Campos Column a Casualty of Latest Newspaper Demise

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Today the Rocky Mountain News, which had been in print since 1859, published its final edition, yet another in a series of newspaper deaths which figure to be continuing into the foreseeable future.

With the Rocky’s demise also comes the concurrent demise of Paul Campos’s column, which the Rocky had been publishing for a decade. Campos didn’t dedicate a lot of columns to fat acceptance, but the fact that he wrote any, and thus was one of our highest-profile media advocates, meant a lot.

Campos describes the loss of the column as a “minor economic inconvenience” for him (he’s a law professor). But this is something we’re going to see more and more of; with the rise of blogs, the number of high-profile paying outlets for opinion and “think piece” writers is going to continue to shrink as print publications die off and those that survive slash their budgets and rely more and more on wire stories and rewritten press releases for their news content.

His archive can be found here, for the time being. Scripps is looking for a buyer to take over the Rocky’s Web site and archives; let’s hope they find one.

In the meantime, get your Campos while you can. And of course, he’ll still be blogging at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

I have nothing remotely clever to say about this.

Keep Your Cameras Out Of My Cleavage

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I’ve got a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. Once a year they make me get a Pap smear so I can keep getting my Kariva (generic Mircette), without which I am a heaping pile of truly debilitating crampage that makes me feel like I’m passing a bowling ball every three weeks, not to mention suicidal PMS and more zits than a gymnasium full of eighth graders. The Pap is no problem. I’m lucky to have a doctor who doesn’t sing me tortured multioctave arias about my weight; he knows I have PCOS and am on antidepressants and there’s not much I can do about either. But he does make a big deal of the fact that I haven’t had a mammogram yet. And now I’m 45. I’m supposed to have had five of them by now. Five.

I have all kinds of reasons for not wanting to get one, besides the default reason of being too lazy. There’s maybe one week a month where I don’t have any breast tenderness at all, and you know, I’m aspie. If the procedure hurts, I am likely to have a meltdown. (I went through hell on an x-ray table a few months ago, when the incompetent tech had me lie on the side where I was already having excruciating pain and kept asking me to “scoot down” not caring that I was already in agony, and took the same x-ray FOUR times because she kept messing it up. Oh, yes, I melted, I melted.)

I do have a stash of Klonopin I can use to stave off meltdown if need be, but I rarely take it because it’s incredibly sedating and staying awake is enough of a problem for me. But maybe I want to be asleep for something like this? I remember Vesta44 saying recently that when she had a mammo, they had to take four separate pictures because of the size of her breasts, and they’ll probably have to do likewise with me. Eef.

But even that’s not the biggest reason I don’t want a mammogram. The biggest reason is that I’m scared to death of what they’ll find, and whether it’s really what they think it is. And according to Sandy’s post on Junkfood Science this week about mammograms, it looks like my worries have some basis in reality. Sandy cites this study published in the British Medical Journal (no, really, read it, your eyes will bug out of your head) that was conducted by a Norwegian research team, in which almost two million breast screenings were examined in multiple countries, and the sentence that leapt out at me was this:

The rate of false positive diagnosis after 10 screenings was 50% in the United States and 20% in Norway.

Okay. First of all, I want to know why they’re doing a better job of eliminating false positives in other countries than in this one. Aren’t we all theoretically using the same equipment? Is there something about American breasts (and yeah, I keep thinking of “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” too, it’s not just you) that makes it harder to screen them? Or are the techs not receiving adequate training? In any case, that brings me to my second point: Fifty percent? Are they fucking shitting me?

