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

2016-09-30

I Promise My Personal Tragedy Will Not Interfere with My Ability to Do Good Hair: Remembering Amanda Arkansassy

It happened again. The phone calls and texts started, trying to give me news of a friend’s suicide before I found it on Facebook. This is what we have now. Who knows the protocol?*

bevinarkansassyMe and Amanda at a dance party in 2010. Yesterday I met someone who had tiny flying birds coming from a tattoo on their head and it reminded me of her shoulder tattoo.

This is a post about my friend and it’s a post about my messy grief process. I don’t know what to do right now, but I think modeling how I am grieving may be of some help to other folks out there who are bewildered and confused and don’t know how to keep processing these suicides of bright light Femmes.

My friend Amanda and I became close in 2008/2009 when she was a member of Femme Family, a Femme organizing group that sprung to life after the Femme Conference in August of that year. We wanted Femme community in NYC, and me and Damien, Amanda, Sophie, Chris, Taueret, Bryn, Bridget, Rachel, Hana, Dylan, Erica, Heather, and a lot of other Femmes who popped in and out, made it happen. Mostly we were cultural organizers, throwing dance parties, fundraisers, Femme poker nights, a Femme literary reading series, we had a book club and published a zine.

femmefamilyClockwise from top left: Bryn, Sophie, Damien, Amanda, Rachel, Me, Chris, Dylan, Erica. We were all so busy working our party that we had to do a group photo in stages.

femmefamilygroup2webTaueret, Heather, Me, Bridget, Amanda.

Amanda was the Madam of Country Glam, me and Damien weren’t yet roommates but we were Co-Head Madams. Taueret was the Madam of Ferocity. I forget which Madam title Bryn had. Taueret took her life in February of last year and Bryn just this past January. The last time I saw Amanda was when she was out for Taueret’s memorial (on Amanda’s birthday, October 3rd) and the last time we spoke on the phone was after Bryn passed and Amanda needed advice about posthumous art curation. It was such a beautiful moment, we talked for an hour while I was in a park at sunset, Dara and I having just seen what would become our quirky house in LA. I watched the beauty transform around me in my new neighborhood, we processed about Bryn and she filled me in on her new romantic adventures.

Amanda had the biggest heart. She was so sweet and welcoming. She was from Arkansas and it was a huge part of her identity. She was brilliant and political and knew how to show up for people. She always drove a huge SUV and made it look really easy in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She was a little younger than me and in some ways I think that played into our dynamic. A couple of days ago a friend of hers told me Amanda referred to me an inspiration but to me she was my fiercely loyal Femme friend.

birthdayamandaI’ve known so much grief and loss for so long that I know that even in sad circumstances we need to celebrate life. So even though it was the day of Taueret’s memorial and that was the reason for her visit, I knew our Femme Family reunion brunch needed to include birthday candles for Amanda.

I was still rebuilding myself after my painful break-up with my ex fiancé and she witnessed and held space. She showed me solidarity. She loved Steel Magnolias and Dolly Parton as much as me. She loved to get dressed up and take pictures. She loved other Femmes and loved to peacock for and with us.

0008_ability-to-do-good-hairThe title of this post is an homage to a shared favorite movie.

She started performing burlesque as Lola Dean and I think her first performance ever was at my Queer Family Holiday party. Taueret’s first burlesque act was at my previous party, a Queer Zombie Cabaret, and they both bonded over learning burlesque. When I competed for the title of Miss LEZ I asked them both to be my back-up dancers for my “talent” (hosting a gameshow/being surrounded by hot Femmes) as the Baconettes.

arkansassywiththosepastiesAmanda loved these pasties so much, she bought them special for the show on Etsy. Photo by Alison Picard.

Amanda was amazing backstage at the pageant. She was a former pageant queen in high school and gave me great advice about my interview portion and poise and other pageant stuff. Taueret was also amazing and told off a former date of mine who had recently stood me up. I remember leaving with Taueret after losing the pageant and feeling both physically famished (they don’t feed you backstage) and emotionally supported while kind of crushed that I lost.

misslezbevinamandaIf you want to read about my pageant platform and my play by play of that night check out this blog post. Photo by Syd London. Shout out to original Baconette Melissa Davis!

We brought the Baconettes back together the following Spring. I was Queen of Honor at Hey Queen, a queer dance party that was a staple of Brooklyn nightlife for five years. I was “Size Queen” and wanted to compose a really hot number to Madonna’s “Hanky Panky.” Me, Taueret, Amanda and Hana met up in my tiny living room to practice. We did it again at That’s My Jam the next month and from the buzz off those events I started Rebel Cupcake at Sugarland on International No Diet Day, May 6, 2010. Amanda performed as Lola Dean along with Taueret at the first Rebel Cupcake and once more before she moved to San Francisco.

bevinbaconettes

She, Sophie and Rachel all moved to San Francisco at about the same time. I felt really sad that they left but felt kind of okay, too, because I knew they had each other and no doubt they would do magical things out there.

rebelcupcakequeerrootWatching the blossoming friendship of Rachel and Amanda was really special. Photo from the photo booth of Rebel Cupcake, by Nogga Schwartz.

I think a lot about how Femme Family was this beautiful incubator for those of us involved. It gave us confidence in our abilities and we got ideas that were firmly based in our Femme identities. I started Rebel Cupcake, a body positive dance party for fat kids and fabulous weirdos. Damien started Heels on Wheels, a Femme art tour, show series and now a book with Heather. Sophie started Shameless Photography a feminist body positive pin-up photography business and many of the Femme Family were her first models.

Amanda went on to create Femme Space, a reclamation of space for Femmes and a beautiful portrait project. The stories and photos are stunning, I highly recommend a deep dive into them.

Long distance took an understandable toll on our friendship, but it never lost all of its love. I would see her and have epic conversations about all the things but mostly romance gossip because it was a fav of both of ours. Just six months ago she got on snapchat and she posted the sweetest thing on Facebook about how she loved my “snapchat stories” and for a bit there we would have girl talk and lingerie sharing over snapchat private message 10 seconds at a time.

bevinamanda2015

As our friend Elisabeth said memorializing Amanda, she was the ultimate “Hi Femme!” which was her actual license plate. She had to appeal a bunch to the CA DMV to get it–they thought it was about drugs and she schooled them that it was an actual identity. She was tickled every time she caught someone taking a photo of it behind her in traffic.

We constantly bonded over country music and I still think of her every time a good block of country music sung by women is on the radio (which is rare). When I was in LA last year learning my way around I heard a whole hour dedicated to women in country music and was so excited to tell her about it.

