Friday, November 15, 2013

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can Choose Online Telethon Watch Parties

Here's a list of watch parties.  If you'd like to add a watch party, please email me (virginia AT tootwistedforcolortv DOT com) or contact me on Twitter (@tootwistedtv).

If you're hosting a party at a private residence and don't want that information known, I'm happy to remove that information and replace it with "Private Residence, contact for more info."

Main Online FB event

New York

  • Austin @ The North Door
  • College Station @ details forthcoming...
  • Dallas @ Midway Hills Christian Church
  • San Antonio @ private residence - at capacity!
  • San Marcos @ private residence - please see FB page



Thursday, October 10, 2013

#GiveToWendy Blog Roundup

Goal Thermometer 

UPDATE: Here is Burnt Orange Report's roundup post!

October 10 is the fundraising "blog bomb" effort to raise money for Wendy Davis's gubernatorial campaign.  If you haven't read my contribution yet, well...why the hell not?? :)

Here are the other people/blogs that are participating.  (If they're not hyperlinked, their post probably was not active at the time I originally posted this.  I will update this entry as more links become available!)
*I know not everyone supports every blog above, but I wanted to provide a comprehensive list!*

What. A. Summer.

You were there.  I was there.  In person or online, we were ALL. THERE.

Perry called special session after special session, just to get ALEC's his anti-choice legislation pushed through.  But we had had enough.  And Wendy Davis knew it.

And so began one of the most well-known filibusters since Mr. Smith went to Washington.  Wendy Davis stood for 11 hours (longer if you include the time she stood after her third infraction) with no food, no water, no sitting, no leaning, and remaining on topic AT ALL TIMES.  (Can we all agree we never want to hear the word "germane" again??)

Do you remember the thrill of victory?

Cecile Richards Reads Wendy Davis's Text Announcing SB5 Failed

Wendy Davis fought for us, and now we need to fight for her.

If you've been living under a rock for the past week, you may not know that WENDY DAVIS IS RUNNING FOR TEXAS GOVERNOR IN 2014!!!

What can you do to help Wendy Davis defeat Greg "Asshole" Abbott?
And now, for your viewing pleasure, one more video from YouTube.

"Women's Rights" - Parody of "Blurred Lines"

**Please note, I apologize for not transcribing the videos.  I am swamped with grad school and ran out of time.**

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are you ready for some (#FJL) football?!?!

Want to see how your favorite feminists are faring in their fantasy football leagues?? (Try saying THAT 3 times fast!)  Here you go:

Monday, August 5, 2013

3rd Special Session Bills to Monitor

Note: This post will be updated if and/or when more information becomes available.

UPDATE (9:45pm CDT on August 5): In the past 15 minutes, both the Texas House and Senate have passed the HB1 transportation bill and adjourned sine die.  Unless Rick Perry decides to veto this bill, it looks like the special sessions are OVER.

As of this posting (5:40pm CDT on August 5), Rick Perry has NOT put abortion on the call for the 3rd special session.  Should he do so, these are a few of the bills we need to monitor.

House (view all legislation filed here):
  • HB21 (Bill Callegari): Relating to a pregnant woman's completion of a resource awareness session before performance or inducement of an abortion; providing penalties.
  • HB25 (Susan King): Relating to the development of a public education program regarding unexpected pregnancy and a related study concerning legislation affecting abortion.

Senate (view all legislation filed here): 
  • SB17 (Eddie Lucio, Jr.): Relating to a pregnant woman's completion of a resource awareness session before performance or inducement of an abortion; providing penalties.
  • SB20 (Jane Nelson): Relating to the licensing and regulation of hospitals in this state; increasing the amount of administrative penalties assessed or imposed against certain hospitals.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Accessibility and the Texas Legislature, Part 4

Previously: Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

**NOTE: "disabled person/people" and "people with disabilities/PWD" will be used throughout this post.**

When last I left you, I had just gotten off the ridiculous elevators on the third floor of the Capitol.  I was unsure where the line for the Senate gallery was because there just SO MANY PEOPLE.

Luckily, I saw my friend Jessica and she pointed me in the right direction.  Additionally, she found someone (a Capitol employee? a volunteer?) who could help me in the way of disabled access. So this person escorted me up to the front of the line and then I went through the dreaded DPS search.

Let me be clear right up front.  I am a grad student.  I was using my backpack that day because I wanted to bring my computer, my heating pad, etc.  There was basically pens, papers, post-it notes, etc thrown all in my backpack and/or crushed underneath stuff, etc.  My backpack is a mess because I use it for a lot of different things.

Something else that also needs to be said: I was getting over what can only be described as the plague from a few days before.  I had been sick for a week and was unable to keep ANYTHING down (including water, crackers, and soup).  I was still very gingerly eating - a cracker here, some toast there - and I was drinking tons of water to stay hydrated since I'd been throwing up for a week.

