Saturday, January 31, 2009

Capoeira & Heels

“I took a Capoeira class last night and today I can barely move,” Beauteous M grimaces a smile as she climbs out of the pool, and begins limping toward the locker room.

“Good for you,” PP nods, as she follows Beauteous M, noting how the muscle limp somehow makes her even sexier.

“Yeah, in theory, but tonight I’m not so sure.” Beauteous M laughs as she holds the door open for PP. “I just want to try everything while I can.”

And here it is again, PP thinks, Beauteous M’s zest for life. How is it that some people just have boundless energy and can explore everything and anything while PP has zero energy and it’s all she can do to get to the pool and swim her laps? Are such people born with this energy? Or is it something that they acquire through hard work and practice?

Or is it just all a ruse? Such people don’t really have anymore energy than PP; they just talk about what they do more than she does?

Now PP is trying to remember how the subject of High Heels came up while she was walking/limping with BM to the hot tub. But she can’t so she’ll just write down the dialogue. It was some sort of transition with the Capoeira class and the limp.

“Now I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to walk in my high heels tomorrow,” BM jokes, exaggerating the limp.
Laughing, PP shakes her head, “I can’t wear high heels on the best of days.”
Pausing, BM stares at her seriously, perplexed. “Really? Why is that?” She genuinely didn’t get it that any Woman wouldn’t be able to wear pumps. This astounds PP since she knows quite a few who don’t don such dangerous footwear. It’s not like she’s the Only Woman to avoid them.

“I have terrible ankles,” PP grins. “They just buckle under me. Even when I’m not in heels I can trip on the flat sidewalk.”

Beauteous M laughs, “Wow. I guess I’m lucky. I have very strong ankles.”

PP nods. Yeah, and that’s not all that’s Strong about you. But she doesn’t say this. It’s so obvious. Beauteous M has that wonderful Strong Swim Stroke that just plows through the water with energetic determination. PP envies her this strength. Knows that she probably has this in more facets of her life than just swimming and ankles. That her job must demand it to deal with the insane inmates from PP can’t remember where as a Therapist.

Now easing into the Hot Tub and wading through the Anti-Mom Talk (how refreshing PP thinks—they’re talking about having a ‘Talk Show” of 30 something Women without kids instead of all the usual ‘My kid this…. my kid that’ talk that dominates Utopia), Beauteous M shakes her head, rolls her eyes and grins over at PP.

“How’s this feel on the Capoeira Muscles?” PP asks.
“Delicious,” Beauteous M answers, sinking into the warm bubbles. “Tomorrow I think I’ll take another class even.”

Nodding, PP sinks into the tub herself, trying to absorb some of Beauteous M’s Strength thro the warm, energy reviving waters of the hot tub.

As for Capoeira?

PP giggles at the image of the Beauteous M in high heels limping into a therapy session but still all power and determination.

High Heels can do this, she’s heard.

But for PP, she’ll stick to her flippers. This is where her Power flies from.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Emily in Utopia?

“Excuse me, Ma’am? Are you Emily Dickinson?”

A tired smile escapes PP as she settles into the top heated corner of Utopia. Did she just hear that right? Did Diabetes Woman’s Sidekick (DW is nowhere in sight) just ask her if she were Emily Dickinson?

Were there little Flowers, Bees, and Butterflies escaping from around PP, surrounding her Aura? What was it about PP tonight that would make anyone, least of all DWS, think she was the most esteemed and beloved American Poet?

Grinning, PP just shakes her head, and then asks DWS to repeat her question. She just couldn’t have heard her right. Right? “I’m sorry,” PP smiles, “But what did you say?”

“Are you Emily Dickinson?” DWS is serious as she stares at PP. Why is PP giving her such a hard time? Here she is, trying to start a friendly conversation in Utopia by trying to find out her correct name, and all this woman can do is ask her to repeat herself?


