Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Keeping My Cool

Keeping My Cool

Okay, so a few weeks ago it was a meat-locker in my office. Now it’s an oven at home.

I live in an old 3 story wood house – the apartment on the middle floor. It’s Boston so we don’t have central air. Instead, twice a year I bribe some muscular acquaintance to lug my window unit A/C up and down the stairs between my apartment and the basement. The thing weighs a ton so I’m happy to outsource this task.

Unfortunately sometime since last summer another basement-user appears to have moved/dropped/sat on my window unit and while the damage appeared at first to be superficial, I have learned to my regret that it is in fact much graver than originally thought. The air conditioner works. Just not very well.

We’re in the middle of our annual brief heat wave so it was about 85 degrees in my apartment when I got home at 6.30. I immediately turned on the A/C and within an hour it had cooled the room to a startling 84 degrees. Sigh.

Time to bring out the time-honored cooling methods of the A/C deprived. I learned some of these methods from my grandmother – also a window unit user, but only on the absolute HOTTEST days of the Texas summer. I mean, let’s not get over-indulgent, okay?

First and most effective – put your pajamas in the freezer. I’m telling you, it’s totally worth it. Best 30 seconds of my evening, putting on my frozen nightie before heading off to sweat sleeplessly sleep.*

- Spritz. Put your spritzer of water in the fridge during the day and carry that baby around all evening, spritzing when necessary. Your couch and clothes will get damp, and you may end up looking like a sweaty extra in a movie set in the South in the ‘30s, but you’ll feel MUCH better.

- Create a cave. Close all windows and shades, blocking light and sun-baked air as much as possible. It’s still cooler inside than out, so try to contain the coolness as much as possible. I sometimes modify this approach by cracking a window in the far back of the house, working on the theory that it makes it less stuffy and it might act as a lure, drawing the cooler air through the rest of the house. I’m very scientific about this.

- Fans. Fans everywhere, especially right in front of the A/C to help the cool air move.

- Ice. Ice cubes in the cats’ water bowls (tricks them into drinking water because they play with them for a while, helping to avoid dehydration) and bowls of ice in front of the fans.

- Shower. When all else fails, take a cold shower. Go to bed without drying off. Letting the water evaporate off your skin rather than toweling off gives you an extra minute of coolness. A whole minute.

- Conserve, conserve, conserve. Your own energy. Don’t move too much. Don’t gesture wildly. Don’t shout. Think ‘I am a slug. I am a very cool slug.’ Don’t let the cats get their ridiculously warm fur anywhere near you. If you can hypnotize yourself into a cool catatonic state you should do so. It’s only temporary.

- And last, do NOT cook. At all. Gnaw on ice and popsicles and if you absolutely must heat something, use the microwave.

* The frozen-jammies approach is one method I did NOT learn from my grandmother. I enjoy imagining her giggle at the very idea though.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cold and Squishy

I. Have. A. Cold. It is SUMMERTIME and I have a cold. Germs have no respect for the seasons.

Speaking of which, it’s jellyfish season in Boston. Every year about this time big clear bubbles of jellyfish swarm the waterways near the harbor. You can see right through them. They don’t appear to have brains, although the big ones have 4 white circles inside that look like a 4-leaf clover. They sort of blobulate through the water without much effort, looking incredibly peaceful, dumb, and free of colds. I almost envy them. Although, looking at the water they’re in, I usually reverse that feeling quick-smart. Boston’s waterways have a long way to go before they’ll be anywhere near inviting enough for me to swim in them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Wrote This Post Myself

I was at a conference in New York on Monday, all about putting museum collections online. Lots of swanky museum types (that’s how they were listed in the program, Next up, a panel of swanky museum types pontificating) talking about their fabulous online resources. To be fair the online resources were truly fabulous. Not particularly helpful to me specifically, but bound to be digital gold for avid researchers of almost any topic.

Here’s the part that got me. One of the semi-swanky types (although a professor, she just wasn’t as swishy as the others) told us that she sometimes assigns her students research projects in which they are forbidden to use the internet as a resource. According to her, this will teach the students how to use primary sources and how to navigate libraries and archives, etc. Perhaps. An attendee at the conference pointed out that teaching students to use the internet with the same critical thinking skills they are expected to use on tangible primary sources is another good way to teach a similar lesson. And the semi-swanky woman replied, “Actually I forbid them to use the internet as much to prevent them from plagiarizing as anything else.”

