Showing posts from 2011

Arividerchi Richmond

Since PP has had negative writing time for the last several weeks, and she’s leaving for Italy imminently, she’s going to summarize the highlights or give the highlights or offer summaries....Hell, you know what she means.

Here’s 3 PP stories that never got written:


Russian Cat Lady

PP has been in a dither about what to do with her cats while she’s in the Old Country. “You don’t want to leave him out in the cold, poor baby,” Sandy declares after PP explains her dilemma about the cat peeing in the house when she’s gone; the raccoons intruding the house if the cat door’s left open; the bitter cold and rain if he's left outside for 3 weeks.

From her left, PP hears her. The Scoff. As she finishes up her naked downward dog in Utopia. The scorn in her scoff is as thick as her accent, “Cooold? You think this is cold?” She turns sideways, stretching a round white limb over her head, “In Russia, the cats. They are outside all of the time. They know cold. Here, it is not cold.”

“Very true,” …

Maria Bello's Pool Therapy

“Betcha can’t hold your breath underwater as long as me!” Maria Bello taunts Traumatized Child.
TC takes the bait, forgetting her trauma for a moment.
Pool Therapy. It works every time, esp. with Maria as the Therapist.

Maria’s eyes gleam, her sleek head wet from diving into the seedy motel pool. Before dunking under, she teases TC with one last challenge, “I was the Champion in my neighborhood for holding my breath underwater! Ready? 1....2.....”
TC smiles, engaged for the first time since her ordeal. The pool will do that. Make you forget for a little while.

“3!” Maria and TC dunk under the pool's shimmering surface at exactly the same time. Now the camera is underwater. Blue murky foggy white limbs flailing under the surface. Bubbles rising as both Maria and the child struggle to stay under. PP begins to count silently to herself as she watches the scene, riveted, on the bed next to DL and Owen Hill. One one thousand....two one thousand....three one thousand....
Maria and TC are …

Jean Quan

Jean Quan looked dynamite in her backless leotard/skirt gym wear. Surprisingly so. PP admired her smooth bare brown back with various communication devices tucked into the waistband of her Hawaiian print skirt.

She was busy directing. Naturally. What else would the mayor of Oakland being doing at the downtown Oakland YMCA? Here in the upstairs Torture Machine room, the floor was rapidly being emptied of all of the broken machines. “That one there. Out with it!” Quan bellowed as two Y clerks hurried to do her bidding.

Jean marched around the rapidly expanding space. Hands on hips, surveying the scene. PP wondered how she had time to come to the Y given all that the City of Oakland was dealing with at the moment. Occupy Oakland and all of its myriad headaches had not been kind to Jean.

But she was undaunted. She knew that she still had Some Authority, goddammit. And if it wasn’t with those stupid protesters or her stupid police chief, then hell, she could show who’s Boss at the Downtown…

Occupy the Swimming Pool

“I was trying to avoid talking to a certain someone who shall remain nameless, but earlier today, she asked me ‘What was going on up there’ in reference to the helicopters overhead.”

Sandy shakes her head, amused? Bemused? Disgusted?

“What did you tell her?” PP asks, not being able to help herself from questions even though she knows the possible consequences.
“I try not to have much truck with her, like I said, so I didn’t say anything, just beat a hasty retreat. You remember, Dexter?”
“I think so.” PP nods, pretending she knows who she’s talking about.
“Big handsome African American kid who worked the front desk?”
“Oh, yes,” PP lies.

“Well, one day, This Woman Who Shall Remain Nameless, she wants to go workout, and she has this kid too, 'bout 7 or 8, and she brings said kid up to the machines and puts him on a treadmill and Dexter sees this and says, 'Whoa Nelly, no way Jose. You can’t have the kid up here on the machines!' And so she just nods and starts fishing around in her …

Stop Asking So Many Questions!

“Do you have plans for the weekend?”

Serene Latina sighs, deeply, sadly, palpably.

Damn, PP thinks, what the hell have I done? Something bad is gonna come out of her mouth and it’s my own damn fault. If I wasn’t always digging for stories, then whatever she’s gonna tell me, well…..I wouldn’t know.

