Monday, January 28, 2008

Some Things Just Can't Be Explained

12 days without swimming? No. It’s just not possible. PP knew this as soon as the Kaiser dermatologist uttered this ghastly prohibition for any seriously addicted swimmer.

(Coincidentally, PP had had a dialogue about Addiction, specifically smoking, with a very distressed post swimmer in the Sauna Utopia on Saturday. Not ever having smoked, PP couldn't really empathize till she came up with the idea of swimming! 'Yeah, it must be hard to give up cigarettes,' PP had sympathised. 'I get it. It would be like if I had to give up Swimming!' Addict Swimmer had laughed at this. Somehow, once again, swimming had brought two unlikely people to a shared understanding.)

So, when the doc mentioned giving up swimming for 12 days; well! PP nearly stopped breathing.

Shaking her head sympathetically, the doctor began to explain the 'procedure'. If she did a biopsy on one of the goddamn bumps on her butt, then she’d hafta stitch it up, it’d hafta be kept clean (not a nice thought to contemplate) and PP would hafta stay out of the pool.

“For how long?” PP asked, unable to fathom more than a few days without swimming.

Granted, she’d been forced to forgo the swimming for several periods during her life, often health related. But today, PP just couldn’t handle the thought of no pool for 12 days. Even with the pandemonium swim she’d just finished at the YMCA, complete with Crooked Swimming Purple Bandanna Woman sharing her lane. She’d crashed into PP twice before PP was able to switch lanes until a group of half a dozen or so Boy Retards…. Damn, that’s not what they’re called anymore; PP knows this, as she spied their dark forms lurking on the deck. Unsure and swaying. But then, seeing them all cowering in the water, their movements slow and spastic, their swim trunks tied in what would be risqué knots on other men. Well. PP couldn't remember what the politically correct label was. Her frustration level was so high already. And now, PP knew that her swim was gonna take a turn for the worse. So when this Gang of Retards (GOR hereafter--this will be PP's label in lieu of her inability to remember the Correct Term) invaded her lane, staring at her, tongues hanging out, eyes rolling, their coaches apologizing to her, but could they please have her lane, PP just gave up.

Climbing up on the deck, PP glanced around the pool. It was loaded with swimmers. At 2 in the afternoon on a weekday? What the hell was up with that? And PP really really really needed to swim, what with her 2 Kaiser day. That morning, the latest doc had announced after glancing at her ass for 15 seconds, “No, doesn’t look like staph to me.”
“What is it then?” PP asked, relieved and frustrated. Relief that it wasn’t the dreaded flesh eating super bug staph that she’d been losing sleep over all week; frustrated that she’d been losing this sleep for a week, taking the goddamn antibiotics for nothing, and worrying about how she shouldn’t be going to the pool. Why no one on Kaiser’s Hellish Advice Line could tell her. But it still worried her.

“Looks like Bug Bites to me,” Doc Morn had said.
“Bug Bites?”
“Yes. Do you have pets?”
“Yeah, I have cats.”
“Do they have fleas?”
”Well, maybe, but it’s the middle of winter. Not the height of flea season. But they could. I guess…..” PP’s voice trailed off. Bug Bites?

Well, if this were true, at least she could go to the pool now. No worry about Staph Contagion at the gym.

But yet, fleas? She’s had cats her whole life. They have fleas on and off. She’s never had a problem before.
“Why would I be having this kinda reaction to fleas now when I’ve never had a problem before?” she asked Bug Doc.
Big shrug, BD turned to type some vital info into the computer about fleas. “Who knows? Some things just can’t be explained.”

Some things just can’t be explained? This is the kind of medical analysis PP paid 1000’s of dollars a year for?

