Thursday, February 28, 2008

You Can’t Give Up Everything!

“I have the Diabetes. It is in my knee….”

PP watches as Gregarious Utopian Woman examines her bent knee in the sauna, a worried frown on her lovely brown face under the plastic bagged head covering. “My friend. She go to Kaiser. They take the blood. Then Poof! She no more! I no go to Kaiser for my diabetes. They take the blood. I may not be. I take care of me. I ride the bike. I do the walking machine. I swim a little bit….”

GUW giggles shyly at PP and her friend, DL who are nodding in serious empathetic agreement. “I like your swimming,” she nods toward PP. “You are very fast.”

PP nods and explains how she uses the big long fins to speed down the lanes, while at the same time, still trying to absorb the fact that GUW isn’t getting any medical treatment for her diabetes. It’s highly worrisome. Though PP does understand her aversion and distrust of Kaiser. Lord knows, they’re not the best medical care. But aren’t they better than nothing? Isn’t untreated diabetes pretty serious? People lose limbs and such? Damn.

But GUW, though obviously worried herself, seems like she knows what she wants to do. And hell, if she wants to take care of her diabetes herself without Kaiser, then isn’t it her call?

“I give up the soda, I give up the chocolate, I give up the ice creams. But I still drink the sugar in the morning.” She makes a dramatic slurping sound, pretending she's holding an invisible cup to her pursed lips, like she’s sucking down coffee. Maybe she dumps a lot of sugar in her coffee and this is what she’s unwilling to give up? She’s given up everything else. You have to draw the line somewhere.

‘Yeah,” PP nods, “you can’t give up Everything!”
DL nods in agreement. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Yet, still PP wonders. Maybe she should say something alarming about how diabetes is really a serious disease and needs to be treated so that GUW will go to the doctor?

Or not. After all, Kaiser did kill her friend.

DL sits next to PP in the sauna, says something about how Kaiser isn’t really the best place to go if you’re sick. Which is often true as PP can attest time and time again, most recently with her Bug Bite/Staph Infection Fiasco experience.

But this isn’t diabetes. She’s not gonna die or lose a limb from goddamn bug bites. Though she did read in the paper how people die from staph infections. But Kaiser misdiagnosed this and she didn’t have staph and so again, it’s not diabetes.

What should PP do?

Not much she can do right?

She only hopes that GUW doesn’t show up in the pool with only a half a leg amputated at the knee.

Though she could still swim, right?
This is all that matters.

At least in PP’s book. But she doesn't have Diabetes nor is she in much danger of getting it. Well, unless she eats too many cookies, ice creams and candies.

Or, the sugary coffee?

PP's intrigued. Maybe when next she sees GUW she'll ask for more specifics about this concoction. It could be some delicious Ethiopian Beverage. Till then, she hopes that GUW gets some long fast fins and keeps on swimming. Swimming cures whatever ails you, right?

Well, better than Kaiser!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wrong Pool Situation Etiquette Quiz

The following quiz was initially inspired by Kevin Alexander’s blog about How to Write a Literary Masterpiece—check it out:(

Also, since PP has been an English Teacher for the last 2 decades, she has plenty of practice creating grammar quizzes for various ESL situations.

Quiz Instructions:
1) Choose the answer that is the best given your own moral and ethical pool behaviors.
2) Choose only ONE answer even if more than one applies.
3) Write your name at the top of your quiz and be sure to include your pool ID
4) Failure to score at least 70% will result in suspension of pool privileges for eternity.

The pool is complete pandemonium and everything upon first glance is completely wrong. Every lane is brimming with swimmers; circle swimming is supposedly what’s going on. Oh, and the water is stupidly cold since the pool has been closed due to “mechanical and electrical malfunctions”; PP just hopes she doesn’t get electrocuted in the lane lines’ machinery.

