Thursday, December 20, 2018

Happy Happy HAPPY Holidays!

“You look sad.”

What? I look sad? What the hell does that mean? The presumption! She looks sad too! Splayed in the corner of the sauna’s lower shelf. Her turquoise sweats straining at her substantial thighs. Her beige towel covers her top half, draped over her breasts. I’d just said, hello. Asked how she was doing today. Being ‘friendly’ since I had chatted with her in the past. Albeit briefly. Now she stares at me, pityingly, through her foggy wire-rimmed glasses, her round face puckered up under her mound of dark curls.

I shake my head..... Well, I suppose I’ll smile, “Actually, I’m not sad,” I answer, maybe a bit indignant? “I’m just tired and hungry,” I chuckle. “Hey, maybe I am sad!”

She laughs, the folds on her chin jiggling. “You been exercising a lot, right?”
“Yup, I was in the pool for almost an hour. Swimming always makes me super hungry!”
She nods, “It’s the water.”

I agree. It is something about the water that makes me hungry. But sad? I don’t feel sad.
Though later today, walking in my neighborhood through the brisk gloom of greyness the day before the Solstice, there is a melancholy feel to the air. Something about the holidays is a bit sad. I’m not sure why. I miss people. Grandma Birdie and Aunt Tea, arriving at our house before the dawn broke, my sisters and I so small and excited, running into the living room, the Christmas tree lit up and the smell of mom’s delicious homemade bread’s cinnamon heavy in the air. Or my father. Swearing at the annual untangling of the Christmas tree lights. “Goddamn it. How the hell do they get so tangled up every year sitting in a box in the attic!” he’d mutter and shake his head as he laid the lights out on the floor, separating out the strands till they no longer resembled colorful evergreen wired snakes.

Yet, as I walk back to The Mansion, the cold biting my ears, I think how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, and a cute car to drive and a sweet kitty to feed. And how the new traditions I’ve created with who’s around now are worth treasuring: the drive to LA with Ian for Christmas, stopping in Mussel Shoals for Christmas day and walking at dusk on the beach below the sweet Cliff House Hotel; the time spent with my sisters around their Christmas trees with their cranky husbands and very adult children; the tour with my mom, sharing her art with me, playing with her beagle, the Rotund Sausage.
It’s all so happy and not sad at all!

And today, esp., the pool was the happiest! I had it to myself for almost half my swim. The ABC school of ‘developmentally disabled kids’ taking the week off, so the water was calm and bereft of moaning young men.

Plus it was warm!

So, no, I was not ‘sad’ and I’m not sad. And I wonder why she said that to me? Maybe my face looks sad? Or maybe she’s sad and was projecting her mood on me? Who the hell knows. It was a weird thing for her to say, though. Maybe she was concerned for me? Yet….I don’t know her.

People are so strange in the sauna. I constantly marvel at them. Some will do and say whatever they want. And others are quiet, observing, or just spacing out.

Whatever. I don’t care. I’m not sad, not today! So, if I ‘look’ sad, it’s just my face. Ignore my mug and drink some eggnog and sing some carols and eat some fruitcake and open some presents and swim swim swim!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Stinktopia

“I see you skipped the pool tonight,” Sandy observes as she saunters naked across the squalid Jacuzzi room to grab a paper towel.
“Yeah,” I shake my head, “I had to get a stupid TB test and so can’t go in the pool or Jacuzzi for 48 hours.” Sandy has noted my lack of wet hair and wet suit and discombobulation from being out of my swim routine mug?

“I understand,” she says now, as she strolls past me on her way back into Utopia. I follow her in, DL behind me. We all settle down to get the heat. There’s only one other woman in the sauna. An Amazonian Blonde lying prone on the bottom shelf. I’ve not seen her before, but I’ve been gone for weeks because of the pool closure. So, she could be a New Regular.
DL wrinkles her nose. “The smell….” she murmurs. “I can’t take it,” and she bolts out of the sauna.

She’s right. There is a VERY strong smell of that eucalyptus potion that some of the women in Utopia employ. I usually don’t mind it, but DL’s exit is entirely appropriate. I don’t follow her cuz I need the heat. Plus, I want some Sandy Story Time.
“I don’t mean to be presumptuous,” Amazon Blonde says, “but why did you have to get a TB test?”