“I’m gonna give you a referral to the dermatologist. Can you come back today?”
“Sure, I guess….” PP sighed out loud. She was so goddamn sick of being sick and of being given the run-around at Kaiser. First Doc Do Do, now Bug Doctor, and next?
“Can you come back at 3:45?”
“Yeah…..” PP took the referral, watched as Bug Doc finished up the computer task instead of paying attention to the patient in front of her, then headed out the door with barely a nod to PP.

Putting her clothes back on, PP tried not to cry. Well, at least it was only a little after noon, PP thought; she could get a swim in between Kaiser visits.

At least that had been the plan. Till the GOR showed up and then all she could do was surrender her lane to their Slow Group Water Walk.

Glancing up at their coach, PP shook her head, completely exasperated, “Why is it so Crazy here today?”
The Pudgy White T-shirted coach shook his head. He really did seem to feel bad about taking her lane. “I don’t know. I’m really sorry. We just didn’t know where else to put Them…..”

Okay, PP got this. But still....Climbing out of the pool, she turned and watched the little group do a slow Water Tromp up the lane. A little bit of jostling. A little bit of giggling. A little bit of what?

PP gathered up her fins, shaking her wet head after freeing it from the cap confines.

A little bit of swimming can go a long way to helping even the most unlikely souls. Feeling so cranky at the time, it wasn’t till later that PP marveled at the GOR of the Y. Hell, what did she have to be crabby about? A few bug bites? A couple trips to Kaiser? Not swimming for 12 days?

Ok, the not swimming for 12 days would be VERY crabby, but PP had to admit that her privileged brain allowed her so much. Not the least of which was the ability to put down in writing, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, her thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Plus, wasn’t it marvelous that swimming held no barriers at the YMCA? That any and all were welcome in the pool?

PP had to give the Y Pool that.

Just please, pretty please, next time, could they just bring the GOR after she finished her workout?

After all, swimming, for her, was an Addiction. And yes, Some Things just can't be explained.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beautiful Stroke

“That stroke of yours has it all!” Hemophiliac Swimmer stops PP at the lane line, leaning over with a toothy grin. She tries not to stare or think about the small round band-aid in the middle of his forehead. “….it’s got a Rhythm…..” He pauses, pondering….. “….and a nice strong kick to it too…..” HS shakes his head in unabashed admiration. “Beautiful!” he exclaims as PP reaches for her fins, thinking how at least something in her life is ‘beautiful’ cause it sure as hell hasn’t been too beautiful lately. What with the goddamn staph infection (Yes, hot tubs may cure constipations but they also may be the bubbly culprit of swimming germs that invade your skin and start to grow ….okay, PP will stop there. The details are just too ugly. Both figuratively and literally.)

So, after avoiding the pool and hot tub for two days on Dr. Do Do’s orders (Kaiser’s version of hell. Give the patient lots of antibiotics. Make the patient super sick. Tell the patient that more antibiotics are the only cure for infection even when the patient questions the wisdom of taking more and more since she’s been reading about how too many antibiotics can build up a resistance to infection and then nothing will cure the super staph infection and…., ‘Are you question my recommendation for cure? I am Doctor. I know what I talk about.’)

Well, PP has very little confidence in doctors or the gym at the moment. So, when HS, the charmer that he is, compliments her so sincerely today at the Y, she almost started crying in the pool. Yes the tears are fast and furious lately. A trait that PP hates. Why the hell are they so goddamn close to the surface?

At least if she had cried in the pool, she coulda just dunked her head underwater and voila, they woulda been washed away. On the other hand, when she’s wandering around Longs Drug Store, looking for a heating pad and can only find aisles and aisles of plants or automotive supplies and the tears start to well up, she has to fight the urge. No water to dunk under at Longs!

Back in the pool, she can’t help but contemplate…..Oh, but those little staphy buggies! What if they got into her eyes? Her ears? Her nose? Her….

Yes, they’re already there!