Um. Okay. That seems a trifle odd to me. I understand that plagiarizing has been causing all sorts of problems in the worlds of journalism and academe, but shouldn’t we perhaps address the problem rather than fence it off? If today’s students are so befuddled by the plethora of online resources that they simply can’t tell the difference between something they’ve written themselves and something they cut-and-pasted from an online document, then perhaps we are facing a larger problem than learning how to research a subject thoroughly and properly. If the risk of plagiarism is just that high, maybe we should be teaching the differences between simply quoting an author’s work and writing your own analysis of it. This seems like a basic concept that should be addressed before we fine-tune a student’s ability to conduct independent research, whether online or otherwise.

I don’t know. Call me crazy.

PS – Totally different subject: The night before the conference I was at an ice cream place on the Lower East Side with friends and we saw Parker Posey. She’s taller than I thought. Of course, I was sitting down. Maybe I was just shorter than usual. Anyway. That was my Manhattan Famous Person sighting for this trip.

Friday, June 15, 2007

One of those days

Let’s go back in time…

12.40 pm

I arrive at the B—Club on the 36th floor of a building on Federal Street to meet my Favorite Board Member for lunch. Hugs and warm welcome. Lunching and chatting ensue. I adore my FBM because she is a patient and generous woman.

12.25 pm

I arrive at the B—Club on the 33rd floor of a building on State Street to meet my Favorite Board Member for lunch. Although I am 25 minutes late, my FBM does not seem to be there. When we last spoke on the phone she was there waiting for me. Confusion reigns. The chatelaine of the club has never heard of my FBM. I call FBM and learn that I am at a similarly-named but very different B—Club on the wrong floor in the wrong building on the wrong side of downtown. Feel moronic. Leave in a business-casual sprint to meet her in the correct place. Sooo did not wear the right shoes for this kind of activity.

12.10 pm

Set out for the B—Club armed with directions. Beautiful sunny day, nice walk. In a little hurry though ‘cause I’m late and don’t want to keep my FBM waiting.

12.05 pm

Stop in the business office of the museum to ask fundraiser types (who are more likely to know where this building is) for directions. One of them looks it up for me and gives me the directions. I call FBM and tell her I’m on my way.

12.00 pm

Leave my office to meet FBM for lunch. Halfway down the stairs realize that while I know it’s at the B—Club, and I’ve met her there before, and in fact I remember being quite enchanted by the lovely view of all of Boston from the vantage point of a skyscraper dining establishment, I really have no idea which of the downtown skyscrapers it’s in and need to ask someone for directions.

10.10 am

Emails between me and my Favorite Board Member confirming our appointment for lunch at noon at the B—Club.

9.00 am

Pleasantly surprised to discover that a) it’s a sunny day for a change and b) it’s a full 70 livable degrees in my office. I can tell it’s going to be a good day.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lexicon, Part Two

This morning my office feels kinda nice - this is because I was on a slooooooow and un-air-conditioned train and arrived at work feeling like a big gross sweat-pig (see below). I'm assuming the meat-locker aspect of the room will get me eventually, but for now it's not half bad! Thank you Jeana for pointing out that resemblance. Somehow I had missed that!

I realized right after publishing the LaLa Lexicon last month that there were some important terms left out of it. (By the way, you should note and applaud the fantastically savvy technological thing I just did there, linking to that post. That's waaaaaaay beyond my usual skills!) Since the Lexicon is a living, changing language thing, there will probably always be terms that will need to be added, so I will update it as necessary. Feel free both to add words of your own and to take these terms for your own use (she said magnanimously).

Here is the second installment of the LaLa Lexicon:

Delicate blossom. Noun. When one is simply too fragile to tolerate the circumstances of normal every day living any more, and one expresses this in a rather fragile Victorian-consumptive sort of way, one is a delicate little blossom. (One usually deserves the derision that will soon follow this identification.)

Disco object. Noun. An object that is somehow so interesting, appealing and charismatic that it will draw people to it even if they don’t know what it is. As a museum curator I like disco objects because they’re a good way to catch visitors’ attention. Note: Disco objects are not necessarily covered in sequins, mirrors, or John Travolta pompadours, although I’m not ruling that out.

Djeet? Contraction. Components are “Did you eat?”

Grumperini. Noun. When a person is sooooo grumpy that the only noises and faces s/he makes are of the grumpy-grouchy kind, and s/he refuses to cheer up, then that person is a Grumperini. History: the term came from my sister’s infancy, when she was prone to making these funny grumpy-sounding protests all the time, despite the fact that she was in fact, not all that grumpy. We have since modified the term to apply to real grumps, not just baby wannabes.

