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

2010-10-28

I’ll Just Say Fare Thee Well: The Myth of “Getting Closure”

I was at the Miss LEZ pageant, at the last intermission prior to the winner being announced, passing out fliers for Rebel Cupcake and generally being proud of how well Miss Rebel Cupcake was doing in the pageant. In this euphoric, flask of bourbon in my handbag sort of state, I ran into a couple of friends. One of them said, “Last week you wrote on your twitter ‘I’m going to need to create my own closure.’ I have a friend who has been struggling with a break-up for over a year and I repeated that to her and it really helped.” That comment made me so happy I almost cried.

Me at Rebel Cupcake: Halloween Heartbreak with the winner of Miss LEZ, repping Rebel Cupcake, Drae Campbell and Becca Blackwell who was a contestant with me in Miss LEZ last year. Dress: Re/Dress. Shoes, 3 1/2″ leather peep toes by Fitzwell via Zappos. Necklace & earring set: gift from a dear friend.

You might have noticed a little blog silence going on for a while. I find it really hard to write sometimes when I’m going through a lot of emotional upheaval. I like to write from a place of having a grasp on things and there’s nothing like having the rug pulled out from under you to make you feel like you don’t have a grasp on anything. That’s what happened five weeks ago, the details of which are still a little too fresh and muddled to explain. So, you know, I throw myself into my other work that doesn’t require me to feel like I have a grasp or whatever.

If there’s anything to come out of this pain I’m glad it’s helping people. I like living out loud in that way and my art is often my expression of the experience of living and loving as a queer fat femme/party promoter/shop girl/lawyer/performer/aspiring talk show host in this world. Lately expressing in soundbites like twitter and tumblr is what I’ve been able to do.

I believe the idea of “getting closure” is a myth. I think we idealize “getting closure” where you meet your ex at a neutral coffee shop and share lattes like you’re in an early 90s episode of Friends and you talk about your relationship and get all of those answers you are really missing that will help you tidy everything up like you fold your sweaters and put them away for the summer.

Emotions are messy and crazy. You have no control over the other person and what they’re going to say to you. Sometimes they won’t “give” you anything (as I’m experiencing now) or they’ll just do or say the same unsatisfying shit that lead to your break-up in the first place. Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide says (the gist of) “Try not to worry about how or why, try accepting that it is.” Learn your new normal. But, I think, unless you’re in the best possible break-up working in out in couples therapy or something, you won’t be able to just walk away and say “that was all neatly packaged, it feels closed.”

I mean, maybe there are couples out there who communicate SO WELL that they’re able to actually have closure and a satisfying break-up and to them I say kudos. But my twitter comment about creating my own closure had as much to do with what I’m going through now as it is poring over my previous break-ups (as I tend to do while heartbroken).

I had an ex-lover pass away this summer–there is no further closure I’m ever going to get from her. I really had always fantasized that at some point we’d be across the aisle from each other at our best friends’ wedding and we’d salvage a tender friendship out of our brief courtship. Any closure I get from my relationship with Luscious is going to be from working through my process, as it actually cannot come from her.

I think there are certain aspects of relationships that can see some tangible closure. One time I had an ex who owed me a bunch of money and I didn’t let it go. For years I watched friends walk away from top surgery loans and laptop loans of thousands of dollars to scoundrel exes or just plain sad exes. They did this because they just wanted a clean break and to not worry about it. For me it was important to close that element of my relationship. Plus, my electricity got shut off because he left this huge debt on our electric bill and the company rolled it over onto my new account and I had to come up with the money on my own, which was really hard at the time.

Self-advocacy is really difficult to do for yourself, especially when emotions are involved. But I kept at it, with letters and copies of joint bills and the bitter recollection of that week of living with candles for lights and no internet. And then I finally got checks every other week until it was paid off. I settled for slightly less than what I thought his debt was, but it was worth it to get it all done.

So I had financial closure but it still took months and even years to work through the emotions of our break-up and the closure I needed. I’ve got three years of perspective now and I still can only guess why or how. The damage of being cheated on, being broken up with in an email with no face to face conversation and all of that took a lot of work on my own terms.

Some closure won’t come until you start dating again. I wondered if I could ever love again as hard as I loved him. And it turns out I did and I can.


Me & my friend Berlin saying hi to his GF/my friend Ally who was in Portland. Berlin is the Ethical Butcher. Go to his classes & dinners!

Sometimes it helps me to write letters. I don’t like cutting people out of my life who did something horrible to me without explaining in plain language just exactly why I won’t ever speak to them again. Once someone lied to me so much I wrote her a letter detailing the 21 lies I had caught her in. I gave it to her and I’m certain that she managed to distort her reality around the contents to make it feel okay for her. But that letter helped me to create the peace I needed in order for me to walk away. The key is in sending it with no expectation as to the response.

One time I actually received great closure from an ex. A year after we broke up we ran into each other on campus and I smiled at her. She sent me an email with great accountability and apologies. At the time I couldn’t see it as the great closure it was, but three years later I re-read it and I was like “Wow, that was really great accountability.” But it wasn’t closure for me at the time because I wasn’t in a place to see it as closure.

Wanting closure is really hard. But the thing is, you have the power to make it happen for yourself in the way that works best for you. Break-ups are a selfish time period, where you stop looking at the us, mourn the pretty picture of the us you were creating and work on yourself. There’s so much possibility in your own closure.

Sometimes you’re not going to “get” closure at all because parts of our emotional histories are sagas and can’t be wrapped up like winter sweaters. My heartbreak feels like part of a bigger saga right now, so I’m not even working on closure. What I’m trying to do instead is turn my pain into the opportunity to create the solid base inside myself where an emotional event as jarring as what I just went through doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have a grasp on anything. I’m developing the tools to stay peaceful and strong as other things blow around me.


Like one of those inflatable bop bags from the 80s that you punch and they float right back up to upright.

Things are going to get better and most of the time I believe it. And those times I don’t believe it I have the tools to call a BFF and ask them to tell me everything is going to get better. And I have art to express what I’m going through. And I have you, my sweet and wonderful readers, reminding me that expressing my pain is helping you, too. And 2,000 hits a week reminding me you’re still out there wanting to know what I’ve got going on!


9021-homo from Rebel Cupcake! All photos from RC by Nogga Schwartz.

2010-09-20

Heartbreak MFA: Additions to the Break Up Survival Guide

One of the most amazing things about being an artist is that people tell me all the time how art I’ve created or produced has been really important to them in times of trouble and strife. Many times I hear “I have been going through a really terrible break-up and Episode 2 of your podcast really helped me out.” I’ve also heard more than a few times about how Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide has been passed around like a water cooler article to friends in need.

I’m so glad these resources exist, especially in light of the huge break-up they came out of for me.

Having (yet another) friend need this list this weekend prompted me to add a few updates. I share them with you below.

1. You already have all the tools you need to get through this.

It’s true, Dorothy.

Dorothy

Remind yourself of this every moment you feel desperate. Nowadays I can use the benchmark of “my fiance cheated on me for 8 months” or “I got laid off after 5 years with the same firm” as a way in which to gain the perspective I need to keep moving. I survived those things, I know I can survive whatever else comes my way.

As queers, fat people, people of color, women, gender non-conforming folks, etc… we have been put through the paces so much by society, our familes and ourselves, we are already survivors. Hell, the fact that I made it through my teens without succeeding at suicide is a testament to an inherent survival instinct that I attribute to being very blessed and watched over.

I will say that knowing that I have the tools to deal with heartbreak is sometimes cold comfort. At this point, almost three years since my ended engagement and having dated some women who have fucked with my heart big time, I feel like I have a Master’s Degree in Heartbreak. I’ve been through this, I know I’ll get through this again and live to love again. My heart doesn’t always know that, though. Having the gentle reminder from my brain is helpful.