But now, there was no mistaking it. PP had heard correctly. DWS had asked if she were Emily Dickinson.

Should she just nod and say, yes? This appeals to PP who’s all about a good story. But yet, come on. There was nothing about PP that remotely resembles the Great Poetess.

First off. She can’t write poetry.
Second off, she has no appreciation of the Sublime.
Thirdly she’s not a Recluse.

Well, on second thought, she does have to fight this sometimes. The cold, the noise and the cat force her out into the world and into Utopia. If you can call that the World.

DWS is staring at PP waiting for an answer, rubbing her breasts with some weird goo as she watches PP closely for an answer.

Sighing, PP opts for the Truth. Which, is she supposes, a little bit in the Spirit of Emily. “No, I’m not Emily Dickinson,” she finally answers.

DWS nods. “You look like her.”
“I do?”
She nods, “Yes. She is friend of my daughter.”
What’s PP supposed to say to this now? DWS has a daughter who's best friends with a Dead Poet?

And if this is true, then there’s the Age Question too. DWS’s daughter must be half of her age, which would be half of PP’s age, which means what? That PP looks like a 20 something Dead Poet?

Giggling, PP shakes her head. While a part of her Vanity likes this idea, her Realist side knows that it’s all just a case of Mistaken Identity.

Which doesn’t answer the question of why DWS thinks PP looks like her daughter’s friend.

Nor that the daughter’s friend is named Emily Dickinson.

Maybe Emily has come back to live a second (or third, or fourth?) life as a Best Friend to an Ethiopian Immigrant’s Daughter?

PP likes the Poetry of this. And the Absurdity of it. And yes, there’s something even a little bit of the Sublime in it.

Now if only PP could write a poem.

Then she really would believe in Life after Death.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Kiss & A Coronation

“Excuse me?” Cute, Pert Lifeguard (not the usual scab pickers) stops PP at the end of the lane as she was turning around. “I just wanna let you know,” CPL smiles so sweetly, apologetic, “that I’m gonna have to close this lane in a few minutes. So I’m gonna have to ask you to move.”

PP glares up at her through the foggy mask, glancing around at the relatively quiet pool now that the goddamn swim lessons are over. Paddle Man is hogging the lane to her right; Slow Moving Asian Woman and Brisk Woman are sharing the lane to her left. She can’t see beyond these two lanes cuz of the fog mask factor, but thinks, whatever, as long as I don’t have to share a lane with Paddle Man.

She doesn’t say this of course to Apologetic Sweetness Lifeguard, but just shrugs and says, “When do you need the lane?”
“In about 5 or 10 minutes.”
“Okay, I’m only gonna swim for another 10 minutes anyway, so just let me know,” and she takes off down the lane thinking how this must be what DHBF was talking about yesterday when he got moved out of his lane for Hemophiliac Swimmer. A new regime? HS gets the lane prepared/closed for him before he even arrives?

Now that’s a King for you.

Which is perfect since today was all about the Coronation. As PP and DHBF sat riveted in front of the TV that morning, watching the procession of Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelossi and various other personages before Barack Obama and his family came marching into the arena, PP couldn’t help but make the comparison to the Showtime Series she’s been watching, The Tudors, when Henry the VIII crowns Ann Boleyn with all the pomp and circumstance.

Not that Barack is any Henry the VIII or Michele is anything like Ann Boleyn, though that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

And so, today at the pool, when Hemophiliac Swimmer did make his entry, and was hanging around the deck chatting with Sweetness Apologetic Lifeguard and PP glanced up and grinned and said, “You want me to move to another lane now?”

HS waved at her, beaming, as SAL nodded, “If you....”

But before she finished, PP spied another lane at the other side of the pool the fog suddenly clearing in her mask, and thought, what the hell, I’ll just move. “I can just swim over there,” she called out, grabbing her equipments and diving under the lane lines, popping up in the end lane, only to be met by HS, who came rushing over, bending down with a big toothy grin, holding out both of his hands to reach for hers.

