27 February 2005

Performance Anxiety

For some reason, the guys who photograph surfers and later sell those photos have never found our break . . . until this week. I saw the guy yesterday when I took my kid to the beach to hang out and play. I even asked him if he would be coming back, telling him I wanted to see some pictures of me surfing. It's not that I think I'm particularly photogenic. Normally, I don't like to have my picture taken. But this is surfing, dammit! My abilties have changed so much over the last six months, let alone over the last year, that I need to see what I look like on a board. I mean, I tend to think I've found a bit of style since moving up to such a long board. So I was anxious to see myself on film. Or at least I thought I was. Today, once I noticed the camera and that huge lens, I did what I do best. I got performance anxiety. I've been athletic my entire life and I've always suffered from some from of athletic performance anxiety. Today was no different. The camera came out and so did my kookiness. I proceeded to pearl like someone diving for oysters! It was not pretty. Eventually, I got myself together. I had to block out all thoughts of the photographer. Then I just surfed. The pictures look pretty good. I was mainly concerned about my balance, where I am on the board, etc. The pictures showed me that I surf like I thought I did. You can see that I'm no longer a beginner. You can also see that I'm not ready for the cover of Longboard Magazine just yet.

26 February 2005

Surfboard Envy

I've got it bad. Maybe that's yet another reason why I've been through so many boards in the relatively short time that I've been surfing. Today, one of the women in our crew showed up with her new board—a 9'6" pintail Con. As soon as she started pulling it out of the bag, I was chomping at the bit. It was truly a thing to behold. I already have a board on order. Why am I now longing for yet another board? It happens every time I see a board I like. It might help to know that I absolutely will not ride a board without some color in it. Thus, the more color a board has, the more interest I'll have in it. (The board I have coming will be yellow. It will be one of the loudest sticks in the water. Thankfully, it's only 7'. I don't know if I would have gotten yellow had it been a longboard. That might have been too much color for me.) My longboard doesn't even have as much color as I would have liked. I had some fabric I wanted on it, but Tyler couldn't make it work. The dye kept running. When he called to give me that news and asked what I wanted done instead, I told him to do whatever he wanted. "I trust your judgment." The board I got back from him is truly gorgeous (both in its looks and its ride). Still, when I see other boards with color, I start thinking about building a quiver of colorful boards. Whatever happened to the stereotype of women liking to shop for shoes, clothes, and handbags? I can't think of any of my female surfing buddies who fit that stereotype. I do, however, like to shop for boards. Thankfully, I don't usually see anything that appeals to me. Or if it does, it's too long or too heavy or too damn expensive. The thing about longboards, for me at least, is that they're works of art. You can see the detail that's gone into the shaping of the thing. And once you throw some color on there, you've really gotten my attention. I just sold a 9' performance longboard. Now all I have is a big-ass single fin and the other single fin that's coming. I'm wondering if I should go ahead and get another performance longboard that's a little longer than what I had. You'd think I had money to burn, wouldn't you? I can't even pay my bills. But if I die tomorrow, I'll die knowing I've had a hell of a good time while I was here.

25 February 2005

Disgusting, Yet Fun

Once I put my foot in the water, I was regretting my decision to go in today. The water was brown!! While stretching on the shore, I kept throwing my fist in the air and saying, "Brown is beautiful!" (Think Black Panthers and Brown Berets). Yep, I was talking myself into it. But then I got in and got a good look at it. It looked pretty disgusting. That didn't make me turn around and get out. I have a rule: once my wetsuit goes on, I'm committed. Period. So, in I went, trying not to breathe too deeply and wondering what would happen when I finally got my hair wet. I ended up having a good session. I always have a good session after a long hiatus from surfing. I don't know why that is. It may be the fact that I obsess about, dream about, and salivate over surfing when I can't get in the water. Then, when I'm back in the water, I feel like I'm home. It's strange. It wasn't one of my epic sessions. However, I did have a breakthrough. I don't usually remember my waves. Today I remember the first one and the last one. The breakthrough was on the last one. I finally did what I think was a drop knee turn. It probably didn't look like one to anyone else. I was going frontside on a left. It was a pretty long ride. I saw that the wave was going to closeout eventually. Now usually, I end up getting slammed by the closeout and thinking (as I come up for air), "Oh, that's where I should have tried a drop knee turn." My brain still doesn't quite keep up when I surf. I think that's where much of the learning curve comes in. You can do a thing physically, but you can't get your brain to make your body do the thing at the right time. Anyway, the wave was going to close out in front of me and my brain told me, "Doadropkneeturnnow!rightnow!nownownow!" So I awkwardly bent that back knee, badly put weight on that back leg, and actually turned back away from the closeout. I know it was ugly to watch. It had to be. It felt anything but stylish. Who cares? I did a drop knee turn . . . finally! My first wave was simply a good ride. Again, I went frontside, found the trim, then crouched to get better leverage (while doing a slight rear hand drag), and took it all the way to the beach. I wasn't thinking about walking. I just wanted to enjoy the ride.

