Help a Fatass Out: Go See ‘Up’

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Typically of alter cockers my age and upwards, I don’t get out to movie theaters very much these days. But when a commenter on Shapely Prose whose name escapes me at the moment (feel free to identify yourself if it’s you) mentioned that Pixar’s latest film, Up, had fat characters who were not made the butt of jokes because of their weight, and that this was exactly the kind of thing Fatospherians should be showing support (read: entertainment $$) to, I had to agree. I even sprung for 3-D, figuring I didn’t go to movies that much and if I was going to go, I might as well have the value-add experience I couldn’t get watching at home. (For whatever it’s worth, though, not many people seemed to agree with me on that; besides me and Chris, there were about six other people in the theater for an early Sunday night showing.)

Well, lemme tell you: 2-D or 3-D, this movie rules. RULES, I tell you. I’m not going to describe the plot in a lot of detail; let’s just say a flying house, talking dogs, a colorful chocolate-loving bird, and an exiled scientist desperate to clear his name are involved, and leave it at that. What I loved about it was that, yes, this is exactly the kind of movie I want to see a lot more of, one where there was wonderful characterization and voicing, gorgeous scenery, and many funny jokes, and not one of those jokes involved the weight of either the pudgy 78-year-old white man (played by 79-year-old Ed Asner; the character looks amusingly like him, with some latter-day Walter Matthau and Spencer Tracy thrown in) or the even pudgier 8-year-old Asian American boy (played by newcomer Jordan Nagai). If the characters’ weight is acknowledged at all, it’s said to work to their advantage in what they’re trying to accomplish.

According to Pixar Blog, the studio is not putting out much merchandise on Up despite brisk ticket sales, thinking dolls of fat old men and fat little boys aren’t going to be what kids are clamoring for…but shit, if they do put out Carl (old man) and Russell (little boy) dolls, I’m gonna scoop them up, you bet. Both of these characters are CUTE AS DAMN BUTTONS. And I don’t just mean their looks, either. Part of this is how they’re written, but even more so, the marvelous voice skills of the actors. Ed Asner, boy, you’ve been missed. (He’s been working all this time, apparently, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.) Another bonus of this film is that it does, indeed, put a real-life fat old man in the spotlight (Asner will turn 80 in November), reminding people once again that, no, we fatasses don’t all cack by the time we’re 60. (It shouldn’t need to be said — shit, I create medical records for fat old people all the time — but for some reason, that idea dies hard for a lot of people. Wishful thinking, perhaps?)

Asner might have been the only actor on earth who could have given Lou Grant (his character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its eponymous followup series, Lou Grant) the multiple dimensions he had; he made the drunk asshole boss both funny and deep, right from that first “I hate spunk!” interview of Mary. And yeah, he was catnip to women, too (especially to Betty White’s brilliantly played horndogette, Sue Ann), despite the fat japes made about him. Carl, by comparison, is merely grumpy, but Asner hasn’t lost a step off his timing, and Jordan Nagai — who has huge mouthfuls of verbiage to deliver as Russell — keeps right up with him. (And yes, not that Disney deserves a cookie for doing what they’re supposed to and hiring an Asian American actor to play an Asian American character, but it’s definitely the sort of thing to nudge them in the direction of.) And in case you’re wondering, the 3-D glasses do fit over regular ones. What you’d mainly get from the 3-D here is not so much Disneyland-ish special effects (no birds landing on your nose or anything), but a sense of actually being there in the middle of the action. Which I dug, myself. But I hardly think you’d be losing out by seeing it in 2-D, either.

Now, all I could ask are some films featuring fat old ladies and fat little girls. C’mon, Pixar, I’m ready.

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I’m So Concerned For That Ugly Girl’s Health

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So I was fiddlefarting around on the Mets blog Amazin’ Avenue — I only lurk there sometimes to get the latest information about the team, I never post there. It’s not exactly a feminist haven, though (few sports sites are, especially if they’re devoted to sports played by men), and for some reason, tonight the subject of Beth Ditto came up when I was glancing at the open thread from tonight’s game. Maybe she was at the game? I don’t know, not having seen the entire broadcast. Anyway, one of the posters sniffed, wanting women to have a better body image is one thing, but “deliberately making yourself as unhealthy as possible is another.”

