30 March 2010

Surf Fiction #1

It wasn’t until the bar slipped out of her hand, turning over several times before ultimately finding itself covered with sand in a small puddle, that Sam realized she’d been lost in thought. The sound of wax skipping over the deck of her board was usually something she couldn’t ignore. The welcomed silence of a dawn patrol session was always short-lived, ruined by the sound of one, two, then many surfers readying their boards for the water. If the session took place later in the day after the city was awake and moving about, the waxing of one’s board was a kind of white noise that would combine with the sound of the whitewater to give the temporary illusion of solitude. Today was different though. When you’re in you own head, you hear nothing but yourself. You see bad times played over and over like some overly-dramatic novela where the female lead threatens suicide if her family tries to stand in the way of her love of the lowly but handsome stable boy who, when he stares deep into her eyes, sees only her rather than her fortune.

As she paddled out to the lineup, Sam wondered if novelas had happy endings—never having watched one before due to her lack of fluency in another language and her disdain for anything resembling a chick flick. Before she could once again lose herself in questions surrounding blame, a small peak rose, heading in her direction. It was still early enough to take the wave she was gifted without resorting to a whistle, a yell or a not always civil discussion about surf etiquette. She paddled harder than necessary, expecting the higher than normal tide to cause the shoulder to evaporate before it reached her. Upon realizing the shoulder would, in fact, hold, she slowed her strokes and angled left, deftly springing to her feet in anticipation of quickly finding trim and kicking out before the wave, as usual, folded over on itself with a loud crash. Crash it didn’t. At least not immediately. Sam was instead greeted by a longer than average ride which allowed her to take it all in, much like the way the brain takes it all in as a quick run through of one’s life at those times when it seems that death is imminent. As she stepped closer to the nose, trying to outrun the whitewater and stay with what little shoulder was left, her present life, the life of today, yesterday and the days when their union began to crack at its foundation, passed before her eyes. It was getting harder to look him in the eye; there was no there there. They both wondered if their marriage was worth fighting for. He thought it was. Sam believed differently, wanting instead to move on, freeing them both to exhale through teeth that would be, for the first time in years, unclenched.

Sam didn’t mind the swim in to retrieve the board. A surfer without a leash is a surfer who likes to swim. Someone once told her that, thinking himself clever in his sarcasm, somehow superior to the female surfer who had finally tired of his pointless flailing and taken what he deemed his wave, only to lose her board in the shorepound after a executing a simple cheater five that he—who would quit surfing a year later after adding a larger board and a paddle to his arsenal—would never attempt to master. Her board washed onto shore face down against a large rock, as if posing for an especially graphic centerfold shot that accentuated its shape. She stared at its lines for a bit, carefully fondled its rails and thanked the surf gods for sparing her board . . . this time.

For a second or two, Sam debated whether she should just go home. Her heart wasn’t in it. She didn’t care if she surfed long peelers or Victory at Sea garbage. She didn’t care about much of anything anymore. There was too much complicating her life, too much threatening to bring her to her knees should she let down her guard long enough to allow the turbulent, warring emotions to set up housekeeping when she wasn’t looking. Sighing loudly, as was her habit once things began to fall apart, Sam tossed her board back into the water. The lineup was as good a place as any to sit and stew.

27 March 2010

Quick Humps



24 March 2010

"Time to Get Ill" Revisited

"My Adidas"? Check. Gold chain? Check. B-Boy stance? Check. Looking fly? Always.

And the brother's got five toes in the water! The illest surfer ever!

21 March 2010

"Time to Get Ill"

No truer words were ever spoken . . . although this time it was said by someone in the water rather than by Run-DMC.

3rd Annual Rincon Invitational. Our team, the Black Surf Association, competed on Saturday afternoon. One hour heat. When someone asked what time it was, someone else made it clear the clock was unimportant. It was time to get ill!

I guess we got ill enough. Second place in the "Most Shared Waves" category. I'm not sure how we did that. We started out with too few team members. We picked up some on the beach and then I think we may have ended up with too many people in the water. I guess that was unimportant. The competition was judged as follows: All the rides of the ten surfers wearing singlets will be counted (see #3) up to a limit of 200 waves. There will be no judging of surfing performance. Rather, the “competition” between teams will be based on:
  • Total number of waves caught
  • Total number of waves shared
  • Total number of surfers on shared waves
The waves were all of knee high by the time we paddled out. Still, a good time was had by one and all. Getting ill.

