29 July 2005

Thank God for Surfing!

If it weren't for surfing, you'd probably be seeing my picture on the news. They would be talking about the seemingly normal, well-educated woman who went postal. But, see, when you spend your workout time surfing, you're too high to stay mad at anything or anyone. Here's a short list of our recent irritations (in the order in which they occurred):
1. Neighbors
2. Hard drive died
3. Husband got hit by a car while on his motorcycle
There's more, but like I said, that was a short list. All I can do is shake my head at this point. I'm long past the point of emotional reactions to anything. Just call me a Vulcan.

The surf's been hit and miss. Again, my Wednesday session at LPB was stellar. Yesterday's session at my home break . . . was not. The surf was so miniscule that I got out after 30 minutes. That never happens. I always stay in for at least an hour. However, there was nothing out there yesterday. It was one of those days when you realize you're wasting energy. If you're going to wear yourself out, do it surfing good waves. Once I realized I was working too hard for these instep high waves, I gave up. At least it was sunny and warm. I can't say the same for today. CYT and I headed out looking for surf (as usual). First stop, Breakwater. All I saw was chop. No way! So off we went to Sunset. There's not much to report. There were a few meandering waves out there. It seemed to take forever for the waves to roll in. My grandmother walks faster than those waves were moving—and she's 93! The only thing of note that happened was CYT got stung by a jellyfish. It didn't seem to faze her much.

Gotta go!! We're steadily working on restoring software. I lost very little when the hard drive blew. I don't know why it never occurred to me to burn a copy of my resumé on a CD. Too late now. It's gone. My husband lost quite a few pictures. I guess we learned our lesson, didn't we?

27 July 2005

Life is Good

Guess what? Our computer died. It didn't just have a bad case of indigestion or anything. The hard drive literally gave up the ghost. So here I am, standing in the Apple computer store on Third Street Promenade, writing in the blog. Right now, this is my easiest way onto the internet.

Quick rundown of the last few days: I'm over the neighbors. No one is forgotten, but they're not worth dwelling on. My surf sessions were great. Yesterday's session at Sunset was cool: no one was there. I think there were maybe seven of us in the water. To our surprise, the ocean was still delivering bombs left over from the last swell. Today I hit LPB with CYT. The waves weren't epic, but my session was. Thanks to Captain America, I am finally able to carve up and down the face of a wave. As it turns out, all I should have been doing was standing farther back on the Tyler. Captain Amerca's few little words completely opened up my surfing. At LPB today, I carved up and down waves that were over my head! I easily made turns. The session was perfect. I give it a 10 out of 10. It's almost unbelievable how the reminder to do everything from the tail of the board changed my surfing overnight. I would write more, but I feel kind of silly standing here doing a blog entry. I'm not sure when I'll be back to blog again. The new hard drive is supposed to be delivered by the end of the week.

23 July 2005

Friday Session

Somehow, with all of the planning, tide chart studying, surf report reading, and anticipating the SW swell, I ended up at Bay Street, a break I've surfed maybe three or four times in the short time I've been surfing. CYT and I were gullible enough to believe the surf reports. So, thinking the swell would have Sunset and all points north firing, we headed up PCH, only to find Lake Sunset, Lake Topanga, etc. Since she was trying to help a friend learn how to surf, we had to go to a break that was beginner-friendly. I suggested Bay Street. I'm not particularly enamored of that place. It's more crowded than my home break and it also has parking issues. However, after the fun I had yesterday, I'm thinking good thoughts about Bay Street. Even with all of the people in the water, most of whom were beginners attending what I think were three (three!!) surf camps, I enjoyed myself. The Tyler caught anything I asked it to catch. And since I am now working hard on turning from the rear of the board and walking to the nose, I was kind of busy out there. I never had a moment when I thought I would run over one of the newbies. I easily maneuvered the log around people. The only problem I had with the crowd was trying to pull off cheater fives. I made a couple of them, but lacked the space to head back to the tail and turn. So I'd walk back as far as possible before ending the ride and hanging onto the board. I do think that the time at Malibu forced me to improve my board handling skills.

Here's a question: how on earth could anyone confuse me for a surf instructor? See, CYT and I were on the shore with her friend, who had a soft top board. CYT was trying to show the friend where to position herself for paddling and also the mechanics of popping up. I was just standing there. Finally, it was time to get in. I put on my ever so fetching stocking cap and was just about to pick up my board. This man walks up and asks whether he can rent a board. I told him I had no idea, since I was there to surf and had no affiliation with the surf camps/schools on the beach. He thanked me, walked away, turned around, and yelled, "Well, you look like a surf instructor!" I. Look like a surf instructor. Me. The black woman. The black woman in the stocking cap. Look like a surf instructor. Me. The black woman in the stocking cap who's standing passively as her friend shows someone the mechanics of surfing. (I would think CYT was the one looking like a surf instructor.) I thanked him for the compliment. Then I went surfing.

