constantly streaming past your living room and kitchen windows. It’s like having a coffee shop open up but not exactly coffee. The worst part is Macy, my dog, now has cancer and I highly suspect it’s from the stress and energy of the people passing. If you’re not a spiritual person, from an earthly logic place any dog would get stressed by so much foot traffic. From a spiritual place we had Syd, our energy healer, come by to do a healing for Macy and Biscuit Reynolds and she described the energy of the person walking by as being “hit by wasps.”

Things got to the biggest breaking point when we were up in San Francisco for my friend Amanda’s memorial. The folks in the back house had a party and someone was screaming about a gun. 9 cop cars and 2 helicopters later our pet sitters left Macy alone in the house overnight and I just hit my own breaking point. I knew I couldn’t be present for a memorial while scrambling to coordinate pet care from afar. We turned around and drove home the next morning. (Only one arrest, they are very good at hiding their drugs and guns.)

Anyway, we’re happy to have finally found a place! It was a difficult search. I’ll write a post about it in the future, but we were looking at a leap in rent no matter whether we got a smaller 2 bedroom house or a bigger 3 bedroom house. We could say yes to this paradise in Eagle Rock because it is well set-up for a room to be an occasional air bnb, which will help with our rent jump until Bevin’s Tea becomes wildly successful. And once we get the motor fixed, we will have a hot tub! Healing Oasis!! Thank you to everyone who sent us good vibes, woo, and prayers that we would find a great place!

I’m Throwing Myself into Spiritual Work and Grieving

Clinging to anything leads to suffering. I know that intellectually but I struggle with that a lot in grieving. I’m definitely still mourning my Grandmother big time but without a lot of capacity to do so because of the new aerobics class, house chaos and the moving. I’m also grieving all the stuff I wanted to do in our current house to bring it to fruition that I don’t get to finish.

I have been struggling to stay in faith these past two months about finding a place that works for us, and trust that something better was coming along. Many thanks to Alex, my fabulous psychic, for the pep talk that there was something better.

A quick trip to Sacramento last week while Dara attended a conference was just what I needed. My bestie and soul sister Spunky just moved to a fabulous new apartment in Sacramento. We toasted to NOT SETTLING and trusting the Universe to always deliver bigger and better with change.

Energy healing, going to an astrologer, card reader or psychic, or attending a class like a sound bath meditation, yoga or any of the Heal classes at EVERYBODY is a combination of therapy and spiritual practice. I have been throwing myself into all of these things because I know they help and will help me keep my energy moving. Grieving is part of life, and as someone with a lot of losses I want to do my best to process it and still really LIVE. It’s hard to live when you’re stuck in grief and sadness. This blog is a chronicle of my relentless pursuit of joy and I believe you can have joy no matter what, but that you gotta look at and acknowledge your darkness and sadness in order for it to pass.

When I know I’m not processing my grief enough it is really helpful to throw myself into healing modalities. It’s a thing you can do helps to turn on a spigot and let all the feelings out. About a month after Grandmother POTSA, I realized I was constantly in classes and environments where people were guiding me in taking deep breaths.

I’ve been enjoying Jasmine Danielle’s classes at EVERYBODY. They are strengthening, Barre, and yoga infused and so great. A three pound weight packs a bigger punch than you think!

If you feel so moved, take a deep breath right now. Breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, four times. This Four by Four breath I learned from Tara Magalski, is a real savior in centering.

The next big spiritual work I am going to do is to let strangers pack my house. I will leave my current house with Macy and Biscuit Reynolds on Sunday, let Dara supervise the packers we are paying to pack up our house, and come back with the pets on Monday to the new place. We both have had a lot of work taking up our time, we knew getting packers was essential to our being able to move quickly. Dara said I should just leave and let her handle it (she admitted later it was both a gift for my sanity and it will be easier for her without me around).

California is gorgeous right now. Due to all the rain this Winter the wildflowers (and bugs) are poppin! The hills look like they’re painted orange but these are just swaths of flowers. So beautiful.

I’m a controlling Capricorn and have serious issues with people moving my stuff around but I also know this will open up my capacity to write more and get more done. I can heal more folks and do more work in the world if I learn let other people do things that bring me stress. Plus, my friend Katy is in town and was just going to chill at her pet friendly hotel all day and invited me along. Yes please, Universe, I will accept this gift and learn these lessons while being a fat babe at the pool with Katy.

Bevin’s Tea is Still Brewing

I’m still hustling my tea business, though much of my business development was put on the shelf in October when Grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Right now I’m kind of a low-key tea dealer, selling to my friends and folks through my blog. Soon I’ll launch on Etsy, once I have the photos done and new labels designed. I am thinking about investing in a fancy label printer and I’m also deepening my work as a healer so that the blends become even more powerful energy healing. I want to return to blogging the process of developing a product based business, because the more work I do with Marie Forleo’s B-School the more I realize how much I benefit from reading other people’s small business journeys.

Got to hang out with Jes Baker a couple weeks ago when she was in town for a speaking gig at a college!

So, beloved readers, get ready for the launch of Fat Sex Week XXL on Thursday! It’s going to be fatter and louder than ever before. For now catch up on the last Fat Sex Week!

2017-03-13

Introducing Our Rescue Persian Biscuit Reynolds

When I first saw the Harry Potter movie that starred Crookshanks the cat, I became singularly obsessed with getting a squishy faced orange cat like him and the lasagna obsessed Garfield comic from my youth. When it came time to get a cat (in 2007) I was on the hunt for rescues that had a squishy faced orange cat, which in cat speak is known as a “red Persian” or an “exotic short hair” depending on the texture of hair you want to deal with. My second choice cat was a Himalayan, the same kind of cat my friends Becky and Christie had. Himalayans are a cross between a Persian and a Siamese, which I now know to mean extra loud.

Fate stepped in and I got the goldmine. Two cats were available for adoption from a woman whose daughter was allergic to them, they were older boy cats (my fav because boy cats are more snuggly and older cats are more mellow). One was a red Persian and the other was a Himalayan.

A Family portrait I had done by Kelsey Dickey the day before Bear POTSA. They were totally fine with me picking them both up at the same time.

I had eight beautiful years with ALF and Bear and I still miss them a lot. I had a hole in my heart after they left. I learned that cats and dogs provide really specific energy work—apparently purring cats heal via specific vibration. The first time I felt a cat purr was at bookstore a few months after ALF passed and I burst into tears, not out of sadness but more of a release of something pent up.

To say Biscuit Reynolds was planned is an understatement. As soon as I knew we were thinking about moving to LA (we started the “thought process” over a year before we left NYC) I had to suspend my only recently begun search. It wasn’t fair to get a cat knowing that I would have to move him cross country. I also was having no luck finding Persians in NYC rescues and there is a Persian cat rescue here in LA so I figured I’d just hold out til we got here.

Our adoption photo.

Of course, even after we found our house, it was months before we were finally ready to get a cat. Honestly, we still weren’t ready I was just in need of special cat bonding and healing. My friend had just taken her life via suicide and I decided we would just go to the next adoption event Dara was in town for and see if there was a cat we bonded with. She travels a ton for work, and the one time I went to an adoption event without her I didn’t get the cat I applied for, partially because Dara wasn’t with me.

It was the day of the Dolly Parton concert at the Hollywood Bowl, not the most ideal timing to schlep to Santa Monica (it’s 40 minutes without traffic), but I was determined. We got there just as it opened and they were still decorating the crates the cats were in. The abundance of gorgeous Persians was so wonderful and most of them were boys.

Biscuit Reynolds is named for a favorite Southern food, reminiscent of a few folks I’ve lost, and one of Dolly Parton’s leading men with a strong mustache.

You guys, the politics of rescue orgs is really interesting. There was one cat that was already spoken for. After interacting with all of the rest of the cats available for adoption we both really liked this orange and white Persian on the end of the cages. We hung out with him and talked to his foster mom and the rescue owner about adopting him and they were so weird about it. They didn’t like him with a dog simply because they didn’t know how he would interact with a dog. Our dog Macy is the ideal cat companion dog because she defers to cats to set the boundaries. This was not a selling point.

Anyway, we went out to grab a coffee and talk about the cat situation and came back and he was already adopted by someone else. We found out that it was someone who was a friend of the foster mom. I don’t understand why they didn’t just say, “We’re saving him for my friend.” It would have saved us from certain heartbreak about losing that cat!

Macy and Biscuit are on instagram as BiscuitandMacy.

We hung out with a couple other cats, this white Persian who I recognized from the Facebook feed for months who had a lot of special needs. Dara was pretty adamant that my time with ALF and Bear in their last three years—subcutaneous fluids for kidney failure, sundowning, peeing in the hallway—was enough special needs and we needed an easier cat. Plus she wasn’t feeling him.

Enter Biscuit Reynolds. I hadn’t considered him because I misunderstood which cat was spoken for. He looked just like the original cat who went to the friend of the foster mom. He was super snuggly with us and really sweet. The thing I wanted most in a cat was a good snuggler. He was supposedly 4 or 5 years old, had been surrendered by a previous owner who had adopted through the rescue. The owner was a touring musician whose roommate let Biscuit get out and he got lost for a few days.

