Tuesday, January 24, 2017
“Speechless, but focused.”
This sign caught my attention during the Women’s March through downtown Oakland (Saturday, January 21, 2017). Why was this the one I remember first when I think back around the energy of that day? Certainly there were tons of memorable signs: “Warrior Princess”; “Pussy grabs back ”; “It’s so bad, even introverts are marching!”
Yet this sign around a silent and deep attention seemed to mirror the words and meaning on my own sign: “This strains my credulity on so many levels…..”
What can we do? What can I do?
I don’t know. I am a writer. So I will write. And there is a long history of writers protesting repressive regimes: George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Maya Angelou?
Does she count?
More than most, I think. Her writing sings of pain and beauty. I will find a quote of hers to end with:
“A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim.” Maya Angelou
Thursday, January 05, 2017
“The boiler’s out at My Club. So, I’ve been swimming here.” Sandy refrains from the wry face that I know is under her noncommittal mug. She’s swimming at the Oakland Y! Wow! In all the years that I’ve been coming here, I’ve never known her to swim at this pool. Why?
I bet it’s not as nice as her Club! That’s why! And, yup, sure enough, details are forthcoming. “I’ve never slid off the wall at My Club like I do here.” She leans toward me, conspiratorially, quiet not to bother anyone else in Utopia. DL is on the bottom shelf, zoned out? Can she hear us? I bet not. And why would she care? Tonight, it’s all about swimming!
“When I turn at the wall with my fins, there’s this oily slickness to the wall. The fins slide off….”
“Oh….” I have no clue what she’s talking about. But I believe her that there’s some sort of slick film on the walls of the Oakland pool. I don’t want to think about it too much though. It’s kinda gross, right?
“And this is the first pool I’ve swam in where I can’t see the end of it from one side to the other,” she harrumphs.
This I know. The water is a murky mess here. I assume it’s from all the chemicals they have to put in it for you know what, which is what Sandy brings up next.
“I told a friend of mine that the kids all pee in the pool here and when she didn’t believe me, I said ‘Yup, believe it. The parents take their kids into the pool, tell them not to pee, but as soon as the kid hits the water, out it gushes.’”
“That’s why there are so many chemicals,” I offer. “To counteract the pee production.”
“You got it,” she agrees. Then continues with her Oakland Pool analysis: “I was swimming here and someone just jumped in without cluing me and hell, I almost had a head on collision.”
Cluing me in---I love this term! And the swimmers here at Oakland are so clueless! Perfect word choice, Sandy!
“Yeah, I’ve had a few collisions in this pool.”
“When will they fix the boiler in your pool?” I ask.
“You know, I don’t know. My Sugar, he’s in Boiler Distribution, and I told the folks at My Club I could hook them up with him. Get them a good deal. But I haven’t heard back. They probably can’t get their shit together to take advantage.”
“Yeah…” Only Sandy would have a channel to boiler repair price reductions. The rest of us, if the pool’s boiler breaks, we just whine and then swim somewhere else till it’s fixed.
“You could swim up at Hilltop,” I suggest.
“No. Too far. I’d have to get on the freeway.”
Does she not drive on the freeway? This is a revelation. I know people who don’t like driving on the freeway. I get that. They're hellacious! My friend JL says the speed makes her nervous. But still, I think she will drive on the freeway if necessary.
“Besides, I need to get in the pool by 3 and that won’t work,” she continues.
I nod. I wonder what happens after 3? Does she have to be home in time to field the calls about the Boiler?
“Well, it’s 20 to,” she rises, picking up her soggy towel, not wrapping it round herself. She’s completely at ease here, naked, in Utopia. Her kingdom.
But the pool?
Not so much.
I wish I could coordinate a swim with her here at the Oakland Y. I bet she’s serious.
“See you out there,” she ambles out, the towel slung over her shoulder, her swimmer’s legs carrying her to the showers.
I follow, thinking about boilers, slickness and cluelessness.
And, for a moment, Sandy has helped me to forget my earlier distress over the imminent installment of Trump. I’m even out of adjectives to describe his heinousness. But earlier, with DL, I was in a tailspin. Bemoaning to her my fear of losing my healthcare, getting sick, going to emergency rooms, wages being garnished till they’re used up, losing my house…..
DL says do what I can. Sign petitions. Talk to friends. We can make a difference.
Yet, I can’t shake the horror of what’s to come. And so, I will sign petitions. I will talk to friends. I will write my blog.
What else can I do?
Swim, Carol, swim.
This I can do……
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
I close my eyes. The talk of the two women with me in the sauna floats in the heat. Something about India. Something about holidays. Something about celebrations.
It’s that post-Christmas lament. Is that what I mean? Do they want more holidays here?
“Yes, I know what you mean.”
“Not like here where we have this big holiday and then bam. No holidays till when?”
“Is that a holiday?”
They both crack up. I grin. Decide to join in. “The same was true in China,” I venture. “There was always a celebration. Parades. Balloons. Fireworks.”
“Yes, India too.”
“Lots of fanfare and bright lights,” I continue.
One of the women nods, suddenly serious, “We need light. Especially now…..”
Evidently, it’s everywhere. He did ‘win’ the election.
But for a moment, I can revel in a small sanctuary of this Encinitas YMCA sauna. No Trumpland here.
There’s light in the darkness here.
And for this I am so very grateful.
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