A couple of years ago she told me her plan after she moved to San Francisco was to eventually go back and head an organization for Southern Queers in Arkansas. I loved seeing Arkansas through her lens on social media. I loved seeing places she had told me about.

sfcrew2011Visiting San Francisco with Mackenzi, outside of the Lexington with Sophie, Dagger and Digg. Amanda was always a poly-identified Femme and there are a bunch of really good looking folks that had the pleasure of knowing her romantically in mourning. She was so special as a friend and I think she was extra extra special as a lover.

Another toll of long distance is when your friends throw parties you hella want to be at. She had a birthday party at the Madonna Inn one year and I was SOOOOO SAD I was too broke to go because I had always wanted to go to the Madonna Inn and they were taking lingerie photos with all the theme rooms! It was going to be Femme Slumber Party birthday magic. And I got to go to Dollywood which I know she always wanted to do and I wanted to do it with her! And she had a Dolly Parton themed getaway birthday party.

rachelamanda2010Femme Conference 2010.

Now that I’m in LA I am closer (wouldn’t ever turn down an invite to the Madonna Inn now!) but her housewarming party in Crockett, where she just moved to get more rural, was a night when I’m doing a big event here. I remember thinking “SOMEHOW SOMEWAY we will have a party we can both attend.” She died before I could even pester her to come be my photographer for Dollypalooza next month.

One of the things that is most beautiful in Femme friendships is seeing yourself reflected in one another. Amanda was positive and upbeat, like me, and sparkly. She was the kind of Femme who threw herself into activism and organizing and also had good hair and impeccable nails. I always told her she was my nail inspo and had stiletto nails long before they got really mainstream popular. She kept a few fingers on the right hand short, for sex. I was living for her ombre. Honestly, her hair just kept getting better and better.

arkansassyNashville fans, she declared Juliette Barnes one of her fashion icons. Amanda left behind a perfect shiba inu/chihuahua rescue named Memphis and her cat, Kitten Butt. And a gorgeous white bedroom set she moved cross country.

I’m taking this death really hard. I am replaying all of the ways in which I feel like I could have done things differently. Like what if I hadn’t flaked on hiring her to photograph me at my high school reunion reclaiming space that felt alienating to me as a teen. Would we have had a heart to heart two weeks ago that could have changed things? Should I have finished writing my book already since it’s mostly about how I survived this epic heartbreak and betrayal and bloomed even bigger and brighter than I ever thought possible? Could it have been a road map for her?

I shared these feelings with a friend yesterday who said, “You can’t put your lightness in someone else’s darkness.” And then confessed that they must have been channelling Spirit because they would never have said that. I’ve also gotten similar messages about Bryn and Taueret when I asked my psychic Alex about their possibly related suicides.

queerfamilyholidayallofusPhoto by Alison Picard.

I feel like there’s this way that when you shine really bright like Amanda did, like Bryn did, like Taueret did, that the world doesn’t want you to survive. Just being a bright light superstar that by your very identity challenges the white heteropatriarchy is dangerous. That manifests in the experiences of trauma caused by oppression, misogyny, heterosexism, ableism, fatphobia, transmisogyny, slut shaming, classism, and on and on. It’s hard to stay sane and positive when the world is relentless with heartbreak, police brutality, apartheid, and all of the other horrific things you see just by turning on the news.

The world is made better and sweeter for me by activists and artists like all three of them. I try like hell to take care of myself. I try like hell to model self care for the corner of the internet where people pay attention to what I say. When I’m modeling self care, I am saying “This is how I am staying alive today.” Because self care is vital and survival is vital.

amandaonthemuniThe same month she took her life her face was on the side of a Muni bus. Her light was shining bright. But it goes to show that we can have a good face on and be battling darkness really deep.

And let’s talk about our fucked up mental healthcare system. Why don’t we have walk in clinics, where you can start treatment without a giant ball of red tape and bullshit. Why don’t we fund this? Is it because the people who are in charge find our bodies disposable? We have such a fucked up world we need to make it more survivable. Instead the fuckedupness is making it harder and harder to stay alive.

It’s important and good we know about what’s going wrong in our world. We have to see it to change it, right? But we also need to recognize the toll that takes on everyone’s mental health.

We need to stop treating self care like it’s optional. Take care of yourself and take really fucking great care. And fund easy to access free mental health for everyone because we need it . All three of these friends of mine were brilliant women with different access to help and different ways of soliciting it. What about the people who aren’t as resourced or good at self advocacy as Bryn, Taueret or Amanda? Somehow we need to do better at getting mental healthcare into the hands of people who need it. The amount of people who need it is mounting.

speakingoffemmegroupSpeaking of Femme.

I keep thinking about the idea of feminizing the world as a means of creating world change and world peace. Amanda even mentioned it in the article announcing her as one of KQED’s 20 Women to Watch.

In response to the question, “If you could live in a book, TV show, movie, play or painting, what would it be?” She replied, “It hasn’t been written yet (to my knowledge), but I’m looking forward to media exploring a futuristic femme oligarchy. Until then, Steel Magnolias will do.”

Maybe that’s how I need to womanifest my thoughts about how to feminize the world. Write a TV treatment for a show exploring a Futuristic Femme Oligarchy. If Femmes ruled the world? It would be amazing. Amanda dedicated her Femme Space project that was poppin’ off to the memory of Taueret and Bryn (check the footer on the page) and I would dedicate that TV show treatment to all three.

amandaspeakingoffemmeblue

In the meantime we need to figure out how to survive. This is why I blog. This is why I talk about the things I’ve figured out for self care and to take good care of myself. I’m writing a self care zine so I can brain dump to whoever wants it all the stuff I know about self care. Because we don’t live in a world where mental and emotional healthcare is free and easily available. ’Til we do we need to be taking care of each other and ourselves.

I talk a lot about becoming a rich lesbian. I mostly want to be rich because I want to start a foundation to support the kind of hard to fund amazing grass roots edge of social change groups that don’t usually get grants. I want to give them cash and provide support for their sustainability and helping have the kind of structure that ensures the legacy can move forward if the founders either move on, burn out or have shit go down in their lives. My friend Jenn and I brainstormed that I need to have a social worker on staff who can provide therapy for supported organizers, coaching people in self care.

bevinandthebaconettes

I see a lot of activists whose work and care taking is dedicated to the point of compulsion. There’s always more to do and not enough money or resources. I see people who are broke who give what little they have to folks who are broker than they are. It’s in the giving nature of people dedicated to world change. I wonder if Amanda needed more care than she was capable of receiving. I wonder if there’s a way to teach people to receive the love that is around them. Because Amanda, Taueret and Bryn were all beloved.