2. Get co-defriendant with someone.

In the first few weeks of my big break-up I really needed help knowing what to do because the terrible echo of pain so consumed me. It was nice having a friend I could call on a moment’s notice and bring my shih tzu and an overnight bag and have somewhere to be that wasn’t my empty house, or have plans to go out or whatever I felt up to at the moment. When you designate a Captain Distraction, it’s especially nice because you will likely feel so different from moment to moment it’s hard to keep yourself abreast with your feelings, let alone your myriad friends. So if you have someone who has a lot of emotional and time availability see if they’re up to be your life raft for a little while.

3. Create community around your break-up.

When I was going through my big break-up I made a special filter on the blog community I was in of other people who were dealing with big break-ups around the same time. It was really comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the pain, to hear their process and to exchange mix cds. It was also interesting to notice our different benchmarks, how rebounding affected people and how their recovery was so varied. Maybe now you might do a twitter feed or facebook filter or just have a group email list.

I also threw a big New Year’s Eve party/ritual that year for me and 10 friends where we burned letters to our exes. It was nice to get to do that as a community.

4. Take lots of hot pictures of yourself.

If you have the cash, I suggest seeking out a queer photographer home girl like Molly at Fat Bottom Boudoir or Sophie of Shameless Photography. They know how to shoot you looking your best (in any body) and will help you reclaim your body and sexuality.

Bevin8.jpg

If you don’t have the cash, get a bestie, go to the MAC counter, get a free makeover. Then go to the Torrid dressing rooms or some other place full of hot fat girl clothes and try things on that are impossibly sexy with shoes that are ridiculously tall and take photos of each other.*

Use these hot pictures as new profile photos on Facebook. Looking hot is great revenge. It’s like a photo affirmation.

Advice Column

5. Throw yourself into a big art project.

My mom gave me this advice when I was crying on the phone to her during Thanksgiving. Thus, FemmeCast was born. It was a huge project (and continues to be, anyone know a good audio editor?) but being able to do something productive with my pain was totally helpful. It gave me something else to talk about and something else to think about during my worst moments.

Do you have something percolating you’ve always wanted to do? Just start.

6. Rebounding is a terrible idea.

Zoe told me when I was having my rebound that you end up having to “deal with that shit PLUS interest.” She’s totally right, too. Rebounding feels great. Why feel the heartbreak when you can focus on the joy of new love and not see any of the other red flags about how bad of an idea it is to date that person? I used to be queen rebound and I can attest it just makes things harder in the long run. Your gunk gets all jammed up and it takes a lot longer to sort through it. It also puts a lot more pressure on the new relationship to be the big savior for the heartbreak that came before.

There is no ibuprophin for heartache. It’s just through it. Rebounding is like creating a migraine out of a bad headache.

7. QVC.

I used to turn on QVC in the background whenever I was home alone to make me feel less lonely. A few months later I got a roommate, which definitely helped more. But if you’re walking around a newly empty house, QVC is nonstop enthusiastic chatter and it helps to drown out the terribles.

8. Heartbreak is an opportunity to learn about yourself.

I got a great email from my friend Genne after the disastrous rebound from my big break-up ended that began with the sentence “I don’t want to say that your picker is broken but…” and included some really great thoughtful questions to ask myself and work through in my recovery. Now, at the time I was a little taken aback at the idea that I was responsible for bringing in the inappropriate people in my life but I did see what she was saying.

My artist’s life coach Lynnee Breedlove said something similar to me during our last session. There is a reason you bring the people into your life when you do. If you can work through the reasons they’re in your life and what you can learn from the experience, it only makes you a more attuned to how to pick the next time around. And just like taking a hot photo for your facebook or creating some amazing art, it’s all about taking the time you need to create something beautiful out of your pain.

***

I hope these nuggets are helpful to some of y’all out there. Comment with your favorite heartbreak tip below and one random commenter will get a copy of a break-up cd mixed by me. I’ll pick at midnight EST on September 27, 2010.

And while we’re on theme, the next Rebel Cupcake is heartbreak themed. Lots of danceable heartbreak songs and halloween costumes!

*Always be kind to your shop girls and if they ask you to stop taking pictures be nice about it. For $10 an hour no one wants to have to tell you about store policies, so they’re doing it because they have to. Also always hang up your clothes neatly and right side out on the hangers.

2010-07-05

In Memory of Luscious

I found out a couple of weeks ago that a former sweetheart of mine passed away. It was very sudden. We do not know why (beyond knowing that it was not foul play), nor do we know if we will find out why.

I have been in a lot of shock and denial about it. I also believe that the stories that are hardest to tell are the most important to share, so I thought I would put down my thoughts and remembrances.

n516264923_1958838_7023
Photo courtesy of Tanja Tiziana.

I met Luscious in 2005 at the NOLOSE conference. I always thought she was cute and regularly flirted with her, to no great reciprocation (she was incredibly shy in that way). I also always thought she was in an open relationship. Thanks to her erroneous Facebook status.

For New Year’s Eve 2008/9 I went on a girls’ road trip to Toronto to visit friends and eat our way though town. I thought it would be fun to proposition her for a casual make-out, which I did in a clever and carefully worded email sent a week before we left town. She said yes and proposed a night to hang out. She was a very talented chef and came in on her day off to the restaurant she worked at (Disgraceland–fabulous name). She cooked us an insanely amazing meal of fried chicken, poutine, fried okra, mac & cheese, corn dogs, fried green tomatoes… The gravy on the poutine remains the best I’ve ever had.

IMG_9884

After much stalling and making me wait patiently (not my strong suit), she finally kissed me and we made a date for New Year’s Eve. We began our affair all night that night and had instantaneously intense chemistry. That first night I remember her sitting up on the bed and coming up behind her to put my arms around her. She leaned into my chest and said “I feel so safe with you.” That is one of the most treasured compliments I’ve ever gotten from a lover.

We began texting fast and furious the days following my departure. We had a marathon phone conversation where she moved furniture so she could get cell reception to talk to me. She invited me back and being both impetuous and impatient, I decided to drive back up 10 days after leaving the last time.

We checked into love island and had an amazing time. She drove me around Toronto in the winter, showed me her favorite spot in the city, someplace right on the lake where she could sit and look at the city skyline and think, or talk to her BFF, Arun. I got to hang out a lot with Arun, who at the time was beginning to court my BFF, Zoe.

IMG_0622
Arun (next to Luscious on the right, also Gigi and Kaleb are pictured) remains one of my favorite people.

We loved many of the same movies, Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias were top choices. So we curled up to watch them on her bed-like concoction instead of a couch, which she called her “Flatress” and was more of an entity than it was a piece of furniture. She cooked me an incredible brunch. She complained in a facebook status update once that she wanted someone else to cook for her, so as a surprise for her I took a turn in the kitchen in lingerie and heels, making her muffins and bacon with brown sugar.

I met a few of her wonderful friends, but mostly we stayed on love island. She sent me home with cupcakes she bought for me from her vegan, gluten-free baker friends (they were seriously better cupcakes than I’ve had in NYC) and deviled eggs she made for my road trip.

One time she texted me “All I have to offer is my good palate, strong hands and big heart.” She had so much more to offer than that, but those were her most noticeable characteristics. She didn’t always speak up in big social groups, but she was incredibly giving to me in terms of intimacy. We talked a lot from the heart.

She was so kind. Even to people who weren’t particularly kind to her. One time we were in the grocery store, I was down the aisle a ways and this small child walked up to her and told her she was fat. I forget what Luscious said to the child but it was one of the most sweet and generous teachable moment responses I’ve ever witnessed.

She gave me one of my favorite cds, Dance Yourself to Death, who are her friends. I listened to it nonstop in my car for months.

On my next visit she curled up with me on the Flatress and showed me all of her photo albums, through her childhood and teen years. She was heart-open about so many things with me. She drove me to see places that were important to her history in Toronto and outside. She always held my arm when we were walking outside because she knew the ice terrified me. We had incredible sex.