I guess I was announcing this to all of Utopia when Sandy asked me. Sometimes I forget how loud I can be. Esp. when I’m at the Y. There’s always such a din and I’m often unable to understand anyone. I remember one time when BLN was telling some fabulously intense story in Utopia, but she talks softly with a big vocabulary and I couldn’t really understand most of what she said, which is a shame.

So, maybe I shout cuz of this? Or I just forget sometimes how we’re all in such close quarters and everyone can hear everything if you’re making some sort of TB Test Proclamation?

In any case, I was a bit embarrassed that Amazon Blonde was asking me, but then again, not really and told her it was cuz I was hired to teach in the Contra Costa School district and had to go through this formality.
“What are you teaching?” she asks.
“Piano.”
“Cool,” she says, then proceeds to tell me how she is taking some sort of music theory class at Laney College and playing some groovy instrument that I’ve never heard of and then how she taught ESL in the City (has everyone under the age of 30 taught ESL in the City?!) and then sheepishly, she admits that she was the culprit with the Eucalyptus Stench. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes, “I saw some other women putting it on and I thought it was okay….”

“Ummmm….” I murmur. I’m sure she did see other women slathering the shit on, but honestly, wouldn't common sense dictate that you don't stink up small heated public spaces with stinky health potions? Plus, there are signs all over the place saying not to apply lotions in the sauna.

“I didn’t realize it was so strong,” she continues, abashed. “I just put a little on my chest.”
I glance at her young vital brisket, shiny and hard. Oh, to be young and clueless!

“It is pretty strong,” Sandy pipes up.

Amazon Blonde nods. Continues to lie prone for about 30 seconds and then gets up and leaves. Without a word.
Sandy sighs. Very loudly.
“Aren’t there signs here prohibiting lotions in the sauna?” I ask her.
“You bet your sweet ass there are!” she snorts. “Signs for no lotions. Signs for no glass. Signs for no food. Etc. etc. etc.!”
“Yeah, but no one reads the signs, right?” I say.
“That’s right,” she agrees. “People just do what they want to do and to hell with everyone else.”
I nod, settle back into the heated wall.

“Congratulations on your teaching job by the way,” she says, more mellow suddenly. “I didn’t know you played the piano.”
“Thanks—it’s very part-time, but yes, I’ve played and taught piano all my life. It’s my first love.”
“Wonderful.”
“Do you play an instrument?” I ask her.
She smiles, wistful. “I used to play the Ukulele with my brother when we were growing up in the Islands. I couldn’t read music, mind you, just chords, but I remember hanging out on the lanai, the trade winds blowing and my brother and I would just be strumming along.”
“That sounds lovely,” I grin.
“It was.”
***
Later, as DL and I stagger around the parking garage looking for our cars, I tell her about Sandy’s Ukulele story and she nods, “I want to hear more stories from her about growing up on the Islands.”

“Yes, me too,” I agree, thinking that growing up in Hawaii in the 60s and 70s must be chalked full of paradise narrative and family lore. Esp if such lore is coming from Sandy!

Stay tuned. I’m hoping to gather more Island Sandy Stories in the next few weeks..... Coming to a blog post soon…..
Aloha!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Legs Up

“Cj…” DL whispers, nodding toward the dank dark floor of Utopia, its ickee cement a situation I usually avoid looking at. But now, I follow her gaze. EEEEEWWWWW!

“Is that a Cockroach?” I ask, aghast and queasy.
She nods. Sandy sits up from the top bench of Utopia, shakes her head. “They just fumigated the place.”

“Looks like it worked?” I venture.

“Nope, if it had, we wouldn’t be looking at what we’re looking at. Would you mind calling the front desk, Denise?” Sandy asks. “Let them know we saw a dead cockroach in the sauna. Legs up.”

DL nods. Sandy continues, “This is what happens when people bring food in here. Why last week, someone brought glass into the hot tub and it broke and they had to close the joint for two days.” She harrumphs, shaking her head. “I mean, c’mon, People! Get a clue! You can’t bring glass in here. It’s a hazard. You can’t bring food in here. It results in….” She wrinkles her nose, nodding toward Legs Up.
DL scurries out of the sauna. I’m right behind her. Disgusting! It was so large and brown and plastic looking. Like a cockroach facsimile. Yet it was real. Or had been.

