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

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

2015-03-16

Florida Keys: Curating the Sunset

My second favorite thing we did on our trip to the Florida Keys was curating the sunset. I absolutely love doing this. By curating the sunset I mean, finding out when the sunset is going to start and finish in my vicinity and setting aside the time and effort to go enjoy it. This means not just noticing that the sunset is happening but finding the exact right place to watch it happen.

I call things like sunsets “God TV.” If it’s something naturally occurring that is interesting to watch, I call it “God TV.” I like watching the sky turn all the different colors, notice the changing shadows around me and finding a spot to watch it that affords a lot of great ambiance.

The Keys are ALL ABOUT THIS. Most notably there is a sunset ritual every single night in Key West. My pal Maura in a super helpful email to me about my impending visit to the Keys that watching the sunset from the Mallory Square sunset celebration was very Lez and woo in a satisfying way. I could not agree more.

16766270835_edcd34fe77_zStreet vendors and performers line the square. The sunset celebration is free, but Dara decided to jazz it up by buying this non-alcoholic frozen pineapple coconut juice concoction. Beautiful and delicious!

16558999917_1633abaf18_zHere you can see the big crowd just in front of us, it was pretty thick the length of Mallory Square by the time we got there.

I have not been in such a diverse crowd of collective rapt attention on something spiritual since I attended my Uncle’s ordination as a Deacon in the Catholic Church (it was a very long ceremony in a HUGE cathedral). Sure, lots of them probably just thought the sunset was pretty, but there was a significant payment of attention to something I felt very reverent about. It was churchy, even if it wasn’t a brick and mortar institution. No religion or belief necessary, just payment of attention. Crowded but not loud, at least during the 2 minutes or so the sun was really sinking.

4731417391_0f4900890d_zMy cousin Sooz (yes, I have a queer cousin, it rules) at her dad’s/my uncle’s ordination.

16765201512_95c905e4c0_zWe creeped up through the crowd to get a better view.

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16559009917_cb5388b3f9_zI was obsessed with all the creatures we met, and the different kinds of pelicans were a highlight.

Outside of Key West I found it pretty easy to pinpoint a good sunset spot. A quick yelp search of “Islamorada sunset” in the restaurant category got me to Lorelei’s Cantina, a spot on our road trip back up to the mainland to catch our flight home. It’s this huge outdoor bar and restaurant where you don’t even have to order anything, you can just grab a plastic chair and chillax watching the sunset while listening to live music. It was so beautiful and such a disappointment when the sunset was shrouded in a rain cloud.

16644041818_5ff227d273_zThis is the big mermaid that looks out on Southbound Interstate 1, the two lane Overseas Highway that connects all of the Keys. The parking lot was VERY crowded so this Escalade just decided to park blocking the sign.

16145663324_4eb599f559_zThe view was spectacular but sadly the clouds did not cooperate.

16560705517_461654b905_zI swear to the Goddess that while we were sitting watching the clouds covering the sunset the dude-fronted Jimmy Buffet style jam band that was playing did a Dolly Parton cover. I realized I knew all the words.

The same thing happened with bad weather luck when we went to see the sunset at a beach in Key West the night we had a hotel room in town. We were at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park’s beach, which is just off of old town Key West (the neighborhood with all the cutie pie wooden buildings). It was $2.50 for each of us because we came in on bicycle not car. We sat on the beach, I was so regretful I didn’t wear my bathing suit, the one day I didn’t just have it on under my dress, and I wished I could have gone swimming in the gorgeous clear blue water.

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We didn’t spend enough time at the beach during our vacation overall, which was my own fault. There were just so many fun things to do in the Keys that sitting still for a few hours a day was not a priority. We did a great amount of taking it easy and letting things flow in terms of planning so I never felt stressed, I just was so absorbed by my surroundings at all times that I didn’t ever crack that copy of Southern Living magazine I dragged all over the Keys.

But I got to the beach twice, both for sunsets. The time the sunset was a bust at Fort Taylor I still saw a couple of tiny schools of fish from my ankle-deep vantage point, and we watched an entire flock of seagulls leave their rock to go fish for dinner. Hundreds of birds taking off at once is a breathtaking vision you only get to see when you watch God TV or as intro cutaways on one of the coastal Real Housewives franchises.

16144219244_cd4c9d5459_zWater so clear I felt totally fine swimming in it. I get the creeps when I can’t see the bottom, even in the deep end of a dark pool.

The best sunset we saw was our first night in the Keys. It was about 10 minutes from our cabin on Big Pine Key, about 2 keys North of BPK. (Do they abbreviate in the Keys? I hope so.) Bahia Honda State Park has been voted one of the top 10 continental US beaches for several years. I heard this from a few sources. I’m not sure what this list is, or if we just happened to see it at a particularly sea grassy moment, but it wasn’t super amazing. It was cute, don’t get me wrong, but I kind of had big expectations for the beach.

16757039142_39611c34b5_zI saw this on the beach and because of the intense blue and plastic looking filmy bubble I thought surely this was manmade, like a condom or a plastic bag. I am the kind of person who appreciates nature AND picks up litter. (I was a Girl Scout for so many years this kind of habit never dies.) So to find out if it was litter to be picked up with a stick for the garbage can… I popped it. It was clear it was organic matter and I left it alone. Found a couple more on our beach walk. Thank Goddess I popped it with a stick because a later google search told me this is a Portuguese Man o’ War jellyfish and I could have gotten stung and gone to the hospital! The Wikipedia says that sometimes whole beaches close down when these appear on shore.

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We got there and the first place we went was SO seagrassy we didn’t want to sit in it, so we kept walking. Then we bailed on that beach and crossed the parking lot into the info center, who told us that they beach they’re known for is on a different part of the key. Which meant that to see the good sunset view (pointed East) we would not get to be on that super cute part of the beach. We did check out that super cute beach on the way out after sunset and it was quite pretty. We would like to go lay around on it on a later trip to the Keys.

Undeterred, I went out to a third beach of theirs, this one was Gulf Side (to think I walked from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico in just the span of minutes) and started following the shoreline. Dara followed dutifully along as I searched for something I couldn’t even fully articulate to her. “I want to watch the sunset,” I told her, not even sure myself what I was looking for but knowing that once I saw it I would realize what I was looking for.

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We walked the length of the beach and I took off through some palm trees up a nature trail that went under the abandoned railroad bridge. Dara had suggested a few spots on the beach that might be a little less crowded but gave up when she saw I was on a mission. I climbed under the railroad tracks, went to the chain link fence under the bridge to take a couple of photos, retraced my steps and went to the other side of the train tracks, back to the Atlantic but much further down than we could see from our original vantage point in the thicket of washed up sea grass.

16138168973_200ebb52d4_zThat road in the background is the Overseas Highway I’ve mentioned.

16135808124_de577ca163_zUnder the train track bridge.

I found an inlet of trees that looked like a great make-out spot, then went down a rock “scramble” onto a patch of nearly empty beach. With a perfect view of the sun, just about to start lowering. We took some photos and cute video in the surf and laid down to watch the sun take its journey. We soaked this in for a good thirty minutes before the incoming tide convinced us to move down the beach a bit. We did some yoga while watching the sun’s descent. It was so profoundly beautiful. Worth every bit of work to find the just right place to watch it. The curation of the moment was almost as fun as the moment itself.

16138173863_ae0ddc6128_zAs a fat person I’m used to being the one who is being coaxed down rock scrambles. But I have a lot more bravery for nature because of my scouting past, so I lead Dara in these matters. It’s a really interesting to have the table flipped and me being the brave one offering a hand to the person behind me. But I’d like to think knowing how uncertain a rock scramble can make me feel helps me be a more supportive partner when I lend the hand.

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16570745720_1560559ce6_zDara is such a wonderful partner in crime for adventure. I have so much fun with her. She’s instagramming now after this trip, @daremedara if you’re instagrammy.

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16550904177_52dd24bcf9_zThe moon rise on the other side of the beach was so pretty.

16572055289_1319b04a29_zMoney shot.

I rarely, if ever, curate a sunset in Brooklyn. There are so many variables here–it takes me 30 minutes to drive to a spot to get a good, clear view of a sunset, only if that’s the direction of the sun that time of year. Buildings that are in the way sometimes are not in the way other times. Weather is a huge variable. It is often cloudy. I make it a point in NYC that when I see the sunset colors in the sky I take a pause and notice them.

