31 October 2006

My First Pumpkin Carving Experience

30 October 2006

Free Your Mind

What movie are these lines from? "One day you'll be cool. Look under your bed, it'll set you free. " For some odd reason, that line—the second one—came to mind when I was thinking about yesterday's session. (Cos, you know, I got it like that so I already know I'm cool. Right? Oh, don't answer that!) It wasn't music that set me free. It was, in fact, a surfboard.

I've only taken this board out, what, three or four times? I'm already starting to feel a certain level of comfort when I'm on it. I noticed that yesterday. At the end of my session, one of homies made me switch boards with her. She thought I was frustrated by my board and assumed I wanted to get on a longboard. So, we switched. And . . . I was not at all happy. There was too much board under me. Too much board under me? What the . . . ? I swear I was ready to start hyperventilating. The world was spinning. I was actually sitting on a longboard and wishing I could be back on my shorter board! I caught a wave on her board. Then we switched back. I then proceeded to catch a wave on the shorter board. With that, I ended it. I was lost. Am I a longboarder? Am I going to become a shortboarder? Who am I? Where am I?

What I do know is my view of my surfing world has changed. I am in a state of transition. I'll stop trying to convince myself and everyone who'll listen that I love my longboards. I won't stop loving those boards. But, Clayfin was right when he predicted I'd spend most of the winter on shorter boards. Going to a shorter board opens up a world of possibilities for me. And I'm really trippin' on the fact that I possess the ability to surf something shorter. I'd always assumed I wasn't strong enough, hadn't surfed long enough, would never be interested, yadda yadda yadda.

The quiver will soon grow to six boards. I bid on, stopped bidding on, hoped I'd lose, and eventually won a used 6'4" board on eBay. I'm already thinking ahead. I know how I am. It's likely that I will want to go even shorter than 7'1" within the next few months. I might as well be ready for that day. This is what's in the quiver as of today:
9'6' Tyler 305 custom
9'0" Chris Slick single fin
8'6" Con funboard (which I may end up selling)
7'1" Channel Islands M-13
7'0" Channel Islands MSF (which is hard as hell to surf)
6'5" Shortboard (6'5"—19 1/4"—2 3/8")

28 October 2006

Well, At Least We Were Laughing

That was the best thing about today's session. There was a lot of laughter. And that was a good thing since there weren't any waves worth surfing. It was one closeout after another. It was the kind of day that frustrates the hell out of you, making the drive home an irritation because the little voice in your head won't stop reminding you how much you suck. The one bright spot, though, was the laughter. I paddled out at the home break on the 7'1" board. Even though there were no waves to speak of, I got in anyway, figuring every session I spend on that board brings me a little closer to the day when I can comfortably ride it. I ended up sitting with two people I see quite often at other breaks. And you know what? We had a ball not catching anything. We tried. And it was in the trying that the laughter started. I did manage to catch one wave. I saw what looked like a shoulder and decided to paddle for it (since it was a left). I didn't expect to catch it. I'd pulled out of—or had been thrown from—everything else I'd gone for. But this one was different. For some strange reason, it all came together. In one swift motion, I was on my feet. The shoulder held up, allowing me to stand for awhile and look around. That was all she wrote though. One of the homies paddled out on his 6'4", traded boards with me, proceeded to catch waves, and then ask me why I wasn't catching any. (The nerve!!!) My brain and shoulders aren't quite ready for the speed required to pop-up on a shortboard. I still think about it way too much. There was no way I was going to do anything on his board, especially since my shoulders were done. Shorter boards are work! I don't feel like going shorter is impossible. It's merely going to take some dedication. I got a lot of free coaching today. I was told I'll have to stop paddling like a longboarder. I'll have to stop popping up like a longboarder. This is going to take awhile. I can see that. But I'll keep trying.