IMG_0653

The problem with long distance is that it only works if the parties have compatible communication styles and abilities. She sort of dropped me suddenly, without warning. It was really devastating to go from a deep intimacy and fairly constant contact to next to no communication. About a month after our last visit and the sudden lack of communication we exchanged a couple of emails, but I still never really understood what she was doing or her intentions, and we came to no resolution because she never could tell me what she wanted from me or “us”.

I went back and re-read some of my journals from that time. I had forgotten how heartbroken I was over Luscious for quite some time. Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” on repeat heartbroken. Couldn’t stop talking about it for months heartbroken.

Though I still felt very sweetly towards her, as a matter of self-preservation I kept some distance and we mostly communicated through Facebook comments and status likes. I was always pumping Zoe for updates on Luscious when she would return from visiting her boyfriend in Toronto.

I emailed her in December when I found out she was having gastric bypass surgery. I know it can be really isolating and hard to make decisions about weight-loss (especially surgery) when you are in a fat activist community and I wanted her to know I was available to talk and supported her doing what she needed to for her own bodily self-determination. I also secretly wanted to open the door for communication otherwise.

I saw her again at the NOLOSE Conference in Oakland the weekend before she died. I went up to her and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. We didn’t really talk beyond small talk though. It was hard to figure out what to say. We shared a lot of stolen glances, and the look on her face when I was on stage on Saturday night is something I’ll never forget.

I know right now I am feeling very confused, devastated, and needy. It feels so weird since I don’t live in her town and wasn’t an active part in her life. We were Facebook “likers”. In this day and age of Facebook and social networking it feels weird and hard that she has a Facebook account. It seems weird that I got a notice that she liked my status update on Saturday and then moments (?) later she was gone. It seems weird and also awesome that her Facebook page is now a memorial site for people to post about her.

It also feels weird to grieve someone who I was so intimate with, but who was no longer a current person in my life. I feel really grateful that many of my friends reached out to me when they found out. One of whom is my friend Kristyn, who also had former lovers die suddenly (multiple within a year) and she met up with me to talk about it. She said this really beautiful thing to me, the gist of which is the following.

As sex positive queers, it is really important to acknowledge that sharing your body with someone is a really sacred act. And even if you’re no longer sharing your heart and body with someone any longer, when they leave this earth there is still part of you that goes. It is really important to recognize that it is a significant and distinct loss.

At this point I am just trying to feel it. The first day I had some time alone after I found out I spent the day writing, working and listening to Brokeback Mountain soundtrack. I cried a lot and got it together to go to Rebel Cupcake. I dedicated the show and the party to her–a fat positive queer dance party with lots of good seating was exactly her jam. No one there knew her but it felt like something I could do for me. I am still finding ways to honor her and my grief day by day. Leah Lakshmi told me the night I found out “Shark, do the best you can to just feel your feelings.”

IMG_0659

She was really important to me and still is. I still thought about her every day. I hope that whatever happened that she wasn’t scared. I hope that she is someplace looking over us, and smiling.

2010-05-07

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Identifying Your Emotions Edition

A couple of months ago I had a little miscommunication with someone around me stating that I was feeling jealous about something. She saw it as a red flag whereas I meant it as information, and actually, ultimately a compliment.

Jealousy is such a loaded word and it really doesn’t need to be. I’m an only child, I get jealous about lots of ridiculous things–friends, success, clothes, lovers, access to cable television. I have learned how to manage my jealousy internally and rarely feel it more than fleetingly. I have also learned that jealousy is a great information gathering tool for myself in terms of checking in with my emotions.

When it comes down to it, if I don’t care about someone enough to feel some jealousy, I probably don’t want to be friends or lovers with them. But me being jealous is not that deep.

Enter Glenn Marla, with a new term for the queer lexicography.

IMG_5745.JPG

JELLO. JELLO is a shorthanded way of saying jealous. “I am feeling a little JELLO about that” sounds much less threatening to yourself and the person you are expressing it to than jealous. Jealousy has such a bad rap, but if you can use the shorthand of “Having some JELLO” it feels easier to deal with. No weight watchers points, single serving. Try it, it’s fun.

“Hey baby, I just needed to tell you I am feeling JELLO about your date on Monday, so if you could make some time for me on Sunday to hold hands and watch a re-run of Glee, it would take the edge of my JELLO.”

This is a derivative of the term “J.Lo” which was brought to us via Damien Luxe via some generous queers in Philly.

Battleshipping. You know when you meet up with a friend, bring your laptops and do work together but separately, which somehow keeps you more accountable to the work product and slightly encourages you not to look up Jersey Shore news on Gawker? If you ever think about what it looks like with two people and their laptops back to back, it’s just like the rad board game Battleship. Heather came up with the term and was throwing it around about Silas and Damien and for awhile I really thought she meant they were playing board games.*

“Hey Zoe, want to meet up for Battleship next week? I really need to haul ass on the production of my book. Kate Bornstein wants to see one out of me soon.”**

IMG_6002.JPG
Me, Kate and Carmelita Tropicana at the reading for King Kong Theory, published by the Feminist Press.

Maple Chaser. I have thrown this term around on this blog before, but basically it is someone who has an affinity for Canadians. Like a chubby chaser or other such semi-creepster terms. I heard about it for the first time on FetLife. I like it for the double entendre of Canadian people and also maple as a food/concept. I think Canadians are hot and really love to visit Canada.*** And I love maple syrup, maple flavored anything, and especially maple donuts. They are very uncommon in New York, but very common in my home state of California. I have them at least twice a visit when I go to Canada.

“I find that tattooed butch from Toronto a triple threat in the lust department–I am a Maple Chaser.”

IMG_9840
Me. In Toronto. I am due for a trip. Book me for a gig!

The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs. I use this term to describe that beginning courtship phase when people do sweet things to woo you. It is in reference to an actual girl who wooed me by making me amazing meals involving both of those things. Several weeks later, she stopped the wooing without explanation. I kept hanging on, waiting for The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs to resume. What I didn’t realize was that she was showing me another aspect of her personality, though I was having a hard time adjusting to this new version of her when I liked the TDOFC&DE version so much more than the one that was ignoring me.

It is my belief that the Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs should never cease–a relationship needs to involve a certain amount of continuous courtship. Courtship does not require a great deal of energy, just a little thoughtfulness. (Check out the FemmeCast episode on courtship for some great ideas and guidance.)

“It is really difficult to do, but I need to move on. Now that The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs have ended I am not being treated very well, and I deserve to be cherished. My feelings for her are strong, but my feelings for me are stronger.”

IMG_4602.JPG
Enjoying Fried Chicken with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Our friend courtship continues, as we approach our 2 year friendaversary at the 2010 Femme Conference.

*Both highly productive people in my life, I wondered why they were having game night and not inviting me. I felt a little Jello about it until I realized it was a work/production date. Ha ha!
**Real quote! Nothing kicks you in the ass like meeting and performing with one of your heroes and having them tweet that at you!
***Seriously, Toronto has these incredible hot dog carts with all different kinds of hot dogs, tofu, turkey, regular, sausage and then tons of great toppings to put on them! And lots of hot queers, fun things to do, good beer, cheap ferry rides, amazing restaurants…

2009-12-01

World AIDS Day & More on Medical Self-Advocacy

You know how weird it is to think that I have never known a world without AIDS? I remember growing up and it was new and scary, and with family friends in the LGBT community* I always knew about it in some way or another. It is weird to think about it now as having been around for almost three decades, which is actually a really long time.

When I was about five my single mom and I lived with two gay guy roommates. One of them was the only person I would let brush my hair because I had such a tender scalp. I was completely unaware of it at the time, but they both tested positive. I remember one of them moved away to live with his mom in Texas. I didn’t know at the time it was to be in hospice.

Bevin age 6
Me, age 6, in front of that house not long after Rob moved away. I need to get my mom to scan me some photos from that era.

Not everyone is touched by HIV or AIDS directly, but I think everyone can do their part to create awareness, know their HIV status and practice safe sex.