These deaths rip open the wounds that I work hard to heal. I’m grieving hard the loss of all three, grief compounded upon grief. I was putting dishes away and a wave came. I was literally sobbing into my kitchen cabinet when I came to. I find it’s easiest to grieve when I just open myself up to it. I don’t try to pretend that I’m cool when I’m not and I work to practice radical honesty with people who ask me how I’m doing.

femmepicnicWhen I was doing my deep dive into my photo archives I realized that right after this Femme picnic in Dolores Park I met up with my queer Femme friend Melissa Tracy who also took her life this year.

I’ve learned a lot about grieving over the years. I was sending a blog post about break-up grieving strategies to a friend and I realized a lot of it was very applicable to death. Try to be present. Try to let it flow. Commit to your plans so you don’t spiral out for too long. For me, preventing the darkness is easier than being swallowed by it and having to crawl out, so I’m trying really hard to not fall into that place.

This week I asked for a lot of help. Dara has been out of town for work for almost two weeks. On Saturday Amanda’s suicide hadn’t been announced yet and I had to figure out how to get the help I needed without doing the endless phone calls and messages thing, so I put an all call on Facebook. I don’t give a fuck about seeming vulnerable. I think we should be more vulnerable with each other, it’s a sign of strength.

amandaonstageatbellhouse

In some ways it’s been good that Dara’s not here. I have been relying for primary support from my friends and it’s important to lean out of your primary for support. I’m also crabby and listless, and I’m actually feeling shitty about how I am not a pile of sunshine for Dara right now. So being independent from her has been helpful.

Yesterday I knew I had a ton of work to do and in the in between times might need brightening. So I asked Facebook once again for sweet memories. Remembering connections to other, living folks is a sweet way to remind me that I am loved, and taking breaks from work to sit with a few at a time has been so helpful.

queerfamilychristmasstage

I keep remembering all the hot people I was going to set her up on dates with. I keep thinking about all of the collaborations I wanted to do. Over the past year I thought a lot about what Amanda would do my Femme Space photo about. I thought maybe my rainbow mumu and me in a Home Depot because I am definitely a power tool wielding Femme, I do not let stereotypes about women and femininity stand in the way of me getting what I want to get done. And then I definitely thought it was going to be me teaching my new fitness class at the body positive gym opening up in LA. But whatever it was, it’s a collaboration that won’t happen. Because something about the world was too painful for her.

I want to make the world more survivable. I wrestled with the choice to not go to her funeral on Wednesday but the thought of making the travel plans was so overwhelming I was paralyzed. So I took that, and my big chronic digestive disorder flare as my signs that I needed to stay put and take care of myself. I can’t make the world survivable unless I take care of my own survival.

*For me, just in case this is relevant to any of my friends reading this, I prefer a phone call. Almost all of my calls are scheduled because that’s how I roll, so if you call me twice in a row and text “Call me ASAP” I know what that means. So that’s my preferred protocol. I changed my number to a 323 number when I moved to LA so check your phone and delete that old Jersey 201 number!

wafflesinbmoreI have all these new friends I just made and I wonder if they think it’s weird that I say I love you literally every time we part ways. It’s because I’ve known so much loss and I’m only 37 and I know it might be my last opportunity to say it. So I always do when I feel it. Grief is an unfortunate side effect of love, and I love really big. I loved Amanda a lot and my grief reflects the size of that love. There is no timeline on grief, I will never get over missing her. I will never get over Bryn and Taueret. I will only do what is the best case scenario and get used to the idea that they aren’t here. 

More Amanda Love:

Go Fund Me Campaign to help with Amanda’s memorial costs.

KQED Holding Space for Amanda (lists a lot of her artistic accomplishments if you want to learn more about her prolific work)

Femmes Before Literally Everything

To be added: Memorial information for next month’s memorial.

2016-03-18

LA Week 7: Femme Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Week seven was pretty sweet. Our weekaversary in our LA home is on Saturday, and that Saturday we put up all of our hard work on the house and went to a pool party! It’s definitely too cold for summertime style pool parties out here. But when your friends heat their saltwater pool to 95 degrees you drop everything and show up with flowers, red vines and a beverage.

Here are some things I didn’t know about pools until recently. The unheated pool temperature will be an average of the daytime and nighttime temp. So even if temps soar into the 80s, if they’re dropping to 50s at night (which is possible here, and lately we’ve been more early 70s and sometimes 40s at night) that means the pool is way too cold to swim in during the day at about the 60s. Brrr. Heating a pool is mad expensive if you do it all the time, so most folks do it on special occasions. My grandmother has a pool and even though she’s been in her house in Rancho Mirage (by Palm Springs) for 15 years I’ve literally been in the pool twice.

taylorglendaleGot to hang with my friend Taylor Black last week!

So back to the pool party. How lucky I feel to have gotten to hang so much with Barb since we moved to LA! She’s buying a house here and keeps visiting from Fresno, about 5 hours North in Central CA. Barb has been staying with Tristan and Colten, and Anne and Susanna were in town and so were some other friends I didn’t know from NY. So it became a party, my very favorite kind where I know 50% of the people in attendance.

annebarbsusannaBarb, Susanna and Anne drinking prosecco from the Red Vines I brought. Red Vines are the licorice of my youth and I don’t like Twizzlers. They’re decidedly West Coast.

I know most people perceive me as an extrovert and totally socially confident but there’s a reason I love to throw parties and have something to do! I love people and I love talking but I was an only child and get super socially awkward and nervous in un-facilitated interactions. So when I have a “job” I feel better. Pro-tip: I’ve found volunteering at parties a great way to take my anxiety down a notch and an easier way to meet new people. Once I know more than 30% of the people at a party it is way easier for me. All interactions become kind of facilitated because you already know and are comfortable with people!

We had been working hard on our attic the previous two days so getting to soak in a 95 degree pool was perfect. It was like taking a luxurious bath with a bunch of awesome people.

I dropped Dara off at the airport that night to go to NYC on business again. She’ll be going once a month for the foreseeable future because one of her biggest clients is out there. It’s interesting having moved with a partner. I’ve never had that experience. I’m usually Captain Solo, Queen Independent and can do quite well on my own. In Brooklyn, when we would spend time apart at our different houses (this house in LA is the first time we’ve ever lived together for real) I was great. All those years I spent single I really cultivated a way of being with myself and being fully present and excited in my life.

