Friday, January 06, 2017

Holiday Rants Volume 7

I've really dropped the ball.

I have been cleaning up my email drafts folder and found a Holiday Rants blog I never posted. From 2013.

The last one was 2011. Oy, oy, oy.   So much for consistency in blogging.

Even though the holidays are technically over, volume seven of the rants is getting posted today and this annoying preamble is almost finished.

These rants still hold true and those damn car decorations still annoy me but now I see them and just shake my head.  Anyway, here you go. Hope you weren't holding your breath!

I though about the rants the other day when I witnessed reindeer antlers protruding out of the windows of an SUV. I was not as terribly bothered as I've been previously but I still hold that certain surfaces need not be decorated.

And thus, began my pondering of what this year's holiday rants might be. Obviously, I didn't think enough to make this post in advance of the holidays bu nevertheless, here they are at last. But be warned; they are barely worthy of a whole post.

1. Party Tardy - In school you get points taken off your grades if you are late too many times. I know this because in high schoool, senior year, despite living one block from school, I was late every single day. I guess I learned my lesson from those formative years because I have not been tardy of my own volition and procrastination since.

Every host knows that invited guests will be at least 15 minutes late and therefore pads the start time accordingly. When you have invited people to a sit down dinner where cooking and timing are involved it's an insult to arrive more than 30 minutes late. This results in the host drinking gin and tonics while she waits for you and meanwhile, the once beautiful pork loin in the oven is on its way to turning out tough. But that's what you get if you show up late. Don't be rude to people who have invited you to their home and are feeding you. It's a sacred thing, so don't screw it up by showing up hours later.

2. Fake Days Off - If you realize, as a business owner that your worker bees are at zero sum productivity during this season and especially the time between Christmas and New Year's, and you decide to 'gift' them with those days off; then really give them those days off with pay. None of this, "if you have vacation time" or 'no work to do' wishy-washy business. Declare them paid holidays and move on with it. Pretend you're England or France and take a page from their long-ago realization that people deserve a break that doesn't include fretting over how to make that last 20 bucks last until they can darken the office doors again. Or using vacation days and then having none left to take for the one that's already planned in April. Seriously, let's make this happen America.

3. Ridiculously Priced and Poorly Executed Prie Fix Menus - Need I say more? Okay. Well, here's the thing restaurant people, don't pawn off your less than spectacular dishes or make them a mystery and then charge me twice what it would be on any other non-holiday night. We both know that it's not going to be as good as whatever I can order off the regular menu.

Hope your 2017 is off to a great start!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

I love swimming. More than anything else I've ever done. More than singing. Yep, even more than singing. That's surprising even to me.

After last year with the knee and the stupid frakking blood clot, I didn't have confidence I'd get back to the speeds and lap counts I was used to (not that the speed was fast but it was something better than the craptacular sprints I clocked for the last 10 months). But since it was really the only exercise that wasn't painful and was fun at the same time, I kept going. It only took a full year but we are back in fighting form.

I only blab this to talk about the nice compliment I received after class tonight.

"How long have you been swimming"

"Five years with Donald"

"You're so good at it. You look so graceful. You make it look so easy"

Floored, I was. It's been a rough time in the water for me for all the reasons stated previously and I've been pretty discouraged so this little present from the universe was exactly what I needed after the meltdown I'd had this morning.

So thanks Universe, you always know how to help a gal keep pressing on.

I love swimming. More than anything.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Home Is Where The Pool Is

There is nothing more lovely, and striking to me than how the light dances in the pool on any sunny afternoon. I wish you could see what I see when I jump in and try to stay at the bottom for as long as I have breath and even a little bit more, to linger at the sunlight refracting and resonating a perfect blue-green.

If there was a word I'd have to use to describe it, it'd be joy. The only time I ever experience real, true, joyfulness, is this brief, beautiful moment. And I want to just stay there, underwater and watch the rays paint the best picture I've ever seen. (This view from the deck is pretty good but still doesn't do it justice.)

There is no back pain, no knee pain, no blood clot, no thought-ache in the water. For a moment, it heals me and frees me and I want to stay there forever. But instead I start to swim, catch a breath and count the laps. At 500 yards, the thinking returns and I try to figure out how to be better, how to be loveable, how to be someone else entirely.