Which made me think, “Deliberately making yourself as unhealthy as possible? Really, dude nation dude? So all your favorite records were made by nonsmoking, drug-free teetotalers who never had unprotected sex with strangers?”

Quick Question

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I’ve been wanting to do more aspie/autie/brain-related blogging lately, not necessarily related to fat.

So if you could, please let me know how you would feel about my writing about that stuff here at Fat Fu. I’m not adverse to the idea of setting up a separate aspie blog and in fact might do it anyway, but I’d be curious to take Fatospherians’ temperature on that. Would you say your response to that question would be closest to:

1) No — posts only belong on the Fatosphere if they at least tangentially relate to fat in some way. Putting non-fat-related brain stuff on a separate blog would be better.
2) Sure — blogging about being autistic counts as intersectionality, fire away.
3) Don’t really have a strong opinion in either direction.
4) Something else (feel free to specify).

Thanks!

A$$es and $eat$

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What can I tell you? Recently my mom, who hasn’t gotten to visit with me in multiple Tisha B’avs, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. She would fly me to New York, where she’s now living, and put me up and feed me and all the rest for five entire days. So I went last week. Alas, I missed Kate and Marianne’s Re/Dress shindig by a few days; I couldn’t logistically make everything fit so that I’d be there in time for that event, because I also had to schedule my trip so I could squeeze in a visit with my dad, who’s now moving down to Florida and would only be in New York very briefly before going back down south again. Bummer. So I’ve mostly been off the grid all week and for most of the week before that, in case anyone was wondering.

It was a nice trip, and I’ll probably go into more detail about it later. For now, what I’m going to talk about is the logistics of accommodating my mountainous tush on both the airplane and in other places where my butt took up occupancy on this trip. Like I said, what with the airlines and their you-must-pay-extra-for-not-controlling-your-greedy-appetite-fatass policies making the news of late, I have been more than a little reluctant to fly. We’re talking about a cross-country flight, which isn’t cheap, and even if my mom would agree to pay extra for tush shipment, which I’m sure she would if she had to, I would hate to put her out like that. And me, too. But I remembered that not only did Jet Blue have direct flights between PDX and JFK, but their seats were an entire 17.8″ inches across, which is a little bigger than most of the other airlines are offering these days. So I asked her to book me with them if she possibly could, and she did.

My flight out was a red-eye, which was okay with me since I normally keep vampire’s hours and I knew I’d have to do something pretty radical right off the bat to reset my body clock to Eastern Daylight Time. To my utter amazement, about a third of the plane was unoccupied; yeah, I know it was a red-eye, but I’ve taken this very same flight a couple of times before in the last couple of years, and it was ass to ass. Not now; in fact, the seat between my aisle seat and the window was unoccupied. Would there have been a problem if it wasn’t? Well, let’s put it this way; at about a size 20, I got on my seatbelt with no extender, no prob, but putting down that armrest? Owie. I could physically do it, but not by much. I actually had mine resting lightly on my left leg for takeoff with my elbow on top of it, and nobody said anything. If they had I’d have crunched it down, but I was very happy not to have to, believe me. And with the armrest all the way down, there would definitely have been thigh squooshage into the adjoining seat. So, bullet dodged, at least for the outbound flight.

The return flight was not a red-eye; in fact, it was scheduled for departure at 7:40 PM local time on Saturday, and sat there on the tarmac for two stinkin’ hours because the bumblefucks who did the scheduling didn’t realize that every international flight in the galaxy would be taking off at around the same time, duhhhh. I expected more tushes on this flight; not only was I wrong about that, but the plane was even emptier than the inbound one. In fact, it was so empty that before they bolted us into our seats for the tarmac wait, they encouraged people to move to a completely unoccupied row if we saw one that looked good to us. Unoccupied rows? What is going on here? Are people just not flying anymore unless they absolutely must? No wonder they all want to charge fatasses double; if they could get away with it, they’d charge everyone double. Triple, even. Wearing heavy wool socks? That’ll be $15 extra! I will note that on neither flight did I see anyone fatter than myself, and I don’t, in fact, remember seeing anyone else who was Officially Fat on the plane at all. What that actually means, I can only guess.