All the “FAT PEOPLE ARE COSTING ME PRECIOUS HEALTHCARE DOLLARS BLAAAAARGH” people need to feast their orbs on this particular stat, because this is what’s opera, doc. EVERY woman in America is expected to get a mammogram EVERY SINGLE YEAR from age 40 onward. For an average woman’s lifespan, that could be 40 mammograms. The cost of the screening itself isn’t much, but do you know what happens when they find something? They send you for more tests, and then you have to have a biopsy. All that ain’t cheap. Not only that, the elapsed time between mammogram finding and biopsy results probably engenders some of the worst psychological torment a woman can possibly experience. Am I doomed? Or will I be fine once I go through a couple months’ worth of surgery, chemo and radiation, possibly repeated multiple times over the next few years, assuming I can even spare the money to take the time off and pay all the damn medical bills? Death or generalized weakness and vomiting and pain pain pain PAIN plus losing at least one boob and figuring out whether I can afford to replace it/them surgically and whether I really want to do that anyway? Or is it really nothing and I’m being a big mustard-dripping Oscar Mayer weenie about the whole thing?

I don’t know if there’s enough Klonopin on earth for this.

Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough of a barrel of red plastic lead-infested monkeys, there’s also the fact that a lot of those real positives are NOT invasive cancers, but are largely treated as such, with women having to go through the same surgical, radiological and chemical wringer as for more aggressive forms of cancer. I’m not sure what gives them the idea that surgery, radiation and chemo are harmless for people who don’t critically need them, but shit, they’re not even harmless for people who do critically need them. They don’t make men go through all that for every case of prostate cancer; why is every case of breast cancer treated like some four-alarm fire, regardless of the type? (And talk about needless health care costs, yikes.)

And that’s not even getting into the mucky pool of false negatives. Sandy also did another breast cancer piece a few months ago, in which she cited the findings of British breast cancer treatment pioneer Dr. Michael Baum:

Screening takes place [in Britain] every three years, so it doesn’t tend to catch the fast-growing, aggressive cancers, such as high-grade invasive duct carcinoma and inflammatory breast cancer.

Furthermore, only one in 1,000 women will avoid death from breast cancer over ten years of attending screening.

Maybe I need a bottle of scotch with that Klonopin. Or maybe hash brownies would pose less of an interaction risk, I don’t know.

(If you want something from an American source, Sandy also references the page on breast cancer‘s statement on false negatives: “One in 5 cancers may be missed by mammography.” And these are people who are pro-mammogram.)

I do self-exams every month. Multiple times a month. Always have. But really, talk about gambling with your time and psychic energy. I could be in that 0.1% of women whose life would be saved by a mammo. Anyone could. Breast cancer does not have a strong genetic link; the fact that it’s unprecedented in my family means nothing. (And how do I know that one of my pre-mammogram ancestors didn’t have one of the noninvasive forms of cancer that never caused her any trouble, and so never even knew it was there?) On the other hand, there’s also no consensus that premenopausal breast cancer is any more common in fat women than thin women; in fact, some experts think fat women get it less often. (That link has other interesting factoids in it, like the finding that tall women — 5’9″ and up — are more prone to breast cancer than shorter women. Though I’m not sure how you’re supposed to “maintain a body weight that is neither too thin nor too fat” any better than you are supposed to make sure you don’t grow to be “too tall.”)

But getting the mammo is chancy regardless. Do I really want to know what it says? Not to mention the fact that once you’re diagnosed with cancer, your “healthy fatty” privilege goes out the window. If a thin woman gets breast cancer, it’s random bad luck; if a fat woman gets it, it’s because she’s a self-destructive oinker. But really, if it weren’t for the ridiculously high inaccuracy rate, I’d probably go anyway. If I have to be put through the wringer because I’m truly ill, so be it, but the prospect of going through the wringer for nothing is what gets me. Not to mention the fact that women are relentlessly pressured to do so. Year after year between 40 and death. How long can I hold out?

Ultra Meta

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Hey everybody, a few notes:

As you may or may not know, I am not the founder of this blog. Fat Fu (who also maintains the Fatosphere feed) founded it, and she also created the blogroll here, which I haven’t touched since I came on board in May 2007. I’m thinking about either adding a separate blogroll for me of stuff (not necessarily fat-related) that’s not in there now that I read, or incorporating it into the existing blogroll.