Sometimes if we were apart I would stay up super late just… fucking around? Just like watching bullshit TV or reading or doing tarot cards. (Even now, sometimes I stay up later than Dara because I just like to do those things solo.) I was so good at being independent that it would actually be hard for me when we hung out again to let down my guard and do that couple comfort mesh thing that happens.

poolpartybevindaraThis fatkini is from Modcloth and I love it. Also, when you’re in a 95 degree salt water pool and you get out steam comes off your body. Also also I was stung by a bee and Colten gave me excellent poolside nursing care and it was itchy and hurt for days after but was totally worth it for the magic of that pool party.

It was interesting when I dropped her off and was alone again because I didn’t experience the joy of independence again. Just like her first trip to NYC I was left alone feeling my feelings. It was hard and lonely without her and it was because I have all this discomfort with new things happening. Having a partner comes with benefits and drawbacks. A huge benefit is a support system that makes you feel good and hopefully mitigates discomfort. An all the time social safety net. I’ve never really noticed needing that before (Queen Independent) but noticing that I felt it missing made me feel vulnerable and it was hard.

I think that’s a warning sign to me that my self care game is off. I mean, I already knew that, but if I am with someone and not feeling my feelings that means I’m not setting aside enough time to work through stuff while we’re together. I know I could be journaling more, setting aside more time for reflection and going to more Al-Anon meetings. In NYC I had a great therapist and that was an hour each week I had to ]let off my steam pipe of feelings, plus I did Al-Anon weekly and so many other things to work through my feelings.

To my credit I’ve been meditating and now that my kitchen is at 90% capacity I am cooking nutritious food. And having only been in the house seven weeks that’s good.

joyI painted a lot of intentions into the attic. Casual woo.

Setting up a sanctuary is hard work. My friend Morgan said on instagram “Femme Rome wasn’t built in a day” and she is totally right. You might remember Morgan as the gorgeous Femme who baked gourmet cupcakes for Rebel Cupcake when I was hosting it in Brooklyn.

131170_4067480605562_1576758754_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

It’s a nice thing to remind yourself when you are frustrated with things not going at the pace you would like them to go. Having this deadline of getting the house together is actually not as nice as I said in my last post. It’s actually creating a lot of stress and time pressure.

My mom was visiting my Grandmother in Palm Springs that weekend of Dara leaving town. Because Dara’s flight was right in the middle of the visit I couldn’t make it work to go out there (I also thought my mom was leaving on Sunday, not Monday as it turned out). I had plans with my Aunt Shari to watch the finale of Downton Abbey Sunday night. I knew I wanted to watch with Aunt Shari because she loved the show so much she deeply spoilered it for me even after I said I was really behind on this season because of our travels. Mom surprised me by asking if she could join me and Aunt Shari in spite of the six hour round trip it would take to go do that.

So I went with the choice of fostering intimacy over perfectionism and asked mom if she and Grandmother wanted to come see the house in it’s totally not “mom clean” or finished state on their way to my Aunt’s house. (I am 50 minutes to Aunt Shari’s and 2 hours to Grandmother’s.) Later that night our impromptu hat party for the Downton finale (with a special cameo from two of my cousins) was a fabulous memory!

downtonfinalehatpartyI haven’t 100% come out to all of my family about my blog but I’m getting there. They know I’ve been in the New Yorker and stuff like that but I don’t think any of them read it except my mom.

I spent the better part of Wednesday last week working on buying packaging for my Reiki tea pre-sale. It started with physically measuring out 20 servings of two types of tea (the herbal blends take up more room than the tea blends) and then using a tape measure to see what kind of capacity I need.

teaforscale

Buying tins and packaging is not as straightforward as one would believe and I’m definitely not at “scale” yet for cheaper prices. I need to be buying about 300 tins per order to get even a small discount. But the tins were important to me and my vision (they are truly the very best way to store tea for longevity). I also bought all the herbs and tea I needed to get the blends going. They just arrived, I’m really excited to get my hands herby!

B-School has been going slowly. I’m glad they give you a pretty generous time module for it (it is go at your own pace). Just like in my AP classes in high school with their over the summer homework and reading lists you need to do before school starts, B-School had a whole pre-course module for follow-through success AND an e-book for “Starting the Right Business.” The book itself has lots of homework so I’m doing all this very necessary guided research (it’s a pretty brilliant method, but I wish it had just a touch more guidance and samples) to identify who I admire who does something similar to what I do and what and how they did it. So if you know of a tea company, woo modality company or other small product based company you like let me know in the comments because I’m deeply researching what makes them successful!

Thursday and Friday of last week I really buckled down and finished the painting upstairs. We had Dari and Jen come over again on Saturday and they helped so much with the final touches in the attic. Installing my closet rods and shelving while Dara mopped the hundred year old dust a shop vac, many many sweeps didn’t get, and I used my staple gun and 80 yards of gold glitter tulle to fill in the gaps in the wood so stuff doesn’t fly into an unreachable space.

closetinstall

I definitely had the place okay enough to have someone stay for tea. But we still have a lot to do in order to get things together to host Dara’s mom overnight tomorrow night and meet our artificial deadline of having the place in order enough to host Seder. The hustle is real in these parts right now.

“Optimism expresses itself in the persistence and resilience of living things.” I found that quote once more while unpacking and it is a good one I am pondering. Even though my self care game is kind of a flat tire right now, even though I’m stressed and I know stress is an optional emotion, I know that I can get back to feeling serenity and joy. And I know the power of six months means that in six months, this period of trying to get stuff together for the house will be just a memory.

2016-02-26

LA Week Five: Turning Social

I’m loving these weekly check-ins about the transition to LA. I keep reminding myself of the power of six months, that in six months everything will be different, settled, and all of this transitioning stuff won’t be in the forefront of my mind all the time.

There’s so much more to the transition than I thought there would be. I guess I thought I could prepare and plan enough, since I spent months preparing and planning for the move. But I don’t think I had any idea what kind of energy it requires to not know where anything is and get acclimated to a whole new place. Most of the time when I’ve moved in the past I had at least a passing comfort with the neighborhood.

heatherwithdollymintHeather, drinking my Dolly Mint Reiki tea blend by a fire pit. #blessed

The biggest thing that happened this week was the launch of my Reiki Tea pre sale. People tell me I’m “brave” all the time but I don’t necessarily feel brave. It’s so scary to put your dream out on the line and be open to failure. It’s really vulnerable!