He was on special urinary crystals preventing diet and he “peed differently than any other cat” the rescue owner had ever seen and I might have to give him a bath once a week. I didn’t see that as a red flag. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time and I didn’t think through the lifestyle requirements of a cat that needs regular bathing, and honestly, most Persian cats need regular bathing and grooming to help with their maintenance.

He is so chill about wearing outfits which is a major plus for me!

Once I had him in our home I realized a lot about Biscuit Reynolds. I could tell he was in a LOT of pain based on the way he was sitting and how he never cleaned himself. If your cat stops cleaning himself, you need to take him to the vet, you’ll notice when they develop an uptick of knots in their fur. I wish I had noticed that about ALF, I would have caught his kidney disease sooner and he wouldn’t have collapsed.

I could also tell there was definitely something wrong with how Biscuit Reynolds pees (if you watch, it comes out in just tiny drips, not a stream). He also pees a lot more than a normal cat because his special food makes him more thirsty. His butt is basically a longhair trap for pee and he walks around with wet “pee butt.” The wet pee butt makes his skin really tender on his hind quarters.

We asked the rescue to pay for a trip to their vet to work on his pain and his pee butt. Cat pain meds for chronic conditions are hard because they have sensitive livers. After a couple of trips and a lot of tests, we know he has a pinched nerve in his back (no idea how he got that). We found out he’s actually 7 and that he was in such bad shape when returned to the rescue from his life outside he needed blood transfusions! Their vet had no idea what to do about his peeing other than to keep him shaved. I was grateful for the help with his pain management and the full testing workup we got but not super satisfied about the pee butt situation.

We finally found a medicine that helps somewhat—Gabapentin, which is usually used to prevent cat seizures in a higher dose. We give it to him along with Vet CBD oil with an oral syringe. This is just simply a way of dosing liquids to a specific measurement and then squirting in his mouth. I can tell he is feeling better because of how he acts, the variety of positions he lays in and that he now grooms himself.

Biscuit Reynolds is basically a small friendly monster. He makes these incredibly loud snorting noises when he grooms himself. He excretes gross stuff on his face from his eyes (standard for Persians), he dunks his whole face into his water so he ends up looking really weird and a little scary until it dries, and he has a pee butt. We try to bring levity into the situation by calling him Mr. Peebuddy (pronounced like Peabody) and giving objects like papers we didn’t put away or the floor a daily Peebuddy nomination.

Monster face. We’ve since started cutting the extra floof off the sides of his face because it gets matted and knotted from the water.

He’s the weirdest cat I’ve ever had. He doesn’t eat anything but his food. No treats and no chicken! What cat ever rejected chicken?? He also doesn’t like catnip and is not motivated by it, which is great for me as I have two blends of Bevin’s Tea with catnip in them, since it is soothing for humans. But hard to get him to want to use a scratching post by putting catnip spray on it.

He is just as snuggly as we hoped but I had forgotten to affirm that I wanted a cat that smelled great and was self cleaning. We now have blankets to provide a safety barrier between us and the cat. I have to mop the living room and bedroom floor all the time, use disinfecting wipes on the couch and recliners (thank goodness for wipeable furniture) and use cute towels or doilies on the other furniture he sleeps on. I make a DIY febreeze with essential oils, vodka and water. We clean soooo much more often, which is probably a net positive given how much I hate cleaning but hate the idea of pee butt more.

Biscuit Reynolds is OBSESSED with outside. Persian cats aren’t great indoor/outdoor cats because they have high maintenance coats. ALF and Bear didn’t give any fucks about going outside and they were very easy. We take Biscuit outside on a harness and leash and let him roam around. I tried walking him with Macy one time and that was not so successful since Biscuit Reynolds doesn’t like to walk in a linear fashion and mostly wants to crouch in the grass and chew on it.

I bought him some grass to eat in the house, he refused it. Outside grass only.

We are now getting him groomed as short as possible with no frilly cat stuff like puffy paws so that he’s easier to keep clean. We keep his water bowls small but numerous so he can’t quite dunk his whole head. Our groomer gave me this spray to help neutralize the pee smell on his hindquarters. We are trying a custom diaper next to see if it keeps him dry and still enables him to poo in the litter box.


Biscuit Reynolds turned out to be a lot more maintenance than we thought. If we knew going into it how much care he would require Dara would have easily talked me out of it. However, since my experience caring for my Grandmother while she POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) I am rethinking how I feel about “care.” Caring for her was an incredible bond that I’ll never forget. I am rethinking the care I provide my pets as bonding. I wanted to snuggle with a cat but in my tender care it gives me and Biscuit Reynolds a sweetness that is more intense than just having cats, feeding them and scooping the litter box.

I feel like given how much we tried to not get a special needs cat and still ended up with one, it’s like this special lesbian cat work we were called for. We’ve already given him energy healing with Syd, our healer. I also give him Reiki all the time. And on the docket when our money situation is more abundant, we want to seek out a specialist to do a surgery on his urethra to try to correct how he pees. We also got a message from our healer about seeking out essential oil therapy for him so if anyone knows a healer in the natural/herb arts for pets please let me know! Or if you’ve had a similar situation with a cat let me know!

I know the care intimacy is working because within a month I genuinely felt love for him, and it keeps on growing. I’m also kind of obsessed with him because he’s so weird, so sweet and so handsome.

2016-03-08

LA Week 6: The First Doctor’s Appointment is so Stressful

I kind of accidentally started titling my LA transition posts about the week I was in rather than the week I had passed. It always bugged me a little bit. I like the process of earning time passed rather than counting time passing. It’s also kind of like how annoyed I am that Time Warner makes me pay for the month of internet service ahead of time instead of like credit cards and electric bills you pay after the month has passed and the service has earned its money or whatever. This adventure just turned six weeks old on Saturday!

eaglerocklumberWe went to a lumber yard that was playing Adele in the warehouse. Also, I love love love the old vintage signs all over LA.

The biggest thing that happened last week was enrolling in B-School! I earned enough money through pre-sales and donations to take a big chunk out of it (saving lots more than I’ll need for materials because I might need to order stuff expedited and I’m not yet selling enough to buy in deep bulk) and the remainder left to pay for B-School was the equivalent of less than one month’s expenses here in LA. I’ve had lots of times where I had no idea how I was going to pay for next month’s expenses and I have at least three month’s savings still. I am feeling really called to this B-School experience and really have faith that what I learn will make my business flourish–before I use up my savings. So thank you thank you thank you to all who pre-ordered and who donated and who shared the page. I cannot wait to show you how great my teas are and keep you updated about the progress of building this business!

Last week Dara and I doubled down on making progress in the Mariah Carey closet attic renovation. We spent all of Thursday afternoon and Friday during the day working on walling up the sides of the attic. We have this beautiful stand-up space that slopes pretty steeply and I realized that the unusable space would be better off walled up. Boy was that an adventure. After the whole rennovation is over I’ll do a recap DIY blog post like all those people on Pinterest do and show you how we did everything.

femmeswithpowertoolsMe wielding a power tool!

atticinprogressProgress!

The very first moment I stepped into the attic when we saw the house I immediately saw the vision for the Mariah Carey closet. But having never taken on any home renovation projects I didn’t vision for the HOW. Luckily, Dara’s friend Dari and his wife Jen came over last weekend and Dari gave us a prescription for how to wall up the sides.

Jen kept me company while I continued to paint the ceiling and looked really cute.

Dari and Jen moved to LA from Brooklyn a little less than a year before us and it was great to hear about their transition process! It made me feel really good to hear what it was like for them to hit the six month mark and realize there were no further boxes and everything was set-up. It also made me feel SOOOO grateful for all of the friends I already have out here. It has been very grounding and reassuring to have people I know visiting and hanging out here. I think if absolutely everything including all of my friends were new it would make my transition even more difficult.

dariandjenWe already had a bunch of friends in common and yet never met in Brooklyn!

I’m actually feeling more settled as the weeks move on. I know our neighborhood pretty well now. We went to the farmer’s market and I found the humane farm to market meat I wanted to find! I made my first pork shoulder and bone broth. (That link is my go-to recipe from my health coach Vic, and my additions are a bunch of green onions/scallions and more salt than you think. My bone broth game is on point.) OMG it feels good to be getting back to how I like to cook! I never realized how much work it was to set-up a kitchen and I definitely thought it would be easier and cheaper and faster to get microwave safe plates I enjoy from thrift stores but that is actually not going as swiftly as I’d hoped.

My guacamole game is getting stronger! My friend Lauren suggested white onions, chopped ridiculously fine (I used a tiny chopper appliance) and garlic salt and so far that has been the best batch of guacamole yet! The next one I made had too much onion, not chopped as fine and was not as good. I’m still soliciting guacamole recipes so if you have one, leave it in the comments!

