31 January 2007

The Dreads

July 2005:
At that point in time, I didn't know what I was in for. I didn't know that locks take time, a long time for someone with hair like mine. Come to think of it, I didn't know anything about locks. I just knew that it was time for something different. I was ready for a change after 20 years with a short natural. There was no way I'd ever straighten my hair again. And why on Earth are we black folks still doing that in this day and age? I didn't get a vote when I was a kid. The decision was made for me (as it was for every other black girl at that time). Once I was grown, I opted out of the drama that is black women and their hair.

That hair in the photo above is not locks. It's my damn wavy hair aspiring to lockhood via palm-rolling. (Judging by the length of my hair, it was probably finger rolled).

January 2007:
January 31, 2007

January 31, 2007.2
Now, those are locks!!! They were well worth the wait. I gave up on the loctitian months ago, choosing to palm-roll the almost-locks myself. Then, a few months after that I came to my senses and put an end to all of the maintenance. No palm-rolling. No products. No more stupid preoccupation with hair. Now, as the recent photos show, I leave my hair alone to do what it damn well pleases. And that's what it does. I don't even bother to try and tame it. Locks can be tamed, but they shouldn't be. What's the point of having them if you spend all of your time trying to make them look cute or uniform or (what you think is) neat? Once I gave my locks their freedom, they blossomed into what they are now—real locks. I still can't tie them back out of my face when I surf, but I've somehow gotten used to them being in my eyes. I can't even imagine what they'll look like in 20 years.

29 January 2007

It is Monday . . .

and I do feel it. It probably would have been a good idea not to lift weights on Sunday. It might have been a better idea not to do intervals on the rowing machine today.

It rained enough on Saturday to make me skip paddling out yesterday. I'm just not feelin' this polluted water. I found it interesting to hear on the news last week that there were unreported sewage spills last year in Santa Monica Bay. I usually surf in that vicinity (though not at Bay St. much). Last year, I even blogged about being chased out of the water, during one session, by brown gunk. I'm certain that was sewage. As a result of that session, I no longer trust the authorities to inform us about unsafe conditions. There were no signs warning people not to enter the water. The lifeguards never said a word about the water (which tells me that they didn't know). We all sat out there wondering what was up. What was that stuff? We never got an answer, but I didn't need one. I knew. So did Grace. So, I realize now that it's up to those of us who surf to stay vigilant and warn one another about questionable colors and smells emanating from the water.

27 January 2007

I'm Gonna Feel It on Monday

It's been so long since I surfed a decent wave that I thought this swell would get the best of me. I'm happy to say that it didn't. I stayed out for about two and a half hours in a 3/2 with no booties. Yeah, I was damn cold, but it was well worth it in terms of being able to paddle freely and feel the board under my feet.

At around 5:30 this morning, my eyes popped open. I was ready to head out. I was ready, yes. Nevertheless, I stayed in bed. I knew it was too early, too dark. So, I waited. I wanted to go back to sleep, but that's a hard thing to do when, first, you're a consummate morning person and, second, Soul Brother #1 is snoring loudly in your ear. I think I finally allowed myself get up and dressed at 6:15. For once, I wasn't antsy. I'm often agitated before I head to the beach. I think it's the result of not living close enough to the water to make a quick check. Lately, the lack of swell has caused me immeasurable irritation. I get to the beach only to find nothing. And then my small window of "me" time is shot. I go home unsurfed and disappointed. I used to take skates or something with me. I don't know why I stopped doing that. Anyway, I'd end up standing around at the beach waiting for waves that I knew wouldn't materialize. Then I'd go home and workout indoors. I hate working out indoors.

Well, today, I was prepared. I had two surfboards, my speedskates, my skating clothes and a helmet. If I couldn't surf, I was going to skate myself into the ground. Luckily, RPB (my first stop) was breaking when I got there. It wasn't firing, but I saw lines. I saw shape. I saw waves. There would be no driving to other spots. What I saw out there was good enough. I haven't seen waves like that in over a month. What made it even better was that there was a short window when it did fire. I kept saying I was cold, that I was getting out. Then I'd catch a wave, make my way toward the shore, change my mind, and paddle back out. I did that probably six times. My "one last wave" became "six last waves".