The Downtown Oakland Y’s pool has been closed for weeks. Some sort of project with the sound abatement. Like any kind of sound abatement would keep the screaming kids from making me want to drown them? In any case, I haven’t been to the Oakland Y cuz of this pool closure and tonight, my first night back in weeks, had been okay pool wise. But now, Cockroaches in Utopia?
I didn’t need that.

As I head over to the lockers to change, I almost run smack into Doreen. She’s standing in the middle of the locker room, staring into space, shower cap on, towel wrapped around her, shaking her head slowly. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she chuckles softly to me. “I guess I’m imprinting an entomological image in my mind.”

She could only be talking about The Cockroach! I grin, “Yeah, it’s imprinted on my mind too. Wish it weren’t!”

She laughs. “You know, with my health (she has some sort of intense stage 4 cancer), I can’t be around vermin like that. It’s a danger to me.”

I nod, “Yeah, I bet. Sandy said that they had fumigated the Sauna.”

Doreen snorts, “When? In the last election!?”

We both crack up as I leave her to her entomological musings. I wonder about Doreen. She surprises me. Did she want to be an entomologist too when she was a kid? I remember when I was very young, maybe 6 or 7 or 9? I dunno, but young, and grown-ups would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d say, “An Entomologist.” Cute, right? But I really liked bugs. I remember being fascinated with spiders and their webs, capturing bees and flies with Paul Watson from across the street. Tossing the victims into the spider’s web. Watching in rapt fascination as the spider sped across the web, grabbing the stuck fly, and wrapping it up into a paralyzed cocoon.
Maybe I missed my calling? Now that I’m laid off, there are all sorts of opportunities, right? Maybe I could go back to school and become an entomologist at long last.

Or a fumigator.
There might be more need for that.
At least at the downtown Oakland Y!

Saturday, July 07, 2018

It's 4th of July at the Y!!!


I knew it would be bad. I mean, hell, it’s 4th of July. The height of pool mayhem season, but I needed to swim. And when I got out to the deck of the Hilltop YMCA, things were pretty calm. Only one serene woman swimmer in the center lap lane. A couple of parent tots in the far lane. I was pleasantly surprised as I grabbed the empty lane farthest from the tots.

The water felt cool, refreshing. I needed this! I’d been sick with a heinous headache for days and today was the first day I was up and about. So, of course, the first thing I do is head for the pool. Even though it was a holiday.

And holidays at the Hilltop YMCA are notorious for pool pandemonium.

I got lulled into a rhythm nevertheless. Even with this knowledge. Swim while I can.

But the din started to grow. I stopped at the wall for a moment to change equipment, noting how the lifeguard had now taken out a lap lane and opened it up for more parent tots. I sure hope they had their swim diapers on. (But that’s another blog)
Today, I just wanted to get a swim in before more lap swimmers showed up now that there were only 3 lanes instead of 5.

A shy older gent stood at the deck as I came to the wall, “You wanna swim here?” I asked him. He nodded, climbed in gingerly, began a slow leisurely side stroke.

Okay, I can handle this as long as he doesn’t kick me.

But then the din grew. The lane next to me now had 3 swimmers, the serene woman now surrounded by mayhem as no one knows how the hell do circle swim at the Y.

I turned at the wall, ready to head back down the lane, when lo and behold, A Mammoth Man was spastically swimming right toward me. On my side of the lane! With no regard to my being in the lane. Did he just not see me? Was he just an asshole?

What the hell?

I stopped mid lane. Stood there, mouth open staring at him. “Excuse me!” I hollered as it was so loud now in the room. He stopped in time not to run into me. His Mammoth Self righteous self staring into me like I was the one who was in the wrong. “Did you tell him that you’re in the lane? That we need to circle swim?” I pointed to Sidestroke Man who continued so slide past me, oblivious. Of course.

Mammoth Man just stared at me. Confused? Arrogant? Hard to tell through my foggy mask. I beckoned for the lifeguard, “Hey, can we get some help over here?” Hoping he’d come and do his job, you know, referee the situation.
But Mammoth Man took great offense. “I don’t need any HELP!” he hollered at me. I stared at him, stunned, holding my comeback of “Well, sir, I beg to differ, but actually you need a LOT OF HELP!!!”

I said nothing though, as Mammoth Man shook his head at me. Oh so miffed. Women? Lap swimmers? Who knows what was going through his Big Thick Skull! “I’m getting out anyway!” he yelled at me.

