Showing posts from 2016

Christmas shopping, Poolphoria and Breathing.....

“Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
Sandy guffaws in classic Sandy fashion, “You mean, have I started it?”
DL laughs softly, relaxing on the bottom shelf of Utopia. I grin, positioned next to Sandy on the top shelf. A silent Asian woman lies on the other side of me. I don’t gauge any reaction from her. Maybe she’s asleep? Maybe we’re disturbing her? Maybe she’s in the Utopia sphere of floating heat?

“I mean, I don’t do much shopping anymore,” Sandy continues. “Christmas is for the little ones, right? And if people get me stuff, well, I don’t regift it, but I do give it away. I don’t need any more stuff, you know? Though if my Sugar got me one thing, it better be 3 karats ---he can afford it!”
Not knowing what 1 karat looked like, I couldn’t comment on 3, but it sounded like a lot. And the number 3 is a good one!
“How was your swim?” Sandy asks me.
“Oh! Another Poolphoria,” I exclaim.
She nods even though I’m sure she’s never heard my made up word before.
“You had your own lane…

Forever 30!

I was in a mood.
Still seething after the man (of course it was a man and a tall man!) upstairs at the weight machines refused to let me ‘work in’ to the machine he’d been monopolizing for over 10 minutes. I had asked nicely. He had refused rudely. I stormed away. Dumped my wrath on sympathetic fellow gym woman (“You know, you could have reported him. That’s not what the Y values are about!” she’d harrumphed.) Good to know. But I wasn't in the mood today.
And so, as I prepared for the pool (I really hoped Mean Machine Monopoly Man wouldn’t be in the pool! Or I’d drown him in my territory!), I turned on the shower and damn. It was so cold! Grrrrr…..Brrrrrr!!!!
A stocky Asian woman was down the shower row from me. She nodded, smiled, motioned for me to come to her shower. “Here, you... this one…” she offered, no nonsense.

“Oh thank you!” I murmured gratefully.

The women were starting to restore my faith in the Y as a place to feel safe and work out.
And as I walked out on deck wav…


I am in heaven! The pool is warm: a toasty 83.5 degrees. And……oh my god! Empty! Not only do I have my own lane, but there are only two other people in the pool when I arrive for my swim. Lavender Capped Bikini Woman in the far lane and Handsome Walking Man in the walking lane.
I step out onto the deck, amazed. Make a sweeping arm gesture at the empty pool. Handsome Walking Man chuckles, hollers out to me: “It’s all just for you!”
And it is. I dive in. The water’s warmth is perfect. I glide through my tiredness. It is euphoric. And then I think, no, it’s Poolphoric!
I swim and swim and swim. With every lap I expect more people to arrive, jump in, flail about, create chaos. But they don’t. Poolphoria prevails!
As I kick my last lap, I call up the lifeguard, “Not that I’m complaining, but I wonder where everyone is.”
He nods, “Yeah, I wondered that too. There were only 2 of you. I thought there might be 6.”
Why 6? I wonder, but don’t ask. Are there 6 lanes? Maybe. I’ve never bot…

Damn, I Wish the Lifeguards Would Ask Me Favors More Often!

“Excuse me?” The bashful, sweet, and definitely cute lifeguard is talking to me? The lifeguards here at the Oakland YMCA pool NEVER talk to me. What’s up?

I grin, nod encouragingly. “Could you do me a favor?” he asks, his voice and demeanor shy, hesitant.
He is so adorable. Of course! Anything, I think. I say, “Sure.”

“There are these neon rings that the kids left in the bottom of the pool and I couldn’t get them to pick them up. I can’t reach them.” He stands on the deck, hands spread in a dramatic shrug accompanied by a dazzling smile. “Would you mind going back in and retrieving them for me?”
I’d just gotten out of the pool at the 9:30 whistle and so now my earplugs were out, my cap was off, my mask wet and used. But, hell, for him? I’ll jump back in.

“No problem,” I answer in the millennial vernacular. “Anything to stay in the pool longer!”