26 October 2006

I Know What I Don't Want

Okay, I've been at this job now for about eight months. That's damn near a record for me. I swear I'll scream if one more of my surfing buddies asks me, for the umpteenth time, whether I'm still working at the same place. Yes, I tell them, I'm still there. Yes, I actually like it. What's not to like? I get free stuff every time I turn around. I'm appreciated. More importantly, I don't pay a penny for health insurance (for either myself or my two men). Nevertheless, I can't see myself staying there for decades. It can be done, but not by me.

Once again, I'm at the place in my life where I don't necessarily know what I want; I only know what I don't want. I don't want to spend decades, or even one decade, working at the same job. Why? I like my job. I don't love my job. I don't like this go-to-work-at-the-same-time-every-day-and-do-the-same-thing-every-day-while-looking-at-the-same-four-walls-every-day thing. Before I was a surfer, I wanted to be free to do my own thing. Now that I'm a surfer, I crave that even more. The only problem is (1) Soul Brother #1 and I have a child to support and (2) I'm not quite sure how to go about making my way in the world without working for The Man.

What's my point? What do you think my point is? I want to surf every day if I so choose. I want to be able to take my kid to and bring my kid from school without it being a major production (and it will be one once the little man starts school next year). I want time to do the things that make me happy and I want to make money without punching a time clock. (I misspoke earlier. I guess I do know what I want.)

How I'll be able to make those things happen, I don't know. The problem with being in a job like mine is that you become complacent. It's just comfortable enough that you stop wanting more from your life. I don't think that's necessarily the case for me. I do, however, see this in many of my coworkers. For them, it's good enough. I, on the other hand, would like to believe that there's more to life than working 40 hours a week, surfing only on the weekends, and having a limited amount of time with your family. I may end up as one of the complacent ones who asks, after 20 years, where the time went. But I'd like to think I'll stay dissatisfied until I can free myself from the world of cubicles and time clocks.

22 October 2006

The Good and The Bad—No Ugly

You know surfers, all true surfers, are crazy when you pull up at your friend's house at O Dark Thirty in preparation for a morning of surfing. What were we thinking? It was dark, seriously dark. Dark like two o'clock in the morning dark. But you had to start driving in the dark today if you wanted to catch the waves and the tide at the right time. See, Gracefullee and I thought we'd be surfing a secret spot and we knew we'd need to make an early start. It's not that the secret spot was far away. It wasn't. But with the short window of time between sunrise and high tide, we needed time to travel to a different spot if necessary. And, yes, it was necessary that we do so. The secret spot didn't look too inviting. Several people told me of this spot. Now that I've seen it, I'm wondering what's so good about it. It seems to be more fickle than all of our normal breaks. I can't deal with that. An inconsistent spot wastes my time and effort. Thankfully, we'd gotten an early enough start to allow us to drive up the coast.

And there we were at LPB. I couldn't see shit from the parking lot. Gracefullee had to point out that there were waves down there and that people were actually riding them. At some point, she looked at me and said, "Do you want to stay here?" I wanted to say, "Oh, hell no!!! It's foggy. I'm cold. I know those waves must be gigantic. I'm sure I'm going to die out there today." However, that's not what I did say. I must have said yes. The next thing I knew we were suiting up and preparing to paddle out. While still deciding what we'd do, I'd heard a guy talk about how vicious the shore pound was. He said he had trouble even coming in. I don't need to hear that!!!! Words like that are enough to make me get in the car and go home.

The good: a dry hair paddle out at LPB. That guy was right about the shore pound and I had no intention of sacrificing myself to the surf gods before I'd even gotten out to the lineup. As soon as I saw a lull in the action, I took off running with my board, jumped right in, and paddled right out to the lineup. Amazing!!! What's even more amazing is that I paddled right into the middle of the lineup. I never do that! I always feel self-conscious and kind of, well, noticeable. LPB is even worse for me since so few women surf there (let alone women of color). I didn't even care today. I just went right into the thick of things.