What’s a PP to do? Stay out of the pool, says Dr. Do Do (Actually his name is Dr. Do, which seems appropriate what with his 30 second appraisal of PP and then prescription for more antibiotics. He was all Action. But PP is gonna use his real name here so that any of her readers who may be the unfortunate recipients of Kaiser’s Urgent Care will be sure not to see Dr. DD!)

Swimming today, under the antibiotic nausea veil, PP felt strangely floaty. Like she wasn’t even really swimming. The water was warm, the lane was her own, Hemophiliac Swimmer in the lane next to hers.

And for those 45 minutes in the pool, she felt let’s face it, beautiful. Not in the way that HS may have thought, but in the way that only a perfect swim can make her feel. And while the antibiotics did make her tummy, initially, slightly queasy, by the end of the swim, the nausea had dissipated and all that was left was the blissful glow of the post swim endorphins, and the beautiful grin of Dear Hemophiliac Swimmer!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Serial Pooling

“Oh! I am sooo sorry!” the Lovely I laments as she dunks her head under the hot shower. “I totally got the time wrong!” Her voice plaintive, face genuinely woeful.

PP laughs as she messes around with the shower temp. Really it’s ok, she tells the Lovely I. She messed up with the time, too, here the first Sunday back at Mills. Schedule still on the stupid break--closing at 2:45 instead of the usual 3:45. What? Like they think this is a college or something? No students so no pool?

How stupid is that?

But really, PP did get a workout in, she tells the Lovely I—probably about a mile.
600 yards: warm up
700 yards: kick (cheating long fins cuz PP was feeling super lazy and pressed for time)
400 yards: pull
250 yards: regular swimming (though the last planned 50 yards interrupted by lifeguard)

So, this still makes for what? 1750 yards—why, a mile exactly! This is plenty of exercise even though it’s not PP’s usual 2200 yards.

But yet.... she could still go to the Y now after Mills.

She jokingly mentions this to the Lovely I.

“Hee hee. That’s a great idea. It’d be like one of those revolving block parties. You know, where you start at one house for cocktails and appetizers and then the next house is Salads and then the next place is the main dishes and then finally the desserts….

“Yeah!” PP giggles. “First I could come to Mills for the appetizers, then the Y for the Main Course, then the Palace Hotel for dessert!”

“Serial Pooling!” the Lovely I exclaims, though PP might have her name for this slightly wrong. But hell, isn’t this part of blogging? To create one’s own reality of EXACTLY what happened?

At least this is what PP thinks. Otherwise, what’s the point of writing anything down if it’s exactly how it really happened. But yet, didn’t her therapist tell her how everyone has his or her own reality? PP had been sorely stymied by this. Didn’t the whole world have HER reality? That being, specifically, the POOL?

Of course, not. PP realized this when her therapist had talked to her about REALITY. PP actually could do without so much Reality most of the time. Especially if it has nothing to do with the pool.

Back to Mills, post shower, PP, DHBF and the Lovely I saunter down the stairs to the parking lot. “I feel better now,” the Lovely I sighs happily.
“Me too,” PP agrees. “But I think since I didn’t get my whole workout in, I’m gonna go to the Y now.” She could feel the two of them nodding behind her.
“I’m kinda kidding, but kinda not,” she giggles.
“Oh, we got THAT,” DHBF asserts for both of them as the Lovely I nods in agreement.

And after dropping off the Lovely I, PP did for a moment really contemplate heading over to the Y if for nothing else than to visit the hot tub and utopia since her Mills swim was so abbreviated by the stupid school schedule.

Did she go you may wonder, Dear Readers?

Ummm….PP could say that she did, couldn’t she? Cuz there’s another beauty of blogging, NO one will ever know if she did or didn’t go to the Y. PP can just make it up. It’s her reality, this blog, and if she wants to write about how luscious the Main Course section of her Serial Pooling was at the Y and then how she took the BART over to the Palace Hotel and booked herself a room after a Cosmo at the seductive bar and then grabbed a cream puff off one of the room service carts and headed up to the pool for a dessertful swim, well, no one would know if what she wrote was true or not….