Ok, so things I was required to throw away or otherwise dispose of in order to get into the Senate gallery (please note: I didn't have any tampons or pads in my bag, so obviously they couldn't confiscate those):
  • Pour the water out of my reusable water bottle into the garbage
  • Throw away a still-sealed bottle of water that was being distributed by volunteers.
  • Throw away all food, including chips, saltine crackers, and portable applesauce that I either brought or got from volunteers.
  • Throw away a practically new box of Kleenex because it counts as "paper." (I have terrible allergies and have to have Kleenex everywhere I go...I brought a whole box because I knew it would be a long day)
  • Throw away all Post-it Notes (which I use to annotate the books I read for grad school)
  • Throw away all scraps of paper (thanks for helping me clean those out Mr. DPS Guy)
  • Throw away all packaging that pens and pencils come in because it counts as paper (seriously?!)
  • This wasn't me, but the teenager behind me had to throw out her HOMEWORK because she also brought her backpack and her homework was on paper.

So, by the time I got to the gallery, I had my computer, my heating pad, some cords, and some pens. No food, no water, no paper.

In order to get into the gallery, visitors are required to go up a few steps.  Thankfully, they had a sort of mini-elevator or lift in a separate room.  Unfortunately, since I was borrowing the Rollator, I didn't know how to collapse it or fold it down, so I couldn't sit in the "regular" seats without blocking aisles with the Rollator.  Anyway, I can't remember if it was a Senate page or a DPS officer who told me, but they said I could sit in one of the four (ONLY FOUR) areas designated for wheelchairs and just sit on the Rollator since I couldn't collapse it.  The other three designated areas were occupied by PWD.

Unfortunately (again), this meant I could not sit with my orange-shirted comrades in the gallery.  The areas surrounding the accessible seats were filled with blue-shirted people.  As I lamented on Twitter about my predicament, two orange-shirted people came over for a little bit and commiserated with me, for which I am EXTREMELY grateful!

I got into the gallery a little before 2pm. Due to the gallery not being quite filled, Dewhurst called for the Senate to be "at ease" until 2:30pm. By the time 3:15 or so rolled around, my back was already screaming.  I wanted to stay in the gallery, but my back had other ideas.  As I rolled my way out of the gallery, I seriously was crying (silently) that I was physically unable to stay in there after I had waited SO LONG.  I went back downstairs and into the auditorium.

Considering this series is already 4 parts long, I think I'm going to end it here.  The auditorium was quite comfortable and I didn't really encounter other issues (except for the staircase in Rep. Farrar's office) after that.  Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope I have shed some light on the issues disabled people face regarding accessibility.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Accessibility and the Texas Legislature, Part 3

Previously: Part 1 & Part 2.

**NOTE: "disabled person/people" and "people with disabilities/PWD" will be used throughout this post.**

When my friend Katherine agreed to pick me up and take me to the Capitol for the final day of the HB2 debate, I needed to find out what their accessibility was like.  Specifically, as someone who can't stand for extended periods of time, I wanted to know if they had wheelchairs available for patrons of the Capitol.

I went to the Capitol's website and looked at their accessibility information. Here's what it had to say about physical access:
To request this service, please call [Capitol Visitor's Services at] (512) 463-0063. The office provides wheelchairs and can conduct tours using sign language. If requests are made in advance, the office will try to make whatever accommodations are needed. The Senate Sergeant's Office handles special accommodations for senate hearing rooms, and the House Sergeant's Office handles special accommodations for house hearing rooms. Capitol Visitor Services will gladly forward requests to either office, as appropriate.)

I was a little concerned that the Capitol had no immediately obvious dedicated accessibility office other than the Visitor's Services.  But I called them anyway.  I was informed that two wheelchairs (only TWO?!)  were available on a first-come, first-served basis. I would have to leave my driver's license in order to take one of the chairs; I would also have to return it by 5pm in order to get my license back.  I asked her if she was aware of what had been going on in the Capitol regarding HB2 and pointed out that having to return the wheelchair at 5pm might not be sufficient if the proceedings went until all hours of the night.  She double-checked with her supervisor (she said) and came back to confirm that the information she had given me was accurate.  Obviously, this was disappointing news to me.

(Full disclaimer: I was so irritated by the information she gave me that I didn't even notice that it said to contact the Senate Sergeant's Office for accommodations in hearing rooms.  I'm not sure if that would apply to the senate gallery or not.)

I relayed the above phone call on Twitter, and many people contacted me about possibly renting a chair or maybe getting a bunch of chairs to the Capitol so that MANY disabled people could participate in the events.  However, both of those plans did not come to fruition.