Up till this moment the conversation had been Sauna Banal. SL and answered PP’s questions about tennis and its myriad intricacies. Did she play singles or doubles? (Singles) How long has she been playing? (Off and on for over 20 years) Where did she play? (Some league in Contra Costa County that PP had never heard of and so it went immediately out of her brain.)

Yet, underlying all of the banality, there had been an undercurrent of Something. PP had felt it the moment SL had entered the Sauna. She’d thought, well, maybe she’s been ill or maybe she’s been working too much or maybe one of her kids went off to college or…..

Who knows? PP had ignored her first intuition and gone ahead and contin…

Oh Those Sisters!

“I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.”

And PP wonders this too. Why is it that many of the women in Utopia (or in this case, Hilltopia’s sauna) feel like they can tell her everything? If they only knew how she was writing it all down in her blog! Maybe they do know and they want to be part of a ‘story’?

PP doubts this. For whatever reason, she must be a sympathetic listener. Or at least sometimes, usually when she’s just finished swimming and she’s too tired and relaxed to interrupt. Though she’d be the first to admit that she encourages the ‘stories’. Which is exactly what she’s done today.

Chevron Woman has been on a Sister Rant for a good 15 minutes:

“I just got back from vacation. Well actually it wasn’t much of a vacation. I mean it was in a way, but well I just went to visit my sister. In Modesto. I’ve never been to Modesto. And she just really got on my nerves….”

“Why was that?” PP asks. “Just Sister Stuff?”

CW nods, “Yeah, just Sister Stuff. You know she’s just on my case abo…

A Most Odious Child

“Come over here,” PP could barely hear the mother’s soft plea by the mirror, "and look how cute you are!"
“I DON’T WANT TO LOOK CUTE!!!” The Most Odious Child screeched. And at this point, PP had to laugh.

The MOC had been screaming, crying, and coughing for the entire time (about 20 minutes) that PP had been trying to get changed.

She was tired, it being a Friday evening after a long day in Unpleasant Hill. The air in her office had given her a sore throat and headache, so much so, that she’d thought she was coming down with something.

But she’d forced herself to go for a swim, telling herself how it would make her feel better. As it always does.

And it had.

Until the Most Odious Child had entered her Locker Room Reality.

When the child had first been crying, PP had thought, Okay, It’s tired and hungry and wet. It just needs to get home and be put to bed.

This is something that mystifies PP: why the hell are these small children swimming and screaming at the YMCA at 9:30 at n…

Out of Control

PP watches in horror as Scraping Walker Woman’s Volvo lurches forward, out of control, at lightening speed, the engine gunning a horrific screeching. Over the curb, into the light post, the car comes to a halt, the tall pole vibrating back and forth from the impact. The car perches precariously on the embankment, the center of the old station wagon balancing on the curb between the upper and lower parking lots of the Hilltopia Y.

Shit. PP starts to run toward the accident. SWW must have hit the accelerator instead of the brakes. PP’s been wondering for years how SWW does it. She obviously has some sort of modification for the car so that she can operate it with her hands instead of her crippled legs. But yet, even so, PP has worried about just such an accident like the one she’s just witnessed. SWW’s coordination seems to be, at best, just a precarious as the Volvo’s balancing act right now.

A Compact Man in khaki shorts drops his gym bag into the open trunk of his car before rushing o…

Professional Swimmer?

“We just love watching you swim,” Black Tank Suit Tank Woman gushes, leaning over the lane line as she walks alongside PP’s lane. “You swim so beautifully. So graceful. You don’t make a splash at all!” she laughs as Scraping Walker Woman passes by her, nodding in agreement.

“Thanks,” PP grins. She’s heard it before, but the compliments work for her. Especially from someone so charming. She’d not seen Black Tank Suit Woman before, round and soft, but there were so many like her at Hilltopia. They all partook of the water walking lane, chatting and chuckling. A real community of aqua walkers.

“Were you a professional swimmer?” BTSW asks.
“Uh….” PP’s not sure what this means. Who the hell is a professional swimmer? Like someone in the Olympics? But no, they were all ‘amateurs’ right? Maybe after the Olympics, when they’re on the cover of a box of Wheaties and get paid for their poses?

PP couldn’t even think of one Wheaties Box sporting a swimmer. Was Mark Spitz on Wheaties?
Probably, bu…

Lap Swimmers: Second Class Citizens @ Hilltop Y?