You know sometimes STD screenings don’t automatically include every STD? It’s frustrating because I go to a sort of run of the mill not homo GYN and I am sure I am one of the only unmarried and queer patients. I always have to give them a laundry list of what I want to be tested for.

Sometimes it is weird to put words to asking for an HIV test, but it’s really important! I know WAY too many people (myself included) who have been cheated on in the most heinous and unsafe of ways. It’s really important to trust no one but yourself when it comes to getting tested.

IMG_0721
Here’s a picture of me in an actual moment where I was unaware of the cheatin’ going on! Accompanied by Zoe, who had that fateful come to Jesus moment with me in a car on the way to the Paramus mall about confronting things.

I don’t ever want to think when I’m monogamous or whatever that there’s even a possibility my partner could have given me an STD but it’s real. Get tested, for everything, once a year. Think of how nice it will be to KNOW that your partner didn’t give you an STD that calendar year!**

Also I know way too many people who have died from ovarian cancer and other lady parts cancers. Get screened for cancer (as much as they can), too. The earlier HIV, cancers and other diseases are found, the easier they are to get treated.

This is also especially important for people who are not of normative bodies and genders. It’s really vulnerable to go to a doctor when you’re fat and are going to get the fat talk or when you are transgender and are going to get the [insert laundry list of fears, here]. Bring a friend who can be your advocate and hold your hand. It’s really important to get your bits checked no matter what kind of bits you have and how they line up with the outside.

Take it from someone whose routine trip to the GYN turned into a kerfuffle of mis[fat]diagnosiswhen a doctor is supposed to be treating you for something and launches into the fat talk you can politely tell them “I am not here to discuss my weight with you. I am here to discuss my bits, my HIV status and whether I am at risk for cancers.” I like to have a mantra to prepare ahead of time.

And, luckily, since that terrible trip to the GYN, I haven’t had a fat hating doctor. I am about to get health insurance again and the first thing I plan to do is get my bits checked, my blood drawn and my HIV status confirmed.

If you’re uninsured and lucky enough to be in a town with an LGBT clinic, you can sometimes get low or no cost HIV tests and other exams. Use the resources available to you to keep you safe and up to date about your status. Those resources weren’t there when our loved ones started getting sick, but they are there now.

Do something to revere their memories.

*My mom, who is now Lesbian identified and gay married, was in and out of the closet a couple of times while I was growing up.
**I can imagine the girl talk emails that ensue. “OMG y’all, I didn’t get an STD from my monogamous partner! Woo hoo!” Considering the amount of girl talk emails I have gotten that had a different result.

2009-10-13

Nobody Ever Died of Awkward: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Battling Insecurity and Asking People Out

A few months ago I was in Rachael’s king size bed fretting over sending a very forward propositional text message to someone I thought was foxy. “C’mon Bev, nobody ever died of awkward. Worst case scenario she’s flattered and says no.”

IMG_2266

I sent the message and the response I got was articulate, complimentary and offered a raincheck. Kelli Dunham, Butch Comic in Residence for FemmeCast asked if this person had taken classes on how to write text messages because it was so good.

But more than the response, I was really proud of myself for putting myself out there. Zoe beats it like a drum everytime I do something like this.

Half the reasons I’ve missed out on getting ass in my lifetime is by not articulating my desire. Insecurity, fear of rejection, fear of being made fun of… the list is endless. It’s hard to put yourself out there in a racist, homophobic, misogynist, binary gendered, anti-erotic, fatphobic, ableist, etc… society when you’re at one or many of those intersections of marginalized identities. Plainly stated, I’ve been a fat girl my whole life, shit from middle school runs deep and it’s hard to bounce back from significant early rejection.

Out of that insecurity can come a bevy of reasons to psych yourself out of propositioning someone.

After that moment I incorporated “Nobody ever died of awkward” into my regular on stage repetoire. As any of you who have seen me femmecee can attest, I am a fan of encouraging my audience to interact after the show or during intermissions. I often give out pick-up lines, conversation starters and ways for people to connect. I love matchmaking.

At the Zombie Queer Cabaret this weekend someone said I was easy and I said, “I’m not easy, I’m just straightforward.” When I’m attracted to someone it can often inspire in me my old shyness. In fact, one of the signs that I’m really into someone I’ve just met is if I have a hard time looking them in the eye (though I am working on getting over that). The shyness is really just insecurity. The fastest way to get through that shyness, for me, is to just be direct.

I still have to go through the same cycle of insecurity I always have when I proposition someone, but now I can psych myself up about it way faster than I ever could before. I’m talking a matter of hours versus days, weeks or months. In college it would take me weeks to work up the courage to ask someone to hang out as a friend-that-might-lead-to-more. Now I might let a passing interest develop into a crush for as long as a month, but there’s a certain moment of annoyance I reach when I am getting mixed signals from someone and I just want to cut to the chase.

When I ask someone out I always use the term “date”. I encourage you to do that, too. My friend Megan Beene used to complain about the “Lesbian Not-Date” syndrome where you’re hanging out with someone and you’re not sure if it was/is a date.

IMG_0738

I like to make sure it’s clear what my intentions are. I also often tell them that my intention is “casual” or “proper” date.*

Even if you’re not asking someone out and just expressing interest, it is really great to be direct. One of the greatest examples I’ve experienced was really more of a gesture than the words themselves, but this really hot butch I’d been trying to make contact with for 2 weeks came up to me in the dark, put her hand on the small of my back as she walked by and said something in my ear along the lines of me being a really attractive woman. And then she walked away. I don’t even remember what she said but it was really clear.

The best part about having a move like that is that no matter how nervous you are, you’ll never actually seem that nervous in person. Trust.

Another thing I always do when I ask people out is to be complimentary and to not give them the reason to reject your offer. If they want to turn you down, they can, but let them be the ones to come up with the excuse.

An example is “Georgine, I’ve found our long talks about homo fashion really intriguing and would love to continue the conversation. Would you like to go out on a date with me? I am thinking a casual walk along the Christopher Street pier where we can see the fashions of the gay youth of today followed by a coffee at the one remaining West Village gay coffee house.” Instead of all of that followed by “Unless you’re busy. It’s really okay, you know, if you’re busy. Or if you don’t want to. Or if you want to just be friends.” If they want to be friends they can propose that with their proper response to you.

I tend to also be really cutesy with my date requests and use a little schtick. A friend of mine uses rhyming, which is particularly adorable. I like to think putting some personality in the date request makes it all the more flattering, and that is what a date request should ultimately be.

Rachael’s flirting philosophy is “It is never a bad time to make people feel good about themselves.” I think this absolutely applies to asking people out.** I have also found that the fastest way for me to get over a crush is to be rejected by them. And, really, how can you be into someone who doesn’t think you’re fabulous enough to date?

It’s comical how many of my friends I once asked out or who once asked me out. In every one of those cases it was clear within a few months that it was way better that we chose the friend route.

The awkwardness lasts as long as you let it, and I purposefully act like nothing is wrong until nothing really is wrong anymore. It’s best to just try to be normal.

What I love about having gotten a lot of practice asking people out in the last couple of years is that now it comes much more naturally. I met this hot girl last month and after flirting with her a few times in the evening as I was bidding her adieu and we exchanged numbers I told her straight up “If you’re interested in asking me on a date I would love that.” (Sometimes the butches like to do the asking.)

The important part is that you see your success as battling your insecurity and putting yourself out there, rather than what the reaction of the other person happens to be. You’ll always be successful when you push yourself to grow.

Today on Twitter, Shit My Dad Says tweeted “That woman was sexy…Out of your league? Son. Let women figure out why they won’t screw you, don’t do it for them.”

So the next time you are getting an attack of insecurity about a crush, or you aren’t sure whether you should ask someone out, stop thinking and start texting/emailing/calling/talking and do it. Let them make the decision whether they will go out with you. You won’t die of awkward if they say no.

*I’m going into much greater detail about this in the episode of FemmeCast I’m editing right now, on courtship.