I felt a bit out of sorts today. I caught waves without problem, but I was forced to go backside the entire time. No lefts popped up. I can easily find trim and stay high on a wave going frontside. It's hard for me to do that consistently going backside, especially after a surf drought. It was still a good session. One wave stands out and it's not the ride that I'm thinking of. I was a bit surprised by my reaction to what one guy did to me. I am generally laid-back and generous in the water. Note I said "generally". I really didn't know I had it in me to get a "take no prisoners" attitude when someone pisses me off. Well, this guy pissed me off. He was sitting to my left when a bomb approached. All of a sudden, he paddled around me and then sets himself up to take the bomb. Oh, no! I told myself there was no way I was going to let him snake my wave. I'm not sure why he positioned himself directly behind me. Perhaps he thought he'd scare me out of his way? He was wrong. I started paddling, waiting for the skeg up the ass, but it never came. I was going to take my wave. If it had come down to a paddle battle, I was ready. That was my wave and I wasn't going to let some asshole try to paddle around me, especially since there was some semblance of order in the lineup and everyone kind of knew that one was mine. After that, the guy went and sat elsewhere. Good.

I planned to surf tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's rained enough today to make surfing out of the question. I guess that means I'm back inside for my workout. That sucks.

24 January 2007

Quiver (as of January 2007)

Check out the bumps in the wax!!

23 January 2007

Freeways vs. Surface Streets

This is the analogy I use when thinking about the surf spots around here in L.A. Like many who were born and raised here, I no longer enjoy living here. At this point, the only thing L.A.'s got going for it is its proximity to the ocean. At times, especially during the summer when the fair-weather surfers venture back into the water, surfing in L.A. is a contact sport. 10 million people live in this place. 10 million! I can't even guess how many of them surf, but if you've seen surf videos taken at Malibu on a summer day, you get a good idea of how crowded our breaks can get.

What I've found curious since I started this blog is how many people, both bloggers and commenters, tend to label one break a kook spot and another a genuine surf spot, as if surfing the former is verboten under any and all circumstances if you want to be respected. I don't see the world this way. Like I said before, this place is crowded. There are two ways of navigate your way around this city. You can take the freeway or you can stick to the surface streets. My preference is the latter. My years as a serious and competitive cyclist taught me how to get just about anywhere in this city without using the freeways. (In fact, I've also ridden to San Diego and Santa Barbara without getting on the freeway.) Here's my point, both the freeways and the surface streets will get you where you want to go. The freeways out here are well-known for testing your mettle and your patience. Wanna see some road rage? Get on the Santa Monica Freeway during rush hour. It's not a pretty sight. The surface streets, while seemingly slower than the freeway, have a better vibe. You're still sitting in traffic, but this traffic often makes more progress than the freeway does.

Well, what the hell does this have to do with surfing? Just this: the genuine surf spots versus kook spots debate is no different from the freeways versus surface streets debate. The genuine surf spots, much like the freeways, are filled with people on a mission. They are going to fight the traffic to reach their destination, which, of course, is the wave. They don't care if they take that trip with 20 of their new best friends. The kook spots, much like the surface streets, tend to be frequented by those who often just want to get where they're going without all the anger and waiting that accompanies freeway driving. (I need to digress a little and add that I've noticed that many people stay on the freeways because that's all they know and they refuse to think outside the box; they won't venture off of the freeway to find an alternate, perhaps better way to get where they're going.) Granted, both the kook spots and genuine spots have their dangers. Kook spots are filled with new surfers who can neither steer their boards nor hang onto them once being tossed from the boards. At the genuine surf spots, experienced surfers can handle their boards, but they often can't contain their emotions. Surf rage and road rage look no different when you see it in person.

I, for one, don't care where I go to surf. If the place has a decent wave, I'll surf it. Kook spot, genuine surf spot, makes no difference to me. In fact, if my boards could talk, they would tell you why it makes no sense to make a big distinction between the two types of spots. This is what happened at the genuine surf spot. This is what happened at the kook surf spot. Mind you, both spots have a decent wave. The kook spot is less crowded than the genuine surf spot. I like both places and surf both places. I guess my point is that I don't see why people find it necessary to make such distinctions about surf spots, especially here in this crowded city. I'm just glad when I can get a wave to myself at any of the well-known spots. Freeways or surface streets—they'll both get you there. Genuine surf spots or kook surf spots—they both have waves. I'll usually surf at whichever is least crowded regardless of the spot's reputation. In a city of this size with over-crowded breaks, you have to be thankful for whatever waves you can get wherever you can get them.