We have done a lot of weird clean-out projects here, a few weeks ago I cleaned out the cellar and found epic amounts of scrap wood in varied condition (we used a lot of it in the attic). Right now we’re using the cellar for deep storage–my mom is retiring and sent me all of my childhood ephemera. I’m choosing not to deal with it just yet. Before I could use the cellar for deep storage I needed to clean it out so there I was hauling wood and sweeping a hundred years of dust out.

bevininthecellar Pro tip: Tie up your hair or you will get weird dust all up in your hair.

Ideally folks have just one big life change at a time. I’ve talked to lots of friends about THE CALL, when their parents or guardians make a big life change and call to say “You need to get your crap childhood artifacts out of my garage/attic/basement crawl space.” Not everyone has living parents or family they are in contact with in that way, but for those of us who do, it is a rite of passage.

I went through all of that stuff on one visit to my mom about six or seven years ago. I thought I got it down to about six rubbermaid tubs but there were several cardboard boxes that I didn’t know about underneath my mom’s house and it all came when the moving truck with my mom’s hand me down furniture arrived and is now in the cellar. It’s big emotional life work, to go through and decide what to keep and what to get rid of, especially if you have experienced trauma as a child. So I am doing what I do well, and saying what is urgent isn’t important and what is important isn’t urgent and choosing to go through it slowly and not right now.

Because right now, Dara and I are planning our first Seder.

My friend Bridget and I had a great conversation where she told me her strategy to get settled into the Fox Den (her gorgeous Jersey City apartment) was to have a party where people were flying in for St. Patrick’s Day. That way it put enough pressure on her to get her apartment together.

constructiondaraDara is nervous about the ceiling of the attic (it’s a stand-up in the middle with some slopes that are prone to head hitting if you’re not careful). She loves wearing this hard hat up there. Plus it’s cute, she’s a fox!

I realized Dara and I unintentionally did that by saying to her out of state brothers, their kids/wives and her mom that we would host Seder dinner when they visit LA the week of March 20th. I’m very very excited about this, I love planning and executing major events, throwing parties and cooking for people. I also love encouraging Dara’s engagement with her Jewish cultural heritage and I love making things fun. We are going to have the most fun Seder ever. (As an aside, the last thing Dara’s Dad, Mel, ever said to me privately before he passed was after the family’s skype Seder dinner that I would be hosting Seder for the family soon enough… I know we will do Mel proud!)

One of the things I keep saying as I do stuff I am not enjoying to set up the house is that I can’t wait to throw parties here because that is fun for me. Methodically measuring wood, screwing things in until my hands cramp and painting until I get calluses on my hands is not that fun for me, but I know we’ve got to get this all done before the Barlins descend on us.

andymoviesMy friend Andy loaned us some movies and, more importantly, a saw! Totally saved our butts! Andy is going on tour with Chris Pureka soon, you can get the album pre-sale for the next 10 days, I hear it is great! I’ve loved Chris’ stuff as they’ve evolved as an artist.

So because of this deadline we realized we have had to be more strategic about getting stuff in order rather than just kind of picking at different parts of the house as we were doing. Dara declared this and she’s right, we need to finish the attic so my clothes can move out of the office and upstairs and then we can turn the office into the staging area and set up our living room at last.

In all of this, I am so in awe of my Virgo friends who move into a place and are unpacked and set up in a week. Virgos are the organized meticulous Zodiac sign. I have a Virgo rising, I may appear so organized and methodical but on the inside I’m not so much.

My friend Holly from Brooklyn & previously the Bay Area was in town last weekend. She moved to a new apartment with her sweetie Topher just before New Year’s Eve and she is a Virgo. So their progress was fast and furious AND it still felt reassuring that she said she had dropped wads of cash at IKEA every week for a couple of months getting set up. Having not had the wads of cash to get all that we need to make things work just yet is hard but we have no shortage of things to do in the meantime.

lissainstallationLast weekend I went to my friend Lissa’s installation as the Senior Minister at the Unitarian Universalist church in Pasadena. She’s the youngest Senior Minister of a large congregation and her congregation’s first female and openly queer Senior Minister. Red lipstick on the pulpit! I’m so proud of her! It’s so amazing to watch your friends flourish!! I’ve known Lissa for a long long time and it’s so great to see her living her dreams!

I hosted my first small dinner party here on Friday night when our friends Anne and Susanna were in town. Anne is Macy’s second family, she’s been her primary dog sitter for years and years. As someone who loves her dog and loves to travel, having a home she can go to where I know she has as much or more fun than she would with me feels so reassuring. Honestly, Anne was a big reason I was having pause leaving Brooklyn! And then she decided to move to Boston! She just got there last month.

Having Anne over was a big priority so Macy could get some Anne time on the couch. Macy was so excited to see her she actually fell off the couch because she wasn’t looking where she was going!

meannesusannadaraOnce the attic is done all the stuff on the staging area goes in the office and we install IKEA blinds over the windows instead of our temporary privacy drapes.

It’s so humbling and vulnerable to have people over to your house when things aren’t set up yet. I served dinner and didn’t realize I only have three dinner plates. (Again, working on only having things that spark joy, but a slow roll to getting plates apparently.) So Dara ate off of a really interesting platter we have.

I had my first doctor’s appointment with Kaiser. I went with Kaiser after I lost my health insurance in NY for failure to re-apply or something I didn’t realized I had to do because I didn’t get mail about it. I had Kaiser before when I was a kid and I like the concept of getting all of my specialists and doctors in one place. It’s the closest to universal health care I’ve ever experienced. Anyway, Kaiser called me and kind of pushed me to see a doctor right away for an intro visit. I felt kind of adult about it, since many times I’ve not seen my PCP until I had an illness. I figured this way if I need a prescription for an illness I could call her and maybe get it. I asked the Kaiser representative who called me for someone LGBT friendly just on a whim in case they had that and they did!

It was stressful, though, going to see a “health” practitioner for the first time. Not knowing if they were going to be fatphobic or not. I want a doctor who treats me as a human and not as a number on a scale. I wore a full face of make-up because that makes me feel better, and I was ready to recite to the doctor things about health at every size.

bevinatthedrFull face of make-up at the doctor.

I got nervous in the room waiting for her because there were not just one but three posters about weight loss stuff. They have SIX weight loss/”health” programs, and I’ll say I feel glad for it if simply because by offering them for free they are taking money away from the billion dollar diet industry. You can give Oprah your money at Weight Watchers (right now I’m not paying any money for Oprah things, she can just take her billions from toxic diet culture she doesn’t need my money), or you can get free nutrition counseling on the phone from Kaiser or one of the other five programs. Or, you can love your body as it is and work on your overall health and wellness and learning to be in loving communication with your body about what it needs because your size doesn’t need to change for you to be a whole, worthy human being. That’s the tactic I’ve been using and my happiness is pretty great.

ANYWAY, my new LGBT friendly doctor who might be younger than me didn’t mention my weight once and just did regular stuff asking about my family health history. I also got a tetanus shot because of working on the attic and those rusty nails.

Kaiser has a whole medical center in Hollywood (near the Scientology hive), and the one annoying part is that they charge you for parking in addition to your co-pays. But otherwise everything was pretty seamless.

After Kaiser, I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts in Hollywood. It’s the closest one to our house (about 15 minutes away) until the one in Atwater opens up later this month. Dara and I love Dunkin, East Coast nostalgia, she loves their coffee, they have almond milk and endless flavors and solid iced tea. We have always had this thing since we got back together about “I love you a latte.” So I bought her a latte because we had been fighty on Wednesday.

I definitely don’t want to be a blogger who only reports the good stuff and acts like my relationship is perfect all the time. It’s not. We struggle and we work on our communication and sometimes we get into dumb fights over why the dishes aren’t clean enough. Wednesday was such a day (so ironic since I had just posted about those strategies we used to strengthen rather than stress out our relationship during our move). On Thursday, after my doctor’s appointment and before we headed into the attic, I wanted to start off on a solid “I love you let’s have fun together” foot, so I went to Dunkin and got her a latte. And as I pulled up to the house I saw her in the doorway, she had flowers in her hands for me! We were both on the same page about wanting to be in a good space with each other and make this project fun!

Which was great, because our muscles were soooo sore by Friday night. Progress!

dariteachesdara

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.

2015-12-29

See You Laters instead of Goodbyes: My Last Moments as a New Yorker and First Stop on the Road

On December 18th the moving truck came and took all of the belongings we decided were important enough to ship to California. For me, this involved my beloved high heeled shoe chairs and four wardrobe boxes of hanging clothes. For Dara, her karaoke machine, keyboard and guitar. Thank the Goddess for the incredible help of Victoria in that process.

victoriamovingsavior

Pro-tip: if you know someone going through an intense cross-country move, text them “How can I help?” Pro-tip: if you are going through a cross-country move and someone asks how they can help, take them up on it. I have had to work through some intense “I’m an independent babe, I need to appear perfect” in order to be in a place to receive help. I’m so glad I have done that work because we really needed that help. If I had said, “No, we’re okay!” I would have lost out on hanging out with Victoria AND likely devolved into sobbing and fighting with Dara. I did neither of those things in our last few days in NYC. (The closest to a fight we got into was snipping for a few minutes and I thought that was a giant victory.)