I’m sure there are blogs on the roll that no longer exist, but I’ve been way too distractible to actually surf them one by one and eliminate the dead links. So if one of those dead blog URLs is yours and you’d like me to take the link off and/or substitute a new one, please let me know.

(Fu maintains the Fatosphere feed separately, BTW; I don’t have access to it.)

Also, I know I’ve been a slow-ass about getting things out of moderation. I do apologize, and I will be staying more on top of it from now on. If you think you’ve wound up in the spamtrap by mistake, you can feel free to email me.

First-time posters automatically go into moderation, as do posts with more than one hyperlink. Also know that you can wind up in the spamtrap if your IP address renews without your knowing it; it might not be anything in the post itself that kicked you into moderation. Also, changing your email address might trigger a mod.

If I’ve commented on your blog recently and it’s not on the roll or on the Fatosphere feed, you can automatically assume it will be added in the next blogroll update, unless you request otherwise. If this applies to you and you don’t see your blog there after I announce the update, feel free to poke me with your electronic fingers.

Real post to follow shortly.

(and yes, feel free to use this as a blogwhoring thread)

Tie-Dye Hippy-Dippy YAY! (Caftan Edition)

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Yeah, I know. Caftans, muumuus…if you’re a true fatshionista, you’re not supposed to touch them. They personify everything that’s evil about plus-sized clothing. All I can tell you is this: SHUT UP.

While I certainly agree with fat people not being limited to such shapeless threads, I work at home, in a (rented) house with no air conditioning. (I might be moving before summer arrives, but it’s rare to find air-conditioned dwellings here in PDX, regardless.) It’s pretty comfortable most of the summer, but we definitely have stretches when it gets HOT HOT HOT, and when it gets HOT HOT HOT, a nice, lightweight, flowy garment that I can wear to nip out to a meal or an errand and sit at my desk and concentrate on doctordrone for eight stinky, boob-perspiration-filled hours, is exactly what I want and need. I don’t even like to wear shorts or a knee-length skirt while sitting on a computer chair; I HATEHATEHATE the way the chair fabric feels along the backs of my thighs. Also, I don’t necessarily want to shave my profusely hirsute legs every hour on the hour, which I still feel compelled to do if said legs are going to be visible to any member of the public at any time.

Plus I tend to wear dresses and skirts at what I call “aspie length”; that is, if I happen to forget which direction my limbs are pointing in, at a given moment while seated or lying down, if my skirt is long enough I don’t have to worry about said public having a free glimpse at my cervix. So yes, a caftan. But with a sash, in case I wanted a more shapely variation on the theme. And it’s that time of the year when colorful craft projects like tie-dye call my name to counteract the Gray Blanket (as my friend J. refers to the endless winter cloud cover here). Where to look? Dharma Trading, of course.

Dharma has every tool you ever need for pretty much any technique of applying color to fiber, plus dyeable clothing and accessory blanks, fabric, even dyeable yarn, if you’re so inclined. And I’d ordered from them several times before and got terrific service. As far as the clothing blanks are concerned, they offer everything they can get for a reasonable price, but can only provide what their suppliers offer them. So unfortunately but predictably, the larger your dimensions, the sketchier the selection. I think they do have several styles of dresses up to about a size 22 or 24 (after shrinkage — ALWAYS subtract about 5″ or 6″ from the measurements they state unless you’re ordering a preshrunk garment), and I’m going to go out on a limb and say the caftan I got would accommodate about the same size; I’ve got 47″ in the bust and 50″ in the tush, or thereabouts, and even after shrinkage I’ve still got a good foot of fabric to spare on either side of me. If you are over women’s size 24, or men’s size 3XL, you can still get t-shirts and hospital scrubs that accommodate up to about 65″ in the bust/chest or hips, but you have to look under “Men’s Bigger Clothing.” I got this light rayon caftan (in Plus) and this rayon sash (the 11 x 60).