Out of town I make it my unspoken priority to ensure that we are exactly where we need to be to enjoy the best sunset possible. I love organizing my day around this. It feels so natural and cleansing and really meaningful. I came back from the Keys and I know, as I start working towards the next phase of my life, I want to make it a priority to have abundant access to beautiful sunset viewing options. I can see this ritual becoming a big part of my self care.

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2014-09-16

Post Cancer Treatment Life in a Nutshell

It’s been awhile since I posted substantively and when I get to this point I get into these quagmires, “But there’s no context for me on my blog anymore!” I like this space to be an ongoing narrative of who I am and what I’m doing at the intersections of these identities of queer, fat and femme. So to kick off more posts about what I’m excited about, here’s a newsy update.

IMG_20140816_203125Dara and I had a great “progressive dinner” date where we went to three different restaurants for different courses. This was for the vegan ice cream course at Van Leeuwan in Brooklyn.

Post Cancer Treatment

Dara is doing well post-cancer treatment. She is really loving life, she has a zest that is similar to her love of life pre-treatment, except her zest is more gentle and self-loving now. She has a way of really being present and relaxing into the idea that a day doing nothing is the perfect way to keep from working too much.

IMG_20140822_220118Me and Dara at a rooftop party a couple of weeks ago. I love when you get to tower over a sea of blingie skyscrapers.

We have so much fun together. We had fun during cancer, she often tells me I “made cancer fun.” My opinion throughout was why should cancer treatment not be a series of tumblr post worthy, good photo opportunity adventures? So that’s what it kind of was. But even as we made the best of things, it was still with a bit of a pall covering everything. Without most of that damper we’re having even more fun now. Everything feels a bit more joyful, with the gratitude of not being in cancer treatment.

We’re doing tons of new stuff. We went to a park neither of us had been to at the foot of the George Washington Bridge on the Hudson River to take a tennis lesson. I haven’t played tennis as an adult and I never took to it in high school; I don’t mean to brag but I lettered in badminton. I was all set on racket sports and didn’t need that clunky tennis racket to cloud my badminton focus!

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But tennis as an adult! It’s pretty fun and quite a workout. I’m sold! Dara and I went to another tennis lesson in a different park and it wasn’t nearly as fun, so now we’re on the hunt for the perfect city tennis situation.

She has her zest back but not quite her endurance… she injured her knee and two other body parts within a week. She has insomnia from the Tamoxifin, a hormone blocker that she has to take forever. Or like 10 years. So that’s another ding for energy.

We are hoping to go apple picking and camping this month! And next month we’ll reprise our trip to Southern California we were supposed to take in June when her father passed away suddenly. It feels healing to schedule out the adventures we want to take and folks we want to visit. I feel really lucky we’re able to do that.

Lucky is a great way to describe how we feel post treatment—we saw the movie the Fault in Our Stars, about a teenage girl with terminal cancer. It really hit home how temporary love can be. And even though the length of love is sometimes short, it can still have important, life changing intensity.

I feel like Dara’s cancer treatment was a life changing intensity time for me… as it was for Dara. We’re excited to see what our relationship is like after cancer treatment. I think we’ll both be different after treatment. (This was also why I declined to move in with her after cancer treatment—I want us to just have fun together for awhile instead of adding another pile of stress to the end of what has been a really difficult year for me.)

Macy’s Recovery

20140821_175210Family selfie.

My beloved dog Macy had surgery for a ruptured disc in July and her recovery is ongoing. Her intense separation anxiety post-hospital has finally waned. Perhaps it was taking her to that first tennis lesson with all that noise and flying balls that convinced her that insisting on being with her people 24/7 wasn’t necessary, but she is finally able to be left at home alone again. For awhile I couldn’t even leave her in my bedroom for two minutes without her wailing. It was very intense.

Macy has to begin pricey physical therapy for her hind leg. She is walking on all of her legs, which is huge progress from the surgery, but she’s limping really hard, her body is shaped kind of like a comma when she walks, curved to the right. She can’t jump onto furniture and she can’t push open the doors in the house anymore like she used to, and she’s bearing 80% of her weight on the front legs which can lead to more problems down the road.

I hope that the physical therapy involves hydro therapy because it is very cute to watch in you tube videos. It’s also very successful at strengthening weakened legs so I’m hopeful for a full recovery.

IMG_20140816_214812The third stop on our progressive dinner date, short ribs poutine from Mile End. Macy in her “accessibility backpack” that enabled us to take her all over the place this summer when she couldn’t be left alone. She even went to an outdoor YoYo Ma concert with Dara in the Berkshires! I picked up the backpack on Amazon for $44 and think it’s a great value.

Macy’s only ten years old and she’s otherwise perfectly healthy. Her veterinary neurologist expects that she’ll live out her days (Shih Tzus live to be about 16). So here’s a pro-tip, if your friend’s dog has had major surgery, don’t say anything like “She’s had a great life!” It’s really different to have a pet diagnosed with a chronic illness or an injury than to get a terminal diagnosis! She has had a great life (she was photographed in Time Out New York and Curve Magazine before I ever was!) but she has a lot more life to live!

I am still visioning for Macy to make it into People Magazine and Southern Living Magazine, two of my favorites. Maybe even Oprah Mag. But mostly, I’m still visioning lots of fun adventures for my charming and magical Shih Tzu!

Plus Size Party Girl

Instead of producing monthly parties, I’m now focusing my energy on less frequent bigger productions. Though, in lieu of all of that, I took a hiatus while Dara was going through treatment.

I just finished producing Dollypalooza, an Epic Fan Tribute to Dolly Parton on 9/5 (get it?). It was the biggest production I’ve ever taken on single-handedly. (Way to come back to party planning with a bang!)

bevingroupsingdollypaloozabyJenaCumboDrae Campbell, Miss Mary Wanna, Me, World Famous *BOB* and MILK from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6. Photo by Jena Cumbo for the Village Voice.

It reminded me of the intensity of Picnic Day when I was in college. That was the UC Davis open house—all departments, student organizations, sports teams, etc… put on some kind of exhibit or event. There was a parade, six stages of entertainment, a student activities fair. Legendary events during my tenure on the Picnic Day Board were the dachshund races in the basketball stadium, cockroach races in the Entemology Department and the fistulated cow demonstration by the College of Agriculture. The fistulated cow was a cow who had a hole cut into her stomach so people could put on a glove and reach their hand into the cow’s stomach to retrieve partially digested grass–cows digest the same food several times. It was rightfully shut down by animal rights protestors in the late 90s.

Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into coordinating that kind of event, involving a board of 20 and 500+ volunteers. There was a frenzy that overtook me and the entire board of organizers of Picnic Day the week before the event. I remember super late nights in the Picnic Day office laminating photographs into security passes. Dollypalooza was the closest I’ve ever come as an adult to that feeling. I love planning and executing major events, especially unusual ones that bring people joy. The lights in folks’ eyes when I fliered for Dollypalooza let me know I was on to something.

IMG_20140906_153536Me and my hero World Famous *BOB*–as her performance she told an amazing story about meeting Dolly Parton and had everyone from the show on stage at the end to group sing Hard Candy Christmas.

We made almost $700 for the Imagination Library in the raffle, Dolly’s literacy charity that sends books every month to kids in need, and it was an unforgettable show. I am brimming with ideas for next year. But I definitely know I can’t take on anything like that single-handedly again. I’m super grateful for Dara’s help—she did some amazing PR work that got a videographer from ABC News to come by, and some interest from People Magazine. My friend Jess, who brought me to Dollywood for the first time, took over the raffle and made that part so easy for me. We also figured out how to do a contest to send the performer who brought the most people in the door to Dollywood and got a raffle donation from Dollywood Cabins! At the end of the show, I felt like Oprah telling people “You go to Dollywood! And YOU go to Dollywood!”

IMG_6337The gorgeous view from the Dollywood Cabin I stayed in last May.

Mental and Emotional Health

Seeing a counselor with the Lesbian Cancer Initiative was the best choice I made as a caregiver during treatment. She pointed out to me going into post-treatment that I would have an adjustment period, and so would Dara. It is a significant energy shift.

IMG_20140829_162150This isn’t for the LCI but it’s from Callen Lorde, my physical health provider.

