September newsletter !!!!!!!!!!!! TY FOR READING.
I started on my community swim-team when I was 6 and our mascot was an Otter. It always made me mad because out of all the aquatic creatures we could have chosen as our mascot, we chose an Otter. We weren’t always the Otters, we actually never had a mascot my first 3 years on the team. It only became a thing to have a mascot for your community swim team when Richboro made their mascot The Dolphins, and there-so after, Somerton made theirs the Barracudas, and then Doylestown became The Sharks. We were late on the trend so there was little left to choose from. So we chose Otters.
Listen I have nothing wrong with Otters, in fact, I LOVE otters. I would call myself an Otter fan. I just always felt like in comparison to our competitors we were TOAST. A Dolphin is smart, a Shark is scary, a Barracuda is BIG (for a fish). An Otter, is… cute. I mean- These guys mate for life AND they HOLD HANDS?!. It’s a known fact Sharks fuck whomever they want and Dolphins are gay. How could an Otter compete with that?
I was not a fast swimmer, but I was a GOOD swimmer.
In an effort to make the community swim-team experience a positive one for all, even the slow swimmers like me, they divided each event into “heats”. For example, the 10 and under 50m Backstroke would be labeled “Event 45” underneath that would be a list of heats. Whatever heat you were in dictated how much your race counted toward the overall score of your team. Heat 1= if you win you give all the points to your team, heat 2= if you win you get half the points to your team. heat 3= if you win you give a portion of some-kind to your team.
Heat 4 meant nothing.
I was a die-hard heat 4.
My mom explained being a heat 4 to me as “just trying to beat yourself and your own best time.” I didn’t want to beat myself tho, I wanted to beat OTHERS. I wanted to matter.
It didn’t take me long to figure out what these adults were doing to us. I knew from the get-go where I stood. I tried many times to talk to my coach and ask what I could do to move up heats. She would always say a variety of things that i would try and try again except for one.
“Shannon, you never seem to get off the Starting block quite fast enough, you’re always a bit behind”
The starting block was in fact my first stage. And I always took my time with the moments I had interacting with it because of the complex feelings it brought me. I would always be filled with the deepest most gut-wrenching fright before stepping onto it. I’d wait through 3 previous heats with my heart racing and blood buzzing. It was the only time I had control over that familiar feeling, and the only time I could be certain it would be there. I also knew I could get rid of it by just- jumping in and swimming the race. But sometimes the fear was so all encompassing I remained still when the beep went off. Also, I always had to pee, like RIGHT before. I was always like ”omg i have to pee but I’m literally up any second- is there enough time? could I make it the 10 seconds to the port-a-potty and back? am I wet enough to just pee on the deck?” To my delight, each time I jumped in and started swimming as fast as I could, the sensation to piss subsided. I would pull myself out on the other side, behind the rest of the slow losers in heat 4. What a joy it is to feel like you dont have to pee anymore. Did I release it as I swam my race? I never knew then but I know now. (I prooooobably didn’t and it was just a bodily reaction to nerves, but literally who knows?). The starting block tests what you know to be true about your body, what it can feel, what it can handle and what it can do.
The first time I moved to New York City, it was the day after my 18th birthday. The second time I moved to New York City was the day before my 28th.
The first time, at 18 was a false start. I could tell you that now cuz the anxiety you’re supposed to feel before making a big jump like that just wasn’t there that time around. I was too bright-eyed and bushy tailed about the big bad city. I imagined myself getting a Frida Kahlo quote tattooed on my ankle, I couldn’t wait to attend the same school Keith Haring dropped out of, I was convinced I would see Alec Baldwin everyday and see him enough that he would start to recognize me and eventually ask me to study under him as a gorgeous new young actor friend. I would understand him and see past the tabloid headlines. I had too much hope I could win that race. Not enough urge to pee. Jumped in too quick.
I technically lasted four semesters in NYC the first time but really it was one. Two weeks into my first semester I broke my foot and then two weeks following that, I was sexually assualted by a NYU exchange student from Belgium who was 24 (while in a cast to heal my broken foot) The start was too much for me to handle because I didn’t prepare what was coming for me. I blacked out the rest of the race, they had to pull me out of the pool because I almost drowned.
I went back home to philly who’s mascot is most definitely an otter.
The events leading up to my proper move into my Brooklyn home the second time around were evenly and heavily coated with anxiety inducing events. You see, I had to get to NYC before I originally planned because a great job opportunity came my way. My lease started on the 1st and the Job started on the 22nd. I made arrangements to spend two weeks in limbo around hip cluster of Brooklyn neighborhoods, staying with friends and random air bnbs. I would have some time on the starting block before I dove in to start my second shot at this race.
My second night in NYC I was Pushed into the side of a parked car by two shooters fleeing a scene. End of my first week, lost my friend’s cat I was supposed to be cat sitting. That weekend, I have a panic attack on a second floor storage unit in Flatbush, the ambulance is nearly called. End of the second week, I move into my new place and loose someone I love, I leaned on them too hard.
The time on the block before this jump has lead me to believe this race will actually be the good one. It will actually cure all the built up feelings that over washed me before the start. I know that the more nervous you are on the block, the less you have to pee on the other end. I probably wont come in first, but at least I know the beep has gone off.
time to start swimming.