The Reiki tea blend business was a great idea and was very “safe” in idea phase. The sweet and awesome news is that as soon as I put the post up I made a sale (thank you Allison!!) and I’ve gotten enough orders that I’m nearly 20% of the way to making the B-School tuition! (Including $100 from Grandmother she gave me for my birthday and Christmas.) I had been planning a pre sale at some point but having the deadline and the big goal was really helpful. I feel good that at least I’m trying and I get to share this awesome healing modality with my blog audience!

barbtommyselfieWith Barb and Tommy!

This fifth week in LA was all about turning social. Up until this point I’ve seen a couple of folks a week, having been so overwhelmed with setting up the house I had to lay low, but people have been in town and it is good to take breaks and see people.

We also had to have a major overhaul of our travel plans and intentions. We thought we’d be done with the house set-up so much quicker, but we weren’t. We were going to go up to Las Vegas to support Dara’s mom in the Nevada caucus last weekend (she was a precinct chair), but Dara ultimately decided that we should stay home and get more settled in. I was going to go up to the Bay Area this weekend to go to Bryn’s SF memorial and when another friend of mine passed suddenly last week I knew that my self care interest would be served by not traveling. The grief pile-on has been kind of a lot.

I think I can sometimes use socializing and traveling as a way to not stay present. I love both of those things, but I know I also need to balance it by feeling my feelings, doing my self care work, etc… Traveling is a lot of energy and disruption. Not traveling these two weekends has been great because I was able to find a humane butcher at the local farmer’s market and get a pork shoulder and bones. I feel like once I make bone broth, maybe that’s how I finally feel settled? Anyway, it has felt great to eat nourishing food I spent a long time brewing.

greenspartyGreens!

It also feels super nourishing to get to see friends I’ve known a long time and who are familiar in a new and not yet familiar place! That has been a nice antidote to the newness.

Friday night we did a little York Avenue taco tour in Highland Park with our friends Kristen and Madeleine. I met Kristen eight years ago at the Femme Conference with her feminist burlesque group the Miracle Whips. (The Miracle Whips are also featured in the Glitter and Grit Anthology, a brand new book I highly recommend from Heels on Wheels!)

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The four of us, rather than choosing one taco place decided to try first the Vegan taco truck (delicious), then we thought there were street tacos but instead was a woman selling sausages wrapped in bacon (extremely delicious), and then another taco truck across the street from the Vegan truck that was “conventional” tacos and also really delicious. A street dinner for less than $10 each. I’m still trying to figure out my exact right condiment preferences for tacos. Definitely cilantro, but which kind of hot sauce? Onions? Radishes or no?

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Saturday morning Dara went for her first and last run along the LA River (it hurt her knees which were weakened during chemotherapy) and I went for an aura cleansing class in Hollywood. I’m thrusting myself into the woo lifestyles of LA and I feel really great about it.

I moved out here to work on my spiritual gifts and I am super into any class for $15 that will teach me woo modalities. This was taught by the owners of the House of Intuition here in LA, which now has three locations and the stores and products are great. I visited when I was here in May and so many folks told me it was a must-see. (They also have an online store.)

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The owners are queer women of color (a couple) and I learned SO much. About starting a business based on your intuition, building altars, magic, and the promised aura cleansing methods, which involves a ritual bath or shower. It gave me a lot of great ideas for enhancing my ritual for tea blending!

My friend Heather (co-editor of the Glitter and Grit anthology) was in town this weekend so I visited her at the apartment she was staying in. It was like a gorgeous human terrarium, with a running brook through the complex, a grotto, a heated pool with a fountain, a community grill, an outdoor fire place and a dry sauna. We used all of those things with Caitlin, another LA transplant from Brooklyn and Heather’s friend Monica. It was awesome to be around Femmes for the afternoon and just hang hard and look really cute.

poolpartyThis pool party was also my first time in a bikini as an LA resident.

I wore a semi-slutty dress over there because I have gotten so tired of wearing the same ten outfits. All of my clothes are still in boxes pending the completion of my Mariah Carey closet in our attic, but due to my weirdo packing some clothes have surfaced, including this super cute dress that is just so low cut I only like to wear it when I’m feeling really confident or with a group of folks I feel safe and supported by. Femme gatherings are great for fashion risks.

The truth is, I haven’t felt as confident since we got here. Being in that constant state of “I don’t know this area I don’t know where I’m going” has left me a little more vulnerable and thus less inclined to take risks or draw attention to myself aesthetically. I just want to hang out with cats / not get cat calls right now.

Heather’s partner Silas came home before I left and it was great to squeeze him and catch up! He’s directing and doing some other work on Transparent Season 3, you totally need to check his instagram for the dish. I’m so excited for his work coming out. Did you see the amazing video he directed for Peaches that came out a couple of months ago?

Then we party hopped to dinner with my friend Tommy who was visiting LA with his girlfriend (and Dara’s good friend) Barb. We went to this place down the street from us, Links n Hops, a SAUSAGE RESTAURANT. I am committed to trying all of their many kinds of sausages.

barbtommyFirst time seeing Tommy since my going away party in December!

Monday I finally went to the beach for the first time since living in LA and that was great except for super sad reasons. My friend Melissa Tracy, who is just a little bit younger than me, passed away suddenly last week. I have very few regrets in my life but I now definitely regret not aggressively pursuing a hang out with her before I left NY. We met when she lived in Baltimore, she moved to SF, then back to Baltimore, then to Ventura, then to Nyack, NY (near NYC). I will probably write more later about Melissa, but whenever I imagined her in Ventura I imagined her on this very specific beach I love there. I met up with my old friend James Leander who also knew Melissa and we said a prayer and lit a candle. It was super windy at that beach and I felt it was extremely auspicious that we were able to easily find a tiny candle cave to keep it lit.

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On the way back from Ventura I stopped in Camarillo to visit with my Aunt Shari. It’s so nice to just get to drop in and see my family! I watched the full moon rise over the mountains near East LA from I-5 on the way home. Did you catch the full moon on Monday? Celestial gorgeousness!

Tuesday we drove Heather to the airport and because avoiding traffic is a huge hobby of ours, Dara had a meeting in the late afternoon in Marina Del Rey (beachside town near LAX) and it was an adventure we made a day of it. We did a post-airport drop off Panera work date, had a post-lunch stroll on the beach, then back to another coffee shop for more work and Dara’s meeting. It was a looooong day but totally worth it for the beach break.

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Tuesday night I reunited with a longtime Femme friend, Jenni, who is another NYC area LA transplant, but had a year and a half jump on me. I got to make her dinner, which we ate with a huge pile of “to sort” stuff looming in the living room, but it was a super sweet reminder of what me and Dara are working so hard on our house for. I cannot wait to have dinner parties and regular parties and social things.

