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

2015-09-18

I’m Moving to LA and Here’s My Process

I’m really getting right to business in the title of this post. Yup, I’m moving. From Brooklyn to LA. I’m a queer, let’s process about how I got to that decision!

Two years ago, if you had told me I would be moving to LA at 36 years old I would laugh in your face. I grew up in Northern California. I have lots of complex feelings about my hometown and the East Bay surrounding it. I love to visit SF and Oakland and especially the Northern California coastal lands (e.g. Marin and Half Moon Bay). But I wouldn’t want to live there. Dot com stuff really changed how expensive it is there and most of the Bay feels pretty suburban and not appealing to me.

bevininbigbearMe visiting Big Bear, CA, which I LOVED and is only 2 hours from LA.

When you grow up in Northern CA you are taught a kind of regional disdain for Southern CA. I think Northern Californians buy into stereotypes that LA is all airy fairy and image-obsessed. Whenever I’d flip through LA Weekly and see nothing but ads for plastic surgeons I would allow that to be my perception of the entire region. (Not to mention the fact that I’ve become pretty airy fairy as I’ve become spiritual in my 30s.)

Much of my extended family is in Southern California and I thought that because I’d visited it twice a year most of my life that I had an understanding of the area. But mostly I know their suburbs (Ventura County, which is actually phenomenal and beautiful, and Palm Springs, which I adore) but not LA proper. I literally only stepped foot in LA for family events or the airport.

I moved to Camden, NJ for law school in August, 2000, from my cozy college town in Davis, CA. I didn’t expect to stay on the East Coast. I thought that I’d go to school and come back to settle in the Bay Area because that’s what I knew and my friends from college were mostly concentrated there. But things changed. One of my favorite people from college moved to Jersey City and I spent a lot of time visiting John in Jersey City. John’s couch generosity for those two years really changed my life. I got to experience NYC the best way you can as a broke law student, with close friends and a lot of alcohol.

MeJohnGroveStPath2002Me and John at the Grove Street PATH station.

I was drawn to NYC by magic—I genuinely felt a creative life force energy in me whenever I would come up to NYC and frolic in the East and West Village. It was a different place back then, Meow Mix was still open, and The Cock was somewhere by 9th Street and the Lower East Side was really queer whereas now it’s covered with hoardes of drunk straight folks on weekend nights.

JohnNicoleTheCock2002John and Nicole in front of the Cock in about 2001 or 2002.

That creative life force energy when you visit NYC and it is calling to you is pretty different once you get here and have to hustle hard to make rent. Midtown during the day has a really different energy than nightlife in the Village. But still, NYC kept her promises and I got really creative here. It’s always been a struggle for me managing the practicalities of feeling “safe” with the call to produce and create cultural events, community organizing, performing and writing. Surrounded by the artists and activists I know here I was given so many great examples of creating art while holding down a hustle.

I always knew that I wasn’t a lifer in New York City. I don’t know if I’ll have kids, but if I do I would love to do it somewhere with a driveway. I really enjoy parking in a parking lot that is attached to Target. I love going out into nature, I find it really soothing and centering. One of my favorite most spiritual things I can do is be somewhere where I can look in one direction and only see what the Goddess has made. (The beach is great for that.) I guess I always thought that I’d eventually move to Atlanta or Austin or another medium sized city.

Enter Dara, my wonderful and supportive partner. The first time we dated, she brought up that she was thinking about moving to LA. Having lived there just after college for two years she loved it and always wanted to go back. She pulled the trigger, deciding to become a “single nomad” and broke up with me. (OMG if this was the Mindy Project I could make a funny joke right now but mostly I’m just happy for the messy beginning so we can have a stronger now.) She traveled the country, ending up in LA and just after she landed was diagnosed with breast cancer. She wanted to be treated in NYC, so back she came, her attempt to move thwarted. When she got back here and I reunited we talked about her desire to move to LA and I laughed because I didn’t want to go, but that we would figure out our departure from NYC when the time came.

grillinginbigbearWhen we move to LA my intention is to get one of those adorable 2 bedroom bungalows with a backyard and a detached garage. You can rent them for about what each of us pay in NYC for apartments. Macy is going to love a backyard.

I could feel my swan song with NYC beginning last Fall. Coming off the most chaotic and difficult year of my life (but still really great in complex ways) I started doing some heavy reflecting on my values and priorities. I realized that my seasonal depression (which can be as long as six months) was grinding me to a halt creatively. As I work on developing my psychic gifts, I realize how draining it is for me to be around a lot of people all at once. For me, even going to the gym can be draining because there’s at least 100 people on the trip from my house. And self care is one of my top priorities. I realized I was living in a place with an expiration date. Here I hustle hard for the money to live here, as well as hustle hard to maintain the self care that helps me feel good and that doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy to do the work that I am passionate about.