1) You enter the YMCA’s pool situation and are confronted with the pandemonium described above. What should you do?

a. Slump down against the back deck wall and cry big alligator tears
b. March over to the lifeguard and demand she clear the pool out for you. After all, you are the pool princess (or prince)
c. Stand stupidly dumbfounded in a spaced-out daze for 10 minutes in complete confusion
d. All of the above

2) You select a lane that has only one whale-like swimmer hogging the entire lane. What should you do?

a. Grab a kickboard and when he comes to the wall bop him on the head to get his attention.
b. Call out politely to him to signal that you want to share his lane and shake your head in futility when he continues to swim on in oblivion
c. Jump in the lane with your big fast fins on and run him over
d. All of the above

3) You stick your big toe in the water and are greeted with a frigid temperature that is definitely NOT the 82 degrees that you were quoted over the phone two hours prior. What should you do?

a) Scream bloody murder
b) March over to the lifeguard and complain bitterly to her shrugging nonchalant boring do nothing face

c) Chat with the cute girl in the lane next to yours who agrees that the water is really only in the high 70’s, but once you get swimming it’ll be okay.
d) When the cute girl dives in the water and seems unfazed by the chill, curse her cuteness and her youth

4) All the lanes have at least 2 swimmers, some already contain 3 circling. You decide to ask one of the 2 swimmer lanes to circle swim, but both swimmers ignore your deck lingering appeal. What should you do?

a) Jump in anyway, making sure that you stop in the middle of the lane to block their progress and really piss them off
b) Grab a kickboard and do some serious sequential head bopping
c) March over to the lifeguard and slap her
d) All of the above

5) You’ve finally completed your swim and feel completely frustrated and cold. You want to complain to someone about your pandemonium wrong swimming experience, but no one cares. What should you do?

a) Heave yourself out of the water, shrug good naturedly, and hope the cute, youthful, non-cold girl is in the hot tub
b) Stand at the side of the pool, glaring and shivering at every swimmer that passes you or tries to climb into your lane
c) March over to the lifeguard and___________.
d) Fantasize about a hot sauna full of beautiful bosomy women who welcome you into their world with open arms and nods of commiseration

e) Never go back to the YMCA again. Well, at least not on a Sunday afternoon when the weather outside is wet and dreary and the Academy Awards are looming so everyone has to swim to accommodate these wrong situations!

Stay tuned for the answers. Or make up your own. It really doesn’t matter since PP went to UCSC and she was just kidding about percentages and passing grades and such.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Pox on the Orange Woman

Swimmers Beware! There is an Odious Orange Woman terrorizing innocent swimmers at the Fairfax Canyon Club Swimming Pool! The following chronicles one swimmer’s trauma: a dear friend of PP’s who’s just trying to get a swim in for chrissakes! PP will try to capture KS’s voice here as it is HER story, but one too good (and important) to not put on Pool Puss Purrs!

“Maybe this has happened to you, Carol. I mean, you swim all the time and I’m sure it’s a common occurrence but I hafta tell you, I was really traumatized (PP’s interpretation) and haven’t been swimming since.”
“OHMYGOD! Tell me! What the hell happened?”
“Well, I just wanted to get a swim in and I only had 45 minutes. Usually I give myself more time, but this day, I had other places I had to be, the kids to pick up, dinner to shop for and make, you know the drill. So I only had this little window of opportunity for a swim. And I get to the pool….”
“What’s the name of the pool? I wanna be sure to get it right for my blog.”
”You’re gonna put my story on your blog?”
”Hell yeah.”
“Wow. Cool. Thank you. The name of the pool is “Canyon Swim Club in Fairfax.” (Swimmers BEWARE!)
“Great. Got it. So what happened?”
“Like I said, I only had 45 minutes and when I got there all the lanes were full. So this has probably happened to you, but when I tried to make eye contact with one of the swimmers, who by the way was this really weird Orange Color….”
”She was Orange?”
”Yeah. What’s up with that?”
“Maybe she eats too many carrots?”