18 March 2010

The Sweet Spot

It's on now. I got me a hit of surfing's equivalent of a crack pipe . . . and I want another hit of that! And another. And another. And another. And so on.

You know, the first time I took my newest hull out, my only concern was popping up on that thing. Its length was an issue. I wasn't certain that I'd ever be able to surf a board of that length again, so the first session on that board was all about popping up. Not once did I get a feel for the board. I didn't care a bit about that. I knew if I could stand up on it, I could work on getting it dialed in later.

Today was different. I took my Hullaballo out at my home break—you know, the place with the shitty waves that closeout more often than not. I wasn't feeling a longboard today. I wanted to ride something different. That's one reason why I have three hulls. They certainly keep it interesting. Anyway, I paddled out on that 7'0" hull with no particular goal in mind. I would catch a wave, congratulate myself on making the pop-up and then paddle back out.

At some point, I got a wave where my feet landed a little further up on the board. That's when it happened. The board took off and I did one of those inhales that occur when something takes your breath away. Munch's The Scream comes closest to describing my reaction upon finding the sweet spot on this hull:
When I felt the board take off, I know I said (audibly), "Oh!!!" I do believe my face was frozen with that exclamation on my lips for a good many seconds as I processed what was occurring. I can't even explain it. Flying? Floating? Planing? I don't know what it is, but it is truly amazing when you get a hull dialed in. That one ride was enough to get me hooked and fien'in'.

15 March 2010

Me in 25 Years

I outright stole this from Radballs because it's a glimpse into my future. (Click on the cartoon for a better view.)

12 March 2010

For Kenny Bloggins

I read a lot of blogs, especially those related to surfing. If you write a surf blog, I've probably seen it. Believe me when I tell you, I know you're there. I may never have commented. I may only have visited once, lost the link and never visited your blog again, but I know you're there. More importantly, I'm glad you're there. I don't look at any of the surf magazines. They do nothing for me. I can't relate to them. I'm the wrong demographic for each and every one of them. I've got no problem with that. I know I'm an exception to the rule . . . er, stereotype . . . er, assumption . . . or whatever word you want to use to describe what your average surfer looks like. When people conjure up an image of a surfer, that image doesn't look anything like me. I say all this to explain that my written stoke comes solely from surf blogs (and Liquid Salt).

Being the board whore that I am, I'm particularly interested in surf shop blogs. I'm a sucker for good board porn. My head is easily turned by well-shaped colorful surfboard. That's what led me to Kenny Bloggins of the Mitch's North blog. The pictures attracted me to the blog in the first place. It's the running commentary that now keeps me coming back on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kenny gets deep . . . .

Well howdy there blogsters, Kenny Bloggins coming at you live from my inland chemotherapy treatment center as I'm being intravenously infused with harsher drugs than you could get on any sketchy dark Tijuana back alley. . . .

This is the most intoxicating and utterly raw way to take notice of yourself, life, nutrition and gratitude for every person and experience we're so lucky to have. In this mind state there are no kooks; hip styles, lousy surf conditions, elite surf clicks, premium boards, fancy surf rigs, ego trips, rippers, trippers, or more rightful surfers than others. We're all disillusioned in the pursuit of FUN on these glorified water sleds as we dance the surface of the ocean, trying to exude our self expression and obtain feelings that are so self centered and utterly unimportant that the thought of all the negative energy and self righteous elitism that our surf culture breeds is down right embarrassing to the tune of the real world. Give away a wave for me and all the other dampened souls in this oncology center. Thanks for listening, hope that wasn't to heavy for a supposed janky surf shop blog.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Surfing ruined what?

There is a common phrase I like to use, at least it's common amongst my surfing cohort and that is "Surfing ruined my life". Now this obviously has sarcasm written all over it but... when I think about the choices I want to make; where I want to live, the people I want to travel with,the things I get most stoked to read or watch, and just what heck I'm going to do with my life, they all have that one pining, itching, commonality of surfing attached. And as the experience grows and the understanding and expectations of what surfing and I together have come to be, it just becomes that much more wonderfully inconvenient. The giddy yearnings for stoke and epic slide time are routinely shut in my face, turning the disappointment and anger into a deeper loathing to surf, "It'll be good tomorrow, I'll go home and read the new Journal or something". The days that slip by that go unsurfed only exercise the brain more and more as it glitches and spazzes like an unleashed dog, wandering off somewhere into a perfect line up. . . .