The bad: I couldn't quite find my rhythm. Either the waves weren't breaking hard enough or etiquette dictated that I not take waves I wanted since others were already waiting and in better position. When I finally did take a wave that was decent, I was too scared to weight my front foot and commit. So I ended up hovering near the top of the wave for a ways and then popping out the back. My last wave was one where I did fully commit. Unfortunately, that wave had no shape and I got tossed hard. I guess this session was a good way to make the transition to a winter wave mindset. I was somewhat unnerved today by those waves. I don't think I'll feel that way the next time I go there. I suppose that means the session was good enough. It's days like these when I miss surfing several times a week. When I surfed three, four and five times a week, I wasn't as tentative as I am now.

Grace, let's do this again!!! Next time, you'll have the board you need and I promise I'll be a hard charger.

21 October 2006

The Early Bird Went Home Hungry

Oh, I was up and out early. It was still dark. I was home by 9:15 and I had nothing to show for it. This is an odd swell. I figured my best bet was to hit it early before the tide came up. RPB was my first stop. It was still dark, but I could see there wasn't a lot of swell coming through. So I headed north to the 'bu. It was already crowded. I didn't even care. I was ready. I haven't surfed in two weeks. When I'm surf-starved, I'm aggressive. That's perfect for Malibu. Unfortunately, I didn't see much there except a lot of people bobbing in the water. There were waves. I didn't see anything worth fighting the crowds for. It didn't see like there was much energy in the water. I headed to the home break, even though the direction of this swell isn't a good one for our break. Of course, once I got there, I found plenty of energy in the water. There were those big, beautiful, board-breaking closeouts we all know and love. I wasn't having any of that. I knew the karma was all wrong when I discovered I'd left my wetsuit at home. I had an emergency wetsuit—a long-sleeve springsuit—that I would gladly have used had there been anything to surf. I decided to take the forgotten wetsuit as a sign to leave well enough alone for today. I've had a week of hard workouts. Taking a day off wasn't going to hurt anything. And there will be more waves, better waves, in fact. I'll try again tomorrow with Gracefullee. We'll start early and see what we find.

20 October 2006

It's Back!

The LPB cam is back up. Yes, it's free. It doesn't provide a video feed. I don't care about that. I like to look at the pictures. They usually give you enough of an indication of how the surf is. If nothing else, the cam provides a great view of the sunset.

I've been feeling stronger every day. (Note: That was a musical reference.) I'm going to hit it both days this weekend. In fact, Gracefullee and I are planning an assault on a secret (longboard) spot on Sunday. Keep us in your prayers!

17 October 2006

Look What We Found After All These Years

If you know anyone interested in buying it, let me know.

13 October 2006

Time Off

Well, the weather is going to force me to do what I've been doing all week: not workout. That means I won't be surfing. I'm fighting a battle with a cold. As usual, I'm losing. I only worked out once this week and, even before it rained, I'd decided I'd probably rest throughout the weekend as well. Rest is something I don't do well. I didn't learn to rest until I got coaching (while I was racing bikes). Periodically, my coach would tell me to take a week off. I was to do little or nothing in the way of working out. This, in turn, allowed my body and mind to recuperate from months of working out out at least six days a week. I still tend to be regimented when it comes to working out. I do it without thinking about it. Working out is just what I do. But now I'm also working full-time, being a wife, and raising a kid. This cold was enough to make me take some time off.

It's just as well. I'm about to move into a new phase of workouts. I'm increasing the weight I lift. I'll also be doing the sand dune a couple of times a week after work. So it was a good time to rest and prepare to switch gears.

11 October 2006

Does This Mean I'm Sponsored?

Thanks, Body Glove! I am appreciative. They let me pick whatever wetsuit I wanted. (I chose a long sleeve spring suit. That's my preferred suit during the spring and summer.) They threw in the booties just because. I'll rock those booties this winter and save the spring suit for warmer temps. Body Glove rocks!