I’m in the weird process of looking for a therapist for the first time in my adult life. I’ve got about 50 possibilities from friends and am whittling it down. I am intentionally being really public about this process because my mental and emotional health are really high priorities for me and I want to encourage folks to feel empowered about seeking help. While things feel like the “calm after the storm” right now, I also think that the amount of life traumas I’ve faced in the past 12 months is unusual and I’d like to sort through them with a professional. Last night I had a dream about a friend of mine who passed last November and I’m about to go to Atlanta for the first time since her funeral. Crisis mode means you just scoot from one trauma to the next without digesting time, and I want to make sure I can go back in and digest things. Kind of like a metaphorical fistulated cow demonstration.

So that’s me in a nutshell (I really wish I had a picture of me in a nutshell).

Oh, and the first stop on our progressive dinner date (all in outdoor venues that allowed us to have our special needs Shih Tzu) was crispy kale salad in the backyard of Battersby… It was a great date!

2014-02-13

My Second Session of Relationship Coaching with the Lesbian Love Guru

This is the second entry in a series about my experience Relationship Coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru. Follow the lesbian love guru tag on the blog to catch all the entries!

My not-yet girlfriend and I had our second session of relationship coaching the week after we began. Christine suggested we continue our coaching separately. It’s counterintuitive to how I pictured this coaching would occur; I imagined we’d both be together on skype with Christine, but instead we each take thirty minute separate calls with her. Since we tend to be together when it happens, the other hangs out in the living room with music playing.

Being out of earshot enables real talk with Christine about what’s happening. Often if you explained a problem in your relationship to a third party, you would use really different language than if you were together. I find it a relief not to think about Dara’s feelings when I’m explaining something. I feel like I can get right to the solution without spending extra time sugar coating an issue.
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Prior to the second session we had each filled out intake forms for coaching and sent them to her as well as one another. The intake form reinforces Christine’s confidentiality agreement.

The issue of confidentiality is paramount to this [coaching] relationship. My understanding is that nothing in this [coaching] relationship is to be discussed outside of our conversations. There are times when references to others may be helpful, however I would not ever mention a name or person that would lead someone to infer the discussion was about you as a client.

The rest of the intake forms were about our future visioning, setting out goals and what we think is limiting us. I liked that we shared them with each other because sometimes it’s good to see what the your sweetie is expressing in terms of goals for an ideal love life and how they see their future. What if your big goals are really incompatible? That’s important to talk about!

In my one-on-one session with Christine we focused on what was going on for me at that moment. This had a little less to do with my relationship and more to do with how I was feeling with my own time management. One of my goals this year is to get more structured about how I use my time. I am also really worried about caregiver fatigue because Dara has breast cancer and I’m her primary caregiver. Time management is important because I need to make sure I prioritize my self-care, which is easy to let fall by the wayside when you’re only dealing with things that are “bleeding.”

20140213_124617At her first chemo appointment, as the awesome nurse Erin at Sloan-Kettering was “pushing” the first dose of chemo poison, Dara sang Alice Cooper’s “Poison.” I would have gone with Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” which might do more to explain our communication issues than anything else.

Even though caregiving isn’t all that taxing (yet), it is a lot of time. After her surgeries was a lot of letting her rest and heal while I took on the lion’s share of the housework. Making sure we’re eating whole, healthy foods is another thing I’ve taken on 90% of the time. Her cancer diet is pretty restrictive, which means most of what I make is from scratch. Add to that we both work to only eat humane meats, which requires special trips to the butcher. I feel extremely grateful for my work from home lifestyle because when I plan well I can be cooking while working. But my time management can really use some improvement so that the planning part of that intention actually happens!

20140212_203059I highly suggest this infinitely customizable pizza casserole recipe, passed along to me by my dear friend JLV.

Christine suggested a Tony Robbins tool called “Rapid Planning,” which helps to ensure what you’re doing is in line with your priorities. I’ve begun implementing it in stages and so far it is helping me be mindful of my priorities. Just because something is urgent (bleeding) doesn’t mean it’s important and I need to remember that.

She also taught me a grounding exercise. When I got on the phone I told her I was feeling really spazzy and she did a meditation with me that was really quick and powerful. She’s offering an MP3 of the grounding meditation on her website for free if you click the link. I love a guided meditation and am totally keeping this on my phone for when I need a 30 second reminder that I’m right here, right now, one with the universe.

Dara and I usually talk about our sessions afterward–highlights and tools. She got a tool to work on for homework about how she responds to my emotions. I have really Big Feelings sometimes* and my face is a billboard–I usually don’t want to express myself right away but I can’t help it! Often what I feel immediately isn’t what I feel ultimately once I’ve had time to digest my reaction. My emotional reactions have historically been very difficult for Dara to handle, as she hates disappointing me or hurting my feelings. This has been difficult for many of my past loves.

20140213_111246I thought it was important to wear something cute to chemo.

Christine suggested a tool she calls “Holding the Bucket” where Dara doesn’t actually have to do anything but witness and recognize my feelings. She doesn’t need to take them on or feel bad for hurting me. I actually love this tool because it gives me a chance to have my Big Feelings and later apply the tools I have to respond instead of react and engage in my process without worrying about her reaction.

“Holding the Bucket” helped Dara prepare for a difficult conversation she wanted to have with me that we did some more work on getting geared up for during our third session. Dara said it helped her see that she didn’t have to take my feelings so personally, since they were about me and my process not necessarily about Dara.

Dara also told me she had been triggered by something that happened between us the night before this session. It was a relief to be able to talk to someone who was such an impartial party and a great listener.

I am really enjoying my experience working on my relationship with Christine’s help. I was pleasantly surprised at how skilled she is at working with folks on an individual level. She works with singles, couples and poly permutations. Experiencing how she is able to guide me one-on-one, though it’s centered on things coming up in my relationship, definitely enforces how awesome she is with singles looking to break down their limitations on finding and experiencing the love relationships they want.

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Christine offers a limited number of free introductory thirty minute calls every month. Twelve of you signed up last month. If you want to try her out, click here and sign-up! You’ll get to know Christine and find out if she’s a good fit for you, as a single, couple or poly permutation! (Even though she’s a “Lesbian” Love Guru she actually works with all gendered folks on all parts of the gender and sexuality continuums.)

*In my natal chart I have a Scorpio Moon.

2014-01-23

I Got Back Together with My Ex and Started Relationship Coaching with the Lesbian Love Guru

This is the first entry in a series about my experience with Relationship Coaching with Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru. Follow the lesbian love guru tag on the blog to catch all the entries!

In November of 2012 I started dating someone who I thought was just going to be a friend with benefits. That turned into a super deep connection I wasn’t expecting. Neither of us did. I went with it and we fell into a “thing” we were calling “keeping company,” a delightfully old fashioned term she picked up from her uncle’s description of his courtship of her aunt thirty plus years ago. We had a lot of fun together but ran into a lot of static around a few areas, including communication. It took me until months after it ended to realize that how disparate our semantics often were. She would be saying one thing, using the same words I would use, but mean something completely differently than I was understanding. Like we’re both calling something an apple but really I mean a peach.

8868390850_f762dea0b1_oLast May. Photo by Grace Chu.

Things ended at the end of March when the fact that she didn’t want to be in a relationship, and hadn’t wanted to be in one in the first place, meant we needed to break-up. In our first iteration, things were just always so hard for us together emotionally, and when you don’t want to be in a relationship you don’t want to do the work to be together. She was also preparing for an epic, possibly forever, road trip. Selling all of her possessions, getting some part time consulting she could do remotely, and staying with loved ones a few weeks at a time. A life in an RV I’ve been visioning for a long time, a tiny version of which I took in 2011, but she was going solo.

I had thought we could eventually transition to long distance in some way, and we fell back into an “ambiguous” relationship status within three weeks of breaking up. Eventually that fell apart, too, she left town and I thought I’d never talk to her again. By the end of that ambiguous period I had my own reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with her. Our mutual frustration lapsed into a long period of radio silence.

I recognized that the grief I was feeling about the break-up was incommensurate with the loss. I started doing some spiritual work through the help of Katie at Empowering Astrology. She helped me cut emotional cords and end what she described as a karmic cycle Dara and I were in.

Cut to October, when we had a pretty organic reconnection. She was back in NYC for a couple of weeks and we met-up and made peace. I thought maybe we could try “benefits without friends,” as a way to just focus on what always worked with us. (Sex.) I could slot her into my life the way a few treasured friends have; when we’re in the same town we sleep together if our relationship statuses allow for it and the rest of the time we’re just casual friends that text every now and again. This was a mildly complicated idea for me because I knew I was still in love with her I just couldn’t be in a relationship with her.

8867777135_1606770681_bPhoto by Grace Chu.