I used Procion fiber reactive dye, which is what they recommend for rayon and cotton (Chris and his son, Charles, were going to be dyeing cotton t-shirts along with me, plus I was also dyeing cotton t-shirts for my almost-2-year-old twin niece and nephew). I ordered way more dye (plus chemicals) than we were going to need, figuring that the powder would keep for a couple of years and I would almost certainly use it up. (You can buy kits if you’re just starting out, and they give tie-dyeing instructions here. I also found Virginia Gleser’s Tie-Dye Book, which I got out of the library, very useful.) I got the basic three colors of turquoise, fuchsia, and yellow, from which endless color combinations can be mixed, and I also got black (they’ve got several different ones — I went with Better Black), bubblegum pink, and mist gray, figuring those colors would be a huge pain in the butt to try to mix.

It was a giant mess, of course. Glorious fun, but a mess. I will add my own caveats if you want to try this: Put TONS of newspapers and dropcloths EVERYWHERE, including where you mix the dye. Make sure you don’t wear anything, shoes or socks included, that you care about staining. Get LOTS of rubber gloves (I learned the hard way not to use the same gloves I used for mixing dye to fish the fabric out of the soda soak — oops, didn’t mean to leave a giant turquoise thumbprint!). Check the bottoms of your shoes for dye powder, that shit tracks everywhere. I highly recommend devoting one scrubber sponge to cleaning up accidents. And getting the dye into the squeezy bottles, if you don’t get a kit where they do it for you, is, well, interesting. I used a funnel; were I to do it again, I think I’d go with a tiny measuring spoon instead and rinse it good after every color, because every time you get dye powder on the funnel you can muddy up your next color with the one you just mixed.

I knew mine was going to be a big splashy mess, because I was trying to squirt as much dye as I could, in as many colors as I could, into the fabric folds. (My last tie-dye experience had left me with way too much white to suit me.) But that’s the great thing about tie-dye; it’s klutz-proof, in that it almost never looks bad even if it doesn’t look exactly the way you planned it. And for me, part of the fun is the 24 hours that you leave the dye to set before untying, rinsing and washing, anticipating what it’s going to look like.

Pictures, you say? You want pictures? Okay then. (All pics are headless, because the dress is the thing, dude.) Here’s one without the sash, hanging straight down.

And here it is with wings spread, so you can see the riot of color better.

And how does it look with the sash tied? Glad you asked.

And is it comfy? Mais oui! I’m wearing it now and I don’t want to take it off, even though my ass is freezing.

I’ll bet Cass Elliot had a dress like this once, I’ll just betcha.

The Stims, and How (Not) to Get Them

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Contrary to what one might assume from looking at me, the heaviest part of my body is not my boobs, my fat ass, or my thighs. (Kinda reminds me of that old Frank Zappa number, “What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?” — “some say your nose/some say your toes/but I think it’s your miiiiiiind!”) No, if I had to choose one part of my anatomy with the greatest (relative) heft, it would have to be…my eyelids.

Seriously. I’ve been a snoozebucket as long as I can remember. Even as a teenager, for whom in America it’s practically your civic duty to be whooping it up as often as possible, I looked forward to sleep like most kids looked forward to parties. Did I have it checked out? Oh, did I ever. Thyroid tests. Sleep studies. Blood counts of every description. Brain scans. Normal, normal, normal, normal. So they said.

I felt this way long before I was ever Officially Fat. I felt this way if I lost weight, if I gained weight, if I stayed the same. I snore when I lie on my back so I try not to sleep in this position, but the sleep study that was done on me as an Officially Fat person was negative for apnea or hypopnea. Everyone kept telling me, “Exercise, exercise, you’ll have sooooo much more energy.” No, see, here’s how it is. I can sleep for seven hours, have a nice big mug of coffee or chai, go for a nice long power walk…and 30 minutes later, will be fighting the urge to faceplant on my keyboard like I’ve been up for three days straight. Yes, even after years of regular exercise. And when I’m on antidepressants, make that nine hours. I’m not kidding.

