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

2015-09-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MeJohnGroveStPath2002Me and John at the Grove Street PATH station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012-03-15

Glitter on the Gravestone: Grief in the Age of the Internet/Remembering CallOutQueen

Last year I knew five people who passed away. A close friend of the family, friends and members of communities I was involved in. There was a lot of pain and loss for me, mitigated somewhat by a well-timed deepened spirituality that has helped me come to a place of peace from each loss much easier than my life prior to spiritual practice.

I am struggling today because someone I “knew” on the internet took their life. Mark Aguhar, who I knew as “CallOutQueen.”* How did I “know” them? I cruised their blog. I appreciated their incisive wit. I appreciated their vanity and glitter. I loved their art. The juxtaposition of “Be ugly/Know Beauty” (this is a genius meditation, if you do that sort of thing). The swish of hair back and forth. Looking dressed when wearing nothing at all. Owning a brown, fat, genderqueer, femme, fag body. Absolute Femme realness at all times. Vulnerability. Stark honesty. Cutting honesty.

CallOutQueen

I mean, I know she died, right? Like, because everyone says so. But when it happens on Tumblr, unlike on Facebook there’s no real clarifying post that says “This is what happened.” Sometimes on Facebook there’s a news article tagged with their name that pops up on a profile. Even when my ex-lover passed away I only sorta knew what happened because her best friend was dating one of my besties, it was never clear, from Facebook. With Luscious there wasn’t a news article. Just a heart broken community of queers putting it together.

So that’s what we have here with CallOutQueen. She’s gone. I was hunting through the tumblz Tuesday panning for a gleam of what happened. PrettyQueer.com and a few other outlets indicated she took her life. I mean. Who knows? I’m not even certain of the pronouns (thinking they with a leaning toward she/her, but when you only know someone through their writing in the first person you don’t always know).

I know what I feel is real sadness. For a lot of things. But so grateful she put her art out there. Expressed herself. Told her stories. Was a presence on the internet for so long before she was no longer a presence. A lot of people depart and haven’t told their stories.

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It feels weird to have this connection to someone from the internet. In this day and age, sometimes the internet is a really important place to connect. Sometimes our friends are in the computer and our community is in the tumblr or livejournal or wherever. Some of my best friends I met on blogging platforms (hey diaryland).

It reminds me about the importance of cherishing every moment and enjoying it. It reminds me that I am a presence on the internet. I was recognized on the street on my way to work Tuesday, before I found out. That’s always both weird and awesome. It made me think. what happens when I leave? What legacy do I leave?

A lot of my friends have had illnesses, knew they were leaving, and had time to get some last words out to the world. Tell us to have compassion, as was the case with V, or to take care of our health, as was the case with Heather. Some had life partners who could say things like “This is what so and so would want.” I think a lot about mortality and how fleeting life is. Treasuring every moment. Sucking the marrow of the bones of what we have, every single moment.

And here I am. I don’t have a life partner or anything. Trust that my BFF Brian has the password to my blog and will come make an update if something (Goddess forbid) happens. I want those folks out there to know what happened. Who knew me from the internet.

Also, I want you to know, if anything happens I want you to love yourself as much as possible and remember self-love is a life-long process. Be gentle with yourself and be gentle with each other.

What does Mark want us to know? How can we know? How lucky that they left so much of themselves on the internet.

One of my spiritual beliefs is that I think we are all on this earth to do a certain amount of work and we’re done when our work is done. I also believe that we recur and keep working on our higher selves. And we have souls we come back and work with. It brings me some solace to know I was affected by Mark. The swish of pretty hair. The soulful videos of full make-up and emotion. Existing as Femme and solidly as she did in a world that told her she was wrong and ugly at every turn.

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This world is temporal and cruel. This world is beautiful and possible.

I don’t have anything more profound to say except that I’m feeling it and expressing it and those are really important to me on my journey.

Rest in Power, CallOutQueen.

Here is a link to the fund to help Mark’s family with funeral expenses.

Here is a link to an article from The Qu about Mark.

*I’m certainly not the only person who calls people by their screen names in their head, even when I know their real name. I wonder how many folks who read this blog, follow my twitter or tumblr who only think of me as QueerFatFemme not Bevin?

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2011-09-30

Consolation Cupcakes

Hi friends. It’s been a weird few months here at QFF headquarters. First there were three deaths right in a row this Spring, last month a sudden accident in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene claimed the life of a close family friend of mine. On top of this, the closing of Re/Dress NYC, my workplace and home to much of my politics and community.

Yesterday our pals around the corner from One Girl Cookies brought us consolation cupcakes.

