Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blog moved!

I'm a bad blogger...I decided to make the move to Wordpress with the Adventures of a Part Time Wheeler blog.  There are things I like about both blogging platforms, and dislike about both platforms, but it is allowing me to organize my posts in a way that works better for my work/school/pain-addled brain right now.  I'm hoping that I will be able to afford my own URL as well in the fall (likely www.parttimewheeler.com, or a similar derivation).  It's still under construction, so don't mind the dusty bits.

Feel free to head over there and take a look.  If you like what I'm writing, doing, accomplishing, I would love donations to my adaptive aid fund through GoFundMe or directly through Paypal.  If you like how I write and want to hire me for editing work, check out the details here to get started (rates negotiable!  Help a gimpy grad student pay her medical bills!).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Moving to a new blog home?

Wheelie selfie
I'm thinking about moving Adventures of a Part-Time Wheeler to Wordpress, but I want some opinions.  I like the post format better through Blogger, but Wordpress would allow people to subscribe to my posts.  Another perk is that since I've been blogging with Fierce Freethinking Fatties, I already have an account there and the organization would be easier on my pain-addled brain.

What do you all think?  Stay with Blogger or go with Wordpress?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

OOTD: Bee-autiful in blue polka dots

OOTD in my laundry room mirror
Photo description: a selfie taken in front of a rectangular mirror in a laundry room. My body is only visible from neck to ankles. I'm wearing a black waist-length cardigan with a royal blue and sky blue polka dotted empire waist dress. Black leggings are visible underneath the dress.

This dress was actually my second garment from Gwynnie Bee, a clothing subscription service geared for sizes 10-28.  Because I had a free garment for getting a referral credit, I accidentally had this in two colors at the same time (whoops!).  This was my first attempt at wearing an empire waist in a non-stretch fabric and I'm in love with this cut on my body.  Even though I was in quite a bit of pain that day, I felt dolled up and adorable!

Friday, March 7, 2014

OOTD: More Gwynnie Bee, office edition

OOTD from a couple weeks ago
Photo description: a standing selfie taken in an office bathroom with stalls. My hair is pulled back, with clear glasses, large circular earrings, and a brass forearm crutch. I'm wearing a camel colored collarless blazer with a brown multi toned tea length dress.

This blazer and dress combo was another outfit from Gwynnie Bee.  I was having a really rough pain day (hence the pulled back & somewhat greasy hair), but I was trying to compensate by looking pretty.  This dress got a lot of compliments at work!  It was also decently comfortable, although the arms on the blazer were a little snug.  It also came with a decorative belt, but my spine said "no" to anything sitting firmly near my cyborg bits.

So far, I'm pretty happy with Gwynnie Bee...I just wish I could have more control of what garments come at what time, but it's been satisfying my desire to shop but keeps me to a better budget with the membership cost (free to try with this link, then starts at $35 per month depending on how many garments at a time you have).

One of these days I'll have an OOTD (outfit of the day) with my wheelchair.  Because my office and campus as a whole aren't particularly wheelchair accessible, I've been toughing it out with my crutch and pain meds.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cyborg Birthday: A year and a few days post-op

X-rays from during surgery 1/16/13
I started this post at the year and a day mark (although I just today finished it because of school & medication issues that I'll blog about soon)...kind of like a Celtic wedding, except for my cyborghood is a bit more permanent than that.  I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this past year, and a lot of those thoughts really boil down to "hindsight is 20/20."

For example, I really wish that doctors wouldn't have told me that I was too young for surgery and that I should wait as long as I possibly could until going under the knife. Recently, I've found information that is specific to the spine abnormality and injuries I had (spinous process fracture, bilateral pars defects, grade 2 spondylolysthesis, resulting in degenerative disc disease...for those of you medically curious) that points to surgery being more successful in people with low-to-mid grade vertebral slips (spondylolysthesis).  Well hell's bells.  Add to that some anecdata from other "spondy" patients that show that the longer we wait, the more nerve (and in some cases like mine, spinal cord) damage we have....that can become irreversible if surgery is postponed.

I have to admit that this is one of those things that I wish I could go back in time and change.  The time, money, and energy I have invested because of chronic pain is immense.  The things I've given up, the time burned away because my thoughts were stuck in painbrain, the events I've canceled or skipped because I couldn't function....the list goes on, and yeah, I'm a bit bitter and upset, and that's valid.