Life threw us a giant curve ball because when Dara was in town she happened to visit her GYN for her annual exam and they found a lump. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after she had gone back to LA (where she was at the time) from her NYC visit. (She’s been video blogging her experience with cancer.)

What does it mean when your ex gets diagnosed with breast cancer? I didn’t know. I knew I was still in love with her, that had never changed. I knew I didn’t want her to be my girlfriend because I’m really dedicated to loving unconditionally and to want her to be my girlfriend would mean I would require her to change… and I didn’t want to do that. So I resolved myself to just be there for her as much as I could be. “Open heart and good boundaries,” became my mantra. A witchy friend even prescribed a tincture of Ocitillo which I serendipitously found in a South Brooklyn apothecary.

We hung out when she got back to NYC to start treatment. It was really great and really easy. We hung out again. And then another time. The quality of conversation, the ease at which we were able to tread topics that would have been hard or hurty before was surprising. I was able to do the things that I liked to do to support her–cooking nourishing meals, being sweet to her, giving massages. As well as encouraging her to relax and do self-care, two things she is now learning how to do post-diagnosis that she’s never prioritized before. The ways in which I thought I needed her to change kind of melted away, and somehow I was different, too.

I was a little confused. I mean, when does your ex become your lover again? She has breast cancer and sex is life affirming. And all the in between moments were so magical. I kept telling my friends I felt like Dara and I were in a different dimension.

There was other stuff, too. I kind of thought I could be there for her but there’s no way she could show up for me, having cancer. And then my December 2013 took hold, three friends passed away in the span of two weeks and the week before Christmas I unexpectedly and quickly had to put my beloved cat ALF to sleep just six months after his brother Bear passed. And through it all Dara was a champion–supporting me, handling logistics, making sure I could bring Macy with me to the vet when I had to rush ALF to the kitty ER for his final moment. After my fiance and I broke up I swore I wouldn’t get serious about someone again until we had gone through a crisis together. Being with Dara in this iteration feels like we’re running a gauntlet–except we’re laughing, holding hands and getting through it in this hopeful and happy way I never knew was possible. Like if we can be this good in a crisis how nice will life be when we can just work and travel together?

1497957_10201768063297968_397615989_oAfter her first lumpectomy surgery (she had to go back in for a reexcision lumpectomy two and a half weeks later) I was in the recovery room with her and we made a game about how silly of a photo we could create with found hospital objects. Together we conceived her Rudolph look.

With the heady mix of old intimacy and new relationship energy, I suggested we might want to get relationship coaching. In fact, neither of us is willing to call each other “girlfriend” yet because we want to eliminate fears of slipping back into old communication patterns and the stuff that was so hard before. It hasn’t happened yet, we’ve done a great job of communicating through rough spots; often we just stop a conversation that feels like it could get sticky and awkwardly back out of it. But it could happen, and a professional might help us set the kind of foundation we never had before.

Enter Christine Dunn-Cunningham, the Lesbian Love Guru, who I met over the summer. I was thinking of working with her as a single person who wanted to open myself up to finding the future Mx. Branlandingham. When Dara and I were starting to become a “thing” again, I read some of the Lesbian Love Guru blog entries (full of incredible tips) and this one about High Quality Quality Time totally helped me. In the entry she suggested having a conversation where you figure out which activities create the deepest sense of connection between both of you. So I had that conversation with Dara one day cuddled up in bed. Thinking about what I needed in a connected moment helped me ask for that the next time we were both having a rough day. (The connected activity for me was praying together, by the way.)

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Hanging out in this week’s blizzard.

The success I had with applying the tips from the blog entry definitely told me that Christine would make a great coach for us. And there’s a huge difference from following advice in a blog and working directly with someone to create a program for you. That’s why I love coaching!

We corresponded via email and she offered me one of her free introductory sessions.

I talked to her on the phone during the session and she explained that her coaching can take different forms. Sometimes she works just with one of the people in a relationship, who then takes the work back and applies it to the relationship. Sometimes she works with both partners separately and sometimes she works with them together. I had originally envisioned the two of us on Skype with Christine building capacity for our communication, but she said she would want to start with a session where the two of us spoke to her on our own to get our perspectives.

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Christine also has experience coaching folks in polyamory, which was great for us because some of our stickiness is around establishing a foundation where we can create some kind of non-monogamy or polyamory that works for both of us. I’ve never successfully done non-monogamy in a primary relationship and Dara has been practicing polyamory for twenty years.

Even though she’s called the “lesbian” love guru, Christine actually coaches folks of all genders, on the trans spectrum and some straight couples. Because at the end of the day, relationships are relationships.

During the first session where we each spoke separately, Christine asked us for each of our versions of our first iteration, what areas of growth we wanted in our relationship and what we were hoping for out of coaching. Dara remarked afterward that she felt “heard” about our first iteration for the first time ever. Christine is really easy to talk to and is great at asking the right questions to open you up.

I’m excited to work with Christine moving forward. I’ll be blogging about the experience so stay tuned!

Christine is offering a limited number of free introductory sessions to readers of my blog (with folks later in the game on a waiting list). The first session is great–it’s a great way to see if she’s a match for what you want. Again, Christine works with established couples and single folks and people of all genders and sexualities (even though the landing page is geared towards women specifically). She’s really great and in that introductory call you’ll walk away with tangible stuff you can apply to your life to help you open yourself up to a great relationship.

Also, this week Christine and I were both featured in the Happy Healthy Lesbian Telesummit. Hopefully you got to catch our interviews when they were released, but if you missed them you can download them as a package (along with a slew of other great interviews about money, nutrition, love, travel, healing and body love). Click here to view more details

2014-01-14

Free Self Development Astrology Exercises Part Two!

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my new project with Katie from Empowering Astrology, combining astrological forecasts and self-development exercises–using the stars to give a little extra oomph to your self-development work!

Tomorrow, January 15th, is the full moon. Katie predicted that the emotional buttons getting pushed by the full moon and the ongoing Venus retrograde were going to bring to light issues from our relationships with our parents. I wrote some good, heart examining and heart opening work to do about reconciling your relationship with your parents. I hope it is helpful.

Click here to download the free exercises!

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These are my paternal grandparents. I’ve done a lot of self-development work reconciling my relationship with them, especially with my Grammy who was a person from whom I received physical abuse as a child. When I read the book From Survival to Recovery (through my work in Al-Anon) it really helped me understand how violent and chaotic her childhood was, which helped me humanize her and heal some of the trauma I experienced. Obviously it’s not as simple as just reading a book, but trying to give some context for work that has worked for me thriving through circumstances that were not designed for me to thrive.

Let us know how you’re enjoying the exercises. We’ll be launching this as a monthly workbook available for purchase from either of our websites and we’d love to be giving you what you’re looking for in self-development. You can comment here or email me at queerfatfemme at gmail.

2013-12-17

Link Farm: Marriage is not a Coupon to Redeem, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Supporting a Loved One through PTSD

I have three things to share with you today that I’m pretty excited about. The first is an article I wrote for Autostraddle to celebrate the launch of their fancy new redesign! It’s all about marriage rights for queers and how marriage isn’t our only option.

“Marriage is like a chlorinated community pool that we now have access to. I think that people forget that queers have been swimming in the ocean the whole time. We have always had to be creative about how we create our love relationships and, now that we don’t have to be creative, I hope we still can be.”

Check it out on Autostraddle!

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This dress is the closest thing I have to a wedding gown right now and I love it so deeply. Gratuitous shots of two of my favorite people and heroes, Barbara Carrellas and Kate Bornstein. The documentary about Kate is available to tour to schools and festivals, get in touch with Sam the director–I saw it last weekend and it is phenomenal.

The second thing is that it is December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. It’s a day of remembrance and solidarity for folks lost this year. Sex work is work, and it can be extremely dangerous as media, laws and other social constructs create a society in which sex workers are not seen as people who deserve protection and are disposable. Working to legalize sex work is something I’ve been interested in since I was in law school over a decade ago. Right now I work with Desiree Alliance, an organization that brings together harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers.

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Me and Jacqueline at the Desiree Alliance Conference last summer. The next one is in the Summer of 2015.

To borrow from my friend Fancy Feast, who says it so eloquently:

I would be nowhere without the sex workers in my life. Today and every day we need to be doing what we can as allies and advocates to make their work safer. That means all sex workers everywhere, not just the white ones, not just the cis ones, not just the ones with college degrees. Every. Last. One of them.

You can learn more about December 17th events and projects here.