Laughing, PP gave him both of her hands, and he grasped them, holding onto her with his papery 82 year old ones. “You really didn’t have to do that!” he joked.

“It’s no big deal,” she smiled. “I don’t really care which lane I’m in.” She was gonna say as long as she wasn’t with PM, but then before she could, HS raised her right hand, bent his old bald turtle head down, and gave her hand a KISS! Like a real southern gentleman in the movies or something.

Charmed and embarrassed, PP let him hold her hand for a shy moment after the kiss before he let her go. Grinning, she turned around,diving under the water, the feel of his strange old man’s lips still on the back of her hand.

What a weird day, she thought.

A coronation.

And a kiss.

She felt like Royalty.

But only for a moment..... At the pool...... On Inauguration day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Have a Dream....for the Pool!

Martin Luther King day at the pool. But did freedom reign? Well, in a manner of speaking.

Did peace and goodwill and equality for all prevail?

Hell no.

There was a CRASH. And of course, there are two sides to every crash. Literally and figuratively. Literally, Flailing Chinese Woman climbed into Powerful Swimmer Woman’s lane without telling her. Figuratively, the Culture Crash was something that could have been avoided if only Someone had been paying attention.

So. FCW began her flailing spastic backstroke down the center of the lane as usual. But watch out! Here comes PSW, careening down the center of the lane (because naturally, since FCW didn’t inform her that she was joining the lane, she was swimming down the center). Her backstroke was strong. Her powerful arms churning through the water. Her eyes on the ceiling, not ahead of her where lo and behold, here comes FCW and KAAABOOM!!!!

Heads collide. The lifeguard gets up off his ass and starts blowing his whistle way too late. Much language confusion as PSW tries to mime how FCW shoulda told her that she was getting in the lane before she started swimming. Of course, FCW is pissed off. What the hell is going on? Why did That Woman run into her? She was just swimming along, minding her own business, flailing in oblivious abandon.


Later, when PP was getting ready to get out (she’d had enough, too, though no crashes, thank goodness, just lots of sandwiched swimming between mighty splashers) PSW was getting out and offered her lane to PP.
“Thanks,” PP grinned, trying to make light, “I bet you’ve had enough after your crash.”

Shaking her head, PSW smiled ruefully, “Yeah, not only did she crash into me head-on, but then she hit me a couple of times and she even scratched me right....” She glances up and down her arm and then shrugs. “Well, she did.....and I just think that if the lifeguards were a bit more proactive, then this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.”

PP nodded, agreeing. She’d thought the same thing. After all, the lifeguards know the scoop. They watch in bored nonchalance as FCW gets in a lane everyday and proceeds to spaz out at every swimmer who has the great misfortune to try to share a lane with her. But no. The lifeguards just sit up on their stupid chair, picking at some scab on their leg, while the pool devolves into complete anarchy in a matter of seconds.

They know that FCW is a challenge. The guy today had to have seen her get into PSW’s lane. Why the hell didn’t he get up and stop the Crash before it happened?

Oh yeah, that woulda taken not only some initiative but also some highly advanced speculative critical thinking skills that obviously is not in the YMCA’s lifeguard job description!

Hello? It’s not Rocket Science, Lifeguards. Wake the hell up and stop the Chaos!

But then, later, in the hot tub, when PP sunk into the thankful warm bubbles and FCW was in the tub nursing her wounds and her psyche, PP did feel a little sorry for her. FCW proceeded to act out the Crash in the hot tub for PP’s elucidation. “Blah blah blah (this is all in Chinese) BOOM! Blah blah blah blah...BOOOM!!!” etc, all the while motioning at her head and the imaginary lane lines symbolized by the hot tub tiles.

And PP had to think, hell, she didn’t get it that she was in the Wrong. And then PP had to remember, that it was MLK day, and what would Dr. King have said about the situation?

