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

2015-12-29

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

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

victoriamovingsavior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

joandbevinMe and Jo!

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

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

bevinmissmarywannaLove this babe so hard.

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

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

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

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

wavingparty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015-11-13

One Night at MIX Festival

Every year I struggle with how to describe MIX Festival and it’s magic and wonder when I plug the event on my blog and social media. People fly in from all over the world to gather for this experimental film festival/queer community gathering/installation art. After my epic Wednesday night in the MIX Factory I thought I would just give it a good Bevin narrative, maybe that’ll tell you what’s up with MIX.

meandvictoriamix

I arrived right on time for my appointment with the XFR Collective. It was early for MIX, 5PM, and the house lights were still on. The XFR Collective is a media preservation organization that works to provide low cost preservation services for obsolete media to non-profits and artists. I had a couple of VHS tapes I wanted preserved for my art. When I looked into doing it myself locally it cost $125 and I put it in the “I will get to this someday” pile and having the opportunity to do it for free was a high priority for me!

lazermixLazer, visiting from out of town and sporting these holographic wedges!

The first tape was a collection of Feminist Films from my Feminist Film and Video class in 1999 at UC Davis. It was my first foray into body liberation activism even though I didn’t know it! My friend Dianna and I did a five minute video talking about plus size shopping and how marginalizing it is. The soundtrack includes Indigo Girls and Ani Difranco. (I come by my Deep Lez tendencies honestly and earnestly.) The other video was my dad and step-mom’s wedding video, which I am going to use for a performance piece about her affect on my life I’m developing. (Liz died of a heart attack when I was 19 after having taken Phen Fen. Dad never joined the class action.)

anothermixselfie It’s a big part of why I do the work I do in the world to help fat folks feel valued in their bodies as they are rather than pathologized, and the first part of that was to learn to love myself.

The tape transfer process was not smooth because I was the first person of the day and there were technical challenges, so I just hung out with the volunteers. All three of them were librarians or archivists (shout out to my librarian babes!) and they were sweet and charming. A couple of them were even wearing vintage media themed outfits, like a sweater with folks in 3D glasses emblazoned on it! By 6 they hadn’t resolved things, and said I was free to wander instead of waiting for my tapes. Jacqueline thought it was funny when she arrived that they were archiving a wedding tape and didn’t realize it was my tape! “Deep 80s fashion” she mused. It was Merced, CA in 1990.

mixfamilyEntering the MIX Factory.

I mentioned in my last blog post I find the schedule hard to navigate on their website (I really just need a trailer for the festival) so I like to let the Goddess guide things. And here was the opportunity! I ran into my friend L.A. Teodosio who was screening a film I had heard about at that very moment but didn’t realize was at MIX.

catbuttface

I bought a ticket and slid into the screening with my roommate Damien (who is on the MIX Board) and a bunch of our pals. It’s called Peace of Mind and is about Teo’s partner Flo McGarrell, an artist who was killed in the Haiti earthquake. The movie is perfect for MIX because it’s a bit documentary, a bit art film, a bit fiction. The soundtrack is sumptuous and sweet, the scenery is beautiful, as Haiti is so gorgeous. It was shot both in Port Au Prince and the seaside town of Jacmel and there was a marked difference between the two places, though the lack of resources were consistent between the two. Flo made an interesting comment in one of the archival pieces, that when he was in Haiti cooking food was so difficult and food was much harder to come by, so he would lose weight. When he would go back to the states he would gain it all back. Flo worked with local artists as part of a project that taught artists and curated work and many of the artists were interviewed in the documentary.

catbuttThis is a cat butt.

Also in the film was a subfilm, a part of the movie KATHY GOES TO HAITI, based on the book of the same name by Kathy Acker, that Flo was working on with the director Cary Cronenwett (who directed the documentary, along with Teo). Zachary Drucker played Kathy Acker and it was interesting to see it, though from what I understood from the documentary the book itself sounds White feminist colonialist. We only saw a part of the book as they had only shot the last chapter, with the intention to shop it around for funding. Due to that and that it was in a larger narrative that addressed a lot of what it was like for LGBTQ people in Haiti, I thought it was redemptive of the source material and appropriately critical of her perspective on Haiti. Check out the trailer for Peace of Mind and if the movie tours in your area I highly recommend seeing it.

creepynestthingNest installation.