The third link I wanted to share was this article about Supporting a Loved One Through PTSD or Panic Attacks. I’ve been going through a lot lately both on my own level with many deaths (three in total) and then also as a caretaker and supporter of a person with breast cancer. As of this morning, I’m maybe going through the process of putting down my other cat (I put down Bear six months ago). It’s a lot! And the last three weeks have been kind of a huge emotional roller coaster. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a difference in care and support and I liked this article and thought it might be useful for folks who look at someone going through a hard time and wonder what to do. For me, right now, it’s just folks being there and being willing to listen.

Often in the midst of the episode, the distressed person doesn’t necessarily have their full vocabulary and can’t articulate exactly what they need in that moment. Afterwards, they may avoid talking about it out of embarrassment, fear, or a desire to preserve the peacefulness of the present.

So how do you learn what is helpful?

If you’re like my partner, mostly through trial and error. However, this cartoon inspired me to draw up a list of tips, taking from my own preferences as well as those of some friends. They’re not universal, but they’re a starting point, I think, for the right mindset.

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My friend Avory cuddling ALF on Friday night.

2013-10-21

Introducing the Lesbian Love Guru

This summer I had the good fortune to meet Christine Dunn-Cunningham, better known as the Lesbian Love Guru. I was a little bit skeptical (that name is some big britches to fill!) so I settled in, Queer Oprah style, to ask her what she knew about lesbian relationships. I was really impressed with her advice! She had a lot of right-on perspective about how important it is to put work into your relationships.

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She’s launching a new program called “Relationship Magic: How to Re-Ignite, Re-Invent, & Re-Define your relationship to create deeper connection, love, and passion!” Christine asked me to share the program with my readers. She’s going to be giving away 3 videos filled with things you can use to create fulfilling relationships no matter what relationship stage you’re in.

The videos are free and include the following:

How to create more quality time with your significant other
How to avoid common relationship problems
How to create more passion in your relationship
How to get your needs met easily

She’ll also be doing a paid program for lesbian couples ready to “Completely re-ignite, re-invent, and re-define their relationships to create deeper connection, love, and passion.” This will be on a members-only website with 8 online video workshops, an interactive forum, and 6 group coaching calls with Christine, the Lesbian Love Guru, where members will get additional content, support and be able to ask her questions directly.

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More from the Lesbian Love Guru: “In the program couples will learn how to re-invent their communication patterns so they can work as a team to create a fulfilling and fun life together. I’ll show them the secret to re-igniting the passion in their relationships even if it’s been gone for years. And, I’ll help them create a deeper connection where both partners get their needs met and feel supported in their relationship. I’ll also be giving away a bunch of bonus content including my ‘Date Your Wife’ program.”

I had a chance to look through some of the Date Your Wife content when I met Christine this summer and it was legit–a lot of magic is lost when we take for granted the kind of intimacy and fun created in the context of dating.

The video content is free, relevant to folks no matter what relationship status they’re in and you can sign up here. You can also comment on the videos to win prizes, like $25 Amazon gift cards.

The Lesbian Love Guru also offers individual one-on-one coaching and couples coaching. She’s lively, inspirational and fun! She’s also a graduate of the Tony Robbins Mastery University and a Certified Extraordinary Coach, Peace Process Master Practitioner, Reiki Coach, Instant Miracle Coach, and Certified Rapid Coach. And she knows her stuff because she’s been there and did the work to turn her own marriage around to create a fulfilling and satisfying partnership.

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Christine and her wife Liz.

This post was in partnership with the Lesbian Love Guru but all words and sentiment are mine!

2013-10-14

How to Make the Best Use of Your Wing Man / Person / Ma’am

A few months ago my dear friend Fannon was visiting town and we were out at a dance party. Searching for a better DJ, we decided to bounce to a different party in Bushwick. I agreed to go if I was assured a ride home because Bushwick is far. Because a car was involved we managed to get a couple of passengers, one of which was talking at length about wanting to hook up with a babe. “No problem, I’ve got you covered,” said Fannon and was totally ready to get on the dance floor and help out this person she’d never met before.

Me and Fannon and Nicky
Me and Fannon (left) and Nicky (right).

The person found someone they were interested in and Fannon was ready to do the work of a good Wing Man and then the person chickened out. I was so disheartened for them–to find interest in someone but to be too afraid to use the resources that fate (or maybe the Goddess if you want to get spiritual) had put in front of them seemed like such a missed opportunity. Just because of fear! This was a great opportunity for the Nobody Ever Died of Awkward pep talk but to no avail, this person was stuck in their fear place.

Fannon and I had a great time anyway and a long conversation on the ride home about how to make the most effective use of a Wing Man. Fannon holds herself out to be a powerhouse Wing Man and I thought those tips might be a great resource for my readers who might be a little too shy to snare someone on their own. Or for readers who want to become better Wing People!

In this piece I’m using the term “Wing Man” as it is in the popular parlance, but I come to it from the perspective that all genders are magical and this term could easily be Wing Woman, Wing Wym, Wing Person, Wing GenderNonConformingIndividual, etc…

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I thought since I was talking about being a Wing Femme in this post I would play the part and offer the services of my blog to my friends. I asked for folks who were available on a Facebook post and a few of my pals took me up on it. This is my friend Joe who rules and gives good date. He lives in Queens.

It’s also important to say up front this isn’t about tricking people or not being genuine. It’s about using your friends to help you get through social anxiety (that many more people have than you think) and your friends helping you be your best, most vibrant self in the face of the inevitable nerves when you’re around someone you find attractive!

Splitting the Herd

Often people go out with their friends, even when they are cruising for people to meet. This is great but it is also an impediment to meeting people because it can be hard to talk to your person of interest if their friends are surrounding them! Wing Men are great for splitting the herd! Your friend goes in and starts talking to one of the people hanging out with the person you’re interested in, sort of isolating the person you want to talk to and bam! They create the opening you need to talk to the person you want to flirt with.

Fannon says, “Girls are rarely at bars alone, right? So sometimes the wingman just needs to distract the friends of the girl your friend is focused on so she can introduce herself without her friends acting as obstacles. This usually only works when your friend who you are wingmanning for is confident in her ability to introduce herself without getting all tounge-tied.”

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This muscley heartthrob is Jesse who lives in Philly and is available. According to Jesse: “ISO bossy femmes, sweet boys, curvy queers. As for the streets!? The streets are mine! My heart is extraordinarily particular. But I crush A LOT.” Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

I’ve also used this where your friend goes over and brings people back to you if you’re hanging out at different tables at the bar. It’s definitely a lot less intimidating to go up to a group where you’re not really attracted to anyone. The rejection stings less on a Wing Person with nothing on the line!

Wing People could use the line, “I was hoping I could introduce you to my friend,” and that’s a great way to pique interest and merge the herds so that your friend can get to know their desired person.

Playing the Middle School Game

It’s soooo cheesy but sometimes it really works to have a Wing Man tell someone you think they’re hot. It really takes the sting out of rejection when someone rejects you to your friend. At least your embarrassment isn’t visible to the object of desire.

Tamara
This is Tamara, she’s available and lives in New Mexico.

Sometimes your friends do this nonconsensually before you even have the chance to ask and in that case maybe it’s more of a casual yenta than a Wing Person but it helps! You can also get all the dirt you need. For me it’s whether the person is available, into femmes and into fat girls. I know if I have those three covered it’s basically whether the chemistry is compatible.

A good friend of mine (who is a complete and total hottie) was complaining this summer that three people in a week’s time came up to her and said their friend thought she was hot. She responded to each that she was flattered and that their friend should approach her. Yet NONE of them did! It is super important to totally follow-up on the diligent work of your Wing Person! My friend is both a babe and approachable, and getting past that next-level shyness might have actually gotten one of those friends a make-out.

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Miasia, from Washington DC, performing at Rebel Cupcake. She’s available for dates, is smart and delightful and has one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Fannon mentioned making sure that you point out your friend accurately, lest you point to someone and they think you’re talking about someone else! This actually happened to me once a few years ago where my friend approached this hot fat butch I was into and said her friend was into them and they looked (seemingly at me) and said, “Oh, I’m not feeling it.” And then the hot fat butch asked me on a date a year later. When I asked what was up about that they said they thought she was pointing to someone else!

I’m also intentionally using the term “available” rather than “single” because people can be available (hello, polyamory/nonmonogamy) and people can be single and not available (for example, a period of chosen celibacy).

Abby
This is Abby who lives in Baltimore.