Note to self: the sand is hot! It's not cool. It's not warm. It's burn-the-soles-off-the-bottoms-of-your-feet hot. See, I always walk barefoot out to the shore. That's not a good idea anymore. Once we got out of the water and started across the sand toward the parking lot, I noticed that the guy in front of me kept stopping. I was seconds from asking him if he was okay, when I understood why he could walk no further. Eeeyaaaaaaaaaah! The next thing I knew, he and I were doing the same dance—walk a few yards, then stop and try not to scream as you feel your feet melting. Repeat 10 times. Had I not been carrying the Tyler, I would have sprinted through that sand. Man, it was agony. My flip flops are now my new best friends.

21 July 2005

Sunshine! Who Would've Thunk It?

I am tempted to say today was a perfect day in the water. Yes, I did make a trip or two to the nose, but that had nothing to do with it. I'm not that hard to please, really. Three things I truly appreciate were present during today's session:
1. Sunshine/warm weather;
2. Happy people; and
3. Good enough (not great) waves.
My home break was a little more crowded than I would have liked, yet once I got in I realized that the majority of those people were the regulars. I guess the sun got everyone in the water. I saw people I hadn't seen in months. The weather was glorious. I was in my shorty john (sleeveless springsuit) and really could have done without out. I wore it just in case I got cold. Many of the guys were trunking it. Everyone was in a good mood. I love that. There were more than enough waves coming through to allow all of us to get something. A guy I didn't even know zoomed up behind me while I was on a wave, announced his presence, and then shared it with me before we both kicked out of it. As we paddled back out he said he should have just jumped on my board with me. I told him, he could have since my log is so damn big. There's more than enough room for me and another person on that thing. I love days like these. The session was made better by the presence, once again, of dolphins. They seemd to camp out right behind us. At once point, two dolphins swam right by me—one by my left leg, one by my right leg.

Today's session was somewhat noteworthy in that Captain America approached me and gave me some tips. Why do they call this guy Captain America? I really have no idea. I'd guess it's due to his looks: he's tall, handsome, well-built, and has a deep voice. He's got the stereotypical good looks of a superhero. I was surprised by his attention to my surfing. When he first came to our break, we all hated him. He was a wave hog with a bad attitude. Then one of the true locals told him about himself and Captain America's been nice ever since. Anyway, I know I said a few weeks ago that I want the better longboarders to tell me where I can improve. In fact, it occurs to me that the reason they are schooling me now is that I've improved enough to incorporate their suggestions into my surfing. They're seeing me doing things I couldn't do even as recently as three months ago. One thing Captain America pointed out is that I'm often trying to turn the log from the middle of the board. I then end up digging a rail and falling in. Even I know good and well that you can't turn a single fin log from anywhere but the back of the board. But I'm so intent now on working my way toward the nose that I pop-up harder, thus launching myself to the middle of the board (which, in my mind, is where I want to be since it means my trip to the nose will be shorter than if I pop up in my normal spot closer to the tail). Still, I know he's right and it helps to have someone remind me of what I'm doing wrong. I need to work on walking back to the tail. It's on my surfing "To Do List". Now I'll have to move it to the top of the list.

The funniest sight in the water today was . . . me. I gave up on wearing a hat. My shorty john has no zipper so I had nothing to which I could attach a hat. So I decided I'd just have to get laughed at by the crew. Why? I went out in the water with a stocking cap on! My god, the horror!

Shit, I don't care. I really don't want to mess up the twists. I think I can see the beginning of locks somewhere (or is this just wishful thinking?). I also don't want to stay out of the water. I guess I'm trying to find a happy medium between my hair and surfing. Now I'm trying to decide whether or not I can get a way with wearing a beanie. I know it'll get wet and heavy. All that matters is that I keep these damn twists in place. My only worry is that if a good wave catches me, I'll lose the beanie. You know, that swim cap idea is looking better and better. I've been wearing a stocking cap, for god's sake! A swim cap can't look any dumber than that!

19 July 2005

For Posterity's Sake

I pointed a camera at my head. Click!! Now I finally know what my hair looks like. Remind me to take another picture six months from now so I (we?) can see if my twists actually turned into locks.

Here Comes the Sun!

I don't know when I last saw the sun upon getting up in the morning. When I took the dog out this morning, I couldn't believe it. There was the sun in all of its glory. I knew what that meant: warmth. Right now, I'll take what I can get. The waves weren't great. The wind picked up about five minutes before I got to my home break. I went out anyway. I said what I always say as I walk back to the car to suit up, knowing the conditions aren't going to be good, "Ah, what the hell!" At least the sun was out. It was a day when I could have gone without the springsuit. However, at this point, I'm dealing with hair issues so I was wearing a hat which I'd sewn to my wetsuit zipper pull thingamajig. There was no way I was getting in without knowing the hat was permanently attached to something. My surf-related delusions of grandeur do not involve me effortlessly kicking out of each wave, thus preventing my head from getting wet while also keeping the hat squarely on my head. I knew if I didn't attach the hat to something, I'd probably never see it again. I would have been fine, in fact, but the "Victory at Sea" conditions assured that I'd be pitched headlong into the water at times. And I was . . . pitched headlong into the water on a few occasions. It was a fun session though. The Tyler is rock solid in chop so I caught my share of waves.