10 October 2006

I Love Cars

I've loved cars, in general, since I was a little kid. But there are certain cars I love in particular. My favorite of all-time is the 1958 T-Bird. That was the first year of the 4-seater 'Birds. I've been pining for one of these for decades.

Since seeing one at a car show a few years ago, I now have a thing for the Ford Falcon Squire wagons. That would be a perfect surf buggy for this family.

If anyone wants to give me a Panoz, I won't turn it down. I promise.

09 October 2006

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

That's how I felt after my session on Sunday. Whiff offered a helping hand to get me on the Merrick and I took it. Of course, it meant I had to be in the water at 6:15 a.m. on a Sunday, but it was well worth it. When I went to check the surf, I saw three silhouettes out there in the water. Those three turned out to be Whiff, BBD, and Whiff's friend (whose name I never got). Upon paddling out, I was already cursing the fact that I wasn't on the Slick or the Tyler or any other board over nine feet long. I am completely comfortable on a longboard. Regardless of what people say or how people try to pigeonhole surfers by the length of their surfboards, I am quite content to be viewed as a longboarder. Nevertheless, I think it behooves all of us who surf to at least try other types of boards, even if we don't stick with them. So, I paddle out and I'm already thinking I should give up, go back to the car, and grab my Slick. But, no, I went out there to try to get a handle on that board. I wanted help. And help was sitting right there.

First things first, Whiff's new board is perfect for him. I'm sure most people would not have guessed it was his first day on that board. Every time I looked up, he was up and riding. BBD was also on a board that was new to him. He, too, was up and riding every time I turned around. Whiff will be completely dialed in with his Fugly board in no time. You could already see that on Sunday.

My thoughts about my board? Well, I like it. It's, as Monty Python might say, something completely different so my confidence in the water was close to non-existent. I didn't know which waves I should paddle for. I didn't know where I should be in the board. I felt lost out there. But, Whiff gingerly began to offer advice (which I appreciated). Then his friend, the one whose name I didn't catch, began to offer a lot of advice. At one point, that guy caught me paddling for a longboard wave and yelled, "Stop!" He told me what kind of waves to look for on a shortboard and when to paddle for them. (At one point, he even told me I should try Whiff's board. I wasn't having that—too new and too short.) The whole session is kind of a blur. Whiff and BBD eventually paddled down to a peak that was working well. I chose not to follow. I wanted room to crash and burn. Of course, in the end it didn't matter since the place got packed and I barely had room to move anyway. What Whiff doesn't know is that I got about four or five waves during the session. He saw the first one. I'm still laughing about that one. My back foot was hardly on the board. I think it was looking for the two feet of extra board that's normally beneath me. Each wave I caught was better than the previous one. And what was cool was even though Whiff was no longer there to give me tips, other guys were. One guy paddled by and said something about always seeing me on a longboard. When I explained I wanted to try something new in an effort to be an even better surfer, he commended me and told me not to give up even if the transition was difficult. Then another guy paddled up a few minutes after that and talked me into a wave or two. The board will eventually be too long for me. I know that. For right now, it's perfect. It's making the transition to shorter boards an easy one. I don't feel like I need to bring a longboard with me on my next session (unless the waves are ankle biters). I'm happy to stay on the Merrick and keep learning.

Giving Up Surfing for Golf?

In a word—no. It's not my game. But damn if I didn't laugh hard and constantly for the few hours we were on the course. The Gatoritas probably helped. What? You never heard of Gatoritas? They're just margaritas masquerading as Gatorade. If I can always have one of those while I'm playing, I'll play golf all the time!! I only lost one ball. I didn't hit anyone. I even hit the ball straight a few—very few—times. One of my foursome partners did get hit. Thankfully, it wasn't hard. He, then, hit a ball that was so off that it struck the golf cart I was sitting in. Another one of our foursome used his driver for just about everything. Wow! We really sucked. We didn't even finish the course. Nor did we keep score. We gave up on keeping score on the first hole after we saw that doing so would be pointless. If nothing else, we gave our boss a few things to chuckle about. I don't think we embarrassed him.