Long story short, I have a lot of nerve damage that probably would have healed had I not waited (especially with my birth defect....less damage would have been easier for my physiology to attempt to heal from).  Chronic pain is exhausting, and it's really wearing down on me.  It's also exhausting to live as a fat gimpy person where doctors refuse to believe my activity levels or desires, especially in a society that privileges walking over wheeling and assumes that all wheelers are paralyzed.

I regret postponing the surgery, not the surgery itself.  There's no telling that I would have a better outcome, so I'm trying to not beat myself up about how everything happened.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Call For Proposals: National Women's Studies Association 2014 Fat Studies Interest Group

Here is the NWSA Fat Studies CFP for 2013. Please feel free to pass on!

NWSA 2014 Fat Studies Interest Group Call for Papers--
November 13-16, 2014 in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Papers on any topic at the intersection of women's studies/ feminism/ womanism/ gender/ sexuality and fat studies will be considered.

At minimum, your submission should fall under one of the following themes for NWSA 2014:

  • Rethinking the Nation
  • Trans-feminisms
  • Technologizing Futures
  • Love and Labor
  • Creating Justice

For more information on the themes, visit: http://www.nwsa.org/

While this is an open call, topic suggestions from last year's meeting include:

  • Social media and Social Networking
  • Fat sexualities (asexuality, hypersexuality, deviant sexualities)
  • Defining and Refining Fat Studies
  • Fatness and Beauty Ideals/Beauty Privilege
  • Women of Color and Body Size/Fatness
  • Fat Intersections (including race, nationality, disability, sexuality, appearance/beauty)
  • Fat Feminist Research Methods (including role of the researcher body)
  • Fat Feminists Theorizing the Body
  • Fatopias/Fat Utopias
  • Transnational Fat Bodies (immigration, globalization)
  • Knowledge-sharing/de-colonizing
  • Fat Performance/Performing Fatness/Fat Icons
  • Fat Activism & Feminism/Fatosphere

If you are interested in being a part of the 2014 Fat Studies panels at NWSA, please send the following info by February 13, 2014 to NWSA Fat Studies Interest Group Co-Chairs Michaela A. Nowell and Candice Casas: (michaela.nowell@uwc.edu and cdbuss@uncg.edu). Please make sure one of us confirms receipt of your submission.

Your submission should include your:
*Name, Institutional Affiliation, Snail Mail, Email, Phone.
*NWSA Theme your paper fits under (and fat studies topic area/s if yours fits any of the above).
*Title for your talk, a one-page, double-spaced abstract in which you lay out your topic and its relevance to this session.
*AND a 100 word truncated abstract (NWSA requirement).

Each person will speak for around 15 minutes, and we will leave time for Q&A. In order to present with your name in the program, you must become a member of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference.

If you submit a fat studies related paper or panel, you can tag it with the keyword 'fat feminisms,' and likewise search the program for 'fat feminisms' to find relevant panels. If you submit a paper or panel on your own, we encourage you to use this keyword if your paper or panel fits the bill. We thank NWSA for adding a keyword that helps conference attendees locate fat studies panels.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cyborg Dance Projekt: Workin' the Workshops!

I've been looking forward to this weekend since I heard about it.  It was World In Motion's New Year's Gala with workshops and show.  It's really the first time I've performed for a bellydance-specific audience since about 2009 at CONvergence back home in Minnesota. The weekend included four different workshop options (3 on Saturday, 1 on Sunday), each workshop lasting for 2 hours a peace.  I knew that my spine was only going to tolerate one per day if I was lucky...since I was performing with my troupe Saturday night, I had to be really really careful with my spine if I wanted to be up on stage.

Pre-performance selfie- false lashes!
The Saturday workshop options were an ATS® combinations class with Nandana, a tribaret class with Emily Beaman, an ATS® with a Veil class with Sadiya from MN.  I was torn between the two ATS® classes, but ended up taking the first one as it gave me enough time between the workshop and the performance so I could rest up before the show in case my spine misbehaved.

Sunday had one option, a tribal fusion master class with Sara Beaman.  That was a no-brainer as I've taken a few classes with Sara, and she has been one of the people cheering this Projekt on (even offering to help me figure out bellydance biomechanics post-surgery, even though I didn't take her up on the offer).