I stood there, watching him swim past me and pull himself out. What the hell? He just got into my lane to stop me and have a confrontation with me to get out again? Why the hell didn’t he just get out from the walking lane where he’d been 10 minutes ago (Yes, I’d spotted him there earlier. I’d had an ickee vibe from him, but had ignored it. I should listen to my Pool Intuition!)

***
The lifeguard never came to check out the situation as it was happening but did come up to me later after Mammoth Man left, “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t come over earlier. Is everything okay? I mean I saw him get out so I thought….”
His voice trailed off. Shit. Okay, yeah the lane offender had gotten out, but isn’t the lifeguard’s job to come to the situation as it’s happening?

Whatever.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” I told him. “I just don’t understand why he got in the lane only to get out.”
“I think he was confused,” the lifeguard said. “I’ve never seen him before.”
Yeah, I thought, that’s giving him the benefit of the doubt---confusion. I think he was just a big belligerent asshole who wanted to mow me down. Or didn’t see me? Or maybe he was confused, but hell, shouldn’t he be in a mental institution then?
Okay, maybe that’s extreme, but you know, that’s how I feel when I swim on holidays.

I’m in a watery mental institution and there’s no way out…..except when you hit the wall.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Show Some Respect!!!!


The pink ball plops into the middle of my lane. I stop, exasperated, but undaunted as the boy springs into my lane, fetches the ball and dives back into the mayhem family lane. Yes it’s summer at the Downtown Oakland Y and while I have my own lane, I have the misfortune of it being next to the family lane. Hence the ball interruption.

But whatever. It’s no big deal, right?

I keep swimming. Swimming. Swimming. Maybe 10 laps.
Then again, the pink ball plops into my lane.
Shit. The same process is repeated. The boy hops into my lane, retrieves the ball, and hurls it back at his playmates. He’s loud. Brash. Confident. Doesn’t give me a second glance. I stop. Stare at him in amazement. Then stare at the lifeguard who’s standing on the edge of the deck observing the lap swimming interruption .

Why the hell doesn’t the lifeguard do anything?

Oh, yeah, I’m at the Downtown Oakland Y. The lifeguards are completely ineffectual. And part of me thinks, okay, it’s not their job to parent the kids’ raucousness (no parents in sight by the way. This kid is probably what? 10? 11? His companions about the same age, maybe a little younger. I’m terrible with ages, esp. kids. )But in any case, even if the lifeguards aren’t responsible for the kids, they are responsible for the smooth operation of the pool and one thing that keeps the pool running smoothly is NOT interrupting lap swimmers!

I remember observing this same phenomenon weeks ago. The pink ball splashing into this lap lane. But that lap swimmer had just kept on swimming. Didn’t even stop. No matter how many times the ball spun into his lane, he just kept swimming, a steady unrelenting freestyle.

Not me. I’m pissed. But I do keep swimming, thinking to myself—Patriarchy! It starts early! The ball throwers and interrupters are all giddy-uncaring-run-over-old-lady boys. Both bump-on-the-log lifeguards are men. And me? I’m just an old Crone trying to do my laps! The Patriarchy just mows me over!

I’ve had it!

DL had sent me an email weeks ago about how she and her niece were playing this game: every time something went wrong, they’d blame the Patriarchy. They were at a restaurant, had ordered a pizza, when the waiter delivered it, it was burnt: Patriarchy! Her niece’s mom was sick, a bad cold had her in bed for weeks: Patriarchy!
And so tonight, when I am just trying to swim my swim, and these boy children are rowdy and uncaring, I think to myself—Patriarchy! It starts early!!!

But I press on, trying to get in my laps. Too soon, it’s 9:28. I have two minutes left before the whistle blows (Patriarchy) and yup, the pink ball plops into my lane AGAIN!!!! This time, the kid swims under my lane to retrieve it, and then just floats underwater in front of me completely oblivious? Or belligerently taunting me?

I’m on my kick board. I want to wait till he emerges and then brain him with it! But instead, when he does finally surface, this time, I’m standing there, steam coming out of my ears, and I just start yelling:

“You know, I’m trying to swim laps here! This is not part of the family swim play area!”
The kid stares at me, taking his mask off, his dark eyes wondering what the hell?

And then I let him have it: “Show some RESPECT!” I holler.
His mouth opens slowly, then ekes out a sincerely contrite, “I’m sorry,” before diving back under the lane line to the safety of his friends and family swim sanctuary.