PP has had enough! After several weeks of lap swimmer disrespect, she's composed (and sent) a letter to the Director of the Hilltop YMCA Pool.

This took up her designated PP blog time, so she's just gonna post it for all her readers, many of whom she knows will sympathize!

Dear RJ,

I have had several instances in the past couple of weeks of lap swimming hours not being honored. These hours are very specific and limited; therefore, I would really appreciate it if you’d enforce these hours and not allow the families to ‘spill’ over into scheduled lap swimming times.

While I understand that it’s summer and the families want to play in the pool, the lack of consideration for the lap swimming hours is appalling. Your lifeguards need to be reminded that there is a schedule that needs to be adhered to; otherwise, what’s the point of having a schedule?

Here are three specific examples to show you how pervasive the problem is. Keep in mind that I am only one lap swimmer who swims per…


“Do you know how in every stereotype there’s a little kernel of Truth?”

DL pinches together her thumb and index finger to show how small the amount is. Sandy nods, eager to hear the answer to her question “If you could take one thing from your trip, one thing about the culture, or people, back with you, what would it be?” (DL’s been in Italy for the last month; hence, the profound lack of PP stories.)

“That’s a good question,”DL pauses, taking a deep breath, her concentration and attention to Sandy’s Italian Culture Question palpable in the Heaterized Sauna Air of Utopia. “I think I’d like to take that openness, that connectedness, that Italian Way of How Everyone is Welcome…..”

She pauses again, nodding to herself as Sandy and PP sit rapt in anticipation. But they get it. Italians have That Way. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is Family. Everyone matters.

It’s so embracing if that makes sense?

PP still remembers this about Italy even though she’s not been there for over 25 years. T…


What the hell was he doing?

PP had seen him come on deck earlier, just as she was turning at the wall. Could it be? Was it Man Kick Swimmer?


Looked like him from what she could tell through her foggy mask. Fortunately she was near the end of her swim and double fortunately there were other lanes open besides the one next to her.

She’d driven through the Rush Hour Friday afternoon traffic again to avoid just this situation, whether it be screaming children or kicking men, & she’d thought suffering through the stop and go traffic would be worth it.

But now?

She stopped at the wall for a moment to retrieve her fins. Slipping them on, she openly stared at Man Kick Swimmer sitting on the side of the pool in front of the lane next to hers, wrapping something around his Kicking Legs.

She was almost certain it was him now; though she couldn’t know for sure till he actually got in the water and began his tell-tale spaz splashing stroke.

Taking off down the lane, she would have shaken her h…

Giddy with Glee

“Excuse me,” PP’s on the pool deck, ready to go: cap and mask on, fins in hand, but yet....what's up with all the goddamn families in the pool still?

The spaced out but Frazzled Lifeguard gives her a tired smile (How can you be spaced out and frazzled? The Hilltopia lifeguards have this persona down to a science.)

“Hi,” FL manages.
“I thought that it was lap swimming at 4:30.” PP glances at the still mayhem-filled side of the pool where several families are doing their usual screaming Aquatic Antics. Shit. She’d driven up here specially at 4 in the stupid stop and go rush hour traffic so that she could avoid this Pool Chaos and now?

“Oh!” Frazzled Lifeguard looks worried, “Is that what the schedule says? I’m new.”
PP grins. “Yeah, that’s what the schedule says. Lap swimming from 4:30-7:40.”
“Okay, well, thanks for letting me know.”

FL gets up off her perch and starts to instruct the families to clear the water.
PP’s grin widens.
Such power!
All she had to do was inform the lifeguard that …

Season of Mayhem: Summer


“Are you okay?”
PP knew Something Bad was gonna happen. It had been inevitable. Hilltopia Pool was jammed packed with screaming children, spastic lap swimmers and wayward kickers.

Which is exactly what had happened to her.

She’d been kicked.


Was she OK?

It was too early to tell. The pain was sharp and shooting. Emanating from the spot on her back where he’d landed his icky big foot.

Into her kidneys?

It felt like it.

“Are you OK?” he repeats. PP can vaguely feel his concern. She can’t look him in the eye. Knows that it was an accident.

Except. It wasn’t. When the pool is this much mayhem everyone has to be a little more careful. Watch their kicks into the next lane a little more closely.