20 January 2007

Power to the People!

Clayfin worked his magic for me. These fins are truly works of art. I don't think he knows how talented he is. You know what Clayfin? These things have soul. They really do. The soul that epoxy boards lack is living in these fins. They're beautiful and I'm appreciative.

Enough Already!!!

When in the hell will I be able to get back in the water? What is up with this lack of swell?

Soul Brother #1 and I drove all the way to County Line this morning only to discover that 1) the group we were supposed to meet there was, in fact, not there and 2) there were no waves. The BSA (Black Surfing Association) started sending announcements a few weeks ago, telling everyone that there would be a blackout at County Line. (No, I'm not the one who decided to use the word "blackout" to describe the times when we all get together to surf.) 8: 00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Okay, I'm not stupid. I'd already checked the surf reports and tide charts. I thought it might be flat. I'd hoped there would be a little something out there, but was prepared to come home unsurfed . . . again. What pissed me off more than anything else was the fact that no one was there. If you're not going to be there at 8, don't say the thing starts at 8. I thought at least a bunch of us would get together to talk story and see how everyone was doing. Well, we got there at 7:45. As we sat there watching two guys sit in the middle Lake County Line, Soul Brother #1 and I got more irritated. At some point, he announced that if no one showed up by 8:30, we'd leave. I wasn't even in the mood to give them until 8:30. I told him the cut-off was 8:15. And it was at that time that we drove away. What was the purpose of waiting? There were no waves and no other black people there. What? I was supposed to sit there and wait to see who, if anyone, showed up? Oh, hell no! That's a waste of my time. So, we went back to the home break. I didn't think we'd find anything. The tide was already too high at County line. It was no different at the home break. Well, it was a bit different. There were waves there—breaking onshore. I ended up riding my bike on the stationary trainer (boring) and jumping rope (tiring, but fun). I'm thinking tomorrow may be the day. Everyone and everything is saying a swell is on the way.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY FOR SURF. (Please bow your heads.)

17 January 2007

You People Are All Alike!!

Word to the wise: Don't ever say that to a black person. Okay, you can say it if you want. But it would be a good idea to take off running once "you people" slips out before your brain can stop your mouth from opening.

With that said, we must be somewhat alike since both Slowpolk and I took pictures of our feet/shoes.
I still have before and after pictures that I took while I was in high school, pictures of my feet in red slip-on Vans. The first picture is the "before". The shoes are in pristine condition. The second picture is the "after". The shoes are completely shredded from skateboarding. For some reason, those pictures are symbolic. I'm not sure what they symbolize, but they're the reason why I took a picture—decades later—of my feet in Vans.

Back in the day, "the day" being the late 1970's, you never saw black kids in Vans. Well, maybe you saw a few (me being one of them). I wore Vans all the time. I liked them. I still like them. (What I don't like now is the price.) When I was a teenager, there was little mixing of white culture and black culture. I realize now, as an adult who understands American social history, why that was. This cultural polarization made my life rather difficult though. I was a kid who couldn't fit in. I've never been one to conform. Now I simply don't bother to try. When I was a teenager, I often tried to conform to the norms of the day. My attempts never lasted long. Even then, I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Damn the critics. And there were a lot of them. Black folks were one way. White folks were another way. Black folks did this. White folks did that. You stay on your side. I'll stay on my side. And everyone is happy. Well, I wanted to skate. I wanted to surf. I wanted to wear jeans every day. I wanted to listen to rock in addition to funk. And frankly, black kids didn't do a lot of that. What made it even worse was the fact that I was unapologetically athletic at a time when sports-minded girls were still called "tomboys" and assumed to be gay. Damn it was hard to be me back then.

It's not hard to be me anymore. Does the word "tomboy" still exist? Now people compliment me for being so devoted to exercise. It makes me laugh. I was given shit for it, by both other kids and adults, back then. But how many women over 40 can say they're the same size they were 20 years ago? As for my shoes, I've been back in Vans for awhile. I guess they're "in" as I see teens of all races wearing them. These days, I'm complimented on my footwear by black kids who may not realize I'm old enough to be their mom. They may even be the kids of the people who criticized me when I was growing up. (I still live in the neighborhood in which I was born and raised.) Vans will always be more than just shoes to me. I wonder if I can get a pair of custom Vans emblazoned with the word "rebel"?