After all, he was a Pacifier and Negotiator kinda guy who might have had a solution to the Pool Chaos that’s been rampant at the Y the last few weeks.

Well, at the very least, PP would like to echo his sentiment:

“I have a Dream that one day every swimmer will have her/his own lane and live out the true meaning of the pool: Utopia”

Baring this, PP has the dream that at the very least, there are always two stories to every crash, and with a little bit of Dr. King’s compassion, well, maybe just maybe, we can all get along.

At least for a little while. In the pool. Let Freedom ring till the next crash happens!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

6 days.....

“6 days….” She sighs, smiling mysteriously, settling into the bubbly warmth of the hot tub. PP smiles back at her. 6 days? What the hell is she talking about? She’s been able to do her workout here at the Y 6 days in a row? Or it’s 6 days till her birthday? Or 6 days is the magical number for when the world changes?

And yes, this is precisely it when PP questions her, “6 days till what?” she asks.
“6 more days till the Inauguration.”

”Ah….” Of course. Duh. PP shoulda known this, esp. as she sees now that it’s Pantie Pundit she’s talking to, with her gaped teeth and bright eyes. Readers may remember how Pantie Pundit had held court a few months back about Obama and his father. How they’d only met once when Barack was 10 and how this had been such a pivotal influence upon him.

So tonight, with the 6 days pronouncement echoing in the air, PP nods in agreement. The Inauguration. Yes, everything will change, right? Right? Right?

PP is dubious. But this is her innate pessimism shinning through. She just can’t wrap her mind around anything changing for the better lately. Not the new presidential regime and all the hopeful ramifications around it. Not the stupidity of her job situation. Not the chaos in the pool. (Though tonight it had been blissfully calm. Why? Who knew. But she was just glad that everyone had gone off Oprah’s Wagon so soon!)

“Hillary is my Girl. Look at her now!” Pantie Pundit was onto another political favorite. DL later had commented on how she loved the fact that Pantie Pundit has called Hillary ‘Her Girl’. And yes, PP had to agree. They were all Sisters.

“Yeah, she don’t take no shit,” Dyed Blonde Woman nodded.
“You got that. How many women would take back their man for the kind of sexual transgressions he enacted upon her! And not just once.”

DL had climbed into the tub by now, her eyes wide with delight at the Hot Tub chatter as usual.

“And now the Leap Year, it’s Woman’s Year!” Pantie Pundit announced.
“Really?” PP asked. “I didn’t know that Leap Year was Woman’s year.”
”Me neither. They said so.”
PP stared at her for a moment.
“The news people,” Pantie Pundit clarified.
“Ah…” PP nodded. Of course the news media was a reliable source.

Yet,was this year a leap year? She had no idea. She’d hafta look at a calendar to double check. But then if it really were Woman’s Year, then why hadn’t “Her Girl”, Hillary, won the election?

“You should teach a class in East Africa Dance!” Pantie Pundit and crew had moved into Utopia where Diabetes Woman was resting. Evidently, she was an expert in East African Dance.
“Yeah,” PP joined in. “I’d take your class.” This was a hilarious idea since PP can’t dance at all. But she’d give it a try for Diabetes Woman.

And the story.

“Yeah,” PP enthused.
“She is so talented!” Pantie Pundit nodded, pointing over at DW who would’ve blushed if it weren’t so dark in Utopia.
“I believe it,” PP has nodded.
“Will you come, too?” Pantie Pundit had asked DL.
“I’ll try to. Usually I can’t make it on Fridays, but I’ll try.”
“Good! There, you see! You have a class.”

DW nodded, pleased. It was set. 8 pm on Friday. She’d bring her music. They’d take over the mind/spirit studio. It’d be a party.

PP can’t wait till Friday.

By then it will only be 4 days.
Would her frame of mind change by then?
Would Her Girl help with this?

Nah, PP thinks not.