Yet no one ever does. Everyone just swims blithely on like they own the pool and they're the king of their lane.

And her lane.

For this is what happened. His powerful Man Kick (as DL dubbed it the next day when PP related the story) had strayed under the lane line and bonked PP’s kidney mightily. S…

It’s Meditative


“I have a problem for you to ponder while you’re swimming.” Sandy opens her locker, pulling off her workout togs to prepare for Utopia.

“Well, swimming's good for problem solving,” PP laughs, tucking her hair into her cap.
“Exactly. It’s meditative.”

PP nods, waiting for the Problem Description. She’s getting a little anxious though. Last week she didn’t give herself enough time to swim and barely got a mile in. Tonight she was careful to give herself lots of time, but now Sandy has a Critical Thinking Exercise for her to do in the Pool. Not that she doesn’t believe in swimming's problem solving capabilities, but still....

She really wants to swim NOW!

“You see, I have this vacuum,” Sandy begins, tossing her shoes into the locker, “and it has this very long hose. Oh it must be 30 or 40 feet long. It’s a special kinda vacuum..... What’s it called?” She pauses, thinking.

PP waits. Shit. A Vacuum Question? Like she knows anything about vacuums. In fact, vacuums, over the years, have …

Alternate Universe

Dear Readers: Please read the preceding blog entry first, Missing Person, for proper chronological soap opera sequence.

~Part II~

“Hey, Sandy,” PP calls out to the prone form lying on the top deck of Utopia, Oaktown. “I found DL!
“Yeah,” DL laughs as she follows PP into the sauna, “ It only took a week.”
Sandy chuckles. “Very good. Where was she?”
“In an Alternate Universe,” PP jokes.
“Really?” Sandy shifts, squirts herself with a spray of water.
“Yeah, bet you didn’t know there was one at the Berkeley Y,” PP teases.

“Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me,” Sandy answers. “But seriously where was she?”
“In the upstairs women’s sauna. Did you know there was another women’s locker room, upstairs?”
“That’s right,” Sandy nods, knowingly. It does occur to PP to ask why the hell she hadn't mentioned another sauna to her last week when she'd been so panicked about DL's whereabouts. Chalk it up to Heaterization Disorientation?

“I had no idea,” PP shakes her head. “I’ve been going there for years…

Missing Person!

Where the hell is DL?

PP’s been hanging out in the Berktopia Sauna chatting with Sandy about what else? All My Children. Who will discover that Erica Kane is in fact a crazed fan gone plastic surgery hog wild? Will it be her fiancé, Jackson? Or her lesbian daughter, Bianca? Or her archrival, Greenlee?

Everyone acknowledges that Erica hasn’t been herself since the kidnapping, but.....
Will anyone ever figure it out?

Yet, as PP and Sandy speculate about the possibilities of discovery, PP has this nagging worry as their talk continues.

DL was supposed to meet her in the sauna at 9:30 and it must be 9:45 by now.

Where the hell is she?

She’s never late—unusual for an Italian-- but there you have it.

Something’s very wrong.

Of course, PP jumps to the worst possible scenarios:

She’s fallen off the treadmill and been carted off to the emergency room.

She’s had a psychic breakdown from the unfamiliarity of Berktopia being thrust upon her, so now, she’s out on the streets of Berkeley, wandering aimles…


“How was your swim?”

Modest Vietnamese Woman tilts her pretty head, thinking. “It was so peaceful. ….I had my own lane. ……The water was warm.” She considers for a moment, “There was no one else in the pool.”

PP laughs.

Of course, it’s all Fantasy. There was NO One in the pool tonight. The pool was closed due to “Mechanical Failure.”

PP had arrived for her usual Wed eve Oakland Y “Girls Night” with DL. There had been a sign on the door—-big red letters explaining the pool closure. But all PP saw was Pool Closure.

She couldn't believe it. 2 Pool Closures in 3 days! Last Sunday at Hilltopia had been Mayhem Hell. First Hector's Swim Party jamming screaming kids into the pool with so many writhing little bodies that two lap lanes had been taken away. Then the 'Emergency' where everyone had been forced out of the pool with rude whistling and no explanation, "What's going on?" PP had asked. "Why do we hafta get outta the pool?" She'd only been swimmi…