On any antidepressant that works sufficiently on my serotonin to make it worth taking, I can sleep and sleep and sleep, and wake up feeling like I’m coming out of general anesthesia. And consuming enough coffee or tea to counteract that effect would basically mean having little caffeine bugs eating a hole in my stomach you could drive a Tonka dumptruck through. Even that much coffee might not do it. Yeah, it’s bad. And when I say I’ve tried everything for this, I mean anything you could possibly think of, and a few things you couldn’t. About the only things I haven’t tried are acupuncture, because I’m not convinced it would change my brain chemistry enough to justify the expense, and cocaine or meth, because…I just won’t. (If I actually turned out to like one of those drugs, and there’s a very good chance I might, then I’d really be hosed.) And needless to say, when you sleep like a hibernating bear, it’s very difficult to have a life. Or, for that matter, a blog.

Oh, and did I mention that as of the first of the year, I’m required to work 40 hours a week to keep my insurance instead of 35? Until they pulled that little stunt, I could get by with small amounts of psychiatrist-approved Red Bull to clear the poop out of my noggin long enough to get through the workweek (and not touch the ass-tasting stuff on my days off). Red Bull is the ONLY energy drink that has that effect on me, and I’ve tried them ALL (other than Rockstar, because of who owns it). But an extra five hours a week was going to mean either more Red Bull, or even less of a life. I wasn’t sure which one would suck worse.

So when my psychiatrist, having heard my latest tale of zzzzzzz, said he’d give me some samples of Provigil, I was ecstatic. Provigil (modafinil) is a stimulant that, for many, provides all the advantages of amphetamine-derivative stimulant drugs, without any of the annoying side effects — no jitteriness, no lip-gnawing tenseness, no sleep disturbance. But don’t bother asking your doctor if Provigil is right for you; unless you’re Barry Bonds or someone of similar caste, you can’t get it. That is, it’s perfectly legal to purchase and possess, but your insurance company won’t approve it. Even if you beg. Maybe especially if you beg.

I’d tried it years ago and loved it. It kept me awake as well as methylphenidate (generic Ritalin), but without the rebound effect when it wore off that would make me feel tired physically but unable to get my brain switched off for sleep. Alas, when my insurance company got the sleep study results back and there was no diagnosis of narcolepsy — only “idiopathic hypersomnia” — they stopped approving it for me, and it was back to snoozeville. When I asked other doctors about it later on, they told me what a nightmare it was to try to get it okayed. But now, my psychiatrist seemed to think that since I was working nights, and one of the on-label uses for it was for “shift work sleep disorder” (yes, that’s an actual DSM-IV diagnosis, go fig), we could get them to say yes.

Meanwhile, I brought my samples home and took it the next day. It was as wonderful as I’d remembered. There was the little catch that I had to actually get out of bed before I felt like it, otherwise I’d just keep sleeping and sleeping. But once I did, I could almost have cried for the life I could have had all my life, if I could only have had this drug. Oh, Provigil, I love you. I love you. And I know you love me, too. I can tell by the way you massage my neurotransmitters, and exactly the right ones, like nobody else ever could, like I was whispering instructions into your chalky ear. We belong together, you and I. Why must fate conspire to keep us apart?

Predictably, the soggy noodles at my insurance company said no when I tried to fill the scrip. (I won’t name the insurance company for privacy reasons, but it really doesn’t matter which one — I’ve been with half a dozen of them and they’re all like that.) And buying the stuff outright was out of the question. The current wholesale price of Provigil now stands at an average of $8.71 per pill. That means that at retail, you could easily pay $11 or $12 for ONE pill. Even taking into account the once-a-week drug holiday I employ with stimulants so as not to build up a tolerance, we’re looking at well over $300 a month for just that one scrip, at least. Not only that, but Cephalon, the company that makes Provigil, has been suing generics manufacturers to prevent them from making generic modafinil available (the patent expires in 2012), and says it intends to keep jacking up the price. They have a great product, they know it, and they’re going to milk it for every cent they can get. So really, I’m at least as pissed at them (and at for-profit health care in general) as I am at the insurance company.

