« January 2010 | Main | March 2010 »

February 01, 2010

Before I go....

I'm about to do one of my famous "quick, get the F out before anyone sees you leave" exits from the office and I wanted to jump in and post something quickly before I take off (for the record, faculty don't have set schedules, we just have to be here for our responsibilities: teaching, meetings, research, and the schedule is otherwise pretty flexible...)

Over the weekend as I flipped channels I kept seeing this show on the Travel Channel called "101 Chowdowns" or something like that.  It was about the 101 best comfort food/ junk food/ chow down places in the US.  We weren't big fans of their choices per se, so we were discussing our favorite pig out places.

In no particular order here are 10 of mine: Fosselman's Ice Cream (Alhambra), Original Tommy's (Rampart and Beverly), Donut Man in Glendora, Bojangles (any), Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, Foster's Freeze, Bullock's Barbecue in Durham (family style!), Amante's Pizza, Elmo's Diner in Carrboro (not Durham), and Chick Fil A (again, pretty much any one).

What's your favorite "chowdown"?  Where is it?

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:15 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 11, 2010

VD* approacheth

*Valentines Day, you sickos

So, Sunday is VD, and as a bonus, Monday is a holiday.  DH asked me last week what I wanted, and I told him, "I just want to sleep."  He was disappointed.  I think mostly because I didn't want a present.

But the thing is, I could care less about VD, and really I don't need flowers or chocolates or any more useless junk.  At all.  House is rapidly filling up with all kinds of crap. And money for presents is a useless expense.

Is there a hoarding disease with the primary symptom of too busy to throw shit out?  Because that's my problem.  I just don't have the time to rid the house of the old junk.

So anyway, I told him that what I want to do is to just chill out and play the video games we got for Christmas and barely opened.  I think he was happy with that.  I suspect, however, that we'll be watching the Olympics anyway, and it won't even matter.

Should I be more open to doing something fun, or am I really just an old crabby bitch?

Posted by caltechgirl at 12:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Olympic Preview

For those of you who care, here's where you can find when the AWESOMESAUCE* SPORTS** will be broadcast:


Time zones listed are PT (at least on my screen), so you may have to reset for your location.  Man, I LOVE when the Olympics and I are in the same time zone!

* These are the ones I think are awesome.  And whaddya know?  This is my blog!

** Watching Curling is a top priority.  Curling will be TiVo'ed.  As will Ski Jumping.  I wish I was a Finn so I could have been a kickass ski jumper.

Posted by caltechgirl at 02:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 17, 2010

Flying While Fat*

* one girl's take on the idiocy of American air travel.  Fuck that.  The idiocy of AMERICANS.  Period.

By now we all know what happened to director Kevin Smith.  I watched it unfold live on twitter, as I follow both @southwestair and @thatkevinsmith.

And I feel for him.  As a fat chick who takes her chances every time I fly, I feel every ounce of the humiliation he was put through.  He paid for a seat.  He should get a seat.

Why do they kick off the "fatties" but not the smelly drunks, sick people, or SEAT KICKING BRATS?  I'd argue that any of the above pose more of a "security risk" than your average oversize person who would really rather melt in to the corner, not touch you, and just ignore you for the rest of the flight.

Maybe it's because our society sees fat as something reprehensible, the outward manifestation of a lifetime of bad choices.

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Most overweight people are just trying to be normal, in fact they're PROBABLY trying a lot HARDER than the rest of you.  A combination of bad genes, bad luck, and the occasional bad choice makes me look like a tub of lard, and is not discernible on you. 

And yet I used to be afraid to eat in public.  That if I went out for ice cream with my husband everyone would think "Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat".  That people were automatically looking at me and thinking "lazy idiot" and "pig", which those of you who know me well know couldn't be farther from the truth.  I work out more than most people (at least up until the holidays, when I kind of fell off the wagon),  I rarely even eat three meals. A part of which,  I know, is my hang up about fat people eating too much.  I don't snack.  I don't eat dessert except on special occasions and rarely outside my own home or my workplace. Ironically, the fact that I eat very little probably is more dangerous for me than eating too much.