As stated in Part 2, Pamela and her husband let me borrow their Rollator, which came with another set of accessibility issues.  So...we had just moved past the wooden benches where I had been sitting when I saw Pamela's husband with the Rollator.  It took a little maneuvering since I had my backpack, but it worked quite well as a seat/wheelchair.

The issues began when the gallery line started moving, and I went to find the elevator.  I admit, I had not looked at a map of the Capitol before heading up there that day.  I mean, I had been there several times in my younger days, and hard could it be to find an elevator, right?  RIGHT?!  Pretty damn hard as it turns out.

I went to the Rotunda and saw a sign for the elevator pointing towards the North entrance, but then I didn't see any elevators. The elevator signs seemed to be pointing towards the bathrooms, which were on opposite walls.  I don't know who designed this area, but essentially there is this little alcove where the elevators are.  Meaning, if the elevator doors are against the "regular" wall, there is an extra wall about five feet in front of the "regular" wall, which blocks the line of sight in actually seeing the elevator doors (god, I hope that made sense...I wish I had gotten a picture).  This extra alcove wall also made it damn near impossible to get the Rollator near the elevator until I actually had to get in it.

Let me digress for two seconds since I mentioned the bathrooms.  The women's bathroom had one accessible stall (expected), but overall it was TINY.  There was no room to really put the Rollator (especially since there was someone changing a baby in there), but the accessible stall wasn't big enough to take it in there with me.  So, add bathrooms to the list of accessible fails at the Capitol. End digression.

The elevators were incredibly slow, and there were quite a few people who wanted to use them.  From what I could tell (and as someone with fibro, I realize not all illnesses are visible), it seemed like the people who were using the elevators were mostly those who needed them.  The third floor (where the Senate gallery was located) also had the weird alcove wall thing, but I managed to get through there.

But apparently, my fun was just beginning...

Again, due to the length of these posts, I have decided to add a Part 4 to this series, which should include my experiences in getting into the Senate gallery.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Accessibility and the Texas Legislature, Part 2

Previously: Part 1 here.

**NOTE: "disabled person/people" and "people with disabilities/PWD" will be used throughout this post.**

Throughout the first and second special sessions of the Texas Legislature, I had spent 99% of my time at home/work doing what activism I could using a live stream and my laptop. The second reading of HB2 took place on Friday, July 12...since I didn't have to work that day, Katherine was kind enough to come pick me up and take me to the Capitol for our Feminist Justice League D-Day.

What I am about to describe is indicative of my particular experience at the Capitol. I look forward to hearing other disabled people's experiences during either or both special sessions.

For your convenience, you can find floor plans of the Texas Capitol Building and Grounds here.

To avoid the atrocious parking situation, Katherine and I took the bus to the Capitol.  Our particular bus stop was closest to the West entrance of the Capitol; however, the accessible entrance to the Capitol is on the North side.

And so my choices began early that day at the Capitol.  Do I navigate the two short flights of stairs up to the West entrance doors?  Or do I walk the extra 100 yards (if not more...I'm horrible with distances) to get to the accessible entrance with elevators?  Since I had a cane and not a chair or Rollator, I opted for the closer West entrance.  Considering it was not the designated accessible entrance, I was not surprised to find the doors were not automatic.

After passing through the metal detectors (I voluntarily offered to pass my cane through the x-ray machine for the DPS officers' peace of mind), Katherine and I saw that the line to get in the gallery for the 2pm hearing had already filled the street level.  The DPS officers at the metal detector instructed us to go downstairs to the Ground level where the end of the line was.

And so I had another choice. Do I walk down the really steep (and apparently slick) steps to get to the ground floor?  Or do I walk from the West entrance, through the crowded lines on the street level, over to the Rotunda, and up to the elevators to go down to the Ground floor?  Again, knowing what a long day I had ahead, I opted for the path of least walking and took the stairs...VERY SLOWLY, I might add.

We got to the end of the line around 9:30-10:00am Friday morning.  We had heard the gallery would probably not open until 1:00-1:30pm, so we had quite a wait ahead of us.  There were no chairs available on the Ground level (that I saw).  However, there were stairs.  (This set of stairs was wide enough to hold probably four people across at one time and had a railing down the middle.  The gallery line was going up the left side of the stairs next to the middle railing.)  

I decided that, since there were no chairs, I would sit on the stairs.  I sat on the left side of the railing, as far to the left as I could go so I could lean up against the outside railing for back support.  I hadn't been sitting there long, when some type of "official" looking person told me that I would have to move because I was blocking people coming down the staircase, even though the staircase on the right side of the railing was practically not being used.  Not wanting to cause problems that early in the day, however, I dutifully moved over and lost my back support for the time being.