Well, except maybe for the Cream Puff part…..

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Failure at One Line, but.....

Tonight, what with a nasty itch left over from the antibiotics and the humping homos upstairs, PP finds herself in a profoundly cranky mood, making it difficult to summon up the delight she had at the Y last night in the pool by herself, and in the Hot Tub/Sauna (aka Utopia) with DL. Maybe if she keeps writing it’ll come back to her?

OK, PP keep writing. Actually she even made some notes this morning after her shower (cause everyone knows this is where the best creative thinking happens—other than the pool, of course), so, start with these. She was gonna try to do the ‘one line’ blog like Joe from Canada, but she’s way too meandering, tired and sour. But Hell, one never knows where the writing will lead.

The notes, PP, the notes:

“My Tile Guy could fix it like That.” –Confident Hot Tub Woman snaps her fingers after she and DL watch Spastic Chinese Girl slip on broken, decrepit tiles surrounding the tub and fall splashing into the bubbly water behind a completely oblivious PP jabbering away at DL about Hot Tub Mama's Ridiculous Sink Ownership story from the day before. SCG kept giggling, so they all figured she was OK. But still. CHTW’s Tile Guy needs to be called in to the Y pronto!

“I think you said, ‘Exercise is the Best Revenge,’ but I heard, ‘Sugar is the Best Revenge,”—DL trying to help with the one line blog idea, but she can’t remember the line quite right. Oh, but her line is better, cause Sugar is the best Revenge for that no good lying cheating husband who’s left you for a younger slimmer sluttier woman.

“He’s already hooked up with someone and it’s been less than a month. That hurts.” Philosophical Sensitive Dumped On By Her Man Woman in the Sauna for whom PP had said the above about Revenge and DL had heard about sugar. PP thinks that PSDOW would like the Sugar line better.

“The Flexi-Seed. You Americans. Put it in your cereal. Make delicious shake.” ---The Goddess of the Sauna giving Cultural Analysis of American Breakfast non-habits.

And then the non-lines, but musings in PP’s head after the shower this morn about the pool:

The water is warm; PP is still cold. Why is this? Her core is cold? The winter sucks? She’s crazy?

Tin Man/Cowardly Lion Swimmer with his Silver Cap and Jowly Grin, gives PP a goofy wink as he stops at the wall to turn, catches her eye, before diving back under the water and splashing mightily with his big blue fins.

The pool, for a brief moment, was like a Dream. PP was not only the ONLY swimmer in the pool, but was, in fact, the only swimmer in the entire pool situation! Only the 12 (well he looked 12) year old Lifeguard after he stopped picking the scabs off his forearm was on deck, screwing around with a pale green hose, preparing for God knows what at the end of the night as PP swims languidly blissfully back and forth back and forth back and forth with no one to crash into, talk to, or wink at.

Ah, the Pool Bliss is recaptured.
Leave it to the power of writing.
Oh, and PP’s inimitable spirit of watery prose…..

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hot Tub Mama Rules?

For the New Year….

What about this idea? We’ll see how long it lasts, but….what if PP tried to write a blog about swimming (or some peripheral connection to swimming) whenever she swims? Is that realistic she wonders? It could often just be a little blog, like Joe’s from Canada. His yesterday was just a line about how he was havin' a hard time getting back into swimming after the holidays. And he got LOTS of sympathetic and hearty comments about how tough this is.

Those swimmers! They’re a supportive bunch!

So, PP doesn’t think she can write just one line. Though this is an interesting and challenging idea, but she does think she could try to write a paragraph or two.

Like, why does Hot Tub Mama think she owns the locker room? I mean! PP soaks her suit in one of the sinks (there’s two in the hot tub room and then another 3 or 4 in the room next door) for like 2 minutes while she goes to the bathroom and when she comes out, HTM has taken PP’s suit out and tossed it in a wet ball on the counter. PP’s first instinct is to ask her why she thinks she owns the place.