I'll post later on Sunday's session with Whiff and BBD.

06 October 2006

Fore!!!! Oh, Sorry, Dude!!!!

That's right, I've taken up golf. Really, I have. That's what happens when you work in the corporate world, isn't it?

Not in my world. At least not in this lifetime. I will be playing golf tomorrow. No, that's not true. I will be at the company golf tournament swinging at the ball. That's about the extent of my involvement with golf. I hit my very first golf ball yesterday at the driving range on my lunch hour. Thankfully, my boss was there to give me pointers. I was back at the driving range again today. From what I can tell, I don't completely suck. I can actually hit the ball (on most of my attempts). When I hit it just right, it went straight and it went far. My putting needs some work though. I'd be concerned about all of this if I planned to continue golfing. The problem with golf, and I'm speaking personally, is that (1) it's too slow and (2) it puts way too much strain on my bad knee. Why am I doing the golf tournament after saying it was dumb and that I'd rather go surfing? Well, at the last minute, my boss encouraged one of my co-workers to go ahead and play in the tournament. That meant, of course, that my homie needed to put a team together. Who did he ask first? Yeah, it was me. And I could tell he really wanted to do it. So I assented. Truthfully, this is not so much a tournament as it is a party. We don't have company functions any other time of the year. You're not supposed to BYOB. It's verboten. And I respect that. I really do. But I ain't drinking no beer. That's all they seem to be selling at this course. So, although I won't be BYOBing, I will be accepting liquid donations from those who will. Oh god, I start talking about alcohol and forget what I was talking about! The surf seems to leave a lot to be desired lately. So I'll stay out of the water tomorrow. I don't think I'll be missing much. I'll try to get wet on Sunday.

02 October 2006

The Object of My Affection

Newest Non-Surfing Addition to the Family

The El Spot

I wanted to surf Sunday, but I wasn't sure where. Again, I was on my own. CYT is AWOL. (Girl, where have you run off to? Let's surf!!) Mind you, I don't mind surfing alone. It's just that doing so sometimes makes you feel a little . . . lost. When you surf with someone else, you head out with a plan. You know where you're going and what you're there to do. When it's you, yourself and you, it's sometimes difficult to decide where to go, what time to go, etc. Anyway, I got Soul Grandmother #1 to watch Soul Brother #2 (since Soul Brother #1 had to work). That meant I was free to surf for a few hours. I called my new surfing buddy (a.k.a. The Buyer) to see if she wanted to go out. She didn't think there was anything out there and declined. By the time I'd walked the little man to his grandmother's house and walked back, I had a voicemail from The Buyer. It said, in essence, "Let's go surfing!" And we did. She was already in the water when I got there. I was sure I wouldn't be able to find her. But, she was right when she said I'd easily spot her on my bright yellow and orange board. I saw her almost immediately. Once out in the water, I went for anything I could. I caught the first wave I paddled for. You know what that means. The session was a good one. I swear I'm being completely honest when I say the conditions were flat and walled at the same time. We did a lot of sitting and paddling for waves that didn't want to break. Then the set waves would roll through. I got a few of them. A couple of them were closeouts that chewed me up and spit me out. That's a good thing. It's good preparation for the way winter waves work you.

I took two boards with me. I surfed the Slick, which was sporting its ever-so-handsome duct tape patch over the ding. (Yeah, I know there's a better tape for dings; I didn't have any of it.) The 7'1" Merrick stayed in the car. The waves weren't doing enough to warrant that board. I'm not sure how to transition from my longboards to this thing. Do I take the shorter board out even when there are no waves? Do I take it out only when the waves are more conducive to a shortboard? What to do?

I got a picture of the board I'm lusting after. I'll post it on another day this week.