I feel like Dara and I said “We’re almost done!” way too prematurely but there was no way to actually know what we had left to do in the packing process, it was all whack a mole dealing with the next right thing. So with the help of Victoria disassembling my desk, unscrewing things in the wall, taping up boxes, showing up on moving day with coffee and breakfast sandwiches, we managed to get through the final firestorm of stress and get ready for our road trip.

highheelshoemovingI worked hard to have the moving process be as low stress as I could manage but just seeing the photo of the high heel shoe chair wrapped for the moving truck only a week and couple of days later I can feel my stress hormones ramping back up again! Probably a good occasion to employ tapping.

So here’s the thing, typically you plan a road trip across the country and it is your primary activity for a period of time before you hit the road (I did this in 2011). Or at least if you are a Capricorn like me, you do it that way. This time, packing for the road trip was the first thing I did after the moving truck left.

Somehow, (I have no idea how this happened…) when planning my wardrobe for this trip I kind of overdid it. As I packed up the clothes in my dresser and vanity (two pieces of furniture I could hold onto until I left that weren’t going with the movers) I just kind of shoved what I thought was going to fit into my two suitcases. Clothing that would have to work for multiple climates (from below freezing to 90 degrees, potentially), professional meetings, possible dressing up, casual hangouts and comfy clothes that can handle being in the car for 12 hours. This is the type of sartorial challenge I excel at, yet still required more edits than I allotted before the movers took the last box. So, we had to pack a bonus box to ship ahead of us. Victoria was great at editing this with me while Dara ran our last minute leaving town errands like returning the Optimum online modem and router–why the return place has to be in the far reaches of Brooklyn is beyond me–picking up prescriptions, etc…

hollyaliceMe and Holly and her pup Alice B Tokeface. Holly just moved to NYC from the Bay a few months ago and was full of great advice for me. So sad we won’t be living in the same city anymore!

The last night in town my friend Topher hosted a really cute mixer right near my apartment. If you’re in NYC and want to meet people, Select All is the party to go to. I walked in and there were tons of people I knew and literally all of them were quality awesome people you would want to meet. It was a great last chance to hug people I love. DJ Average Jo was spinning and played me a 20 minute block of Hall and Oates for old times sake. (During the Yes Ma’am parties we always had a couple of Hall and Oates songs for dance floor nostalgia.)

joandbevinMe and Jo!

My good friend Miss Mary Wanna came up from Philly for the last night to hang out and help with the transition to the new Femme roommate in the Haus of Femmespiration–MMW is a Virgo cusp Femme professional organizer, office manager and apropos to this, mega house cleaner. Paying halfsies for a deep clean was an act of self love my roommate and I did to ease the transition. No question about whose mess was whose or me having to clean after I got everything out of the apartment. Also bonus–keep money in the queer economy. Double bonus–she’s a friend who won’t judge our lifestyle, who we can trust to leave the house while she’s working.

After we got back from Select All, Miss Mary Wanna and I sat up in my living room hanging hard. We don’t get to see each other often and our slumber parties are some of my favorite memories. We met in 2009 when I threw a Zombie Queer Cabaret and she came up from North Carolina to perform. I booked her a bunch after she moved to Philly and we became friends. We were up reminiscing about my favorite memories in the apartment and I was loving talking to MMW and kind of procrastinating going to bed on my last night as a New Yorker. Though I was ready to leave I was also kind of sad.

bevinmissmarywannaLove this babe so hard.

I had all the feels. Excited. Sad. Nervous. Overwhelmed. Relieved that the packing and moving part was pretty much over. Nostalgic. Ready. Exhausted.

Victoria and I had packed our car for the road trip and it seemed liked Dara and I had plenty of room for all the stuff we had left in the house (our “go” bags, overnight stuff, Macy’s cooler with her frozen homemade food in it and my reiki tea making supplies). We parked it overnight in a garage and when we took stuff downstairs on Saturday morning for our departure it was a cluster fuck trying to get everything in there. There were some last minute items ditched and we did the best we could to make it work.

reikiteaArt works well with a deadline, so having decided I was going to give samples of many of my reiki infused tea blends to friends as hostess gifts while we travel cross country gave me a deadline… So naturally I was blending tea the last night in Brooklyn. I’m pretty stoked about how they all came out, though, and can’t wait to get feedback from my friends as they sample the tea. The Feelings blend supports going through Feelings and has a tart flavor as an acknowledgement that even things that are a bit uncomfortable can ultimately be delicious.

Jacqueline made a joke about wanting to be at my last-minute waving goodbye party and it ended up manifesting even though she didn’t come. Like, I couldn’t leave town without saying a real goodbye to my BFF Brian even though we had just had dinner during the live broadcast of Dolly Parton’s TV movie Coat of Many Colors on NBC. (My girl got the highest ratings of any TV movie since 2011!) But every time we saw each other we said we’d see each other one more time, so it was super sweet that Brian and his huzz Arnolfo came by to wave.

wavingparty

None of this is really goodbye, I will see everyone again, just in different permutations and more intentionally as we become out of town visitors or as I convince people to move to LA, too. (So far mostly just Miss Mary Wanna, Sequinette and Victoria.) I am trying really hard to just say, “See you later.”

All of the see you laters has been kind of overwhelming in a good way. Moving really gets people saying how much you mean to them in a way that I didn’t expect. I am still really moved (pun intended) by some of the incredible things people said about how knowing me has touched their lives. Impacting so many people I respect, admire and love is incredibly humbling.

We drove for what seemed like forever that first day. We hit a bunch of traffic in DC and Richmond, VA, on our way to my friends’ Farmlet in North Carolina. Fae and E have this amazing homestead I’d heard so much about over the past couple of years. Fae’s blog Species Confusion is awesome, I’ve read the whole thing.

The blog is great recipes and stories of homesteading. The amount of knowledge that goes into farming for one’s family is the equivalent of a graduate degree. Both in research and what is learned in trial and error. I love to learn new things and we spent the whole morning on their Farmlet feeding the critters and learning about the mechanics of the Farmlet.

In fact, Fae posted that pigs love pumpkin and I never carved my pumpkin from Halloween so instead of getting rid of it in the last swirls of moving I decided to save it to bring to their pigs, Tofu and Tempeh.

farmletI saw my three year old niece Joey the night I wore these pants and she said, “Aunt Bevin you’re wearing pants.” I’m not much for pants but was trying something for this tee shirt.

They have rabbits and chickens, too, as well as Hamster whose farm product is love. He’s a tiny yorkie Fae rescued years ago who I had only seen in photos on Facebook and was happy to introduce to Macy. They got along well, Macy even tried to play with Hamster, and I seriously regret not getting photos.

Dara and I are working on an adventure video blog and I’m very stoked to have some of Fae and E’s Farmlet tour on the first video! Our 40 day trip West will hopefully have some stops that will allow Dara time to edit the videos.

Right now we’re paused in Normal, IL, waiting out an ice storm at Dara’s brother’s house. More soon!

hopestatueOn our last week in town we stopped at the HOPE statue in Midtown. I thought it was an appropriate bon voyage NYC photo!

2015-09-28

Macy Monday: We Hired an Animal Telepath

Welcome back to Macy Monday, where I talk about parenting my beloved 11 years young Shih Tzu, Macy!

applepicking4All photos in this post from our little family trip to pick apples in September 2014. This orchard (Pennings Farm Market in Warwick, NY–about 90 minutes outside of NYC) had so much fun stuff, including a huge outdoor scrabble game but sadly no tiles!

When Macy was going through the recovery process from her ruptured disc surgery in July 2014, we had no idea that getting her back to normal was going to take as long as it did. We were told she would make either a full or nearly full recovery but not how long her road back to wellness was going to take. (To be fair, we were in such shock about everything I don’t think we asked.) I also think that her reaction to one of several factors made her recovery much more dramatic and difficult for her emotionally than it is for many dogs.

I haven’t isolated exactly what happened to trigger her deeply anxious response for certain. Animal professionals, psychics and friends have postulated either the surgery itself, the seven days in the hospital (I visited her every day, sometimes twice a day, while she was in there), or the anesthesia had a lingering affect. It was also mentioned by a friend of mine who is psychic that it is very likely that because I’m an empath, Macy is probably an empath, and her being in the crates at the hospital with all of those scared dogs really affected her emotionally. I have noticed that she prefers in home grooming so much more than going to the groomer, in part to avoid those walls of crates with the other stressed out dogs.

applepicking5

Regardless of why, post surgery Macy was a basket case for about two and a half months. She was on crate rest her first week home and I couldn’t leave the room without my normally really well-behaved dog howling for me. I had to go to the bathroom with her in my arms. I contemplated getting one of those baby bjorn things for attachment parenting but was worried it would hurt her back somehow. I stayed home with her for a full week, then I started taking her with me everywhere I went because I couldn’t stay home literally all the time it was affecting my mental health.

Meanwhile, Dara was getting her radiation treatment for breast cancer on the Upper East Side, and it was bumming me out big time that I couldn’t be there for Dara because I had to be there for Macy. Eventually Dara’s therapist got her a letter to have Macy as her emotional support animal for cancer, which helped with having Macy with us all the time.