Pep Talks on the Go

I use Wing Men all the time. I don’t seem like on the outside it but inside I am wildly awkward around people I find attractive. Especially if I’ve got a full-blown crush, I feel like a mess. The single best thing my Wing Besties do for me is to provide pep talks and remind me that I’m a babe. You can totally use Wing People that aren’t even at a venue with you if you’ve got your phone and they are on text alert. I’ve even called friends right before a date just to get reminded that everything is okay.

I’m also a big fan of the social security blanket I get when I’m around people I am comfortable with. I feel much better stepping into my fierceness. I know this may seem weird because I get up on stage in front of thousands of people and am completely at home. But stage presence is a lot different than cold calling strangers one on one! I’m doing a thing now where I get Wing Men to go with me to professional networking events because it helps me feel more vibrant.

So just letting your Wing Folks know that you might need a pep talk is a great idea before you go out cruising, or asking for that help when you need it before you approach someone.

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This is Alix who lives in San Francisco, is available, super kinky and very much a Leo.

Go Digital!

There’s a new app coming out in November called Wing Ma’am. It’s basically the queer grindr. Using GPS technology, people turn it on and it shows who is out cruising nearby. One of my BFFs met his boyfriend on Grindr so I have some high hopes for how this will work in the queer community. Imagine going to a bar and whipping out your phone and knowing in a few clickies which hotties at the bar are available and what they’re looking for? It’s like having your Wing Man do the work of finding out whether the hottie is single at the click of a button. But in order for it to work friends have to get their friends on it and get it to spread. You can sign up for more information on their website. The developers are also really open to conversations about aspects of it, here’s a link to their contact form. I’ve definitely been talking to them about making it more broadly gendered and using inclusive language.

The app is also going to have event listings and whatnot, so it will be completely relevant as a community building tool even for non-available folks!

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This is Laura, she’s available and lives in Brooklyn.

Tag and Release!

I am a huge fan of using Wing Men to tag and release. If I am talking to someone hot and I have to run off (as a party promoter this is pretty common because I need to do rounds, pay out my performers/staff or handle some kind of issue) I really love introducing the object of my desire to one of my Wing Femmes and having them keep them entertained. Number one, this is a great way to get dirt on them that you’ll hear later, number two it also, selfishly, keeps them occupied so other people won’t get to them! Yeah, yeah, the more the merrier but sometimes you want to put your name on a cupcake you’ve only gotten to have one bite of before someone swoops in to eat the rest!

Make the Wing Man Relationship Clear

I’m a lucky Femme that is surrounded by attractive people of all genders and presentations. This often means in heteronormy ways that people assume my masculine of center friends are my dates which is totally not true. (I’m 100% available right now, BTW.) If you’re Wing Manning it up for someone make sure to drop the “My friend” dripping with emphasis on buddy or whatever you need to do to ensure that the object of lust is aware y’all are just platonic.

ORRRR if you’re polymeowmeow, it is super important if you’re flirting with someone (or flirting on behalf) that the person understands your availability. I often assume if someone tells me three times about their polyamory that they are flirting with me and this is about 75% accurate.

Leah
This is Leah who is available and lives in Vancouver!

Get Their Attention

Fannon suggests this gem for the Wing Man. “Pretend it’s your friend’s birthday which gives the all points permission to ask someone out or tell them they are cute. If they hit it off and start dating, your friend just turns it into a ‘I didn’t know how to approach you and thought that would make it easier,’ which hopefully gets an “Awwwww, that’s so cute you needed a wing man” response.” While I’m not the biggest fan of lying to get people’s attention, this is cute and vaguely harmless.

Fannon also mentioned a great pick-up line (which only works if the person is available, you don’t want to anger someone’s girlfriend accidentally). “Encourage your friend to use the virtually fail-proof ‘Hey, I’ve never done this before but I think you are really cute, wanna make out?’”

Eavesdropping

Sometimes a Wing Man is good for eavesdropping to find out more information. I think the approach of actually meeting the person is a little more effective, but if you’re not ready to even make that move sometimes having your buddy just stand nearby to get a sense for what the group is doing at the event is helpful. Maybe there are common interests you could spring a conversation from?

Designated Friend

Fannon also said a good Wing Man will “Stay slightly sober so you can manage logistics and provide liquid courage for your friend.” It’s kind of like being a designated driver for hitting on people. It’s also nice to have a friend tell you, “No you’re not too drunk to talk to a new person,” or, “Yes, you are too drunk to talk to a new person. Stay right here and have some water.”

I hope this lighthearted list of ways to use your Wing People helps out folks who might be a little too shy to talk to strangers at events! Also, before you go out there refresh yourself with some ways to broach the subject of crossing the friend line I wrote about in Just Text Them.

If you’re interested in any of the available folks featured on this post, email me and I’ll put you in touch! queerfatfemme at gmail

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Folks who donate $30 get this amazing 11 x 14 poster, custom designed for QueerFatFemme.com by James Leander.

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2013-09-09

Making Changes: My Interview with Grace Chu on her Year of Celibacy

About a month ago I ran into my friend Grace Chu and she told me that she had been celibate for nearly a year and that it has been wildly successful in terms of grounding her and focusing on her photography. She popped open her smart phone to show me an email from a huge publication asking for her to photograph something.

Now, Grace Chu is all about internet anonymity of her photo, so just know that she’s a hot dyke–the kind that every gay girl I knew in college would have dropped to her knees for. She’s really social and has an endearing awkwardness. Also, I have totally noticed over the last year that she seems a lot more serene, grounded and happy.

I checked in again with her last week and I asked if I could interview her on the occasion of her official one year of celibacy and I hope you enjoy her insights!

Photo by Grace Chu
Photo of me by Grace Chu.

What inspired you to get celibate?

Around a year ago, my ex and I broke up, and like every other idiot after a breakup, I started looking around immediately. I’ve seen people fire up OK Cupid minutes after a breakup. (Like, gurl, really?) But it’s natural to want to maintain a level of closeness with another human being when you’ve become accustomed to it, and when you’re in an impaired emotional state, sometimes you don’t make the brightest of decisions. So right after I had a dumb fight with my ex over who could show up at what girl party, I was in a bad mood and decided that I was going to get into trouble, and you know “YOLO, so whateva!” I brought a girl home, and it turned out she’s so drunk and high I ended up having to peel her off the floor as soon as we got to my apartment. So I gave her some water, and after a few minutes of almost incoherent conversation, and without getting into identifying details, I discovered that this girl was in a dangerously bad place. And she’s in my house. And AH MAH GAH, nothing happened but was I really going to go there? Is this real life? I know she’s mental, but I’m also a factor in this situation, so egad – I must also be mental! Nothing good can come out of the pairing of two people in a bad place. Ever!

How long did you initially plan to be celibate? Did you have any parameters around your celibacy (for example, making out is okay but no sex/it doesn’t count as sex if it’s outside or something)?

It wasn’t really a plan. After the above-mentioned disaster, I decided that the best thing to do was take a break from all the madness of dating, focus on my work and nurture existing friendships. Clearly, my judgment was impaired due to physical and emotional neediness, so I figure I’d get back out into the dating scene when I was emotionally at 100%. The parameters you mentioned didn’t even cross my mind. I just shut out all unhealthy distractions or band-aid solutions, period. This also included cutting loose friends and associates that were toxic or gave me anxiety. It was more of a life-cleansing period of time. Simplifying my life. Cutting the fat. Celibacy just came with the package. I don’t really consider making out “hooking up” but I haven’t made out with anyone since last October. No one believes that, especially those who saw me make out with just about everyone during my 20s, but it’s true!

What was the first month like? What activities did you start out doing to fill up your previously used dating/cruising time?

I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg, but right around the time I decided I was going to focus on myself, my night job started gaining momentum. I was picking up new photography clients right and left, and people were offering me gigs outside of my comfort zone, and I really just didn’t have time to think about anything else. I still have a day job as well. At some points that first month I really missed having intimacy, and I wanted to claw my eyes out, but I just didn’t have the time to dwell. Photography is really competive in New York, and if you miss an opportunity, someone hungrier is quite willing to take your spot. Whatever little free time I had left I devoted to friends who have been with me for years. If, god forbid, everything in my life falls apart, those people are the ones who are going to be around, come hell or high water.

Dusty by Grace Chu
I love this photo of Dusty by Grace Chu!

Did you turn down any dates? Were girls pounding at your door now that you weren’t available?