Interestingly enough, I came away from the session with this weird feeling of maternal joy. Blame it on the dolphins! They were everywhere. What was a first for me was the sight of so many baby dolphins swimming with their mothers—at least, I assume the larger dolphins each baby stuck to was its mom. Stuff like this never got to me before I had my own baby dolphin, er, human. Four years ago, the sight of the babies with the bigger dolphins would have elicited a "That's cool!" from me and nothing else. When I'd watch wildlife programs on TV, seeing Darwinism in action elicited no kind of emotional response from me. So if a lion grabbed a baby antelope, I simply watched in wonder as the baby was dragged away and the mother antelope (whose child had wondered off) looked frantically for her child. Now, when I see things like that, it's all I can do not to burst into tears. Upon seeing the baby dolphins with their mothers, I was awestruck, thinking once again how important I am to my child at this point in his life.

I know it won't last . . . and it's not supposed to. He'll be doing his own thing soon enough. But for now, we stick closely to one another like I saw those dolphin babies doing with their mothers. Each day, we spend serious quality time together in the morning, go our separate ways for a few hours to do our own things—he does daycare and socialization with his own kind while I get a workout in to clear my head and recharge my batteries—and then reunite in the afternoon for family quality time (that somehow involves me and my husband having to watch Thomas the Tank Engine and/or play with Hot Wheels and Rescue Heroes). Anyway, the waves I got today paled in comparison to the sight of the dolphin moms and kids. No, I didn't cry, but I came close.

18 July 2005

I Don't Get It

Alrighty, then!! The long, long road toward dreadlocks began on Saturday. I've yet to get in the water, although I did hit my home break and Sunset today. My break was still a bit closed out. Sunset, of course, was flat. So I skated. Tomorrow is another day. Our break should be cooperating by that time so I'll give it a go tomorrow.

Here's what I don't get: steroid use in pro surfing. I don't see how steroids provide much of a benefit for pro surfers. In fact, I didn't even know that the pros were subject to drug tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Can anyone tell me how steroids can help a pro surfer excel?

Neco, say it ain't so! Why are you on the juice? It didn't help much, did it?

One of the reasons why I left cycling was that the use of performance-enhancing drugs was common. So if you're clean, you're screwed. There's no way to match the power, speed, and recovery of a man or woman who's doing the juice. I gave a passing thought to using steroids. I think most racers do. Thankfully, I'm wary of illegal drugs; I always figure I'm the one who'll get addicted or I'm the one who'll die from using a drug one time. Those fears alone have kept me from doing any kind of illegal drugs. Besides, steroids give women facial hair, deep (or deeper voices), acne, and who knows what the hell else. No thanks. Winning an amateur bike race isn't worth the risks associated with taking male hormones.

15 July 2005

I Got Nothin' Left

I am all surfed out. This week I surfed for five straight days. I went to three different breaks. It seems like all I've done this week is travel up and down Pacific Coast Highway. CYT and I hit Sunset today. There was no time to travel further. It's just as well since Whiff talked about the crowds further north. The swell is still here. I didn't think much of it. But you can't trust my judgment. By the fifth day of surfing, I'm surfing on fumes. For me, today was about fun. I saw many people I knew in the water and that makes life easier when it's crowded. One guy there was someone who is often at the home break. We know each other's abilities quite well. So when I saw him up and riding, I did what you do to your friends: I dropped in on him. I would never purposely do that to someone I don't know. But you can do that to your friends. Nothing major happened in the water. The real excitement occurred on PCH. Of course, those of us in the water were watching the ocean, waiting for a set. Then there was a loud bang/crunch/car accident sound that prompted all of us to spin around. Some guys in a pick-up were pulling onto PCH and got hit. Then the car that hit them was rear-ended by another car. I hope the guy in the pick-up could at least say his session was a good one. Cos I'm sure the remainder of his day sucked.

I won't be surfing this weekend. It's time to take a break.

14 July 2005

Left Point Break

It was a day when I should not have surfed. I don't know if it's mental or whether it's karma, but for some reason my good sessions are always followed by a bad one. Today was no exception. Perhaps it's that I tend to give everything I've got when I have a good session. Then, the next time I get in the water (and that's usually the following day), I'm tired or disappointed by waves that aren't doing what they did the previous day. Yesterday's session at Malibu was, again, great. Today's session at LPB, which is what this break was dubbed by Whiff, wasn't bad really. It just wasn't great. I was tired from having surfed all week and wanted to take the day off. However, I'd made plans to surf with a couple of other black women. I mean, really, how often are three black women going to be in the water at one time? I can't say I would have been disappointed if our plans had gone awry. I wasn't feelin' it today. But I went. I'm glad I did.