Hell, it's not like she left her CAT in the sink!

Besides, if the situation had been reversed, and PP had wanted to use the sink to rinse out her piles of weird cups, bottles, shampoo containers etc, and had found that someone had left a suit in the sink, she’d just shrug and go into the other room and use one of those sinks.

But no. HTM can’t be bothered to move her fat ass an extra 3 feet. Hell, isn’t this the Y? Couldn’t that waddle around the corner and find another sink be part of her workout? Come to think of it, PP doesn’t think she works out at all. She just comes to the Y to lord over the Hot Tub, Sauna and Sink Situations.


PP thinks that HTM should try working out. Maybe take a swim. Hell, she’d float really well with all that blubber.

Oh, that’s so mean, PP!
But it feels so good.

Yes, PP thinks that this short blog idea might just be the best idea for the New Year.
Oh, unless she can get them to heat the pool a few more degrees. But that’s another blog.

Till tomorrow.

Temperature Complaining. PP knows that’s a Cliffhanger!

Monday, January 07, 2008

DHBF Tests the Y Waters

What the hell is up with all the goddamn rain? PP knows that it’s January. It’s the rainy season. That we ‘need’ the rain.(Yes, even she must admit that without rain, there'd be no swimming pools!) But hell. It means that she’s gotta either hang her wet laundry all over the apt. and wait days for it to dry. Or take it to the scary laundry mat on Claremont and Colby.

Where the hell did that laundry mat come from? It’s outta a 3rd world country. PP had no idea that such a place existed in Tony Rockridge. Several dryers marked 'OUT OF ORDER' in bright pink felt pen. Football game blaring on the highest volume possible as a bored African American Gent stares at it completely unengaged. Two moms, also African American, are sorting through 3 tons of laundry. Several carts are loaded with baby clothes, sheets, towels, pants, shirts, and sweats—-PP wonders why only African Americans are in the laundry mat.

Whatever the reason, they all seem really Cranky too!

And she is Cranky Cranky CRANKY about having to go to the stupid laundry mat.

Why is she writing about this you may well ask, dear Readers. What's the crappy laundry mat got to do with swimming? Nothing, except that she was gonna use this time to write her blog. But hey, she can escape laundry mat hell for an hour and at least start the blog, right?

She’ll type fast. She just hopes that no one steals her laundry. Nah. Bored Football Man certainly isn’t her size. And the two women are so focused on their tons of clothes they didn’t even see her come in.

So. The good news for the New Year? DHBF is testing out the YMCA! Yipee! Alas, this last weekend it was utter mayhem as the New Year’s Resolvers all swarmed to the gym. So stupid. Fortunately, the crowds won’t last. Especially in the pool. PP overheard two women, wet and shivering from their swim, complaining today how they just can’t go to the gym in the winter cuz they get colds.

Yeah. PP too. But it doesn’t stop her from going to the Y. Yet the crowds didn’t seem to deter DHBF. He gamely asked Macho Man if he could split his lane, “What side do you prefer?” he’d politely asked. Oh that good mannered Brit style. MM had just hurrumphed. What? Was he supposed to have a conversation in the middle of his workout?

So DHBF got in on the left side. Started swimming. PP, on the other hand, was in Lane Hell. She was already circle swimming when she spied Standing Woman making ready to enter her lane. When PP had brought JL on New Year’s Eve, SW had been blocking the lane then too. Scrawny.... (Sorry, PP knows that’s not a very flattering adjective, but it’s apt.)... Crazy, Chinese Woman with that Look in her eye. The white swim cap circa 1967 snapped snugly under her skinny chin. She nods and smiles at PP before climbing in. Swims 3 strokes and then stops and stands for several seconds. Or minutes even. JL had asked what was up with the standing in the middle of swimming? PP had no answer other than to say that maybe she felt like she had to stop to let swimmers pass. This makes no sense. The other explanation is that she’s just CRAZY!!!!