Helpy. Adjective. Appearing to be helpful but really just getting in the way. Example: most cats.

Hissy-fit. Noun. A fit so dramatic that there is a lot of hissing and yelling, arm-waving and probably swearing. Often just the threat of a hissy-fit will serve as a proper deterrent. No one really wants to see that. It is useful to know exactly when and where to throw a hissy-fit – for example, when confronted by certain apparently immovable forces. Immovable forces tend to move, even to hustle, when faced with a genuine hissy-fit. One shouldn’t over-use the hissy-fit – it gets less powerful with repeated exposure, and leaves one open to the accusation of poor behavior.

Huffy. Adjective. (NOT a bike.) When one is offended or miffed and shows it in one’s manner toward others in chilly speech or by heaving great dramatic sighs at being so put upon in this Cinderella-esque manner, one is huffy. Being huffy usually implies that you are expressing discontent but you are not directly communicating the exact causes to the person/cause in your vicinity. Huffiness is meant to convey emotion and also to provoke responses. The downside to this is that the responses provoked are generally NOT the ones the huffy person wants (very slim chance of getting that right, really) and that leads to more huffiness, maybe even snarkiness (see snarky).

Love on someone. Verb. To love on someone is to shower them with praise and warm attention, mainly to soothe ruffled feathers or to butter them up. Those of us who do a regular amount of fund-raising are accustomed to loving on a particular potential donor on a fairly regular basis. When you really have your work cut out for you, you looooooove on someone (accompanied by a shimmy dance and petting motions, but not in the presence of the someone you’ll be loving on.) Sometimes if you know someone who’s huffy, loving on them will sweeten their mood.

Made your tail frizz! Exclamation. Said to someone when they walk into a room and they are startled by your presence there. Refers to the phenomenon of a cat’s tail frizzing up when he’s startled by something unexpected.

Museum fatigue. Noun. That feeling you get when you’ve been in a museum too long. Not a set time period, more a reaction to the combination of exhibit content, size of museum, the day’s weather, the crowd, your choice of footwear, and the last time you ate. Everyone is prone to it, even professionals.

Museum speed. Noun. The individual pace at which each person moves through a museum. Only becomes apparent or problematic when people of different museum speeds attempt to visit a museum in each other’s company. What follows next usually leads quite rapidly to museum fatigue and general huffiness.

‘Ometer. Noun. Pronounced AH-meh-ter. Name for useful machine thingies that don’t really have a better handle.

Shy woodland creature. Noun. Those people who simply cannot be coaxed out of their shells, who are skittish in the face of society, of direct conversation, or of anything having even the remotest relation to an emotion – those are shy woodland creatures. They retreat faster than Bambi.

Snarf. Verb. To inhale your food really quickly, possibly while making muppety eating noises. Example: I snarfed down those cookies in a flash.

Snarky. Adjective. Grumpy and sarcastic and more grumpy. Example: Grumperini was really snarky when he found out I’d eaten his cookies.

Soap operatic. Adjective. When you indulge your inner diva, your sense of hyperbole and your gift for melodrama, you are probably being soap operatic. Also, if you try to have a conversation with someone while s/he stands directly behind you – that’s definitely soap operatic.

Sweat-pig. Noun. When you’ve gotten all gross and sweaty and only a thorough scrubbing will make you clean again you have become a sweat pig. Congratulations.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The weather inside is frightful

It is 64.3 degrees in my office. I took a reading with my handy temperature/humidity meter. I call it my 'ometer because I'm a scientific sort of person.

I've resisted using my 'ometer to gauge just how cold it is in here for more than a week now because really, did I need to know to the tenth of a degree? But I gave in today when I decided that using real numbers (to the tenth of a degree) might help me make a case to the building managers that this is not a work environment I can survive without chilblains. Honestly, I can tell how long I've been at my desk by how well I can feel my toes.

I should be grateful for small mercies though. Last week it was even colder. I told my boss (who works in another part of the building) that if a young visitor happened to wander up to my office door and stick his tongue to it, he wouldn't be able to unstick it. My office is officially winter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Geek Alert

I went to a museum training seminar yesterday that was WAY FUN. Seriously. I loved it. It was a half-day dollop of applicable practicality and that is sooooo satisfying.

We were discussing ways to mount objects for display that will keep the objects safe. Welding brass rods, bending plexi or acrylic tubes and shelves using a heat table, modifying mannequins for antique costumes – all were on the menu both as topics and as hands-on activities.