The workshop with Nandana went well, no thanks to some charming North Carolina winter weather including a huge thunder storm.  She taught us a slow move with a three variations (the strongarm), a fast duet move that uses a base move that doesn't bother my spine when I don't overdo it (Arabic do-si-do), then a combination series that demonstrated how to string movements that help make the dance style look almost choreographed (Egyptian to double bump to single bump turn, to single bump half turn). During the Arabic do-si-do, I paired up with a troupe mate, but we ended up picking up the movement so quickly that we split up to help other dancers....which helped me realize that pursuing ATS® teacher training if I can financially swing it this summer is a good idea.

After the workshop I spent the afternoon hanging out at my partner's parents' house relaxing and trying to stay reclined until I needed to get my makeup on, hair done, and strapped into my costuming.  I was a little nervous as my partner had never seen me perform and it was his first bellydance show.  On top of that, I was a little wound up because I was relying on a troupe mate to bring hair flowers as I made a last minute costuming decision but didn't have hair decor that went with my black, red, orange, & white color scheme (see photo above for the hair as it all worked out!).

The show went really well.  I danced with four troupe mates to a slow but short piece that garnered a lot of compliments.  Thankfully my balance kept me upright despite my usual stubborn habit of leading a move that involves briefly being on the balls of my feet (camel walk....I'll usually "cheat" the move and not go on releve if I'm not leading, but since I'm so short I worry that dancers following me will have trouble catching the cue otherwise).  As usual, I overdid it....but I really don't regret it because of all the fun I had dancing....plus I got to see a lot of really fantastic dance of a variety of styles.  My partner enjoyed himself as well...so bonus!  I hope he realizes that this means he has to come to more of my shows!

Post-workshop with Sara Beaman
This morning was a bit rough going.  I slept very poorly because of pain, so I was a bit worried about how the workshop was going to go....but since Sara is somewhat familiar with my spine-related impairment (we're Facebook friends), I figured I could get away with doing whatever I needed to do to have a productive experience. That really made my experience better.  I brought my crutch into the studio and ended up using it quite a bit to lean on for locking drills & liquid backwalks.  I sat on the floor for the breakdown of sidewinders.  I leaned against the wall to drill some arm movements.  Long story short, I did the best I could with what my spine was offering and I had a fun and productive time.  Even better...I have some movement ideas for what I want to do when I settle on music for the Cyborg Dance Projekt solo performance and I am learning how I need to dance with my crutch to make it work.

All in all a productive weekend, even if I am still grumbling about missing the veil workshop.  I'm going to sweet talk my troupe & dance collective sisters to pass along their knowledge once I get the right kind of veil for it!

Photo descriptions: 
Top photo:  the background is a white walled room with a dark brown door behind my head.  I'm wearing heavy stage makeup with red, white, and black faux flowers on my head and my hair pulled up. On my upper body I'm wearing a black choli with a red decorated bra along with a pewter coin necklace.
Bottom photo: taken in a dance studio with only sunlight lighting the room with the photo showing us from the hips up. I stand arm in arm with Sara Beaman, who is a bit taller than me with short brown hair & a warm smile.  We are both wearing dance practice clothes and my crutch is barely visible in the photo.

Friday, January 10, 2014

OTOD: Clothing the Cyborgling!

Because my brain has been stuck in painville, I've been back to playing with various aesthetic things lately again.  Since I'm still in love with my current hairstyle (an undercut with the top layer shoulder length), still in love with my bright auburn hair dye (although, if my job would allow me to, I would love to play with funky colors), and am not in a financial position to get the tattoos that I'm planning, I'm left with clothing and makeup.  I'm not a particularly feminine person most of the time, but my adventures in appearance-related things always feels like drag.

"We're born naked, and the rest is drag." ~RuPaul

The problem is that this kind of experiment always ends up being expensive, and my finances really haven't sorted themselves out since a while before my spine surgery almost a year ago.  Not only is it monetarily expensive, but it can be hard from a physical energy standpoint (trying on clothes when you have trouble bending or twisting makes trying on things in store more difficult).  It's also a hassle when many companies that cater to people above a size 14 sell most of their clothes online.

So when I heard about this company called Gwynnie Bee on Facebook and through an article on xoJane I was intrigued.  What it is is a subscription clothing service that you pay a monthly fee for (the first month is free with a referral, so if you are interested check it out), with the fee dependent on how many items you want out at a time much like Netflix with physical DVDs.  It caters to sizes 10-32 and has dresses, tops, skirts, blazers, and cardigans from a variety of clothing labels (sadly no pants...I have the most problem with pants).