15 January 2007

I'm Just a Tease

14 January 2007

Were We Bad in a Previous Life?

Is that why Mother Nature won't bring us any waves? And who the hell is manning the surf report computers at Pacific Waverider and Surfline? What I saw out there was not "1-3 and fair". It was 0-2 and flat. If these people would just tell it like it is, I wouldn't have to waste all of this time getting mentally psyched up, packing the car, and driving to the beach. If I paid for surf reports, I'd be demanding my money back. But I don't pay and won't pay. "Don't get fired unless it's firing." Isn't that the slogan for one of the surf report sites? If we all keep depending on their surf reports, we'll get fired for constantly leaving work to chase after non-existent epic conditions.


13 January 2007

How Much of This Do We Have to Take?

Peep this, y'all . . . there wasn't shiznit out there except a lot of wind. I'll try again tomorrow.

12 January 2007

Whoever Ordered Winter . . .

You need to ask the waiter if you can change your order. I suggest you order the winter waves as your entree with side orders of winter wind and winter cold.

11 January 2007

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

Whiff got tagged and refused to tag anyone else. I'm going to tag myself on his behalf.

1) I'm not averse to making my child beg: "Please mom, beautiful mom, best mom in the whole wide world. There'll never be another mother like you." Yes, he actually says it and he's only four years old.
2) I've lived in Walla Walla, Washington.
3) I'm the only child of an only child and I only have one child.
4) I'm opposed to the death penalty.
5) I have five tattoos.

Now I'm tagging the other surf bloggers. You know who you are.

09 January 2007

Lupe Fiasco

Oh yeah. Settin' up for the bottom turn. I hope that's what I was doing. I think that's what I was doing. Okay, I'll go out on a limb and say, yes, I was setting up for a wicked, rail-only bottom turn. Hmmm. That was the day of the serious off-shore winds—check out the hair being blown back out of my face—that kept all but a few of us out of the water. I'm even wearing booties! I must have been on crack when I decided to put those things on. I won't be wearing them again any time soon.

I'm sitting at home right now, having taken the day off for that big test the doctors wanted Soul Brother #1 to take. As it turns out, he's fine; the test found nothing out of the ordinary. The problem with taking time off from work is that you enjoy the freedom . . . and the sunlight. Did I ever mention that I work in a building with few windows? My department has no windows at all. Not one. That itself is torture. I'd like to think I won't be at this job long. In a previous life, I probably would have quit already. But in a previous life, I wasn't a parent. My goal now is to find a way out of this life without compromising the financial health of this family.

And, no, the title of this post has nothing to do with what I wrote. The title refers to the CD I'm listening to as I type.

07 January 2007

It Was Flat

This is not a picture of the home break. But this break isn't far away. It provides a good representation of those sad little waves. I'm glad I paddled out yesterday.

06 January 2007

Cold, Windy and Kind of Small? Let's Surf!!!

I'm still cold even though I got out of the water before 9 a.m. I even took a hot bath while drinking hot tea. And I'm still cold!!! How do the surfers in Northern Cali and the East Coast do it?. All of you who regularly surf in cold, windy conditions should give yourselves a pat on the back. You've got balls (albeit frozen ones)!

I got some good waves. I hadn't expected to catch much with booties on. Yes, I hate 'em, hate 'em like there's no tomorrow. But I was cold before I even got in the water. That wind was biting. I noticed I wasn't the only one to change into my wetsuit while sitting in the car. How I managed to stay out for about an hour I don't know. I guess it was the waves. It's not like I was warm or anything. In fact, I have a thick rashguard that I wear under my wetsuit for added warmth. It's a long-sleeve thing that irritates the hell out of me because the sleeves bunch up and make paddling difficult. Before I got in, I grabbed some scissors from someone and cut the sleeves off. I want the warmth for my core. It's okay if my arms get cold. As I was saying, the thick rash vest and booties didn't help much. I complained the entire time I was sitting out in lineup. Was it worth it? Hell, yeah. I got more waves than I thought I would and the new board is perfect.