They also fed us - boxed lunches from a local bakery. Yum.

My favorite part (aside from lunch): discovering 3/8” polyethylene strap. I’m serious. This product opens whole new worlds of possibility. It’s thin, soft, flexible, barely visible, and I can use it to hold objects in place without causing any damage or visual distraction. I get little professional thrills just imagining all of the ways I can use it to improve safety and aesthetics in museum displays.

I warned you it was a geek moment.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Speaking of jewels...

One day last year I got a completely random package in the mail. No name, a return-address I didn’t recognize, no letter or note to explain it. Inside the package was this:

Now what would you think? Secret-admirer with no taste in jewelry? A heavily veiled hint of some kind? Stalker? A bashful fairy godmother with gaudy taste in accessories? A case of mistaken identity?

I puzzled over this for a while, but eventually I identified the only possible answer: my mother.

My mom is an empress of ebay, a trash-n-treasure queen. She finds things for herself, my sister and me, but she also finds things to re-sell. Some of her finds are definitely treasures, but others are… doozies. My sister and I usually agree that our mother has a very open mind when it comes to second-hand shopping.

Last year my mom bought a mixed lot of costume jewelry on ebay and had it shipped to me in Boston, since Mom was coming to visit from Australia soon after. She arrived, admired her purchases, and took it home with her. We assumed that was that.

When that bracelet arrived in the mail – months later and with no additional information – the only explanation I could come up with was that Mom’s original seller had belatedly discovered one more item that hadn’t shipped with the first lot and just sent it on. We never totally confirmed that theory, but it’s the only one we have so we’ve gone with it.

The funny thing is that now the bracelet has a life of its own. It lives in my office and is the official Cheer Up Bling of the Collections Office. Bad day? Wear the Bling! It goes with everything. (See photo.) It has attended tedious meetings and cheerfully brightened up hours of data entry. Its comfy elastic strands ensure that it fits just about any wrist that comes along, and it appears to have no gender preference.

I’m only just realizing how much I rely on the humor and sparkle and, er, elegance, of rhinestones to brighten up gloomy times.

(If any of you out there actually mailed me this bracelet in your own secret way, do feel free to ‘fess up. I’m truly grateful, weird as it is.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fake diamonds can be a girl's best friend

Why are tiaras not everyday wear? I don’t understand.

Last night I helped a friend try on approximately 58 wedding dresses. She found the PERFECT dress and we were all very happy. Everyone oohed and aahed appropriately. It’s really true – when the Right Dress appears everyone just instinctively knows it. That doesn’t stop us all from trying on the remaining 55 dresses, but still. We knew.

But back to tiaras. For me, one of the perks of getting to muscle my friend in and out of literally tons of satin more times than I can count, was being in a room full of tiaras. So of course I wore one. In fact, over the course of the evening, I wore three.

Now, even though I am originally from Texas, I had never before heard the Siren Call of the Tiara. I’m all for rhinestones, but I have to admit that in the past I had even scoffed at the very notion of a tiara.

No more.

I am a Tiara Convert.

I don’t know why we don’t all wear them more often. They’re easy to wear. Smack one on your head and you’re done. They brighten up any outfit (I was in a Gap pink button up shirt complete with pizza stains from dinner and I looked quite smart in my sparkly crown). They make you feel slightly taller and more prize-winning than you usually do. I’m telling you, I am genuinely mystified why a world that has sanctioned legwarmers MORE THAN ONCE mind you, has yet to endorse the daily addition of a tiara to any fashion-forward woman’s ensemble.

Bad hair day? I recommend a tiara. Feeling blah? I recommend a tiara. Going out with your tall skinny friend? I recommend a tiara. Feel like eating a dozen cookies and defying anyone, ANYONE, to say anything about it? I recommend a tiara (and a ‘just try it’ gleam in your eye).

I’m telling you. Rhinestone therapy. It works.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Public Transportation = Theatre

I’m sure most of my fellow public transportation users will agree that on the whole it is usually a reliable and environmentally friendly way to get around town. It is also public theatre and this aspect of it is not to be underestimated. Get a bunch of T riders together and we can tell some pretty weird stories about our experiences on public transportation. Here are some of the things I’ve seen:

- Flipflops with power suits. I’m just saying.

- I once saw a lady wearing flip flops who had painted only the nails on her big toes bright red. The other 8 little toes were left naked and undecorated. They looked sad to me.