Because we didn’t know what was causing Macy’s anxiety, we decided to have a consultation with a Pet Empath, Dawn’s Animal Connection, that many of our friends had used. I figured, why not? I had heard good reports, from a friend whose cat was having accidents communicating that she wanted to use a piddle pad rather than a litter box, from another friend who had a posthumous reading with her dauchsunds. (Ever since I heard from her that the dogs complained about their food during the reading I seriously have been conscientious about what we feed Macy, and it inspired our changes to her diet as much as nutrition.)

applepicking2

The reading with Dawn was via phone (way easier to schedule than in person) and we put her on speaker phone while we were with Macy. We prepaid via credit card and it was less expensive than I would have paid someone in person or in NYC, which made me even more inclined to try. At $60 for 40 minutes that’s pretty accessible.

We asked lots of questions. Mostly about how Macy was feeling, did she understand what had happened to her, why can’t she be alone in a room, what could we do to help her feel better.

We didn’t get an answer about why she was feeling the way she was, but we got interesting information about how she was feeling physical “zaps” in her body and brain, that reminded Dara of “zaps” she felt while she was going through chemo. Macy was very clear that she needed us to be with her all the time.

So even though the telepath didn’t really give us an answer of how we could be released from 24/7 dog care, we did understand a bit better what was going on for Macy.

Applepicking1We bought this backpack for her and she absolutely loves it. She tolerated being in dog purses for me for many years, but since I wanted something more gender neutral for Dara to carry her around in, I thought a backpack was a good choice. I think she digs the mellow motion of walking and the mesh so she can see everything and doesn’t get too hot. I got this one from Amazon–it was $44 when we bought it, now it is up to $60. It lasted a good year and then a zipper broke, but we use it a lot as New York City folks who take our dog lots of places.

The end of the Macy anxiety story is that about 3 months after her surgery and literally taking Macy with us everywhere all the time or hiring a dog nanny (seriously, we hired someone to come sit with her when both of us had to go to work meetings), we were finally able to start leaving her at home for short periods of time, and then longer periods of time until it was back to normal.

Honestly, I wasn’t super blown away by the first reading with the telepath. Usually I have a moment of evidentiary based “There’s no way you could know this and not just be guessing well” whenever I have a good psychic reading/tarot reading/astrology reading. But, that happened the second time we had a meeting with Dawn.

applepicking6

This summer Dara and I were wondering if we should take Macy with us on this long road trip to the World’s Longest Yard Sale, her niece’s Bat Mitzfah, and other Midwestern stops. Well, mostly Dara was wondering and I was saying we should leave her with a sitter. For $40 if you’re a returning client you can get a 20 minute reading with Dawn, and split two ways $40 to resolve an argument about dog care is a pretty good deal.

I actually really loved this second reading with Dawn. She knew lots of stuff she wouldn’t be able to know. She knew how Macy felt about her dog sitter (she feels like it’s a second home–which it really is, she’s been staying there for probably 8 years most of the times when I go out of town), how Macy felt about the cat that lives there and sometimes bullies her, but the best was the last thing the telepath told us.

We had a bit of time at the end so we just started asking the questions you’d ask your dog if you had the option. I asked what kinds of things does she like that we do with her. The answer surprised Dawn. She said, “I don’t know why she’s saying this but she likes to be scratched on her face and her belly but doesn’t like when you touch her eyeball. I don’t know why you would be touching your dog’s eyeball and why she is saying that.”

Well, in fact, I touch Macy’s eyeballs four times a day! I have to put in Optimune, this eye cream she has to have twice a day forever, in each eyeball, because she has a chronic dry eye condition common for Shih Tzus. Sometimes my application is really good and I can kind of hover in there and get the cream on without touching, but sometimes I miss a bit and touch her eyeball (gently, of course). This is a dog care activity exclusively on my side of the fence because Dara has a thing about eyeballs.

applepicking3There was a little farmyard at the Penning’s apple orchard we went to. I love sitting and watching chickens in a barnyard, I find it really soothing.

I would recommend seeing an animal telepath if you have mysterious things you’re interested in asking your animal companion. Especially with regards to resolving animal behavior stuff, it’s really nice to know what’s behind it.

If you reach out to Dawn’s Animal Connection, tell her I sent you! I’d love to hear what your experience is (come back and comment on this post!) because I adore woo modalities and love animals! I’m also super interested in learning to become an animal telepath, and I know Dawn does workshops.

2015-09-10

I’m Totally Having So Much Fun on Snapchat Here’s Why

It’s no secret I adore social media. I prefer to curate my own information streams because I think that corporate media is designed to create scarcity mentality, fosters insecurity and just works to ad big dollars to the insecurity industries.* Also, I like people’s stories, I like learning about new places and I love seeing lots of adventures through people’s eyes.

Instagram has been a favorite for some time, but lately I’ve gotten into Snapchat! (I’m @queerfatfemme there and all the other stuff I use.) I tried it once before when it first came out and it was okay but not great. Pretty social but I didn’t have a group of friends who were doing it so I didn’t stick with it and uninstalled the app.

bevindollypaloozagreenslipMe at Dollypalooza this year! Photo by Ves Pitts.

Recently a couple of bloggers I like mentioned that they were Snapchatting and my friend Devon Devine’s fun videos convinced me I should give it another shot. When I got a new phone I decided to try it again.

Snapchat is so different now and I’m really enjoying it!

Here’s the deal:

Record a video of up to 10 seconds, or take a photo that will be live on screen for up to 10 seconds (you choose the length). Add text, emojis, or draw on the photo if you want. Add a filter/skin and voila! You have a snapchat! (Here’s my tutorial about how to use Snapchat since I found it hard to figure out at first.)

Here’s a video as part of a little diary about why it is awesome to have a Femme roommate.

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Your snap can be sent directly to your friends on Snapchat or you can publish it to “My Story” which is an aggregate of all of your snaps for the past 24 hours. Once it is 24 hours old it disappears forever!

The idea behind snapchat is that it is kinda throw away media. It’s not meant to last forever, so people are really casual, they lip sync, they dance, they show you where they are vacationing or walking down the street, they goof off with their best friends, they introduce you to people, lots of cute snuggly animal moments. In some ways, I find it to be more intimate social media because you get a sense for someone’s personality rather than something intricately curated like perfecto instagram pictures or a well-edited blog post. I would call it “hang out media.”

Some of my favorite things to watch on Snapchat are hotel room tours, house tours, cute pet moments, cool travel places, snap chatting (where folks talk to the selfie camera and tell us about something going on for them), outfit ideas, ten second drag acts, day in the life montages. I especially like when my real life friends talk because if they are my friends I probably miss them and like the opportunity for a virtual hang out!

One of my favorite things about publishing to Snapchat is geotagging! There are these skins that pop up for your videos or photos (when you’re in the editing screen, swipe right) that are specific for your location. They are very cute! New York City has at least one for most neighborhoods I’ve been in. For example, my therapist’s office is at Columbus Circle, so when I swipe right I can get one for Columbus Circle, a couple for the Upper West Side, sometimes it gives me Hell’s Kitchen, and I always get Manhattan. It’s cute!

bridgetboxFrom my snapchat tour of Bridget’s Femme apartment.

I love geotagging when I’m traveling just to show off and play with the geotags where I’m at. When I went to Normal, Illinois this summer (this is a real place, Dara’s brother lives there) I was really disappointed when I thought that Snapchat didn’t have geotags, and was delighted when they eventually showed up as options during my third hotel room snapchat tour video!

There are lots of places that don’t have geotags yet, I learned on my road trip through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey this summer. It’s fun to watch Snapchat develop and add more. Right now I’m visiting Webster, FL for a wedding and there could (should) be a geotag for Florida and perhaps one for “Swamp Life” out here!

Here are some things I’ve been doing over at my Snapchat story:

Tours of where I’m at (I travel soooo much sometimes, especially in the last few months)
Narrating my favorite parts about NYC
Nightlife adventures—the last couple of weeks I’ve been going out a lot!
Cute videos of Macy
Tiny diary-like snippets (e.g. a couple weeks ago I talked about how like how I leave blank space in the calendar intentionally so I have time for mini side adventures)
Goofing off with my friends (When I hang with Victoria chances are she might be scantily clad and when I hang with Jacqueline she will usually do a boob shimmy for my snapchat viewers)
Dance party at the Bed Bath and Beyond (that happened with Dara)
A tour of a sparkly and amazing Femme apartment (Hi Bridget!)
Wedding venue I officiated

jacquelinemacyJacqueline with Macy, before her Snapchat shimmy.

On Monday at the beach I had my friend Jo tell my snapchat how to body surf—a skill set I have not learned!

I’ve also really loved the special Snapchat content! Snapchat has an NYC local story that is really cute and seems to change daily. There was an adorable Animal Rescue one recently, a back to school one that focused on a day in the life of a high school, a really great “Life on the Farm” story, I loved the Snap story for Ramadan (at Mecca), and all sorts of music festivals I’ve never heard of.

