29 June 2005

Malibu . . . Again, Yet, and Still

Alrighty then!!! So. I ventured back to Malibu today. And guess what? It was great! This is the Malibu that the locals must know and love. Since it wasn't overly crowded, the vibe was wonderfully mellow. Talk about "aloha spirit"! It was out there today. I paddled out with no expectations. None. I told myself I would just go out and go with the flow. On a relatively uncrowded day, the flow is quite orderly. You simply wait your turn. The locals will take the first one or two set waves. Then other set waves will come through and you can jump on those with impunity. There was only one instance of yelling today. (Some guy who yelled at me and others to "get out" or "get off". That was a bit weird, but his yelling worked in his favor so you've got to give him some credit.) I am not one to paddle into the group of locals as soon as I get in the water. I'll usually hang out on the perimeter and then slowly make my way into the hot spot where the locals sit. Again, that's fine on a day like today since that spot ends up empty by the time a set has rolled through. So, anyway, early in the session I'm kind of making my way into the hot spot. I wasn't quite on the perimeter and I wasn't quite in the thick of things. All of a sudden a wave rises up and starts heading toward me. To my surprise, one of the locals told me to take it. Huh? Me? "It's comin' right at you." I think I sat there for a second or two in disbelief. Then I started paddling, telling myself, "Don't pearl! Don't pearl!" I didn't pearl . . . and I had the wave to myself. How's that for civility in the water? It was a fun session. I got a couple of long rides and quite a few nondescript waves. I was blown away by the people. Everyone was in a good mood. There was a guy out there on a 10'4" Aipa epoxy board who was catching everything. He was killing me. Every time he started paddling he would yell for everyone else to paddle too. He wanted to share his waves. I got the impression that he was the epitome of "the more, the merrier". There was also a guy out there who was downright gorgeous. For some reason, this guy kept smiling at me, staring at me, and talking to me. It was kind of unnerving, but his presence did make the session a better one. Yes, Gracefullee, he was my type. She knows what I mean. (Note: as my mother and I always say, "I'm married, not blind." I know an attractive man when I see one. And I'm the consummate window shopper: I look, but I don't touch.) The only negative to today's session was . . . the f!@&ing cold ass water and that breeze that made it all the worse. By the end of the session, my teeth were chattering. I was in a long-sleeved spring suit and I was cold to the bone. However, I refuse to wear a full suit in June. That's just wrong. Or so it seems until you realize the water is getting colder and not warmer! Hey, peace and blessings to the Malibu crew! I'll be back (but not when it's crowded).

28 June 2005

Smiles, Everyone, Smiles!!!

Okay, I take back everything I said about the swell yesterday. Today, I had a ball. I went to Sunset, as usual, but surfed in a different spot. I got in at the south end on at the short dirt path and didn't feel like paddling over to Dos Baños so I stayed put, thinking I'd catch a few waves where I was. When you surf at that part of Sunset, you're often in the middle of the beginners. That's both good and bad. It's good in that you can get your fill of waves; the beginners usually won't paddle for the set waves. It's bad because you have to be more alert for people dropping in or being in your path when you're going down the line. Today's session was good. My new goal is to give serious attention to walking the board. I couldn't do it yesterday. I was able to do it today. I got one wave that was a bit weak, but allowed me to find trim quickly. My brain knew what it was supposed to do. The little voice in my head calmly told me to move to the nose. (In the past, the little voice would scream at me to go for the nose. I'd take off running like I was doing the 100 yard dash, and then fly right off the end of the board.) And, today, I calmly moved to the nose. I could tell the position of the board was right for it. Too bad the wave lost juice soon after I stepped up there. Nevertheless, it was yet another breakthrough. I moved slowly and methodically. I've had to tell myself to think of the words of Dane Peterson when discussing noseriding: Walk, don't run. Those three words now keep me focused in my quest to get to the tip and stay there. What was cool was someone saw me walk the board and reacted positively. I didn't know her. From what I could tell (by watching her), she's working on walking the board too. I got couple of other waves that allowed me to walk. I'm starting to know when a wave is good for walking. Of course, the best wave for doing it is the one whose name I won't mention. But it's kind of hard to work on walking the board there when you're riding a wave with "50 of your new best friends" (a description I must attribute to Peter, my buddy from Sunset). I'll get it figured out soon enough. Tyler told me to remember to weight the inside edge of the board. That's something I still have to work on, especially since I do much of my walking while going backside. Tomorrow is another day. I'm on a mission now. Each day that I go out on a longboard, I'm going to practice walking the board. You can quote me on that.

27 June 2005

The Swell Isn't Very Swell

I guess there was too much wishful thinking on my part. I thought the swell would bring good tidings to one and all. Wrong! Yes, Sunset had some waves. No, it wasn't overly crowded. However, the shape of the waves was not to my liking. Something has changed up there. Perhaps the sandbars have shifted. Maybe the wind was screwing things up. I don't know. It just wasn't happening. Or is it possible that I've been spoiled by a certain wave whose name I won't utter but we all know which break I'm talking about? After getting a taste of that, our other local point breaks pale by comparison. There were no long rides today. The waves tended to take their time to build (as is typical of Sunset), jack up, and then close out. On a positive note, you've got to admit that the Sunset vibe is a good one. I heard someone yell "sorry" to someone else. The reply that came back was, "Oh, that's okay. Don't worry about it." I'll try again tomorrow. I don't know where I'm going. I'll decide once I look at the surf reports.