- I do not understand women who put on their makeup while riding the T. I mean, it’s fascinating to watch in a “wow, she’s really doing that, can’t look away, shouldn’t stare, can’t look away” sort of way. But quite apart from the jolting-ness, which is bound to interfere with technique, this is PUBLIC transportation. If makeup is supposed to help you look more publicly presentable, isn’t there an implied assumption that before or during makeup application, you are sort of … well, LESS than publicly presentable? (Obviously this doesn’t apply to the naturally gorgeous types who never wear makeup.) Isn’t this a little like putting on deodorant in public? In my opinion, yes, it is exactly like that. One’s morning toilette should be completed before one steps out the front door. End of story.

- Train station musicians. Usually okay, rarely really good, occasionally truly excruciating. One guy was singing a song the other day about whatever came into his head when you walked by: when someone with an Old Navy shopping bag walked by he sang about that. When someone with a dog walked by, he sang about that. When someone flipped him off, he sang about that. It was a day to be truly thankful for the prompt arrival of my train.

- I once rode home at night on at train that was occupied at one end by a raucous group of very drunk men. Drunk men who may not have had occasion to bathe in a while. At one point one of the drunk men came lurching over very close to me and leaned in for kiss. At the last panicked moment I realized he was kissing the woman sitting beside me, and that apparently she knew him and was mildly interested in returning the kiss. I nearly had a heart attack before all of this became clear though – it really looked and felt like the weird drunk guy had suddenly decided to lay one on me and I wasn’t going to be able to move fast enough to get away. Near miss. Whew!

- A few weeks ago as my train pulled into Harvard Station a man fainted dead away in the middle of the after-work crowd. About 10 commuters leapt to the rescue, gathering his belongings, checking on him, preparing to do CPR if necessary. It was a very crowded train so he actually didn’t bang into the floor – he just collapsed on the people next to him. He recovered but fainted again, so the group nearest him helped carry him off the train and made sure his briefcase and jacket were with him. They called for help. As our train pulled out of the station I could see them all gathered around him. Like many T stories, I don’t know how this one ends.

- Last year I was waiting at South Station for someone. There are lots of little iron tables there where you can eat and read. Kind of like lawn furniture, but inside. So I’m sitting at one little green table and watching the people sitting at other ones. A man in his early 30s in a business suit approached an empty table and sat down. He took out a paper bag and out of that he pulled a bottle of foot powder, the kind that helps you combat athlete’s foot. He then proceeded to take off his shoes and socks and shake that powder all over his feet RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. He didn’t bother to clean up the extra powder he left on the floor. I was – and still am – completely horrified by this. Even thinking about it gives me the icky-shimmies. I’m not sure if it’s just the grossness in general, the not cleaning it up, or that he did that in public without a qualm. Utterly qualmless. Shudder. (I wonder if some poor woman out there is dating this fellow and has yet to discover that he’s the kind of guy who applies medicated foot powder in public…)

- When my sister came to visit last year she brought Baby Seth, who was at the time 11 months old. Seth had never been on a subway or a train or anything like it. Seth’s usual mode of travel is in a big car with his brothers. But he took to public transportation as if he’d never known anything else, completely unfazed by the roaring, the screeching brakes, the beeps for the doors, the loud garbled announcements. And being one of my nephews, Seth was born genetically programmed to charm the general public. He sat seriously in his stroller and surveyed all the people around him. Once he had identified the stranger who appeared the least interested in him, he turned on the full power of his charm. (Seth is not all that interested in easy conquests.) Huge brown eyes, demure and flirtatious eyelashes, no fewer than 5 dimples, pudgy little baby hand waves – all of this was aimed like a laser beam at his chosen one. And then, the killer finale: once he had established contact he would stop smiling, turn those solemn unblinking eyes on that person, extend his baby hand palm out, and *lean* from the shoulder in a gesture of pure yearning. Worked every time. That baby made more friends on the T in 2 days that most people make here in years.

- Red Sox home games. More Red Sox paraphernalia and fans in one place than you’ll see anywhere outside of Fenway. Fairly regular sight of a city full of differences temporarily united.