There’s also Snapchat exclusive content from other media providers if you want to go down that rabbit hole. The National Geographic one is generally interesting and shout out to the Food Network Snapchannel because a friend of mine oversees the content there. I now know the secret to perfect hummus every time thanks to Snapchat. Also People Magazine does some throw away content (almost every time I look in on it there is a story about Taylor Swift).

Here’s a cute video I saw on Lady Quesa’Dilla’s Snapchat (@ladyquesa_dilla) that I asked for her to download so I could show off backstage at Dollypalooza on Instagram:

A video posted by Bevin (@queerfatfemme) on

Here are some folks I am enjoying following on the Snapchat:

Blogger Nicolette Mason—she’s always on the go to private meetings she can’t talk about, going out with her hot wife, and talking about how perfect her adorable pug Frankie is because Frankie is, in fact, totally perfect.
@nicolettemason

Blogger Gabi Fresh—she’s got a wardrobe to die for (naturally) and she does really fun “what’s in this box” reveals when she gets mail. She’s also a big traveler and always doing cute hotel room tours.
@gabi.gregg

My fav Real Housewife Kim Zolciak-Biermann—she has a totally adorable brood and they are always doing something fun. Also, her family’s chef is a hot dyke who does animal rescues and I totally love her show Don’t Be Tardy on Bravo.
@kimzbiermann

Blogger/model Nadia Aboulhosn—she’s literally always clowning with her BFF Shavah, being a total goofball behind the scenes, her knowledge of hip hop lyrics is pretty impressive as she is often lip syncing, and she has this cute animal voice where it gets all high when she sees a cute animal. Also, her jet setting model life.
@nadiaaboulhosn

nadia-aboulhosn-1441275114Nadia is this ultra model BABE but she’s also totally a weirdo magical person on Snapchat.

Plus Size Supermodel and Body Positive Activist Tess Holliday—she has a snapchat diary thing going on that I adore. Last week she real talked about how once she gets comfy in a hotel room it is hard for her to keep plans with her friends. She’s really good at narrating what’s going on and she is ultra jet setting.
@tessholliday

Are you on snapchat? I would love to know what you love to watch on snapchat, who you love following (and why) and any other protips for good snappin! Leave a comment below!

*Diet industry, plastic surgery, beauty industry, spending money to feel class status, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I love Sephora, but I go on my own terms because I like to decorate myself not because I think there’s something about me that can be fixed by $22 mascara.

2015-08-10

Macy Monday: Switching to a Raw Food Diet to Address Idiopathic Hypercalcemia

In February Macy had an accident and broke her leg. It was kind of the worst moment. Macy’s fallen a few times in her 11 years, nothing major, but this time, just one foot away from the ground while we were trying to get her leash on her, she slipped out of my hands, did a weird flip and landed on her ankle.

We took her to the emergency room the next morning when we realized it was still sore and she couldn’t bear weight. I learned that we probably should have just taken her in the middle of the night when there was no waiting for a doctor, because Saturday morning at the pet ER is bananas. We waited forever, got xrays, a leg cast with hearts and instructions to return for a visit with a Veterinary bone doctor.

macycast

The bone doctor wanted to do sedated xrays because she couldn’t tell where the fracture was. Boy was that expensive. We have pet insurance, ever since her ruptured disc, and it covered all but $400 of the cost of the fracture. That part was a relief. The part that was not a relief was that she took the splint off Macy and ultimately she was fine with no treatment whatsoever, just rest.

The chip fracture in her ankle ended up being a blessing in disguise, even though it was expensive and worrisome, because we found out by accident that she had elevated calcium levels. They came up in her pre sedation blood work before the xrays. I have no idea when or if we would have done blood tests on her, so I’m glad we caught it.

The elevated calcium levels were a cause for concern because they are an indicator of cancer or thyroid issues. We had to do soooo many rounds of testing to rule out what could be causing the elevated calcium levels. The diagnostic situation was complicated because, while Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group (VERG) was the vet who found the elevated calcium levels, they referred us back to our vet (Crown Heights/Prospect Heights Animal Hospital) for diagnostics. But then our vet uses VERG for some of their diagnostic work like ultrasounds. We were very familiar with VERG because that’s where Macy had her ruptured disc surgery.

We had a full ultrasound of her belly and chest, no cancer found. We had special hypercalcemia blood testing (that was $300 on its own) that had to be sent to a special lab in Michigan and took a week to get back to us. That found nothing abnormal, especially with her thyroid. They decided to do another ultrasound, this time of her neck.

Dara went for it with the vets about the cost of this because we had JUST paid $400 for the first ultrasound. Macy is under 14 pounds, you have to work really hard to NOT ultrasound her neck when you’re doing the abdomen. Dara reduced the cost to a recheck fee of $85, so I highly recommend you advocate for yourself with vets if they’re doing testing and retesting of things.

We got some of the money back from the testing on all of this from our insurance and the out of pocket on that was probably about $300. There’s a deductible of $250 on our policy per issue, and a cap per incident depending on the diagnosis.

Ultimately they found nothing wrong with Macy other than the hypercalcemia, so her diagnosis is Idiopathic Hypercalcemia, meaning there’s nothing wrong with her that they can tell but her calcium levels are elevated. I rolled my eyes because we had to go out of pocket over $1,000 to find out that they don’t know. A lengthy diagnostic process is so obnoxious, stressful, expensive and hard.

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This was especially emotionally taxing for us because, due to the broken leg, she fell way behind on her physical recovery from the ruptured disc surgery last summer. Also it was so triggering because her recovery from ruptured disc surgery was really difficult for Macy, she was so anxious for awhile we ended up literally attachment parenting for 2-3 months. For 2-3 months we didn’t go anywhere without her or without a dog nanny for her. I’ll talk about that in another post.

So once we knew she had Idiopathic Hypercalcemia the vet said we should just keep testing her calcium levels every 3-4 months. At the level she was she didn’t need medicine but if it raised and was left untreated the calcium would start to leave deposits in her organs. We decided independently to try changing her food to see if it helped her.

I knew from my experience radically changing my diet to address a chronic digestive issue that food is foundational and can make a big difference. We were primarily interested in trying a homemade diet for her and I did a lot of research and really wanted to try a raw diet. I had heard folks were having great experiences with their dogs having more energy and resolving issues with their allergies. Macy had been having flaky, itchy skin for about a year at that point.

We started with Primal while in the process of the diagnosis to see if a raw diet was of interest to her while we researched homemade diets. Suggested by Sequinette of Fur Majesty NYC, our in home dog groomer, as well as a few other folks on the internet, I began with a pricey bag of frozen nuggets from a boutique pet shop around the corner from VERG.

Primal works like this: You can feed your dog either frozen food that you thaw in the fridge (it’s good for up to five days) or freeze dried food to which you add a bit of water. We just went with the frozen because it seemed more natural and closer to the raw homemade diet I was hoping for.

macyturkeyneckThis is when I tried giving Macy a turkey neck to see if she would eat raw food like a regular dog I read about on the internet. I think this works for bigger dogs. She didn’t know how to deal with it.

Primal is served either in patties or nuggets, the patties are bigger and meant for bigger dogs, the nuggets are cute little bricks a little bigger than a standard ice cube. On the bag Primal suggests to maintain weight at Macy’s size she gets 5 nuggets per day, split into two meals. We used to just free-feed her wheat and corn free fancy dry dog kibble. Left to her own devices she’d eat a bunch, not eat for awhile, eat some more. She adapted very well to the meal times of Primal and seemed to really love the food and taste.

Primal is pricey. It’s $20-$40 a bag, depending on the kind of meat you get. (Duck is way more expensive at $35 a bag than $24 turkey & sardine, for example.) In general I prefer to eat humanely raised happiest possible animals, and I would prefer that for Macy. In my home cooking I’m pretty strict about it. With dog food that can be harder to find, and it seemed odd that Primal didn’t at least have free range chicken for that price and how precious it is to have to thaw out your dog’s food every day.

We would go through a bag about every 10 days, with 48 nuggets in a bag. Basically, her food expense leapt from about $20 a month to somewhere around $60-$80 depending on how spendy we were with the type of meat available at the pet stores.

She sometimes got really barky around her dog bowl. The barking concerned me. She’s always been treat motivated but is literally never a begger. (Training my dog to not associate me eating food with her getting table scraps is a lifestyle enhancement I cannot endorse enough.)

Dara and I figured out that her barking by her food bowl meant she was hungry. So sometimes we would give her a little more food, but we had heard from a friend who owns a pet store that the raw food diets like Primal don’t fill them up.

MacystaringThis face.

That kind of sucks, thinking of your beloved canine companion not getting enough food! I started adding a little brown rice to her bowl with the Primal and that seemed to help. She would do her best to painstakingly eat all the Primal but not all the rice, though I know she got some rice in spite of her efforts.

Dealing with Primal and dog sitters was hard because we had to get her food so frequently we would need to make sure the sitter had enough and it takes up some space in the freezer, etc… The freeze dried nuggets are a helpful work around for that, and for those times you forget to thaw the food. Macy would eat the freeze dried kind with no hesitation but I can’t imagine it was more delicious than the thawed meat.