I'd been waffling on the service for a while because of the price.  It starts out at $35 a month for one garment at a time (shipping both ways included in that price), but I realized that I probably wasted that much trying to find things that I like, that fit me well, that are work appropriate, and that last more than a few washes (which is my current issue with Old Navy right now).  I figured that the first month free was a good way to try it out, so here's my first item....an Asos Curve tailored skater skirt with a belt.

Black + black + black
Photo description: the author seated on a bench taking a self-photo in an accessible dressing room with a black tshirt, black flared skirt, brown belt, black leggings, and black boots. She is holding one of the grab bars with her right hand, and the left is holding a cellphone to take the photo.

Thanks to measurements that one of my conference roommates took in November for my wedding garb, I had a better idea of what size would work for me. This skirt was great, although I've never worn a high-waisted garment like this before so I was constantly fussing with the skirt waist (it was a little loose, so that didn't help).  I felt cute, looked professional enough for my office (with a cardigan over the shirt), and the whole experience made it so I have a better idea of how Asos Curve's size chart runs (a little big, but worked well on my pear shaped body with my 10-11 inch difference between my waist & hips).

This skirt was great for the office on a day where I was using my crutch to get around.  Since my wheelchair doesn't have clothing guards, this skirt won't work for a wheeling day (I'm sitting in the photo above to show how poofy the skirt is since I was walking and not wheeling that evening).  There are a lot of skirts and dresses that like to get tangled in crutches and canes, so I'm really happy with this style overall.

I wore the skirt once then popped it in the pre-paid, pre-addressed bag so I could get the next item in my queue (they call it the closet).  They dry clean every item in between customers!  Pretty slick deal.

There are a few things I find a little annoying about the service though.  You have to have six items in your closet for them to ship an item, and you don't get to pick what ships.  I was actually hoping that this red leopard print dress from Asos Curve was going to ship first, but alas.  The second complaint I have is that they don't have pants.  I'm guessing that this is because pants can wear out faster depending on body shape (like chub rub for those of us with pear or hourglass shapes, or with large thighs).  The last one I have is that some of the items are much more "trendy" than I would normally wear, so I had trouble finding enough items that I wanted to try right off the bat....although since I only have one item out at a time, I decided to put different colors of the same item in my closet to try to increase my chances of getting a style I wanted, even if the color wasn't my favorite.

I just received my second item today to try out, this red polka dotted dress from Cherry Velvet.  I'm not in love with the pattern, but I snagged it to try the cut of the dress.  I'll post another OTOD (outfit of the day) to tell you all how it went!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cyborg Dance Projekt: Whiskey Tango....

Because of a combination of the holidays plus my wedding, I haven't danced much in the past month.  Sure I've done some really low-key drilling (less than ten minutes at a shot), but nothing that really keeps my muscles where they need to be.

Snipped snapshot
This became really clear when I went to an ATS class at a new studio in a nearby town.  For some reason, I decided that I didn't want to use my crutch to walk from my car to the studio (I also didn't know that there was a flight of stairs).  That probably didn't help my spine at all in hindsight, but alas, hindsight is twenty-twenty.

Photo description: A snipped snapshot of the author with auburn hair pulled back, rimless glasses, red cheeks, black sleeved shrug, black tank top, and a burgundy skirt with hands on hips.

I didn't think I was doing too badly today (hence no crutch) until I started to do a taxim (the first move in this video).  Then a slow bodywave (about six minutes in on this video).  Stabbing pain with a stuck feeling on both of them.  I wouldn't say that my spine eased up at all during the class, but I pushed through by trying to keep the movement small and cheating where necessary.

After the class, a couple dancers I know from a workshop earlier this fall came up to me and assumed I was doing So Much Better because I wasn't using a crutch. Being honest to a fault, I told them that I'm not doing better than when they saw me last, but that I just choose to prioritize dancing above everything else and that I use the crutch the rest of the time.  I was trying to be nice about it because their comments were meant to be nice....but it hurts sometimes.  I'm not one of the lucky ones that Gets Better.  I admit that I am better than I was a year ago (surgery was 1/16/13), but I'm pretty much stuck at my 4-5 month post-op point.

I'm just doing the best I can with what I have....and that's all I can do.