I hope I don't get sick. The water tasted horrible. I did my best not to get much of it in my system. I didn't spend too much time underwater today. Didn't swallow any or suck any into my nose. So far, so good. I won't be able to surf this weekend. That's why I went in today. It had to be done. Now I'm frantically trying to dry my wetsuit (yes, in the dryer since it only lasts for one season anyway) before anyone comes home. In other words, I'm trying to hide the evidence. The wetsuit is in the dryer. The Cinch Sac is outside drying. I'm not sure what to do with the wet swimsuit and rashguard. I'll have to hide them somewhere. Do you see the depths to which I'll sink for surfing?

24 February 2005

Reason Number 9384 Why Mothers Should Surf

I found this in Newsweek magazine. The author said, "I read that 70 percent of American moms say they find motherhod today 'incredibly stressful.' Thirty percent of mothers of young children reportedly suffer from depression. Nine hundred and nine women in Texas recently told researchers they find taking care of their kids about as much fun as cleaning their house, slightly less pleasurable than cooking, and a whole lot less enjoyable than watching TV." Motherhood is hard. It's tiring. It's emotionally draining. However, if you were to ask me what my greatest accomplishment is, I would point to my child. With that said, I've found that surfing makes the stresses of motherhood, marriage, and work disappear . . . at least until the surfer's high—you know, like "runner's high"—wears off.

Decisions, Decisons

This is some of the crew this morning. I can't say that I was jealous about them being back in the water. I just don't trust the water yet. I also heard that one of them got sick after surfing yesterday. Now, the real test will come tomorrow. Will I have the willpower to stay on dry land? I didn't have a choice today. I had to teach at 2 and hadn't prepared my lecture. So I used that as my excuse not to get in. What am I going to do tomorrow? I don't know if I can wait another day. Will it be clean enough? At this point, we're all finding ways to justify getting in the water. My justification is that I will have waited the 72 hours. That's not entirely true though. I can't remember on which day it stopped raining so I don't really know if it's been 72 hours. I've looked at the county website that grades the various breaks. Right now, Malibu gets an "F". My break has between a "B" and a "C". Hmmmm. Would I eat in a restaurant with a "C" grade from the county? I've done so before, but that was only because it was a restaurant I frequented often. Now that I think about it, I came up with some justification for eating there too.

It's hard to know what to do. I've never gotten sick from surfing. I'm not Superwoman or anything. I tend to pick up every germ that my child spews at me. But, somehow, the ocean and I have been on good terms. I stay out of the water after it rains. I try not to take any chances. If I get in tomorrow, will I be tempting fate? Will the Wheel of Fortune spin against me? Stay tuned!

22 February 2005

Check Out the Funky Shorts!

CJ Nelson showing off at some contest I went to in Malibu last summer. I had a lot of fun that day. I'd never been to a contest before (and haven't been to one since) and expected the vibe to be somewhat frenetic. I mean, it was a competition, right? My primary competitive experience comes from cycling, the sport I walked away from to pursue surfing. Cycling is a sport that involves pain (a great deal of pain). As a result, people who race bikes aren't exactly cordial, especially not on race day. I did not expect to find myself in the middle of a great big party on the beach. That's what this contest was. Everyone was in a good mood. I don't think anyone cared all that much about the standings or how people placed in their heats. Had I still been racing bikes when I went to that contest, I can guarantee I would have stopped probably the next day. This is why I say I no longer have the capacity to be athletically intense. There's no fun in that. There's no joy in that. I must have liked racing bikes at some point. I raced for quite a few years. But now that I'm removed from it, I have trouble remembering why I found it enjoyable. I've moved on. I just wish I'd come to surfing a little sooner.

I Need to Surf

The fury, as you can tell, is here. And it doesn't seem to be abating.

