Swimming with my Camaro

When I went to leave the house this afternoon there was a crew of guys pulling (fiber) cable under the sidewalk. I had been listening to them out the window for a while as I was working, and there was clearly one guy who was the big joker, though I couldn’t hear what he was saying most of the time he was bossing the other guys around and teasing them too. Anyway, I explained I had to open the garage door for my wheelchair, they moved their stuff to one side, then the joker started in once they could see into the garage as I had 3 wheelchairs visible (actually 5 in there or more? but 3 of them obvious and ready to go…) He was like Oh, three of them, your Mustang, your Camaro, your BMW… I told him the one I was in is the Camaro because it goes the fastest. I think we were flirting? In Spanish? In any case I like being indulgently joked with by kind workmen in hard hats. It helps fulfill my lifelong wish of being a character in Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy World (I am obviously Bugdozer). Then I had the song “Bitchin’ Camaro” stuck in my head for the next half hour. Also, excited we are getting FIBER!!!!

It was pretty quick getting to Balboa Park station on the J. There were California poppies growing on the train tracks between Bernal and Glen Park. I mentioned before how the Balboa station strikes me as not being FOR people; it is for trains, and the train-ness is built around cars, as it is right next to the 280 highway in a little maze of on and offramps. At least it isn’t smack in the middle of the highway. But it is so full of fences, walls, spikey metal things, giant ramps and tracks and stairways. It is a confusing building inside and out. One thing to note if you are a wheelchair user – The accessible platform for getting OFF the J is nearly but not quite inside the station — in the trainyard itself and leading right to the interior of the station. But the platform for boarding the inbound J train is on the other side of the building.

Balboa Park itself is just lovely! All the flowers are blooming. Landscaping particularly nice. The skatepark was empty & the door was open. You know what that means!!!!!! Yes I went in and tried all the ramps. It would be REALLY fun to go with my manual wheelchair! The powerchair is less satisfying because it doesn’t go faster downhill (it stays throttled). Surely somewhere there are awesome sport powerchairs or someday…. WHILL will let folks custom program the motor controllers with more interesting options. (Or I will have another one someday and be able to hack around on it with impunity.) Feeling very pleased with myself for marauding around the skatepark…. like in reality I know it just looks a bit silly but IN MY MIND i’m aaron fucking fotheringham out there! No lie!!! Sadly there was no way to photograph this…. But here’s me smirking about it, just afterwards.

balboa park

I am trying to look up who made the sign. Maybe it says somewhere in the park. My prime suspect is Victor Zaballa who does a lot of public art and metalwork around town (he made the paper cutout (papel picado) railings at 16th and Mission). I can spot his work sometimes now, and also William Mitchell’s.

Instead of immediately going to swim, I trundled down past the park to Red Sea Pizza & Mkt, conveniently also a pokestop and Ingress portal. I had marked it down on the map along with Pineapples as a Balboa station thing to do. The yelp reviews didn’t lie — this is great pizza! 4 bucks a slice, and i got a fucking giant, fabulous piece of pizza covered with garlic and olives and 2 kinds of pepperoni. The crust was perfectly crispy. They have some sort of crust miracle going. How is that?!!!! I sat outside at their tiny tables to watch people go by someone catcalled me from a car. I looked up from my pizza & it was a tiny woman a little older than me screeching out her car window “LET’S HEAR IT FOR PURPLE HAIRED LADIES!!!” Her hair was a rich deep purple. “PURPLE SISTERRRRR!” I screamed back. We did thumbs up at each other and giggled and then it was a little awkward because the light didn’t change and we didn’t know what to do next except continue giggling. Let’s hear it for being catcalled by cute silly haired women in mini coopers! Entirely pleasant. Some teenagers came in and then suddenly ran out yelling at each other – they were running for the train. The market owner (super nice!!!) came out and laughed with me about it and said he likes to place bets every morning on the kids running after the J train. A nice place to hang out.

I am eyeing Tasty Coffee as a nice place to work after a swim… Next time. That and the dole whip at pineapples…. calling me.

Onward to the pool. It’s big, it’s new, it’s lovely! The building is just very pretty (inside and out). It’s still a giant slab of concrete but somehow is like the friendly little brother of the loud, stompy, spiky, fortress train station.

There is an accessible shower stall. Bring a lock (unless you are me and can just stuff your clothes under your wheelchair seat). The water is much warmer than any other public pool I’ve been in (thank god!) at 82′ which is the maximum they’re allowed to set it. (Says the super nice lifeguard. ) The air wasn’t bad either, and it was a chilly, rainy day. I got into the water without even a squeak! There are huge picture windows – even while swimming i could see the water tower in McLaren Park and some trees and hills & houses and a ton of birds flying by (the seagulls who love to hang out at the dump, I guess.) All the staff was so nice.

Minor complaint, the door opener buttons don’t work. . . But people sprang up to offer to open them so if you can’t handle heavy doors, don’t worry too much. (And you can bypass the locker room doors easily by just going into the pool area and entering from that direction.)

My waterproof ipod shuffle and headphones worked great and I swam a zillionty laps very slowly in the slow lane shared with a businesslike 80 year old who was there when I started and seemed ready to go another half hour after I quit.

Very different from swimming last summer when I was still not quite able to do laps. I feel stronger! My calves and ankles are definitely stronger. I can trace back over the years to 2012 when I couldn’t even get into water without ankle braces because the little currents of the water moving my ankles around ever so slightly made me want to throw up from pain. Oh man. How I ever endured those times I don’t even know (not the pool, just the whole terrible year of my ankles going kablooey in every tendon. Like being squeezed by evil snakes on the INSIDE.)

Anyway now after my epic 20 minute swim, my legs are all wobbly and wibbly & my knees hella hurt right now but I dont think it’s the going to be injured for weeks sort of hurt – I will take some pain meds and take it easy tomorrow. Feeling very optimistic about swimming a few times a week and gradually increasing the time/laps. Remind me of this optimism tomorrow when I wake up and can’t move out of bed before voltarening myself for an hour and whining a lot.

The hours for lap and rec swim also looked just great for me, big chunks of the afternoon and then early evening. I’m so excited, I’m going to swim all the time…. I remarked to the lifeguard that Garfield Pool is closer and seems to be the next in line (it’s closed for renovation) and he said he thought it was going to be really nice. Yay! Pools!!!!!!!

When I drive past the kids
They all spit and cuss
‘Cause I’ve got a bitchin’ Camaro
And they have to ride the bus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.