Within 2 months of starting Primal it was clear Macy’s skin issues were gone and she had more energy! That was amazing. I loved how much of a difference in her quality of life we were able to make just by changing her food.

We switched to a homemade diet (more on that in a different post) at the beginning of July. Right around then we had her first blood recheck for the hypercalcemia (the recheck is $85) and her calcium levels are back to normal!!!

So switching Macy to Primal was great, because it cleared up a lot of minor and major health issues for her but possibly left her feeling hungry. I’m excited to see if the homemade diet keeps her in the same top health!

2015-08-03

Macy Monday: Our Experience with In Home Dog Grooming with Fur Majesty NYC

Welcome to Macy Monday! A new feature on my blog to share some insights about pet ownership I’ve found in my nearly 11 year tenure being a mom to my beloved Shih Tzu, Macy! I’ve been following several pets on Instagram and really enjoy the blog features that accompany them, so I thought it would be nice to join the fun!

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As a Shih Tzu, Macy has hair not fur. This means her hair will grow and grow until she becomes a total show dog style Shih Tzu with tresses that sweep the floor. If she or I were up for daily brushing, which we aren’t. One of the best characteristics of most hair not fur dogs is that they are hypo allergenic, so most folks (not all, but most) who are allergic to dogs are not allergic to them.

If you let your Shih Tzu or other groomy dog, like a Poodle, Maltese, or a Chow Chow grow out without taking care of the fur it can get matted and cause intense problems. I read rescue dog stories all the time where the dogs aren’t taken care of and need intense veterinary intervention and a super difficult grooming experience to begin their healing process.

Sequinettemacygroom2

So if you have a hair not fur dog, part of your dog ownership journey is getting your dog groomed once every 2-4 months. If you have a long-haired cat like a Persian or a Himalayan (Bear and ALF were one of each) they also can go to the groomer. For Bear, the Himalayan, getting a haircut every 8 months made a huge difference in his quality of life. For ALF, he didn’t need cuts but getting a wash and blow out saved me from a lot of extra cat hair on my stuff, making a huge difference in my quality of life.

I tried grooming Macy myself for about a year and it was a huge hassle. I knew right away why it is that grooming costs what it costs (a bit more than a human haircut at a salon, but humans don’t bite and heads are shaped pretty simply while dog bodies are not). Also my grooming skills are pretty shitty, and actually it was my ex fiance who did most of the grooming work on Macy. The one time John tried to groom Bear, Bear thanked him by pooping in his shoe so we decided to just go back to the groomer for the cats.

1315079433_a391bf2307_zThe home haircut years were HILARIOUS. Like, by week 3 it grew out enough to just look shaggy shih tzu chic or whatever, but seriously her legs were so choppy! We had bought a dog grooming clipper kit for $30 and you really get what you pay for with those tools!

Macy is a really easy dog to groom because she’s so used to it and easy going, but I knew she hated going to the groomer. I always thought that she was not super thrilled with being groomed but I realized after beginning in home grooming how she was just reacting to being in a grooming salon!

Grooming salons are intense. They range from super posh to super NOT posh. Most salons involve a waiting period where your dog sits in a crate on a wall with other dogs in crates. Macy hates that. The other dogs are sometimes yowly and scared or obnoxious and I can tell it’s a very stressful environment for her. The last time we took her to a salon it was at the local Petsmart in Brooklyn and she was clearly freaked out when we brought her home.

2882269009_b19101bf12_zMacy at her fully grown-in look, around 4 months from having been groomed. I don’t let her go so long anymore, since she’s older Sequinette said it’s easier for them to get more frequent groomings because taking off less fur is less taxing. Having a groomer come to me makes it way easier for me to schedule them more often.

Enter Sequinette, my longtime friend, local drag performer and new dog groomer (Fur Majesty NYC). She had a burgeoning in home grooming practice and in May of 2014 I gave her a try. It was great!

First of all, Sequinette is so sweet and clearly has a deep connection with animals. I think that’s a crucial element to a dog professional in any capacity.

She has great accessories and continues to get newer and cooler stuff, much of which is pink. It does not surprise me that professional grade grooming equipment comes in pink given the gender presentation of some of the grooming professionals I’ve known.

Macygroom1In-home grooming at my partner’s place because we don’t live together.

She’s also very concerned with making sure the client gets what they want from the haircut.

By which I mean, I am a totally picky mom about how Macy’s hair looks and I love that I’ve worked with Sequinette enough times that she knows exactly how I like Macy’s cut.

She comes in, hangs with the dog, gets set up, does the shave, washes the dog, does the rest of the cut, the nails and then Macy’s done. Sequinette sweeps up when she’s done, but I usually use it as an opportunity to do a good sweep and mop afterwards to make sure there’s no white fur anywhere.

IMAG0016In the process of dying Macy purple.

It takes about 2 hours total for the groom and Macy is only about as annoyed as she is when she gets a bath from me. She’s totally happy by the time we say goodbye to Sequinette. Super ultra bonus that I don’t have to schlep anywhere to pick Macy up and drop her off, and she’s not stressed and agitated by the other dogs in the cages at a salon.

I usually work in the next room while Sequinette is grooming Macy so I am ready to answer questions and occasionally hold Macy during some difficult to reach parts. Since she’s my friend sometimes I just hang out and visit with Sequinette instead of working.

Anytime she can’t give me exactly what I want with Macy’s aesthetic there is a reason, and it usually has to do with me not brushing Macy’s hair enough between grooms and having some knots in her ears or tail. Now I’m getting specific homework from Sequinette to brush Macy twice a week and it is helping.

We started in May of 2014 and the next cut after that was her first cut post back surgery and hospitalization! Understandably, we had to wait awhile and Macy got really shaggy. I felt 100% confident getting Macy groomed in home during what was a really rough recovery from surgery and a week in the hospital. I know if I had to take her to the salon I would have FREAKED OUT about it so I’m glad I already had an in home option!

Sequinette was so good with tender post surgery Macy (Macy was super traumatized by the surgery and hospital stay) and I knew from then on that we would always do in home grooming with Sequinette.

Sequinette is working on creative grooming and I got her to come over to dye Macy’s fur lavender for Pride! It faded out in about 2 weeks. Our next project is going to be zebra stripes!

19157503416_1f4f1f4275_zThe Pride purple look.

Sequinette is also doing some pet sitting for us and is really great. She’s available to do in home grooming throughout NYC and also does grooming in the Catskills, NY when at her partner’s place in Phoenicia if you’re an upstate person.

I cannot endorse in home grooming enough if you have pets who hate the grooming salon. They just are more relaxed in their home environment. And if you’re in NYC Sequinette is truly a wonderful gift to have as a groomer!! Fur Majesty NYC has a website, an instagram and a forthcoming email list!

You can follow Macy on Instagram here, (she’s a Leo), and if you follow me on snapchat (queerfatfemme) you’ll get some daily doses of Macy cute as well!

2015-04-23

I’m Back on Facebook after they De-Activated My Account Asking for my Government ID

For background of this piece, read the piece I wrote two weeks ago about the de-activation without notice.

I wanted to tie up the loose ends about this because I don’t like leaving a story hanging and also I want folks who are not using their government name on Facebook to know my story and get prepared.

Photo Collage Maker_jbsNPuI decided it made going to the vet for Macy’s diagnostic work more fun to dress her in costume. The ultrasound techs thought it was really cute.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to engage with Facebook ever again. On principle, I don’t like that they require legal names or name authentication like this. But I have several friends who pointed out I’ve worked hard to get where I am and the body liberation work I do is best served by connecting with folks who I already know.

My connections are important to me and Facebook facilitates them very well. I know people from high school better than if we just occasionally have drinks. I can meet someone and still keep up on their artwork and their lives or whatever. Also, as a queer connector in the world it makes me feel good to help my friends moving to Providence meet my other friends in Providence (real life example). Also, I am a kind of “safe” ally to lots of different communities that my friends can come to for resources. Like a friend’s friend’s child just came out as genderqueer and my friend (who is not in the queer community) came to me for stuff her friend could read. That’s such an amazing thing to be able to do in the world! Improving the coming out process around someone’s gender by being a person with a reach beyond a specific type of community.

I have been off Facebook now for a couple of weeks. A few friends emailed or texted worried about not finding me there. I have missed some event announcements and life stuff for people but I kind of trust that people know how to get ahold of me if they need to. Plus, I trust the Universe/the Goddess and this happened for a reason and I just let it go as long as I needed to.

I was so worried that people thought I blocked them on Facebook! (This is a great reminder to always assume people’s best intentions!)

What I ended up submitting to Facebook on Monday night was a picture of my Driver’s License, which has my government name, birthdate and photo like Facebook asked for. I submitted two supporting documents showing my name as Bevin Branlandingham. One was the Curve Magazine article about me, which I think proves I’m a real person. The other were two pieces of mail. I get a lot of mail to Branlandingham, it’s almost always super awesome.

20150412_174540I’ve been using my time off Facebook to do new things like posting outfit of the days to Instagram with lots of item detail.

