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

2016-05-20

Queer Fat Femme LA Adventures: Drive an Hour and Spend a Weekend in Ojai and Ventura!

Update about my blog and my web move! First of all, big shout out to Rachelle who is backstage at QueerFatFemme.com moving things around from one host to another and trying to make the site faster and less buggy! I am so grateful for her help and grateful I had the cash to get this process going!

Also, my most recent Reiki infused tea sale is technically over but the pre sale was less successful this time and scale really helps keep my costs down, so as long as the paypal buttons are still up at the Bevin’s Tea page I can take new orders and give you an update about when I can expect to ship it out. (I have to replace some inventory.) I’m in the process of starting with a graphic designer to make the logo and packaging as cute as it deserves to be and I am so excited to share with you my vision when it becomes a reality! Now back to this post I wrote while I was patiently waiting for my website to be moved!

[For some reason I can’t upload photos to this post and waiting on the magical Rachelle to help me figure it out. Check back later for a post full of photos.]

So once upon a time Dara and I did this road trip through California, celebrating post-cancer treatment life and exploring my home state and where Dara wanted to move but I wasn’t sold yet.

Since Ojai and Ventura are on my short list of best cities in California, we stayed overnight out there. One night at my Aunt Shari’s house in Camarillo and one night in Ojai at a great hotel.

My friend recently said to me, “Hey Bevin, I have a lover meeting me in LA for a laycation. Where should we stay?”

I immediately thought of our trip to Ojai and wrote this up for her. Enjoy.

Book a room at the Capri Hotel. OMG the design of the hotel is Mid-Century Modern Barbie Dreamhouse with more masculine style and Ikea stuff. The rock wall on the side of the lobby is a mid-century modern classic detail.

The Capri rules both because it is cute and it’s such a great party room. We got a free upgrade to an upstairs unit with a balcony (worth it, it’s cuter up there). It also has hella cute LED lighting outside on each balcony and on the walls so your whole room can glow pink for ambiance. Perfect for a laycation or just fun selfies. Or both!

There’s a Yelp deal you might want to consider, but they also offer other random discounts.

Our room had a record player with a selection of records I wasn’t excited about. But more importantly the record player had a radio on it and I immediately put on Old School 95.9, which had just launched in Ventura County. It is old school R&B and hip hop. They play Prince every hour, and they are amazing. Dara and I put on PJs and danced in our socks to 95.9 while we stayed at Capri Hotel. It was awesome.

So on your road trip into Ojai for your laycation, turn on 95.9 as soon as you hit the mountain before Camarillo. It will set the mood for an amazing weekend.

Stop in Ventura (the last coastal town before Ojai) and take a 10 minute beach drive detour. Exit Seaward on the 101, drive down Harbor past the In N Out, taking you along the beach to the pier.

You’ll come back the next day to really soak it in, but the Ventura coast line deserves as much attention as you can pay it. Literally every time I see it I think “I didn’t remember this being as beautiful as it is.” It looks pretty but there’s also something incredible about the energy there. I think it’s the wind. Anyway, it’s amazing. So classic CA gorgeous with a lot of beautiful rocks and scraggly sections. And the birds! Ugh, anyway, trust me it’s awesome.

I also want to shout out my friend James Leander for almost all the information on this post, including the above drive. They live in Ventura and JLV is basically the best local tour guide.

Hop on the 33 and enjoy the wiggly roads through the canyon into Ojai. You arrive on the main street of Ojai and the Capri comes up on the left side of the road.

Check in, “settle in” however that happens for you, and then take a break to go have an evening activity!

Do you like to ride horses? I feel like a sunset horse ride would be amazing there.

Do you just like to hang out and get coffee? Grab some and settle in for a cute conversation at Coffee Connection. It is only open until 5PM so get there early. Their coffee is great, I’ve always enjoyed it.

Do you like to do hippie stuff and watch a beautiful sunset? Go get the sunset action at Meditation Mount. It’s privately held land open to the public. It has a Buddhist center and a meditation garden. You park and then give an optional donation as you enter the gardens and and head towards the sunset.

When Dara and I went we had the misfortune to be there at the same time as a party bus full of late middle aged people from Santa Barbara spilled out. Everyone was carrying a glass of white wine and talking the whole time. So not the zen vibe the other people who were at the sunset were trying to cultivate. Still a beautiful experience and I could tell one of those ladies with the white wine felt uncomfortable because she knew she wasn’t fully present to the experience and she said as much to Dara, who makes friends everywhere she goes.

Bring your late, casual dinner back to the hotel and enjoy it on the balcony. The green pork tamales at La Fuenta were amazing. Just get those. I think whatever else we got was forgettable but not the tamales.

The next morning, wake up and go swimming at the Capri Hotel pool. Then get your beach bag together and head to Ventura for the day. Have brunch at Cafe Nouveau if you like maple bacon beignets and free coffee while you wait for a table.

Or have brunch instead at Le Petit Bakery at the Ventura Harbor, which has extremely beautiful scenery and is worth it.

Or if you are boozy and like a bloody mary bar (my favorite way to drink bloody marys when I still drank booze) head to Social Tap, which is next to my very favorite sitting beach in Ventura.

If you are a babe who loves to thrift shop, Main Street on the Northern end has so many great thrift stops. Many of the vintage pieces I love the most came from Ventura. Point your Maps at The Arc Foundation thrift store (their prices are going way up, so they aren’t as good as they once were) and then head South from there.

If you want to just hang hard on the beach, the San Buenaventura Beach is my favorite for being close to a bathroom and having breathtaking views. If you want to take a cute walk and see some interesting shore and watch surfers, go to Surfer’s Point at Seaside Park. The people watching is really interesting, and so is the eavesdropping if you don’t mind lapses of silence with your boo to then gossip afterwards about what you heard.

Ventura is also great for renting a surrey or a bicycle and going for a cute paved path cycle along the waterfront. Dara and I got a surrey with a fringe on top and it was really challenging to drive that thing and also really fun. We rented it for an hour for $15 from Ventura Bike Depot.

After your day in Ventura, watch the sunset at any beach and then leave before it’s dark. Go past Ventura North on the 101 and then go back to Ojai the back way on the 150 and enjoy dusk along the seashore. But keep an eye out for deer on those back roads at dusk and dawn.

Grab dinner and dessert at Boccali’s, their strawberry shortcake is not to be missed.

(If you’re gluten free skip this and just eat a whole pint of strawberries from a roadside stand instead. The fertile farmland around Ventura County produces the best strawberries of all time.)

The next morning, after you check out of the hotel, go for an amazing hike!

James Leander recommends:

Easy hikes: Ventura botanical gardens, Rose Valley Falls

Medium hikes: Arroyo Verde Park (you have to pay on weekends), 2 Trees (iconic, but illegal. also, i would say this one is hard but it is also less than 2 miles to the top), Punch Bowls

Hard hikes: Gridley trail and Pratt trail are both awesome and in Ojai.

It’s clear I love Ventura and Ojai–you will love them, too! I’m so excited to continue exploring the backroads of Southern California!

2015-09-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MeJohnGroveStPath2002Me and John at the Grove Street PATH station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bevindarasurreywithfringeontop

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

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

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

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

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

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