I've inspected and mind surfed my sticks in the front yard over coffee many o times. Yeah, it doesn't help too much but it reminds me of where I am and how lucky I am, and that I'm going to be able to put those things back under my feet and in the water again very soon. I've seen some dark days over the last few months and seen some things that would even make Mickey Mouse bummed out. I cried and laughed and slept and I even thought I might die once or twice. In the midst of this I'd have to say my motto has changed a little bit since I've battled this thing. I'd have to say "Surfing saved my Life" because If I couldn't have dreamed what I dreamt, and found the life and optimism that surfing gave me I would have succumb to the things you don't ever want to feel or dream. Thanks for Listening, Kenny Bloggins

Before I had my knee replaced, I feared that my life as a surfer was over. After I had the surgery, part of me was certain I would never surf again. And that fear was very real, very heavy. I was, however, able to keep it all in perspective. I told myself that if I never surfed again, I would at least be able to look back on the years I had surfed and be satisfied with that. In other words, I understood that my life would go on even without surfing.

When I read Kenny Bloggins' posts, I'm reminded how lucky I am, how lucky we all are that we get to do the things we love. I take none of this for granted. I paddle out on shitty days because I'm grateful for any wave that I can slide a board over. I don't require perfection. I just require a wave.

Anyway, I let Kenny Bloggins know that I'd be surfing for him. And today was his day. This whole session was for him. If he can't surf, I'll surf for him. People surfed for me when I was learning to live with my titanium parts. I appreciated every wave that was caught for me. It's now my turn to pay it forward.

There was nothing particularly good out there today. That doesn't mean you don't make the best of it. I enjoy shitty days if only because they keep the crowds at bay. It's on days like this that I just play. When you know the waves won't cooperate, you figure out ways to have fun nonetheless. For me it was, trying to run up to the nose before the wave closed out or trying not to lose the board when the closeouts put the smack down on me. I had a ball . . . for Kenny Bloggins. Every smile was his. Every swim for the board was his. The one surprisingly good left . . . was his.

Kenny, we had a damn good session given the conditions. The water was freezing, but I still ain't gonna wear no stinkin' (literally!!!) booties.

If you don't smile when you surf, there's something wrong with you.

We're waiting for you to return to the lineup. In the meantime, we'll keep catching waves for you!

11 March 2010

Old Vans, New Board

Kickin' it old school! Vans. Big-assed D-fin. Don't bother to look for a leash plug, leash loop or anything else to which a leash can be attached. It's not there. You either kick out or swim. Period. Since I don't kick out well, I'll be swimming quite a bit, I think.

When I got the email from Dave telling me my board was ready, I was overly stoked and completely underwhelmed. Who isn't excited about picking up a new stick? Then again, who's excited about driving on the 405 . . . ever? I certainly am not. For reasons I don't understand though, the trip down to Newport and back was smooth; the traffic on the freeway never came to a stop. Amazing!!

As soon as I walked in and saw the board, I got giddy. Remember, I don't get giddy. I'm not one of those giddy kinds of chicks. I get happy. I get goofy. I get silly. Giddy? Not so much . . . unless I get a stunning new board.

As soon as the giddiness subsided, happiness ensued when Dave pointed out that the guys walking in the door behind him were Cam Oden and my boy Kyle Lightner. Kyle and I are fast friends . . . who'd never had a face-to-face conversation before today. Of course, we hit it off so well in person that it was difficult to leave. I could talk to Kyle all day. He's a smart, talented guy with a wonderful wit. Getting a chance to hang with him for a bit was worth the drive down and back. So, picking up a board and chatting with Kyle made for a nice little day trip.

Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to be unveiling the new board. She's a pig! If you don't know what I mean by that, do your research! I'm certainly not talking about her looks. I'm talking about her shape. If you think she looks good in pictures, you should see her in person. She's quite the looker. When I ordered this board, Dave asked about the color scheme. I knew I wanted aquamarine and black. I just wasn't sure how I wanted those colors to exist on this board. After a few emails back and forth, we settled on this: a black nose with a black stripe a few inches under the nose. Dave, you killed it. Killed it, I tell you!! Thanks!

10 March 2010

I Ain't No Surf Kook

You (and you know who you are) told me to put stickers on the ramp so I don't look like a "surf kook". Okay, then. What? I need more stickers? #$%!@!

I took the tarp off the ramp. Rain isn't in the forecast and I'm ready to get back on my board. It's time to start dropping in on this thing. I haven't done it yet. This El Niño winter has put a damper on me getting my skate on. The ramp has seen the tarp more than the ramp has seen me! That's going to change. I can almost hit the coping (which isn't even vertical) without dropping in. Well, that gets old after awhile. It's time to just go for it. So the next time you hear some thunder while the sun is still out (think tomorrow), that sound will actually be me falling onto the ramp. I generally fall with a big thud (!!!!). Then I get up and keep skating.