We met up at Malibu. The thing we needed was a break that could accommodate those on longboards and those on shortboards since one of our party was a shortboarder. It was she who chose LPB. Never having surfed there before (and having witnessed the debate that ensued when its name was posted on another blog), I was anxious to check the place out. When we got there, it was so foggy that you could barely see the water. Based on the reports we got from guys coming up the stairs, we suited up and got in. The swell may not have done much for breaks further south; it was doing a few things here. I caught a few waves, waves that were way over my head. That still unnerves me to a certain extent. I don't mind them when I'm at my home break or at a break where I feel comfortable. I do mind them at a new place. So today was one of those days when you try to keep your fear in check. I can't say I was successful at that. But you know what? I wasn't freaked out by the height of the waves really. I'm not that tall so waves are often over my head. I'm not even sure I can articulate what scared me today. Hmmm, I'll see if I can put those feelings into something comprehensible. At the breaks in L.A., you're always reminded that you're in an urban environment. Civilization is never far away. When you're sitting on your board waiting for a wave, all you need to do is turn your head to the left or the right and you're reminded that the city isn't far away. You see hills with houses on them. You see parking lots with people and cars. You see and hear planes. When I was sitting out there at LBP today, I felt like I was practically surrounded by water, like I was actually in the middle of the ocean. It seemed like I could see the waves rolling in from miles away. This is usually not the case at the other L.A. County breaks. At LPB, you don't hear city sounds at all. You don't see anything except ocean and hills. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this place is way off the beaten path and isolated. Hell, I was born and raised in this concrete jungle of a city. I freely admit that nature, for the most part, is something foreign to me. So when I'm overwhelmed by the immensity of nature, I get scared. (I used to hike quite a bit when I was in my 20's. On one hike up Temescal Canyon, I saw some large brown animals with four legs each and took off running for me life, thinking I'd seen lions. After a few seconds I stopped running because I was laughing so hard. My mind finally told my body that what I'd seen were deer. Well, hell, I'd never seen a deer outside of a zoo before so the sight of them in their natural environment immediately filled me with fear; I suppose it never occurred to me that animals actually lived in the open spaces within our county borders.) Suffice it to say, I think I felt like I was completely out of my element, thus I panicked. I'm over it now and I must admit that this place is impressive. Had I not been so tired, I might not have obsessed about the surroundings. Did any of that make sense? Anyway, my session wasn't horrible. I caught a few waves with size. I also got worked for a few minutes after my first wave. I caught a good left and took it most of the way in. When I turned to paddle back out, I was barely moving. That's when I realized a long kelp tree was tangled in my leash. While I was trying to get that thing off, I kept getting pounded by incoming waves. It seemed to take forever to get the kelp off my leash. About 30 minutes later, long after I'd returned to the lineup, a guy paddled up to me and told me he saw me trying to deal with that, saying, "You got worked pretty good. But you're right back out here. Way to take a beating." Uh, okay. I also felt like I had the wrong board for the conditions. Thinking we'd be surfing at Malibu, I brought the Tyler with me. Once I got out in the water at LPB, when I'd go to paddle for a wave, a little voice would yell, "Too much board! Too much board!!" Then I'd hesitate or stop altogether. I've got to start taking two boards with me from now on. Nevertheless, the crowd was cool. I think there were only three of us out there on longboards. We had no problems with the guys on shortboards. We all took turns going for stuff. I like this place. And, no, I will never utter its name on this blog. That's a promise.

13 July 2005

Out for Blood

Remember this? After today's session at Malibu, the ding in CYT's board made my fin chop look like a paper cut. "Ding" is such a delicate word sometimes. It doesn't always describe the extent of the damage to one's pride and joy. I forgot to pack the camera today, thus I'll have to provide the right description of the damage to the nose of her board. Let's see, how about "big, gaping crevasse"?

Alright, I'll start at the beginning. We thought the SW might do a few sneak attacks today. I talked about Sunset. She talked about Malibu. It was decided that we'd plan on Malibu, but stay at Sunset (which we pass on the way to Malibu) if it was firing. As we drove past Sunset, I could see there wasn't much there. Well, guess what? There wasn't much going on at Malibu either. The swell hasn't arrived yet. Once out in the water, I spent a lot of time sitting, watching, and listening to the ocean. But, see, my head was in a totally different space than it usually is about Malibu. I have a bone to pick with someone. That someone frequents Malibu but is not a local. When we arrived today and saw that person's car, it was on. I was ready to surf. I wasn't even thinking about the place and my history with it. I was in full on Xena, Warrior Princess "let's go kick some ass" mode. To make a long story short, no ass kicking occurred. Said surfer was departing as we arrived. The good thing was that the attitude stayed with me and it wasn't crowded. So I went for it today. I went there to get waves. I got 'em . . . good ones. I surfed like I do at my home break. I don't think when I surf there. I just surf. I let it all hang out. And that's what I did today in Malibu. As a result, my session was fantastic. There weren't a lot of waves today. The swell wasn't doing much of anything. However, I still managed to get two great waves to myself. The first one I remember not for the ride but for the paddle battle before the ride. Several of us went for this wave. I did something I normally won't do; I paddled through a crowd to get the wave. Those people were just sitting there. I know there was a guy on my left paddling too. I think he got cut off by the crowd through which I paddled. Before I knew it, I was up, taking one of the longest rides I've ever had. There was no one behind me and no one in front of me. Sweet! I don't know what happened on the second wave. I only remember someone telling me how good a ride it was. I'm telling you, I was feelin' it today. In my own polite way, I was out for blood. I still maintained my normal courtesy though. There was one wave I would have had to myself, but I pulled up at the last second. I didn't want to run over the woman in my path. She apologized. There was no need for that. There will always be another wave. The last thing I want to do is run someone over when doing so can be avoided. I think I was surrounded by good karma today. CYT, on the other hand, was not. After I'd gotten my fill, I decided it was time to go. I'd had good rides. The vibe was mellow. And, frankly, there weren't that many waves rolling through anyway. Besides, it got crowded to the point of making me nervous. There'd been no yelling for most of my session. Near the end, once the throngs of people paddled out, the vibe was changing. Exit, Stage Right!! CYT told me throughout the session that she'd had many close calls: boards coming close to her head, fins from her board hitting her hand (but not cutting the skin), and waves that pitched her (and the rest of us) headfirst into the shallow, rocky ocean bottom. She acknowledges now that she should have gotten out when I did. As I got out, she motioned to me that she wanted one more wave. I went to the car and got dressed. When she finally did make it back to the car, she blurted, "Look what happened to my board!" Daaaaaaaammmmmnn! It looked like her board was the loser in bar room brawl. Her board suffered the same punishment that mine did, except that the person who ran her over was moving faster (thus he did more damage). Yes, my friends, another session ended with a trip to Aqua Tech.

