31 March 2006

And Then There Were Five?

How many boards does one person need? Details? Oh, hell no. At this point in time, I'm invoking my constitutional right against self-incrimination.

26 March 2006

What Idiot Does Dawn Patrol on the Weekend?


I didn't just do it once. No, waking up at 5 a.m. on Saturday wasn't enough. I did it again on Sunday. I've come to realize something over the last few weeks. And that thing is this: there isn't enough time in the day. At least not for someone like me, someone who has multiple responsibilities and interests. By Thursday night, it was clear that surfing was not going to fit in with all I had to do on Saturday: a bike ride with Soul Brother #1, swimming lessons with Soul Brother #2, and the general running around that families do on the weekends. Okay, we got one of the grandmothers to sit with Soul Brother #2. That meant the bike ride was covered. I didn't want to bail on the ride like I did last week. Soul Brother #1 and I don't get much quality time together. Of late, we've been riding with friends so me choosing not to ride was not a big deal. But this week it was just us. There was no way I was going to stand him up for surfing. I still wanted to surf. I decided to sacrifice some sleep. I can catch up on that during the week, right? I was up and out before the sun came up. I needed to be back home by 8 a.m. Since I'm not accustomed to dawn patrol and didn't know how many people, if any, would be out, I took some protection with me—the dog. He thinks I'm his mother and goes after anyone he doesn't like who gets too close to me. Well, as it turns out, I wasn't even the first person to the beach. I started out at El Porto. I couldn't believe there was a line to get into the parking lot. It wasn't even 6 a.m.! I wasn't sure what I was looking at there. It wasn't big, but it wasn't particularly well-shaped either. I decided to move on and headed a little south. I really disliked what I saw there. The tide was too high. There was nothing to surf. Knowing that time was of the essence, I went to Venice. It looked good enough there. In fact, it was good enough. I got a few rides. On one of them, I paddled into a wave and then sat at the top of the lip, simply watching the wave build beneath me. Then, I just dropped in and took it as far as it would carry me. When I paddled back out, the guy near me said that ride was "stylish". Thanks, homie! I'm not even sure how long I stayed in. I was constantly looking at my watch. (Did you know I've got radios and clocks (or something that shows the time) in every room of the house? I've got a serious preoccupation with being on time.) As I was changing in the parking lot, a man approached me and said something about how I don't fit the surfing demographic. Before he could finish his thought, the dog rushed him. Perfect. That's what he's there for. The man was allowed to leave unscathed . . . this time. I got home in time to do a 20 mile bike ride with Soul Brother #1. Once back from that, I took Soul Brother #2 to his swimming lessons. Once back from that (wait, I have to stop to catch my breath), we headed out as a family to do some family stuff.

As we were running around yesterday, I realized that we couldn't get a babysitter for Sunday and there was no way both Soul Brother #1 and I would be able to do workouts. One of our friends planned a ride that was to meet this morning at 8 a.m. I figured Soul Brother #1 wanted to do it and I wanted him to go. I can forgo a group ride right now since I've got a lot of fitness. Soul Brother #1, on the other hand, is trying to get back into shape. Still, I wanted to surf. That left one option: dawn patrol. So I got up and did it all over again this morning. Once again, I looked at El Porto and then ended up at the pier. I didn't want to get in the water as soon as I got to the beach since I knew the tide was changing at around 6:30. I'd love to say the waves were good. They weren't. I got in anyway. I enjoy surfing even when the waves don't cooperate. Saying they didn't cooperate is an understatement. There were only two of us who bothered to get in. I have the feeling I'm the "poor soul" Uncle Grant talked about and photographed in his report today: The high tide - almost 6 ft. worth - at 6:30 is making it damn near unsurfable bout now. Plus, it looks like there has been an oh-so-slight downtick in wave energy as well. Only one poor soul trying it as of 7:00 a.m. and he/she (I couldn't tell) is not having any luck catching a wave in despite of his/her gigantic board. Yesterday, as the tide went out, it became fun enough for Roy of Ocean Echo (Ocean Echo) to describe it as the funnest day of the week. It does appear to have shape, with shorners a-plenty, so maybe it will happen again today. Chest-high (at best), semi-frequent sets; cloud cover and the water temp. remains a ridiculous at 53 degrees.