- One Sunday morning in New York a few months ago I got on a train on the Upper West Side, headed downtown. A tall African American woman in a very nice church dress was standing in the middle of the car. As soon as the train started moving she launched into a passionate sermon about Jesus, about not doing drugs, about not coveting another woman’s husband, and about how black people need to get their own PhDs because that’s what white people sure are doing. She was quite adamant and persuasive, and she said it all without holding on to any of the bars or straps in the car: she was ‘subway surfing’. In heels and a long chiffon skirt, I might add. All the people on the car just quietly listened. There wasn’t a lot of eye contact, but no one argued with her, a few uttered quiet ‘amens.’ It was quite a gentle crowd, really, for a New York subway. At the end of her sermon – she ran out of steam about 59th Street – she sat down next to me and pulled out an introductory psychology text book and began reading the chapter about the differences between mental health and mental illness. I have occasionally wondered since then what would motivate me to stand up in a subway car in Manhattan and give a passionate sermon about anything, anything at all.

- My all-time favorite weird scene on a train: It was autumn. My train pulled into the Kendall/MIT station. A woman in her mid-40s in tailored professional clothes, including a trench coat, stepped out of the train. She bumped into a mid-40s professional man she apparently knew. They stopped and talked for a moment. She reached into her pocket and pulled out…. a bright yellow rubber ducky. She gave it to him. He did not appear in any way surprised by this. He put the ducky in his pocket. They parted and headed in two different directions down the platform. My train pulled out. I have no idea if the ducky was some sort of clue, gift, or secret spy communication. The ducky changed hands and that was that.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Real Live Mermaids

Okay, one of the things I did NOT put on the list of Clues to Old Fogeyville was ‘Participation in a water aerobics class.’ A few months ago that would definitely have been on my list. The only thing I knew about water aerobics was how back in high school I picked up my grandmother after her class once or twice and got to see all the other grandmothers in their purply flowered swimsuits with skirts. They were cute. Aw.

I am now one of those grandmas. Sort of. (No skirt. Or grandchildren.) I take a water aerobics class at the pool in a nearby school. For reasons that make sense of you’re there (and no sense if you’re not), there is a sculpture of John F Kennedy’s head on the wall above the pool where we practice cross-country skiing in the deep end. I think this is the most surreal and probably my favorite detail about the whole thing.

A friend of mine started taking classes there a few months ago and said it was really helping her back. I have a grouchy back – it gets out of sorts and refuses to cooperate way more often than it should. (Definitely another sign of Old Fogeyhood.) So I decided I was going to brave the truly mortifying prospect of appearing in a semi-public place in a swimsuit for the benefit of back-helping exercise.

I’m so glad I did. Here are the things I love about my water aerobics class.

- The afore-mentioned stony gaze of JFK’s head. I don’t know why. I just love that he’s up there watching us splash.

- The grandmas. I don’t have grandmas anymore, and I miss their company. These ladies are not my grandmothers, but they are good company in a similar way. I love hearing their opinions of teenagers, Dancing with the Stars and the Geico Neaderthal guys.

- My back does feel better. Go figure.

- The anti-gravity belts. Okay, that’s not what they’re called, but that’s what I call them. You strap on a Styrofoam belt and let yourself down into the 10 foot section. The belt keeps you afloat so you can do crunches and barbell lifts (the barbells have foam instead of weights) and hamstring curls, etc. They make me feel like Judy Jetson. Plus they cover your tummy when you’re not in the water. Awesome.

- It’s the anti-swim. When you’re swimming you do everything you can to lessen resistance and build up speed. In water aerobics you seek out the resistance and do everything you can to create more work for yourself. Speed is irrelevant. It’s contrary – I love that.

- The whirlpool. You get a group of 8 grandmas (the group is actually not all grandmas – there are quite a few of us who are younger, and even a few men, but since it’s the grandmas I love, I’m gonna keep calling them that) going in a circle, ‘jogging’ and scooping their hands, eventually you build up a whirlpool. When the instructor tells us to change directions you do an about-face and find yourself going nowhere, or sometimes even backwards. I love that.

- The instructor. The woman is like a little machine in a swimsuit. She can go for hours. She can talk for hours. All at the same time. My first class we heard all about her new house, her mother’s recent visit, her new furniture, her husband’s participation in the purchase of new furniture, and a little about her teenage daughter. We get a dose of the daughter every week it turns out (she’s at that age apparently), but we also get a lot about her travel plans, her softball team, her garden, and so on. It’s a little like an old-fashioned radio serial.

- I can wear my glasses.

- No sweat. I workout and get sweaty but don’t have to deal with the icky smelliness of it because I’m in a pool. It’s a beautiful system.

- It’s like an old-fashioned quilting bee meets a modern step aerobics class. All the chat and good company, in a circle, feeling productive and communal, but with the added benefit of aerobic exercise. I’m telling you, it’s my new favorite thing.