Hair update: I took Whiff's advice and postponed the locks until Saturday. I may (or may not) stay out of the water next week and let the locks set for awhile. I'll keep you posted.

12 July 2005

What Do You Do When You're Unemployed?

Surf! There's not much surf to talk about. I went back to the right point break I hit yesterday. There were fewer waves than there were yesterday, but there were many more people. I caught a few good long waves, took a few unsuccessful backside trips to the nose, and went home. I thought about riding today. But then I thought, "Why ride when you can surf?" Even a day of lackluster surf is better than playing in traffic. So I got wet. What else do I have to do all day really?

Well, let's talk about something more interesting. I know. You're saying, Surfsister, what could be more interesting than surfing? I'll tell you. I've worn my hair in a short natural for almost 20 years. It's the perfect hairstyle for me. But once my summer school class was cancelled, I decided it was time to do something different with my hair. I won't let it grow and get wild when I have a job. To me, doing so would be unprofessional. As we all know, I don't have a job at the time being. One of the first things I thought of upon being told my class was cancelled was that I could let my hair go wild for a minute. It's been perhaps a month since I cut my hair and now it's long enough to lock. (You know, as in dreadlocks. You know, Bob Marley and rastafarians.) Anyway, I'm supposed to get my hair locked on Thursday (after my surf session, of course—you do know a swell is coming, don't you?). Here's the rub: when you first lock your hair, you're not supposed to wash it for awhile. That also means I should not surf. You have to let the locks set. Do you really think I'm going to stay out of the water for that? I reminded the woman who's supposed to lock my hair that I do, in fact, surf five days a week. She then suggested that I put on a swim cap when I surf. A swim cap? In the water? While on my surfboard? Why don't you just spray paint the word "kook" across the front and back of my wetsuit! So now I'm at a crossroads. I'm still going to lock my hair. I'm still going surfing. But a swim cap? I think all of this has something to do with keeping the hair in place so that, as it grows, it will start locking naturally. I'm thinking maybe I'll just wear a baseball cap. My hair will get wet, but it will stay put. I told this dilemma to someone today. Hey, when it's flat, you start talking to the people around you, right? This woman said I should go ahead and wear the swim cap, but adorn it with crazy artwork. It's a thought . . . a bad one! I'm not feelin' this swim cap thing. Some of you may see me this week with dreads. Don't be surprised if you see me next week with my hair all cut off again. Staying out of the water so that my hair will look a certain way is not a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Now was that more interesting than talking about my boring session?

11 July 2005

Mellow Session

I got to my home break this morning. I could have gotten in. I could have sat there with everyone else. I could have watched the waves fold over and close out. I could have. I didn't. I decided to head for Sunset since there was a tiny bit of SW swell in the water. As soon as I hit PCH, the traffic came to a stop. Damn!!! I thought about making an illegal right turn up the Incline. I didn't do it. I stayed the course, thinking I'd turn up further and then make my way up and over a hill I know (from my cycling days) that goes straight to Sunset Blvd. The traffic started moving by the time I got to my turn, so once again I stayed the course. There wasn't much going on at Sunset. Still, I'm not hard to please most of the time. What did surprise me was how many rocks are now sitting right at the edge of the concrete platform at the bottom of the stairs. There were so many rocks that I decided not to get in there. Normally, you descend the stairs, stand on the platform, plant your board in the sand and lean it up against the boulders, and then jump down into the sand. As of today, there was no sand down there. Just rocks. Where do you plant your board? I couldn't do it. But I told the woman in front of me to jump down and I'd hand her her board. I realized for me, with the big log, it would be easier to get in at the dirt path at the south end.

It was a good, mellow session. There weren't many people out (probably because there weren't many waves out either). There were only three of us between Dos Baños and the steps. We all took turns picking off the set waves. I got a handful of long rides. I was surprised by that since the waves didn't pack much of a punch. Nevertheless, the Tyler knows what to do at a point break. Even though I was going backside, I went to the nose of couple of times. Nope, I didn't pull those rides off. That's fine. As I said a few days ago, the fear of the nose is long gone. Now I'm simply learning how to judge when I should make a move to the nose. I want to be able to do noserides both frontside and backside. I thought today would be a good day to practice. Nothing spectacular happened out there. But after the frenzy of the contest, it was nice to be in the water surfing for the pure joy of it.