“Maybe…..anyway, she was so mean. And she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me when I tried to ask her if I could share her lane……”
“Oh, yeah. I know that one.”
”You do?”
“Yeah. I do it myself sometimes, I must admit.”
“Yeah, but I bet you’re not as Mean as this Orange Woman!”
“Maybe. What did she do?”
“Well, when I finally got her attention and asked her if I could share her lane, she just glared at me and said, ‘No.’”
”Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. And when I pressed her on it and said that I thought it was the pool policy to share your lane when all the lanes were full, she just shrugged and said, ‘I waited for this lane. It’s MY lane. You can wait for your own lane.’ And when I told her that I only had a limited time, 45 minutes, and I couldn’t stand around and wait, she just said, ‘We all make Choices.”
“ What the hell does that mean?”
“I guess that she made the choice to not share her lane and I must make the Choice to agree with her. But you know, her Goddamn Choice impacted my Choice!”
“Absolutely!” PP is suitably astonished by this selfish, spoiled, MEAN behavior of Orange Woman! In all the years she’s been swimming, in all the pools she’s been swimming in, she’s NEVER encountered such blatant rudeness and lack of Swimmer Etiquette. Orange Woman needs to be drowned!
“Did you bop her on the head with your kickboard?”
“No! I shoulda done that. Maybe that woulda helped. Though I don’t know….” KS’s voice trailed off.
“So what did you do if you didn’t brain her?” PP asked.
“I just gave up and went to the next lane and asked the woman there if I could share her lane.”
“And did she let you?”
“No. She said she was pregnant and I might kick her!”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Was she Orange too?”
“No, just pregnant.”
“Wow. She needed to be brained too, but I guess since she had her ‘precious cargo’ it was a little more legitimate. So then did you just give up?”
”NO! I really needed a swim!”
“Yeah, I understand that one!”
“So finally I went to this guy’s lane and asked him…”
“What did he say? He couldn’t have been pregnant at least!”
“Right. So, yeah, he just smiled and said, sure come on in. But I didn’t really wanna swim with him…..”
“Why not?”
“He was one of those kinda flirty beefy guys with a gold chain…”
PP smiled to herself. Of course, the beefy flirty guy is gonna wanna have Cutie Pie KS in his lane.

All the same, the Orange Woman deserves to be outted! If any swimmers encounter her Rude, Selfish, Obscene Behavior again at the Fairfax Canyon Club Pool, you know what to do!

Drown her!

(Or at least jump in and hold her Orange Head under water for several seconds to really scare the Meanness outta her! Hissssss!!!!!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Truly an Inspiration

“I’ve lost 50 lbs since August!”
“That’s amazing,” PP murmurs, truly astonished. This is like what? Almost half her body weight!
Less 50 lb Woman exhales deeply in the hot tub as her friend, who’d been talking about her Hip Replacement up till this announcement, sat across the tub, shaking her head. “You are truly an Inspiration!”
“Yeah, well, I blew it the other day. My friend and I were driving through Vacaville to see a client and she wanted to stop at a what’s it called? Oh yeah… Foster’s Freeze…. that’s what it’s called.”
”Yum. Ice cream!” PP sighs happily, envisioning those swirled chocolate and vanilla soft cones.
“Yeah, well, if I had just had one of those, I mighta been better off, but no, I had to go for the fried chicken nuggets. I only had 3 or 4 and they were pretty small, but still…..I definitely fell off the wagon on that one.”
“Hell, you’ve been so good for so long,” Hip Replacement Woman encourages, shaking her head. “You deserve a break once in awhile.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s just that once I start….”
“I hear you!”
“How did you lose 50 lbs so quickly?” PP asks, remembering she’d seen Inspiration Woman upstairs in the weight room earlier, looking haggard and glassy-eyed as she rested between sets of some stupid weight machine.
“Thousand calories a day. No more than 30 grams of fat. 50 grams of carbohydrates.” PP could have this measurement wrong. She’s so absorbed in the dearth of calories allotment.