On our post chemo road trip through CA last October we stopped in LA for a day. Dara really wanted to show me what she loved about it. We just went to Echo Park to meet my friend Taylor Black for lunch and a wander, but it surprised me. The energy was different than I thought. It was a mellow city hustle bustle, but with nature right in there, with big, undeveloped hills and regional parks throughout the East LA area. I started opening up to the idea of moving there.

As a spiritual person, I understand the decision making process to be self-correcting. If I’m following my inner guidance from the Goddess, I’m going to be on the path I’m meant to be. So if I were to decide to move to LA and it wasn’t right, I’d get signs. Doing self care is really important for me so that I can be calm enough to notice the signs and feelings directing me.

I think sometimes the Goddess guides me nicely in a whisper, the stern voice is somewhere in the middle and then I get the hollering through pain. A lot of my biggest turning points in life happened after really painful endings before I had the chance to act on that gut instinct about how that day job really didn’t suit me and I wanted more flexibility to work on my art or how my fiance and I really wanted different things in life… Things like that. I was worried that I would stay in NYC until it got painful.

bevinwatchingeclipseWe visited LA last October during a solar eclipse, and this juice bar just gave out glasses to go watch it. So magical.

So, when I’m making a big decision, I start out by just acting as though I’ve decided. What does that look like, how does that feel? I spent about 4 months considering the move to LA, and then a friend of mine passed away. We weren’t close, but I took it as the sign I’d been praying for. (The thing I knew about her most was that she had moved cross country from a comfortable existence and a job she liked and then moved on faith and it was a great choice for her. Laura Mulley’s blog is here, I recommend starting fro the beginning it’s amazing.) I’ve had lots of friends pass under the age of 40. It has really sucked to get this practiced at grief. But I also know there is usually a learning in my grief and it was that week that I decided moving cross country was the right choice. This was March, so I gave myself 9 months, human gestation period, to get my ducks in a row and ready to go.

My Grandmother is another big factor in my move. She lives in Palm Springs, she’s still very independent and we have a lot in common, being Capricorn glamour babes who love woo. I have always hoped that my money situation would pop off and I would get to go visit Grandmother every couple of months from NYC but that hasn’t happened. I would love to get to spend more time with her.

Also, my Aunt and her progeny all live in Southern California and I love them a lot. I don’t know them very well, since I was raised 8 hours away and we saw one another twice a year. But whenever I do get to see them as an adult I enjoy them and I think it would be rad to see them more often.

I genuinely never thought that I would be one of those queers who moves to be closer to family. But I guess I am? I watched a lot of 19 Kids and Counting over the Winter (I have a LOT I can say about the Duggar scandals) and one of the things I loved most about the show is seeing what it is like to be intimate with your family. As the only child of a single mom, I did not have an experience of unconditional love and support and family intimacy growing up. I’d love to know what it’s like to have someplace to go every holiday, even the little ones I don’t super acknowledge in my hustle bustle NYC life.

So, all of this came down to feeling pulled to LA. I visited in May to get to know all the various areas of LA and finalize what neighborhood we’re looking to move to (more on that in another post).

bevindarasurreywithfringeontop

It was important to me to have my own independent reasons to move rather than just going with a partner. A friend of mine pointed out it’s totally okay to move for and with a partner and she was right. I am really excited to do this with Dara because doing things together is fun as we love an adventure. We haven’t lived together formally (though she stayed in my apartment with me during the last two months of chemo) and we are fatigued with the schlep inherent in not living together.

I’m really looking forward to the changes from this move. God is change and I want to be open to the next big things happening in my life by opening up all this energy!

I’m also kind of scared. I don’t know what my day job is going to look like. I promised myself when I took the Bar exam that I would never do it again, and I am going to keep that promise. (When I looked into the CA requirements the yearly bar fees are double the ones I pay in the two states I’m licensed in and I got that feeling in my stomach I had when looking into a law career 12 years ago when I graduated law school.) Also, as a real estate closing attorney out here, my skills translate to either a real estate agent or a title company attorney and I’d 100% rather be a Realtor. My Grandmother was a big deal real estate agent in Beverly Hills in the 80s & 90s so it’s kind of a family thing. And, with any luck, my line of Reiki infused teas will pop off and I won’t need a day job and can just focus on stuff I’m passionate about! (I enjoy real estate but it’s not like my life blood energy the way doing work in the world to help people feel at home in their bodies is.)

I’m also presently planning the logistics of the move (just to get a quote from PODS I was on the phone for 40 minutes… $5,000) and starting a project management plan for getting everything done. I have no idea how and when to get rid of stuff, so I’m going to do some interviews of folks I know who did a cross country move before.