09 July 2005

What Went Wrong/Right

I'm too tired to write a post about today's adventures in surfing competitions. I'm still awake because this is the first time I've had a moment's peace. The child is asleep. My husband is asleep. The dog is resting comfortably next to my chair. Now I've got a little time to unwind before I go to sleep.

What Went Wrong:
1. We arrived at 6 a.m. since no schedule was ever given. The poster said the contest would start at 6:30. Initially we were told the women's longboard heats would start at noon. Later we were told they'd start at 2:30.
2. I was stupid enough to think my husband would have the good sense to take my child home once we realized we had over an eight-hour wait ahead of us.
3. My three-year old melted down at least three times an hour as we approached and passed his usual nap time without him getting his nap (which is why I thought my husband should take him home and then come back later).
4. I spent most of the eight hour wait tending to my child (who was alternately hungry, sleepy, or wanting to use the bathroom), thus I was exhausted by the time it was my turn to surf.
5. The combination of sitting out in the sun for hours and trying to calm a tired, antsy child left me with a splitting headache that I took with me into the water.
6. By the time my heat began, the earlier "Victory at Sea" conditions had devolved into "The Perfect Storm" conditions.
7. I had the wrong board. The Slick, which is at least 10 pounds lighter than the Tyler, and I got tossed around . . . a lot.
8. Never having done a contest before and not understanding that I should have gone for every wave I could, I tried to wait for set waves and only got one wave.

What Went Right:
1. I tried to go for set waves and only got one wave, a good wave that I rode all the way into the beach. The conditions were horrible. Since I was being mommy for the hours before the contest, I didn't focus on the task at hand and never got around to asking anyone what I should do once I got out there. I paddled out with the group. I stayed with them before I finally realized they were all going right. I paddled north a little, knowing there was a left there. I got one, dropped in, took a good long ride, and ended it with a trip to the nose. I knew it was a good wave when I did it. But, it wasn't enough. Oh well. I was proud of that ride.
2. My kid rocks! This was a hard day for both of us, but we made the most of it. If he's the reason why I don't do as well as I should have in a contest, that's fine. He's at a stage in his life where he thinks the sun rises and falls on me and me alone. When he needed to potty, I took him. When he got tired and cranky, I cuddled with him. When he got sleepy, I told him to lie down, used my body to give him shade, and rubbed his back. (It didn't work.) The thing I'm proudest of is that he finally christened his wetsuit. He's too skinny to play in the water without a wetsuit. He and his dad played in the water today. My little future grom returned with a smile that cheered my soul. It was a long day in the sun. He and I both suffered, but still ended the evening with a book and laughter.

Three Words: Crash and Burn
3. Crusty and all of you other guys who read the blog, word started spreading at the contest that Laird Hamilton would make an appearance. Whatever. I'm neither a fan nor a detractor. I'm just not into Laird. When I exited the water after my heat finished, I ran into his wife and his child. Would you believe she and I stood there on the beach talking for a good five minutes? I don't know this woman. But, hey, she has a child and I have a child. We started talking about our kids and then just kept talking. So, guys, she is as gorgeous as she looks on TV and in print. She's also incredibly nice. I think seeing her would have made your day. There was enough eye candy out there to make me happy. You gotta love a nice, warm day and guys walking around in board shorts and nothing else.
4. Aside from the shitty schedule for the women's longboards, I thought the contest was run quite well. The vibe on the beach was basically positive. (I'll talk about the negative in a minute.)
5. I'd already decided to give my husband the contest t-shirt. When I checked in, they gave the contest t-shirt and another t-shirt. (That's his too.) What I really wanted was the contest poster. Well, the poster was in the goodie bag too.

Okay, let's now talk about these out of control parents. I knew they could be found in all of the other sports. I didn't expect to see them at a surf contest. In fact, I didn't see this. Someone told me about it. Apparently, a non-competitor strayed into our area near the end of my heat. As my group was getting out and the next heat was getting in, the father of two kids who were competing started yelling to this guy to get out. The guy eventually did and then the father really got in his face. Well, the guy apparently said he didn't understand or something to that effect and these kids' dad hauled off and slapped him. Okay, CYT said the dad slapped him. My response was, "He bitch slapped that guy in front of all these people? That's cold." Question: is a woman allowed to use the term "bitch slapped"? Anyway, the guy on the receiving end did not fight back. I just wonder why the dad felt the need to act like that. No harm, no foul on the part of the guy who'd been in the water. Okay, so he's an idiot, but there was no need to hit him. Someone else told me that this family was considered a problem on the contest circuit and that they were denied membership in a specific longboard club (whose name I won't mention). I'm glad I missed all of that commotion. That would have ruined the whole day for me. I don't like it when guys let their testosterone get the best of them (whether by accident or on purpose).