I wish I were circling a point but I'm out of words I haven't said before.

I just wanted to talk about the beauty of the water.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chlorine - It's What's For Breakfast

I've been lap swimming in earnest for over three years now but a year ago I took it to the next level; going to a class with a teacher. Part of that motivation to attend a class was the goal to obtain a Red Cross lifeguard certification. (The other part was to get away from the noobs at the YMCA pool who kept running in to me) I can't say enough great things about my teacher. Even though I am doing the work, he is equally invested in my success. (He even changed my flat tire a few weeks ago!) But that's not what this is about.

Let's keep focus on the beginnings of being taught. I could not backstroke. I was good at the front crawl. My side stroke was pretty decent although rarely a stroke that's used or cared about. And the breast stroke was passable even though I was aware that it needed tweaking. The butterfly was simply not a stroke I thought I'd ever care to learn or add to my repertoire, as you know if you've read these posts.

Unlike learning the backstroke, the first attempts at the fly were misery inducing. I am admittedly a perfectionist, and so not being able to even propel forward while attempting to fling my arms over my head and dolphin kick was the most frustrating thing I had experienced in the pool. We only tried it once; without even saying anything Donald knew it was too soon and we'd have to scale back. Way back. 

Instead we flutter kicked on our backs, on our fronts, worked the arms over and over for that harder-than-it-looks breast stroke. I learned the proper backstroke method; it's now better than my front crawl. I worked on the feet first surface dive until I could make it down to the 13 foot bottom. I learned what streamlining was from the swim club coaches yelling it at their teams and I practiced that (it's a dolphin kick). Mile after mile we swam anything and everything but that fly. 

A month ago, Donald threw in fly arm drills. To my surprise it wasn't that hard to wrap my brain around. And then it was a 100 yard drill of the actual fly. It came easily, not perfect, but I was moving. And like most things rote learning is best. I never expected to be able work this stroke out but here I am. I can do the fly.

I've accomplished a lot of things actually in these last two years that I never thought would be possible to achieve both in and out of the water. And I give all that credit to the water. 
The water absolutely saved me.

It gave me control over my wounded and mechanically failing body. It built my strength. Then that strength and control gave me the will to be emotionally happier because it gave me the purest joy. And that gave me courage to change, to be better and have goals that were new. 

I will never be an Olympic athlete  but I now hold a Red Cross Lifeguard Certification, which includes CPR and First Aid. I can literally save lives. Which will probably come in handy someday, I'm sure.
The water saved me and continues to do so even when I don't want to learn silly strokes like the fly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Way Forward

Here we are again, well into the new year they're calling 2012 and that Holiday post is still up. I know, I know no one reads this thing anyway, so what difference does it make? None. None to you and none to me either. So why post at all? (I like rhetorical questions) Nothing better to do I suppose and I guess, if I think about it, the brain floating in this skull, that used to be full of profundity and wit and run-on sentences needs to have a chance at not completely turning to mindless mush from it's daily boredom, lack of problem solving and non-thinking.

What should we talk about? Let's start with progress reports but we'll avoid politics, current events and of course the weather. Because if you have nothing to discuss but the weather, you're in trouble. Although, had I become a meteorologist like I thought I wanted to be, because of that cool book on the weather I had when I was about seven or eight that's all we'd be discussing, believe me. I digress.

Where were we? Oh yes, progress.

The lifeguard certificate still eludes me but that is only due to availability and location of classes and scheduling conflicts. If I'm able to pass, I'll be certified by the Red Cross in June. Then what? Well, I'll look for some part-time guard work for the summer. I'm sure there's a lot to learn for new lifeguards. I'll be honest, I'm terrified to take this course. It's going to be extremely difficult and physically challenging. I've never done anything of the kind and although I have confidence I will be able to order the red nylon windbreaker in a few months, I'm also questioning my ability.
I'm still going to go for it and let the water splash where it may.

Hand in hand with the swimming, I report that I continue to receive compliments and support for my physical activity efforts. And although the scale hasn't moved much in a bit, my driver's license is no longer a lie. That really is something, people. That number hasn't been true since 2002. Everyday is still a challenge to stay the course; there are no days off, but making the choice for health has become so much easier and I'm really proud to be able to say that. There is no such thing as perfect and some days I don't complete a vigorous workout or eat the best thing I could have but those days are really few and farther between than ever before. Now we progress to making that number lower so I can go get a new license altogether.

