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

2010-07-05

In Memory of Luscious

I found out a couple of weeks ago that a former sweetheart of mine passed away. It was very sudden. We do not know why (beyond knowing that it was not foul play), nor do we know if we will find out why.

I have been in a lot of shock and denial about it. I also believe that the stories that are hardest to tell are the most important to share, so I thought I would put down my thoughts and remembrances.

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Photo courtesy of Tanja Tiziana.

I met Luscious in 2005 at the NOLOSE conference. I always thought she was cute and regularly flirted with her, to no great reciprocation (she was incredibly shy in that way). I also always thought she was in an open relationship. Thanks to her erroneous Facebook status.

For New Year’s Eve 2008/9 I went on a girls’ road trip to Toronto to visit friends and eat our way though town. I thought it would be fun to proposition her for a casual make-out, which I did in a clever and carefully worded email sent a week before we left town. She said yes and proposed a night to hang out. She was a very talented chef and came in on her day off to the restaurant she worked at (Disgraceland–fabulous name). She cooked us an insanely amazing meal of fried chicken, poutine, fried okra, mac & cheese, corn dogs, fried green tomatoes… The gravy on the poutine remains the best I’ve ever had.

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After much stalling and making me wait patiently (not my strong suit), she finally kissed me and we made a date for New Year’s Eve. We began our affair all night that night and had instantaneously intense chemistry. That first night I remember her sitting up on the bed and coming up behind her to put my arms around her. She leaned into my chest and said “I feel so safe with you.” That is one of the most treasured compliments I’ve ever gotten from a lover.

We began texting fast and furious the days following my departure. We had a marathon phone conversation where she moved furniture so she could get cell reception to talk to me. She invited me back and being both impetuous and impatient, I decided to drive back up 10 days after leaving the last time.

We checked into love island and had an amazing time. She drove me around Toronto in the winter, showed me her favorite spot in the city, someplace right on the lake where she could sit and look at the city skyline and think, or talk to her BFF, Arun. I got to hang out a lot with Arun, who at the time was beginning to court my BFF, Zoe.

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Arun (next to Luscious on the right, also Gigi and Kaleb are pictured) remains one of my favorite people.

We loved many of the same movies, Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias were top choices. So we curled up to watch them on her bed-like concoction instead of a couch, which she called her “Flatress” and was more of an entity than it was a piece of furniture. She cooked me an incredible brunch. She complained in a facebook status update once that she wanted someone else to cook for her, so as a surprise for her I took a turn in the kitchen in lingerie and heels, making her muffins and bacon with brown sugar.

I met a few of her wonderful friends, but mostly we stayed on love island. She sent me home with cupcakes she bought for me from her vegan, gluten-free baker friends (they were seriously better cupcakes than I’ve had in NYC) and deviled eggs she made for my road trip.

One time she texted me “All I have to offer is my good palate, strong hands and big heart.” She had so much more to offer than that, but those were her most noticeable characteristics. She didn’t always speak up in big social groups, but she was incredibly giving to me in terms of intimacy. We talked a lot from the heart.

She was so kind. Even to people who weren’t particularly kind to her. One time we were in the grocery store, I was down the aisle a ways and this small child walked up to her and told her she was fat. I forget what Luscious said to the child but it was one of the most sweet and generous teachable moment responses I’ve ever witnessed.

She gave me one of my favorite cds, Dance Yourself to Death, who are her friends. I listened to it nonstop in my car for months.

On my next visit she curled up with me on the Flatress and showed me all of her photo albums, through her childhood and teen years. She was heart-open about so many things with me. She drove me to see places that were important to her history in Toronto and outside. She always held my arm when we were walking outside because she knew the ice terrified me. We had incredible sex.

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The problem with long distance is that it only works if the parties have compatible communication styles and abilities. She sort of dropped me suddenly, without warning. It was really devastating to go from a deep intimacy and fairly constant contact to next to no communication. About a month after our last visit and the sudden lack of communication we exchanged a couple of emails, but I still never really understood what she was doing or her intentions, and we came to no resolution because she never could tell me what she wanted from me or “us”.

I went back and re-read some of my journals from that time. I had forgotten how heartbroken I was over Luscious for quite some time. Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” on repeat heartbroken. Couldn’t stop talking about it for months heartbroken.

Though I still felt very sweetly towards her, as a matter of self-preservation I kept some distance and we mostly communicated through Facebook comments and status likes. I was always pumping Zoe for updates on Luscious when she would return from visiting her boyfriend in Toronto.

I emailed her in December when I found out she was having gastric bypass surgery. I know it can be really isolating and hard to make decisions about weight-loss (especially surgery) when you are in a fat activist community and I wanted her to know I was available to talk and supported her doing what she needed to for her own bodily self-determination. I also secretly wanted to open the door for communication otherwise.