I also had a friend of a friend who worked at Facebook and a couple of other people on the inside, but I’m not sure if any of the connections folks offered helped my case or not.

Given what happened to me, folks should be prepared to give Facebook an ID at a moment’s notice. If I had some notice, I probably would have tried to get an alternate something (all of their requested documents are in the screenshots below:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.51.24 PM

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Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.51.37 PM (1)

20150421_172611So, I’m back on Facebook, maybe a little checked out of it, for now.

2015-04-08

Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding a Government ID

Monday was not a cute day for me. I visited my accountant to do my taxes, the preparation for which is a lengthy process as someone who is self-employed and doesn’t use Quicken. (Ugh bookkeeping. Ugh working class background/money fears/so much stuff to work through.)

I got my tax bill (UGH) and then… we finally heard back from the vet. Macy, my beloved Shih Tzu, broke her ankle in February. She had ruptured disc surgery in July and several months of recovery so the chip fracture was an emotionally and financially difficult set back.

20150329_095224

Part of the ankle treatment was having her sedated for an x-ray. Pre-sedation blood work meant we found out by accident that her calcium levels are high. Which could be an indicator of cancer or parathyroid disease or just high calcium which, if left untreated, can deposit minerals in her organs and then cause more disease. The process of figuring it out is one test after another. When your vet calls something an “Easter egg hunt,” that’s not a great sign.

Monday we got the results from her recent special hypercalcemia blood test (this required a special lab and a 7 day wait for the results) and her thyroid is normal but the calcium is still high. Next up, yet another ultrasound. (She’s 13 pounds, they couldn’t ultrasound her neck WHILE they did the abdomen? So fucked up.) It is stressful, expensive, sad and poor Macy.

After the day’s events, I went to Facebook, thinking I could maybe talk to some friends who have been on lengthy dog diagnostic journeys. Or talk to some of my working class femme friends about being self-employed. Like so many times I’ve gone to Facebook, a nice aggregate of people I actually know in real life, I went to my phone browser and popped it in. I was greeted with a login screen, which is odd because I generally stay logged in to Facebook.

Once I logged in, Facebook asked me for my driver’s license. Until I provide them some kind of identity verification from their list, I am locked out of Facebook. Not only am I locked out, but my friends report that they cannot find me, cannot message me and cannot see my profile. Facebook has made it so I no longer exist on their system.

This was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am just trying to live a positive life and right now it’s like death, death, money stuff, illness, now Facebook.

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The problem is, I use a different name, a chosen name, to interact with people in social media. Bevin is my government first name, but because I have a super googleable name, I choose to use a made-up last name on all forms of social media. Bevin Branlandingham is my stage name, but it also provides a great invisible wall between my day job and my life online. I think it is extremely reasonable to make this distinction and I would, in fact, encourage other people to do this with social media, no matter the “privacy settings.”

I would not have the same issue if my name was very common, like Jane Smith, but I still think social media is not a place where your government name should be required.

There are lots of other reasons a person might not use their government name on social media. Here are some reasons that I came up with the last time I wrote a blog post about the Facebook legal name requirement:

1. Trans people and other people for whom their legal name does not represent their gender(s).
2. People whose name is extremely googleable. The John Smiths of the world don’t have the same issues with online content that the Bevin Branlandinghams do.
3. Performers who use facebook to connect with their performance community.
4. Roller Derby folks who want to use their derby name to connect to their community.
5. People whose jobs or careers would be jeopardized by interaction with social media.
6. People for whom a legal name change is a barrier of time/access/money.
7. People who use social media for a specific group that utilizes nicknames.
8. People who don’t want people knowing their legal name in a casual setting.
9. Folks who are hiding from abusive exes/parents/relatives or stalkers.
10. Folks whose countries of citizenship would punish them for speaking about their country.

facebookalias

After the last hullabaloo over Facebook and real name requirements, I thought Facebook actually listened to the LGBT activists and drag queens who went to them and had meetings with them. Schooling them without being paid tuition. I GUESS FACEBOOK DIDN’T LISTEN.

I had a lot of feelings about being denied access to my Facebook account, on a day when I was already full of lots of difficult feelings.

Lately I’ve also been using Facebook to connect with my communities because not one but two of my friends in different crowds passed away suddenly this past month (one was suicide). It has been really helpful to connect with people around this, lots of whom are old friends who only get in touch with me through Facebook.

It felt really shitty to be isolated from my friends on a day when I kind of needed to reach out. It continues to feel shitty to have to figure out how to get Facebook to verify my “authentic identity” when I have a ton of other stuff that’s more important.

20150328_163121

For example, my allergies are super bad and I need to sit on hold with Callen-Lorde and get an appointment with my provider. I also think dying my hair is more important than going through the debacle that will be the uphill battle to reactivating my Facebook profile.

Since Facebook deactivated my account I have discovered that anything I used Facebook to login to is no longer available to me. For example, I pay monthly for Spotify because it is so easy to stream all the music except now I can’t get into it because my Facebook login won’t work. Same with my meditation program. I will NEVER use a third party login for a website again. By the way, Spotify doesn’t have an email or contact form for customer care–I’m having to contact them via Twitter. I don’t feel comfortable giving my money to places that don’t prioritize customer care so I am going to have to figure out a new music situation. The amount of agita piling on with this Facebook suspension is astounding.

Here are some screen caps:
FBSubmityourdocsScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.51.24 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.51.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.51.46 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.52.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.52.23 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.52.39 PM

Since I don’t ever intend to make my stage name my government name, I don’t have any of the documents they are asking for. Why would I bother? I’ve never subscribed to a magazine as Bevin Branlandingham… but I’ve been featured in magazines as Bevin Branlandingham, presented at conferences, run a successful website, etc… On principle I also think this is shitty. Facebook is kind of the first place people go to to announce a new name, what if they haven’t done anything other than tell the people they love about a new name? Or what if they just (like me) don’t want to use a government name for social media?

I’ve done security measures with Facebook before, answered security questions, verified the identities of my friends in tagged photos. What happened that Facebook now wants to shut down my account and see my library card? I feel like I’m trying to go to a nightclub and the bouncer is demanding my ID.

The ironic thing is that I have a Facebook page with a fake name that is still totally accessible to me! (Rebel Gateau, a loose French version of Rebel Cupcake.) I use it for nightlife promotion so I can friend folks who wanted to get party invites. Facebook I can still get in the back door!

My therapist called me a “woman of my time” because of all of the ways in which I use Facebook. When doing my expenses for taxes in 2014 I paid more money to Facebook for advertising than I paid for printed fliers. We live in a different time. But I guess Facebook doesn’t want my money because it’s money from someone who doesn’t use an “authentic name.” And maybe that’s how they got me in the first place, because my credit card info doesn’t match my Facebook screen name.

I have a lot of rage about this, and it is probably just a place for all my other rage about how mad I am that my friends died and confused I am about my feelings, how frustrated I am about the process about Macy’s diagnosis and how worried I am that if I don’t keep shoveling dollar bills at it that she is going to die. Oh and feelings of helplessness about money, taxes, bookkeeping, getting rid of stuff (the latter being that Queer Exchange is a great place to get rid of stuff).

It would be nice to have access to my friends on Facebook at this time, but I’m just taking a break. Hopeful that most folks have my email or at least remember to google me and get my email from my blog. (It’s on the sidebar.) So far three people have texted asking why they can’t find me on Facebook, so that’s something.

In the meantime, I got a nice Fuck You from Facebook in the form of an email telling me all I have missed in the 48 hours since they deactivated my account.
FB email after suspension

I’m totally not kidding. I cannot actually log into my Facebook account, but they email me what I’m missing. Just like being inside a nightclub and coming out to the line of folks waiting outside fruitlessly arguing with a bouncer about IDs telling them what fun everyone is having without you. Facebook, you are an asshole.

I want to tell Facebook “You can’t fire me, I quit” and figure out how to live the social media life I want to without them. And yet, I’m still wondering how I can crowd source my incredible pool of friends so efficiently without Facebook. And I miss creeping my departed friend Laura Mulley’s Facebook feed because I’ve been learning a lot about her since she passed away last month and really appreciated that process and moving through grief.

The intention of this post is to warn folks who don’t use their government name on Facebook–they will come for you. And it will be without warning. So don’t rely on Facebook messenger to get info because poof, out of nowhere, Facebook will rip it from you unless you want to prepare all of these docs ahead of time. Maybe if I had a couple of weeks’ warning that they were going to ask me I could have tried to get a library card in my chosen name.

I can’t manage my Queer Fat Femme Facebook Fan Page now because I can’t get to it without my Facebook account. So I will simply have to use other social media outlets to tell people about my performances and life.

If you want to find me: Twitter (good articles/media recommendations), Instagram (my dog, my partner, my babely friends and adventures) and Tumblr (whatever goes on Tumblr).

I’m still a positive person (my motto about my attitude is to not allow my personal tragedy to interfere with my ability to do good hair, where good hair is ultimately believing the good in life) so I can’t leave it on an FU Facebook note. Instead, here’s a great Dolly Parton quote.

dollyism

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