We eventually made it from the Ground level back up to the Street level, where there were actually wooden benches.  Katherine agreed to hold my place in line while I sat down for awhile.  I was carrying my backpack (also used for grad school), and I always keep a small pillow in there in case I encounter uncomfortable chairs in class and whatnot.  So I was able to stay seated and somewhat comfortable for a little while, but could not be near my friends who were still in line.

Around 11:30am, we had just moved past the wooden benches where I was sitting when Pamela and her husband blessedly showed up with a Rollator they had agreed to let me borrow (if I wasn't an atheist, I would be thanking every god and saint for their incredible generosity!).

Since this post is already a bit long, I will add a Part 3 and discuss the accessibility issues I encountered with the Rollator and what I had to do to get into the gallery. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Accessibility and the Texas Legislature, Part 1

Update (7/19): Thanks to suddenlyspeaking on Twitter for this link from Burnt Orange Report with further information on filibustering.

**NOTE: "disabled person/people" and "people with disabilities/PWD" will be used throughout this post.**

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have fibromyalgia. Although fibro affects different people in different ways, my fibro manifests as daily excruciating pain in my lower back which often migrates to my arms, legs, and hands (not so much the feet so far).  I started using a cane about a year ago, mainly to help me get around the campus where I'm going to grad school, which is literally on the fault line between the Hill Country and the Coastal Plains (meaning it is VERY hilly).

That being said, I tend to pay attention to accessibility issues, especially when it comes to state and federal government.

After the People's Filibuster on June 20, I learned that Wendy Davis planned to filibuster SB5, a restrictive abortion regulation requiring all abortion clinics to meet the standards of Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs aka day surgery centers) among other atrocious stipulations.

And I began to wonder...what are the requirements for a Texas Senate filibuster? According to this article:
What made the scene so riveting was the woman who was required to speak without a break, without straying from the topic and without even leaning on her antique walnut desk. As time ran out, Republicans deemed her to have violated those rules — including once for being helped with a back brace — and made her give up the floor.

So, no food, no water, no bathroom breaks, no sitting, no leaning, no assistance from any colleagues whatsoever (as evidenced by her second "strike" regarding the back brace). And, as I was watching, the thought occurred to me:

What if Wendy Davis was disabled?


What if I, a disabled person, was a senator and wanted to filibuster?

Let's take a look at the Senate Rules for the 83rd Legislative session (PDF). Page numbers listed below indicate the page numbers of the PDF.

Page 3 of the rules states:
The Texas Senate is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or the provision of services. (emphasis added)

Seems promising so far.  Except that's the SOLE mention of disability in this context in the entire document (there are a few other mentions regarding disability retirement, etc).

Let's move on to filibustering. Rule 4.03 regarding filibustering can be found on pages 21-24 of the PDF.  As far as I can tell, there is no explanation of the physical requirements of the filibuster, save one phrase I happened to notice:
When a member has been recognized and is speaking on a bill or resolution, he must confine his remarks to the subject of the bill and speak audibly (62 S.J. Reg. 778 (1971)). (emphasis added)

Would this automatically disallow people who use sign language as their primary means of communication from filibustering? What about people with damaged voice boxes, etc?

I'm left wondering, why the stringent requirements for filibustering?  And where exactly can these requirements be found? (If anyone has this info, please let me know and I'll be happy to update the post.)

No one said filibustering would be easy, but filibustering should be a viable option for everyone.  After reading the list of things Senator Davis was NOT allowed to do, I went through this litany in my head:
  • No food/no water - during a filibuster, how would PWD take medication that may be prescribed for certain hourly intervals? Almost all meds encourage taking with water, and many advise taking with food.
  • No bathroom breaks - some people have disabilities that affect their kidney and/or bladder functions. Should they not be allowed to filibuster?
  • No sitting/no leaning - probably the most obvious question here would be, could PWD in wheelchairs or similar mobility devices filibuster? Would that count against the "no sitting" clause? What about people like me, who can only stand for about 15 minutes at a time?
  • No assistance from colleagues (e.g. back brace) - how many PWD need either basic or complex assistance in some form or another?

Clearly, it appears the filibuster rules need to be changed.  If the Texas Senate claims they do not discriminate on the basis of disability, they should follow through and make sure all processes and procedures are fully accessible for EVERYONE.

I plan to write all Texas Senators with suggestions for changes in the filibuster, and I would recommend that all Texans do the same!

I want to be clear that I do not speak for all disabled people.  I look forward to any feedback regarding other accessibility issues I may not have thought of.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will discuss some of the accessibility issues I encountered at the Texas Capitol Building.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Some new "testimony" for the TxLege to consider

After watching many hearings and floor debates, I have something to say.

Look at us. LOOK AT US. Put down your cell phones and iPads, stop talking to your buddies, come back to the panel and LOOK AT US.