Though the prospect of learning even one move of East Africa Dance did cheer her considerably.

Esp. if DL came too!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Damn that Oprah!

Thanks to her genius colleague, Agent J, PP has finally figured out why the YMCA is so goddamned crowded.


She had her stupid 'Bestlife' series last week, and encouraged everyone who's fallen offa the Diet Wagon to get back on--of course this entails getting back into the Gym Wagon too.

Which has obviously spilled over into the pool!

Damn that Oprah!

Just eat another chicken and shut up already!

So, PP can get back to swimming in peace!

Without any Oprah Bestlifers to contend with.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009


“Hey!” Paddle Man spits, “He’s got a Band-aid on!” He points at Hemophiliac Swimmer’s big toe, wrapped tightly in a gross skin colored Band-aid. “He’s not supposed to be wearing a Band-Aid in the pool!” PM hisses and postures, his sad wide pink torso heaving in indignation.

PP starts to giggle as she watches HS completely ignore PM and jump belly flop into the pool and start swimming. PM’s indignation rises. The nerve! Doesn’t he know that Band-Aids aren’t allowed in the pool? Who the hell does he think he is?

PM tries again, wailing at the group of 3 lifeguards who’ve all been standing around at the side of the pool, chatting amiably with HS as he waits for a lane, “Did you see that?” PM’s ire rises as he waves at the disappearing band-aided swimmer, “HE jumped in the pool with a Band-Aid on! Aren’t you gonna do anything?”

One of the lifeguards starts to laugh and then waves at PM dismissively. “Oh, that’s Boyd, he’s okay. He can do what he wants.”

“But...but....he has a Band-Aid on....and....” PM sputters as he watches helplessly. HS is halfway down the pool and going strong. No doubt the Band-Aid is doing its job. Keeping the blood from oozing out due to his hemophiliac condition. Frankly, PP is glad that HS has a Band-Aid on. She wouldn’t want any of his blood condition to leak into the pool. This is much more distressing than some stupid Band-Aid coming off in the pool. Though she has to admit that Band-Aids floating around on the bottom of the pool are disgusting.

But not as disgusting as PM trying to get HS to remove his Band-Aid before entering the water.

Nah. If PM got his way, he’d be like the tattletale on the playground ratting out the other kid for some minor transgression. And getting the teacher to listen to him. Now this would really be a travesty.

Letting a tattletale get his way. His big mouth telling all.

PP has a solution for that.

Just put a Band-Aid over his big sputtering mouth, and let the games begin!

Monday, January 12, 2009

La La Laaa, Sanctuary!

“La, La, Laaa!” the handsome middle-aged Asian clerk sings at me as I walk into the lobby of the Oakland YMCA. I’m cranky, but can’t help but let a grin slip out. “Sanctuary!” he calls out as he swipes my card and motions for me to head on into the Y. “Enjoy your swim!”

As I grab a couple of towels and head down the stairs, I shake my head. Sanctuary? Okay, yes, sometimes I do believe this. That the YMCA is the only sanctuary I can find in my hectic and frustrating existence here in the Bay Area, esp. when I partake of Utopia with DL. This can be paradise. But today?

No way is the Y anywhere near a sanctuary. It’s all those New Years Resolvers. Crowding into the locker room. Into the pool. Into my psyche.
And frankly, this is no sanctuary.

Unlike the sanctuary-blessed Magdalena Ecke YMCA in Encinitas. Now here is Sanctuary. A Free Parking Lot! A locker room that’s uncrowded and clean. A big beautiful new pool that is sunlit and turquoisy even though it’s indoors. (The sunlight shines through the glass tiles of the tilted roof.)

And best of all: My OWN lane!

When the hell did I get my own lane here at Oakland? Certainly not today. In fact, today was Crash Day.

Foolishly, I thought, just maybe, I would get my own lane cuz the end lane became available and so I snagged it. And yes, for about 15 minutes it was my own. But then......