Wow! I think he really heard me! Why didn’t I yell at him sooner? Now my swim is over, but at least I got an apology!

Will I change the Patriarchy? I think not, but maybe at least this kid will think twice before tossing the pink ball into the lap swimmer’s lane.

Pink ball? Any significance to this? Maybe the Matriarchy working her subtle magic?

Later, in the hot tub, I tell DL the story and her eyes widen in wonderment when I repeat the “Show some Respect!” command.
“That’s the worst thing you can say to a kid!”
“Yeah, guess that’s why it worked. Even on the Patriarchy!” She giggles,nodding.

We go into Utopia, no Sandy tonight. I lament her absence, wanting to tell her the story.
DL says, “Oh, yeah, she’d have something choice to say about it! Too bad you can’t share the blog with her. Maybe in another Universe….”
“Yeah, cuz we know in this Universe, I never could! Share the blog!!!”

DL starts to giggle. I join in. We can’t stop. The laughter rings out into the hot air. We can’t stop. Truly. It’s like we are in 7th grade and passing a note back and forth and giggling so hard and trying not to, knowing we’ll get caught, but the giggles are contagious and have a life of their own.
Now, the giggles subside, a few women enter quietly into Utopia, settle in, a quiet reigns.

I close my eyes, breathe deeply, relaxing, finally ……Then open my eyes and stare up and into the dark ceiling. I watch, mesmerized, as a pretty pink ball appears before me, hovers for a moment above me, and then slowly, magically, begins to float up and up, resting for a moment on the ceiling before disappearing into my imagination.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Emotional

“Were you swimming in the pool tonight?” ,her voice a wistful resignation.

“Yes,” I say, thinking where else would I be swimming, but refrained from being a smartass. Something about her, lying with the bag of ice on her belly, was vulnerable, tender. I don’t think I’d ever seen her before in Utopia, though Sandy knew her. But Sandy knows everyone.
Sandy’d been haranguing earlier about the idiocy of women who do whatever they want-- to hell with everyone else. This started with my relief that the hot tub was working again. “Last week, it was closed. Something about broken glass?” I reported, leaning back into the corner, letting the dry heat soothe.

Sandy had harrumphed, “Some people! They bring a bottle of Perrier, and leave it on the side of the Jacuzzi and oh gee, lookee! It fell into the hot tub and broke into tiny little pieces. Oh well. Or there was this woman last week, she brought her glass jar, glass mind you, into the sauna here, full of some unsavory soup concoction, and left it there, under the bench while she went to work out!”

Sandy had shaken her head in disgust while I had grinned, murmuring some sort of agreement about the nerve of some people. But Wistful Resignation Woman had seemed confused by Sandy’s outrage. “I guess that would be problem,” she ventured. And Sandy had slapped her thigh, “You bet your sweet bippy it’s a problem!” And then slowly climbed down from her perch, exiting Utopia.

This is when WRW had mentioned the pool to me. I get it. A fairly safe topic, right? I mean she probably figured I wasn’t bringing any soup in the pool with me.
“I was thinking of going to the pool tonight,” she continued, softly, wobbly even. “But I was just too emotional. I just had to come into here, and then take the steam and then here again….. I don’t know…... I couldn’t swim….”
“Yeah, I understand,” I sympathized. “Sometimes, you just have to take care of yourself and take it easy. Self-care and all.”

She laughed, softly, a warmth floating up into the air, “Oh yes, you got that. We are our own biggest babies!”
We both giggled. And I wondered, what was she so emotional about? Why did she mention this to me? I’d never met her before. And frankly, I was afraid to ask. I mean, what if it was something really bad? Like someone died? Or she had cancer? See where my mind goes? And so I didn’t ask and she didn’t seem to mind, but just continued musing aloud. “I don’t know why I’m so emotional today….maybe my period is starting soon…..”

Her voice trailed off as I agreed, forgetting for a moment that a lot of women still dealt with the fallout from their periods. Mine was such ancient history, thank gawd! But that’s off the topic. The thing that struck me was her willingness to just talk to me. Like we were old friends. That we’d known each other for years and years. Or in another life?

I don’t dismiss this. I mean, it could be. What do I know? Maybe she remembers me from a past life, but my memory is so bad that I don’t?

This would make sense.

