My Body is a Soggy Pretzel

I am convinced that mostly good things happen in pools.

First of all, I’m glad we float. For all our complaining, the human body is a pretty cool thing. (Everything that’s waterproof is cool).

Second of all, thank God for belly flops, which are awesome for everyone, even the flopper, if it’s a good one, because then they get a splotchy paunchy battle-wound to strut around with for a while. I like to surprise people at public pools by pulling a sick belly flop in a two-piece. Pizzo is the only person who dares outsmack me. We are having a contest this afternoon at the Country Club Towers. I wish more people would try. It would bring us all together, the blondies and oldies and fatties, if we threw it down, gut-first, more frequently.

This afternoon, the sun was coming through the water in glimmering rays and flittering on the tile T below me. I hovered underwater with my goggles on and ran my hand in and out of the shape-shifting fairy dust for a few seconds of admiration. The water is a little warmer where the sun is and where heat comes out and where you might have went pee but not said anything about it. Which I did not do. (But I used to).

I am continuously impressed with our fluidity underwater. Do you know you can move practically any way you want to when you’re submerged? I tried it today. I could move into every formation my legs led me, which is impressive for me, since I have the knees of an 80-year-old war veteran.

I am only beaming and body-happy now because I woke up in a bad mood this morning. I was feeling a little fat, which is ridiculous because I’m not fat, but people from without would have me think that I am. I didn’t shake the fatness feeling until I decided I was going to like at least one thing today and jumping in a pool would be it.

I think my blues were twofold. One, I hadn’t done anything fun yet, and that can add pounds to a day. And two, my sluggish reluctance must have been because Moving has become so obligatory. I have to walk the dog. I have to go for a run. I have to work out today because I didn’t yesterday. I’m tired of having to.

Kids who don’t drink two-liters-a-cola and play Wii all day are skinny because they do their physical things with the pure unadulterated motive of not having to.  I was thinking today, while looking like a six-year-old learning how to swim, that it’s unfortunate how adults don’t look like six-year-olds doing anything anymore. Serious this, serious that. Someone needs to pick us up and shake us or push us in once in a while.

I know I am an adult, and realistically, the activities which get me moving can’t be as carefree as zooming around a pool or a playground.  But when we were hunters and gatherers and farmers and communities using outside to do real things, movement was mandatory in a way that promoted progress rather than vanity.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that, but I’ve been swimming because indoor gyms thick with matching outfits, make-up, and mirrors exhaust me.  Someday I’ll have a farm and get my exercise hoisting heaping baskets of produce to the communal table.  But for now, being in the water, mostly alone, gives me time to think, time to be light and quiet, and filled with liquid light and quiet.  I feel a rarity of contemplation and peace that does feel like progress at the bottom of pools.

When I got out of the water, there were these two little girls smashing pretzels into the ground and giggling their heads off, so I gave them a few stomps myself, and then my workout was complete.

Booties, Bloodies, Babies: Some Recent Realizations

Exhaustion. Sleep Deprivation. Revelations. Last Monday, I accidentally wore my nose ring to school. The parents descended like vultures. Not to talk about their students who are failing, but to talk about my outward defamation of the good Lord’s temple. We had an hour and a half long assembly which consisted of singing Gospel Hymnals to Jesus and watching Nyla (who spells “have to” as “haft to” and has made it to Senior English never haffing to learn any grammar) perform liturgical dances instead of learning how to read. The school board censored A Handmaid’s Tale because one tenet of the abstinence-only campaign in public institutions is that high school students won’t have sex if they don’t read about it. And, the kicker, another teacher (who generally does more sleeping at the high school than teaching) decided to tell one of my students I’m not a certified teacher. Nice.

Dina got her wisdom teeth pulled, bled all over a desk, and ruined her midterm. Shay is so pregnant, she doesn’t fit in the desks anymore- this being all the more unfortunate because the only extra chair I have in my classroom is already occupied by an obese student who also doesn’t fit in any of the desks. And Jenny got sent to in-school suspension for nine days because she had some sex during a cooking competition field trip. (Censorship works). When I went to visit her in the brimming suspension trailer, I said, “Please stop having sex at school functions so you can graduate, Jenny,” and she said, “Ok.”

