Dora Blume

Author

So, my dad thinks he can survive anything. He’s in his sixties and has had the attitude his entire life that he can tough out anything. It’s the boot-strapper attitude. “You pull up your bootstraps and keep going no matter what.” It’s why I have this ridiculous work ethic. Both myself and my brother have it. I am a full time English teacher and author. He has three jobs: a college basketball coach, a banker, and a bartender on the weekends. 

I always find it funny when my dad tells us we need to find time for a life. Especially when he tells me I work too hard writing those “damn” books. Or my favorite, “You need to set boundaries for teaching. You’re working too hard.” A psychologist might call this projection. 

See, my dad has owned a business of some sort all my life and most of his. The last thing he did was work as an owner operator, aka truck driver. He worked for himself, so he could work as hard as he wanted to. He’s retired now and has filled his life with all kinds of projects. (One day I came home from teaching and my deck was gone. Literally, gone! He then informed me that I needed a new one, and I had to go buy supplies so he could start on it right away.) 

His mind lately is always on what he’s making for dinner. He has begun watching cooking shows and likes to try new things. (I don’t mind, I get invited to dinner.) The problem is that he thinks he has to go to the store everyday to get the ingredients for his new dish. 

Under normal circumstances, this would be fine. I get it, he’s bored. If you want to go to the store everyday, go for it. (Did I mention, he cooks for me? Such a wonderful dad.) 

We’re in the middle of a pandemic! 

He has COPD and spent last year in the hospital after a hypertension incident that almost killed him. (It mirrored a stroke because his blood pressure got so high.) The nurses who saw him when we brought him to the emergency room thought they would never see him again. He was catatonic. Yet, somehow, against all odds, he made it. He’s doing better than ever. (Thanks to some amazing doctors and nurses at Mayo.) 

So everyday we’ve had some form of the argument,

“Dad, you can’t go out. You need to stay home.” 

He grumbles that Covid isn’t gonna get him, he has things to do. Blah, Blah, Blah. 

(I’ve heard similar conversations from a few of my friends, so I have a feeling many millenials are having this conversation with their boomer parents.)

Yesterday was a classic. 

We were watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (I had a small existential crisis when Tula was sitting in between her two parents watching TV. Oh my God, I need a life! See picture below.)  

I would like to mention before I go into it, that I bought the house across the street from my parents so I could help them. My mom has never driven a car, and my dad used to be a truck driver, gone for weeks at a time. My mom’s twin lives next door to her. We’re a pretty close knit family. 

Here’s how our conversation went: 

Dad, “I got to go to the store.”

Me, “No you don’t!”

Dad, yelling, “I need my pop and popcorn!”

Mom, “I think we need to make him a mask.”

Me, “I think we need to find the duct tape.”

Dad, pointing to the kitchen, “I got that, it’s in the drawer right there.”

Me, “I don’t think you thought through telling me where you keep the duct tape.”

I, of course, went to the store for him, again. I may have bought four twelve packs of pop and four large packs of popcorn. I swear if he asks me to go again in the next two weeks, I will use that duct tape. I love my father, but sometimes he can be a big kid. 

To all the grown-up kids trying to keep your stubborn fathers home. I salute you, may the odds be ever in your favor! Also, if you lose the argument, you know your dad is storing duct tape somewhere. That shit fixes everything, including a stubborn parent.  

I dance around my house daily. I mean if your going to clean you might as well dance while you do it. It makes the task so much more fun. (You’d think my house was much cleaner, it’s not.)

I love to dance.

So, when I went on a road trip with my brother and picked New Orleans as our destination I was super excited. I knew I would live it up, Curt style. I had taken a similar road trip shortly after high school and couldn’t wait to do it again.

First, we spent two nights in Nashville. I danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly. I’m not shy and I really like to have a good time. It was the end of our second night in Nashville. The bus would pick us up in front of Coyote Ugly, but we had time for one more drink. My brother liked that they had two-dollar beers. I liked the idea of dancing on the bar. Win-win.