Now, since I am a Metsochist, while I was in New York, I just had to go to a game at the Mets’ new digs, Citi Field. I’d been hearing all kinds of great things about the park — better food, improved sightlines, nifty historical stuff, and one of the things that had been ballyhooed in the media was “bigger seats!” Only, I didn’t realize that they only meant “bigger seats” in the expensive parts of the ballpark, not the upper deck where I bought my ticket (on StubHub). It only took one extremely painful attempt to wedge my hips all the way back into my chair to realize that a 19″ seat in a stadium was a much different deal from a 17.8″ seat on an airplane; that 19″ is the entirety of your real estate, there is no squooshing out under the armrests. The lower deck seats, I found out later, top out at 24″ (although I don’t know for sure if they’re all that width, it’s not at all clear from the seating chart or any other information I was able to find online).

So if you ever go to a game or a concert at this facility and you are a wide load, be forewarned. Fortunately, as is the case with pretty much all the newer ballparks (built from 1992 onwards), you are not stuck in your seat if you want to see the game; with the open structure of the grandstands, you can take a walk around the concourse, even on the lower levels if you like, and not miss anything. You can even watch from different angles in different parts of the park, although I’m not sure if the same rules would apply during a concert.

Still, it kind of burnt my toast that none of the stories or publicly available info about this ballpark ever mentioned this little, um, quirk with the seats for those of us wearing bigger than size 12 bloomers. For whatever it’s worth, I saw plenty of fat guys with big bellies at this game, and they, natcherly, had no trouble fitting in the seats. I don’t remember seeing a single fat chick. Of course not! Fat chicks prefer to watch the game at home! Riiiiight…and my great-grandparents settled on the Lower East Side when they came to America because they thought Central Park West wasn’t good enough for them. Uh-HUH.

The food is really good, though. Gotta give them that.

I also rode Metro-North and the subway while I was there. God, all those stairs on the subway, just stairs and stairs and stairs and stairs. I can walk on flat land for days, no problem, but those stairs in Birkenstocks were killing my knees, going up or down. Also, what’s up with those seat dividers when there are all those seats in a row bench-style? What’s the point? Is it to keep the phantom schlong dudes from spreading their legs out to MX-missile width? Because if it is, then it’s not working, any better than it’s working to keep my ass from measuring more than 16″ across. You might as well just have a bench, just a flat old bench, and let people arrange themselves however.

At least they’re not talking about making fatties pay double on the subway or commuter train just yet. I guess it would cost them more to enforce that rule than they’d actually make from the deal.

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I Hate Metformin (A Rantlet)

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I wish I was a voice-file-editing wizard, because in order to get the full impact of the title and what it means to me, it needs to be read in one of those Yosemite Sam type of growls: “Ahhhhhh HAAAATES metfohmin.” Because I really do hate metformin (brand name: Glucophage) the way Yosemite Sam hated Bugs Bunny, and with a lot more justification. Metformin is not cute. It is not witty. It does not have soft pettable-if-only-it-were-real fur. It does not kiss its enemies full on the lips and then spin its ears to fly away. It’s just a big old nightmare, that’s all.

For those of you who are met-n00bs, lucky you, a bit of background on what this drug is. It’s supposed to be an insulin sensitizer, so it’s typically given to people with type 2 diabetes who are not yet insulin dependent, so they can make the best possible use of what little insulin their pancreases are able to come up with at this stage of the disease. But in recent years (I was first prescribed it in 1997), it’s also been commonly dispensed to women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which I have, because one of the markers for PCOS is elevated fasting insulin. That means my pancreas is working way too hard, and for the time being, the net result is that my blood sugars, even after eating, tend to run a little on the low side. But if the pancreas continues to overwork itself, it could eventually burn itself out and bang, diabetes. That’s the theory, anyway, and hence metformin is supposed to slow down the overproduction of insulin so I’ll have more of it later on when I need it.