For me a casual date would involve a meandering hang out, a variety of outside activities, watching a movie at home, having cupcakes together. Something easy and cheap. I often prefer casual dates because I lead such a fast-paced life, what I’m looking for in a potential dating person/girlfriend is really someone who its easy and fun to be around. Casual dates help to tell you that.

A proper date is something more traditional. A performance and drinks, dinner and a movie, just dinner. Some of the best dates I’ve been on involved an activity that told me more about what the person was passionate about and had a sweet and small souvenir.

**Of course, this is NOT the case for those who are monogamous or you are otherwise ethically barred from dating, like your friend’s recent ex or some such close queer connection. Let ethics not insecurity slow you down!

2009-07-17

On Femme Dates, Femme on Femme Action and Cultivating Both

In reference to my previous post Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition, I received a comment that stated they thought calling a date between two Femmes was exclusionary of Femme on Femme Action (FOFA). In fact, Mae says my term Femme Date is heterosexualism and “it seems to imply that anything between two Femmes is platonic and just friends”.

Mae! I have to respectfully and indignantly disagree with you! If you read my definition of Femme Date, I say “In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.” Femme Dates are all about not being romantic dates. NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF FEMMES DATING.

Here’s the thing–if two Femmes go on a romantic date, it’s called a DATE. Just like if a Butch and a Butch go on a romantic date, or a Genderqueer and a Femme or whatever. Two Femmes going on a date is a date that, of course, increases the FOFA (god that’s such a great acronym) in the world, and, according to Cherry Poppins, when two Femmes do it they produce glitter that comes out of nowhere. It happened to her and her ladyfriend and they were very thrilled.

IMG_2407
Cherry Poppins commented on this photo, “Bevin, what I really ♥ about this picture: it’s like Southern high femme realness (fancy frocks + Lone Stars + cute shoes + camp chairs).”

I think titles give something an air of importance. What I mean by giving Femme Date a special term, is because making time where we treat our friends with the same special devotion and attention we lavish on our romantic dates, it honors our commitments to them and honors our common identities (here, Femme, but you could easily do it with fat friends, trans friends, Femme friends over forty, etc…) and how special it is to have a friend who you see across from the table who embodies what makes up you. Who can really SEE you. I want to give at least the same amount of attention to a Femme Date that I do on a date with someone I might want to do it to.

Recently I’ve had my nose buried in Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities*, and I’m being all meta, quoting Ulrika quoting Clover Cuthroat, who is talking about her BFF Vagina Jenkins.

“About [Vagina Jenkins], you in return wrote: ‘Even thought there is an age gap between [Vagina Jenkins] and me, we’ve such similar lived experience, it’s like I’ve known her all my life. Because we both grew up black, poor, fat and awkward, we know what it’s like to be invisible aside from our sexual orientation. She encourages me to take up more space and exaggerate my beauty. We understand each other’s past and present and love each other for it.'”

Vagina says about Clover:

“‘I love her like the sibling I never had and always wanted. My childhood girlfriends understood my socio-economic background, my college girlfriend from the Black Student Union understood my racial politics and my queer girlfriends understood my sexuality stuff. I love those friends for the gifts they’ve given over the years. But Clover is the one person who gets it all without explaining any of it.'”

fistyandvag
Clover to the left and Vagina to the right. You should book Vagina Jenkins at your venue, she’s phenomenal, sexy, sparkly and really down to earth.

I will admit to tearing up a little bit when I read that essay. There’s something so special about creating friendships with people who really see you, understand you and bring out the best in you that just gets me to that spot in my heart where Beaches and other BFF movies from the 80s settled in. Plus, I have that in my life, with quite a few people. And I do sacred rituals like Femme Dates with Zoe, Femme bonding trash tv time with Chris, and long weekends with Rachael in order to make sure that my Femme relationships are cultivated with the same intentionality as my romantic relationships.

I want to also make it clear that just because I make a lot of noise about dating Butches or folks on the transmasculine spectrum, it doesn’t mean I exclusively date them. Quite the contrary, before I dated my ex of 3 years Seth (Genderqueer), I exclusively dated femmes. They weren’t femme identified necessarily, but definitely gendernormative and very feminine presenting. A couple of them would go on to become quite butch** but most of them are still just as girly.

What I struggle with now, as a Femme community leader, is the fact that so often I’ll make a new friend and default to Femme friendship because it’s really complicated. Femme bonding is so special and distinct, and as a leader I don’t want to screw things up for people, you know? Also, I am very wary of power dynamics and the complications of queer ethics. I had a crush on a Femme recently and it really spun out my tires because I was weighing all the measures of whether it would disturb community building or power dynamics too much to try to date her instead of just being friends and working together. Some of the ways in which I’ve figured out how to determine whether to default to Femme friendship is to find out right off the bat if they do date Femmes, have considered it or are open to it. I also try to make sure people know that about me. I’ll tell you my Femme type (which is oddly specific, as are my types of the transmasculine variety) if you ask nicely.

So, anyway, Mae, I’m interested to know your tips and tricks for a Femme dating Femmes. How do you meet girls and not default to friendship? How do you ask them out and make sure they’re clear it’s a date-date and not a lesbian not-date? Do you date Femmes who perform Femme in the same way you do, or do you go for a different kind of Femme?

*A book by Ulrika Dahl & Del Lagrace Volcano that just came out in the US. We celebrated the East Coast launch in Atlanta last weekend. Holy crap was that fun! I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s so lovely and wonderful to read and see images of all of this Femme lusciousness. If you can’t buy it from your local feminist bookstore, if you click on the link to Amazon right here I will make some pennies towards the costs of producing FemmeCast, which is totally unfunded and a lot more than you’d think.

**Hot damn is my first girlfriend a really good looking genderqueer now, but she was also hot when she had long blonde hair. At the time I was embarassingly clueless.

2009-06-16

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition

I have the following updates to the Queer Lexicography to present unto you.

The first, courtesy of Zuleikha Mahmood, co-founder of the Femme Sharks.

Critically underbanged. It’s a great alternative to the term “dry spell” but can also be used to describe Lesbian Bed Death and any really unsatisfying sex. She used it in a craig’s list ad of all places, to request that someone help her protest her state of being. It worked, too, she totally found her recent boo from it and is now contentedly well-banged.

I think it’s also important to use this term during times in which your critically underbanged status has more to to with your own choosiness than any lack of interest. I am not going to settle or have sex with people who I am ambivalent about. It’s nice in periods of critical underbangedness to have such a colorful turn of phrase to use.

The second, courtesy of Glenn Marla, Tranny Superstar and oft-contributor to FemmeCast.

Tragic. It’s an alternative to the term depression, since being depressed is such a sad word that means inaction. When you’re depressed you’re sitting around like a lump, but tragic is an action word. So next time someone asks you how you’re doing, instead of saying “depressed” you should say you’re “tragic”. I find it’s a great way to spur me to action and making art out of my sad feelings. (In fact, Mr. Marla, together with Silas Howard and Heather Acs, put together an amazing piece of theater called “Tragic Magic” which was all about taking really horrible things in their lives and turning them into beautiful art. It’s moving and wonderful and when they go on tour through the Pac Northwest, CA, etc… this summer you need to bring your friends. Fan them on the Book.)

Of course, sometimes you give into the depression for a little while and listen to some hardcore Tracy Chapman (Smoke and Ashes anyone?) and play Bejeweled Blitz over and over again.

Trampage. Brought to you courtesy of Ms. Cherry Poppins, head whatever of the Femme Mafia ATX.

Trampage is a great word to describe sleeping your way through a town. For example, “My recent trip to Austin was a total trampage, I hooked up in a boxcar, a gay bar, an abandoned theater, my friend’s couch and in a van.” That was not my trip, I’m just using it as an example. But if anyone wants to invite a Femme to ATX sometime for some abandoned theater action, I might be up for it.

Femme Date. This one is totally just so obvious it can’t be attributed. It’s awesome to ask someone out on a Femme Date. In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.