And add to that the fact that a lot of people with nothing especially wrong with their brain chemistry are “borrowing” it to work long hours or party all night, and you can see why insurance companies are so stingy about giving their approvals. I wish the brownnosing workaholics and party animals would knock it off and stick to Red Bull; they’re making it very difficult for people like me who have a medical reason to take it and haven’t found a lot of success with anything else. I’ve looked at various message boards and I keep seeing it over and over again: “I can have a LIFE with this drug, for the first time ever.” Anyone who’s so sure that a fatty fatass who’s not burning it for two hours at the gym every night is just being lazy needs to borrow my brain for a month, graft it on to their perfectly toned body, not take any pharmacological stims, and see how long they keep their job, let alone do all their ab crunches.

And I don’t even want to THINK about all the human potential we could be losing in this country just because people can’t stay awake, even when they’ve slept plenty.

My doctor was so impressed with the difference with me on Provigil that he appealed to the insurance company himself. Filled out their damn form and everything. They still wouldn’t go for it. They’ll only approve it for narcolepsy. Shit, shit, and shitshit. Not that I was surprised.

So he asked me if I wanted methylphenidate again, and this time try maybe 2.5 mg at a time instead of 10, and I said I’d rather try something else. I mentioned that my stepfather had a similar issue and had had good results with micro-doses of dextroamphetamine, and he said he’d let me try it out, since he already knew I was “taking medications appropriately” and thus was unlikely to abuse it. Also, the insurance companies have no problem approving it. Yeah, they’re way more likely to approve an amphetamine than something like Provigil. Why? Because it’s cheap, that’s why. Need you ask?

Meanwhile, I still have some samples left of Provigil, about a month’s worth. A month of my eyes staying open like I need them to. Bliss.

If the dex doesn’t work out, it’s back to Red Bull, I guess. And Red Bull is nasty. If I’m going to taste ass, I would like to hear squeals of ecstasy in return.

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Boobs a Lot, N00bs a Lot

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(Get grateful. I could have called this post Boob Wazee. But I didn’t. Hah.)

First, for your listening pleasure, “Boobs a Lot” (the 1971 recording by the Holy Modal Rounders). Video is safe for work. The lyrics are about, well, boobs.

Speaking of boobs, I heard that Commodores song “Brick House” on the radio the other day and immediately flashed back to when I was 14 years old and this song first came out and I hated it soooo much. And I LOVED funk (still do). The music wasn’t the problem. It’s just that this was the late ’70s and the meme then was that a woman couldn’t have big breasts and a big brain — and if she ever did, like Dolly Parton, people would just forget all about the brain and stare at the OMG DID YOU SEE THOSE THINGS. (And Dolly, goddamnit, was a fucking BRILLIANT songwriter who right around that time wound up pretty much abandoning songwriting for decades, except for flashes like “9 to 5,” because she figured out she’d make a lot more money emphasizing her tits. GRRRRR. Not that I especially blame Dolly, in retrospect.) And did I mention that I’d just moved to a new town and a new school where all of a sudden I had the biggest set of OMG DID YOU SEE THOSE THINGS in the entire ninth grade? And that now, every time that blasted Commodores song about a “lady” who was “stacked” came on the air when I was out in public, I had to cross my arms — which were of course inadequate to the task? I’ll bet they never even thought about that when they wrote it, damn them. (I don’t hate the song nearly as much now, but if I want a fast Commodores number I’ll take “Machine Gun” any day.)

What’s gotten me feeling so boobie? Well, I happen to be the proud owner of a new Breast Retention Apparatus. A real one this time. With underwires that don’t poke me in the pits.

You see, my mom works for a National Department Store Chain which, miracle of miracles, happens to carry support for knobs bigger than double-D cups. As anyone who’s north of a double-D can tell you, most chain stores are sub-useless in this area. Yes, Brain Lyant, I’m looking at YOU. I like your soft cup bras (and the price) and have previously loathed every underwire bra I’ve ever put on so much I’ve uniboobed my way into your 42DD and 40DDD for years. But underwires for women creeping towards the middle of the alphabet you can’t bother to carry in your stores, even though you have them on your Web site? I don’t get it. You carry shirts way bigger than my size, but somehow nobody who wears those sizes is supposed to have a cup size bigger than a DDD that runs small, and even that cup size you have only in a few styles? (And then you wonder why you’re going broke?) So when I grumbled about this to my mom, she offered to get me a real titsling with her employee discount, and I went to the local branch of that store to try on a few and see what fit.

