Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Homage to Mina Loy, the Queen of Tortoiseshells

I don’t know if there are pools in kitty heaven, cuz we all know that most cats don’t like to swim, but if there are, Ms. Mina is up there lounging around on her kitty fish shaped air mattress floating over a blue blue pool full of lots of tasty fishies of all varieties and colors: big yellow fish, small green fish, round red fish, and of course, lots of shrimp! All of these fish are so easy for her to eat since she’s in kitty swimming pool fish heaven. They all just leap out of the pool and land smartly on her kitty plate balanced on her kitty air mattress where she can chomp them down at her will.

Then, of course, there are lots of other swimming and floating kitties in and around the pool for her to lord over. She is after all, the Queen Cat! These kitties all adore her and submit to her every whim, especially if she feels like batting them around or ordering up some cream! They hop to it pronto for her, bringing her bowls of rich cream or nudging her with their kitty heads so she can conveniently bop them, much to her kitty delight!

O Mina! We will all miss you so much, especially Owen, Liz, H.D. and Zelda. But we know that if there is a Kitty Swimming Heaven, you are the Queen of the Pool and will rule over your subjects for ever and ever and ever and ever!

With all our kitty love,
Pool Puss, Pablo, Sylvia and Miss Parker

Sunday, January 21, 2007

THE SECRETS OF HAPPY SWIMMERS

“Hey, did you guys hear the news about Chlorine and Water?” The Lovely I’s girlfriend settles into the Hot Tub between PP and Lovely I.
The tub’s full of regulars—Muscular Real Estate Guy, Intellectual Russian Scholar Turned Tech Writer, the Lovely I and her GF, and Pool Puss.

We all shake our heads at LIGF’s question. But PP ventures a guess in a generalized depressing way. ‘It’s something bad, isn’t it?”
LIGF shakes her head. Sighs. “Yeah, I saw on CNN that chlorinated water causes a 50% increase in Bladder Cancer.”
Great. Why is everything cancer cancer cancer???!!! PP is so godamn sick of cancer. She’s already taking a risk swimming here in the late afternoon before 4 p.m. cuz Mills closes at 3:45and her dermatologist had said to avoid the sun between 10 & 4. So,her swim is fraught with worry about the sun and cancer. Now she has to worry about the goddamn water and cancer, too?

Shit!

Intellectual Russian Scholar shakes her head and pronounces, “It’s a very rare cancer.”
Everyone nods. Hell she sounds like she knows what she’s talking about. But then she always does, whether it’s cancer or sewing or politics or ballet. She knows the answer. “Besides,” she continues, “I always figure, like with the sun, that the benefits of swimming outweigh the risks. We need the vitamin D too.”

MREG agrees, lifting his leg outta the tub to stretch by holding his hand under the bottom of his foot. “Yeah. And the cardiovascular workout is good for our hearts. Why if we didn’t swim, we’d die of a heart attack.”

IRS nods, “Something’s gonna get you. You may as well swim.”

Everyone laughs uneasily as we try not to ponder our demise to closely.

“What did the study say? Was it about competitive swimmers, like water polo players and Olympic swimmers?” MREG asks, grabbing the bottom of his other leg. “Cuz if it’s about professional swimmers, you know they stay in the water a lot longer than the general population or even us regular swimmers!”

All chuckle as LIGF thinks a moment. “Well, I’m not sure who the study studied exactly. But that’s a very good question. I think, though, they were talking more about our drinking water than the pool water. Though the chlorine can be absorbed through our skin and cause this cancer.”

“Charming.” PP shakes her head. “Now we hafta worry about getting cancer from both the pool and our water supply.”

The Lovely I shakes her head. “No wonder we need to read those stupid books about the 9 Secrets of Happy People. Without it, we’d really be depressed.”
“Like what are the secrets?” PP asks.
“Oh….I don’t know. I was just flipping through the book and glancing at the ‘rules’ and saying to myself. Nope, I don’t do that. No, never even thought of that one. Hell, I did that once like 30 years ago. I’m DOOMED!!!”
Everyone laughs.
PP persists. She really wants to be happy.

Well, in theory at least.

In reality she knows it’s impossible. Especially with so much cancer in the air and the water and what else? Oh yeah, Diet Coke.

The Lovely I pauses to think a moment. “Well, like one thing the book said is that Happy People always make sure that they do ONE thing EVERY day that will make them Happy.”
“That seems simple enough,” MREG asserts, shaking his brawny shoulders.
“Yeah, it SEEMS simple enough, “ LI agrees, “ but just try doing it.”
PP grins. “I’m gonna make sure that I swim everyday. That makes me happy!”
Everyone nods in agreement. “But what about the Cancer?” LI exclaims. “Cancer doesn’t make us happy!”
Shaking our collective heads, everyone is silent for a moment.
“Well, I don’t know about you,” IRS announces while she slowly makes her way out of the tub, “But I’m gonna go lie in the sun and drink a Diet Coke and….”
”Eat some Oreos with lots of Trans Fats!” PP interrupts.
IRS glances at her, perplexed. “Do Trans Fats cause Cancer?”

LIGF grins, exclaims happily to PP, “Oreos! Right on!”

Shaking her head in a motherly oh what will I do with these naughty children fashion, IRS steps out of the tub and meanders over to a lounge chair, taking advantage of the late January California sunshine and its life giving vitamin D and life taking UVB rays.