He laughs, watches me hop back into the pool and starts to direct me to each ring’s location. “There’s one over there,” he points out one …

Sanctuary Pool

Her energy was soft and shy. As I sat on the edge of the deck, waiting for the lifeguards to put in the lane line, I watched her paddle toward me. Her black hijab covered her head and neck, her arms and legs were completely covered in long black fabric. It billowed around her in mellifluous magnificence. How did she swim, I wondered?
Yet she did. Just fine. Her hands paddling in quick dog paddles, her body floating flat behind her, legs kicking straight and true.
Stopping to rest at the wall, she raised her mirrored silver goggles off to rest on her forehead. Gave me a sweet smile.
I smiled back at her, then gave the lifeguard the thumbs up as he snapped the lane line into place. “How you doing tonight?” I asked her.
“Okay,” she murmured, her eyes gazing at me in softness before she pulled the goggles back over them.
“We can just split the lane, okay?” I suggested. “You can take that side and I’ll take this one.”
She nodded, then paddled off, her black fabric swimming costume float…

Healthcare Hell!

Now that The People have elected a Misogynistic Megalomaniac to the Oval Office, I wonder….what the hell is gonna happen to all those 10 million plus folks covered by the Affordable Care Act?—Its repeal is on the top of MM’s agenda for his presidency. What the hell will I and all these others do without the subsidies provided by the ACA, otherwise known as ObamaCare? Sure, I have a Master’s degree, and I use those BIG words, but….even with this advanced education, I have no health care through my employers (yes, plural). Without these subsides, I won’t be able to afford the approximately $600 a month that Kaiser will charge me for the minimum coverage. Not to mention the fact that Obama Care did away with insurance companies' 'pre-existing' conditions mandates--this was another patently inhumane reason that insurance companies used to charge more for their policies.
Oh, and yes, I hear you skeptics out there. Obama Care is responsible for these big spikes in coverage this…


“Some might call her ‘bubbly’,” DL observed as we made our way to her chariot after Utopia. A term of disparagement for us, ‘bubbly’ is what you need for the restaurant business. I’ll never forget the time I was the overworked, underpaid ‘hostess’ for Salmagundi’s on Geary Street and the manager called me into his office after a particularly harrowing noontime shift that I’d somehow weathered. I thought admirably. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go,” he informed me, slouching in his white dress shirt behind his formidable backroom desk. “Why is that?” I demanded, exhausted from the lines of demanding patrons. “You’re just not ‘bubbly’ enough”, he said, chewing on the end of his pencil thoughtfully. “You need that quality here. And while you performed well with handling the customers’ orders and cash, we do need someone….”

I didn’t need to be told twice. Pulling my green apron off, I tossed it on his desk. “No need to explain further,” I said. “I’ll just take my non-bubbly se…

The Magical Transformative Powers of the Pool....

I watch him hobble onto the elevator, baffled. He looks like Super Swimmer Man, but…?Could this be him? He can barely walk as he shuffles onto the elevator. What happened?

In the pool he is a miracle. He stands on the deck for several moments, stretching his lean body and flexing his long arms. He dives into the pool, speedy and eloquent as he zips past me to the other side of the pool. His stroke is strong and mighty. He has both technique and lyricism in the water. I marvel at him whenever we swim side by side.

So tonight, when I see this hobbling shuffling slight little man get on the elevator, I am in disbelief. Can it really be the same person? I know that water is transformative. That people who have difficulty on land are in paradise when floating, but the dramatic difference here takes me aback.
I climb the stairs, shaking my head, thinking I must be mistaken.

At the top of the stairs, the elevator doors slide open. He shuffles off the elevator, waves to me, “I thought that…

It's Too Damn Cold!!!!

“Were you cold in the pool?”
“Of course!” Beautiful Indian Woman, a fellow Oakland displaced swimmer, gives a subtle shrug, standing in the Berktopia sauna, drying off.

“I know, right!” I exclaim. “It was freezing!”
Miss Gets Warm After 2 laps, smiles from the top shelf of the sauna. I’d asked her earlier if she’d been cold in the pool. “No, only for first 2 times.” Her English was some second language, but I knew she meant 2 laps of the pool.

Oh, I can’t stand people like this! I never get warm in cold water. And these people? They like it. It’s some sort of badge of honor. If they are cold (and often they won’t even admit this), they are only cold for the first couple of laps. And this is a good thing. It gets them going, you know?

Beautiful Indian Woman continues, “I don’t like cold water.”
“No, me neither,” I agree. “I don’t ascribe to the ‘No pain, no gain’ philosophy!”

They both laugh at this. Warmer now, I join DL at the lockers, wondering if I meant subscribe instead of as…