I saw her again at the NOLOSE Conference in Oakland the weekend before she died. I went up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. We didn’t really talk beyond small talk though. It was hard to figure out what to say. We shared a lot of stolen glances, and the look on her face when I was on stage on Saturday night is something I’ll never forget.

I know right now I am feeling very confused, devastated, and needy. It feels so weird since I don’t live in her town and wasn’t an active part in her life. We were Facebook “likers”. In this day and age of Facebook and social networking it feels weird and hard that she has a Facebook account. It seems weird that I got a notice that she liked my status update on Saturday and then moments (?) later she was gone. It seems weird and also awesome that her Facebook page is now a memorial site for people to post about her.

It also feels weird to grieve someone who I was so intimate with, but who was no longer a current person in my life. I feel really grateful that many of my friends reached out to me when they found out. One of whom is my friend Kristyn, who also had former lovers die suddenly (multiple within a year) and she met up with me to talk about it. She said this really beautiful thing to me, the gist of which is the following.

As sex positive queers, it is really important to acknowledge that sharing your body with someone is a really sacred act. And even if you’re no longer sharing your heart and body with someone any longer, when they leave this earth there is still part of you that goes. It is really important to recognize that it is a significant and distinct loss.

At this point I am just trying to feel it. The first day I had some time alone after I found out I spent the day writing, working and listening to Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. I cried a lot and got it together to go to Rebel Cupcake. I dedicated the show and the party to her–a fat positive queer dance party with lots of good seating was exactly her jam. No one there knew her but it felt like something I could do for me. I am still finding ways to honor her and my grief day by day. Leah Lakshmi told me the night I found out “Shark, do the best you can to just feel your feelings.”

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She was really important to me and still is. I still thought about her every day. I hope that whatever happened that she wasn’t scared. I hope that she is someplace looking over us, and smiling.

2009-04-07

Guest Post: Stacy Bias on the Hegelian Dialectic and HWP on Craig’s List

Hey, the Fat Girl Flea Market was an intense success! I raised $7,500 for NOLOSE, an organization I have mad love (and some critique) for with the help of Marisa. I have a video blog about it coming, as soon as I figure out how to edit video, which is my next big media idea and venture. In the meantime, here’s a guest post from my friend Stacy Bias. Everytime I see “Height/Weight Proportionate Please” in Craig’s List ads, I remind myself that the work I do as a Queer Fat Femme activist, performer and community leader is going to make it easier for the queer fat femme 20 year olds of today to date when they are 30 year olds like me. Simply stated, I use that shit as fuel for my fire. Here’s Stacy’s reaction, which is in the form of PROSE. xoxo, Bevin

The last few weeks I’ve been scouring the Internet for information on Hegel and his dialectic. His thing was “thesis, antithesis and syntehesis” — simplified, it’s “Problem, Reaction, Solution.” Now it is entirely possible that I have this wrong — I have no seat in the Ivory Tower and Hegel is notoriously complicated. What I offer below is, at best, an over-simplification — and at worst, a joint misconception, but even if I have but a fraction of the idea, it’s worthy of discussion. And it’s been enough to piss me off — which is really all I want to do with you here. I want to piss you off and remind you to ask questions. And maybe entertain you a bit at the end with a poem.

So – there’s nothing inherently bad about Hegelian Dialectic on its own, but when applied with forethought and sinister intention, it becomes a powerful tool for manipulation and shady transfers of power. It’s impossible to research the Hegelian dialectic without being dragged, wide-eyes unblinking, into the disturbing world of conspiracy theory. The most common Internet example given for understanding Hegel’s dialect involves the proposal that 9/11 was an ‘inside job.’ I’m not really interested in coming off as a crazypants, so I’ll choose a less extreme example. It’s important, however, to not dismiss this concept because it is, I believe, the foundation on which consumerism stands and is the rot at the root of our social evolution, both individually and as a culture.

Example 1: You are a child, it’s X-mas Eve and your mother wants you to go to bed so she can finish putting together your toy bike. She can’t tell you this outright or you’ll know there’s no Santa. In this moment, you have the power. You are young and small, and she could physically force you to go to bed, but that’s really no fun for either of you. Barring being hog-tied to your crib, you could also continue to get up and ask for water, you could throw a tantrum, you could be stubborn and willful – to your own detriment, of course, as you wouldn’t have the bike in the morning, but no matter – you could definitely make things harder on the both of you. So your Mother wants you to give up your power and do as she wishes. To accomplish this, she applies the Hegelian Dialectic:

“Sweetheart, if you don’t go to bed then Santa will not come and you won’t get your presents in the morning! He may have already skipped our house!” — Manufactured Problem.
You, of course, totally freak out, as that’s the last thing on earth that you want — Expected Reaction. (fear)
And then you promptly brush your teeth, put on your PJ’s and hop into bed with the blankets over your eyes and don’t move a muscle until morning, lest Santa should truly not come. — Predetermined Solution.