You are terrible at your jobs. Sure, you moved through the hearing like a well-oiled machine, but which of you legislators paid attention to us? NONE. As legislators, it is your responsibility to represent your constituents, not your own interests.  In order to do that, you must LISTEN to those you represent. And yet, over the past few weeks, Facebook and text messages and Angry Birds have seemed more important to you.

If I behaved at MY job, the way you have behaved at YOURS, I would have been fired a long time ago. Unfortunately, we can only fire YOU every few years...funny how "right to work" doesn't apply to legislators, isn't it?

You are not a monarchy. We are not here at your pleasure. You work for the people of this state, NOT the other way around.

So show some goddamn respect and LOOK AT US.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Reproductive Rights (and Related) Events

PLEASE NOTE: I will NOT be updating this link past August 15.  The Feminist Justice League website is now active, and there are calendars for individual areas.  If your area is NOT in the FJL Local list, please consider contacting them to make one!! :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

(Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About the TX Special Session But Were Afraid to Ask...


This post was not created in conjunction with any official pro-choice organization, although the information listed below IS pro-choice.

Ongoing List of Events Across the Country - please feel free to contact me if any additions or changes need to be made.

Where to Watch the 2nd Special Session

Texas Legislature Rules 

Bills in Question

Special Session Explanations & FAQ

Contact Info, etc. For Texas Legislature Members

Contact Info for Media and Public Figures

Food, Rides, Accommodations, etc.

People with Disabilities (PWD)
  • If you are a PWD at the Capitol, please keep me informed on accessibility issues.  Due to a fibro flare, I am live-streaming and live-tweeting from home, so I don't have this first-hand knowledge.
  • You can share your story about how this legislation will affect you by emailing occupywheelchair(at)gmail(dot)com. These stories will be shared on a PERSONAL live stream, and I will share the link once I get it!

Need an Orange Shirt?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Media & Celebrity Twitter Handles

UPDATE 3: Here's some more general info regarding the 2nd special session.

UPDATE 2: Hi WaPo readers!  Apparently my post was linked in one of their articles!

UPDATE 1: Attention non-Texans! Please feel free to customize this list to include your own local media, etc. All I ask is that you list me as the original source somewhere in your post. Now go out and KICK SOME ASS! :)

If you'd like to make sure the media and/or your favorite pro-choice celebrity knows about our recent and upcoming actions, here are some Twitter handles you might find useful.

You can find twitter handles for Texas House and Senate members here.

**Please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @tootwistedtv or via email at virginia(at)tootwistedforcolortv(dot)com if you have info to add or corrections to make! I will post updates as I receive them.**












Saturday, June 22, 2013

HB60 News Coverage & TV Appearances - VIDEO

UPDATES (newest to oldest):

  • You can stream Sunday's legislature session here.
  • I had to split my original post into two separate ones. Click to view Part 1 - LINKS.
  • You can watch Thursday's hearing online here.

You may have heard about bills relating to women's health and abortion in the Texas Legislature over the past week or so.  We are primarily concerned about SB5, HB60, and HB16.  Jessica Luther has some GREAT info on why these bills are antiquated and disgusting, so go read this and this and then come back here.

Did you read it?  Ok.

So...what happened Thursday night??  Well, it was pretty fact, it even trended on Twitter!


This video from Dan Solomon is from 12:25am Friday morning (YouTube is being difficult and only letting me load one of the videos. Click on Dan's name to go to his YouTube page and watch the other one).  Committee Chair Cook had just left the room with over 200 people still waiting to give testimony.  This was their reaction (the committee was reconvened until 3:45am).

This video is an extended version of the same incident, made by Pedro Villalobos.

(Note: Tweets announcing coverage are/will be replaced when video becomes available.)

Video from the June 21 episode of "All In With Chris" on MSNBC.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video from the June 21 episode of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video from the June 22 episode of "Melissa Harris-Perry" on MSNBC.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Karen Finney of "Disrupt with Karen Finney" on MSNBC (no website yet, surprisingly enough) confirms she will be discussing HB60 on Saturday.

If you have any additional news stories or confirmed national TV coverage, please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @tootwistedtv or email me virginia(at)tootwistedforcolortv(dot)com.

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS Y'ALL! (And yes, I'm aware of how cheesy that sounded.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

HB60 News Coverage & TV Appearances - LINKS

UPDATES (newest to oldest):

  • You can stream Sunday's legislature session here.
  • I had to split my original post into two separate ones. Click to view Part 2 - VIDEO
  • You can watch Thursday's hearing online here.

You may have heard about bills relating to women's health and abortion in the Texas Legislature over the past week or so.  We are primarily concerned about SB5, HB60, and HB16.  Jessica Luther has some GREAT info on why these bills are antiquated and disgusting, so go read this and this and then come back here.

Did you read it?  Ok.

So...what happened Thursday night??  Well, it was pretty fact, it even trended on Twitter!