I didn’t give myself opportunities to be approached, so I really have no idea if anyone intended to ask me out. When people complain that they’re being harassed for dates, a lot of times that’s bullshit. Some people who complain that they’re being holla-ed at all the time secretly want the attention and give out mixed signals. You have the power to let people in or not, by your words, by your body language. You can set boundaries immediately. Also, I’m generally aloof and not touchy feely or flirtatious to begin with, so no one really asks me out unless I’m on a dating site. It stinks when you’re looking, but since I wasn’t, my default demeanor was a blessing. I contemplated going back on Ok Cupid for a hot second but the thought of having to sit with a stranger and pretend to be interested became increasingly unappealing as time went by. During this time, I got into a better and better place financially, professionally and emotionally, so I didn’t want to mess with the formula. If your life ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Did celibacy get easier over time?

Yes, think of it like getting over a drug addiction. (Ok, I was never addicted to sex – I’ve actually been with only five people in the last ten years, with periods of down time – but this just happened to be the longest period. I’m just trying to make an analogy!) You’ve seen Trainspotting? At first heroin withdrawal gives you acute pain, but over time, the physical pain goes away. It’s all mental after that. And then you just stop thinking about it.

Did any new interests develop as you had more time to pursue them?

Photography and the day job take up 80+ hours a week now. The last two months have been especially rewarding and lucrative. I have some exciting projects coming up!

Latrell Johnson by Grace Chu
Photo of Latrell Johnson by Grace Chu.

What surprised you most about your year of celibacy?

Well I learned quite a bit. A lot of what drives people to pair up is a result of societal pressure, like you’re not a whole person if you’re single and not intimate with anyone. That’s ridiculous. You can find fulfillment in so many ways, and if you’re spending time chasing phantoms and trying to make the wrong people the right people, you’re taking away time and energy from other activities that could bring you happiness – and the people who you already have in your life that love you.

I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent now, and it’s going to be kind of heavy. My friend passed away from cancer this past year, but before she died, around fifty people from around the country showed up at her birthday party. She made such an impact and was such a decent, generous and kind hearted person that people recognized it dropped everything to come spend time with her. A week before she died she told me that she wished she had spent more time trying to find a boyfriend – or working on making her old relationship work. (That relationship, by the way, was unhealthy bordering on abusive, so I am happy she didn’t.) But in the last days of her life, she was surrounded by so much love and laughter, more than anyone could ever imagine. I guess you had to be there, but I was blown away. Sometimes all we need to do is take a step back and realize we are already loved and connected and to appreciate it.

Since I’m no longer in a fog, I’ve become more in tune with what works with me in terms of friends, and possible lovers. I reflected on what didn’t work for me in the past and what kind of emotional makeup in other people is healthy for me. Some people, as nice as they might be, just don’t work with me on a fundamental level, and that’s fine. I’m much more in tune with other people’s energies now, and I am aware of and I am assertive about my own boundaries. It’s like being fitted with glasses when you’ve been myopic.

Photo by Grace Chu
Photo by Grace Chu.

How does someone know they should adopt a period of celibacy? Would you recommend this to others? Any advice?

I mean, if something is causing more harm than good, cut it out of your life. This goes for everything, not just dating and sex.

What are your plans around breaking the vow? Do you have anything lined-up?

Yeah, I’ve got honeys on the speed dial ready to go! Just kidding. I don’t have any plans, really. I’m definitely back to 100% emotionally, so while I’m not actively looking, if something happens by chance, so be it. Many times, we use sex or intimacy as a way to heal ourselves or escape or fill some sort of emptiness, when it should really enhance your life. My life has become pretty damn sweet, so I guess if someone comes along who is also in a good place, and we end up clicking in that way, I suppose things could get sexy – but it has to happen organically or as a happy accident.

This past year, after taking the pursuit of sex and dating off the table, I’ve become closer to some people who had just been acquaintances, and some new fabulous people have come into my life. It was refreshing to get to know people as people in a leisurely manner without stress or expectations. I am also good friends with my ex now! Everything just becomes easier and lighter when you’re grounded and in a good place.

Photo by Grace Chu
A photo of me, Nicky and Jacqueline by Grace Chu.

I am super impressed with Grace’s ability to identify what wasn’t working in her life and take steps to change it and become more in tune with what makes her tick. The process of becoming real–shedding the layers that society puts on you or that you put on yourself to get the attention you think you want–is really hard. But I think once you get more in touch with who you really are you’re able to attract genuine, lasting partnerships (if that’s what you want) into your life.

If anyone out there has a story about changing something that didn’t work for you, please get in touch with me! I’d love to interview you!

2013-05-10

The Healing Awesomness of Crygasms!

Three years ago someone I respect and love very much, a lesbian event producer who is a pretty big name in a certain set of lesbian circumstances, was shocked that I hadn’t watched any episodes of the Real L Word. I was baffled that she had even seen it and her advice to me was, “You should at least watch one episode and know what they’re putting out there and calling lesbian.”

I took it as a fair point and it so happened, days later I was in a hotel room with Showtime and the Real L Word was on. I watched the one requisite episode and was horrified that the episode began with interviews of the cast about girls crying during sex. One of them in particular stood out with her horror about girls crying during sex. It was so shaming and judgey, I felt so gross about it. I was unimpressed that a show about lesbians was so sex shaming.

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Look, it’s Fancy Feast in a big TV! Real Queer Word! (Even though Fancy is actually into boys, she’s real queer.) Photo by Courtney Trouble.

I wondered how many fresh or curious queer girls were watching the episode and felt ashamed or bad about crying when they were having sex. I felt sad for them. Crying during sex isn’t just “being a chick” or “being needy,” as was characterized in those interviews, it’s a great physiological reaction that often means different things for different people. And, if it happens when you’re having sex with someone, it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means!

Luckily, I feel pretty secure in my sexuality and I didn’t let that person’s judgement affect me. In fact, I feel like it says a lot more about her sex life than anyone else’s. But I want to make it clear to the world, to anyone who has felt like a weirdo about crying during sex that crygasms can be awesome, normal, magical and healing.

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More Real Queer Word shots by Courtney Trouble. Dreamboat Johnny Valentine manages a couple of awesome blogs, including a tumblr about vintage butches!

I’ve cried maybe a dozen times in my life during sex, with about maybe four of my sex partners, and they were all people who were lovers for some length of time. I’m not sure what the alchemy is but it’s got something to do with my overall life emotional state, the quality, vigor and angle in which I’m being penetrated and a certain level of intimacy that sends it over the edge. Sometimes it’s a weeping after it’s over, sometimes it’s just a straight up sobbing cry fest.

Since it doesn’t happen very often, I never thought about how or when to tell my lovers that it might happen and what they should do when it does. But then I was having such unsavory reactions sometimes that I thought it was a good idea to warn people. Not like, make a big deal out of it, but once I’m at the couple months with someone mark I mention casually what might happen and what I’d like them to do if it happens.

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The divine Courtney Trouble.

I went through a couple of times where the person sort of freaked out and stopped having sex. One time someone just stopped and then made the crying about them and it actually wasn’t about them at all and I was sort of annoyed and offended. That ended up with me comforting and reassuring them, while still feeling sort of bereft and emotional. (Which, also, helped me see a real disconnect in how we were relating and was one of the last times I slept with that person.)

What I ask of my lovers now, during a casual moment mentioning that hey I might cry sometime, is that they stay in the act and then later check-in about it. Usually I don’t want them to stop, and I’m the kind of person who is aware enough of my boundaries and am a good sex communicator if I need to stop. Probably I want a power cuddle after. The tears are cathartic in some way, and relate to the release I feel during sex anyway. Also, I reassure them it’s probably not about them.

Since it usually happens with someone I really know well, I was shocked when it happened to me once the second time I slept with someone. We were on like hour five and I thought to myself, “OMG I cannot cry in front of this person so soon,” and I willed it to stop. I still remember the song that was playing, I’m not sure if those Mumford & Sons had anything to do with it.

Crying is really good for you. It’s a good release emotionally, and it is a great activity to unblock the heart chakra. I’m not looking to crygasm every time but I’m not really afraid of it when it happens. I really like that quote, “The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears or the sea.” I think all of those could be well-intermingled with sex.

If a crygasm happens with you or a partner, pause and check-in about whether you want to continue, and know that the crying might not be a bad thing. It’s totally natural and happens sometimes! But also be ready for them not to want to continue. Maybe it’s a deep trigger for them and they just need to stop. Or maybe it’s just they’re so tired they can’t keep from crying (have you ever been so tired you can’t stop crying?)