(Should I have put in a Santa spoiler-alert up there?) 😉

So, that’s a simple, every-day application of Hegel’s dialect. No one was really harmed — your mom got time to do a kind thing for you, and you got a good night’s sleep. Of course, the hours you spent agonizing about whether or not you’d offended Santa were kind of unnecessary, but you still got your bike. As far as shady applications go, that wasn’t so bad.

But let’s talk about the more subtle and sinister applications that have been eating away at our collective self-esteem for centuries. Let’s talk about consumerism — which is, at its most stripped-raw, the attempted transfer of personal power from the self to the marketplace. Not an objective description, I’ll grant you, but frankly — fuck objectivity about consumerism. Now marketing, in and of itself, isn’t inherently a bad thing – just like Hegel’s Dialect is not a bad thing by itself. It is the way in which it is applied that determines its merit.

Example 2 is less specific — but only because it will seem so familiar it hardly needs an introduction. Most marketing systematically seeks to create the PROBLEM (Need to lose weight? Teeth not white enough? Thighs not toned enough? Clothes not hot enough? Skin too wrinkly? Hair not shiny enough?) in order to create fear and insecurity (intended reaction) in order to get the customer to give up their personal power (i.e. confidence/empowerment) and convert their insecurity into a projected *need* for the marketer’s product. (the pre-determined solution.)

Simple as that — Dig a hole, fill it with product.

This is a long-winded way to get to the root of what I want to talk about below — which is Preference. Personal Preference. And the fact that, in this day and age, I am fairly certain that none of us can be trusted to take our personal preferences at face value, given they have likely been systematically predetermined for us over the entire course of our lifetimes, all the while we are blissfully unaware that what we think we think are thoughts that have mostly been thunk for us. It’s not a pretty prospect — but I don’t care how pristine the wall is, if you throw enough crap at it, something will eventually stick.

Lest someone think I take issue with all preferences, let me clarify that the only real problem I have with preference is how much of it goes wholly un-examined. If you dig at the root of your preference and find healthy, sound reasoning that makes sense and works for you — go for it. But I believe that we must regard many of our likes and dislikes with suspicion — and that the only way to step out of this rather sinister trifecta employed by those who would have us salivating like pavlovian puppies at the sound of a commercial break is to be empowered, aware and conscious consumers — in all markets (tangible and not.)

This thought process brought me to the following, admittedly self-serving, poem — which joyfully employs a trite rhyming convention to illustrate why I hate surfing Craigslist.

Let’s talk about HWP. You craigslist junkies will likely know what this means, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure, I’ll expand the acronym. HWP = Height/Weight Proportionate. In other words, it’s a socially acceptable way to say “No Fatties.”

Now I’m recently un-coupled, and while not ready yet to date,
Just the fact of being single puts this dogma on my plate –
Checking ads to see what’s out there, just in case I get a whim,
I am struck by how the margin of acceptance is so slim.

Your weight must be exactly in proportion to your height?
Height of what, I ask you? Of severity? Of might?
Is my height of intellect proportionate in measure,
to the weight of skills I have in giving lover’s pleasure?

You see, Hegel may have called it out inside his dialectic:
predetermined outcomes based on formulated rhetoric.
But so subtle are the ways in which our views are formed and guided,
that often we believe they’re things we consciously decided.

I think nurture plays as big a role as nature in this game,
Nature being who we are, and Nurture; what’s to blame.
The thing we need remember is that even truth’s subjective;
opinions hardened into ‘fact’ by vote of the collective.

Let’s apply this logic, now, to beauty as a construct,
adherence to its rules; a voluntary code of conduct –
What if we were all to truly give ourselves permission,
to overwrite the jargon with our own new definition?

I offer, not as judgment, but as simple point of reference
that intolerance is often found beneath the guise of preference –
And if we are to bring about our social evolution,
questions, more than answers, will determine our solution.

Why is it I feel the way I feel about this thing?
Who is it that taught me – and what value does it bring?
Your conclusion, it may ultimately place you where you started –
What matters is the fact that you explored the paths uncharted.

I invite you, gentle people, with the best of your intention,
To take into your world a brand new sense of intervention;
To never take on faith the things you’re taught you should believe,
‘Cuz truth is seldom simple as our messy hearts perceive.

©2009 – Stacy M. Bias

Stacy Bias is a fat, queer femme dyke activist, educator and entrepreneur, nesting in the happy belly of the Portland, Oregon. As Bevin says, “Portland loves a fatty,” but even here we have borders to push. Stacy’s activist projects can be found at stacybias.net and her attempt to leave her day job can be found here: taproothosting.com

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