Because it’s MIX, filmmakers come to screenings and there are often talk backs, so the awesome Haitian editor of the film (and collaborator of Flo’s) Zaka, was there as well as Teo, discussing the film.

There’s a thing at MIX called “MIXoclock” where they say stuff happens at a certain time but that’s kind of an idea and isn’t really something to count on. Again, with MIX, best to just let the Goddess guide you. So I noticed on my phone that by the time the talk back of this one ended it was already a half hour later than the next screening (I had bought tickets for online). There’s only one screening room so I guessed I had a bit of self care time between the films to go buy some water, check my coat as the coat check was finally open and the house lights were down and everything was doused in purple lights and blacklights. Sitting in a theater for three and a half hours straight is a lot but I was glad for it! ART!

photobydraemixtriangePhoto by Drae Campbell.

The next screening (the one I prioritized and planned my whole night around) was curated by Queer Rebels, a duo made up of Celeste Chan and KB Tuffy Boyce, both Bay Area artists who I’ve performed with and love their work. Their curation of Queer People of Color made films is always spot on. A mix of lengths, narratives and stories, each is on a theme. This one was on Home and my highlights were a short music video about queers of color in the Bay vs tech gentrification and a short film about a gender non-conforming person coming home to their mother who does not accept them and is awash in grief. Another highlight was Orient, a film about the tension between Black folks and Asian Americans and internalized colonialism. Queer Rebels is incredible and the talk back afterward was also great.

celestemix2014Celeste’s galactic jumpsuit from last year’s MIX Queer Rebel’s screening.

After all of that art I stumbled dazed back into the MIX Factory thinking I’d visit with some folks and then head home. It was already 10, I had been there for five hours! Jacqueline and I went out on the smoking deck, I was aggressively hit on by a person who self-identified as “transexual satan” who I then referred to a different friend of mine. Kind of like, “You’re not for me but I have someone else in mind for you,” which is something I have done before and, listen, I roll with babes. It was a successful match in the end and I’ll save the rest of the dirt for Snapchat.

mejacquelinedraeMe, Jacqueline and Drae.

I rolled through the space here and there, looking at installations. You can go into a cat lounge area through its butt. You can sit inside a triangle. You can wander and look at all the outfits. Even the bathrooms are installations this year! I saw people who don’t live here anymore visiting, hung hard with some local friends and had a lot of fun. I was really tired and every time I felt my energy flagging somehow the space would fulfill my need. The best thing that helped me wake up a bit was a decaf iced coffee from Dunkin that Victoria brought me when she arrived at 11PM. I get a zip from decaf that can really turn around an evening and it worked.

victoriamixLike a psychadelic Goddess bearing decaf coffee.

Dinner was served at 11:30PM, it was a pasta with a side of root veggies and salad. Delicious! And free with entry/going to one of the films.

damienpowersuitDamien’s look for MIX that night (as photographed from my desk chair when I screamed “OMG Frye Boots with a vintage power suit!” as she checked herself out in our wall mirror). Here is her on video talking about MIX in her capacity as a Board member!

Victoria and I peeled off from our friends and laid down in a nest of pillows in a small side room where we watched a forest scene with a man “hatching” from a plastic bag. Again and again. The more I watched the more the art came alive. Also, resting laying down was really helpful. When can you do that in social spaces?

outdoorinstallation
photobydraehatchedmixSecond photo by Drae Campbell.

I was about to leave at midnight and then DJ Average Jo, Holly and Topher arrived so I ended up hanging with them. I was under no intoxicants yet was a bit high on socializing. Full disclosure, I did take a tiny bit of adderall to try to wake up around 9PM and that had zero effect. All told, I was there chatting and admiring outfits (two of my favorite things) until 1:30AM. By then DJ Battyjack was spinning, there was a band playing and other people were still arriving. MIX! It’s magic!

mehollymixPhoto by Jacqueline Mary, who said I looked like Muppet Baby Miss Piggy while snuggling Holly. High compliment!

I have a conference this weekend that starts painfully early in the morning but I’m still going to try to go tonight and tomorrow! If you’re curious and you’re in town, go! I coaxed Drae Campbell to come last year for her first time and this year she was there on Wednesday fully in the mix and emceeing!

photbydraemejacquelinedevonMe, Jacqueline and Devin. Photo by Drae Campbell.

2015-03-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time: Saturday, 2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

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

Moderator: Kelsey Carroll, Feminist Majority Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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