And of course fat must = stupid, since what smart person would choose to treat their body so badly or live with the daily humiliation, right?  Wrong. Like I said, it's a train wreck of bad genes and bad luck for a lot of people.    Some people do eat 3 fast food combo meals at a time**. Neither of which invalidates the PhD in Neurobiology hanging on my wall.
**one person I know who can do this regularly is my husband (who is 6'0, 165 pounds), so it's not like pigging out even computes.

But getting back to Kevin Smith.  The humiliation of even the possibility of being considered "too fat to fly" rankles.  It's one of the reasons I don't jump on a lot of airplanes.  It's why I have a number of flying strategies.  First, I always choose a window seat so I can bury myself against the window, away from other passengers.  I board early so I don't have to walk in front of anyone, I make sure the armrest is completely down at all times, and I carry my own spare seatbelt extender for those just-in-case flights.

Having flown on a variety of planes I can tell you this much: the belt sizes vary from plane to plane, and even from side to side on the SAME PLANE.  I have gotten off one plane where I had several inches to spare on the belt, only to board a connection and need the extender. Ridiculous.  And shameful.  I often wonder if I would have been kicked off any of those flights for even ASKING for an extender, if I didn't have my own. Once I get seated, I breathe a sigh of relief.

I do fit in the seat, in case you're wondering. Rather well, armrests 100% down.  It's just that you never know whether someone will single you out just by looking at you. Or whether you'll be randomly stranded at some connection because one flight crew passed and another took exception.  I think that may be the most frightening aspect: why apply the policy differently on different flights?  Why be vague about who needs to buy two seats?  Why make it so frigging difficult and so much more expensive?

Which brings me to my motivation for writing this piece.  I rarely agree, as many of you know, with the columnists in Salon.  Usually the tripe and drivel they spew makes me want to hurl.  But another tweeter passed this piece by Kate Harding on to Mr. Smith, and what she says is exactly what I have to say, regarding Southwest's ridiculous policy, and the haters both. Here's the beginning and end of her piece:

Whenever the issue of whether larger people should be forced to buy two airline seats comes up -- as it did this weekend, when director Kevin Smith was booted from a Southwest Airlines flight, and as it did last April, after United introduced a policy practically identical to Southwest's -- the first and only thing a lot of folks think of is that time they had to sit next to a fat person on a flight, and it was so uncomfortable.

Perhaps they even had the special misfortune of sitting next to a rude fat person, the kind who doesn't even seem contrite about infringing on someone else's severely restricted personal space -- a portly cousin to The Armrest Hog, The Seat-Kicking Kid or Reclines Right Into Your Lap Guy.  There's no shortage of rude people of all sizes, but it seems like everyone's got a story about that whale who made a two-hour or three-hour or even five-hour flight pure hell for the adjacent paying customers. (The fact that airlines try to keep costs down by packing passengers in like sardines and routinely overbooking flights has nothing to do with it, evidently.) And most of those people think charging larger customers double to make everyone a little less miserable is a perfectly reasonable solution.

Which is why part of me is glad the Kevin Smith debacle happened -- though I'm terribly sorry he had to go through it -- because it put a recognizable face on the experience of flying while fat. See, those of us who are and/or love people to whom airlines' "person of size policies" apply don't automatically envision the discomfort of getting stuck next to a fatty; we envision the physical and emotional pain of being the fatty crammed between two potentially hostile strangers, at the mercy of flight attendants who might decide we're fine on one flight and a "safety risk" on the next.


