Showing posts from 2015

Chemical Imbalance

“Cj….” DL appears before me across the darkness of 23rd street, the Oakland Y looming squarely behind her.

I recognize her by her hair first and then her walk and then her voice.
“Hey Neesie! I made it!” I grin tiredly, heaving my fins up under my massively heavy gym bag.

“I’m glad I caught you,” she says, “you’re not going to believe this. The pool is closed….”
“Shit!” I try to keep my voice down. “Seriously? Why?”
“I have no idea. All I know is that there’s a sign up that says the pool is closed till further notice.”

“Okay,” I sigh, surprisingly calm in spite of this major setback. “Thanks for letting me know. I guess I can do other stuff with you tonight since I brought my workout clothes too. I mostly came to see you. And to swim….” I shake my head.

How can they just close the pool willy nilly out of the blue? It happens, I know, for unforeseen circumstances, usually involving a ‘Brown Alert’—I don’t need to explain that one right? But tonight, when we enter the too bright lob…

The Russians Can Do IT

“The Russians can do it! We can do it!” Annaliese raises her arm in emphatic emphasis. Grins from ear to ear.
I nod, chuckling. She’d been telling me about how she swims at the Richmond Plunge at 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

Already, she’s more Russian than I am. 8 a.m. on Sundays? I’m snuggled in bed with the kitty and Ian, dreaming of spaces ships with calico cats and pools with gads of children.

“And I go to the Plunge,” she tells me, her French accent becoming thicker in her excitement of the narrative. “And it is so cold. It is so hard, you know?”

“Oh, yeah. I was going to try to come to the Y last Tuesday night, but it was cold. It was dark. I just stayed home under the electric blanket and watched Supergirl.”

She nods, “Yes, you see? It is hard in the winter. And I go to the Plunge. And when I get in the water, it is warm. It is all over your body…..” She makes a sensuous gesture that only a Frenchwoman can make –is this somehow Frenchist? But you know what I mean? The way sh…

Time Out?

“Time out! Time out!” The little round gnome of a man waddles toward me. Out of the pool now, he hollers and grins, his squashed Santa-like visage all crinkles and sprinkles.
What’s he talking about? I wonder as I perch on the edge of the deck, feet in the water, preparing my cap, mask and earplugs for my swim.

I glance over at Ian, who’s already in the pool. He’s giving me the Big Grin. It’s the Theater of the Pool. All the deck’s a stage!

“I saw you coming,” Time Out Santa huffs at me, getting closer and closer to my sacred prep spot on deck. Giggling, I nod, again wondering why he’s so excited. Why is he yelling ‘time out’ at me? Do I need a time out? Isn’t that what frustrated moms yell at their kids when they’ve been brats? “Matilda! Stop biting your brother! Time out!” And Matilda pouts. The brother beams. The mom shakes her head as she drags Matilda over to the corner of the room, away from her brother and all biting temptations.
Yet, doesn’t everyone need a time out?

I could …

It’s Like We’re Rich People

“When this pool is perfect, it’s really perfect!” I exclaim to Handsome Swimmer Man, waving my arm in sweeping drama at the empty pool.

I hadn’t seen him in months. Had run into him one day coming out of the locker room, heading up the stairs. He told me he had arthritis in both his shoulders. Ouch. And so wrong for a swimmer. I’d suggested that he get some fins, kick laps, just to get in the pool. He’d nodded, thought it was a good idea, but then I hadn’t seen him.

So today, when the pool was empty except for the two of us, I kept trying to catch his eye as we both swam back and forth, back and forth. He seemed fine. Zipping past me, doing all the strokes. No evidence of any arthritis that I could see.

“It’s like we’re Rich People!” he joked, tossing his cap onto the deck and shaking out his hair.
“Oh, yes! If I were rich, the first thing I’d buy is my own pool!”
We’d laughed. “It seems like you’re feeling better?” I ventured. “The arthritis is gone?”
He shrugged, “Nah, not reall…

Dinky Pool!

“Someday, we need to talk about Sandy’s vocabulary: ‘dinky’!
“As in, ‘I’m NOT swimming in your dinky pool!’?”

“Exactly!” DL’s eyes shine bright behind her glasses, delighted by words and pools. Of course, she’s a poet and a surfer. And granted, she doesn’t swim in pools much (at least I’ve never witnessed this try as I might to entice her), but she appreciates a good adjective when she hears it.