In fact, we planned a painting party/mild carpentry party this coming Saturday for some friends to come over and help us work on the Mariah Carey closet installation. It’s been hard for us to carve out the time and I truly love throwing parties way more than painting. I figured combining the two would be a really great way to motivate. Even if three people show up the extra help would rule. And then I get to be social and feel like I’m making progress on our house.

Oh also, we played tennis outside yesterday. Though the transition is still rough and scary sometimes, LA is definitely really sweet right now. I think, among the laundry list of physical, emotional and spiritual work to do right now is to really feel that I deserve all of the tremendous blessings that LA is offering. The weather is beautiful, the things we have access to are so phenomenal. I mean, my friend invited me over to swim in a heated pool and lounge by an outdoor fireplace at a random apartment complex just six minutes from me. Like, making this change has been a ton of work and hard, and it’s so much easier to not make change and just think about or long for what it would be like to make change. But pulling the trigger and walking through the gauntlet yields some pretty amazing stuff.

I’m really praying that pulling the trigger on starting the Reiki tea business is not scary for long and is one more beautiful blessed thing that I get to do now that I live here.

2015-02-27

Half the Self Hate: Denise Jolly “Self Love is my Life’s Work”

For years I’ve been noticing the People Magazine annual “Half Their Size” issue. It comes out around New Year’s Eve and the cover is always the same: before and after photos with big graphics about how much each person has lost. People Magazine devotes pages and pages of a feature story to readers who have lost over half their body weight. They ask them how they did it, what motivated them, what their “rock bottom” was as a fat person.

I kept thinking, What if we talked to people about how they lost more than half of their self-hatred? What would it look like? I find it so inspirational to hear how people have risen out of oppression and cultures that don’t value their bodies/identities and have learned to love themselves in spite of that.

I reached out to several artists and activists whose work and self love I admire to ask what practices they employ to love themselves and how they defy a culture that commodifies self hatred. I wanted to know what inspired them to work to reduce or eliminate their self hate.

This is a series about self love triumphing over self hate, and valuing yourself as a radical act of resistance.

The Half the Self Hate series continues next week with my video interview with plus size porn performer, size activist and feminist April Flores.

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I first learned about Denise Jolly through friends in San Francisco and Brooklyn who said that I should meet her. After this happened three times, I started doing some googling and found the treasure trove of her work. Denise is an artist living in Berkeley, CA who shot to notoriety with her Be Beautiful project, a social media exploration of loving her body for 30 days. She’s an incredibly powerful performer, self-reflective and vulnerable writer and I’m thrilled to have her as part of the Half the Self Hate series.

How do you identify?

That’s a fun question.

In the most universal context I identify as a fat, kinky, queer, working class raised, community educated, white, femme.

What does that identity mean to you? How do the intersections of it help you bloom? What are your struggles?

My goodness I feel as though I could write an entire book trying to answer these three questions. I’ll do my best to be succinct.

My identity means the world to me. It is fluid and constantly evolving. It is the intersection of judgment and projection, the merging of what I am socially prescribed to be with how I see myself. It manifests in my crass tongue that loves words like cunt and fuck. It is big in all its 6 ft tall 300 lb 5 inch heel, red lip, big hoop wearing glory! Everything that I do is big yet somehow I love to hide in dark corners in cities everywhere I go with an astute awareness that I embody a level of safety most do not experience. My identity is an active and working understanding of when and how to leverage privilege. Unpacking, honoring and growing my identity has become a massive part of my life practice.

At this point in my relationship to self and social analysis I can say with great certainty I move through the world with a very high level of privilege. Even with the oppressions I have experienced in my life which to be clear there have been plenty. That said, I am a large bodied, feminine presenting, cis gendered, white, femme. Which means I am afforded social fluidity in nearly all communities. I am the mama archetype. My queerness is celebrated and highly visible within queer community and moot in straight community. Especially dominantly white straight community. Which is where I was raised by my fiercely loving, working class, single mother in a house filled with trouble making boys. I was groomed to know how to care for myself and others from birth. I learning how to work hard, have compassion, and always aspire to do and be better from my working class roots. I am not college educated. I learned critical thinking and writing in community spaces. Those roots are invisible to most unless I state them. This is what free agency looks like. The intersection of how I look and the way I speak affords me the opportunity to see the world in a lot of different ways. No matter the struggles or oppressions I have experienced I am extremely blessed.

As for my struggles my critical brain wants to name my greatest struggle as my internalized beliefs around class division that are steeped in a capitalist agenda. My vulnerable heart wants to name my greatest struggle as depression that can manifest in addictive and self- destructive behaviors. My body wants to scream at my brain for thinking so much it interrupts its ability to be free. Even in all of this it has become glaringly clear that any “struggle” I experience is a blessing.

denisesubwayThe final photo in the Be Beautiful series. Photo by Airial Clark.

When you were younger did you have a period of self-hate? If so how did that affect you internally and in the ways you expressed yourself or interacted with others?

Truthfully I hated myself most days until I did the Be Beautiful project. That was not even two years ago and I am currently 35 years old. I fear saying this but in the spirit of honoring vulnerability there are still so many days self-hatred creeps in like a destructive lover. The hatred no longer wins but it sure does work hard to hold its place in my life.

Throughout my teens and most of my 20’s I aspired to be loved by everyone. So I showed up in service to the needs of those around me rather than working to actualize my own greatness. I was sweet and congenial. Hell I was even prom queen. I was simultaneously highly visible while feeling completely invisible and alone. No one knew much of anything about my life and if they did it was compartmentalized to a singular aspect and
never the full spectrum.

What helped you decide not to hate yourself? What were the circumstances, how old were you?

A want for love was my primary motivation. I was constantly in shared space with my Bestie and platonic life partner Sonya Renee Taylor who founded The Body is Not an Apology. Her life’s work is about creating social change through empowering radical self-love and acceptance. She and I were invited to be part of a Body Politic think tank at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and asked the question “What sits on the other side of your bodies shame and your bodies joy?” I was 33 and had never really experienced being seen as desirable, partnerable, or lovable. I realized I had never shared sexy photos with a lover or even stopped to look at my gorgeous body in the mirror. I had no clue I was sexy or amazing. I knew part of that was something I had to navigate internally but was also clear there were social constructs that instilled those beliefs in me so I started Be Beautiful as an active inquiry to the question and now my life’s completely different.

sonyacarriesophiedenise(L-R) Sonya Renee Taylor, Shameless SF photographer Carrie Lynn, Denise, and Shameless founder and photographer Sophie Spinelle. Photo by Miki Vargas.