So, PP felt kinda bad that DHBF’s first swim at the Y was pandemonium. But he didn’t seem to mind. After all, Standing Woman wasn’t in HIS lane! So unlike PP he didn’t have stop, circle around her, almost crash into an oncoming swimmer, and then, whew!, narrowly keep from kicking SW. (Though PP was tempted.)

How much time's left till the laundry’s dry. Damn. What time was it when PP put the clothes in the dryer? 5:45? She thinks so. It’s now 6:15, so she’s got a half an hour to finish this blog. Hey, that’s kinda cool to have a time limit. It means PP can't digress in her usual rambling way.

What else? Oh, yeah, DHBF can give the man’s perspective of Utopia Sauna Talk. PP loves this. She only gets the women’s gossip. What do the men talk about in the Sauna?

Are you all dying to know?

Guy Talk.

Cars. Sports. Women.

It went like this (as far as PP can recall from DHBF’s telling of it on the drive home from the pool—-please forgive her, DHBF, if she gets it slightly wrong. Blame it on the laundry limit)

“I got me a 20 year old car. And a 20-year-old motorcycle. And a 100-year-old house. I ain’t never gonna get me nothing new.”
“Nah, you can’t think that way. You gotta think positive. What you need is a 20 year old girlfriend.”
Lots of guffaws. Then lots of joking about how much trouble a 20-year-old girlfriend would be, esp. for these old geezers. (PP’s summarizing and making a lot of this up, but you get the idea.)

Then they talked about how the rainstorm made the timers on one of the guy's house go all haywire, and so he was asking all the guys in the locker room about how to fix these timers, and they were all giving advice: the best and the most predictable being, of course, the Internet. Then DHBF made some joke about how he can’t find the serial number on the timer without his glasses, but now PP can’t remember how this fit into the story. But it was more self-effacing humor around aging guys.

Guys worry about getting older too. Whether it be their chances with a 20-year-old GF or their chances of reading the serial number on a timer. Testosterone and sight. Two parts that dwindle with age.

With women it’s estrogen and sight too. Though PP thinks she hears more complaints about weight and hair and kids in Utopia.

So, it’s almost time to go get the laundry. PP hopes that it’s dry cuz she does NOT want to watch football.

Welcome to the YMCA, DHBF, and next time, PP will be sure to write down the Men’s Utopia sooner.

Laundry Mat Epilogue

Ok, PP has to admit. That wasn’t so bad. And it IS nice to have warm dryer clothes. She’s gonna be so smug when she wakes up at 6 am tomorrow to the sounds of rain rain rain and her clothes will all be in the apt, folded nice special in their drawers, all dry and clean instead of outside on the line wet and dirty in the rain.

PP really hates it when her clothes get rained on.

Also, PP did get a story when she went to pick up her clothes and granted it’s not a swimming story, but PP thinks maybe a little digression in this New Year might be a good thing.

The two women were gone, but Football Man was still watching the game when she arrived. He even gave her the Evil Eye, but PP just smiled sweetly. Considered asking who was winning, but then thought better of it. As she was getting her clothes out of the dryer, she felt him behind her, doing something weird. She turned and saw that he was bending down between the line of washers, where a disgusting River of suds was gushing. He had some sort of plastic container that he was scooping the sudsy water up with.

What’s up with that?

Then as PP was driving back down Colby, the street now dark and deserted, she caught sight of him hurrying along the sidewalk, the plastic container of used washer water flashing in the streetlight’s glow.

Did he just go the laundry mat to watch the game and collect dirty water?

PP has to wonder.
What do you, Dear Readers, think?

All PP knows, is that she’s glad her clothes are clean, she got her blog written, and she’s still in plenty of time for Bruno v. Carrie Ann in the insipid spin off from Dancing with the Stars.

Mad as Hell!

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