Me, Macy and Dara leave NYC on December 20th, and arrive in LA around March 1st. We’re taking a month for a DIY artist residency so I can finish my book finally, and then taking a lingering trip through the Southern route to see lots of friends/family and for me to do readings and parties. Currently we’re planning stops at Dollywood, Atlanta, Key West, Ft Lauderdale, New Orleans, Austin, Albuquerque, Tucson and Las Vegas.

2015-03-19

I’m Presenting at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in DC, SEXx Interactive in Philly and Deadline in NYC

Hey dear readers! One of the things I love most is teaching workshops about body positivity, authenticity and sex positivity. It’s a great combination of my passion for performance and information sharing. I have some upcoming appearances I want to share with you in case you happen to be in the area and want to come by.

(P.S. Please introduce yourselves! I promise I will be just a normal amount of awkward. And nobody ever died of awkward.)

10860953_734925559936428_5472055412046050292_oAll photos here are me doing a reading from my almost finished memoir at Drae Campbell’s TELL, a queer storytelling show, last December. Theme was holidays, so that’s why the Santa beer sweatshirt. Photos by BGSQD because it was at the BGSQD, the queer bookstore in NYC.

Washington, DC Area March 21st (this Saturday) I’m on a panel at the annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA.

Sex-Positivity: Educate, Empower, and Self-Define

Time: Saturday, 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

Description: Sex positivity is the belief that consensual sexual expression is both healthy and important in contributing to a safe and inclusive campus climate. Sex positivity is grounded in comprehensive sex education, exploring and deconstructing gender norms, and promoting body positivity and self-love. Implementing sex positivity is transformational on a multitude of levels, ranging from your relationship with yourself, to relationships within your community, to influencing policy. Join us for a fun-filled conversation that explores how your feminist club can bring sex positivity to your campus!

Moderator: Kelsey Carroll, Feminist Majority Foundation

I’m excited to join the following panelists: Natalie Dibo – President, Goucher College Feminist Collective, Ponta Abadi– blogger, Sex and Privilege, Bevin Branlandingham, blogger, QueerFatFemme, Sophia Kerby, State Policy & Partnerships Coordinator, Advocates for Youth.

10842183_734927129936271_3649774888158777087_o (1)Me with (L-R), Drae Campbell, Kelli Dunham, Topher Gross and Robin Cloud. All of us performed at Meow Mixx back in the day when it was still a bar on the Lower East Side and when I told that to the audience Robin said it meant we were old. But I thought it was kind of beautiful, to perform in this new amazing space and bring that energy of the old bar poetry/comedy/drag/queer performance scene into that space together. Maybe we are kind of old, but at 36 I still feel like I have a lot of life left to live.

Philadelphia, Friday, May 8th, SEXx Interactive Conference.

My talk is last in the 1PM slot (scheduled for 1:36). I’m presenting a TED style talk entitled “Reclaiming Sexuality From a Society that Wants You Disappeared” about my journey to embrace my sexuality as a fat person who was really disembodied for my entire adolescence and into my young adult life.

SEXx Interactive: a journey for the mind, heart and body taking place in Philadelphia May 7-10th. This event is sponsored by GALAEI, a queer Latin@ social organization, in collaboration with a team of sex-positive community members. We seek to: connect the complexities of the intellectual, spiritual, and physical dimensions of sexuality; create spaces for interaction and conversation across gender, race, and sexual orientation; and support the empowerment of the curious and seasoned alike. This interactive forum will engage participants with informational presentations, sexuality-based performances, “how-to” workshops, and sexually-themed art exhibitions. We expect this forum to expand the viability of a sex-positive culture by uniting those of like mind in the pursuit of knowledge and comradeship.

10644320_734925399936444_1684985250348298_oSpeaking of being old, when I saw the logo for one of the presenting organizations for the SEXx Interactive conference it looked very familiar and then I realized that my graphic designer ex partner, Seth, designed the logo when we were together over a decade ago! Small queer world.

New York City, April 3rd, 7PM Deadline: Works In Progress from Cutting Edge Queer Artists. Facebook event here.

Deadline is at the amazing queer bookstore, Bureau of General Services: Queer Division, that now has a permanent space inside the NYC LGBT Center on 13th street.

I’m performing the work in progress of my TED talk from above at this incredible event curated by Sabrina Chap, the roster of former performers at Deadline is really incredible and inspirational.

LA: May 13-27th–I am going to be in LA for two weeks, visiting family and accompanying my partner while she does some education policy conference stuff and a stunt driving course for her 40th birthday. Since I’m in town if you have a college or retreat center or want to produce a thing and want me to perform or present or do a reading or facilitate a discussion, let me know! queerfatfemme at gmail.com

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