But there are daily rewards. According to Kendrick’s survey, he’s “totally enjoying Macbeth because that man is one sneaky warrior,” Robert asked me how to spell “androgynous” for an essay on society’s off-base definition of masculinity, AND I somehow successfully pulled off a field trip to Tulane. We did miss the bus on the way home, and I had to drive kids to their sundry residences which I could get sued for, but I’ve come to the realization that there are no rules really. None. You honestly don’t even have to be certified to teach at my school (ask the four teachers who aren’t. Aren’t what? Certified. Seriously.)

I also realized I love my students much more than I ever loved the students I was around during college. Leah said, “College students are so quiet and alone,” when we walked through the Tulane student center. It’s true. There seems to be a lot more vibrancy in the smallness of Laplace than on the lawns of a $40,000 a year university. I wish more of my students would be college bound or at least outside-of-Louisiana bound so they could spread their simple kindness and wisdom.

My small town sweethearts were additionally awkwardly surprised by the lack of clothing on female collegiate bodies. I was too. Leggings alone? This is a whole new ball game. Booties everywhere, uncovered, walking, moving, gelatinously shaking from quad to classroom. Whitney said, “You have to have lost respect for yourself to wear that in public,” and we all nodded, unable to move our eyes from the caboose of a young lady wearing TIGHTS with nothing over them. Literally. What has this generation come to? I feel old and prude and confused.

And in my personal life, or lack thereof, we hit a drunk pedestrian in my car, her head came through the windshield, and then she upended and hit the ground head first. I know this because I watched the video of it from the nearby bar three times. No questions asked by the police, no ticket issued, no rules, see? She did live and that’s all that really matters. I have been reminding myself of that every day. We live. That matters.

Quincy busted through the full length window in our kitchen to get out and enjoy some sun, and now the kitchen makes my feet cold. From our balcony, you can hear the new Pomeranian puppy our neighbors just bought. That’s their second Pomeranian. Why anyone would make that same mistake twice is a mystery to me. The new one looks like an electrocuted rat and sounds like a miserable child. The police broke into our neighbor’s house, guns drawn, and never told us why, and I woke up to gunshots three nights in a row this week. A lightning storm rattled my window like a banging fist, and in the quick midnight light of this tempest, I realized, amongst the scattered things that I do love here, I am getting ready to leave Louisiana.

Legs!

What would you ask for for Christmas if you couldn’t move your arms or your legs and couldn’t talk? I asked a friend this today who can’t talk or move his body, but who can spell using a special declaration system.

He said: a magnetic mattress.

I wonder if this is like those once-popular bracelets that you buy to get your blood moving or something.

So I asked him: Is this like those bracelets people used to buy to improve their health?

And he said: Yes.

I was thinking, while talking to him, that maybe he just wants to feel something move, and then I was thinking about how insanely lucky we are, those of us who can walk through rivers and drink a glass of water and lie down on the carpet and feel each little soft nub against our face. So I did this when I got home, drank some water, lied down, rolled around, just to appreciate the very smallness of the gift of touch.

Then we went to church and there was a man with deformed legs carrying his daughter and a kid who kept rolling down the isle on those idiotic shoes that have wheels tucked into the bottom for when a bored child would rather roll than walk. Either way, today seemed to be full of legs for me, legs to be thankful we don’t have, legs that don’t do what we want them to do, legs that kneel and bend and cross and uncross and kick silently and indignantly like we’re never exactly where we want to be. No precise theme here, I just did a lot of musings on stems amongst other more heavy things today.

Then Michael paid me off to wrap some of his gifts while he drew a green Christmas tree on his dog’s white head with a permanent marker, and I listened to some music that felt like a hundred magnets pulling quick blood through my ears.