26 June 2005

Anyone Want to Help Me Steal a Board?

No surfing this weekend. I decided to take a spin on the bike yesterday and do nothing (exercise-wise) today. Where did I ride yesterday? To the beach and back, of course. I didn't feel like riding with my neighborhood group. This CP Time thing starts to get to you after awhile. (If you don't know what CP Time is, ask a black person.) So I rode to the home break to see if the swell had hit yet. Saw the crew. Ran my mouth. Then decided to head back home. That's when I saw a part-time member of the crew in the parking lot. I hadn't seen him in ages. In fact, he's only at the break periodically, which is why I call him a part-timer. Some time ago, this guy decided he had to have a Tyler. And not just any Tyler, mind you. Rumor has it that he custom-ordered it and then gave Tyler free reign in terms of the board's appearance. The word used most to describe it was and is "sick". Well, it was months ago that I'd heard about this board and its color scheme. So I saw our part-timer yesterday, saw two boards on top of his car, and immediately asked about the Tyler (thinking it was in one of the board bags). To make a long story short, this guy told me the board is so nice he doesn't want to put it in the water, let alone put wax on it. What the f#@k? Are you out of your mind? No, I didn't say any of these things. I did think them. I don't care how gorgeous a board is. A surfboard is supposed to be in the water. Tyler's boards are works of art because of how they surf. That board was meant to be surfed. If the part-timer's not going to surf it, I will. I'm thinking it's time to do a home invasion robbery. I'll let him keep all of his other toys. The only thing I want is that Tyler. Apparently, he told Tyler of his reservations about getting the board wet. I could not tell if Tyler's response was one of displeasure or one of resignation (since Tyler thought this is what might happen). Nonetheless, I want to see the board. My plan is to get a picture of it to post on the blog as that may be the only time anyone ever sees the board.

24 June 2005

Still Feelin' It

I had another good session at my home break today. I'm still feelin' whatever "it" is. The crowd in the water wasn't too bad, but it's obvious school is out. There are simply too many people at the beach. It's the time of year when they start blackballing the surfers. I hate that. Why don't they blackball the waders? We weren't blackballed today. I know it's coming soon enough.

When I paddled out today, I went a little north of our crew's normal spot. I hit what some people call "Patty's Peak". It's named after a woman who's been surfing for over 30 years. I'm not sure why this spot was named after her. I'm going to assume it's because she was always there catching waves when everyone was coming up empty. Anyway, I got in over there since it was relatively empty. As usual, within 20 minutes I was surrounded by people I didn't know. So I paddled over to where our crew normally surfs. Two of our people were there. They seemed to be having trouble finding a rhythm. I didn't want their karma to rub off on me, so I moved. However, I did something today I've never done before. I actually paddled over to surf with my sensei (Greg) and his buddy (Niles). Usually, I stay away from them, telling myself that they're too good for the likes of me and that I'll just get in the way. I didn't feel that way today. They were the only other people in the water riding logs and they seemed to be where the waves were. It's time now to start asking the better surfers to school me. I didn't get schooled much today though. By the time I got out of the water, they told me I'd ridden the wave of the day. (See what happens when you're feelin' it?) Somehow, a perfect left came through. I jumped all over it. I didn't think much of it—as I'd had better rides yesterday—but they approved. I also heard from two other people that yesterday I was surfing better than they'd ever seen me surf. Again, I have to ask: why can't I always surf like that?

I think there are several reasons for my recent improvements. Having spent so much time surfing point breaks made me finally learn to find trim, especially going backside. As a result, surfing frontside is now incredibly easy. Although I'm still confused by the dynamics at work in the lineups at Malibu, I understand that wave. It took awhile, but now I get it. The wave at Sunset became my new best friend for the last few weeks; it's not even close to being a good substitute for the kind of wave you find in Malibu and, truthfully, our shitty little beach break is better than Sunset since it (our break) at least has some juice behind its waves. I've learned that I can easily find my rhythm when left alone (or when in a situation where I can have a wave to myself). However, when faced with a crowd, I'm unable to focus. I know that will change. But this is why Malibu is giving me such a fit. Speaking of Malibu, I read this article with interest and was particularly surprised by the writer's perspective at the end.

23 June 2005

Now That's More Like It!!

The repair on the Slick came out better than I thought it would. When I went to pick it up at Aqua Tech, the guy who worked on it came out to see what I thought of his repair job. He did such a good job that it took me a few seconds to locate the site of the fin chop. The best way for me to express my gratitude for a job well done was to give him a hug (in addition to paying for the repair).

Today's session at home was wonderful. Since I was finally back at my home break, I was completely relaxed. Since it's a wave I know well, I was also completely dialed in. The worst thing about surfing places like Sunset and Malibu is that I always have my back to the wave. So when I got to our funky little beach break today, I went for every left that came my way. I didn't just surf the lefts. I jumped on the lefts and worked them for all they were worth. I think having spent much of the last month surfing other breaks has helped my surfing in ways I can't yet quantify. When I surf my home break, I'm at a place that is hardly unpredictable. I know what to expect from the waves there. But lately I've been surfing Sunset, Malibu, and sometimes the South Bay. That means I've been forced to learn new waves, new beaches, new crowd patterns, new everything. I guess I've had to spend a lot of time watching and learning, something you don't necessarily do or have to do when you surf the same break every day. It's also helped to see so many good surfers. I mean, it's not like those of us on longboards at my break have a lot of good surfers to learn from. There's Greg. He's a classic longboard surfer whom I consider my sensei. There's Jonas. He's, in my opinion, more of a progressive longboarder with a lot of classic style. Finally, there's Joey. He's got his own style, one that I think is almost impossible to emulate. I'm someone who learns visually. I need to see how a thing is done. In order to improve my skills on a longboard, I need to see people on longboards doing the things I want to do on a longboard. I won't see them at my break often. That means I have to go elsewhere to learn. The Sunset wave, when it's firing, is a good place for me to work on my skills and my confidence. But if I want to see good longboarding, I have to go to places like Malibu and The Cove. So, yes, you'll be seeing me in Malibu again (even if all I'm doing is sitting in the sand and watching—it's not like you can see much other than the top halves of people's bodies from the lineup).

