Thursday, November 19, 2009


“Was I snoring?”

Glancing down at the Peaceful Questioner Woman, who’d been lying sprawled out half the length of the wooden bench, PP smiled. (Even though she was sure PQW couldn’t see her in the dark that was Utopia.)

“Nah,” PP answered. “Were you really asleep?”
“Oh, yeah.”
“Do you usually snore?”
She sighed thinking about it. “My daughter says I do.”
”Well,” PP laughed. “That’s probably just your daughter.”
“Yeah, maybe.”

Later, PP asked DL if she snored. “No, but RQ does.”
“Yeah, so does my sis,” PP offered, trying to get her swimsuit untangled after pulling it off in the shower. Why oh why didn’t she just go buy a new suit instead of wearing two ancient falling apart ones on top of each other to keep her ass from showing?


But that’s another blog.

This one is about snoring, which actually has nothing to do with swimming, but when has that stopped PP? After all, she did get the reference to her pitiful swimsuit apparel in. That counts, right?

“Have you heard your sis snore?” DL asked. Or PP imagined she did to keep the story going and back on track.
“Oh, yeah. And it’s the same as the woman in Utopia who complained about her daughter. My sis’ daughter also makes a point of pointing out her mom’s voluminous snoring. Much to my sis’ dismay. And denial. “I do NOT snore!”

But yet she does. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of, right?

Yet PQW seemed alarmed that she might have been snoring in Utopia. And granted this might have been a bit disconcerting. If she had and she had heard herself.

Isn’t that the beauty of snoring? You’re asleep so you can’t hear yourself?

PP doesn’t know. Since she doesn’t snore.

Or does she?

Good thing she doesn't have a daughter to let her know if she does. She'll have to leave that task to her substitute children.

Those cats will let her know, right?

Or not.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not Everyone’s a Swimmer

“I hafta tell ya, every time you say you’re gonna go to the pool, I cringe”, PP's coworker laughs, shaking her head.
“Why is that?” PP asks.
“It’s just that I’d rather go on a hike, or walk the dog, or hell, visit the dentist rather than dive into a pool! I’m not a swimmer.”

“Yeah, I understand." PP nods like she does understand. But really she doesn't. At least not yet. So, she tries for some sort of understanding rejoinder: "Yeah, well, I just grew up with it.”

“Exactly. But my parents never gave us swim lessons. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t important ….so I didn’t know how to swim. I actually didn’t learn to swim 'till I was in Jr. High. I was 13. You know Willard Jr. High School?”

“Oh yeah. Nice little pool there.”

“It is. But for me, it was almost traumatic. I mean they weren’t gonna let me graduate from the 8th grade till I learned to swim. And unlike you, since I didn’t grow up with it, I was just terrified of the water. I have this fear of drowning. And I’m sure that stems from not being familiar with swimming and growing up in and around pools. So when I was at Willard, they put me in this swim class, and I tell you, PP, I was the only White Chick in this crowd of African American girls named Latisha. And they were all scared to death of the water and LOUD. ‘Help help me oh Lord I gonna drown!’ Which of course just terrified me and made my fear of drowning that much worse.”

Laughing, PP nods, “So, did you learn how to swim?”

“Oh, yeah, I did eventually, and for me, it was a Real Rite of Passage, so when I got married and had kids, I vowed to myself that I wasn’t gonna let the same thing happen to them. So I gave them all swim lessons and the older two took right to it, but the youngest, he was just like me. Scared to death. Used to fool the swim instructors out at King Pool, you know it? Out on Hopkins?
“Oh yeah…”

“Well, when my youngest took group lessons there. He used to scoop up handfuls of water…” She cups her hands over her desk to demonstrate.“…and then splash the water on his head to look like he’d dunked under. And I thought, hey, that’s pretty smart.”

“That’s so funny,” PP says, “cause it was the same in my family. Me and my middle sis took right to the water, but the youngest. She had a harder time with it. Didn’t learn till way later.”

”Exactly! But this kid, my youngest, finally did learn when I took him to private lessons one-on-one. The instructor was this really mellow knowledgeable young lady who just worked with him about the dunking your head under the water thing and told him, ‘Hey if you don’t want to dunk your head in you don’t have to but if you do dunk your head under, it won’t kill you.’ So eventually he tried it. And it didn’t kill him.”

PP nods. “Yeah, not everyone's a swimmer. I get that.”

But actually she still didn’t. Why the hell wouldn’t everyone want to swim? Of course there is the real possibility of drowning if you don't know how to swim. But why wouldn't everyone want to learn? It’s the BEST thing in the world. Why it’s the closest thing to being back in the womb as Super Swimmer Woman had said one night in Utopia.

PP wasn’t so sure about the Womb Thing, but she did know that there was, as you all know who read this blog, something about swimming that you can’t get anywhere else.

“Is it kinda meditative for you?” Non-Swimmer Co-worker asks, interrupting her reverie.
“Oh, yeah. As long as I don’t have to run the YMCA obstacle course.”
“You mean if you hafta share a lane?”
”Yeah. That can get a little dicey.”
“I could see that.”

But PP could see that she really didn't. For her, swimming was probably still a dicey affair. And this was such a tragedy. For what would Reality be without Swimming?

PP couldn't imagine. It'd be like living without chocolate. Or Dancing without the Stars. Or barfing without the cats. (Well, she could live without cats' barfing.)

You get the gist.

Life without swimming?

It just isn't living.

At least not in PP's Reality.

And frankly, what other Reality matters?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"It was brilliant!"
Owen Hill, poet extraordinaire and mystery writer magnifique proclaimed.

And it was. DHBF, aka Ian Lambton, swam to glory in his debut as the narrator of Melville's Bartleby.

"Your BF certainly has a LOT of different people in him," KS said.
"Yup," PP responded. "Means I don't have to sleep around as much as I used to."

So, let's look forward to DHBF's next run of his genius one-man show. At the Marsh Theater or beyond.

Oh, and PP thinks there's a Brilliant Swim in his near future. Without the top hat of course!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bartleby Swims in the Marsh

And when he arises, he can don his goggles instead of his top hat and join PP at the Pool where he's been sorely missed for weeks and weeks and weeks!

Tomorrow is the day!

Ah, Bartleby!
Ah, Humanity!
Ah, Poolby!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Dangling Modifiers

“Ouch!" PP shrieked in agony at the bottom of the hot tub, not knowing that the weird wrong sharp plastic thingee was on the bottom of the tub. When the hell did it get installed? Had she missed stubbing her foot on it all these years?
"Attacking my big toe where did that thingee come from why didn't I see it?" she whined. "Hey, how's that for a Dangling Modifier?" she asked DL.

"What's a Dangling Modifier?"

"I'm not exactly sure, but I think that...." PP can't summon the definition to the surface of her pool soaked brain.

Sometimes, she wonders how the hell she’s ever gotten this far in her career as an English Instructor. Since she called the above a dangling modifier, which it isn’t even, but actually more of a run-on sentence. Then neither she nor DL could define one as they headed into Utopia.

“Sandy will know,” PP announced when she saw Sandy lying naked, sweating and relaxed on the top shelf of the sauna. Obviously, she was a Grammar Expert.
“What will I know?” Sandy doesn’t miss an opportunity to participate in Great Utopia Queries.
“A Dangling Modifier,” DL said.
“Do you know what one is?” PP asked.
“Here we are an Editor and an English Teacher and neither one of us can define it.”
“Ummm……” Sandy thought aloud, still lying down. She wasn’t gonna expend too much effort. Or she was good at Grammar Analysis in the prone position. “Isn’t it when you don’t know what something is referring to?”

“Maybe,” PP agreed, not sure. “Can you think of an example?”
“That’s just what I was trying to do,” Sandy paused, thinking hard. “But I just can’t come up with one right now.”

“Well, it is 9:30 and we have just worked out and it’s time to eat and go to bed,” PP offered. Maybe this is why she can’t get her brain to spit out a definition and an example?

“Dangling Modifier?” Towel Covered Always Vietnamese Woman Swimmer asked, sleepily. “What is this, Dangling Modifier?”
“Oh, that’d be good. To get the answer from the Vietnamese contingent.”
“Actually,” PP interrupted, “from all my working with international students, they do know their grammar terms. They might not be able to write a sentence, but they can tell you what a Conditional Subjunctive Blah blah blah is!”

“Do you know what it is?” Sandy asked TCAVW.

“Dangling Modifier….” She rolled over onto her side, careful to keep covered up. PP has always marveled at her ability to keep the towel on her body with it never falling off. It seems to have some sort of special elastic holder at the top to help. But she wears it everywhere. In the hot tub. In Utopia. In the shower.

Not in the pool though. Here she dons a swimsuit. But PP has always wondered how she gets from her street clothes to the swimsuit without the towel? Maybe she does use the towel?

Oh, how far off the topic of Dangling Modifiers is this?

A Dangling Towel would be much more interesting though, don’t you think? What is under that towel that she doesn’t want anyone to see?

Something else that dangles?

“No….” Constant Towel Woman answers slowly now, “I never heard of this. Dangling Modifier.”
“Ah, okay, well, I’m curious now,” Sandy said. “I’m gonna look it up first thing when I get home.”
“You’ll let us know, next time?” PP asks.
“Sure, of course.”

But yet, of course, PP had to look it up when she got to Woo Woo U the next day.

“A dangling modifier fails to refer LOGICALLY [PP’s caps] to any word in the sentence. Dangling modifiers are easy to repair, but they can be hard to recognize in your own writing.” (Diana Hacker, Goddess of Grammar)

And here’s Diana’s example:

“Opening the window to let out a huge bumblebee, the car accidentally swerved into an oncoming car.”

To fix:

When the driver opened the window to let out a huge bumblebee, the car accidentally swerved into an oncoming car.

The message of the modifier is:

Let the Bumblebee drive!

And the message of the Towel is:

Let it fall let it fall let it fall!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


“The only thing that was grossing me out was that Asian couple in the lane next to me.” CC wrinkled her cute nose, shaking her head.

“Why? What were they doing?” PP hadn’t noticed them other than the fact that they weren’t swimming much. Just hanging around on the side of the pool, taking up the lane. Which didn’t really matter. For some reason the Hilltop Y was unusually quiet. Was this because everyone was home mourning the loss of light with the demise of daylight savings time? (Sad sad sad SAD!!!)

CC took a deep breath, then went on, “They kept leaning over the side of the pool and spitting kaapuuukuuueeee into the drain. It was so disgusting!”

PP laughed. “Maybe they were from China? It’s a cultural thing?”
“I don’t know.....” CC was dubious.

“...Cuz when I was teaching in China, and of course, I’m generalizing here with gross stereotypes and all, but this was my experience. One of my students, in the middle of my lecture, just up and spit a huge loogie (PP hates that word, but it’s the only one she can think of right now) in the aisle right in front of me. Naturally, I completely freaked out. Yelled at him about how rude and disgusting this was. How disrespectful to the professor (this always shamed them) and the other students (not so much). He was initially confused, and then as I continued to hurl invectives at him, I could tell that he was starting to feel really bad. He didn’t realize that it wasn’t an acceptable behavior in the classroom setting. Then I felt kinda bad for yelling at him. But not too bad. Cuz it was disgusting. Lying right there on the cement floor 4 feet away from me."

“UGGHHH!!!! OKAY! Enough!” CC shuddered, completely grossed out now. Her swim at the Hilltop Y had been so nice, relaxing, rejuvenating, till PP started going on and on about spitting.

Well, CC'd brought it up in the first place, right?

"Maybe you shoulda just ignored the Spitting Asian Couple in the lane on your left side and instead concentrated on Gandhi swimming in the lane on your right. Then all would have been so peaceful."

Laughing her raucous guffaw, CC nodded. "Yeah. I did notice Gandhi too. His boxers ballooning underwater. His scrawny legs flailing inside the too big leg openings....” She had to stop, wrinkling her nose again. Another image that was not so pleasant.

"Well at least he didn’t spit," PP laughed.
"No, you’re right. He didn’t spit."

For Gandhi was above such Human Expulsion Fluid Frailties. He was a man of the mind, not of the mucus, as evidenced by the following quote:

Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.
Mohandas Gandhi

In other words:
Spitting is no less necessary than swimming to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.

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