PP watches in envious admiration. There is something to be said for throwing caution to the wind. Living in the moment with no cares about the future.

But it’s hard to do once you’ve had cancer. Especially when the one thing you resolve to do to make you happy is to swim everyday outdoors in the killer sun.

Sighing, PP waves bye to the Lovely I and her GF as they get outta the tub, sauntering slowly toward the locker room.

Donning her cap, grabbing her fins, kickboard and pull buoy, PP follows and heads for an open lane in the pool.
O Fuck the goddamn Cancer! At least for today.
And chuckling to herself, she tests the water before plunging happily into the cool, blue lane.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

THE SWIMMING CURE

“Wow! It’s great to see you! Haven’t seen you in ages!” Mighty Small Strong Woman grins and stretches, catlike, as Pretty French Teacher plops happily into the hot tub.
“Yeah. I haven’t been in like a year.”
“You mean this year? 2007?”
“No…no….”PFT shrugs shyly. “All year….last year….I was hoping that I’d still see some regulars around.”
“Yeah, we’re still here. But what’s up? Is everything ok?”
PFT puts on a happy smile, but MSSW knows it’s a cover. Stares at her seriously.
“Well….it’s been kinda a tough year…..”
“Really? You ok?”
“Oh, yeah, I’m fine…..but my boyfriend… he’s been pretty sick.”
“He’s gonna be ok, isn’t he?”
“We hope so. He’s on the upswing…. I mean…..he does have Lung Cancer….” PFT shakes her dark wet hair sadly.
“Damn! How old is he?”
“35.”
“Shit….was he a smoker?”
“When he was younger.”
“Weren’t we all!” MSSW chuckles in morbid sympathy.
“Exactly….but the doctors were flabbergasted when the cancer was finally diagnosed. At first they thought he just had bronchitis so they gave him some antibiotics and sent him home…”
”How did he discover the cancer?”
“He had this cough….. and it just wouldn’t go away. Of course, we’re all sick in the winter. I know I am. And so he didn’t go to the doctor’s.”
“Yeah…I wouldn’t either.”
“Exactly….so when he finally went they said bronchitis. And then when it still wouldn’t go away and he went back they said pneumonia and so I thought ok, pneumonia is bad, but he’ll get better so I took off for France but then I get this call like a month later that it’s not bronchitis-- it’s Lung Cancer!”
“Shit.”
“So, of course I came right home and he had already started the chemo and the radiation….’
”How’d that go?”
“Well, he did okay with the radiation…. (Or was it the chemo? PP can’t recall now. Cancer talk in the hot tub is so overwhelming that her hearing ear forgets the vital medical details. So let’s just say radiation for now. But the following description may be vice versa.)
“That’s good, isn’t it?”
”Sure…. they can control the side effects pretty well now with medication. As long as you take the medication before the symptoms get too bad.” PFW reaches up behind her head and squeezes a long ponytail of water out. “But the chemo. Now that was killer. No pun intended.”
“None taken.”
“I mean, he was in so much pain! He couldn’t even take one sip of water without excruciating pain swallowing it. And no complaints. He would just grin and bear it. But he’s better now. He’s back at work and on the upswing.”
“What’s the prognosis?”
“Well, it is an aggressive cancer, but he’s so young, and they’re treating it aggressively. So the hope is for a complete cure….but….” PFW wipes her eyes. PP can’t see the tears from her dark eavesdropping corner, but she knows they’re there. She can hear them.
MSSW nods sympathetically. “He’s young. I’m sure that …..’

Her voice trails off. PP swallows hard. Damn. What’s her problem anyway? At least she doesn’t have lung cancer. Though she still, in the back of her mind, can’t get the melanoma scare out of her frame of reference. Which doesn’t really make sense. But cancer doesn’t no matter what kind or what outcome or who gets it. PP sighs. She’d been away from Mills for 3 weeks and had so looked forward to coming back but it’d been a harrowing drive up highway 13 with the Geo mysteriously overheating. Fortunately, she’d made it to the 76 station across the street from Mills where the very kind Hong Kong Buffet Server (they’ve replaced the garage with Chinese food) helped her. Checking the oil. Discovering the overflow water container was empty. Running back into the buffet and getting a big plastic pitcher of water to pour into the geo. Thankfully, it had worked. At least temporarily so PP could still go to the pool. She had felt so relieved and lucky. But now…..cancer talk? All PP wanted to do was get away from cancer and it was surrounding her. She’d just found out that the favorite number one cat, Owen Hill’s, Mina Loy, had inoperable kitty breast cancer. This was too sad to comprehend so PP had made herself go to the pool.

Now, PP watches as the two women climb out of the tub. Steam rising deliciously offa PFW’s smooth olive skin and navy suit. She doesn’t seem unhappy. Glad to be at the pool. She’d said this. How she hadn’t been in a year and now here she was and it was so great to be back.

PP understands this. How swimming can make everything better. Even the most daunting and uncontrollable things can melt away for a little while gliding through the turquoise lit lanes, the sky a dark warm dome over the pool with a few dim stars and a single small plane droning overhead.

Climbing out of the tub herself, PP shivers a little as she follows the two women still chatting, heads together, the PFW laughing softly.

Yes. Swimming is the answer. At least for a little while.