22 June 2005

I'm Over It

I'm a person who believes you leave the past in the past. In other words, I try not to dwell on things. So, I'm over this whole Malibu thing but I've been enjoying the comments flying back and forth. I surfed Sunset today. I just wanted to enjoy the sun and relax. There were a few waves, but they were incredibly weak. I think there were about seven people at the point and maybe eight of us in the bay. It was not a session worth talking about. I used today's session as what my coach used to call "active recovery". You do a workout, but you do it at minimal effort. My friend, who I've now nicknamed CYT (for "cute young thing"—a description I came up with because I think that's the immediate impression people have of her) told me to go back to Malibu. Nope. Not today. I can only take so much frenetic energy at this point in my life and I get enough of that from my three year old. I'll be going back though. My question for you Malibu locals is this: is there a way to school non-locals about how to behave in Malibu so that they can still catch waves while not infringing on the rules established by the locals? This is not necessarily for me. It's for anyone who plans to surf Malibu. I have to admit that I was treated pretty well out there. People were quite nice to me. When I was on my last wave, I heard someone yell, "Yeah, girl!!!" I know that was directed at me. After that wave, a local paddled by and complimented me on the ride. I appreciated that, especially since I didn't expect it. Now, look, I want to go back and I don't want to have a bad reputation. Since I'm one of only a handful of black women in the lineup—and I only know of one other who surfs Malibu and now it occurs to me that people may have thought I was she—it's not like I can do something stupid and remain anonymous. People always remember me. This was also the case when I raced bikes. It was also the case when I played varsity soccer in college. So I go out of my way to make a good impression. If I fuck up, I own up to it. Mind you, I didn't say the guy who ran me over was wrong. Nor did I say I was wrong. Frankly, I think we both shared in the blame. Will it happen again when I go to Malibu? Probably not. I know what to look for. I also have a better idea of how to get my ass out of the way!

I'll probably be back at my home break tomorrow. Now that the SW is fading, our waves should be pretty good. I miss my crew too. But from what I can tell, most of us have been at other places searching for waves until our break comes to its senses. The Slick will be ready on Friday. I think it's become my main board now. It really impressed me at Malibu. I'm tempted to get another one . . . but I won't.

21 June 2005

Chaos Reigns Supreme

What did I learn about Malibu today? Those people are crazy!!!!

Within 20 minutes of getting in the water, I was run over by a guy on a pretty big longboard. Okay, see, there's no rhyme or reason to that place. We've all been schooled on the rules surfers should follow when out in the water. THOSE RULES DO NOT APPLY AT MALIBU. I've come up with a new surfing bumper sticker: "Fuck the rules. This is Malibu!" People are scattered all over the place so not only do you have to fight for the wave, you also have to fight to get out of the way. Well, I had nowhere to go. Three people started paddling for a wave and they were pretty much elbow to elbow. And they were all paddling straight at me! Where am I supposed to go? I was probably only a couple of yards inside of them (along with a whole bunch of other people.) You'd think someone would swerve or stop, right? Nope. All I could do was get run over. (Of course, many of us stopped paddling to keep from running over other people at various times throughout the session. What? Do I have a target on my forehead?) I wasn't even mad. I figure you take your life into your hands at that place. I was just glad it was the board and not me. What's funny is my friend thought I would be mad and want to get out. Fuck that! My attitude was, I'm here and I've got a gash in the nose of my damn board. Why get out? Now it's time to get some waves. So, that was the worst thing that happened today. Frankly, I figure I fared well. I saw people being hit by boards, people yelling and cursing about being hit by boards, and people writhing in pain from being hit by boards. I got off easy.

There was more good to the session than bad. I got two long rides, rides that showed my why people flock to Malibu. I don't remember the first one. I only recall being relieved that I was finally experiencing that wonderful Malibu ride. I do remember the last one. I was talking to my friend. I wasn't really paying attention to the approaching wave. I wanted to tell her we should get out. I was tired and I was getting cold. Then I turned around and saw that wave approach. I just went. I don't even remember thinking about it. I just went. It was a split second decision. Lo and behold, I got the wave and I think I had it to myself. I started hearing people whooping and hollering and wondered what they were so excited about. Then I realized they were yelling for me! Some kid started to drop in on me. I maneuvered around him and kept on riding. That one wave was amazing. It made the fin gash worthwhile.

There were quite a few bombs that passed through later in the morning. When I say bombs, I'm not kidding. These were some big waves with power. I managed to paddle over them. My friend said on one of them, a guy in a black hat rode it while perched at the top of it on the nose of his board. She said it was truly beautiful. Black hat? Who is that?