The place was pretty dead, but it was a Monday. There were two other groups of people at the bar. The bartender was trying to get ladies to come up on the bar to dance. I agreed but had to run off to the restroom.quick. When I got back, there were two girls up there. One looked super nervous, shook her head and got back down quickly, leaving her friend all alone.

I jumped up on the bar and strutted over to her and started dancing next to her. She smiled wide, thanked me and we continued to dance. When the song was over, she joined her friends and I went with my brother. I was feeling pretty confident after dancing on the bar. It had been a spectacular night in Nashville.

A couple of nights later, we’d finally made it to New Orleans. After writing by the pool all day, I finished my novel in The Carousel Bar. I had timed my writing perfectly. I was feeling awesome after finishing, so it was time to go enjoy all that New Orleans had to offer. The food had already been spectacular, but I knew the city lived for its nightlife.

I said goodbye to my brother and ventured to Bourbon street. I hit every bar that was playing something good. I wandered into one packed bar. I had to push past people to get to the front. Which I normally hate to do, because I love having space. Yet, the music was perfect for dancing, and I just had to get up there to dance. These two beautiful ladies were singing and everyone was dancing. They were so good at it too. I learned shortly the group around me were from Brazil. I spent hours dancing with them. I loved the unabashed way they moved to the music. Sweat soaked through one guys collared business suit, but he didn’t care. He still danced. It was amazingly freeing to dance with them. They embraced me as a friend on the dance floor. I loved them immensely for it.

I had gotten some peculiar looks earlier in the evening while dancing. I tried talking to a few people with some polite, some not so polite, rebuffs. I love when a fat guy looks at me like, “why are you talking to me?” with such a condescending attitude. Like, sorry dude, I’m just trying to have a good time. I only asked a question. On the other hand, maybe they know I’m trouble. I got one guy to take a shot shortly after meeting him. He was super sweet and from Wales. I felt kinda bad ditching him when he was drunk, and completely out of his element. But I wanted to dance and he wanted to hold up the wall.

Okay, I know this was going somewhere…

Oh right, live like the Brazilians. Dance when you want to dance. Find ways to truly live everyday. I will definitely take their kindness and zest with me. So, next time you’re at a bar or whatever and the music starts to play. Dance like you don’t care if anyone is watching. Move all your beautiful jiggly bits. Don’t forget to have fun. We only have one life. Don’t let a little pudge get in the way of having a damn good time.

There are two things you need to understand about me.

First, I say exactly what I am thinking.

Second, I can sometimes be too nice.

Seems like a contradiction, right? Well let me explain. Oh, I’m also fat. It’s a thing. Sometimes, it causes problems. Sometimes, it’s hilarious. So, this weekend I was at an author signing. It was super cool and I met some interesting individuals. But it was also annoying for a fat girl like me. See, I took a spot in the middle. (I know poor planning on my part.) I was stuck in that spot for hours. If I wanted to leave I had to ask four people to move for me, just so I could squeeze my fat ass between the insignificant space between the chairs and the table. I mean, what the hell were they thinking. I stared at the damn pizza truck all day. I swear, there was drool pooling from my mouth at around three, two hours after the event started. By the time five rolled around, I had given up on eating entirely. Well, not entirely. I had thought about all the yummy places I could stop after leaving the signing. It was my only salvation as I sat their salivating.

This is where my second problem comes into play. I could have at any time asked the people next to me to get up so I could get through. I, being too nice, only left when they did. I had to get some hard cider. It was the reason I was there. You put books and hard cider together in one place and I will be there, guaranteed. What’s stupid is the people next to me were super cool and would have moved if I asked them to. I didn’t. (See, second problem.)

I still had a really good time. I joked about my fat girl problem every time I had to squeeze between the space to go back and sit in front of my books. I also drank plenty of hard cider, it was delicious. So, if you’re reading this and planning an event in the future. Please remember us bigger people, and maybe leave a little extra room.

Check out daily musings at my Fat Girl Problems Facebook Group.

So, I’m a teacher.