Wide Load Snorkel Woman got in and watch out.

“You wanna circle or lanes?” she asked.
I eyed her snorkel and wide load self and thought, I’ll keep my own lane. Circling with her would be a hazardous chore. And so we did. Split the lane. And it went ok for a little while till ‘whap!” she conked me on the arm. And being the HSK that I am, it hurt! But I swam on. And she did too. Of course.
Till she whacked me again. Then she stopped, “Sorry!” and since she was so sincere, I didn’t growl at her. But again, this is my Sanctuary?

I think not.

And what would be? I mean, what does sanctuary mean anyway? I can only think of a Bird Sanctuary where the wild near extinct ones can alight and be protected from all the housing developments and such.

Well, the Y was full of Housing Developers today and I’d had enough. “It’s sure busy,” I’d commented to Wide Load as I prepared to get out.
“IT’s always busy!” she harrumphed.
“Not usually at this time,” I argued.
“It’s all the New Members,” she agreed.
“Ah, yes....well, that won’t last long. You know how those New Years Resolutions go.”
She stared at me for a moment, then burst out laughing. “You got that right!” before heading down the lane, her wide load floating in slow easy fluidity.

And I hafta stop and think. This pool is Her Sanctuary.
And yes, maybe it’s even mine, thanks to her.

As far as the La la la Part?

Well, I’ll leave that for the Birds!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Odiously Ill

A most foggy brain & obnoxious cough, alas, will delay PP's next So Cal stories about the World's Weirdest Motel:

and the Magdelena Ecke Fab YMCA Pool in beauteous Encinitas.....

Hopefully, she'll be well enough to complain and rave about both by tomorrow!

Till then, drink some echenacia tea and down some sudafed for her!

Friday, January 02, 2009

The World's Safest Beach

“Look!” DHBF points and exclaims. “A shark!”

PP cracks up. Of course it can’t possibly be a shark. After all, they’re on the World’s Safest Beach: Carpenteria. And as she gazes out toward where he’s pointing, the water safely smooth and pinkie purple in the setting sun dusk, she does spy the fin too.

“Do you see it?” he asks, anxiously.
“That’s not a shark!” PP giggles. “It’s a Dolphin!” Delighted she treads closer to the water’s edge to get a closer view of the dark fin atop the sleek gray body that dives and surfaces, like a rainbow, up and down. No one swims like a dolphin!

“Look! There’s another!” DHBF hurries down the sand, pointing excitedly. And sure enough, there is. One. Two. Three. All headed toward Santa Barbara for an evening’s swim in the quickly darkening sea. It’s Dolphin cocktail hour up at the Blue Fin Inn.

Sighing, PP grins. Dolphins. She can’t remember the last time she saw these best of swimmers! Maybe that time in Encinitas when she and her sister were sitting up on the bluff one bright golden morning? Yes. Sis had spied them. A whole herd of them. Or is it a pod? Dancing in the golden blue water that sparkles in Encinitas.

This was a long time ago. PP can’t remember when it was. But she still sees these swimmers, frolicking in the golden morning sea. And she still remembers the magic and the delight she felt at spying them out in the sea.

And so tonight, here on the World’s Safest Beach, with DHBF at her side, she feels all happy inside. Corny as it sounds.

The World’s Greatest Swimmers have that effect on her.

Which is no surprise!

PP starts to sing the ‘Jaws’ theme song at DHBF. “Da Daa Da Daa Da Daa....” And then points out to sea again, where the trio have since disappeared. “Look! A shark!” she jokes.

And he grabs her round the waist, dancing on the dusky sand, before they fall into giggles.

“Ready to check out the Motel 6?” she asks.
“Sure, it’s getting dark,” he grins.

But they stand for a moment, gazing out at the last of the bright pink clouds casting an enchanting glow on the World’s Safest Beach. PP sighs deeply....


It’s gonna be a good trip.

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...