Oh!!! Him!!!! How cool is it to see a former World Longboard Champion in the lineup? What was even more astounding was when he paddled for a wave, everyone else stopped. I couldn't help but yell, "How come he gets a wave to himself? What's up with that?" He's a nice guy too. I congratulated him on the birth of his son and got both a smile and a response.

Yeah, I'll go back to Malibu. But I'm taking the big gun next time. I think I was hamstrung by the Tyler in previous visits. I was worried that I'd hurt someone with that big thing. Now I realize I need that big thing for protection! The bigger the board, the better!

It's Because I'm Black, Isn't It?

20 June 2005

Warm-Up Surf

That's all today's session was. I got wet in preparation for another assault on Malibu. I even drove to Malibu today but talked myself out of getting in. Okay, okay!!! I wimped out and didn't get in. I saw a crowd and just couldn't get myself fired up to go in. Part of it may be the fact that I know I will probably be there tomorrow. I also wanted to do an easy session and not tax my shoulder too much. And frankly, the next time I go to Malibu, I'm going to take it seriously. I'll have to put my game face on (or else I'll end up sitting there and trying to stay out of the way). I don't want to stay out of the way. I'm not going to this party with the intention of being a damn wallflower . . . again. Since this is the place of the party wave, I'm going to have to act like I was actually invited and just ride the waves with everyone else. So, anyway, I got all serious this morning and waxed my board before leaving the house, thinking it was time to arrive at the beach ready to surf. Mind you, it's kind of hard to wax your board in the house when the living room floor is occupied by either a Thomas the Tank Engine track or a Hot Wheels track. As I drove to the beach, I made myself calm down and stop thinking. I knew I was going to Malibu so I was psyching myself up. I didn't know if I'd surf Malibu but this is the kind of mindset I need when a place has gotten the better of me. I default back to my days racing that dumb bike. I have to do that or else I will literally over-think the situation; I'll end up giving in to negative thoughts. We all have those. You know what I'm talking about. You hear your little voice tell you how much you suck when you miss a wave. I arrived at Malibu in a good space mentally. I was calm and ready to surf. Then I saw that there was a crowd and all of that calm went right out the window. What's up with that? Nobody cares how I surf. But I care and I know I'm a better surfer than I've shown Malibu. Again, I didn't get in, but I did take the time to watch and try to learn some things. Perhaps I feel I don't surf well enough to even stick my big toe in the water at Malibu. I don't know.

I ended up at Sunset. It was mostly flat but sets rolled in periodically. The session was just what I needed. I did a lot of sitting and paddled very little. For the first time in awhile, I let the tweeners go by and only went for the bigger waves. One of my rides was great. It really does help to look at the wave, doesn't it? Now that I've developed that habit, my surfing has changed for the better. I didn't even try to walk on this wave. Instead I worked it, going up and down the face as much as I could. That's something I've found hard to do when going backside, but I've been watching the ASP tour and I've been paying attention to how those guys and gals position themselves when going backside. I guess I learned something. The one funny thing that happened today was on the first wave I paddled for. There were very few people out and the place was virtually empty. Well, I started to paddle for a wave, realized it was turning into a left, smiled, and paddled even harder. Well, there was a guy paddling back out in front of me. He looked like he was spent. He must have been. As I was going for that wave, he stopped right there in my path. I had no choice but to let it go. What was funny was his reaction: "I am SO sorry. You had that wave! You were in it! I owe you $5. I'll give you $5 when you get back up to your car." I was laughing too hard to be mad and told him it was okay. When the next set approached, I told him to get ready. He told me the next wave was all mine. I wouldn't take no for an answer and reminded him that there weren't enough waves to have that attitude. If we were going to get any, we'd have to catch them together. Now how can I tell him we have to do the party wave thing and then wimp out because of the party waves at Malibu. Yes, I know. My husband says it to me all the time: "You're weird."

19 June 2005

Playing the Waiting Game

I'm waiting to surf. That's all there is to it. I've been riding my bike, letting my shoulder get some rest (although I don't think riding helps all that much since your upper body weight is supported by your arms and shoulders). Right now, I'm hanging out at home with two of my three men. Soul Brother #1 is off riding his bike, putting his cycling-related Father's Day gifts to good use. Soul Brother, Jr. is hanging on my arm as I type and asking to sit in my lap. The dog—the third penis that lives in this house—is trying to find a place to nap without being stepped on or harrassed by Soul Brother, Jr. (When your gender is outnumbered by the other folks in your house, you tend to view the others by their common denominator. I am known for often saying that there are too many penises living in my house.) I am simply waiting. Tomorrow I'll get back in the water. What's been getting to me of late is Malibu. I've got Malibu on the brain. I've only been there on three occasions, but I have yet to get a handle on that wave. Now I feel compelled to go back, pay my dues, and figure it out. I will take a different board this time. When I got the Tyler, I was told I had to take it to Malibu. Well, I've done that. So far, I'm 0 for 3. The time has come to switch to something else. Once I get the wave figured out, I'll go back to the Tyler. I don't intend to go to Malibu tomorrow. But I may make an appearance later in the week.

17 June 2005

Resting Up for the Swell

My goal is to stay out of the water until Monday. Okay, I actually want to be in the water on Sunday when the swell hits, but that's Father's Day so I'm not going to mention surfing. After doing nothing but eat and run errands yesterday, I'm feeling rested. My shoulder doesn't hurt when I surf and barely hurts when I'm out of the water. I know that can change. That's why I'm giving it time to rest. One friend asked yesterday if I was going to take today off. She laughed when I said, "Yeah. I'm just going to ride my bike." I guess "take the day off" for her meant "keep your ass at home and not workout". I'm not going to ride hard. I'll just ride for an hour in an easy gear. Those kinds of rides are so easy they're boring. But they still get the blood flowing and the heart pumping.