It appears some of these links have been updated to reflect the AP story. I am posting them in this order per NARAL TX's account of which stories went up first as the hearing unfolded last night.

Here are some other links (in alphabetical order):


You can watch Amanda Hernandez's original testimony here.


If you have any additional news stories or confirmed national TV coverage, please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @tootwistedtv or email me virginia(at)tootwistedforcolortv(dot)com.

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS Y'ALL! (And yes, I'm aware of how cheesy that sounded.)

My letter to Rep. Jason Isaac (TX, District 45)

Dear Rep. Isaac,

I am writing to ask you to please vote against HB60 and HB16.  Here is my story.

In 2010, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). Although I recovered after a week in the hospital, I was informed by doctors that all hormonal birth control would be contraindicated for the rest of my life.  That meant I had to be taken off the Pill (which I had been on for 9 years) and I cannot choose other hormonal options, such as Nuvaring, IUDs, Depo shots, etc. Even Progesterone-only methods have been discouraged for me.  Basically, my only options WITHOUT risking my health are condoms, diaphragms, sterilization (for me or my husband or both) and abortion.

The fact that I'm married but don't want kids (helping to raise 3 younger siblings and a stepdaughter is enough for me!) means I don't want to be pregnant. EVER.  My husband and I decided that we do not want children of our own.

To further complicate matters, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early 2011. Although fibro manifests itself in many different ways for different people, mine causes daily excruciating pain in my back which often migrates to my limbs. On my absolute worst days I cannot grasp a toothbrush or bathe myself without assistance.  Being pregnant while having fibro would be AGONY.

Now, some may bring up health exceptions for abortion and the like. But in 2013, not all doctors even recognize fibro as a valid medical condition! So even though I have an actual debilitating illness, I don't feel the "health exception" is sufficient enough to cover people like me.

Therefore, I believe abortion should be available as a VALID LEGAL MEDICAL PROCEDURE WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS and should be accessible to as many people as possible.

Texans' actual lives depend on this vote. I beg you to consider the well-being of ALL your constituents and vote against these bills.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Proper Secrets by Rachel Francis

  • Name: Proper Secrets
  • Author: Rachel Francis
  • ISBN: 9780985834647
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Publisher: Smith Publicity
  • Publication/Expected Publication: February 1, 2013

As a Jane Austen/Brontë sisters fan, I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  I am generally somewhat skeptical of historical fiction (The Other Boleyn Girl - need I say more?), but Ms. Francis was very upfront that her story was NOT historical fiction and actually took place on a sort of alternate timeline.  That is to say, the setting and characters closely mirrored that of Regency era England, but the names of places and general government structure were entirely of Ms. Francis's creation.

I thought Emily Worthing was a strong female main character.  She took it into her mind that she would not marry (which, in this time period, also meant no children of course) and was none too shy about her position.  As someone who remained unmarried for a long time (and is still personally childless, although I have a stepdaughter), I admired her assertiveness in maintaining her so-called "spinsterhood" and not allowing people to tell her "oh you'll change your mind eventually."

I expected the friendship between Emily Worthing and Elijah Wingrave to be a fairly typical, Austen-esque relationship; however, there are a few twists and turns they must navigate that completely took me by surprise.

The fact that I personally identified with Emily may make me biased, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, especially if you love the more classical (rather than steamy) romances!

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

January Justice by Athol Dickson

  • Name: January Justice
  • Author: Athol Dickson
  • ISBN: 9780985430283
  • Genre: Suspense
  • Publisher: Author Author Inc.
  • Publication/Expected Publication: November 21, 2012

I really wanted to like this book.  I really did.  The basic plot is intriguing - a man (Malcolm Cutter) is dealing with the tragic (and drug-induced) death of his client while also attempting to solve a kidnapping case from seven years ago.

Unfortunately, Dickson's writing style in this particular book just did not appeal to me.  Normally, I love getting as many details as possible so I can fully picture the scene in my head; however, the author seems to take this to an extreme.

For example...I have never been to Los Angeles, and I imagine the majority of people who read this book probably never have either, so some general location markers are probably in order.  However, when describing how Cutter travels from point A to point B, Dickson gives specific details, such as (and this is paraphrasing) "I turned right on [x street], then left on [y street], and then bore left on the access ramp to get on the 5.  Then I took..." etc etc.  In a book billed as suspense, this level of detail used consistently throughout the story definitely interfered with the flow of the narrative.

I would still recommend this book, but only to those readers who prefer detailed scene descriptions and slower-paced suspense.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hidden Paradise by Janet Mullany

  • Name: Hidden Paradise
  • Author: Janet Mullany
  • ISBN: 9780373777198
  • Genre: Romance/Erotica
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication/Expected Publication: August 28, 2012

After her husband (Julian) dies, Jane Austen expert/student Lou (aka Loulou) travels to England to consult with Peter and Chris, a gay couple who are remodeling a Regency-era house.  There Lou meets two men who appeal to her in different ways - Mac and Rob.