But I’ve never been able to stay on it. (Okay, here comes the grody part; that’s what you love me for, right?) Because here’s what else it does to me, besides sensitize my cells to insulin: It turns my digestive tract into a long, snakey blender set permanently on puree. I’m sure if you asked most people whether they’d rather have explosive diarrhea or be fat, they’d pick the diarrhea, but not me. Explosive diarrhea is my idea of an unacceptable side effect. I mean, really, think about it. You can’t go ANYWHERE without knowing exactly where the nearest toilet is, and when you get there it had better be unoccupied. Last I looked it was still legal to be fat in a supermarket (at least for the time being); I’m pretty sure it’s totally illegal to take a dump in the middle of a produce aisle. Yeah, I could wear an adult diaper, and I’m well aware that there’s no way around that for a lot of people, but you still have to change the damn diaper as soon as you know you’ve, er, used it. Which still amounts to finding and gaining access to the blasted toilet ASAP before people start complaining about the smell. Call me shallow, but I’d rather put off the adult-diaper stage of my life for as long as I can swing it.

So for years, the cycle has been that I’d stay on the met for as long as I could stand it, then discontinue and tell my doctor I can’t tolerate it. Then the doctor says, “Well, you really should take it,” so I’d start taking it again, and become Ms. Poopy Shorts again, and the doctor would give me shit (snerk) about discontinuing again, and the typical thing they tell you to do is take some Imodium or something to stop the flying poop. Well, I have a couple of problems with that. One, I firmly believe that if something is racing to exit your body, there’s probably a good reason for it, and messing with that every day could cause all kinds of problems later. For another, I really dislike the “take more drugs to counteract the side effects of the drugs you’re taking” syndrome. I already do that with psych meds, and it blows mountain-lion-sized hairball chunks. Because, where does it end? That’s why, whenever I create a medical report for someone older than about 60, they’re always on about 20 different drugs and getting more added every time they show up at the doctor’s. Iatrogenic illness, what a party.

And lately, especially after my month-long bout with antibiotics, which can do a number on your gut all by themselves, it’s gotten much, much worse. Let’s just say that at one point there was a race to a public bathroom and…I lost. Fortunately, this happened at the shrink’s office, and she had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing. Her belief is that I have all this wacky shit (snerk snerk) going on in my digestive tract (and my endocrine system) because I’ve spent my life under a ridiculous amount of stress due to untreated/unrecognized Asperger’s, and that “you’ll get your body back” when I finally decompress from it all (when, I ask?).

But you know, I’ve checked around the t00bz, and I ain’t the only one set on perma-puree by this not-so-little white pill, believe you me. It seems like more people than not actually do have digestive iss-yews with metformin, but since the result of all that time spent making personal deposits in Bank of the Sewer is often weight loss…oh yay, bring it on! ANYTHING to weigh a few pounds less! I don’t get neurotypical people sometimes, would they really rather crap their pants than buy them a size bigger? Evidently they would. Therefore, none of the pharmaceutical companies, to my knowledge, are offering any real alternative to the Big Met. I asked my gyno about that, since she has PCOS herself and I thought she might have some answers, but no, even she doesn’t know of any other than “take Imodium, and if that doesn’t work, then forget about it.”

So about a month ago, I decided to forget about it. That’s how I know for sure that the metformin was the guilty party; I discontinued for a week, the flying poop went away, and went back on it and the flying poop came back. Hard to get any more certain than that. After that I stayed off it for good, and decided I would substitute cinnamon extract, apple cider vinegar (dissolve in water or club soda, wait five minutes for the smell to dissipate, and add a splash of juice for flavoring), and alpha-lipoic acid, and just keep checking my fasting insulin to make sure it wasn’t creeping up on me.

And then a funny thing happened: I started getting way more productive at work. I get paid by the line, and my line counts the last couple of weeks have increased by over 50%. And they have incentive bonuses that kick in over a certain number of lines, so that means a substantial increase in pay. Now granted, I wasn’t earning squat before and this won’t make me affluent by any means, but dayyyum, I’ll take it. Am I certain that booting metformin out of my life is what did the trick? I don’t know, but I’d have to say it didn’t hurt.

And I don’t know about you, but I like things that don’t hurt.