I've been reflecting on my surfing birthdays. They allow me to see how far I've come since I started surfing. My first birthday surf was for my 40th birthday. I was at my home break on a 7'10" Becker Supermodel. I think I caught one wave. On my second surfing birthday, I was on a 6'6" Walden Compact Disc but my main board was a 9'0" McTavish Fireball. I caught two waves on the Walden but spent most of the session switching boards with other people. It was the first time I'd surfed a Tyler. I caught a few waves that day. However, I had no concept of trim. I was still heading straight to the beach once I was up and surfing. I don't think I was able to go frontside either. For some reason, I started out only going backside. It was all I knew how to do and since I haven't had much help learning how to surf, I've had to school myself on many things. I finally made myself go frontside when I realized I wanted to start doing bottom turns while facing the wave. At last year's birthday surf, I still had no understanding of the tides. I had a tide book, but I didn't know what to do with it. Now, here we are a year later. I surfed at a break other than my home break; I've now become someone who will drive to other breaks to surf. I check the tide book at least once a day (even when I'm not getting in the water). I am able to achieve trim more often than not. I actually look at the wave instead of my feet once I'm up on the board. (That's a relatively new development.) I'm now the owner of four boards, three of which are magical (i.e., I'll be keeping them). The fourth will be in the water soon enough. Last year, I was still following the lead of a guy in our crew who argues that you have one main board and you stick to it. I assumed he was right. I've come to realize that this doesn't work for me. I need to ride different boards. I thought the Tyler would be my primary board. I've since realized I don't always want to be on a log. That's when I ride the Slick. I'm still learning the Channel Islands, which will be my board for bigger waves, and the Con funboard is for those days when I want to ride something different. I see now that I've come a long way. (I just remembered that when I started surfing, I was still breastfeeding and could barely lie down on the board. My child was about five months old. Now, I'm back to my normal size and my kid, who tells us he's either Mr. Incredible, Spiderman, or The Thing, is now working his way out of diapers.) Now I'm anxious to see what the next birthday surf brings. I have every intention of going into that birthday with the ability to wrap at least five toes around the nose of the board. I also plan to be comfortable on the 7'0" by that time. Who knows? A year from now I may be of the opinion that Malibu is my favorite spot (although I find that highly unlikely). I like being able to use my birthdays as a way to gauge my improvements and I'm glad I've stuck to my birthday surf tradition.

15 June 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


What a great birthday I had!!! Thanks for all of the birthday wishes, e-mails, and e-cards. It was, as my child likes to say, a wonderful day. I surfed at Sunset for three and a half hours! I felt great too. I knew I'd be meeting two people—mother and daughter—whose company I really enjoy. They knew it was my birthday and we had decided to meet up for a surf. Well, many of the other people from our break were there too. So I almost felt like we were surfing at our home break. (I think Sunset is becoming our home break since our spot has been terrible for the last few weeks.) All of the folks I knew got out of the water after about two hours. I kept telling myself I was going to get out, but the waves were pretty damn good. And it was glassy. I spent most of the session at Dos Baños. After two hours in that general vicinity, I decided I'd caught enough waves to be happy for a week. So then I decided to start making my way toward the stairs. Then more good (not great, but good) waves rolled through and I would not get out. Call me an addict! I could not get the monkey off my back. I wanted more! So I stayed in for another hour and a half, having a ball with people I didn't even know. By the time I got out and pulled myself onto the cement platform at the bottom of the stairs, I was so tired that I couldn't lift the Tyler up onto the platform. Guess who came to my rescue? The guy I ran over the other day. He saw me standing there up there looking somewhat helpless. He picked the board up high enough so that I could easily grab it and take it up the stairs. He and I had talked earlier in the water. Nice guy.

I had a few waves of note. Once again, I came within inches of a true cheater five. I was up there near the nose, astonished at how close I was to the end, and yet too tentative to take it all the way. I suppose it will come. At some point, I'll stop thinking about it and just do it. I did a little walking yesterday too. I haven't done any in awhile. Yesterday I do remember one wave that required me to walk up and back in order to make the sections. It's funny. Sometimes walking the board feels effortless. However, most of the time it feels awkward. I know that too will improve with time in the water.

My husband gave me money toward the Con funboard. That was his present to me. Now, I have a quiver of four!


If I have a good, long surf session, I feel like I'm punch drunk for the next few hours after I get out of the water. It's a good thing I get those surfer's highs. Here's why: upon returning home from the session, there was a voicemail from my division telling me my summer class had been cancelled. That's not good news. That meant that my June 15th paycheck WOULD BE MY LAST PAYCHECK UNTIL SEPTEMBER. Thank you, Humanities Division, for informing me of this on June fucking 14th! Initially, I hadn't wanted to teach summer school because I'd make less doing so than I would drawing unemployment. Then the school informed me that part-timers who taught summer classes would be paid as if they were full-timers. That meant I was going to get at least $4000 a month. I know some of you make good money at your jobs. I've never truly had a job that paid well (even with all of my education) so this kind of money was doing wonders for my motivation. Well, now it's June 15th. That check has already been spoken for. I have no job prospects. I have no money. And I still have bills. Believe it or not, I was in too good a mood to let that news get me down on my birthday. The one thing I try never to let get me down is money. I'll either get unemployment (and I've been told part-timers can get it when they don't have an assignment) or I'll have to find a summer job (if there are any left now that it's summer).


