In 2009 I took a photo every day for a year.
In 2019 I wrote an essay every day for a year.
This year, I’m drawing one image that pairs with a short story every day. Below is one of my pieces. You can read more here.

Swimming Lessons
The class was listed for ages 6-18 months where "parent and child can work on...appropriate water safety skills.”

Great, we thought, and signed our baby up for Angelfish.

Cut to 1996. I am 5 years old and starting swimming lessons. The smell of chlorine makes my stomach swirl, matching the turbulence from the jets in the nearby hot tub. I watch a gangly boy on the diving board. He hesitates, hoping his feet will sprout roots, cementing him to the board. His instructor walks along behind him and pushes him off; he falls into the water and emerges, sputtering.

I sit, trembling. A teacher with pierced nipples swims across the pool, his class of 5 year olds glomming onto him like spider monkeys clutching a tree.

5 years later, we move to Oregon from Philly. I resume lessons where I find them quite different. Instead of learning by doing, or learning anything at all, we talk about swimming: how we feel about the water, what it means to us. It was like going from Le Cordon Bleu to a philosophy class on food.

Needless to say my swimming skills went from effective to… less effective.

And so, cut to present day, when on the first day of class we are given rubber ducks. Oh no, I think.

Perhaps our babies will practice dunking their heads, while holding the ducks. No, I discover, this is truly just holding a duck.

The next class they are given rings. Perhaps they will dive for the rings.

No. You carry your baby in a conga line, holding the ring aloft. Great, so if you're caught in a rip tide, a plastic pool ring the diameter of a salad plate will come in handy.

But wait, I think, as we form a circle, perhaps we will practice flipping from front to back! Or blowing bubbles! Or any skill that teaches some semblance of water safety.

The teacher begins to sing the hokey pokey.

Because, should you drown, it seems that skills like treading water or floating are clearly inferior to the known survival technique of putting one's left foot in, then out, and shaking it all about.

Doing the hokey pokey during swimming lessons feels like practicing the Macarena during a fire drill. And so, we bid farewell to our fellow Angel Fish and resumed our swimming lesson search.

A collection of my photo essays