I had a lovely Femme Date with Zoe last night, because I wanted some one on one time with her to find out about her recent Toronto trip to see her sweetie and try out a new restaurant in my neighborhood. It was marvelous. And tonight I had a wonderful Femme friend of mine ask me on a Femme Date because we’d never hung out one on one. It was wonderful, we went to a wine bar nearby and had a couple of glasses and some cheese and great conversation. She was very chivalrous and ordered for me and it was quite lovely.

If you’re somewhere and know a Femme you want to get to know better, I highly recommend asking her on a Femme Date. Or if you’re just hitting a dearth of romantic action, being romanced by a friend (or romancing a friend) in this kind of sweetly platonic way, is really a wonderful way to feel special intimacy. Also, when you are having lots of romantic regular kind of dates, you should still have Femme Dates to build community and have those wonderful special bonding moments that Femmes have together.

It’s a great way to have an adventure and do those fun things you do on creative dates (pull out a guide book for your home city and find something fun you’ve never done! explore a new restaurant! split a bottle of wine and hang out in your backyard!) with the addition of a Femme bonding focus. I also suggest Butches, Genderqueers and the Trans do it, too! More buddy time!

In other news, if you’re in and around NYC for Pride (Sunday, June 28, 2009) you should march with the Femme Family!! Meet at noon at 54th Street between 5th & 6th Aves. Look for our van! RSVP and keep track of updated info at our Facebook invite! All femmes and allies invited!

2009-05-21

The QFF Guide to dealing with social situations with a potentially fatphobic acquaintance

TO: Bevin
FROM: Sarah
RE: I know you don’t write an advice column, but…!

I couldn’t think of anyone else to ask. :\ Bevin, my bright and compassionate role model, how would you handle yourself at a social event with an acquaintance who hates/dislikes/at the very least disapproves of you based on something as stupid and arbitrary as weight? You see, I’m going to an event and I just discovered that the person I was most looking forward to hanging out with is part of an online social networking website group about fat hatred. I’m not willing to skim through the BS to see if she actually contributes to it, but somehow I doubt she joined just to view the posts from a critical, detached perspective. It shocked me to discover that she harbors this sort of prejudice, especially since she never displayed similar forms of asshattery like hating someone based on race, sexual orientation, etc.

I doubt she will directly comment on my weight, but somehow dealing with silent fat phobia in a social situation is scarier to me than dealing with the occasional snide comment from an asshole I don’t know on the street. How do you deal with people like this? Do you try to focus on the things you did have in common with them? Do you hope that you can make them question their prejudices simply by being fat and awesome? Somehow I feel that if I’m super friendly to her, I’ll be condoning her fat phobia or trying to pretend it doesn’t affect me or something. Gah! So confusing!

It would be awesome if I could get your perspective on this issue, but I know you’re busy. Thanks for creating something as positive and amazing as Femmecast. It helped me through a tremendously crappy breakup and continues to infuse my days with femme magic. 🙂

Oh Sarah! Though I do not technically write an advice column, I totally would if even one publisher gave me the chance.

This is a pretty intense situation, but I think first we need to step outside the direct issue and look a little bit at fat oppression.

Fat oppression is insidious. It’s the kind of thing that affects everyone intensely in ways they are rarely aware of. Mainstream media teaches us that fat is aesthetically and sexually undesirable and the rhetoric around the obesity epidemic will teach you that fat = death. Like many other kinds of oppression, fat oppression is fear-based. But rather than just being afraid of fat people, often thin people get freaked out by fatties because they are afraid, themselves, of becoming fat.

Oppression also acts as a way that people get power and control over other people using social constructions. People actively engaging in fat hatred are using the arbitrariness of body size to get a sense of power over fat people and also over the fear they have of getting fat. Though of course, I doubt the people in that internet group have ever discussed the arbitrariness of the line between thin and fat the way fat activists have.

In the first episode of FemmeCast Zoe talked about how some fat activists say things like “Fat is the last acceptable oppression”. This is completely untrue, because racism, sexism, homophobia, etc… is alive and well. Now, just because someone hasn’t said anything to you about being racist or homophobic doesn’t mean that they aren’t, it just means they’ve learned to use coded language and aren’t as out about it. There are totally internet groups for those kinds of phobias, too, just not likely as closely associated to social networking profiles like you’ve found with this girl.

Since you asked what I would do, I’ll answer that part first. Given my understanding of oppression and acts of hatred to be fear-based and power-seeking, I don’t engage in it. Sure, it would really suck for me to be in a situation where someone was being vocally fat hating (or gay hating, misogynist, femmephobic, queerphobic), but at the same time I find it a really comforting coping mechanism to remember at all times that no one has any power I don’t give them and that fear makes people weak.

I also tend to be a bit of a Pollyanna about people. I know that people change. And I do believe that just by being a fierce at home in my skin fat girl I make a difference. In fact, I know I’ve changed people’s hearts and minds about fat oppression by just being who I am.

I also model the behavior I want to see, which is fat accepting and loving. This is totally just part of my personality now, but it took a lot of conscious effort for me to move into the kind of person who uses fat positive language and behavior. I also use a lot of humor in my activism, and my daily parlance, which I think tends to break down people’s barriers. So while I am sure there are acquaintances of mine who are fatphobic (skinny and fat alike) I think they also know better than to say anything fatphobic to me or around me. I also am pretty intolerant of racist, transphobic, antisemitic (and other oppression) remarks and will call people out, gently and with humor.

And on a Pollyanna note, it may be possible that the acquaintance you’re talking about isn’t a fat hater. I mean, there are lots of times I’ve joined weird online communities I have no affinity or affiliation with to look for a girl I have a crush on or to read a particularly salacious string of e-dramaz or whatever and then completely forgotten I was a member of them. (Or, for that matter, old personal ad profiles I had forgotten about–I was only single for 6 weeks in 2005 and somehow I left a profile dangling until LAST WEEK. I don’t know whether to be more mortified that I had an old profile or that no one responded to it in 3.5 years.)

But, if it is true, and she’s a flag bearing member of this community and is actively engaging in fatphobic stuff, well, that gives you all the information you need to know about her to rule her out as a friend or someone to be trusted. And nothing says you have to be friends with her.

Further, just because someone is a fat hater it doesn’t mean that they are actively hating on you. It’s a lot easier to be mean to people on the street (like the street harassment you talked about) than it is to say something to someone’s face when there might be social consequences. Further, she may not even be that actively conscious of her fatphobia while interacting with you. But ultimately, there’s no telling what is going on in her head when she’s around you and frankly IT DOESN’T MATTER. What matters is what is going on in your head, because you have all the power and control over how you act.

So, given all that, I have some practical advice for you. I tend to feel the way you describe (sort of panicky and awkward if I’m reading you right) when I’m going to be in social situations with people I have emotional issues with. Former friends I’ve had falling outs with or ex lovers, particularly. A practical way of dealing with this situation, is to just be as fabulous as you can muster. Nothing eases yourself into a new or awkward social situation like a good wing-femme or femmetourage and a fabulous outfit. I would also just practice your winningest smile. It’s really disarming to people when you smile at them and compliment them. Model the behavior you want to see, which is detached positivity.

Just because you’re friendly to someone doesn’t mean you condone all of their behaviors, values and judgments. How can you possibly have that kind of queer dossier* on someone already? Further, there are so many moral turpitudes in the queer community, if we were to be unfriendly to everyone we knew who had done something bad, well, every queer event would be absolutely unbearable. Being friendly and positive is easier than being bitchy and mean, and it makes everyone have a better time. You don’t need to become BFF with everyone, but having a smile for people isn’t anything more than just adding to the positive energy of an event.

Thanks, also, for your kind words about FemmeCast. I’m trying to get the next minisode done soon!

I hope everything works out! Let me know what happens!

xoxoxox,

Bevin

*That’s a phrase I learned from my friend Bryn, which describes that method by which you remember all the nitty gritty details of people, whether or not you know them. Used in a sentence “I don’t know that person very well, but my queer dossier is full of her indiscretions and she’s had a lot of messy break-ups.”