And then, against my better judgment, I read the comments sections on articles about this issue and see things like "Fat people should be imprisoned for over consumption. They've eaten more than their share! I'm glad I wasn't sitting next to this hog" and "I have travelled next to someone like, sweaty, panting, snoring, knocking drinks over at a sigh because the table was resting on him... Should have gone as cargo," and right here at Salon, "Fat people are disgusting. They should travel by ox cart or something. I mean really. Do they need to inflict their smelly fatness on everyone else?" (That person even finishes with a little straight-up eliminationist rhetoric for good measure.)

And I read comments from lots of people who are less openly hateful, but still think that fat people should buy two seats or lose weight or stay home -- not that the airline has any responsibility to, say, ensure that adequate seating is available for everyone or treat people of all sizes like equal (not to mention individual) human beings -- and you know what I think? Forgive me, but sometimes there's no other way to say it: Fuck you. That's what I think.

Fuck you indeed.  Read Kate's entire moving, thought-provoking piece.

If you still think Southwest was right, let me ask you this: In your heart of hearts, would you still agree with Southwest if Mr. Smith (or any of the other people Kate reminds us of) was removed from the flight for being openly gay rather than fat?

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:20 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 20, 2010

I'm not sick but I'm not well...

This was his theme song.

I tried so hard, but you wouldn't listen, you wouldn't reason, you wouldn't leave your dark place. You chose to make ME leave instead. You pushed us all out and built wall upon wall.

And the irony of it is, you took the pussy's way out, not the warrior's death you once envisioned for yourself.

I hope you've finally found some peace. I doubt it, but I hope so. I miss you. We all miss you.

Posted by caltechgirl at 03:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 21, 2010

Will Ashton Kutcher please just come out from wherever he's hiding already?

This is my space, I get to grieve how I want. You don't have to read it, but it helps me to externalize. My thoughts below the jump.

Read More "Will Ashton Kutcher please just come out from wherever he's hiding already?" »
Posted by caltechgirl at 12:33 AM

February 25, 2010

On surfacing

I'm starting to come out of my funk.  I'm sleeping again, and food almost tastes good.

I have learned a bunch of things this week. That I'm really good at fooling myself. How you change forever when someone dies. That there's a reason grief is called pain. That violent, unexpected death leaves more questions than it answers. That I am not who I thought I was, in some sense.

At first I was conflicted.  I felt like my grief was counterfeit.  Why should I be so upset?  He wasn't MY friend. 

Well, scratch that, yes he was. 

He was my oldest friend.  He was closer to me than anyone for the 2 years he lived with us.  I was closer to him.  Yes, I kicked him out of my life, but that was for his own good as well as mine.  But did I ever think of that?  Did I ever think of him as my friend.  Not really.  Not ever.  Until yesterday.  But I suppose I should have.

And I realize that I haven't healed from that last night when it all went to hell between us.  I thought I had moved on, that I could accept his apology someday and love him still from afar and wish nothing but good for him.  Yes, absolutely I could, and did, and still do.  But the wound was still raw, and now it's ripped open.

I have been hiding things in my mind.  Intentionally forgetting. Me.  Brain girl.  For the last 6 days there's always another memory welling up, a thought, a song, a movie quote.  Every day things have old associations that they haven't in years and it's all fresh again, how much it hurts.

I had forgotten how much of my life has him in it.

But I am dealing with it.  I'm scared to go to the service.  To see his family.  To hear again their words from that week.  The accusations and hurt.  I don't want to cause them any more hurt by reminding them of what he did to me.  I don't want to feel like I'm not wanted.

But I need to see his face.  To touch his hand and give him my last gift.  No one is going to stop that, though I'm scared to do that, too. 

He's the only person I know of who managed to blow his brains out in such a way that they can have an open casket.

Bastard.  He's still fucking with us.  He wins again. But then again, when didn't he get one over on us if he wanted to badly enough?

The story is all over the papers in the small town where it happened.  There's even pictures.  Not of him, just the place. The obituary was in yesterday's paper.  The autopsy is done, the service is planned.  They flew him home the last time.

It's ending.  I wish it wouldn't.  I don't want the story to end here.

Posted by caltechgirl at 07:23 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack