26 September 2011

I See Your "Stairway to Heaven" and Raise You This Gem!

I've been done with "Stairway to Heaven" since 19(year inaudible due to hand over mouth in an effort not to give away one's age). I truly hate that song.

On Friday, a friend and I went to see Cheap Trick at the Greek. I was never a big fan. I had no teenage crushes on any of those guys and their music was nothing more than music to me. It was never part of the soundtrack to my teen years. (Neither was that damn "Stairway to Heaven".)

We were talking about music on the way to the concert. For some reason, people are always surprised to learn that I'm a serious Zeppelin fan. I'm always asked what my favorite Zeppelin song is. When I say "Ten Years Gone," I'm usually met with a blank stare or silence. This is not one of the songs that got consistent and irritatingly constant airplay over the years. This is, however, a true masterpiece. When my friend asked me to sing it to her in the hopes that she would recognize the song, I passed. For one, I can't sing. At all. Second, you have to really know Led Zeppelin to know this song.

If I never hear "Stairway to Heaven" again, I won't be upset in the least. I know which songs display the true genius of this band.

25 September 2011

My Butt is the Reason God Invented Ice Packs

@#$&! skateparks!!! I always said I wouldn't go to skateparks with all of those damn little kids and have some little kid knock me down. Well, guess what? I was at the skatepark. You know the rest. I didn't get knocked down so much as I had to decide whether to take a slam or slam this kid (and use him as my landing pad). Being a mom, I opted for the former. My tailbone is cursing me as I type. It's not broken, just unhappy.

Yesterday, Malba was teaching me how to carve a corner. I loved that. At some point, he said we would do the "big lap" around this skatepark. You have to generate a lot of speed to make it happen. He skates with me the entire way, reminding me of what I need to do at the different transitions and banks before sending me up and over some coping. Well, you really have to haul ass to get over that coping. And we were hauling. He'd already verbally warned everyone to clear out for a bit. And then this little kid, the one with the selective hearing, bailed his skateboard right in front of us when we were going Mach 5. Stupid estrogen! A mom will sacrifice herself rather than mow down a child. I also didn't want to kill Malba. So I took the slam, a hard one.

I stayed on the ground for a bit trying to decide whether I was hurt or just hurting. My tailbone was not amused at all. Broken? Fractured? Nah. I was alive and relatively well. I got up quickly once I realized I was just hurting.

Next time though, someone's little tubby kid may have to be sacrificed. He will bounce. Kids always do. Old ass grown-ups do not.

(No, I'm not going to stop skating. Slams come with the territory!)

21 September 2011

Working with Your Titanium Knee . . . on a Surfboard

This session was nothing special. Somehow it was both flat and closed out at the home break. No, I'm not joking. Not much was going on in the water, but when something would roll through every so often, it would meander through slowly and then fold over all at once near the shore. Those aren't the best conditions.

I really didn't care. I wanted to surf. I've been skating a lot and working a little. Both have kept me out of the water.

So, I paddled out. The picture shows me on my first wave. It appears that I'm crouching with both legs when, in fact, one leg is bent and the other—the one with the titanium joint—is resting on the board. I don't know where I came up with this position. However, it works for me. The replaced knee is allowed to take a breather while my other leg does the bulk of the work in keeping my body low. This is truly significant, if only to show that you learn to work with your prosthetic joint. Not long after my return to surfing after the knee replacement surgery, I worried about not being able to get and stay low on the board. Eventually, I let the concerns go. I was so relieved to be surfing again that I stopped sweating the small stuff.

Well, it appears that I've slowly begun to figure out what works. If I'm ever paying enough attention to notice a small tube that might present itself in front of me, I now know how to, in essence, assume the position. Of course, I seem never to notice the little barrels. I've seen more than a few shots of me looking down the line and totally oblivious to the fact that a lip was throwing right behind me. This is the story of my life. That lip is always where I'm not looking!!

Alright! I've done my knee replacement pep talk for today. You can still surf after a knee replacement. Really. You can do it. Do be scared. There's no way to talk you out of the fear. Just know that the future holds many wonderful things once you have your joint replaced.

Make the drop, eyes wide open.

19 September 2011

4th Annual Cosmic Stinkbug Expression Session

This is such a wonderful event. It's fun, yes, but it's for charity. The cool thing is that the money raised is anonymously given to a family in need, one that is dealing with cancer. The money that is raised is literally handed to an unknowing family that has been chosen ahead of time. The family chosen this year is one where the dad has late stage cancer. The mom is working her butt off to keep it all together financially and emotionally. I think the kids are in high school. What I was told was that after all was said and done, someone would go to their home and present them with the money, not telling them exactly who it was from. Those making the delivery were given a fictional name to use if they were asked about the money. In fact, it is the kids from last year's family who are going to make the delivery. The folks who run this event don't want any attention. They don't expect any appreciation. They simply want to help and move on.

I hadn't known all of these details before I traveled north for the event. I almost didn't go, mainly because my cash is tight right now. But I knew the organizer really wanted me to come, and he wanted me there on my mat. As much as I wanted to stay home, something was telling me I needed to go to this. Obviously, I'm glad I went, especially after I heard the backstory. And the pictures don't even begin to show the hilarity of it all!

16 September 2011

"You Look Like My Third Wife . . . and I've Only Been Married Twice"

This is what a man said to me as I was quickly throwing on my fins. He was working hard to get my attention. I, on the other hand, was racing to make it out to the lineup before being spotted by the lifeguard.

It was a race I would not win.

I heard his voice over his truck's loudspeaker before I'd even gotten my hair wet. You pick your battles. This was one in which I was certain to go down in defeat, ignominiously forced out of the water and made to stand in the corner with the "Dunce" cap.

So I turned around, took a small wave and got right back out.

I expected a lecture. I did not receive one. Instead, it was suggested that I take my mat up the beach a way. The lifeguard tower there was empty.

I did not argue. Instead, I gave him the answer the first guy probably wanted to hear from me.

"I love you."

And off I went. North. Where the lifeguards weren't.

15 September 2011

One Split Session = Stoke to the Nth Degree

All it takes is a nice wave, a quiet break, good friends, a mat, a hull and a good attitude to make the morning complete. And complete it was.

For the first time in over a year, I got back on my seven foot hull (aka Carrot). I wasn't even sure if I would get a wave, what with the length of the board and me usually surfing boards that are two feet longer. Well, I did get a wave, one that reminded me of how magical hulls are.

I'm determined to spend as much time as possible on this board during the late fall and winter. I will take it to The Place Which Shall Remain Nameless, hoping upon hope that the kelp decides to take up residence at another beach, preferably one that people aren't trying to surf.

I think I'm now truly in a race against time and age. Whatever I'm going to do, on my shorter boards, has to be done now. I'm still strong. I'm still relatively quick. The time is now.

Besides, I am just plain tired of carrying longboards to spots that require a long walk between the car and the break. Yeah, I said it!! The break we hit today takes some work to get to. I took a longboard the first time I surfed it on a board. After that, I took the eight foot mid-sized board. Today? The seven foot hull was the call, especially since I was also carrying a mat and a pair of fins. Since this is a wave whose shape is reliably wonderful, the hull is a safe bet there.

Anyway, we started the session on mats. As usual, we found a wave that held up and delivered. But as the tide came up, I got tired of how hard I had to work to get into the waves. That's when I switched to Carrot. The ride is amazing. It almost feels like you're floating. I don't know. This board makes me feel like I'm very light on my feet. I like that.

13 September 2011

Two Mediocre Sessions = Still Stoked

Session #1: Point break mat session. The tide came up quickly. By the time I got in the water, the spot was shutting down and the backwash wasn't doing the waves any favors. Score: One wave in about 45 minutes.

Session #2: Beach break surf session. There was too much SW in the water for this break, therefore it was closed out . . . as usual. Score: Two waves in about 30 minutes.

It was one of those cases where I was still glad to get wet since I had to be at work before the morning was up. The spots I chose just weren't working. And that's okay. I managed to surf two different surfcraft at two different breaks during a two hour period. I'd rather do that than stay dry.

Please join me in praying for well-shaped surf with a decent tide . . . amen.

12 September 2011

And Down He Goes!

Thank god the kid's slam wasn't as catastrophic as the one in the picture. He was able to get up and skate it off. (I'm not sure if he was more angry about hitting the deck or more angry at me for making him get back on the board when he got up.) Still, he was not amused in the least. We'd had our lessons—he always goes first, and then I bat cleanup. I, of course, fell while in the pool . . . again. I don't know if the kid fell during his lesson. He tends to be on the skittish side, so he's overly cautious and just plain fearful. I know Tuma had to give him a lecture about falls, about how you will fall when skateboarding, about how they won't all be bad, but some will and you just have to keep on keepin' on when that happens.

Once we were done, I was ready to go. There was more skating to be done later in the day at a park that is much less frenetic. The child, though, wanted to stay and skate. I managed to take two more tumbles during that part of our session. At one point, we split up. I could see his little (okay, big) head and that was all. At one point, I saw someone get too close to him. Well, it wouldn't have been too close to the rest of us. For a beginning skater, it was too close for comfort. I guess there was some confusion about who should go. I realized I was no longer seeing that big head. When I got over to where he was, he was on the ground in tears. The guy who'd made him nervous by getting too close was there first. I was there next. We both were telling him to get up. I needed to determine if something was broken. My kid didn't want to budge. He was perfectly happy lying on the ground in a puddle of tears. And I get that. My kid is no daredevil. He's not used to hitting the ground with some force.

In the end, I made him get up. I also made him, after much stern coaxing, get back on his board. Only then would I let him leave the skatepark. We saw one of my friends after we left. The kid was sulking. She, a skater, asked him what happened. Then she explained to him, with just the right amount of drama in her voice, that he'd gotten his first hipper, told him she knew it hurt and generally made him know that she felt his pain. Of course, it wasn't until the mention of a stop at Randy's Donuts, while we were in the car, that the person in the backseat perked up and stopped feeling sorry for himself.

There were two surprises yesterday. First, Soul Brother #2 stated that he may want to surf if only because the falls off the surfboard aren't as painful of those off of a skateboard. ("What was that? Did he once again mention the possibility of wanting to surf? Is this really my child talking?") Second, I was to meet some friends later in the day at a skatepark in Orange County. The kid made it clear he was coming with me. And, much to my surprise, we were there for hours. He is still learning to skate. He still feels self-conscious about his skills, but he charges in his own inimitable way. That slam didn't stop him from hitting another skatepark. He did what he was comfortable doing. I think he learned quite a bit from watching others. He's still got a way to go. I'm proud of him though. He's not been pushed into skating and he's not being pushed to continue. (I constantly ask if he still wants to skate.)

If he's still skating a few years from now, he's going to shred. And I'll be happy to drop him off at the skatepark to let him do his thing without his mom there for support (as I'm sure he will neither want it nor need it by that time).

08 September 2011

On Lockdown . . . Again!

It's only temporary. I spent this week chained to a desk. I got laid off from my cool outdoor job a few weeks ago. Now, I've gotten another cool job, but I had to do training for the last three days. There was no opportunity to surf. I was in the office learning the responsibilities of my position. Thankfully, this job is mellow too. It does not involve being chained to a desk on a regular basis. In fact, I won't even be chained to my office. Much of my job involves going to another site to get work done. I would also have to do other things away from the office. That all suits me just fine.

When I showed up for training on the first day, I had on jeans, but I did also put on shoes. I hate shoes. I wore them on the first day out of respect. Well, I wore them for half of the first day. During the lunch break, I went home . . . and put on my flip flops. I've worn flip flops each day since then! Gotta love that!

I will surf tomorrow. I don't care if it's flat. I don't care if it's choppy. I need to get wet!!

And, no, I don't miss that bohunk of a swell.

04 September 2011

But it's like having bad sex. You do it because it's better than nothing, and then you realize it really isn't.*

Such has been my relationship with this swell. Seriously. I can think of no other way to describe how much quality time I seem to be wasting on it.

Dear Worst Best Epic Swell of Summer 2011,

I've tasted your forbidden fruit—your muscular shoulders, your strong currents and all that has me hyperventilating and licking my lips at the very sight of you. Yes, I'm a trollop. My head was easily turned by word of your arrival. I'd yet to spy your wares, and I already wanted a piece of you.

Well, you and I are through, Worst Best Epic Swell of Summer 2011. It's obvious to me that you've been hitting the gym; you seemed to be the total package: good looks, a beautiful physique, et al. But now that I've spent some time with you, I realize I need more from a relationship. Something is missing. Therefore, this thing we've got, or don't got (as you would say), must come to an end. Our two day stand left me wanting nothing more to do with you.

It's not you. It's me. There are others, male and female, who appreciate you for what you are. I will keep waiting for Mr. Right, being more open to the waves that come my way on a regular basis. They may not have your looks, but they're loyal. They may have a few wrinkles, scars, warts and the like. Still, they deliver . . . all the time.

I'm quitting you, dude. No, don't look back. It's more painful that way. I'll be fine. Really, I will. You're not the only game in town, you know.


*That was a Steiny-style blog post title. I'd made the statement in a comment on a friend's blog, then decided I needed to steal it for my own blog!

03 September 2011

In This Episode, Our Heroes Take a Skate Lesson From Tuma

Malba couldn't fit us in this week, so I arranged a lesson with Tuma. Folks had told me to get in touch with him for lessons, telling me he's great. They were right. And he's in L.A., which helps immensely.

As you can see from the first photo, it didn't take long for Soul Brother #2 to warm up to Tuma.

Soul Brother #2, if he stays with it, will skate well if only because he's got the right people telling him the right things to do. (God help us all if I were to try to teach him anything about skating!)

Much to our shared chagrin, Tuma made us get in the pool!!! I was not thrilled as I wasn't sure how to get in and was certain I'd never be able to climb out. I'm happy to report that I easily ran into the pool and was easily able—thanks to all of that surfing power—to pull myself up and out of the pool. News flash!! I didn't fall at all today. I always fall at skateparks, often while I'm innocently rolling slowly from one place to another. Today, the only part of me that touched the concrete was my feet.

Soul Brother #2 quietly screamed the entire time Tuma had him in the pool. This is only his second lesson, his second time at a skatepark and some dude has him pumping/doing fakies in the pool. Youngblood was not amused! I, however, laughed at my child and his ineffectual attempt to feign serious fear. Tuma would not let him escape.

Well, now I can say I've skated the Venice Skatepark. I swore I'd never skate that park. Ever. The place is completely frenetic and chaotic after a certain hour. Thankfully, the park was relatively quiet when we met Tuma there for our lesson.

I was happy to spend my Saturday on a skateboard rather than a surfboard. I still think this is a messy swell. I'm not going to spend too much time chasing it or letting it chase me. I'm going down south tomorrow for a mat meet. If the waves are like they were last year, I'll get in the water and take some punishment that will be well worth the waves I get. If the swell is bigger than last year, I'm staying on the shore and relaxing in the sun as I watch truly skilled mat riders throw themselves over the ledge.

I hear the swell is slowing down. That's fine with me. I'd like to see some civilized waves back in these parts!

02 September 2011

This Swell? Over It!

When I was in the water on Wednesday, the forerunners were coming through. I didn't like what I was seeing—walls with few shoulders, waves bouncing off the rock wall and coming right back at us diagonally. I said to someone that this was not going to be the best of swells. The energy is just too much for most of our breaks. Couple that with way too many people rushing to the beach to get a part of it. Two plus 20,000 will get you . . . ?

I looked around a bit yesterday, hoping my L.A. mat spot would show some decent, shapely waves with minimal crowd. Well, it did just that. As I watched, I was thinking it didn't look bad at all, and wondered how that break had escaped those massive sets that were showing everywhere else.

Ooops! Spoke too soon!!

Here come the sets!



Turning to my companion, "That just wiped out the lineup, didn't it?"

The response was a nod and a chuckle.

The tweeners were beautiful. I loved the looks of those shoulders. I was certainly tempted. But the more I watched, the more I knew I would either be going elsewhere or going home. I get no thrill from catching a big closeout. I don't find getting worked within an inch of my life all that entertaining either.

For me, it's all about shape. Size matters . . . not in the least for me most of the time. I'd rather take a three foot wave with a shoulder than a seven foot closeout. Mind you, I will ride a seven foot wave. I'm not afraid of a wave of that size if the ride is worthwhile. (Yes, I know there were waves with shape to be found at spots with 10,000 of my new best friends sitting shoulder to shoulder in the water.)

This swell? Too much and too many. Too much energy. Too much tide. Too many people. Too many closeouts. I elected to ride the mat through this mess. I knew a surfboard would not make me happy during a swell like this one.

I got the mat on a few bombs, both yesterday and today. I didn't stay out long though. The waves just weren't worth it.

I did get a toot from the lifeguard today. She even motioned me to get out of the water. Do you know what I did? (I'm sure you do.) I looked right at her, turned around and went back out to the lineup. If she wanted me out of the water, she was going to have to come and get me. I never once lost my mat. I was never in danger of drowning. I was just out there trying to get a piece of that swell. I knew she couldn't come after me as there were way too many people in the water that she needed to watch. Many of those people were running into one another. And you're trying to get me out of the water? Yeah, right!!

I'm going to have to give this swell a grade of D+ (and I'm being generous by giving it the +). Granted, this is my subjective assessment of the swell. So don't mind me and my criticisms.

Tomorrow? Soul Brother #2 and I head to the skatepark for our second lesson! Woot!