Why did I think I was in any condition to surf today? After surfing Sunday, biking 42 miles on Monday, and surfing for three and a half hours yesterday, I was running on empty today. Somehow, we ended up at Malibu. But I was not feelin' it at all! I did catch waves. I did get some interesting rides. I saw some beautiful surfing. I think, though, I would have been happier taking a nap in the sand. I was tired. The session is kind of a blur to me. I came away with the impression that this place must be a nightmare on a sunny day. It wasn't that crowded today, yet it still felt like we were all in each other's way. Suffice it to say the place makes me nervous. Even if I'd been charging, I would have felt a bit overwhelmed by the party wave thing. I'll have to go back on a day when I've got energy.

13 June 2005

Stupid is as Stupid Does

I've got a slight injury so I decided to forgo surfing today. See, tomorrow is my birthday and I've surfed on my birthday for the last three years since I've only been surfing for three years. It's become a tradition. (Truthfully, I've always held the tradition of working out on my birthday. Sometimes I biked. Sometimes I ran in the soft sand at the beach. Now I surf.) I wanted to rest my shoulder for tomorrow so I got it into my head that I'd do a birthday bike ride. I'd ride 42 miles to celebrate turning 42. Let me just say this: it seemed like a good idea in theory. Now, several hours later, I'm ready for my nap!!! That ride took everything I had. Yes, I've been riding lately, but I haven't done this kind of mileage. I'm starting to think that ride was a stupid idea, especially since I did it while suffering through a bad case of hay fever (which had me sniffling and sneezing while out in the water yesterday).

I'm going out tomorrow, hoping for a little bit of the predicted swell to show up somewhere. Depending on how my shoulder feels, I'll probably take the rest of the week off. Okay, we all know I don't take days off. I simply mean I won't surf for the rest of the week if my shoulder still feels sore. I think I've got mild tendonitis. With all of the sports injuries I've had in my lifetime, I'm able to distinguish one type of pain from another. I've broken bones, torn ligaments, pulled muscles, and had inflamed tendons. This feels like a a sore tendon. If worse comes to worse, I'll go in for treatment. Our home break has not one, but two acupuncturists in the lineup. Now that I think about it, I could spend an entire week talking about the various jobs held by the folks at our break . . . but I won't.

12 June 2005

Pray for Summer

It's June 12. Not only am I back in my fullsuit, but I'm also braving the "Victory at Sea" conditions for the second week in a row. What's up with that? Today's waves were mediocre at the beginning of the session. We all caught something. But within an hour, we were back to what our break does best: closeout. Then the fun was watching everyone, including myself, get pitched. You get so desperate for something—anything—that even when a wave is obviously going to close out, you go for it anyway. I don't know what makes everyone else do it. I always hear a little voice saying, "Oh, you can make that." That little voice is almost always wrong. There's nothing to "make" (a fact you realize as the wave jacks up and pitches you headlong into the water). All in all, it was an uneventful session. It was nice to be in the water at my home break with most of the crew in attendance. I suppose surfing with the same people is like training on a bike with the same people. You reach a certain level of comfort because you know the habits and idiosyncracies of those people. For instance, John is a wavehog. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. If he sees a wave coming, he will cut you off. He will snake you. He'll do whatever it takes to get that wave. And yet, he's one of the sweetest guys in the world. It's just that he gets what I consider a sort of tunnel vision; he sees nothing but that wave. So you know to either give John some room or snake him. It's rare that he gives waves away. I don't think he's capable of doing so. Then there's Mike. He's so self-deprecating that he doesn't get into most of the waves he goes for. When he's going for it, I go ahead and paddle for the wave too. Three times out of four, I'll end up with the wave he wanted. He tends to back off, even when no one else is going for the wave. Finally, there's Grace. I try to stay out of her way when the bombs roll through. See, I'll hesitate. Grace won't. She likes the big, hairy waves . . . and she usually makes the drop . . . on a longboard! My point is that even though the waves today weren't good, I still enjoyed myself.

10 June 2005

And the Kook Move of the Day Award Goes to . . .

me!!! I spaced out while on a wave, turned back in the opposite direction as the wave closed out in front of me, and proceeded to practically run over the guy next to me. Granted, we shouldn't be surfing that close together anyway, but I was at Sunset. And, well, you know how Sunset is. But that's beside the point. I saw him there when I popped up. Then I proceeded to literally get lost in the moment as I rode the wave. My bad!! I expected yelling and screaming. I was even going to tell him I would give him 20 seconds to curse me out. Believe it or not, he wasn't even mad. He should have been. That was a stupid move on my part. When I saw that I was going to probably mow him down, I immediately jumped off the board. If you're hit by a longboard with someone on it, you're going to be hurt. However, a longboard without its rider can be avoided or pushed out of the way (most of the time). Of course, within five minutes of that fiasco, he and I were buddies. He even gave me a wave . . . a left. He was a goofy foot too, yet he unselfishly gave me a wave he could have had. And it was a good one! Now that's what I call "Aloha spirit".