But honestly, I just think she wanted to voice her emotions, her vulnerability. And sometimes, saying it out loud to someone you don’t know is the most soothing. It’s somehow healing…..A stranger might judge you, but here in Utopia, now that Sandy’s gone, she’s probably pretty safe. At least with me. At this moment. In this life.

And after a swim!

I gathered my swim stuff up as quietly as possible, climbed down off the top shelf, glancing over at her.

Her musings floated up and into the dark air. She sighed, softly, adjusting the ice bag on her belly. Closed her eyes.
And I drifted out.....

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Smile!



“Smile!”

Seriously? I glare at the beaming dorkguard at Hilltopia Pool. I’ve just finished my swim and I’m tired and cold. It’d been an okay swim till the end when some spaz got in the lane with me and I had to dodge his wave slapping stroke.

Dorkgaurd Smile Commander approaches the women’s locker room door, repeating his smile command and then even goes so far as to make a smile upward shape on his own mug with his index fingers. Grinning widely in pantomime.

Shit.
"SMILE!!!" he commands again.
“Why?” I growl as he holds the door open for me.
“Because life is good?” he exclaims. “Because it’s a beautiful day?”

I sigh, shake my head. All my life I’ve had men, and it’s always men, telling me to smile. It really pisses me off and normally I’d just let this go but today, well…he got me on a short fuse day.
“You know,” I say, “that’s a really Sexist Thing to say.”
His own smile takes a downturn.
“Do you ever tell men to smile?” I ask.
He pauses for a moment. I can see that he’s thinking about this. “No…” he admits, slowly. “I’ve never told a man to smile.”

Triumphant, I push past him into the locker room, “Well, there you go,” I quip, not looking back as the door slams behind me.

Was I a bit too harsh with him? I mean, he was just joking around right?

Well, from his point of view, he was. But the underlying subtext is that women should always be walking around with a big hearty grin on their faces no matter how they’re feeling. That if they’re not smiling and cheerful, then something is wrong with them. They’re not feminine. They’re not submissive. They’re not some man’s baby doll!
Maybe my anger bubbled up today cuz I’d just seen this French Film about how the gender roles had been reversed. It was called, Je ne suis pas un homme facile (I Am Not an Easy Man) and the protagonist, a sexist pig who made stupid comments to women all the time about their height and their lips and their voices, bonks his head on a light post while gawking at some women in high heels, loses consciousness, and when he comes to, all the world's gender roles are upside down. Women have all the power. Women have all the management jobs. The men have all the service jobs. The women wear the power suits and belch and crack sexist jokes about men’s legs and asses and dicks.

So, when SmileGaurd told me to 'Smile!', this movie was fresh in my mind. Plus! I just had had enough.


A week later, walking in the parking lot to the pool, Smile Guard spies me and stops to wait for me. Oh, damn, I think to myself. Why is he in my Sphere?

“I owe you an apology,” he says, stepping beside me as we make our way toward the Y.
“Yeah, well, it’s an Education,” I say, smiling. “Apology accepted.”
“I’ve been looking for you all week, wanting to say I’m sorry.”

I grin. This is fantastic! I hope he’s lost some sleep over it too!

But I don’t say this, I am in a gracious mood today. Besides, he got it. He’s apologizing. Maybe he’ll think about it next time he tells a woman to “Smile”

Or even better, maybe he’ll never make this sexist command to a woman again. I wish he could go into that French film, shave his legs, wear high heels, be someone’s assistant.
That’s not likely to happen, I think to myself, as he holds the door open for me. I smile. Thank him.

Okay, okay.... I admit, there are a few things I like about sexist behavior. At least he didn’t tell me to smile as I scan my card at the desk and head down the stairs for the pool.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Birds, Cats, Chopin and Hawaii


“Did you sight the ever elusive Norton Bird?” Sandy chuckles mostly to herself as I turn to DL, questioning.
“That’s what she calls BLN.”
“Oh,” I nod. BLN is our moniker for Linda Norton, aka Beauteous Linda Norton. She also is known as the Norton Bird, evidently.

She is a woman deserving of much attention and many nicknames, so good to know that she’s also a Bird.
I respond to Sandy, “Nope, she wasn’t in the pool.”

“Does she still do the machines upstairs?” Sandy asks.
I shrug, glance over at DL for the answer. “Yes, she does,” DL affirms.
“Good to know,” Sandy slaps on some more lotion, then reaches for her red sweatsuit pants.