Where has your journey to living a life geared towards self-love taken you? How has your work as an artist been influenced by this journey?

It has become my life’s work. Outwardly my journey toward self-love has literally taken me all over the world. Honoring the vulnerability through public discourse and artistic process has afforded me the opportunity to speak, perform, and share my work with audiences globally. I am now a fulltime artist and activist who’s work specifically engages the process of actively learning to love myself. My goodness, as a working class girl who was told she’d never be nothing I still weep with gratitude at what my life has become.

Inwardly my journey towards self-love has taken me through a tumultuous and impassioned series of love affairs. I have and continue to build intimacy while dismantling the internalized beliefs that lead me to 33 years in isolation from love. I had never known beauty, body and heart break the way I do now. As a writer I live a life that lends to a shifting narrative. Which means everything I do informs my artistic practice.

Your Be Beautiful project was a huge step towards leaning into self love. Can you give some background to my readers who are unfamiliar with the project and the reception?

Be Beautiful started as a 30 day exploration into loving my 6 ft tall 311lb body. Each day I took a photograph of myself nearly naked in public and private spaces with beautiful written across the parts of my body I had internalized shame about. I then posted the images on social media. When the 30 days were complete I wrote an article about my journey that was published on The Body is Not an Apology. The Article and photographs have since been republished and cross-posted all over the world. I then had the remarkable privilege of working with Shameless photography. We flew to Brooklyn and recreated the shot of Madonna hitchhiking nude only this time I was the model wearing only high heals and a handbag. Mind blowingly that image went more viral than the Be Beautiful series. For instance in a single day it was shared with Cosmopolitan.com, Redbook, and MTV under headlines naming my 311lb body as gorgeous.

Having major markets and social institutions like Cosmo name a body like mine as gorgeous was a remarkable moment. That said what I continue to experience, as most impacting are the personal stories people share. Last year on tour a young woman told me when the project was released she was in treatment for an eating disorder and the project saved her life. So many women have written just to tell me in seeing my body they are considering themselves as beautiful for the first time in their life. My god that’s amazing.

denisemadonnaThe recreated Madonna shot (my first missed connection with Denise–Sophie invited me to the set to help this last March but Dara had chemo that day!), photo by Shameless Photography.

Since the Be Beautiful project ended have you continued the practice of looking in the mirror at your body? How has your conception of your body changed?

I most definitely have continued the practice of looking at myself in the mirror! There of course have been periods wherein I have not but I do
prioritize doing so.

I love my body now. Every inch, every stretch mark, my face, my breasts, my ass, I love it! The most important evolution has been learning to share and celebrate my body with lovers.

Is there anything you think you could say to your younger self to turn away from self hatred or do you think it was an inevitable path that had to run its course?

To be real I think our cultural constructs around self hatred and destruction lend to most people having to navigate and work through some level of it. That said I certainly believe it can lessen with every generation.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to surround yourself with people who affirm and validate your power and possibility. Regardless of age or station that can be hard but if you identify potential role models that challenge any perception of internalized shame or self-hatred, invest in that relationship. I have been blessed to meet a slew of powerful women in my life and have worked very hard to prioritize being in shared space with them as much as possible. My closest friends are my greatest influences and anyone I work in collaboration with or support of is someone that is investing in the actualization of my greatness as much as they are of their own. This is imperative.

What practices do you employ now to be more self loving and less self hating?

I have many. I think the most important is practicing active awareness. Self-hatred did not just disappear when self-love finally made its way into my life. When hatred comes I have to honor its arrival, unpack why its here, and invite the possibility of other experiences. This opens my life up to moments of levity without shaming the absolute truth that I was indoctrinated with a deep belief that I should hate and work to destroy myself and everyone else.

I wrote an article that offers 5 rules to start being beautiful that I think can speak more extensively to this.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?

My favorite activity is writing love poems in chalk while listening to music and dancing around my neighborhood in the middle of the night.

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Thank you so much, Denise, for your thoughtful and incredibly powerful answers for the Half the Self Hate series!! You can invite Denise Jolly to speak, teach or perform! All the information is at her website. You can also follow Denise on her Instagram, Facebook fan page and Tumblr!

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Half the Self Hate Instagram and Twitter contest challenge:

The contest is over, thanks to the folks who shared and posted, and many many thanks to two great feminist, queer owned, body positive sex toy stores for sponsoring, Sugar in Baltimore, MD and Self Serve Toys a queer-owned feminist sex toy shop in Albuquerque, NM (both have online stores). They believe, as I do, that all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are!

I still want to know how you’ve lost half your self hate! Write a tweet or an Instagram post about one practice you have employed to lose half your self hate. Or commit to employing one practice to lose half your self hate! (You can borrow a practice you learned about in this blog series!) Hashtag your post with #halftheselfhate.

I can read something and it kinda sinks in, but if I read something and then apply it to my life by writing something reflective, that’s when it really begins to work for me. The great thing about blogs and social media is the archive. I’ve really loved reading what people have said so far on the hashtag and I’d love for it to continue as a reflective space for folks to remember what they’ve done to cut half their self hate! It’s difficult to speak openly about loving yourself and I’d love to keep moving forward to cut that social stigma!

2014-01-15

Guest Post: How to Be a Good Ally to My Crippled Arm

My bestie Jacqueline Mary is disabled in a way where it is not readily apparent to the naked eye. Her arm was shattered in a bike accident a couple of years ago and the initial surgery restored only a small percentage of function in her arm. But because she still has her left arm and most people aren’t particularly observant, it’s not obvious right away that there’s anything different about it. She often has to tell people not to touch her arm, especially strangers in public, and sometimes people we know don’t even believe her and continue to poke, touch, even punch her in the arm because they think she’s joking. She’s also in a lot of chronic pain that has gotten worse over the last couple of months.

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She posted the following note to Facebook and I really loved it. Not just because she’s my friend, but also because I thought it was an exceptional example of stating your needs and asking for help–I believe vulnerability is a sign of strength.

What was a huge bummer about it was that she reposted it several times to her Facebook feed and it only got 10 likes. Whereas the day before when she posted about being hungover she got 30 likes. It speaks to a lot, especially to how uncomfortable people are about disability and vulnerability.

I’ve learned a lot from Jacqueline about disability lately and the most distasteful one was that men often use it as an opener to hit on her. GROSS!

Blanche side eye

So here’s a dating pro-tip: if you see someone has an injury or a cane, don’t use it to make conversation to hit on them. Hit on them in a different way. Get creative. Here are some ideas.

