Thursday, August 25, 2011

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, but that was eons ago. And she was hardly in his category. Still, she liked it that ‘professional’ was a possibility for a swimmer.

Then of course, Esther Williams did occur to her, but that was it.
Mark Spit. Esther Williams. PP.

Why not?

“You just swim so effortlessly,” BTTW continues, “not like us old slow swimmers!” She laughs, shy now.
PP doesn’t point out that actually BTTW isn’t swimming at all. Why burst her bubble? Instead she grins, “Hey, it’s being in the water that counts. Doesn’t matter how fast you swim!”
BTTW likes this, nods in agreement, “That’s right. Of course.”

And off she goes, catching up to Scraping Walker Woman, “Did you see that I was here a little later today?” SSW asks.
“No, no, I didn’t notice…..”

PP sometimes wishes she were a Walker, but then it just wouldn't be the same even though she might get more idle chit chat stories for her blog.

For now, she'd keep to her graceful rhythm.

Pushing off from the side of the pool, she dives into the middle of the lane, takes one long stroke and then another, stretching, reaching, swimming…smiling..

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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 perhaps 3-4 times per week. If this is happening to me this often, imagine how prevalent it must be during the rest of the week.
1) August 5, 2011: I arrived on Friday afternoon for the 4:30-7:30 lap swimmer hours at approximately 6:20 only to find a group of kids and their adult caretakers taking up one of the lap swimming lanes. The lifeguard must have allowed them to stay in the pool even though it was designated lap time. They did get out after about a half hour, but I have no idea how long they’d been allowed to use the lap lane.
2) August 6, 2011: I was swimming during the Saturday lap swim/adult swim lesson time that is held between 1-2. At approximately 1:40 (20 minutes still left of lap time) the lifeguard allowed a family with children to take over one of the lap lanes.
3) August 15, 2011: I waited until 8:30 p.m. (I have built my entire schedule to accommodate your limited lap swimming hours) in order to take advantage of the lap swimming hour (only one hour) offered from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. When I arrived on deck at 8:35, there were still several families and children in two of the lap lanes. When I asked the lifeguard if he was going to request they leave so we could have lap swimming, he told me that this family had arrived late and had traveled a long way (I travel a long way; I wait for the scheduled time!) and so he was going to let them swim for a few more minutes.

This is completely unacceptable! He said that he would ‘Take care of them and ask them to leave if I really wanted him to’ (Like I’m the villain here? Asking that I have the scheduled time that you post for lap swimming?) When I said, ‘Yes, I’d appreciate your asking them to leave,” he did so, but made me feel like I was being unreasonable to make such a request.
Number one: I should NOT even have to make such a request. It’s his job to make sure the schedule is followed, right?
Number two: I don’t appreciate being made to feel like I’m some evil anti-family lap swimmer just because I follow the schedule.

Again, what’s the point of posting a schedule if you don’t follow it? I certainly would NEVER expect that the lap swimming hour would be lengthened and families made to wait or have fewer lanes in order to accommodate me.

The issue is NOT about room in the pool. The issue is about following the schedule and respecting those of us who do.

Thus, I would really appreciate if you would remind (train?) your lifeguards to adhere to your posted schedule. It seems this is the least I can expect as a paying member of the YMCA.


Pool Purrs

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


“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. Those long dinners with piles of pasta, glasses of wine, miles of chatter—most of which she didn’t understand since she knew only about 5 words in Italian (Grazie, Gatto, Cappuccino, Gelato con panna--oh! That's 6!). But it didn’t matter. No one cared that she didn’t understand exactly what the conversation was about. She was there. She was laughing. She was eating (This was paramount)

And so now, when DL talks about this ‘stereotype’ of openness and welcoming in the Italian people, it makes perfect sense.

She goes on to tell the story of landing in the village in Sicily where her people are from. How over 30 members of her family were there at the docks to greet her. How they were so happy to meet her. Asking her why she’d come ‘back’: “D, everyone leaves This Place," one of her relatives had asked, "but you, you come back. Why?” And the great aunts had tears in their eyes, and DL is weeping too, and she tells them how she had to come back. That the place called to her. That her Artist Great Uncle was here. His art. His soul. His angel lurked in the Place.

And they all understood, even if they didn’t really have the ‘language’.

PP does understand this even though her entire life is about language and words and stories. One can be with people or be in a place and feel like it’s home.

And yes, while this might sound cliché or stereotypical, it’s true.

And so that little Kernel of Truth that DL so eloquently expanded upon for PP and Sandy this night has traveled back to Utopia.

Bella bella bella!

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...