His caption reads: "He/She" - the only person out

The rest of the guys stayed on the pier and watched us. I don't even know if they saw the other guy. He was trying to take off right next to the pier at a spot that was working well yesterday. It gave him nothing but grief today. I only got two rides. I was still satisfied. Time spent in the water helps me maintain my surfing fitness. It also helps me clear my head. I don't feel like my time out there was wasted. By 8 a.m., I was pulling up next to Soul Brother #1 in the Marina (which is where his ride was starting). We then did the tag team parenting thing. He drove to the ride with Soul Brother #2 and his bike. He then handed off Soul Brother #2 to me. We then went home . . . after the obligatory stop at Starbucks for Soul Brother #2's latte. Okay, so he takes it decaffeinated. Okay!!! We really go there for apple juice (him), a cinnamon twist (him), tea (me) and a scone (me). It's now 5 p.m. and the weekend's not over. I'm going to leave in a bit to get my hair retwisted. (Hair update: it's still not fully locked. Now people are telling me that the process can take up to a year. Ugh!) I can't wait for Monday. I need to go back to work so I can get some rest.

22 March 2006

If You Were in a Surf Video . . .

what songs or music would you want played to best exemplify your style, vibe, state of being, etc.?

1. So Fresh, So Clean - OutKast
2. Heroes - David Bowie
3. Yagga Yagga (You'll Suffer) - Dennis Brown
4. Ain't Wastin' Time No More - Allman Brothers
5. Resolution - John Coltrane
6. Can't You Hear Me Knocking - Rolling Stones
7. Sun is Shining - Bob Marley
8. Don't Let No One Get You Down - War
9. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott-Heron
10. Nothing Even Matters - Lauryn Hill

These aren't necessarily my favorite songs. They are, however, songs that fit my attitude about surfing. They're the songs I like to hear before a session. I've found that surfing—as well as middle age and becoming a parent—is calming me down to the point where I can't listen to certain types of music anymore. There's no way I could listen to anything fast or hard before a session. That's just not what I'm about anymore. That's why you won't see Bad Brains, Ice Cube, Public Image Ltd., and things like that on the list. Music like that still interests me, but only on land. My time in the water is all about calming down. This is why song #9 is not Public Enemy's "Fight the Power"; that song turns me into a Black Panther. I used to be much more militant when I was younger. Now, like so many of us in our 40's, I'm too tired to be militant. I see that militancy served a purpose, but failed to accomplish much. The music I listen to now reflects the fact that I've . . . (sigh) . . . mellowed. I think the fact that I surf a longboard shows that I've mellowed. The Surfsister who raced bikes would have loved shortboards. That's why I thought I'd be surfing shortboards eventually. I finally recognized that I'm not intense enough to race bikes or surf a shortboard. I used to be. And now I'm not. That's just life. Perhaps, as I creep towards old age, that intensity will return in some form or another. I doubt it though.

19 March 2006

Thank God It's . . .