“Wow! 1000 calories!” PP exclaims. Hell, no wonder she was tired up at the weight machines. What women won’t do to lose weight. Thou IW admittedly looked like she’d packed it on in the past. PP had noticed the folding layers hanging limply along her hips, waist, and arms when she’d gotten into the tub. Now with the dramatic 50 lb weight loss story, the loosey brown folds of skin were explained. PP had to admit, too, that she was inspiring! Imagine the amount of determination it must take to stick to 1000 calories a day. PP frankly couldn't imagine. She was always so in awe of these women here at the Y who'd turned their life around like this.

Extremes always impressed her!

“You are an Inspiration!” HRW exclaims again. “I have put on the pounds, too, since I can’t dance anymore. What with my hip issues.”
“Everyone I know,” IW nods her head, “swears by the surgery. My mama got a hip replacement when she was 83 years old and she’s going strong today.”
“Another Inspiration!” PP grins.
“That’s right,” IW eyes PP a little more warmly. Not quite welcoming her into their complaining about their bodies club.
“Yeah, well, I dunno,” HRW shakes her head. “I gotta find out more about it. I just know that it’s hard to do anything anymore.”
“What about swimming?” PP asks, knowing that swimming is the answer to all that ails anyone.
“Yeah, swimming is good for you!” IW nods seriously.
“I know. Swimming is good. I try. But I’m not really much of a swimmer.”
“It’s just good to be in the water, though, isn’t it?” PP asks.
“Oh, yeah. The water does wonders.”
PP nods, happy that her Pool Bliss theory once again pans out. She sees all types in the YMCA pool. From scrawny Asian kids to pudding-type middle aged White Women, to well-built African American dudes. Some can swim. Some can’t. It doesn’t matter. The water is healing and restorative.
“I just hafta get back on the wagon,” IW sighs deeply. “Get back to eating right.”
”What do you eat?” HRW asks.
“Mostly vegetables, fruit….”
“Isn’t fruit high in carbohydrates?”
“Yeah, some of it is. You’re right. But berries, raspberries, blueberries, they’re fine.”

“And high in antioxidants!” PP pipes in. She’s seen the posters at Kaiser.
“That’s right!” IW nods, serious now. “Broccoli. Cauliflower.”
“I love Broccoli!” PP beams. Really she does. Could live on broccoli and ice cream and swimming. That’s all she’d need. Oh and maybe coffee. “Come to think of it, you are making me hungry! I need to get going and find some food.”
“Well, look at you,” HRW shakes her head as they both watch PP climb outta the tub.
PP would’ve blushed if she’d been 16 still. This had been such a source of embarrassment way back then. Thought that she’d never grow out of it. But she had. Like most things. Now she just smiles, charmingly. Or at least trying for a bit of humble humility. After all, she was so damn skinny in these women’s eyes.

“It’s all the broccoli!” PP giggles.
“And swimming!” HRW nods emphatically.
“Yup. The swimming doesn’t hurt. See you both next time. In the pool, I hope.”
“You’ll see me. I want to do that water aerobic class. Do you know when they have that?” IW asks.
PP didn’t. She’d never taken one of the water classes, but of course, she had the pool schedule. Gave it to IW, with plenty of encouragement about being active in the water.

Then off she went, really famished, for her broccoli and ice cream midnight snack. Now if only there was a Foster’s Freeze on the way home!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Colette's Pool Fantasy

Did Colette like pools? PP wonders since she wants to be Colette. She has everything else going for her. Cats. Sex. Country estates with lots of fragrant flora. A fine literary career.

Hell, she must have had a pool, too. But PP can’t find any evidence of this. Maybe they didn’t have a pool in Casamene. Yet, doesn’t it seem like Colette would like to swim? It’s such a sexy activity. Full of water and movement. PP can picture her lounging about at poolside, sipping a chilled glass of champagne while watching the young girls frolic in the turquisey water. Giggling and splashing each other as Colette gazes at them in lazy lust, penning a story about saucy felines and wayward maidens.

Damn. Why can’t PP be Colette? It would be so much better than being a goddamn Bay Area Bohemian relegated to teaching, commuting and griping, living underneath noisy grad students and surrounded by mountains of cat litter, with no pool in sight.