On a better note, my little one saw his first rainbow this morning. It was truly stunning. He was overjoyed. Then, when he went back to look for it about 10 minutes later, the rainbow was gone. As we left the house, he looked so forlorn.
"What's the matter?"
"I sad."
"Are you sad because the rainbow is gone?"
He nodded and walked away. Okay so I didn't get to surf today. At least I got to see that. What a cool little kid he is! That was enough to keep the fury at bay for awhile. But damn, people, I need to surf.

21 February 2005

Surf Culture

Don't get me started!!! Too late. I've gotten myself started already. What bothers me is that corporate America and Hollywood are allowed to dictate what surf culture is. From what I can tell, they view surfing as the domain of those who are young, blond, and moving through life without a care in the world. Has anyone looked at the people sitting out in the line-ups? Most of us don't fall within that demographic. Does that mean we're not true surfers? I'm sorry, Roxy, but I'm middle-aged with a husband, a kid, and a shitload of bills. I also have a job. And when given a little free time to myself, I surf. The people I see surfing day in and day out are usually over 30. Very few of us are walking billboards for the big surf corporations. Outside of the water, there is nothing about any of us that would suggest that we surf. Does that mean we don't count? Does it mean I'm dressed the wrong way? I'm always a little surprised and pissed off when people say, with a raised eyebrow, "You surf? Really?" Well, what the hell do they think surfers look like?

On a side note, do we non-Hawaiian surfers really have a right to claim surfing as part of our culture? Aren't the Hawaiians the only ones who can that?

20 February 2005

Rowing to Catalina

When it rains, I row. It's rained quite a bit over the last three months and I think I've probably rowed to Catalina. Today, I spent an hour rowing. The first 20 minutes are hellish; I always want the workout to be over already and spend too much time looking at the clock. But once I hit the 20 minute mark, my brain settles down, the tunes on the iPod start to work their magic, and before I know it the hour is up. I don't really like to row. It wasn't my idea to buy a rowing machine. Now that it's here, I'm the only one who uses it. It turns out the thing is perfect for cross-training for surfing. It works your entire body, yes. The bulk of the work is done by your upper body, particularly your lats. I didn't know what a godsend the thing was until I got back in the water after the big storms in December and January. I hadn't surfed in three weeks so I assumed I'd be hurting after just a few sessions in the water. To my surprise, I spent five straight days in the water, something I don't have a chance to do often and something I assumed I wouldn't be physically prepared to do after such a long break. Rowing has now become my secret weapon.

18 February 2005

Surf Sites I Can't Live Without

Whiffleboy's blog is a must-read for me. It's one of the surf-related sites I look at every morning when I'm checking the surf before I head to the beach. On the good days, I think of him as a kindred spirit. On the bad days, I think of us as the "Misery Loves Company" Twins.
Confessions of a Novice Surfer

If you live in L.A., you can't surf without El Porto.com. Although I don't surf Venice, I love the reports from the guy at this break. One report in particular sticks in my mind. I'm not sure which break it was for, but it was after one of the heavy rains. The guy doing the surf report admonished everyone to stay out of the water, saying something like, ". . . if you do [get in] you'll get leprosy and your dick will fall off." I read that and laughed all day. That's the kind of surf reporting I want to hear!
El Porto

This is another site I value greatly. It gives you, among other things, a quick overview of the surf conditions at the breaks in your county (in California). I owe these guys one. They said Sunset was "good" in January, and they were spot on!
Pacific Waverider

Surf reports. Surf cams. Local news. Perfection.

I like that they will email you surf forecasts. I also like their online store.

I like Ody. I'll be ordering a board from him before the year is out.

I was talking to Tyler's wife the other day, explaining that I'd been surfing somewhere, saw a guy on a Tyler, and paddled over to see what he had. Then we started talking about the boards. Before I knew it, we were buddies. When a good wave would start to roll in, he'd whistle to me and point at it, letting me know to get ready. I told this to Tyler's wife. She said people with the boards seem to be in some little club. I corrected her. It's not a club. It's like being in a cult. The only problem is that our leader doesn't know that he's got all of these people under his spell.
Our Leader

Once it rains, I use these two sites to make my decison about going back in the water.
Heal the Bay
L.A. County Water Monitoring

17 February 2005

Window of Opportunity—Missed

Once again, I've had a day without surf. Since I didn't have to be at school until the afternoon, I figured I'd hit the beach this morning. Luckily, I also took my skates. I got to my break only to find it closing out in big, furious bursts of energy. I knew there was no way I was going out in that. Almost no one was out. One of the things I've learned over the last few years is if the parking lot at the spot is virtually empty, that means the surf is bad. Once again, the parking lot didn't look good. Some of the regulars were there. But there were no smiles. I didn't get the impression that anyone had fun out there today. I didn't even bother to ask. I saw a few people from my crew standing on the wall, looking at the surf. Then our local surf family—surfing parents and beach baby toddler—walked up from the wrong direction. Usually, they come from the parking lot and their boards are on top of the car. Today, they came from the direction of the playground. That was enough for me. Someone suggested Sunset might be good. Now, see, that made it hard. My class wasn't until two. However, I still needed to make photocopies and finish my notes for today's lecture. I hemmed and hawed for about five minutes, thinking I should really do a quick workout and then think about schoolwork. Guess what I did? I jumped in the car and headed for Sunset. I told myself I'd only surf for 30 minutes. Then I changed it to 40 minutes. Then I decided I only needed two good waves and I'd get out. I went back and forth like this for awhile. By that point, I wasn't really thinking about today's lecture. I just wanted to surf. So, happily north I headed. All was well when I first got on PCH. After three minutes of driving, the traffic came to a dead stop. That's never a good sign. When it didn't really start moving after five minutes, I took that as my cue. I made one of my infamous illegal U-turns and headed back to my spot. I skated. And I was pissed too! Pissed to the point of whining. Is this what surfing does to grown-ass people? Turns them into big, whining babies? Anyway, I took a nice little skate north. I'm glad I'd turned the car around when I had. I found out there'd been a traffic accident on PCH. Had I not turned around, I probably would have still been sitting on PCH. If nothing else, I got a good workout in. Even when I can't surf, I try to do something. I stay motivated by telling myself that the workouts I do outside of the water will only make me stronger when I get back in the water. I don't know if it's true. It doesn't really matter. All that I care about is maintaining my fitness for surfing. That beautiful wax job hasn't even seen the water. Well, I can wait. Now that the first week of school is behind me (and I feel comfortable with my students), I feel I've given enough of my energy to the students and now I want to give it back to me (through surfing). I suppose the surfing will have to wait until the water cleanses itself after the rains.

16 February 2005

Nothing New to Report

There's not much happening in the way of surf. I waxed the board on Monday night, thinking I'd surf Tuesday before my class and before the rains came. Well, I got to the beach only to find nothing to surf. Our break was closed out and breaking close to shore. Can't do much with that. I had a two hour class this morning. I thought about taking my board with me and then going to the South Bay after I was done teaching. But that's a lot of board to drag around with you, especially if the surf doesn't cooperate. I decided I'd just go for a bike ride and check things out at the beach. There wasn't much going on down there. It was low tide and windy. Very few people were out. I'll try again tomorrow morning before my afternoon class. At this point, f#!k the weatherman. Is it going to rain or isn't it? And why am I getting such an attitude? I used to be able to tell when it was going to rain. I didn't need help from the weather people. I, like so many of us, have gotten too far removed from nature. (I can't believe I, someone who has lived her entire life in a large city, am saying that.) I think I'm ready to do what the bumper sticker says: Pray for surf.

15 February 2005

That's More Like It!!!

Finally! A wax job I can live with. See, here's the thing: if you can get small bumps on there and you pile the wax on the bumps, the wax is less slippery as it starts to wear away. It's hard to explain. I've found that a wax job like this one can stay on the board for possibly months. All you do is keep adding to the bumps. I switched back to a harder wax so that I don't get wax holes as easily. Besides, it's not as cold out there as it was, say, last year.

And speaking of last year, what happened to the waves this winter? It was last December that I finally started charging what I considered big waves, waves that were easily 20 feet. Okay, they weren't 20 feet, but they seemed like they were to a neophyte like me. I'm not even sure how big the waves were. I just remember them being way over my head. I was on the 7'10" at that point. So, I'm out there, watching these big waves roll through. But they didn't close out like our break usually does. Every once in awhile, we get an epic day there, a glassy day when the waves will have size but will keep their shape. It doesn't happen often. But when it does, I start to remember why I like surfing there. Anyway, I'm sitting there watching these big waves. Normally, I would have been scared to death. However, this day was different. My grown stepson had died a few days earlier. I had shut down emotionally. I didn't have any fear at all. But, I didn't know what to do. I'd never surfed waved that size before. The next thing I knew, a couple of people started talking to me, telling me I could make these waves, etc. I only remember one of them. In fact, I don't remember the wave. I remember it being the first one because I clearly remember Joey, upon seeing me paddle into the wave, screaming at me from behind, "Stand up now!!!!!!!" And I did. And I made it. I must have made it. I don't remember pearling or getting worked. That was one of those turning point days. It took my surfing to a new level. Had I had all of my wits about me, I probably wouldn't even have paddled out. I would have assumed I couldn't handle those waves. I was in too much shock to think about that. Now, over a year later, I'm still waiting for a day like that. My confidence is such that I would happily paddle into waves that big. I saw a day like that at Sunset, but I haven't seen it more than once at our break since then. Oh well. That's the story of the day I finally started charging the bigger waves.

13 February 2005

You Know You've Got It Bad When . . .

you should be working (i.e., preparing the syllabus for your first class, which meets tomorrow) but all you can think about is surfing. So what am I doing? Procrastinating by doing another blog entry. I need to wax my board. For the first time in a long time, I don't even have a quiver. I am now down to one board. Obviously, I can't get back in the water if that board has no wax on it. But I still feel like I should at least pretend to do a syllabus for tomorrow, right? Hmmmmm. Well, it can wait.

Back to the subject of quivers. I have gone through so many boards in the last three years. I think there are two reasons for that. First, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I initially thought I'd end up on a shortboard. I thought shortboards were surfing. I'd never seen longboarding before. I'd been watching surf contests on TV since I was a teenager. I suppose I just assumed that everyone surfed a shortboard. Anyway, my first official board was a 7'10" mini longboard. (I say "official" because it was the first board I bought with someone's guidance. I had another board before that and it turned out to be a big guy's shortboard, which meant it wasn't right for me. Now that I've surfed for awhile, I understand boards much better and I can see why that was the wrong board.) I had to be talked into that length (the 7'10"); I thought I should get something shorter. Now, here's what happened to change my mind about me and shortboards: I was watching a professional contest on TV one day and said to myself, "That doesn't look like much fun." Don't ask me why I thought that. I don't even know if I'd seen real longboarding by that point. I just knew that I see didn't how I would enjoy doing cutbacks, gouges, etc. I think, now that I am really giving this some thought, I perceive shortboarding as something that requires intensity in order to excel. I no longer have the capacity for that kind of athletic intensity. Motherhood, rather than age, took the intensity from me I think. I'm intense when it comes to my kid. I don't want to be intense now when I'm being athletic. I only want to have fun. Okay, I've digressed and now I have to get myself back on track. Here's my progression with respect to board length: 7'10", 8'6", 9'0", and 9'6". I had a 6'6" board that was considered a short longboard. I didn't like it. It got sold, just like every other board except for the 9'6". Oh!! I'm talking about reasons why I've gone through so many boards. The second reason I've been through so many boards is that now I'm trying to find the boards that fit the way I surf. I know what I'm capable of. I know what designs I prefer. So, it's a matter of finding boards for the various conditions I usually face. My longboard is perfect most of the time. However, you can't surf a single fin log at a beach break when the waves get big. I'll probably end up with a 7'0" Channel Islands MSF (which won't get used much if the winter waves continue to be as pathetic as they have been). I guess that negates my comment about my boards all being long and perfect. I don't think a 7'0" is considered a longboard.

Alright, I'm done. I'm going to watch TV . . . I mean, look at the textbook and do some work.

11 February 2005


I guess there's no rush to wax my board now. "The Department of Health Services recommends that beach users avoid contact with ocean water, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks and rivers for a period of 3 days after rainfall ends." When it rains like this, I have no problem heeding that admonition. I'm not interested in growing a tail or a third eye because I wouldn't stay out of the polluted water. Besides, I have to go back to work on Monday anyway; there will be no surfing on any Monday for a long time.

As it is, I'm all surfed out. Three hours at San O on Wednesday and then an hour at my home break on Thursday were more than enough for me. My lats are asking me to take a break. Advice to fellow surfers: listen to your body. Surfing is a sport. That means those of us who are able to surf, or do other forms of exercise, several times a week must beware of overtraining. You'll know it when you've done it. Surfing is fun, but it's still a workout (when you do it right). When your body says it's had enough, listen. If you push yourself too hard, you're setting yourself up for some horrible sessions in the water. So when it's time to rest, just do it. There will always be waves. I lifted weights today. I'll do something else tomorrow, take Sunday off, lift again on Monday, and get back in the water on Tuesday. When I'm feeling good and have time, I surf (or do some other workout) and the lift later in the day. When I don't feel good, I do one workout or simply take the day off. Even if it hadn't rained today, I could not have gotten back in the water. My heart and lats weren't in it. Surfing is not my job. It's my passion. Why would I do anything to make myself miserable in the water? Again, listen to your body. The time you take to rest and recover will make you a stronger athlete in the long run.

10 February 2005

Wax On, Wax Off

It's that time again—time to strip the wax off the board and give the board a new wax job. I'm funny with wax. Or should I say I'm borderline obsessive-compulsive when it comes to the wax on my boards. I used to strip the wax off every three weeks. I don't know what it is. The wax job on my board must be as close to my idea of perfect as it can be. I've finally calmed down a little. I think the wax on my longboard has been on since late December. It was raining . . . yet again. I'd stripped the wax off specifically to keep me from going in the water on one of the few rain-free days we had during that storm. All I remember is watching Singlefin: Yellow too many times while I waxed my board. (A board this long will give you a shoulder injury if you try to wax it as quickly as possible. I've learned to take my time, take breaks, and be patient.)

So!! I've been using the sticky wax now that the water has gotten cold. After a few sessions, friction causes the wax to rub off in spots. I used to immediately strip the wax off and rewax the board when this happened. Now, I accept that these holes in the wax will occur. I finally gave up on this wax job for two reasons: 1) San Onofre (since I feel like I brought some negative karma home with me from that session) and 2) the wax hole turned into wax holes. Besides, I actually like waxing surfboards. There's something truly Zen about it. You can free your mind while waxing a board (especially a longboard). Yes, I spend a lot of money on wax, but it's not like wax is expensive. Even though most people would say the wax job in the picture looks great, I consider it a disaster. I know, I know. I'm weird.

Wax of choice: Sex Wax Quick Humps (Green or Orange)
Bars used on a big-ass log of a surfboard: Between three and six (depending on how bumpy I want the wax to be)
Time it takes to wax the aforementioned log: Between an hour and two hours (depending upon how many breaks I take)
Wax I hate: Sticky/Chicky Bumps

09 February 2005

Five Reasons to Hate Today's San Onofre Session

1. I dropped my board while trying to get back to the shore after the tide turned low.

2. The wind blew the waves out and made it hard to paddle for waves.

3. Again, I dropped my board while trying to cross those fucking rocks while going back to shore.

4. First the waves were weak, then they got some juice, but by that time I was totally confused, cold, and having a hard time reading the waves.


See this picture? See those rocks? When we paddled out three hours earlier, they weren't there. Okay, they were there, But they were still in the water. When I caught my last wave and decided to get out, I knew I was in trouble. I don't wear booties; I don't like them. I don't like rocks either. Enough said? I was almost to the sand when I lost my footing. All I heard was the "clunk". Then, the whole beach heard the fury that came spilling from my mouth. I guess I'll be doing another ding repair session tomorrow morning with the Solarez.

I went to San O hoping it would end up being a cherished experience (since it was my first time there), one in which I showed myself what this board and I could really do (i.e., noseride, turn on a dime, find perfect trim, etc.). Well, I did manage to pearl a couple of times. I paddled for, and missed, a lot of waves. Thankfully, as I was telling myself that "you suck worse than whiffleboy" I realized that other people weren't catching waves either. Granted, I caught my share of waves. I was satisfied with the session. But now I want revenge. San O got the best of me today. I want to be beside myself, wallowing in self-pity, but I can't. A couple of locals told us we'd caught San O on a bad day. That provides a little bit of solace.

Let's see, I've dinged my board at the following beaches: Malibu, Topanga, San Onofre, and Santa Monica. The ding at the last beach happened when I swung the board around while standing too close to my car. Pretty smart, huh?

07 February 2005

Stand Here, Stupid!