I spent the last two days surfing Sunset. It's not that I like Sunset all that much. It's just that my break pretty much sucks on a daily basis these days. Yesterday's session was particularly good. For some reason, very few people were out. Most of us were able to get the waves to ourselves through most of the session. After I'd been there about an hour, Sunset gave us a few gifts. It started dropping a few bombs, bombs like I haven't seen since Sunset was firing hard in January. These bombs were mushy, but big enough to make people hoot and smile. It was great. I actually think today's kook move was in part the result of yesterday's session. I got spoiled yesterday. Today, I guess I was thinking I had that wave to myself and had the room to milk it (which is why I often turn and go the other way when a wave starts to run out of steam or closeout). I was wrong.

Sunset wasn't as good today as it was yesterday. The waves were smaller. There was actually a crowd today, many of whom were attending a surf school there. Still, there were waves to be had. I took the Slick yesterday. But given the mushiness of the waves, I decided it was time to put the Tyler back in the rotation. That board is sweet!!! No wonder I want to divorce my husband, bump off Tyler's wife, and marry Tyler. How does one make a board that's so perfect? Oh, I saw Marlon yesterday. He's now up to 52 boards. Yes, the guy has 52 surfboards!!! Where do you put 52 surfboards? Most surf shops don't have that many boards in their inventory!!! I don't feel so bad about having three (soon to be four) boards when I think about him and his menagerie.

07 June 2005

Got Melanin?

I know what you're saying. "What the hell does that mean?" I have a shirt with that slogan on the front of it. I bring this up because of a conversation I had with someone while out in the water at Sunset. I was feelin' it again today, so I was the kook magnet personified. It seemed like I had a conversation with everyone in the water. Anyway, there was a guy who kept waiting for one last good wave to take him in. Since it was a less than epic day at Sunset, it took awhile for that wave to materialize. In the meantime, he and I had a chance to chat. At one point during the conversation, he talked about having been in the water so long one day last week that he got a serious tan/burn. I think he said, "I was out for so long that when I got out, I looked like . . . an aborigine." I laughed and replied, "Oh, you mean you looked like me!" Well, that comment was enough to make us both howl. So, okay, this brings me to my point: should I wear sunscreen or shouldn't I? For decades, I've been of the belief that black folks, being of mainly African descent, don't need it. More melanin, more sun protection. Since I'm not light-skinned, I don't burn and I assume the sun and I are on good terms. But, see, then some of my non-black surf friends keep telling me to wear it. Then I think, "Maybe you need it, but why do I have to wear it?" I vacillate on this issue, especially given the fact that my child's pediatrician wants us to put sunscreen on him. She argues that the deterioration of the ozone layer dictates that all kids, even black kids, wear sunscreen when outside for long periods. Do we ever remember to put sunscreen on him? Rarely. It's not that I don't love him. It's just that I don't think about this issue much and, until about two weeks ago, didn't really have any sunscreen. As it stands now, I am wearing it when I surf. I don't wear it when I ride, which makes me think I'm kind of defeating the purpose of putting it on when I surf.

Today's session was just fine. I was in a great mood today. The end of the semester is in sight. I have a bunch of 10 page papers to read before Thursday, but as of this morning (when I went to surf) I didn't have those papers yet, thus the pressure to get them graded was the last thing on my mind. I went to Sunset. Pacific Waverider listed it as "fair". I didn't think the conditions at my break rose to the level of "fair" during a SW swell. I had a good day in the water. I was feelin' it again, so much so that someone remarked about how hard I was charging. I wanted the few waves that were out there and went for them. I wasn't quite a wavehog, but I was close. There weren't too many people out. As a result, it didn't feel crowded out there. Someone I'd seen out there in the past was trying to talk me into going to Malibu, saying she was surprised she hadn't seen me out there. I don't know that I'm mentally ready for that kind of crowd. But now that she's put the thought in my head, I'll probably venture there one weekday. I'm actually looking forward to the end of the summer. As most of us in L.A. know, the true heat doesn't arrive until August and September. By that time, the schools will be back in session. I'll still be teaching two classes, but this time I'll only be working two days a week. Right now, I work four days a week and can only do day trips on Fridays. But come August, I'll be free to do them on other weekdays. And since I'll be teaching two different sections of the same class, my class preparation will be minimal next semester (especially when one considers that I taught that class this semester and will teach it again over the summer). Less class preparation, more time to surf. Life is good.

05 June 2005

I Can Dream, Can't I?

I probably won't be getting a new bike any time soon. I can't justify spending the money. And bikes cost much more than they used to. Even if I sold my old bike, I'd still have to fork over $1000 more. I just can't do it . . . at least not yet. It's good to know that I can exercise restraint when a big ticket purchase is not related to a surfboard.

Will Wonders Never Cease?