Of course, my husband was dealing with the sleepy, cranky child so he missed my heat. I was happy to hear him say that people told him the wave they saw me get—yes, that ONE wave—was a good one. He said several people came back and told him that. That's good enough for me. Will I surf another contest? It's hard to say. The one time I took my child on a plane (when he was one), I said I wouldn't do it again until he was at least 6. The same may go for surf contests. Now is not a good time in my child's life to be forced to stay at the beach all day. I probably wouldn't do one again until I knew my child could handle a marathon day at the ocean.

07 July 2005

Contest, Scmontest

So, it's like this. CYT wanted to go back and surf the break where the contest is going to take place. I did not. I drove over and looked at it this morning. But, you know, I'm not all that worked up about the contest. I surfed the place yesterday and that was enough for me. I'm happy to simply deal with whatever Mother Nature sends my way on the day of the contest. Today, what I wanted more than anything else was to have fun. Worrying about some contest is not my idea of fun. I went to my home break. I was not at all happy when I looked at the water. As usual, all I needed was someone saying the magic words: "It's fun." I ran back to the car and suited up. It was fun!!! Much of the crew was there, but once again everyone was bunched up in one spot. Why do they do that? It makes no sense to me. I love these people, but not that much. I moved down a little, right between two of our guys on shortboards. The waves were good. Everyone got something. That's the kind of session I like best. I took the Tyler out today. I thought I might go back to the venue for the contest. I surfed the Slick there yesterday. I thought I might see how the Tyler handled those waves today. Obviously, I didn't do that. I am kind of at a loss as to which board to use on Saturday. Even though the Slick and the Tyler are only six inches apart in length, they are completely different boards. This is something my husband doesn't understand. One is a big-assed log with tons of glass and very little rocker. The other, while still being a single fin, is so light that I could probably ding it just by staring at it too long. CYT's 9'0" Becker thruster is much heavier than my Slick single fin of the same length. I think either board would work with this wave. My indecision relates to me not knowing what I do best on each board. I surfed the Tyler like a champ today. I now recognize that when you surf on a log, it's all about distributing your body weight in the right places. Someone told me today that I was doing big, sweeping bottom turns. I've been doing bottom turns for awhile, but I don't think they were ever big or sweeping. My husband says I should take both boards. I don't know. I can't see taking two boards, a toddler, a husband, gear, and food to the beach without being completely overwhelmed. Again, it's not like I think I'm going to go out there and win, so I don't believe my choice of board is all that crucial. Right now, I'm leaning toward the Slick. It's lighter and I'm able to maneuver it more quickly on a wave. Any suggestions?

06 July 2005

Ready to Leave

My husband and I are starting to give serious thought to the idea of leaving L.A. After 42 years, minus the college years spent out of state and a half a year in Holland, I have had just about enough of this place. The dilemma we're facing now is that I'm afraid to stay here and my husband is afraid to leave (thinking a move to an unknown place—and he's a native Los Angeleno too—could leave us as dissatisfied as we are now). The only good thing I can say about this place is that I like being able to be at the beach within 20 minutes. That's it. The schools suck. The race relations suck. The quality of life sucks. Mean people suck. The crowds everywhere you look suck! The fact that I can't find a decent job sucks! But where would we go? It's not like we can pick up and move to another city or town without giving it serious thought. We have a child, a brown skinned child. I don't want him to be the only anything anywhere. I've lived that life (at times) and it's not much fun. So, for now, I think about moving to a place with decent places to surf, good schools, and a good amount of diversity. Snow is out. We're from L.A. Drastic climate changes aren't going to cut it. The South is out . . . because it's the South and it seems like a foreign country to black folks raised on the West Coast. What's left?

Okay, there's a contest at a local break on Saturday. Somehow, CYT talked me into doing it. So, today's session was all about getting to know this break. I've never surfed there before. She learned to surf there. I remember running in the sand from my home break during the winters, stopping at this one to watch the surfing, and then running back. I always thought I'd never be good enough to surf there. It's summer now, thus the waves are relatively tame, nothing like they are during the winter. The session was good. I spent quite a bit of time watching the waves, trying to get a feel for how this place breaks and how surfers approach the waves there. Then I started surfing. The one thing I realize now is that the fear of going to the nose is gone. I went there several times today, but couldn't quite pull the rides off. My best attempt on the nose was while going backside. I think that's harder to do because it's harder to watch the wave with your back turned. I couldn't quite watch my foot and watch the wave at the same time and in I went. Nonetheless, it was a good session. I'm not worried or nervous about the contest. I think I'm more excited by the idea of getting a surf contest t-shirt.

05 July 2005

I'm Still Happy

I am so over this overcast, windy, and small wave thing we've got going right now at the beaches. I stubbornly refuse to put the fullsuit in my car. I hate fullsuits with a passion. I'm not going to wear one in July. I wore that thing all winter and felt like the damn Michelin man in it. I may be cold now, but at least I can move my arms and shoulders freely.