See, last May when I got to meet FJ and TR and Kate and Substantia and Lesley and Karen and we all went to Lee Lee’s Valise, the store’s owner, Lisa, fitted me for one of their bras, duly noting the “uniboob” effect of the one I had on. (Shut UP! It was 2 for $40!). She sized me at 38F (F? You mean there are larger sizes that don’t begin with D?), and had me try on one of the bras she carried, one that actually made me look like I had two mountains instead of one very tall speedbump. It was handmade. It was gorgeous. It was $125. It wasn’t happening. (Really, now, if almost all men wore bras, does anyone think they’d be that expensive? I doubt Bill Gates has ever paid $100 for a bathing suit.)

But still, the “uniboob” comment had haunted me ever since, and I’ve been thinking there might be a more attractive solution than cheapo ill-fitting bras from LB, especially after recently going bra shopping with a friend (who can feel free to identify herself here if she wants to) and re-reading bra posts at Shapely Prose and Bitch PhD. (Going braless just doesn’t work for me; I have extremely floppy boobs and without some kind of support they point directly south — or, one supposes, towards hell.) Granted that I work at home and thus it doesn’t really matter how my knockers look, only that carrying them around doesn’t feel like I’ve been moving pianos with one hand all day, I experimented with a Renaissance Faire-acquired bodice. It’s very sexy in a my-boobs-are-here-the-rest-of-me-is-parking-the-car kind of way. So, generally only worn at home or at Renfaire or maybe at parties where I don’t especially mind people fixating gape-jawed on my cleavage. (If they ever actually did that, that is. At my age, I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.)

I still needed something for non-boob-emphasizing Real Life Going Out Doing Errands and Junk. So I went to the aforementioned National Department Store Chain and found some bras by Wacoal, one of the brands recommended by BPHD for us beyond-all-D’s casaba carriers. I tried on a bunch of 38s and 40s, in F and G cups, since I knew I’d gained a few pounds of Remeron weight since I was last fitted. (There’s also something called an FF cup, I guess that’s also a G? Kind of like DDD is really F, except when it isn’t? Some of this letter-sizing crap just makes me wanna lie down with an icepack.) G was as high as they went in that brand. These bras cost about half as much at retail as the Lee Lee’s bra, but were still very well made. This one in a 38G seemed to fit me best. It actually seemed to have that vaunted quality of the middle plate lying in between my cleavage, or at least pretty damn close. (And I knew they didn’t have an H cup for me to try, and even if they did it probably would have been too big.) So that’s the one I asked for. And for the most part, I’m pretty happy with it. Thanks, Mom!

But I have two questions. One, why is this thing called a “minimizer,” when it actually makes my rack look even bigger than the LB cheapo bras do? And two, are you supposed to give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome from putting it on past the first set of hooks? I don’t remember it being that tight when I tried it on in the store. But I know it’s supposed to be snug, much snugger than I’ve been used to while wearing 40 and 42 bands that were too big for me. I guess the point is that it’ll stretch? And also (bonus question), is there anyone who’s a G or bigger who actually does have a bra where the middle plate lies completely flat between the breasts at all times? Mine sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t. But I’ve been attributing that to the…ah…bag of sand quality possessed by my particular boobage. (When I saw that movie I couldn’t help wondering whether someone who had once felt me up had a hand in the writing.) Am I missing something?

(Also, bonus bonus question: does anyone besides me think the Muppets doing “Brick House” in Muppets from Space was just…so incredibly WRONG? Ten years later, I still can’t scrub the image of Kermit singing about titties out of my brain.)