Peter and Chris want their guests to have the full Regency experience, complete with costumes and lack of most modern amenities (cell phones, modern undergarments, etc.)  As Lou helps her friends get their house in order, she also finds time to participate in both traditional and untraditional activities.

Lou is attracted to Mac, but a misunderstanding leaves them at odds with each other.  During this time, Lou begins associating with the "help."  Although distinctly in the "downstairs" category of the "upstairs/downstairs" dynamic, Rob provides Lou with the support she needs at a trying time.

By the end of the book, Lou has had a terrible shock and both men want to ease her pain.  She faces a difficult decision between Mac and Rob and discovers there's really only one choice she can make.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sweet Land of Bigamy by Miah Arnold

  • Name: Sweet Land of Bigamy
  • Author: Miah Arnold
  • ISBN: 9781440541612
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publisher: Smith Publicity - Tyrus Books
  • Publication/Expected Publication: July 1, 2012

Helen Motes had been married to Larry for nearly ten years when he decided to take a job as a translator in Iraq.  Feeling betrayed and abandoned, Helen becomes increasingly infatuated with Chakor, who doesn't know she's married (and Helen never tries to disabuse him of that notion).  Helen and Chakor begin a relationship that ultimately leads to marriage, which makes Helen a bigamist.

Through a series of strange circumstances, including a painful disaster that entirely redefines Helen's relationship with Larry, Helen is somehow able to keep her secret.  Although initially not a very sympathetic character, Helen's decisions throughout the book give readers an insight into her psyche which soften her images somewhat.

The structure of the book is such that each chapter is divided into sections headed by dates ranging from the 1990s to 2000s.  The "flashback" sections are helpful in setting the scene and providing backstory; however, this might be confusing to readers at first.

Overall, this book has an original storyline that keeps readers guessing until the very end.  I would highly recommend it!

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Monday, May 20, 2013

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

  • Name: Beautiful Disaster
  • Author: Jamie McGuire
  • ISBN: 9781476712055
  • Genre: Romance
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc.
  • Publication/Expected Publication: August 14, 2012


Abby Abernathy (aka "Pigeon") decided to leave her troubled past behind her when she went off to college.  During her freshman year, she meets Travis, who reminds her of everything she wants to forget.  This book tells the strange and twisted tale of their relationship.

Abby and Travis meet through Abby's friend America and her boyfriend (and Travis's cousin) Shepley.  Almost from the beginning, their relationship is incredibly volatile.  Although only friends, Travis exhibits a jealous possessiveness toward Abby that sabotages any relationship she decides to pursue.  He obviously has anger issues and generally focuses that anger in "Fight Club"-esque matches held in the basements of campus buildings.

Travis's anger and Abby's naiveté make for some interesting misunderstandings and miscommunications.  Although they seem like an unlikely pair, it appears their personalities ultimately suit one another.  Their relationship is a veritable roller coaster with a not-quite-predictable ending.  This is definitely one of the more unique and less formulaic romance novels I have read, and I would recommend it (see caveat below).

*There is no physical violence between the two main characters (Abby and Travis) with the exception of him narrowly missing her when he punched someone else.  Travis fights A LOT in this book (both in matches and personally) and sometimes takes that out on people he perceives as flirting with "his girl." If this type of violence is something that triggers you, you may want to pass on this book.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A New (to me) Pain Scale

[Image Description: Title reads "The McGill Pain Index." The bottom reads "Rigorously tested scientific pain scale.  Overall score is determined by compiling various numerical and cross-referenced descriptive words, allowing direct comparison across conditions."  In the middle of the image, there is a vertical scale that goes from 0 (no pain) to 50.  It is color-coded and divided into 10s, so that the bottom 10 points are light yellow and the top 10 points are bright red.  Different medical conditions are placed next to their pain level on the scale.  For example, a sprain is located at about 15.  A toothache is at about 20.  Fibromyalgia is slightly below 30.  Childbirth (with training) is at about 35 and childbirth (with no training) is at 40.]
This is the newest (to me) pain scale that I have come across lately, and it really puts fibromyalgia pain into perspective for me.

On this scale, the following are considered LESS painful than fibromyalgia:

  • sprain
  • fracture
  • arthritis
  • toothache
  • after-shingles nerve pain
  • non-terminal cancer
  • phantom limb pain
  • chronic back pain
The following are considered MORE painful than fibromyalgia:
  • Childbirth (with training)
  • Amputation of finger/toe
  • Childbirth (with no training)
  • CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
Of course, this scale doesn't include every medical condition ever created, but after being accused of lying or being flat-out ignored by doctors, even this small validation of the severity of fibromyalgia is worth something to me.