2009-04-02

Guest Post: Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide

My mantra for the next few days is “Talk to me after the Fat Girl Flea Market.” I’m the Captain this year, which means I’m doing hundreds of hours of community service to make sure there is money to put on the next NOLOSE conference. If you’re anywhere near NYC this weekend, we have tons of handbags and shoes and plus size clothes. I am a shopaholic but I think even I will need a break from clothing for at least a few days.

In that vein, I am turning to a couple of guest posts. This one comes as a frequent request and I’m pleased to have it available in text form. Please give it up for my BFF, Consiglierie, and the person I can call after a nightmare about my ex (last night! 16 months after it all went down!) who reminds me “This is just an anxiety dream, you’re doing okay.”

–Bevin

When FemmeCast was just getting started, Bevin decided to do an episode about breakups and she asked me to share with listeners my tips for getting over a broken heart. As, at the time, the self-described “Queen of Heartbreak,” I felt well qualified to address this issue.

You see, I had been through three pretty devastating breakups and had learned a lot about heartbreak and how to get oneself through in ways that not only left one wiser and more self-aware afterward but with a little style and grace as well. Then, in April of 2007 I had the breakup to end all breakups and I needed every last resource I had to make it through what would be a long and hard journey through Heartbreak Land. It was during that time I essentially put together what would become something of a patented breakup strategy: a 30-point list of tips on how to make it through.

Shortly after my terrible breakup, no less than three of my besties had awful, devastating and shocking breakups of their own and I was able to pass this list along to them as well.

Since the original air date of Femme-Cast Episode 2, a number of folks have told me how helpful the ideas contained in my list were and a few asked me if I had a written copy. Sadly, after I read that list for broadcast, I threw out my notes. However, just this week a friend going through a very sad breakup of her own made the same inquiry and when I told her I didn’t have a written copy, she transcribed them herself and sent them to me. For this blog entry, I’ve made a few notes next to the original tips in a few places.

And so Bevin and I present them here for you should you ever need them. We encourage you to leave comments with tips of your own so that other readers might benefit from your ideas as well.

Speaking of benefiting from the ideas of others, while without question my friends and therapist helped inform this list in many, many ways, I can say that specific credit is due to media Femme-Cast media correspondent Naima Lowe for numbers 17, 23 and 24.

Thus, without further ado, I present my 30 point breakup strategy.

xoxo,
Zoë Femmetastica

1. Body modification. I interpret this broadly and feel that this can involve anything from a tattoo or piercing to a new haircut.
2. Retail therapy. There are clear dangers here but my belief is that if you have the money saved or the room on your credit card and you can afford to do a little shopping, buy yourself a few nice things that will help you feel better. This can be anything from a movie ticket to a new pair of shoes to a vacation.
3. Cross days off the calendar: It’s a good material marker of the fact that, day by day, you’re getting through.
4. Sob when you feel like it. Don’t hold your feelings in. Doing so will just cause you more trouble later on.
5. Make a variety of mixes: angry, sad, vengeful, take me back, the full gamut.
6. Journal like a motherfucker.
7. Write your ex letters you don’t intend to send expressing everything you wish could have said or wish you could now say to him or her.
8. Pamper yourself with beauty treatments. I personally recommend Lush for this.
9. Call friends when you want to call your ex or are just feeling lonely. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t stay isolated.
10. Don’t listen to those who have timelines for how soon you should be getting over your heartbreak or moving on to a different stage. It’s your process, not theirs.
11. Exercise, even if it’s just taking a walk and getting some fresh air. Do this especially anytime you feel tempted to call, email or facebook stalk your ex. Throw yourself out of the house and move in whatever way you can.
12. Do little letting-go rituals. These can be whatever you want; you can even make them up on the spot.
13. Fill your social calendar but also make time for yourself.
14. Watch TV series on DVD so that you always have something familiar to come home to at night and to occupy yourself with.
15. Be as sad as you need to be whenever you feel sad. There is no need to pretend to be happy in front of your friends or others to make them feel more comfortable with your grief.
16. If your breakup was one that involved a lot of confusion as to what the fuck happened, try not to torture yourself with the question of “why?” You can make up theories, but you have to accept that you’ll never really know why.
17. Make a list for yourself entitled: “The 50 Reasons Why You Just Lost the Best Thing You Ever Could Have Had.”
18. Post this list and other self-help type sayings around your apartment.
19. When you’re ready, pack away all the mementos and artifacts of your relationship. Only keep those things you can’t bear to part with and toss the rest.
20. Know that the constant surprise reminders of your ex will continue for a while, but eventually they do start to fade.
21. Remember the 6-month rule: It really does get better with time.
22. Know that living well is the best revenge.
23. Remember that the ability to be vulnerable is a sign of strength.
24. Even if your learn the terrible news that your ex never really loved you or fell out of love with you, know that you having loved fiercely and with all your heart is, in the end, all that matters.
25. If you’re dealing with a despicable ex, at times you might feel powerless but remember, your ex can’t take anything you don’t give him or her. That is, remember to retain your self composure and grace, even in the face of bullshit. You can always bring the crazy, crying and bitching to your besties later.
26. Never forget you have people in your life who love you.
27. If your ex keeps trying to make inroads into your life or you share common social circles, set all the boundaries you need to be ok and don’t apologize for needing them, to anyone.
28. Do what feels right to you about getting laid. Hook up on Craigslist, go to a sex party, or just stay celibate for a while. It’s your timeline, and don’t feel pressured to do anything other than what feels right for you.
29. Remember the only way out is through.
30. Realize that one of the hardest parts about letting go of a significant relationship is the way in which the letting go can make parts of the self – those parts formed through the daily patterns and rituals of our relationships – seem almost unintelligible after the relationship has ended. Sometimes it’s hard to understand who we are in the world when those aspects that were formed through the daily routine of “we” or even “I in relation to him or her” are now sort of adrift. This part is really hard. It does take time to let go of your life together and that part of yourself that developed in and through the routine of your life with your former partner. But it does get better with time, and we do eventually develop new rituals and senses of self.

Bonus for 2009! If you’re still friends with your ex on any social networking sites, stop that! Unfriend him/her! And for the love of all that is precious in the world, do not read your ex’s blog or cyberstalk him/her. Doing so will just make you feel crazy and gross. Unfriend and then close your browser tab and walk away…

*Also, side note, almost 2 years after her catastrophic break-up, Miss Zoe Femmetastica is in love again. And he’s a really great, amazing 3D magical boy I am ecstatic to have as a boyfriend-in-law. Day by day it really does get better.

2009-02-14

Unicorn Dick

Zoe and Tara and I decided to head to Toronto for a crazy Femme adventure and somehow fate landed us each a hottie to have as a date on NYE. Despite our burgeoning Canadian trysts, we had an amazing Femme bonding weekend*. We went to a women’s only spa called Body Blitz, lounged in their salt pools, hot tubs and saunas for a few hours for only $35 Canadian! We ate brunch, our favorite meal, every day at a new place. We got to indulge in one of our favorite activities, sexcapade redux on the road trip home, as it is rare that the three of us are getting it simultaneously.

During our trip we plotted out the details of our Golden Girls retirement home. You see, our plan is that we are each others’ life partners, and we intend to retire someplace warm (I oppose Florida because humidity is not a friend to my thick tresses) and to seal our bond we are going to adopt a new last name. This last name is an amalgamation of all of our Femme Besties’ last names put together, O’LowErlelisshamwinsonsonlee-Murphy. Rolls right off the tongue! We can’t wait for the telemarketers to get a hold of that one.

I had a big crush on the Toronto Hottie I hooked up with, who I propositioned for a make-out ahead of time with a clever Facebook message. Rendering me shy is the sure sign that I am monstrously attracted to you, and even though I’ve known Toronto Hottie for years, I’d never mustered the gumption to flirt with her and thought the Facebook proposition was the surest way to overcome my shyness.