But yet, maybe Colette wasn’t a swimmer. Maybe she was afraid of the water. Hell, it’s hard to imagine her being afraid of anything. And even if she wasn’t a swimmer and even if she didn’t have a pool, PP still wants to be her.

If PP were Colette, she would definitely have a pool full of lots of floating felines, salacious swimmers, and juicy strawberries.

Wow. A pool full of strawberries? Where did that come from?

Only Colette would know…..

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Just got news that PP’s former boss at FFU lost her sister. No details yet on what happened. Just know that it was a terrible tragedy via email. And PP can’t imagine. What would it be like to lose one of her sisters? She would die too.

Swimming. PP and her sisters share this passion. In the beginning, PP more so, but all three girls loved swimming in the pool in Hacienda Heights. Playing Mr. Banana Buddy with Daddy. Dead bug when it was too smoggy to move. PP remembers the high excitement of watching the pool fill up with the garden hoses, the three girls leaning over the sides of the brand new pool, dipping their hands in and shrieking at the cold water. Brimming with excitement over their very own backyard pool!

PP would spend hours swimming back and forth and back and forth in the perfect little pool. 100. 200 laps at a time. (It was a lovely rectangular pool, but not 25 yards like a regular public pool. PP doesn’t know how long it was. Maybe half that? But in any case, it worked. PP’s obsession with pools started way back then. She musta been 11? 12? )

And the sisters. Her middle sister was more of a swimmer than the youngest. PP remembers that her baby sister didn’t learn to swim as early as the older two girls. But now. Watch out. Baby Sister can churn them all out of the water. She’s a lean, mean, swimming machine.

Middle sis, aka Snart, does the awesome ocean swim in San Diego. Wanted PP to swim it with her one year. Get up at 6 am, in the freezing cold water with the fog all about by 7 am. Struggle through cold choppy gray waves till 8 am.

What do you think PP said to that?

“No. Thank you. I think I’ll stay in bed till 9, then get up, take a HOT shower, drink lots of coffee and read the paper. I’ll swim later in the warm sunshine at the sunshine pool with sexy Coach Joe.”

Ah. Yes. This was the sister story that PP needs to share with you all. But no time now. Later….

Till then, PP’s heart goes out to her former boss who lost her sister. Such sentiments seem so shallow written down, so PP is just gonna go swim a few laps in honor of sisters, those who are here, and those who have passed on. (PP’s mom lost her swimmer sister too. Another story there.)

Swimming and sisters. Two of the best ‘s’s in the world. PP knows, whenever she thinks of her sisters, just how very lucky she is to have them in her life—in the pool and in her heart.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

26 Hours in the Claremont Pool

“How do you spell your last name?”
JB sighs. Spells her name out slowly, just a little edge to her tone. “Brancusi. B-R-A-N-C-U-S-I.”
Young, flustered lifeguard shuffles nervously through the 3X5 recipe box again. His tan pimpled face heavy in concentration. “Maybe you used the card up?” he asks hopefully.
“No.” JB’s losing patience now. Here she’s offered to treat PP and DHBF to a swim at her steam is rising offa the water Claremont Pool and the stupid moron lifeguard can’t find her friggin membership card.


“It’s a very new card,” she hisses evenly. “….only 2 or three uses on it.” Another lifeguard heads into the dreary cement room, starts to help out. “He knows me.” She points at the 2nd guard. “Brancusi!”
PP grins. Loves JB’s no nonsense way about her. Has loved it since she was 13. (Yes they were 13 when they met back in Irvine at Tustin Jr. HS. That’s a long time to know someone. And a long time to love someone’s way. More than 35 years—yes, PP’s 50th is imminent. But she’s not gonna go there now. Though a pool is a must for the Celebration!)

PP and JB have certainly been through a lot, but have drifted apart in adult years. Geography. (JB in San Diego; PP settled in North Calif.) Marriage. (JB, not PP)
Tragedy. (JB lost her brother in a horrible car accident 20 some odd years ago; PP remembers feeling so sad and helpless.)