Every person who has chronic pain or a disability has different needs and asks around it, but most folks really want to be heard. So if a friend of yours is asking for help or being vulnerable, a simple “like” to say you heard something, or even (my favorite) a comment heart (<3) is a sweet gesture. I hope you like the following piece by Jacqueline Mary.

This is a brief PSA about the status of my arm – I’d appreciate some likes on this (aka- i read this, that sucks).

Things are not at all great. My radius is no longer attached to my wrist, which means it’s just kind of floating around in there. My hand is quite literally dangling off my ulna. In the last 6 weeks, my pain levels have risen pretty dramatically and my mobility has lessened even further. I’ve been to the clinic several times for this, but since I’m going to Bellevue and they’re seeing me for next to nothing, this is going to be a long process. They’re looking into surgical options and trying to see if anyone is crazy enough to cut me open without knowing what’s really happening in there. My MRI failed because of the amount of metal in my arm (which I’m told over and over again is exceptional).

The result of this is that I need my friends to understand. Guys, I’m tired. Fucking exhausted. Being in pain every moment is a huge head trip in so many ways, but the most noticeable is that it sucks all your energy away. Aside from actual physical fatigue, I’m mentally fatigued. What I need to do for my arm and what I need to do to survive are at war. The strength it takes to not just quit my life and stay in a comfy bed with my arm elevated is really wearing on me. This makes me, basically, bitter and cranky. I apologize.

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In addition, my arm is extra fragile these days. Even a tiny bump creates big pain. This means that I don’t want to go to things where I’m sure it will be jostled. I’m actively trying to avoid anything with crowds (especially shows, unfortunately). I’m driving most places these days. I can’t ride my bike anymore. The train, when it’s busy, is pretty awful for me. Please still invite me to things, but understand that I may decline for what looks like no good reason.

I’m wearing ace bandages a lot more these days, and it’s looking like I may turn back to the sling. Both of these are scary and stressful, as it’s much more of a physical indicator of my disability than I’ve had in a long, long time. This results in even more unwanted attention from assholes on the street. It also creates an appearance of being weak, which is extra scary because, well, I am, and it makes me feel like a bigger “target” to be attacked. However, if any of my creative, DIY, or textile manipulating friends want to make me a beautiful sling and/or wrap, I would seriously love that. Especially if it didn’t look like a sling and therefore made me feel a bit safer.

I know that most of my friends don’t have experience with disability, but I appreciate that you’re trying. Here are a few things you can do to make life a little easier on this crip:

1. Don’t touch my left arm. Ever. Don’t push it, don’t pull it, don’t try to hold my hand on that side, and don’t insist I hug you with both arms. Don’t be insulted if I pull away from you, I’m most likely in pain, aka not trying to get away from you. (And, for the love of god, don’t fucking tell me my scars are beautiful and/or give me character. Don’t downplay my disfigurement.)

2. Help me out. Offer to carry things for me. Insist. Help me open jars, doors, envelopes, even my coat. If you see me trying to do something stupid and struggling, offer to do it for me. I know, I know, I can get pissy when you offer, but offer anyway. The pissyness is a result of feeling bad about needing help, not a result of your offer.

Another GREAT way to help is walking on my left side if we’re in a crowd. I’d much rather have a trusted friend on my bad side than for it to be open to whatever dickbag wants to knock into it. Take the lead, guide us to a safer place, and don’t be afraid to yell CRIPPLE COMING THROUGH!

Also, feel free to call people on their shit if they’re not being kind or a good ally to me. I’m so worn out from having to tell people “Don’t touch me there, don’t push me, that hurts, THAT REALLY HURTS,” just to be met with giggles. It’s not a game, I’m not playing, and it’s not funny to me. Think of it as a matter of consent.

3. Be understanding. If I’m cranky, late, or cancel completely – I’m sorry. I can’t do all the things I want to do as it is, but it’s getting much harder lately.

4. Be kind. I’m tired. I’m sensitive. I’m touchy. Just be sweet to me. I try to not be sensational about these things, but I still have pushback where people seem to think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I know I mostly look fine, which is why things have gotten to this point before doctors would take me seriously.

Guys, I’m fucking scared. There isn’t really any other way to say that. Every time I go to the doctor, they manipulate it which makes it hurt even worse. I will not go back on painkillers. The “best” option I have is a surgery where they will take apart my entire arm (from the elbow down) and completely restructure it. This means another hospital stay, recovery time, physical therapy, and a bunch of other things I don’t have the time or money for. I have no idea how I’m going to manage that, but I trust that I’ll figure it out when the time comes.

So yes. This was a “brief” PSA about the status of my arm. Thank you for reading. Feel free to ask questions if you have any, but mostly I’m just very grateful to have friends who will read this, get it, and try their best to accommodate my bullshit.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for the Rebel Cupcake Leather Family Photo Booth.

Jacqueline is going in for major arm reconstructive surgery tomorrow morning. She’s going to have a piece of her hip inserted into her arm! The recovery period is going to be intense and require a lot of cabs. It’s so hard to know how to help, but here’s a concrete ask you can probably help with (or signal boost)!

Folks reading this in any city served by Uber cabs–a smart phone cab hailing service that allows you to call a car with your smart phone, which is actually a lot easier in NYC than calling a car service. Uber is offering a special where if you sign up now, as soon as you use your first free $20 ride (that’s right, it’s free for the first ride with this sign up), Jacqueline’s account will get a $20 bonus. Which means a free ride to or from work for her! You can help her just by taking a free cab ride!

Sign up for Uber here, Jacqueline’s referral code is uberjacqueline but should be automatically entered when you click that link!

These are the North American cities Uber serves–I love it and it’s pretty easy to use, especially the UberX service, it’s even just a little bit cheaper than a standard Brooklyn car service.

ATLANTA BALTIMORE BOSTON CHARLOTTE CHICAGO COLUMBUS DALLAS DENVER DETROIT HAMPTONS HONOLULU INDIANAPOLIS JACKSONVILLE LOS ANGELES MINNEAPOLIS MONTREAL NASHVILLE NEW JERSEY NEW YORK CITY OKLAHOMA CITY ORANGE COUNTY PHILADELPHIA PHOENIX PROVIDENCE SACRAMENTO SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SANTA BARBARA SEATTLE TORONTO TUCSON WASHINGTON D.C.

And if anyone has a lead on how to build a clamshell for Jacqueline to lounge in during her recovery, or the money to finance putting 100 pink and white balloons in her bedroom let me know.

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