I'd speak of changing the place that gives me money in exchange for showing up and sitting here, but I can't. The times remain tough and the competition fierce. I've had a few nibbles that have amounted to nothing and the opportunities are rare for positions in my field. This area has zero progress at the moment.

In other almost no progress news, the music creation and performance has all but halted. I can't remember the last time I played my piano. I did write a few lines last month but can't seem to get to the second verse or even have a thought of melody. I told someone recently, in response to the question 'why'd you move here', that I was a singer but that I'm done with that now. She told me to not give up. I nodded. It's just easier than to explain. I think when the universe keeps telling you 'no' you have to start to listen at some point. Now, if I won the lottery, I'd pay musicians and producers and record my music in as much time as it would take to mail my letter of resignation. This is unlikely to occur and so there it is. I admit that music will always be the thing that I am the best at; an expert if you will, but I'm not going to get to make it my career. 

Soon I will be older, in less than a month now, in fact. I am wishy-washy on my feelings about that. Last year was not my favorite birthday ever. It was actually kind of devastating to be frank. Which if you've read this blog at all you already know that. 

For several years I threw myself a pool patio party. I liked that. It was great fun. Except for the drudgery of the work of handling everything yourself. So I stopped having the party, which was probably a mistake since the last few birthdays have been massively disappointing and unspecial for a gal who likes(ed?) her birthday.

It could be because it's in May and that means spring and flowers;specifically the lilacs of my youth from our backyard, (They started blooming then and maybe it felt like that was just for me.) the sun is shining brighter and it's time to wear pretty dresses and frolic. (Okay, I got a little carried away there but I do remember 'frolicking' to some degree around the yard among the plentiful flowers in the yard).

I am thinking a lot about what to do this year to avoid repeating that extremely unhappy, lonely and sad feeling from last year. I know I must keep my expectations in check, however. Expectation is the killer of joy. (There's your pull quote, guest blogger) I may resurrect the party or I may go to the spa and take myself to dinner or take a little trip. I don't know yet. I have already taken the time off from work though, because even if I just sleep in and stay home all day, that wretched place is absolutely the LAST location in this entire universe that I'd want to spend the anniversary of my birth. (Unlike my last employ, where it was a joy to be on your birthday. I miss those people dearly.) We shall see what comes to pass and I'll be sure and report back. Either way, I'm going to put on a pretty dress and frolic somewhere. That much I know. 

That's all for now. It's probably enough and too long at that. No one reads more than three sentences at a time anymore anyway.

Progressively yours,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Rants - Volume Six

Dear Faithful Blog Reader,

You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? Well, never fear, your dear Citygirl won't let you down.

But be prepared, it's a short list this year. That's what happens when the bad season drifts swiftly by, without so much as a whisper, for a change.(knock on wood)

So, without further rambling, here are your rants for 2011.

1. Holiday Decorations at Work - First of all, if you spend 45 minutes of the staff meeting talking about holidays and the reindeer games you're planning, that's problem number one. It shouldn't be that difficult. Which leads to the second act of incompetence; waiting until the week before Christmas to decorate and annoy
your co-workers with crap hanging from the ceiling.

It's too late, people, it's just too late. Also, don't ask me for money to buy these decorations. If it's that important to you bring it in yourself. This is a true story. See that? I've been staring at that ladder for a week now.

2. It's Still Happening: Car Decorations
- I know I mention this almost every year, but when I saw this one the first week of November, I knew it had to be said again. Please, for the love of all that is holy, or unholy for that matter, we must stop this madness. It's not cute, it's just dumb.

If you can do this to your car, why can't you drive? Clearly, you have a lot of time on your hands. But I guess there wasn't enough time left to study the driver's handbook.