But of course, the one thing that they’ve always had in common and both have never considered giving up is, SWIMMING!

“If the doc told me I hadda give up swimming, just take me out back and shoot me in the head,” JG pronounced once they’d finally made it into the locker room and were undressing in the cold cement room. (Second Lifeguard had found the Brancusi Card. Crossed off three passes. Waved their little group through.)

In the locker room, JB and PP begin the catching up process. There’s a lot if you only see someone once a year. They start with all their stupid middle-aged health maladies. PP’s melanoma: “OH MY GOD!!!! You didn’t tell me about that! Hell, you dodged the bullet with that one!” JB’s imminent shoulder surgery. Damaged rotary cuff? Rotisserie cuff? Well, you swimmers know what PP means. Fibroids and bleeding in the Bahamas. JB jokes, “Yeah, I thought I better not swim one day. Sharks you know.”
PP had nodded sympathetically. Thank god she didn’t hafta go thro that anymore.

10 minutes later, the health updates done, PP and JB were out on deck in the misty gray San Diego winter. It was so mild. Not like Oakland. Yeah, they called it winter. And as DHBF reminded PP all the time, Oaklanders didn’t know winter either till they spent one in Canada.
No THANK YOU! is always PP’s response.

JB informed them how the Claremont Pool was ‘busy’ that day. 2 middle aged walking, stretching guys in the shallow end. A couple kids diving playfully in the deep end. Then the 4 lap lanes in the center of the pool. Empty and waiting for them. This was busy? Hell, this was Pool Paradise compared to the Oakland Y most days!

It was all so perfect! The temp of the water musta been 85 degrees. PP had her own lane. The water was crystal clear and still blue even with the gray skies. Don’t ask her why. Must be a San Diego thing. Pools are always blue even when there’s no blue sky to reflect off? Maybe since it’s so sunny and blue skied there all year round, the pools store up the blueness just for PP’s swim?

Who cares! All she cared about was swimming! And she did. But not everyone was swimming. Most notably one of the water walking mid-aged guys. PP watched as he stretched to one side and then the other. His arms in an awkward arc over his head. The pain etched on his face.

She dubbed him Grimacing Stretch Man. Later she found out that JB and her hubby called him Shark Man cuz he wore a snorkel across the middle of his face, looking like a hilarious rendition of Jaws.

PP laughed at the image, not really getting it since she saw no sign of a snorkel this Super Bowl Sunday. All she saw was a lot of cranky faces as GSM jerked his pale hairy body in spastic trying to stretch stretches. Yet he seemed oddly at peace. Of course, Pool Bliss reigns no matter what activity one’s pursuing.

50 minutes later, JB and DHBF were hanging out at the wall, the steam playing round the surface of the water as they chatted about fins and strokes.

“We’re not gonna be able to get Carol outta the Pool!” JB joked.
And she was right. PP had no intention of leaving. She was just gonna swim in the perfectly warm Claremont Pool till she had to fly back to Oakland, which wasn’t for 26 hours.

26 hours in the pool. Do you think it’s possible, Dear Readers?

Watching JB shrug, grin and take off for another lap, PP thought so. She just wanted this moment to last forever, in this perfect pool with her best friend from Junior High School and Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend.

26 hours would have to do though, as she reached for the kickboard and followed JB back down the lane.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Boys and Girls Club Pool aka The Sunshine Pool

Okay, PP has a most excellent past story about this pool. Yes, it's funny. Yes, it's silly.

And yes, it's SEXY! (at least in her water soaked fantasy brain)

So, when she returns from the land of sunshine and pools (otherwise known as San Diego), maybe she'll write this story, or maybe she'll have a new story about the Sunshine Pool or the Encinitas YMCA (Magdalene Ecke Family YMCA--Pool of Beautiful Fishes) or the super warm 84 degree Claremont pool....

Personally, she likes the SEXY story about Joe at the Boys and Girls Club...oh, but now she's giving too much away!

Mad as Hell!

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” Remember that line? Remember that movie? Network , right? What was everyone so ma...