Crygasms during sex are natural, normal and awesome and if I had the Real Queer Word I would make that explicit on that show.

ADDENDUM!

The night this was published I hosted Yes Ma’am and a bunch of people were talking about this blog post! My friend Jacqueline said the funniest thing, “If I ever cried during sex and someone stopped fucking me, I’d not only be a fat, crying person in their bed, I’d be a fat, crying, angry bitch in their bed!” I laughed for a long time. See why it’s good to check in with your partners?

2013-04-26

Untapped Cruising Territory: OK Cupid Mixers

Almost exactly three years ago I started this blog project where I was going to explore places to meet potential dates in New York City that were outside of my comfort zone. I wrote one post (and the adventure did get me a date and a hot make-out, after the fact). Almost exactly two years and fifty weeks ago I rekindled a romance with an ex in LA and stopped needing to cruise because I was back in a long distance thing. Secret monogamous* style.

But, it’s Springtime again! I am looking forward to expanding my horizon! And when a pal of mine who works for OkCupid** offered me a comp ticket to a Queer Women’s Mixer at the Dalloway bar (the newest lez bar in Manhattan) that was exactly one month to the day from my break-up, I thought it was a sign I should try something new. So welcome to post number two in my Untapped Cruising Territory series! Three years later.

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The Dalloway Bar is next door to a doggie day care that has a window for Peeping Lesbians.

Part of moving on is about dipping your toes in the water, finding that fine line between pushing yourself too fast and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so you can grow.

The event: OKC has started to create a little Web 3.0*** action by facilitating events! They have beer tastings and book swaps and lots of other hipster nerd activities to partake in. This one was just a happy hour for folks. You had to preregister on the site and you could even preview people’s tiny photo icons on the website. Pre-cruising at events, like on Fet Life! This event was just a happy hour, with the intent to meet folks. Very low-key.

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Why this is untapped for me: The Dalloway is a bar I’ve only been to once for a friend’s fundraiser. It’s a sort of gaystream place and I hang out in queer gender weirdo crowds. In a big city like NYC we can self-segregate a bit and I am totally guilty of this. (Hence a blog project to not do that so much!) Also, though I am a total extrovert, I hate small talk! I like authentic, deep conversation with people and the whole “being socially lightweight with the questions I ask because you’re a stranger” thing is not my favorite. This is why I want to be a talk show host! I want to get the meat of the question. So happy hour/networking things are hard for me because it’s pretty surface and shallow.

The Outfit:

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You can’t really tell I’m wearing black leggings and hot black motorcycle style boots with studs on the straps.

I went with something casual but signature. I’m a big believer in wearing colors, especially amongst New Yorkers who tend towards greys, browns and blacks. Next time you’re out in Manhattan after work hours see what I’m talking about. I think when you’re doing a thing about meeting potential dates it’s important to look as true to yourself as possible. I mean, you want to be impressive but without compromising authenticity. I didn’t wear red lipstick until after the sun went down. This is not a hard and fast rule for me, this was just because I knew I wanted to sample the Dalloway’s happy hour truffle fries and didn’t want to worry about having to reapply.

The Wing Femme:

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Bridget. Who could basically teach a class on how to be a great Wing Femme. She knows exactly when to draw someone in and when to back quietly out of a conversation. She knows when to remind you the day of the event that you look like a babe, and when to follow-up the next day to remind you that you’re a babe and a great catch. (Hella important traits when making first forays into dating after a break-up.) Bridget’s pretty incredible.

The Scene:

Approximately fifty queers in a swanky basement happy hour space. Before we even got into the bar I ran into another friend whose break-up is about three weeks younger than mine and I commented, “Didn’t you just get your heart broken yesterday?” But sometimes your friends drag you out as soon as you become single to remind you of the vast pussy possibilities out there.

The Dalloway has their own singles night at 8PM every Tuesday, so they were creating this a combo event. You had to be on the pre-paid ticket list for OkCupid in order to get in, and the swanky door folks offered the glow stick tagging bracelets for anyone who wanted them. Options were Single, Taken or D.T.F.**** I selected D.T.F. Why not? It’s pretty representative of how casual I’m interested in being right now. Getting what you want is all about being clear with your desire.

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The thing to do with singles mixers, according to my bestie Victoria, is to make it your goals to meet as many people as possible and not expect to meet the love of your life. I mean, sure, I believe in love at first sight, but that’s for times like at a friend of a friend’s birthday party or over produce at the food co-op and not at a singles mixer. This is just about a numbers game.

What I liked about the happy hour was that everyone was there explicitly to meet people so folks were a lot bolder than they normally would be because there was a group understanding about interacting. So people seemed to free to just float up to a group of folks and start chatting.

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I stayed close to Bridget and let her do the fishing for us. It seemed that between me, Bridget, her friend Blakely and this other girl Jenny she knew, that we kind of group dated other new folks. “Oh, hey, tell us about yourself,” until somehow they hit it off with one or none of us.

I enjoyed some diet coke (I’m not drinking alcohol anymore as a lifestyle choice), truffle fries and a slider. It felt a little weird to be eating at a happy hour where not a lot of people got food, but I was really hungry and honestly if someone is going to be weird about me eating some truffle fries I just don’t think they’re a good match for me, friend or date.

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The slider was really good and so were the fries. But they totally were expensive even for happy hour pricing, at $5 for a mini burger and $7 for fries. Pricey place, that Dalloway.

The verdict: I spent two hours at the mixer and by the end was pretty done talking to new people. I enjoyed my time but small talk is, again, a lot of specific energy and I was excited to go back to talking to my bestie/wing femme. Also I saw a girl out of the corner of my eye that I swore was my ex’s ex (but maybe she just looked like her) and I freaked out a little.

However, I totally met two people I would absolutely go on a date with, so I think in a crowd of fifty that is a total win. I didn’t ask either of them out (or even flirt that much, I’m not that great at subtlety) because I know at this delicate stage I can’t handle even a little bit of rejection. But it is really reassuring and awesome to know that there are babely babes I want to chat up date-style and have hot make-outs with out there and it’s a small queer world, our paths will cross again.

As I left with my friend who is way more freshly broken-up with than I am, I lamented that no one else was flagging D.T.F. and she proudly lifted up her shirt cuff to reveal her yellow wristband. We had a great laugh.

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My friend Regan.

After the event I noticed that we can now see the actual profile listings of the other folks at the mixer, I guess to help facilitate follow-up!

Bridget says, “They call it ‘Okay’ Cupid not ‘Exceptional’ Cupid or ‘Extremely Effective’ Cupid.”

And my friend who works for OkCupid says this:

With OkC, your experience depends a TON on your priorities & expectations. It is great if: you want to meet a lot of people fast, if you’re pragmatic about casting a wide net and proactive about making the first move, if it’s important to you that the person you are meeting for drinks shares some values or interests with you, if your dating prefs are very specific or unusual in some notable but maybe not immediately apparent way (poly, kinky, looking for sex only, etc.) or if you feel like you are otherwise “not for everybody” and would prefer to get hit on by people who are ready for this jelly (see also Bevin’s note about fat strippers doing really well on OkC.) OkCupid is a BAD idea if: you’re sensitive to rejection or deeply bummed out by strangers ignoring you, if tend to assume it’s “me not them” when people aren’t into you, if you’re skeeved by people you don’t consider suitable checking out your profile or contacting you, if a ‘we met cute’ story is important to you, or if you have high expectations around the level of connection you’ll have with the people you meet.

I think that’s a pretty great nutshell for online dating in general, but especially the OkC situation.

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What’s next on the Untapped Cruising Territory for Bevin? I’m going to try my old ideas from 2010, lesbian softball game, the Park Slope Food Co-op, and A Brooklyn Meat-Up (though I don’t remember what this was). And my friends keep telling me about this Lesbian Herstory Archives speed dating thing for 30+, but I’m not so sure about that.

*Secret monogamous is where neither party has agreed to monogamy but both end up just defaulting to monogamy because they don’t want to do it to/date anyone else.

**For those of you who don’t know, OkCupid is a dating website. It’s good for urban queers and our pals. I know many people who have met their partners from it, especially fat burlesque performers who like cisgendered nerdy dudes. It’s a thing.

***Web 3.0 is where you use social media to meet people in real life! Damien Luxe brought this term unto me.

****D.T.F. I learned from watching Jersey Shore, means Down To Fuck. It’s a hilarious conversation starter.

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These people made out at the mixer, I believe they might call this a success.

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