04 January 2007

Day From Hell

1. The alarm, which is set for 4:45 a.m. failed to awaken me for my workout this morning. This is always a bad sign.
2. Doctors, hospitals, and all things medical suck . . . at least for today. First, Soul Brother #1's shoulder surgery (which was scheduled for tomorrow) was in the air. As of this morning, we didn't know whether or not it would, in fact, take place. At 9 a.m., I started calling the surgeon's office. During the subsequent two hours, I was told the surgery was on (and given all of the necessary details), then they called back and told me that the surgery was off. In the meantime, we've got to see a different doctor for something else. Once he sees that doctor, whose office was in no rush to schedule the appointment, the brother can get the surgery done. None of this would be so bad if we didn't have to work all of it around our work schedules (and my limited amount of sick leave).
3. New employee at work asked about a weird vibe she's picked up on. I was put on the spot, having to decide whether to tell her that the vibe comes from the rumor—which is probably less a rumor than it is a fact—that the irritating, difficult person she works for is sleeping with the big boss. I really want to stay out of the middle of that bullshit.
4. The dentist's cleaning tool, the sharp one that shoots water, decided not to work once I got there. Here we go again!! First they said I'd have to come back another day. Then they decided to do the cleaning the old-fashioned way, which is not exactly pain-free. I told them I thought I might have a cavity since one tooth hurts when I bite down on something hard. They took x-rays. Of course, the x-rays of that tooth kept getting cut off. So they kept coming back in to x-ray that one tooth. Then—yes, there's more—the dentist looks at the x-ray and says she doesn't see anything. WTF? She keeps looking and looking and looking (at the x-ray) before finally admitting to seeing what may be the beginning of a cavity. Well, by that time it was so late that I couldn't even get it filled. I have to go back!
5. It's raining!!! On a Thursday!!! Saturday's surf session now looks doubtful.

01 January 2007

No Better Way to Start the New (Surf) Year

Joseph Masila - "Celebrating the New Year"

Somehow, I got a session in today. I was dying to go early, but I wasn't sure what the highest of high tides was doing. I told Soul Brother #1 the morning was his; I sent him off on his motorcycle. Explain to me why he rode to the home break and then called to tell me it wasn't bad? Was that the smartest thing he could have done this morning? See, I'd been trying to put surfing out of my mind while I was at home. (That's not entirely true; I was watching the cams periodically to see if the dropping tide was having an effect on the waves.) His call caused me to work myself into a bit of a lather. I couldn't stop thinking about surfing. I couldn't stop thinking about how nice it would be to bring in the new year with a session. While he was on the phone, I asked him to ride up the coast to check out the surf. He then had the nerve to decline!!! So I hung around with my little man, waiting for his dad to return so we could decide how we wanted to spend the rest of the day.

Well, Soul Brother #1 came home . . . and sent me off in search of surf. This was after we thought Soul Brother #2 had been stung by a bee. After ministering to the little one, we realized he had not, in fact, been stung. He couldn't point to where it hurt and we didn't see anything that looked like a sting. After that drama, I was sent on my way. It's not like I was going far. I knew the home break and neighboring beach breaks were out of the question. I had to find a point break. I did find a point break. I wasn't impressed by what I saw. The incredibly low tide made me worry about surfing into rocks. The waves looked extremely mushy. I didn't see people catching much of anything. My hesitation ended when guy I know walked by and told me get in. So I did.

Choppy and mushy are the words of the day. That doesn't mean there weren't waves to be had. I got mine!! What I found odd was the fact that this place, which normally goes right, kept delivering lefts. I think I only went right once or twice. The surf gods were with me today. The lefts seemed to be better than the rights. I was only in for an hour. I'm not big on surfing in the afternoon. I'm a morning person, especially when it comes to workouts. I'll do an afternoon session once in a blue moon. (Remember to check and see what color the moon is tonight.) I realize now that there's another reason for me not to do afternoon sessions. My locks, which are usually surfed in or washed in the a.m., need several hours to dry. (No, no blow drying here.) When they're wet in the morning, I'm assured that they'll be dry by the time I go to bed at night. I'm not so sure they'll be dry tonight when it's time to sleep. And it's not a good idea to go to bed with wet locks. I guess I'll have to hang out by our heater for the rest of the evening.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL! Surf like you mean it and don't be a hater!