I love every minute of it. Even when that one beautiful students blurts out random things during the lesson. It’s not like you’re trying to impart anything important up here, in front of the class. I loved the reference I learned this year about the cat in the dog house. We all have them. We all love them a little bit more, because they need it.

I do a lot of workshop style reading and writing in my classroom. I’m having individual conferences with students everyday. I kneel down next to their desks every time they need help. I call them desk squats. It’s a great workout. On a good workshop day, my legs are burning at the end of the day. It’s great because that means I’ve helped a lot of students.

There’s only one problem with desk squats. Trying to fit between the rows can be difficult. I have thirty-two desks in my classroom. Currently, they’re in rows. There is maybe twelve to eighteen inches between the rows. Not much room for a girl like me. Fill those desks with students and forget about it.

I bump into desks, students or stuff everyday. At least my students are cool about it. When they know they’re in the way or they’ve blocked the aisle, they move for me. I have bruises on my hips and legs from the daily struggle.

My students laugh at me when I try to get around and can’t fit. I shrug, say, “Fat girl problems,” and keep moving on. I’ll stop at the beginning of the row and say, “y’all know I can’t fit through there.” I make a joke of it and laugh, cause that’s what I do. I love humor. It works well for me.

I watch videos from when I recorded myself student teaching. That classroom was smaller. Y’all I just don’t fit between the desks. I have to plan a route around my classroom everyday. I move the desks everyday. Those rows get narrower, every single day.

It’s okay though, we’ll start literature circles in a couple of weeks. I still won’t be able to move around the classroom without bumping into things. (It’s probably that I’m just a clutz on a daily basis.) It might be better. It might not. We’ll see.

Of course, it’s not going to stop me. I’ll be next to each students desk every day asking about what they’re reading or writing. I’ll be next to their desk helping them when they need it, even if they think they don’t I’ll be there. It’s what I do. It’s what all teachers do.

Even if I get a few bruises from the desks.  

So, I hate the gym.

Not because I don’t like exercising. I hate it because of the people who are always there. (Okay, I kinda hate the options for exercising at the gym, too.) There are three types of people at the gym. The first one is your cheerleader. They think they’re being super helpful by saying things like:

“It’s so good you’re here,” or “you go girl.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love positive people. These people are awesome and positive. But there’s that undercurrent of, “it’s good you’re here because you really need to be.” I understand they mean well but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. It’s their look that always gets me. It hovers somewhere between staring and gawking. It makes me uncomfortable every damn time.

I want to say, “focus on your own work out, would ya.”

The next type of person at the gym is the regular. They are the ones that give you the look. The one that asks:

“What the hell are you doing here?”

It’s their gym and they don’t want any of us there, taking up their space. I have heard the heavy sighs from these people as they watch me move from bicep curls to tricep extensions. They always have an air about them that I’m in their way. If I’m not in their way, they’re just dying to tell me I’m doing it wrong. Could be both. I’m pretty sure we all took the same gym class in which a gym teacher, wearing another tracksuit with crew socks over his pants, explained how to use each machine with painful precision. (Just me? Okay? No one should wear crew socks over your pants. Just saying…)  

This last group has two types. One is the normal regular who honestly works out for hours everyday. Not sure how they manage this but they are regulars, in every sense of the word. The other is the creeper. They are staring for entirely different reasons.

“Yes, I know my boobs are jiggling. Could you close your mouth please?”

I have bought sports bra after sports bra, they still jiggle. It’s a fact. Shit hurts sometimes. You will not see me running at the gym. First, why run? Ever? I’ve never been in that big of a hurry. Second, getting a boob slap to the face is not pleasant. So, no, I won’t be running, ever.

So, I work out. I just do so in the comfort of my own house or I take long hikes. I love the woods it’s so peaceful. I also love dance parties in my kitchen/living room because if you’re going to exercise you should have fun doing it. I’m not a hamster, I don’t need a “wheel” to get my exercise.

You want me to go to the gym?

Nope, not for me, but do what you gotta do.

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