I'm still excited about that cheater five. It feels as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'd been wondering, for months, how I could call myself a longboarder when I couldn't really do anything on a longboard except take a few steps here and there. I kept trying to get to the nose, but the confidence wasn't there. CYT and I agreed that there's fear there. When you start heading to the nose, all of your confidence flees as you start thinking you weigh about 300 pounds and that there's no way your board can support you. When I looked at the nose of my board right before I did the cheater five, for the first time, I knew the board would support me. Thus, my confidence stayed with me. It may be weeks before I'm able to do another one, but now I know I have done it and can do it again. You know, of course, I'd romantically envisioned this happening at some place like San O or Malibu. I never imagined I would do a cheater five at our shitty little beach break.

I surfed yesterday. Let's just say I was underwhelmed by the conditions (see the first sentence in this post). I didn't even want to get in the water today. So I got back on the bike. As usual, I was almost mowed down by an approaching driver who was either too blind or too irritated by my presence on the road to acknowledge my presence on the road. Here's a quick recap: Surfsister rides north. Car approaches going south. Surfsister sees the first car, going south, turn into the driveway that is on on Surfsister's right. No problem. That car had room, she thinks. Surfsister tries to make eye contact with the next car, going south, that's waiting to turn into the driveway. Driver (who is in a Mercedes) apparently waits until Surfsister is about 100 yards from the driveway. Driver turns left, right in front of Surfsister, and slowly pulls into the driveway. Surfsister grabs the brakes, stares at the driver, and then abruptly stops (and that's not easy to do on a bike). Driver happily goes on her merry way. Surfsister then remembers why she gave up cycling for surfing.

03 July 2005


And I got caught. And now my husband wants a divorce, custody, and child support!!

PSYCH!!!! Okay, I did cheat, but not on him. In fact, no sex was involved whatsoever, yet I'm still ecstatic. Let me start at the beginning. I didn't expect to surf today. As usual, I said nothing about the beach once we were all up and milling around in the house this morning. Then, out of the blue, my husband said the magic words, "If you fix me something to eat, we can go to the beach afterwards." (In case you hadn't picked up on it, my husband can't cook. It wasn't until recently that he started eating and asking for breakfast.) Anyway, I think I was packed up before he was even finished eating. We got to the beach and I immediately started getting suited up. Why bother to look? I was there. I wanted to get wet and I had the log with me. There was no reason not to get in, even though all of the reports suggested the conditions would be flat and poor. So, I got in. Much of the crew was there. I could tell it was going to be a fun session. The waves were so small that everybody was laughing out loud about the tiny waves they did catch. I figured it was a day to simply play. I was wrong . . . or was I? I'd been going right most of the morning. I didn't want to run into the little kids and parents playing in the water to my left. At some point, I decided I wanted to get a left. I think I may have moved over to give myself room. A tiny left eventually began to build and crawl toward me. I jumped on it. Then, something strange happened. Instead of dying out, the left did a slight reform and picked up steam. I found trim and watched as the nose of the board seemed to be suspended in mid-air. To my surprise, I started walking toward it. Before I knew it, I was there. I was there! I wasn't in the water. I wasn't pearling, laughing to myself as first my foot and then the bottom half my leg became submerged before the rest of me went in. Instead, I was there, on the nose, doing a cheater five. I cheated! Finally!! Not only did I pull off a cheater five, but I also (somehow) knew when it was time to step back to the tail and end the ride. I couldn't believe I'd finally done it. Finally!!! FINALLY!!! A real trip to the nose and back. What made it even better was the number of people who saw it. See, I live in one of those philosophical internal worlds where I'm liable to believe that something doesn't count if no one sees you do it. To my relief, Sensei Greg, Niles, Shannon, Shannon's friend from France, and Sym saw it. It was also witnessed by someone on the shore, someone who seemed to read my mind and said, when I got out, "It still counts if no one sees it."

I always hear people say you'll never forget your first wave. I don't remember my first wave at all. But I won't forget this!!!

01 July 2005

I Need a Longer Board

The log I have can't even get me into those little waves we're now seeing. I don't even mind that, really. I'm happy to spend the flat days sitting on the board and enjoying the fruits of Mother Nature's labor. Today's session taught me something: Mother Nature goes on vacation, obviously allowing the weather to do whatever it damn well pleases. Isn't it July, not June? Well, why do we still have June gloom? Why is the water as cold as it was at the end of the winter? And I, with my stubborn self, refuse to bring that fullsuit back out. No!!! I just can't do it! Mind you, I'm going to freeze to death before the summer is over but that's neither here nor there.

On a lighter note, it's been a busy news day today. First, Supreme Court Justice O'Connor gave her notice. As a law school graduate, and a female one at that, I recognize her importance to this country's jurisprudence. This is a woman who graduated third in her class, but had to take a job as a legal secretary when no law firm would hire her (because she was a woman). I think her eventual appointment to the Supreme Court was the cosmos' way of giving the finger to all of those miscogynistic firms who wouldn't hire her as an attorney. Although I often disagreed with her take on American society, I've got to give her her props. I also heard on the radio today that Luther Vandross died. The man had a beautiful voice and a great style . . . and there's not one song of his that I like. What's up with that? It's worth wondering about since I think I'm the only black person of my generation (yes, I'm exaggerating but not by much) who didn't like his music. I've heard all kinds of people call in to radio stations today to talk about Luther's significance in their lives. I have but this to say: am I the only black person whose child wasn't conceived while a Luther record was playing?

Peace out!