After our workouts, getting dressed in the locker aisle, we’d been the lucky recipients of Sandy’s narration around her latest trip. She’d been visiting family on the East Coast. They knew she was a swimmer and so had heated up their pool especially for her. However……it was someone’s backyard pool. I imagine one of those kidney shaped numbers with no ends to turn round on let alone swim laps in. Or….even it was shaped rectangularly, it was ‘dinky’. Hence the use of this excellent descriptor!
“And if it were up to me,” Sandy had continued after the dinky pool pronouncement complete with reason…


“Lemme tell you something, I’m 60 years old and That is Bullshit!”
Her patrician nostrils flare under her shampooed head. I have no clue what she’s talking about. Yet…but I do love this. 60 years old! Don’t mess with me, YMCA millennials!

“I know this place is mismanaged. I know this place doesn’t pay well, but that is no reason to not notify us about the change in pool schedule! It’s always been 2:30 when the facility closes at the 3 pm early for a holiday schedule. Always. And today? I get in the water and they inform me that they’re closing at 2!!!”
“You’re kidding!?” I’m standing in the shower, trying to dry off, but too rapt by the story to move. Plus I’d kinda been a witness. More on that soon…..

“No, I’m not! And you know what they said when I told them that was bullshit?”
Her indignation flows out of the shampoo and into the steamy shower air.
“They said ‘Don’t disrespect us!' Disrespect you?! They’re disrespecting me!”
“They are disrespecting all of us who rely on …

One of Those Days.....

You ever had one of those days where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is thwarted in some strange way? And then, by the time you’re through the first half of the day, you think, okay, that was 6 things that went wrong. That must be it, right? But then 6 more things go wrong and you start to think, is it me? Am I inviting the wrongness to my sphere? Or is it the universe trying to tell me something?

Like go back to bed?

Well…yes, I’m sure you’ve all had such days, and while it’s happening, it’s surreal and upsetting. Yet……

It’s good to know there’s a reason for it, isn’t it?

“Hello, Carol,” Sandy’s getting ready to head to Utopia; I’ve only just arrived, an hour later than usual, slinging my too heavy gym bag on the bench and sighing too loudly.

“Hi, Sandy,” I manage. It’s hard to answer and pretend like everything is all right. So I don’t try.
“How you doing today?” Sandy asks.
“Don’t even ask,” I try for levity.
“One of those days?” she nods, sympathetic.
“Oh, yes! You know when…

Daddy's Swim Lessons

“Are you giving her lessons?” He gazes up at me blankly as I prepare to enter the lane.
“No…no….she is my daughter….”

The daughter grins at me from the two lanes over. Actually, she’s in the Mayhem Family swim section, the pandemonium flailing about her as she dives, her aqua fins flapping.

I’m hoping that Non Lesson Giver Dad (who had been demonstrating the freestyle stroke walking style) would get out of the lane and let me swim. But evidently this was not to be. I sigh inwardly. Again, circle swimming, though the pool has the appearance of less mayhem than the week before. Its surface is smooth with less tidal wave action since most of the swimmers seem to be lolling about at the walls.
Still, there are two swimmers in every lane, hence circle swimming again.

I inch into the water and take off down the lane, feeling immediately freerer as I glide. What was it about swimming? Granted my back is still bugging me, so the water’s buoyancy feels delicious. But as I’ve written about…

Circle Swim Hell

“We now do need to do the Circle Swimming. The way this work is that you swim up the right side….”
I roll my eyes at Butterball Backward Swimmer’s start to her circle swimming lecture. I don’t care if she can see me doing this; though maybe she can’t because of my foggy mask.

In any case, I don’t have the patience for her pedantics. “I know how to Circle Swim!” I harrumph rudely, still not caring.

Tonight the pool at the downtown Oakland Y, needless to say, is utter mayhem. Summer is in full swing and the anarchy splashes to a crescendo. If I didn’t need to swim so badly because of my bad back, I’d just get out, but the water is so good for the pain.

And so, I’m rude.

Butterball has been swimming backwards, splitting the lane for the first 10 minutes of my swim, but now Hawaiian Swim Trunks Man wants to join the lane, and oh hell, this should be fun.
He’s in the water too now. We’re all clumped at the wall as the gang of Asian Teenage boys toss the water basketball into our lane. …