Somehow, in the midst of epic "Victory at Sea" conditions, I managed to survive my first session on the 7'0" single fin board. It wasn't pretty. That I'm sure of. The one thing I can say for myself is that when I'm flailing around on a new board, I tend to get a bad case of the giggles. This is both good and bad. It's good because I forget to be self-conscious about regressing to kook status and the people around me seem to enjoy my good cheer. The bad thing about all that giggling is that I can't giggle and paddle at the same time. I don't know when I would have finally gotten that board in the water. I had to be coaxed into it today. The friend who's looking into buying a shorter board—and I've got to give her a nickname so I can stop referring to her as "my friend"—was dying to try my board. It was decided we'd take it out today. She'd bring her 9'0". I'd bring the 7'0". Once in the water, we'd take turns switching boards. Upon arriving at the beach, I saw the sight that I hate: the crew standing on the wall looking at the water. Once I took a look, I understood why they were all simply standing there. But then my friend arrived and she was determined to go in. She wanted to try the board. That meant I was going in too since it was the board's first time in the water. I couldn't see me not being present for that. My plan, when I got the board, was to take it out on a day when no one was around. I didn't want the crew to see me, the board, and the flailing. Let's just say the best laid plans of mice and Surfsister came to naught. As soon as I took the board out of the car, people started yelling, wondering which board this was. I tried to walk toward the water in a different direction, but Sensei Greg motioned to me to come to him. And when one of our senseis beckons, you do what he says. So, there I was standing in the middle of the crew, being clowned about having yet another board. See, all of you who read the blog know about me and my boards. The folks at the beach only have an inkling of my addiction. So I had to head out to the water knowing I was being watched. Had the conditions in the water been better, I wouldn't have done as much giggling and probably would have done a little better. However, I can actually brag that I got two rides on the board today. I hadn't expected that at all! I probably would have gotten four rides, but on two occasions it felt as if the rubber at the knees of my wetsuit was Crazy Glued to the board; I couldn't stand up. For the first forty minutes in the water, I simply flailed, now quite knowing what to do on the board. Then, I announced I was ready to switch boards. I wanted to at least catch one wave today!!! My friend wanted to try the board but was worried about being the first one to catch a wave on it. I told her to take it. A board is made to be ridden. It's not like someone else catching the first wave on it is going to ruin the karma you have with a board. Once we traded, I had a little time to rest. I swear, paddling a 7 foot board is no joke! My shoulders were extraordinarily fatigued. I caught a few waves on her board and watched her flail on my board. Eventually, she gave up. Then, I got serious. Someone was going to catch a damn wave on that board before we left! I don't even know what I did. But somehow the board stayed level (i.e., I didn't pearl) and I managed to pop up. The feeling was quite a bit different from my longboards. I can't even imagine what a true shortboard must feel like. I got one more ride before calling it a day. Now I'm glad my friend pushed the issue about the board and made me take it out. I'm no longer scared of it. Going out on it in the horrible conditions we had today makes me more confident about taking the board out on a day with better conditions.

03 June 2005

Rat Beach

This ain't it. I'm not sure what beach this is. See, the plan was that four of us would meet in PV to surf The Cove. Never having surfed there before, we weren't sure if the lake we were looking at—Lake Cove—would eventually pickup once the tide changed. It didn't look promising. No one was out. Locals drove up, checked it, and left. That was all I needed. When in Rome . . .

Anyway, it was decided we would go back to Rat Beach. I found it accidentally this morning while looking for The Cove. Our fearless leader, who had never surfed The Cove either, was familiar with Rat Beach. We all agreed it looked like there was a little something out there. We were right. And I was really feelin' it this morning for the first 30 minutes. I love feeling like that. Why can't I feel that way every time I get on a board? I was completely dialed in. After the first half hour, I started to come down. I guess the waves changed with the tide so I couldn't read them as well as I had been. No matter. It was a good session. The goal, for two of us, was to surf a new spot. Mission accomplished. I liked Rat Beach. I'd go there again in a heartbeat.

02 June 2005

The Fury

There's no surf. If there is, I don't want to know about it since I'm in my self-imposed paper-grading prison.

What is going on with our schools? Did these kids learn anything in high school? See, this is why my child will not be going to public school. Either he's going to get his ass kicked for being black—we're having some racial problems right now in some L.A. public high schools—or he's going to be given straight A's even though he lacks the skills necessary to do well in college. These irritating papers aren't even from my remedial students. These are the papers from my freshman comp kids. And have they heard anything I've said? How does one turn in a paper with run-on sentences? I've explained what proofreading is. I've explained the benefits. (Yes, I've talked about run-ons but shouldn't have to worry about this with them.) Why am I still getting sentences that frighten me? Let me give you an example: "This clearly showed that after so many years the way her Father and Mother reacted towards her still haunted her in her head, over all in her family's eyes he did something bad, but in society's eyes she did the right thing." Okay, it's a run-on sentence. "Father and Mother" should not be capitalized. The prounoun "he" is wrong since we're talking about a female protaganist. I want to believe that some of these mistakes could have been caught with proofreading. But what if this student did proofread this paper? This is unacceptable. No, I didn't fail him or anything. My goal is to help these kids improve their writing so I'm big on repeating myself—not that they listen—and giving positive reinforcement. By the way, is critical thinking that hard to do? It must be. I swear that some of the ideas in their papers came straight out of my mouth during a lecture. I don't mind them using my ideas. I do mind that they don't take the ideas a step further and analyze them. We're doing a disservice to our kids, people. They're not learning enough in the public schools and it's scaring me. I can't say that I learned much in public school either. I struggled in college, trying to play catch-up for the first three years. I didn't really learn anything until I lived in the Netherlands. I worked in a bookstore and read over 100 books while I was there. I think I learned more there than I did during the four years in college. Isn't that sad?

Okay, my rant is over for now. Tomorrow I will be surfing. The plan was to hit San-O. I really wanted to surf with Puttzle before he leaves. Unfortunately, our surf road trip plans fell apart and we're staying closer to home. Well, Puttzle, you'll be sorely missed. Perhaps we can have a blogger surf session in Hawaii—you, me, Whiff, Beachgirl, Crusty, RuggerJay, Alan, and Pam. As they used to say, write when you get work! Let me know where you are and what you're up to in Hawaii. Please don't send pictures. The envy will kill me!