3. Food Pushers - This can really be more of a year-round problem but it's heightened at this time of year due to the prevalence of butter-laden baked goods floating around absolutely everywhere. I'll admit to being an enabler of the bad eating choices, as I enjoy baking and then giving it away. However, if you decide you don't want my delicious cookies because you are on the path of clean eating, I promise to not be offended in the least. Food pushers; not so much. "But it's the holidays!", they protest. That may very well be but fighting your way to balanced eating is not just something that happens on Tuesdays, Fridays and every other Sunday. It's 25/8, just like Mary J. said, so back off with your mediocre baked goods and gravy.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Human Movement Through Water Revisited

I'm a quitter.

I'm learning the Butterfly but have no confidence in success. My swim classmates are picking it up easily and I am still being given the drills of just the arms or the kick. It's a difficult stroke and I am frustrated by my lack of ability to perform it even remotely correctly. So I quit. I am a quitter.

In the middle of the lane, there I am, treading water, scanning the pool deck to check if Donald is watching so I can just finish the lap with breaststroke instead.

This is not a formula for success, I assure you, but unfortunately it is sometimes my modis operandi. First sign of frustration, I become a quitter with a capital K. Then eventually, I take a deep breath and struggle through the little tiny details and mechanics of the steps toward the correct outcome. And then like magic, it somehow becomes easy.

I don't think it will happen with the 'fly' but I hold a nano-nugget of optimism. It's floating around my head somewhere, along with the well of untapped determination to conquer this completely unnecessary stroke.

Sometimes quitting is a good strategy. It gives you distance from the problem in order to find a solution. The trick is remembering to un-quit though as soon as possible. I am not ready to tackle the fly yet though. I'd like to stick to perfecting my breaststroke that has just recently improved. I don't need the fly for the lifeguard testing, but the breast is a requirement. I may remain a quitter on the fly, sorry to say.

These are 'problems' I never thought I'd have where swimming was concerned. As I've navigated the treachery of the YMCA pool, and become a legitimate 'fast lane' swimmer, I've realized that I want to be in the water all the time.

After stumbling upon the beauty of the ASU student rec center pool, it became all the more clear that the career change I needed no longer involved a desk or a 9-5 program. I needed to be outside, near chlorinated water features as soon as humanly possible. The research began in earnest.

The first order of business was whether or not I would need to move to Arizona and attend ASU for the rest of my life in order to swim in that beautiful and bewitching pool. It was that blissful. It called to me; my precious.

But the reality was, the thought of moving away from the beloved city of Los Angeles (my other precious) filled me with dread and anxiety. I don't like dread and anxiety all that well. So on to plan B; find a 50-meter competition pool that can substitute right here. You know, where I already live. (Which by the way, isn't say, Paducah, Kentucky so it's not that tall of an order. But man, that ASU pool had powers I tell ya!)

The first find was the Santa Monica Swim Center. It's a popular place. The class I attended contained no less than 40 or 50 people sharing four lanes and one instructor doling out the most basic of information. I left without confirmation or denial of my technique. The cost was high and the distance far. It was not to be.

Then I found the City pool. Chock full of serious lap swimmers, always conscious of lane etiquette, close to home and two bucks with a library card, this one had potential. (Run-on sentence anyone?) I swam there a couple of times but there weren't any classes where someone could tell me if my flip turns were even being executed properly. They did have lifeguard training programs though but still more research was needed.

I started telling my tale to others and the words LA Valley College were uttered. I protested. The initial research had alluded that this pool was not open to the public. But I went back to Google to ask again.

LAVC it turns out is ready and available to assist you and yours with all kinds of water activity needs. I went to investigate.

Could it rival my precious? Could it even try? I doubted.

I met the teacher and spoke of my feats of pool strength; 120 laps nearly nightly. (Yes, that's non-stop in the questionable YMCA cess-pool) I did not have confidence that this would be the place; I was sure I'd have to keep looking but I signed up anyway.

You know how it ends from here. It's where this story started. LAVC isn't ASU but it's a close second; truly a hidden gem. And Donald has inspired and effected improvements in my freestyle, taught me a continually evolving backstroke; declared me a strong swimmer and ready to tackle the lifeguard training.

What I've learned the most is that I am through with the manufactured crises of the media business where lives aren't being saved and chests aren't being cut open, (although you'd think that was what was happening) in exchange for a career where life saving is truly an actual possibility. I am focused and determined now. I feel as though I have found a purpose and one where I also posses two key factors; a love for it and keen ability.

I vow not to quit.