The proposition was very well-received. She was even better, nicer, and more talented than I had thought, and we connected in a way I crossed my fingers might be more than a one night fluke. A couple of sweet text messages on my ride home, and a few dirty Facebook emails the following weekend told me the chemistry was still there. It took a week to muster up the courage to ask her for a phone date. Or rather, a week and Zoe’s Consiglierie insistence “JUST TEXT HER AND ASK”. Our phone date was the same night, three hours long, I got off the phone and my cheeks hurt from smiling.

There’s just so much to talk about and I have a lot of fun even on the phone with her. Since I’m funemployed, I’ve got a lot of extra time on my hands these days, thus much more traveling flexibility, as I can look for a job using the internet even in another country. Anyway, it didn’t take much beyond her first couple jokes of “You should come visit next week” for me to seriously ponder this as a possibility.

I debated this pretty hardcore for the better part of a day. In some ways it seemed very practical–a fact-finding mission. Did we have chemistry beyond the first date? Was she as fabulous as she seemed and was she more than just a friend? Could she make the amazing deviled eggs she promised? Naima answered the practicality for me. “Bevin, the way I see it, there is nothing more sane than traveling for good sex.”

I got further support from my friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. “I completely support you traveling to the Dot** for Unicorn Dick.”

So I drove my Prius up to Toronto again and had a really great date. I learned a lot about her and had a lot of fun in all the best ways. The sex was still amazing and so was hanging out an watching our favorite movies.

The next few weeks and follow-up visit have had me thinking a lot about Unicorn Dick in the context of the Queer Fat Femme lifestyle. Anyone who has done the dating thing as a Queer Femme knows how hard it is to find someone that embodies the killer combo of personality, looks, chemistry, smarts and timing.

I asked Leah to define Unicorn Dick further, and here’s her dispatch:

“Unicorn Dick is lust and sexual skill. It also refers to the almost mythological perfect butch/trans guy cock / love / brain package that we often believe is as rare as a Unicorn Dick. When we find it, we can sometimes go insane, elevate the degree to which which value it above our life and our girls, and try to hide it / protect it / get crazy over it / everything in the world pales next to the Unicorn Dick.

This is unhealthy and is counter to the Femme Shark principle of ‘His dick is not gold plated, but you goddamn well are.'”

It’s hard to avoid a scarcity mentality when you find something you don’t come across very often. As in, you want to absorb as much as possible because you’re afraid it won’t come around very often. But it’s important to remember that if the Unicorn Dick is worth it, s/he is going to realize how crucial your besties are to you and support your priorities. Further, if you’re a badass Queer Fat Femme, you can’t become any less badass to please someone. In past relationships I usually deferred to the sensibilities of my partner because sometimes I was “too much”. I remember Zoe reminding me when I was broken up with my ex, John, how much he held me back. I’m not doing that again.

You can get excited about Unicorn Dick but you can’t let your inherent amazingness suffer. Because, ultimately, Unicorn Dick won’t hold you up the way your inner strength does or your besties do. Maybe over time, maybe when things develop Unicorn Dick becomes part of your support system–but even then it should be part of it and not everything. I know from losing the man I thought was my forever how crucial it was that I kept my friendships strong. Even when I didn’t even have the resources to get up off my kitchen floor while I was crying, I knew I could call someone to be there with me while I fell apart.*** That’s what besties are for.

The reason why my Toronto trip was so wonderful wasn’t just because I got laid or uncovered Unicorn Dick like a lusty archeological dig, it was because I was having such an amazing time with my closest friends. And you can’t let years of friendship suffer because you find something shiny.

While I remain very excited about this Unicorn Dick, I’m still letting things unfold and in a data gathering phase. I enjoy the time we spend together, am appreciative of our connection and the chance to learn more about her and have great sex when we can make time for one another. Leah calls this attitude a “Zen Buddhist slut move”. But what I’m really grateful for right now is the support of friends like Zoe. Knowing I have been having a really horrific unemployment/housing situation right now, Zoe sent me the following love letter.

“dear Bevin [a femme love letter]

sometime around spring 2002 i went to see this philly drag troupe perform and watched wistfully as all these hot [thin] femmes performed on stage alongside the kings. and i so wished to be one of them but i knew that as a fat girl, i wasn’t good enough to do so. and then you came out and you unhinged my world in … Read Morethe best of ways…

7 years later you are one of the best BFFs a girl could ask for. not only did you help me get on that stage myself (and so many wonderful, crazy, lascivious, hilarious adventures ensured), but you have been there for me through the good, the bad and the downright fucked up, steadfast in your love and loyalty.

over the past 7 years i’ve watched you grow and change and unfold unto the fucking dynamo badass force of glitter, muppety smiles, cheer, snark, wit, glamor, smarts, performance art, social hub and social change that you are. and you did so even through serious strife and hard times. i am so fucking proud of you.

one of the things that so amazes me about you is not only your ability to stay strong and positive and to focus on your joy in the midst of bullshit, but to be able to ask for help and reach out when times are hard and when you need support.

and so i just want to remind you, openly and here on facebook and for posterity, that i will always be there for you, by your side, whether it’s on stage in matchy-matchy glittery outfits, holding your hand through hard times, or being next to you on the couch, cuddled up next to you and laughing while you torture me by playing Bob Seger songs on repeat.

you are an inspiration and you are my heart.

golden girls forever.
xoxoxoxoxo,
Z”

It is my wish for all Queer Fat Femmes that they find the kind of community, love and support I’ve found with my QFF besties. It’s really the most special, magical thing you’ll ever find–even more magical than Unicorn Dick.

*We were having such a great time Anna hopped a $70 flight from NYC to join us. She did not hook up on NYE but is pretty much awash in pussy in her new social circle in Portland, though technically still single and looking for dates.

**Why do people call Toronto “T Dot”?

***This happened to me again recently, for reasons not related to romance.

2009-02-06

Happy Validation* Day from FemmeCast!

I have entirely mixed feelings about Valentines Day. I think it is sort of bullshit because it puts into sharp relief just how single one is when one is not partnered in a traditional way. Further, it puts all of these weird expectations and pressure on people who are actually partnered to show up for a day that is, ultimately, a made-up bullshit holiday.

On the other hand I LOVE RED AND PINK. It’s sort of how I love Christmas because there’s a glittery sheen and twinkle everywhere you look.

Some point soon I’ll write up my whole experience posing for Substantia Jones for the Adipositivity project (link is naked fat people so be forewarned). In the meantime you can hear her on Episode 7 of FemmeCast. She brought Steel Magnolias to the table and I can’t thank her enough for that.

Anyway, she asked me to select the “partner of my choice” to pose with me at some moment during a lull at the Re/Dress Opening Glam Slam. Since Zoe is my Consigliere, BFF and life partner, I asked her first and she readily agreed, volunteering that we should wear our matching red lingerie dresses and sparkly glitter mary jane heels. Substantia’s response to Zoe being my partner, “As with life, love isn’t necessary, as long as you can muster some lust.”

Here’s the thing. I love Zoe from the deepest parts of myself. She’s been there for me and with me through the darkest moments of my life and understands me in a way few others do. I don’t have to fake love for her. And lust, well, we have longstanding boundaries** about what we will or won’t do, but we also have performed drag together enough that we can play mighty believable lust for camera or stage.

I loved the result so much that I sent it to my mom with a note thanking her for the great legs. I probably should have warned her the link was a little not safe for work.

And Zoe and I did cross a boundary during the shoot. We had to hold a kissing on the lips pose for a lot longer than we’ve ever pecked. Of course, we ended that long moment laughing hysterically and her, like many of my suitors before, covered with glitter from my lipstick. That’s a femme collision for you.

We’re meeting up tomorrow in Toronto for a double date.

*Glenn Marla’s brother came into Re/Dress a few weeks ago and gave us this renaming from some commune he used to live on. It sounded great so now we’re doing a store event for Validation Day.
**Boundaries are such a great thing. Try it sometime.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress