Friday, April 30, 2010

Blog Post #300! : Mush Brain






PP’s brain is just mush. She knows that there musta been lots of stories this last week. But where are they now? She just can’t summon them. Perhaps if she just keeps typing rambling something will appear. Or not……not…not….not….okay, that’s not working.


She remembers snippets of several stories. Shall we try that?

I.

“If you’re gonna swim in my lane, you need to stay on your side of the black line!” PP stops in mid lane to admonish super rambunctious teenager. He grins at her. His lanky brown arms flailing in happy abandon.

She shakes her head. Almost done anyway with her swim. When she gets to the wall, he’s there, grinning at her, “You sure do go fast!” he exclaims.
Her hard admonishing heart melts. She can’t help but grin back. His enthusiastic amazement wins her over. Not to mention that she’s always a sucker for compliments. “Well….I’ve got fins on.” She raises one leg outta the water to show him her extended blue and yellow foot.
His eyes open wide with delight. “WOW! I gotta get me some of those!” and off he goes, finless, weaving down the lane.

Not on his side at all.


II.






"I hada drove around forever!" She sighs as opens a locker, takes off her security guard uniform and dons a bright red swim suit. One of those with the old-fashioned skirts round it. The kind that PP cut off her swimsuit when she was 12.
“Yeah, the parking is so crazy round here,” PP nods as she squeezes into her suit.
“I sometime park in the lot, but then I don’t like to cause sometime I get outta here close to 10 o’clock and then …..” She shakes her head, “I don’t wanna go there. But I don’t wanna park out back either.”
”Yeah,” PP agrees, “it's super dark and scary back there.”
“Yeah it is.” She slams her locker closed. PP feels like if Red Swimsuit Skirted Security Guard by day is wary of parking out back, well then it’s a good thing PP never does. RSSSG looks like she could take on anyone when she’s got her uniform on.

But now?

She’s just ready for some water aerobics. “Craig’s class. He’s so great!” she announces as she heads out to the pool, humming to herself.


III.

“Your daughter is such a beautiful swimmer,” PP praises to Diabetes Woman in the Sauna. DW nods, “Yes, she is. She swim very good. Don’t you.”
The Daughter smiles shyly, nods, “I used to swim at college but they don’t have it anymore,”
“That’s a shame,” PP laments. “Must be 'cause of budget cuts?”
”THEY DON’T THINK THEY NEED SWIM BUT THE DO THEY CUT ALL THE SWIM AND NOW MY DAUGHTER SHE HAVE NO PLACE TO SWIM!” DW asserts, just a little too emphatically.

Sandy glances up from her prone heaterized position. “It’s like that all over. There’s no money.”

“BUT MY DAUGHTER!”

The daughter continues to smile, beatific. She knows something, but PP isn’t sure what. Maybe it’s just her defense mechanism again her mom’s overly enthusiastic crusading for her?

Or maybe she’s just had a wonderful swim here at the Oakland YMCA and her smile says it all.


IV

“You get what you put in to it. I tell you. That’s why I come here twice a day. Once in the morning from 8-9 and then again in the evening from 7-8.”

“Wow!” PP exclaims, genuinely impressed. She’d never be able to swim twice a day. But then it doesn’t really seem like Twice a Day woman is a swimmer. Sure she has a swim suit on, but her girth speaks of a more sedentary sort of floating then PP’s languid laps.

“Look at her!” Twice A Day Woman exclaims, “She don’t have one ounce of fat on her!”
Dyed Blonde Afro Woman laughs, kinda embarrassed as she settles down in the sauna. “Oh, yeah I do. I used to be a size 5 and now I’m a size 12 and I don’t know how the hell that happened.”

There’s a short silence. PP knows that Twice A Day Woman would give anything to be a size 12. “And look at her,” TADW points in PP’s direction. “SHE SO SKINNY! But that’s why you’re here. You and her,” She points to a shapely slim woman up top in her blue bikini. “I don’t’ know why the two of you is here, you so skinny. But I guess that’s why, right?”

Blue Bikini woman grins, doesn’t answer. Neither does PP. Another woman starts in about the movie It’s Complicated, “It’s so true to life. You just want to sleep with your ex one more time and then you don’t really want to but you do and well….” She chuckles. “It’s complicated.”






"You can say that again Girl.” TAW shakes her head, rises, lumbers out. PP watches her for a moment before she disappears round the corner to the showers.

Nothing complicated about swimming. If you wanna swim, you do; if you don't wanna swim, you do.

PP's brain has no mush around this. And besides, her brain likes this ending.

Even though it's still mush after (or because of) writing this blog!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obsession





“I’m obsessed with Cephalopods!”

Sandy stops her Octopus story for a split second, turning toward the young buxom woman who’s made this extraordinary claim. PP glances in DL’s direction. Cephalopods! Obsession! What are the odds? Number 1, how often has an octopus story been told in Utopia? Never in PP’s experience, not to say that it doesn’t happen, but c’mon. Cephalopods? And then , number 2, in the context of this story telling, what are the odds that one of the women in Utopia listening to the story is obsessed with them?

Are you a betting readership? Like what? 1 in a million?

Sandy continues without engaging the Cephalopod Obsession Woman with more than a glance, and a “Really?” After all, she was on a narrative roll. Had to keep the momentum.

“....and so this diver, he was a free diver which makes it even more intriguing, is trying to get his camera away from the octopus and the octopus just makes off with it and the Camera Guy gives chase and it’s all on Utube….I gotta check it out. I don’t know what it’s called…..

“I think it’s called, ‘How the octopus stole my camera.’” COW ventures.




Black Pantie Woman chuckles softly. PP’s worried about her. Earlier in the hot tub she’d gotten in with PP and had been strangely quiet—not her usual bubbly self—telling stories, asking questions, so when PP had just made a friendly, “How ya doin'?'” BPW had sighed deeply, her eyes so sad as she leaned into one of the jets and said, “Not so good,”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” PP had sympathized.
“Did you have a good day?” she’d tried to smile at PP.
“Well, yes….’PP had thought about it and decided it hadn’t been so bad after she’d recovered from the Pablo Morning Pee Trauma, “It was a good day.”

BPW woman had nodded slowly, “That’s nice. I had a rough day,” she'd murmured, not really looking at PP so PP decides not to ask her why. Normally she would but there was an added thick palpable sadness to the air so she refrained. It scared her a little. So when later in the Sauna, Sandy was telling the Octopus Stealing camera story and BP woman had given a quiet little chuckle, PP felt relieved. Things weren’t so bad that she couldn’t appreciate a good old Cephalopod Yarn!

Sandy takes a new interest in Cephalopod Obsessed Woman now that she knows the Utube title, “Yes, that makes sense. That the video would be called that.”
“Why do they steal cameras?” PP asked. “Are they gonna take some octopus family pictures?”
Laughter. PP likes this when the women of Utopia laugh at her stupid jokes, “Actually, they like to redecorate,” COW answers. “They like bright shiny objects to bring back to their dens.”
Did she say dens? Do Cephalopods have dens? Maybe they inhabit octopus condo compounds with their shiny cameras, spear guns, tin cans etc decorating their living rooms?




“Why are you obsessed with Cephalopods?” PP finally squeezes in this all important query.
“My dad is a Marine Sociobiologist (Or some such esoteric sciency profession).
“Wow,” says The Serene Science Teacher. “Then you must have traveled all over the world with him growing up.”
“Yes, actually I’m from New Zealand, but yeah…we did. It was pretty cool.”
“So that’s why you’re obsessed?” PP presses.
“Well, yes, that. But also they’re so smart! Why they’re as smart as dogs and parrots but without bones!” she beams.



PP nods. Like the intelligence of species is contingent on bone possession? Are the two connected? She’d never thought about this. Of course humans have bones and are generally thought to be intelligent, though PP had her doubts about this. It somehow made sense that boneless creatures might indeed have intelligence. After all, did the brain reside in the marrow?

PP thought not.

Later, walking back to the Geo with DL, PP brought up the line of ‘I’m obsessed with Cephalopods' again to DL.
“Me too!” DL exclaimed as they climbed into the car. “I wrote this paper on Cephalopods when I was in Jr. High. I was totally obsessed with them.”
"Why didn’t you say something in Utopia?” PP laughed, knowing that DL doesn’t like to divulge such personal info while saunaing.
“You know,” DL shrugged.
“Yeah, I know,” PP laughed. “You’re shy. Or so you say.”

Dropping DL off at her car, PP watches as she gets into Moondoggie (her Toyota’s name) and starts the engine, marveling at how now there had been not only one, but two, Utopia listeners who were obsessed with Cephalopods. The odds of that? Maybe obsession for Cephalopods was more common than she'd thought?

Yet, PP had never known about DL’s Octopus Obsession. Who would have thought it?

See what she learns in Utopia?
Not only a plural for octopus that doesn’t include the pretentious sounding ‘Octopi’ but a bit of unknown sea knowledge about DL.

Obsession? It’s a secretive thing sometimes. Maybe esp. if it has to do with boneless intelligent beings? Nah, it's those strange obsessions that lurk from our secretive teenage years. Those are the obsessions that usually remain buried deep in the dark and mysterious sea of our awkward pasts.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Inverness Pics

There's no pool, but it took a pool to get to Inverness, so that counts, right?

Of course!

So enjoy! (Yes, it's possible to enjoy life without a pool, but not for long!)



PP looking pensively from the deck of the cabin between rain showers.




Sunwater diamonds on the old pines.




"We're being watched!" happy hiker up from McClure's beach, pointing at Elk on the ridge.




PP hiking down to McClure's Beach right before sunset. It was cold on the trail down, but the beach itself was magically still.



DHBF on the magic beach. Doesn't the water look inviting?

NOT!



DHBF poses in front of his Rock Tower. See? No wind!




It's getting dark and PP can't tell what this is. Can you?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meltdown –Part II (Left Brain Readers May Want to Read Previous Entry First)



“How’re you doing?” Handsome, (too handsome?) dark-haired young man (Isn’t everyone young now?) grins over at PP, who’s been soaking in the hot tub waiting on a lane. So far, the lanes at the Mill Valley Community Center are all full, but not too full. Just full enough to be unenticing.

So how was she doing? Still a little cranky, but better than an hour ago when she’d been standing morosely in front of the empty Marin YMCA pool.

But Handsome Friendly Man doesn’t need an answer from her. Cause he’s doing fine. “This is a perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon. Now all I need is a beer,” he chuckles, not really looking at PP anymore.

DHBF leans over to PP and mutters something about Whiskey and Hot tubs. Or was it Whiskey and Lakes? There’s some lake in Scotland that’s full of Whiskey?

Two boys clamber in the tub next to PP, begin to fiddle with her fins behind her on the deck. She turns around and thinks she doesn’t glare at them, but she probably did. They shy away, stricken as she grabs her stuff and pulls it toward her just as Mom admonishes them, “Those aren’t yours. They belong to someone else.”
PP laughs as the two stare at her, petrified.“Guess I scared them,” she jokes.
“Yes you did,” Mom glares at her.





Damn. What the hell were kids doing in the hot tub anyway? Oh yeah, this was Mill Valley. Kids rule here. She watches the screaming group of children frolicking in half the pool set aside for them leaving only 3 lanes for lap swimmers.

Lap swimming at the Mill Valley Community Center takes second place to kids. Just like China. Only in China kids really ruled. There were NO lap lanes. She just had to swim around all the screaming kids. It was a kid obstacle course. Needless to say, PP didn’t get much swimming in.

This was kinda true now at the MVCC. But aha! Someone was getting out of one of the lap lanes. PP hurriedly grabs her stuff and heads over. Watches as woman with one of those skin-colored nose plugs stops at the wall. PP has always thought these plugs were so gross; how did they even work? But supposes that it must help some poor souls who for whatever reason inhale water up their nostrils. Now she dangles her finned feet into the water to stop her.




"Can I split the lane with you?” she asks Nose Plug Woman, who smiles spacey at her, “Sure.”

And so she’s off. And it’s okay. NPW gets out, and Tan Scrawny Guy gets in. He’s splashy, but there’s only the two of them. And then he gets out and Equipment Man gets in. It seems that no one swims for very long here in MV. Must be the lure of the Whisky Hot Tub.

Yet, it all works out. Though there is that subtle ‘class’ thing going on. PP felt it with the Mother Glare, and feels it again in the locker room after her shower. She’s got her stuff all over the bench—it’s small and narrow, but no one else is around at the moment. A middle aged white woman rumbles in with her roller suitcase, sighing heavily. Sees PP’s stuff and stops, stares, smiles at her, “Can I sit down here?” she asks pointing at all of PP’s stuff.

Why the hell does she want to sit EXACTLY there? PP wonders and this must have shown on her face cuz Suitcase Must Sit Down Woman pauses and then rumbles to the next row. “Oh that’s okay,” she echoes out. “There’s room here.”

Yeah. There was always room there, PP thinks. Again, it’s that subtle “Class Entitlement” thing going on. No one at the Oakland Y woulda asked her to move all of her stuff if there were other places to go. They’d just smile, say ‘How y’all doin' today?' and then head for an empty spot.

What is it about some people who think that the world is all theirs? Maybe it’s not Class. Maybe it’s just personality.

Or maybe it’s just PP’s HSK (Highly Sensitive Kitty) disorder in overdrive this afternoon. After the disappointment at the Marin Y and the ‘fight’ with DHBF, she just wasn’t in the mood.

PP grins to herself. Yeah, this was it. And actually, like she’d predicted, she did feel much better after her swim. Sure there'd been kids in the hot tub, crowded lap lanes and locker room power trips, but overall, it'd been worth it. The restorative magic of swimming triumphs once again.

Now if only she could find that Lake full of Whiskey! Then all of her former crankiness would definitely be drowned!



Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Marin Meltdown





Part I

Of course going out of town is supposed to be fun, restorative, peaceful. But only if there’s a pool. And when PP and Dashingly Handsome BF got to the Marin YMCA the fiasco began.


“Looks like no one's in the pool,” PP murmurs, already having a bad feeling. Why would there be no one in the pool at 3 in the afternoon?

Only one reason.

The pool was closed.

Shit.

It’s once again goddamn spring break. This means that pools are subject to all sorts of wrong scheduling situations.

At Hilltopia it’s ‘Splash Week’—but that’s another blog.

At Utopia it’s Kid’s Boot Camp—but again, this is another blog.

At Marin?

The pool is closed all weekend for Special Spring Cleaning. Or some such shit.

“It’ll be open again Monday morning at 5 a.m.,” the Too Cheerful Marin Y Clerk offers. She wants to hiss, “That doesn’t help us now, does it?” but refrains. Instead she turns and stares sullenly through the glass at the empty pool, one lone pool man skimming the bottom.

Why couldn’t they just let her swim? It looked clean to her. She'd only swim for an hour. Over in the far lane. No one would even notice her. She'd be very quiet and very small.

She sighs loudly, “I’m going to the bathroom." Without looking at either TCMYC or DHBF, she tromps down the hall.

It was all so wrong! she thought as she began her bathroom business. She’d had a hell of a week: grading stacks of Research Papers; navigating her landlady’s move, leaving her stranded with no cable TV or internet; taking the Geo back and forth to the Chinese Mechanic to fix the Check Engine light to no avail.





The trip to Inverness had been her idea to ‘get away from it all’—and the stop at the Marin Y was the first key to this.

And now the goddamn pool was closed. She was hungry. And tired. And it was pouring rain.

What the hell was she going to do? she thought as she headed out of the bathroom to discover DHBF beaming, holding out a sheet of paper to her. “There’s a Y in Santa Rosa that’s open. But that’s pretty far.”
PP grunts.
“And then there’s the Mill Valley Community Center. It’s …”
“I HATE that pool!” she interrupts.

Undaunted, DHBF pretty much ignores this assessment. “It’s open for lap swimming at 3:30 and it’s 3:15 now, so we’ll time it just perfectly.”

PP resists commenting. They’d just been in a stupid fight over ‘time’—she could go on and on about this, but she won’t bore you all with the details. Suffice it to say that Time is usually not DHBF’s strong suit. She thinks he’d be the first to admit it. But maybe not. She'd rather not start another fight because of this blog. Or maybe she would. At least this orneriness captures her mood at the Marin Y.




In any case, the Mill Valley Community Center was always a goddamn Zoo. Full of screaming children in the hot tub; circle swimming adults in clueless abandon; and too much chlorine in the goddamn pool.

Yet……she knew she’d feel better if she got a swim in. She knew she’d feel even worse if they drove to the cabin in Inverness in the pouring rain and then she just sat there in the cold watching it hail down from the sky with no pool in sight.

So, it was off to the Mill Valley Community Center.

Would all of her objections be realized?

Stay tuned for the next part--Mill Valley here she comes!

~to be continued~

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Utopian Community






“Did you ladies hear what happened to Suzi?” Sandy sits up slowly. She’s been in Utopia for over an hour. From before when PP went to the pool. PP remembers asking her once how she doesn’t pass out from saunaing so much.

Sandy had grinned. Proud of her Sauna Stamina. But PP can’t remember her answer right now. But she digresses.....

DL shakes her head ‘no’ to the current Suzi Query. Later asks PP who the hell “Suzi” is. The Grape Giving Lady with the Liver Transplant and the Jesus Thong Underwear, PP had replied.

But at the moment of Sandy’s story, DL was in the dark about Suzi’s identity. Not that it really matters.

Well actually it does.

“What happened?” PP prompts, ready for the story even though she’s exhausted from another cold harrowing swim at the always crowded Oakland Y Pool. What the hell was up with that anyway? Why weren’t people home watching cable TV.? Eating dinner? Walking the dog? It was just weird how crowded the pool was at 9 o'clock at night! But again, she digresses....

“Evidently, she was called in to have a special conference with Dora. You know Dora, don’t you?” Sandy asks.
“Just vaguely,” PP replies. “She showed me around when I first joined."

“Yeah, well, she can be a bit of a bitch. As you’ll see.”
DL nods, rapt as always with Utopia Story Time.
“Did she do something Bitchy to Suzi?” PP asks.
“You might call it that. Evidently, Suzi was told to make an appointment with Dora or she wouldn’t be able to come back to the Y.”
“You mean she’d be banished from the YMCA? What did she do?”
“You’ll like this story. One night, she spilled something on herself. You know how she’s always carrying around all this food and drink.’
”Yeah, she has that frozen cranberry concoction she’s always sucking on,” PP offers.

“Exactly. So that’s probably what she spilled on herself. And so she had to try to get it all off before she left. Why I’m not really sure. It was after 10 at night after all.”
“What did Dora say exactly?”
“She told her that in the future she would have to get out of the Y by 10 o’clock on the dot or she wasn’t going to be allowed in again.”
“You’re kidding!” DL exclaims.
“Yeah, I had the same reaction. I mean. What was the big deal? Suzi has issues. She’s got some things that she needs to take care of. She’s always a little overwhelmed.”

PP thinks how she’s just plain Crazy but in a Sweet Way. And who wouldn’t be? What with a huge hole in your side from dialysis and a Jesus Tattoo on your ass, anyone would be Crazy.






“How late was she?” PP asks.
“20 minutes.”
“Oh,” PP shakes her head. It was pretty late. Once in a while she and DL are 5 minutes late and this is nerve-wracking enough with the loud speakers and the towel Nazi and the frantic nakedness.

20 minutes was late. But hell, to be exiled from the Y? Wasn’t that a bit extreme? Didn’t they need their members?

“I mean,” Sandy continues, “isn’t this place all about community and relationships and values and blah blah blah and then Dora goes and slaps Suzi with this ultimatum. Well. I just think it’s not right. Dora coulda just said that her employees need to get out by 10 that they’re not paid for any time after 10 that they have to stay.. But no. She throws her weight around. And at Suzi no less!”

PP shakes her head. Wonders what Suzi’s reaction had been. The summons to Dora’s office. (Which is weird enough) and then the scolding from the Head Bitcho. Well. Such action by Dora certainly did seem counter to all that the Y stood for.

Though PP has always been dubious of these so called ‘values’ anyway.

Honesty. (Someone did steal her swim cap)

Responsibility. (Dirty Used towels were often left on the floor for someone else to clean up)







Sharing. (Just look at the pool for gross abuse of this value! Of course, PP was one of the main culprits. She hates sharing a lane!)

Community. (What the hell does this even mean? it’s one of those Oprah words that gets so bandied about that it means absolutely nothing.)






Besides, if there really were ‘community’ at the Y, then Suzi wouldn’t have been treated like this. She woulda been welcomed into a nice cozy Cranberry filled room with Jesus watchin her from above and lots of grapes overflowing from silver bowls surrounding a sparkling pool with cushy lounge chairs with cable TV’s attached.

Poor Suzi.

No way was there any community for her here at the YMCA.

Except for that of Utopia. Here is where the Real Community lies.

Just don’t tell Dora!