“Well, if she’s not in the pool, then I don’t see her. And as you know, Sandy, the pool is the only thing that matters.”
“I was waiting for that,” Sandy grins, pulling her red sweatshirt top over her wet head.
“The water is the best, though, don’t you agree?”
“It’s where I’ll end up,” Sandy agrees. “Just toss my ashes out into the sea under Diamond Head. That’s good enough for me.”
I laugh, thinking how that’s a fine idea for any swimmers’ last rites. Or even non-swimmers for that matter….. I will always remember taking the little boat out onto San Pedro Bay with my family, my father carrying his mother’s ashes in the urn. Then as we got into the middle of the blue blue bay, he opened the urn and let the ashes float out into the wind and into the sea.
“She always wanted to go to Hawaii,” my little sister quipped.

And we all laughed. The joke breaking the sadness and the missing of Grandma Birdie. I miss her still so. But thinking of her floating under the blue skies of Hawaii in that beautiful sea does make me smile.

Now, I sigh, thinking about swimming in that sea at Waikiki. “I love that ocean swimming under Diamond Head!” I exclaim to Sandy.
“Yup, it’s fine spot for swimming. Not too deep.”

“And so warm and smooth!” I gush. “That’s why they call it Paradise, DL!”
DL nods, starting to pack up her stuff so we can get the hell outta the Y before the garage closes at 10 pm. It’s 9:55 now, but Sandy’s on a roll for some reason tonight.

“Just like the Joni Mitchell song,” Sandy says now.
DL nods, I, of course, have no clue what she’s talking about: “What Joni Mitchell song?” Sandy recites the line. It’s totally foreign to me.

“Ummmmm…..I don’t know it,” I say.”

“Well, I’m probably a little older than you are,” Sandy allows.
“Nah, I don’t think so. I just only know Chopin!”

“Well, laa deee daaaa!” Sandy sings out. And we all crack up. “Have you ever named one of your cats, Chopin?”
“No, that’s a good idea though,” I say, wondering why the hell not. “We did name them all literary names for awhile, you know, Gertrude and Alice and….”
“Those are kinda generic,” Sandy proclaims.
I laugh. “Yeah, I suppose. Not like your name for Linda, The Norton Bird!”

“Yup, she’s always flying,” Sandy says, grabbing the last of her stuff and packing it away in her bag.

“See you next week,” I call out as DL heads out of the gym in front of me.
“Yup, till next week," Sandy calls back. "You ladies have a good rest of your evening.”
“Oh, I’m sure we will. You too.”

As DL and I climb the stairs, I huff and puff, wishing I were a bird that could fly up and out.
Yet, I’m a fish. As Sandy said, "Were you a fish in your former life?”
Undoubtedly.
But maybe in my next life I can be a bird. Maybe a swimming bird? Yeah! A duck or a gull or a coot or……

What’s a good swimming Hawaiian bird? I’ll have to get back to you on that. In the meantime, quack on!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Hey! I'm THERE!!!

“Are you using this machine?”
I point to the towel wrapped around the seat,
He shrugs,
Takes the towel,
mutters, ‘no.’
And moves on.

Denise stands and chats
about this and that
as I pull down the weights.
Then she goes over to
another machine.

Again with the towel
Wrapped around the machine.
She looks around
No one there
She moves the towel
And
Wham!
There he is.
“Hey, I’m there!
I’m using that machine!”
He’s in her face.
Too close
She walks away.
Sicilian anger.
“Are you okay?”
I ask her.
She nods, yes,
But I know she’s not.
We continue to
Workout.

I Was There Man
Comes up behind
Denise, “Just to let you know,
I’m off that machine.”
I glare at him.
He walks away.
Denise continues to
Pump away.
We go to the treadmills
Denise chooses a machine.
“Hey! I was on that machine!
My water bottle’s there!”
We burst out laughing.
Water Bottle Man puts in
His earbuds,
Listens to
Water music?

“What’s going on
tonight?” I ask her.
She’s still laughing.
Starts using many examples.
“What are you doing in
my house? Didn’t you see
my car in your driveway?”

And I join in,
“What are you doing in my lane?
Didn’t you see my
Giant Rubber Ducky!?”

I go to the pool.
I see my lane.
The Rubber Ducky’s
Floating there.
Or is it only I
Who sees it there?

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...