Me and Leslie
Like I said to Leslie after we heard the news, “At least Re/Dress gave us each other.”

The announcement was made yesterday but I’ve already known for a bit and had to keep it under my hat, which has been hard since right now I’m dealing with the eventual loss of health insurance and the only steady income I have. (The rest of my income comes from my sometimes flagging solo law practice, speaking gigs, and performance opportunities, all of which provide sporadic income and require an intense hustle that actually takes away from my productivity and artistic energy.)

So it is a shock and brings up a lot of fear and first chakra stuff. But luckily fear is just a feeling, it’s not reality. I’m at a place personally where I know that. I’ve been laid off once before, almost three years ago to the day. This year has provided me lots of opportunities to deepen my spiritual practice and a friend mentioned yesterday “Wow, you’re talking a lot more about the Goddess lately.” My response? I don’t see much of a choice. Not to get too woo, but honestly the only security I’ve ever found in my complicated life is my choice to believe in a loving higher power.

Feelings of grief and loss bring up for me the desire to focus more on the right now of life. So I’ve had this Everyday Glitter post brewing and share it with you as a celebration of the gorgeous everyday-ness that even a steady monthly beat of sad news can’t take away.

Everyday Glitter #1: Artist Dates
One of the things The Artist’s Way teaches is to take yourself on a weekly artist date. I slacked off over the summer and just started again with a vengeance. (I highly suggest doing the 12 week Arist’s Way program to anyone, BTW.)

Sunday found me roaming Cobble Hill on my artist’s date and I remembered bookmarking a soda fountain the charming and articulate plus fashion blogger Nicolette Mason talked about on her blog, the Brooklyn Farmacy. A quick mobile phone google of Nicolette’s site found the address on her write-up and I popped in with a copy of Oprah magazine and settled in for a treat.

It’s a legit old school soda fountain with waitresses in vintage frocks and scarves in their hair and a really nice Brooklynite dude serving up old fashioned treats.

Purple cow
My mom used to make me Purple Cows when I was a little kid, this one is grape soda and I subbed coconut ice cream for vanilla. It was really delicious.

Everyday Glitter #2: Puppy Watch

One of the coolest things about living in a densely populated area is that puppy watching is a daily thing. All number of adorable pooches are walked regularly. I’ve started parking myself on this bench near Re/Dress on my lunch walks to puppy watch. Sometimes when I’m working from home I take a break and sit on my stoop with Macy

Macy stoop

I mean, cute puppies make me feel better about pretty much everything.

Everyday Glitter #3: Style Emails!

Ever since Big Sexy premiered the Re/Dress NYC Tumblr Ask Box has been blowing up. I’ve actually really enjoyed answering people’s questions, especially this one about hiding a fat stomach. You can check my advicelets out over there!

Everyday Glitter #4: New! Big! Projects!
On Sunday I went over to Governor’s Island to discuss my curating an area as part of a big free art festival on Governor’s Island next May. I’m super excited about it. It’s going to be a body liberation / size acceptance interactive & multi-artist installation. I’m really excited to take my existing performance curatorial skills and do something bigger.

Governor’s Island is a great place to go chill out during the summer. It’s huge, there are bike rentals, parks, lots of grass, the ferries run frequently and are free. I had a lot of fun exploring everything and Danielle, my tour guide (and the person who recruited me to curate) knows the nooks and crannies of the island.

Governor's Island
Photo by Danny McL.

And Leslie and myself are tossing around ideas about how we can take her expertise in wardrobe and styling, my event planning experience and mash them up to a resale shopping experience. I’ll of course keep my readers updated, and you can keep tabs on Double Chin Win on the website.

Everyday Glitter #5: Fall Layers
Crisp Autumn air means more opportunities to wear weird rock vests and stifling stretch polyester vintage dresses. I found a brown fur rock vest at Re/Dress yesterday. I can’t wait to kick leaves and buy a new pair of Ariat Fatbaby Boots for the winter.

Everyday Glitter #6: Suri’s Burn Book
Hysterical fashion commentary told from the point of view of Suri Cruise on the fashions of celebrity babies.

Everyday Glitter #7: You!
As though on cue from the universe, the last week while I’ve been privately stewing on this news and brewing the what nexts for my life, I’ve gotten an influx of fan mail, had some really meaningful interactions with fans at the store, and other synchronous events to remind me that making my art is super important and is a two-way street. I create because I feel compelled to create, but it really does mean a lot to me that it means a lot to you.

Here’s to moving ahead in faith that what I’m meant to be doing next enables me to keep doing what I’m passionate about, helping the world become safe for folks to love themselves, regardless of their differences.

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The sky is not the clouds.

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