Believe it or not, that's what I think I'll have put on my next longboard. I was thinking I'd have the shaper paint an arrow on the front third of the board. The arrow would end at the nose. Underneath it would be the reminder to "Stand Here, Stupid!" For some reason, I forget to work on my cross-stepping when the time is right. When that good swell hit Sunset a few weeks ago, I caught so many beautiful waves. These were waves that held up and allowed me to stay perched at the top of the wave all the way down the line. What should I have been doing on at least one of them? Walking to the nose. But I forgot. I get so caught up in the moment, in the beauty of the ride, that my brain shuts down. Once the ride is done and I paddle back out, I remember that I could have probably walked right up to the nose and stood there . . . forever. I came close to hanging ten about a week ago at my home break with the shitty, dumpy, closed out waves. I caught a wave that was so weak that the board didn't want to drop into it. So, I took a step forward. Then another. And then another. Before I knew it, I was literally at the nose, with my toes at the edge of the board, jumping up and down in an effort to send the board into the wave. I was so preoccupied with trying to get the board to drop into the wave that I didn't notice I'd done a noseride. Therefore, that ride didn't count. It only counts if I plan to do it and then execute it (with or without perfection). Longboarding is no joke. It's hard. I still can't kick out. The breaks are usually so crowded that I'm hesitant to go leashless. And when I do go without a leash, I end up swimming a lot. Sometimes I want to find a break where I can surf with abandon. I feel like that's the only way I'll have the chance to learn to control the board at the end of the ride. I mean, you're only going to do so much swimming before you decide you've had enough. But out here, it's too crowded for that, even during the week. I want to get better, but not at the expense of someone getting hurt by my wayward log. So I'll just keep at it, trying to remind myself to go for the nose and to kick out at the right time.

06 February 2005

I Like My Surfboards the Way I Like My Men


05 February 2005

When Did I Lose My Fear . . .

of the whitewater and crowds? This question leads me to yet another question: When does one cease to be a kook?

See, here's the thing. Unlike many beginning surfers, I was quite aware of the fact that there were always other (i.e., better) surfers in the water. I always assumed I was in someone's way, so I tended to either stay away from other surfers or, when it was crowded, stay out of the water altogether. Since I had very little control of the board, I worried about hurting someone. So, a crowded lineup unnerved me. I couldn't handle it. If the break got crowded after I got in the water, I'd get out. I was just plain scared . . . and rightly so. Fast foward one or two years to the present. I went out today at 26th Street in Manhattan Beach. The funny thing is that I didn't really notice that it was crowded out there. Now that I can angle into waves, turn, and almost kick out, I hardly notice the people around me unless I'm talking to them. I'm not going to say I'm not a kook, but something has changed. This session was probably the first time that I realized that the crowds no longer scare me. I'm still somewhat nervous when I paddle into a crowd. I think, though, it's a fear of someone having a shitty attitude. It's not a fear of my own abilities. I'm no pro. I don't even know if I'm an intermediate surfer. Still, I can easily avoid people who know to simply stand still if I'm surfing by or at them. Beginning surfers take note: when in doubt, simply stay put until the other surfer surfs by you. If you have the ability or knowledge to paddle quickly into the wave and get over it before it breaks, do so. If not, then just stay where you are and trust that the person up and riding will simply go around you. (Of course, if the person up and riding is a beginner, you're probably doomed!)

I used to believe that longboards and whitewater don't mix. You can't duck-dive the things. And whoever said turtling was a good was to keep from being worked is and was a fucking idiot. That turtling shit is useless. I got to a point where I was terrified to paddle out. I didn't mind being out with the big waves on the outside (even if I was too afraid to ride one). It was the impact zone that I couldn't handle. I'd see the whitewater coming at me and I'd panic! The funny thing is that during those years, I've steadily moved onto bigger boards. You'd think my fears would have multiplied, right? Well, I guess moving up to a 9'6" log forced me to face and conquer the fear. If a big wave comes roaring at me before I can paddle over it, I simply look back to see if anyone is behind me and then ditch the board. There's no way I want to be tangled up with that log while I'm getting worked. I've even gotten up the courage to punch through waves if I can catch the tops of them just as they're breaking. And I've finally figured out how to properly do that push-up thing when the whitewater comes roaring at me from a wave that's broken ahead of me long before I could reach it. Today's waves sometimes seemed to be non-stop. They didn't have much juice, but getting past them was still work. If this had been even a year ago, I probably would have psyched myself out while trying to paddle out after catching waves in. You do get better with time. I'm glad I've surfed enough to remember my earliest days as a surfer.