08 March 2010

Big, Fat Windswell Waves

That's what greeted me when I surfed the beachbreak closest to The Place Which Shall Remain Nameless. We started out at TPWSRN, but it didn't look good enough. I watched one struggling surfer spend 10 minutes trying to make it out to the lineup . . . of one. That one wasn't catching anything. Hmmmm, stay put or go elsewhere? The decision was not a difficult one.

Paddling out at the beachbreak wasn't much fun. The inside was a mess of reforms churning up whitewater everywhere you looked. That doesn't bother me like it used to. The paddle out was once my most frightening part of a session. It was the thing I hated the most when I learned to surf. I'd see a wall of water coming at me and freak. My heart would start pounding. I'd be hyperventilating and wanting to cry, certain I was going to drown because I had no idea how to get through, around or over those walls. They didn't even have to be big. When you're lying prone on a board, everything looks big. I still hate the paddle out, but I suppose I've worked through my anxieties as I've gotten more comfortable both on a board and in the water. Now I know to simply take my time. Don't fight the feeling. Instead of trying to fight my way to the lineup, I read the waves, conserve my energy and work with the water rather than against it. Anyway, I said all that to say the paddle out was a pain, but it didn't take me long to get out there.

Has spring sprung?

Those are the first purely windswell waves I've seen in awhile. And they weren't small. Neither were they easy to get into. In other words, they were deceptive and seemingly slow. But once you paddled into one, you were flying! I managed a nice cheater five on a head high left. I always crack myself up, standing there wondering if I look as cool as I think I must. Then I usually fall rather spectacularly. Today was no different. I carved the left, went up to the top, walked to the nose, stuck my right foot out for a nice little ride, started walking back, slipped and went down with dreadlocks flying in many directions. Somehow I think my dismount was better than my ride!!

(I'm still getting lemons. Surfing makes them less sour.)

07 March 2010

The "Life is Giving Me Lemons and I'm Catching a Cold But Trying to Keep My Head Up" Dance Party

This video is short because I don't feel much like dancing these days. Too many lemons. Too little sugar and water. But such is life. It can't always be great (or even good). It doesn't help that the rain is putting a damper on my surfing and skating. You know, there are times in life when guys are told to "take it like a man". No one ever says that, or anything even remotely similar, to women (even though we go through shit just as much as guys do). Maybe the fact that we have carte blanche to shed as many tears as we like helps. We don't have to soldier on bravely when we don't want to. Right now, I don't want to, but I don't feel like crying either. I generally take out my anger, sadness and whatever else tries to eat at me on the waves or in the pool or on the bike or even on the board. I will continue to do that, especially now that the rain is gone for a bit. I'm taking the tarp off the ramp; it's been on there for a couple of weeks. I'm also gonna surf my ass off if the waves cooperate.

Do I have any good news? My kid is healthy and happy. As long as that continues to be the case, I will have few complaints. I also have a new board—yes, another one!!!!!—on the way. Dave Allee at Almond says my new Surf Thump will be ready this week. Yeah, that will put a smile on my face for sure. (It's true . . . I'm that easy to please.)

03 March 2010

Anatomy of a Clueless Longboarder

Imagine my surprise upon seeing this photo and noting that there was a lip pitching behind me. I didn't even know it was there. (Obviously I was getting low because I knew the wave was folding over, but I didn't know that was behind me.) I've asked others if I could actually have gotten barreled by this wave. One friend flat out said, "Claim it!" Ha! I would love to, but I don't think I could get away with that claim. Another friend said, "Depends on if it held up like that down the line, but yes, possible."

Hmmmm. The problem for me is crouching down lower. I still have limited range of motion in the new knee, but I think I can crouch if necessary. Now I'm thinking that if this spot is going to deliver small barrels like that, I'm going to grab my shorter boards (when I know I'm going there) and look for one. I've never been barreled before. In fact, I always assumed that would not be part of my surfing reality since I generally think of people standing straight up in a giant tube. But, hell, if crouching as low as I can will get me the much-vaunted barrel, I can at least make a sincere attempt to get myself into one.

Stay tuned.

01 March 2010

Woman Cave Surf Altar?

Rocks courtesy of The Place Which Shall Remain Nameless.

Fin courtesy of my artist friend/shaper/surf bud Clayfin.