My pain is not all in my head.

My pain is real.

My pain is severe.

My pain is something I have to live with every day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A True Day in the Life of...

A couple of months ago, I posted "An Hour or Two in the Life of..." in an attempt to give people a general idea of how fibromyalgia has affected my daily schedule.

Over the Winter break, I compiled a much longer list that describes an entire day of my life as a "fibromite."  I hope this sheds some light on the issues many people with fibromyalgia (and possibly other chronic illnesses) face each and every day.  There is no break.  There is no rest.  There is only pain and an attempt to cope with that pain.

  • Set alarm for 8:00am
  • Lie in bed and assess pain levels for the day.  This takes 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Determine if hands can grip hairbrush and toothbrush.  Brush hair and teeth if possible.
  • Determine if back pain is too substantial to take a shower. (A bath is impossible unless my husband is home to help me out of the tub.  He often has to help me with showers as well.)
  • Determine what the easiest clothes to wear would be and get dressed.  This can take 10-30 minutes.
  • Take the dog out if needed.  (This usually involves walking about 20-30 feet.)
  • Eat breakfast if there is something easily prepared (e.g. Pop-tarts).  Skip breakfast if there's not.
  • Alternate between sitting on the couch and sitting on a chair (each piece of furniture alleviates one pain but aggravates another).
  • Study - the time on this can vary greatly depending on the amount of concentration and focus lost due to pain levels.
  • Determine if I can stand long enough to make myself a sandwich or heat something up for lunch. Skip lunch if there's not.
  • Depending on the day, I will either study more or go to class.
  • To go to class, I must first determine where I need to go on campus.  I currently volunteer at one of the archives on campus in order to gain experience for my degree.  This means that both days I am on campus, I must at least go to the library (where the archives are located) and the History building.  Going to the library (and the student center when needed for counseling appointments) requires much more walking and a nearly straight uphill climb.  One of my classes is located in a separate building halfway across campus and is also on a steep incline.
  • One the day I only have one class (plus volunteering), I will be on campus for about 8 hours.  On the day when I have two classes (plus volunteering, I will be on campus for about 12 hours.  This does not include any commuting time.
  • To get to campus, I must park in one of the commuter parking lots and walk to the bus stop.
  • Determine if there are places to sit down at the bus stop if the bus isn't already there.  My back will already hurt from walking and carrying my backpack.
  • Determine if there is a place to sit down on the bus for the 15-20 minute ride to campus.  If I have to stand on the bus, I may have to give up going to the library or student center and come back on a day when I don't have class.
  • Walk to the appropriate building(s).
  • Determine pain level once in class.  If this is the day I have two classes (one afternoon and one evening), I will also have to determine if the pain level is so high that I will have to skip the evening class.
  • Depending on pain level, attempt to concentrate on topics discussed in class rather than pain.
  • While at class, my husband (who carpools with co-workers since we only have one car) has been dropped off by his co-worker to pick up our car so he can come get me from class.  He does this so I don't have to worry about possibly standing on the bus for even longer than 20 minutes on the ride back. (It is a night bus that has longer run times.)
  • Determine pain level once class has ended and my husband has picked me up and taken me home.  Lay flat on my back for most of the remainder of the evening.
  • Determine if pain level is too severe to sit up and/or grip utensils to eat dinner. (I am unable to stand up long enough to cook dinner, so my husband does all of that.  He also does 99.99% of the cleaning.)
  • If I did not take a shower that morning, determine if my husband is too tired from working and caretaking to help me with a bath or shower.
  • Attempt to relax by watching TV or browsing the internet.
  • Take insomnia medication around 10:00-10:30pm to give it time to kick in.
  • Go to bed around 11:00-11:30pm (hopefully).  I will sometimes go to bed as late as 1:00am due to insomnia.  Alternately, I will go to bed but not be able to fall asleep for an hour or more.  I frequently (5 or more nights per week) will wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep.
  • Start the whole process again the next morning.

**In addition to this timeline, I rarely (if ever) go to the grocery store or other type of store.  If I know what I need (e.g. toilet paper) and know where it is located in the store AND can calculate if I will have enough energy to walk to that location and carry the item to the check out, to my car, AND into the apartment, then I am more likely to go to the store.  Unfortunately, this rarely happens.**

**In addition to the Fibromyalgia I live with every day, I also deal with anxiety and depression with suicidal tendencies.  I have panic attacks in large groups (probably 4 or more), especially if I don’t know the people.  I will even have panic attacks in large groups where I know the people (such as family).  My depression is debilitating and further exacerbated by Fibromyalgia.  The pain levels and the idea that I’m a burden to my friends and family have caused me to contemplate suicide as recently as Fall 2012.**