Monday, February 24, 2014


My little world at about 7 AM. The bus ride I take to North Central High School most Saturdays
is very different from the one I passed through this last weekend to get to Warren Central High School.
The former is a pretty ride, lined mostly with nice houses that the owners have taken care to repaint and restore.
The latter was another world, where several homes had graffiti on the front, marking places where
someone had died, probably violently. The difficulties most of those folks have in keeping a roof over their
families' heads and food in their bellies can be seen in the faded paint, torn siding, and rotted wood
on many of the structures. My efforts to get into shape, to end my obesity and to *find* George Clooney
are very First World difficulties, set set in the shadows of the homes I passed.
This winter has been hard on everyone, everywhere. 
Too much snow in places that don't see a lot of it, 
drought on the West Coast. 
The rivers here are over-running their banks 
while others are going dry.
The world is full of people with serious problems.
The TV news doesn't even begin to describe 
the range of ecological, biological 
and political issues that face us.
 In comparison, I am a simple woman 
with decidedly First World problems. 
Today, I will go to swim, determined to make up 
the time lost due to weather-related cancellations 
of our practices, while other folks just try to survive 
another day. I remind myself of this reality
every time I start to bitch. Well, I do most of the time.

Last Saturday, the practice usually held at North Central 
High School was held instead at Warren Central, 
on the far east side of town. I left home at 6 a.m. to
catch the bus downtown where I would catch another bus
that'd take me to the 9500 block of East 21st Street. 
From there I would just walk a half-mile south 
to the high school to make the 9 a.m. session. 
Easy peasy, right? Right.

Fucking Google maps.
The Indygo transit system website links to
Google maps to show viewers routes to their 
destinations. I'd used the website to plan my trip,
allowing about thirty minutes to find the correct building
and to change into my swimsuit. The ride to the
east side of town was okay. I got off the bus 
near the 9500 block were I expected to find a cross
street that would take me south to the school.
Nah-dah. Instead, I found myself in an older housing
development made up of 1960's ranch homes
sited along winding side streets. I could see the high
school through the trees and roof tops, but I could not
reach it because every road leading from the street 
I was on was actually a cul-de-sac, a dead end.
I suppose I should have known that, when the gray line
on the map describing the walk from the bus line 
to the school ended in a squiggle, it wasn't 
to describe a round-about but was instead 
showing a knot of its own confusion.

Frustrated, I walked west, back to Post Road, the 
last north-south intersection I had passed on the bus.
Dogs barked at me from their yards, large bite-osaureses
warning me of their intent to eat the middle-aged
woman who'd entered their territory.
Their woofing declarations were taken up by
their canine neighbors along the way as I walked 
the half-mile back to the intersection, then 
south another half mile to Sixteenth Street, then east 
AGAIN! repeating the half mile to the school.

Of course, I was very late to practice, but I did get 
to swim for a while. The pool was very nice, 
I saw some nice people, and I got an additional bit of 
exercise in the form of three miles of walking.
But I hated being late and was embarrassed that
my First World dependence on an e-map 
had influenced my poor decision.
Effing Google maps.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Searching for George Clooney

This blog started with the title, A Manatee Among the Seal People
a description of my obese body swimming amid 
a bunch of sleek, experienced swimmers. 
As a couple friends have pointed out, however, I look less 
and less like a manatee. Increasingly, my appearance 
has taken on that of the seals I want to emulate.
I now resemble a Shar Pei, but I couldn't think of a clever
way to incorporate the breed name into a title.

As a way of describing my goals, Searching for George Clooney
is absolutely dead on because finding George (for myself) 
seems as realistic as Don Quixote tilting at windmills. 
While my efforts to become a swimmer strong enough to swim 
the English Channel and to win the love of a man I adore may just 
fall into the same categories, just trying is worth it because 
I will achieve a healthier, stronger body 
and become more self-assured.

Gawd, how could I not love a face like that?

Monday, February 10, 2014


My evening practices have not gone well. 
I'm just not feeling the love. I swim and quit, start again. 
I'm not out of breath and don't feel overly stressed, 
just lethargic and discouraged.
Even Brian said on one occasion he thought he'd lost me.
I've just wanted to hide in a corner of the pool, 
to have a little pity party.

It has been this way since December; the cold
temperatures made my shoulders achy and stiff.
As I swim I try figure out whether I am stressing myself
just enough to improve or causing injury. 
Instead, I end up trying to not do any damage.
A lot of us have missed quite a bit of practice due to 
weather-related cancellations, so I am not alone.
 I guess what I am doing is just trying to catch up with myself. 
A week ago, I put in a good effort at a Saturday practice 
session and the troubles of the past 
weeks seemed to fall away.

And the psychological games continue.
On Monday, I was rude to someone I love 
and I've felt lousy about it since. The person has been 
nothing but kind to me, but I let myself have my
feelings hurt by another woman's emotional games,
and I took it out on him. There's no explaining to a man
the nightmares that came back to haunt me as I watched
a woman young enough to be our daughter tossing her 
fanny around for the benefit of a man I like.

I grew up watching as other girls flirted with, dated,
and married boys I'd liked. I never knew how to play
their games. I wasn't pretty and didn't have
the lines of chat they did. I retreated into my books
and artwork, knowing there was probably
never going to be a similar scenario for me.
So many years later, while all logic and reason tells me
differently, the pain came back almost as
sharply as it did back then, and I allowed myself
to be manipulated by her games.

I've since apologized to the man, but somehow
I felt as though it was not enough. I think he was more
hurt than he let on. I keep telling myself that things will work out
the way I want them just as long as I keep working hard
 in the pool, make nice drawings and paintings, 
take decent pictures, and continue to find ways to become
a decent writer. In the meanwhile, I've learned
that one keeps learning hard lessons every day, and I hope
I can learn them without hurting people I care about.