Saturday!! Okay, so it's actually Sunday night and I'm ever so tardy in posting about yesterday's session. First things first, I did not forget how to surf. I kid you not when I talk about my fear of this. I was like that even as a kid. I always thought that if I spent too much time away from a sport I was getting good at, I'd somehow unlearn all of the skills I'd aquired and would henceforth suck. (Pause—where did I pull that word "henceforth" from? I had to stop and stare at that last sentence.) Of course, I never lost a step by being away from a sport for a few weeks. Still, the world that exists in my mind says this, the loss of athletic skills, is a natural progression when one fails to work at the sport at least three or four times a week. When will I learn? I'm now in my 40's. I've been an athlete, both competitive and recreational, for years. I should know better than to continue thinking these negative thoughts. Yesterday's session was fine. It would have been better had the waves been better. As usual though, I'm not complaining. I went to the home break and actually found some waves. Granted, they were quadrupled and quintupled up, making them hard to catch. Before I got in, one of my friends mentioned the water temperature was down. She suggested I go back and get my booties. I've gone without them this long. There's no way I'm resorting to them in March after spending the entire winter without wearing them. To my surprise, I didn't think the water was much colder than it was the last time I surfed. I'd told myself if I wanted to scream as soon as I put a toe in, I'd go back to the car and put them on. Well, I didn't feel a thing and made the weird paddle out. Thank goodness for the 5 a.m. workouts. I'm not in great surfing shape, but I'm strong enough. The paddle out was not fun. The waves were mushy. That was good. The waves were also constant. That was bad. It took some work to get to the lineup. Once out there, I was in heaven. The conditions weren't good. It's hard to catch a wave you don't see because the wave ahead of it obstructs your view until the good wave is right on top of you. But, see, I like the ocean when it's like that. It's amazing and beautiful. So, I didn't catch many waves. Some died as I popped up. Some pitched me head over heels. However, my first wave was a good one. It was a nice long ride. First I went left. Then I cut back and turned right. Then I made all of the sections and headed toward the shore. Seeing that the ride was going to end, I . . . I . . . (sorry, I have to wipe away a tear) . . . I did the most perfect kick-out. You would have thought I do them all the time. I paddled back to the lineup with a smile. "I still know how to surf!" That was the last good wave I got. I stayed out for an hour and a half. My feet were fine. My hands were frozed. By the end of the session, my pinky fingers were once again on strike, refusing to do any work with my other fingers. That meant my paddling was worthless. I was cold and simply wanted a wave to take in. There were two problems. First, the waves began to jack up and lose their corners. Second, my hands were just about useless. There were a couple of waves I paddled into and then pulled out of because of the long, seemingly deadly drops. It seemed that all the waves were doing that. "How in the $%#! am I going to get in?" I am not embarrassed to paddle in. I hate to do it though. It always seems faster and safer to wait for a wave to take you in. I couldn't take anymore of the cold and just went for it. All I can say is THANK GOD I KNOW HOW AND WHY TO DO A HAND DRAG. The wave I took was so steep and fast that I almost got pulled off my board while dragging my hand in an effort to both slow the board down and maintain my balance. I made the drop though. That was good enough for me and I called it a day.

Soul Brother #1 wants to know why more surfers don't or can't ride skateboards. He poses this question after seeing two people from the crew almost kill themselves on my board today. I rode my bike and met the Soul Brothers at the beach. My skateboard was in the car so I took it out to ride around. The first person who got on it admitted she didn't know how to skate. Her boyfriend held onto her while she stood on it. Then the boyfriend borrowed it, rolled about 50 feet away, and then did a spectacular fall. The last I heard he was talking about his foot hurting from the fall. Then someone else in the crew asked to ride it while were were all standing in the parking lot. He, too, proceeded to almost kill himself. Now, I'm not a particularly good skateboarder. Still, I can ride one with ease. So what's up with surfers not being able to ride skateboards?

15 March 2006

Still Waiting to Surf

And now there is a prediction of rain for the weekend. What is that about? Like so many others, I'm beginning to obsess about surfing, about wanting to surf and not being able to. I'm cool with the fact that I don't surf on weekdays anymore. I like this job enough to let that part of my surfing life be what it is—a part of my surfing past. I am, however, more than pissed off about the weekends being fruitless in terms of surf. Now I'm turning my attention to skateboarding. I don't plan on doing anything impressive. I don't know how to ollie. I will probably learn, but I'm not in a rush to do so since I really don't want to break anything. In other words, all I can do at this point is ride a board, turn a board, and stop (without falling). I can only do those things because I did a little skateboarding as a kid. (And I was forbidden to ride skateboards when I was a kid. So . . . mine was hidden in my closet.) What was I talking about anyway? I think I'm trying to get back to the fact that I took my new skateboard for a spin today during my lunch break. Not a big deal, right? Not really. But how many 40-something black women in business casual attire—complete with pink camo Vans—do you see rolling down the street on any given day? Not many. I got a lot of looks from passersby. I didn't care. If I can't get in the water, I'll make do with land-based surfing. After my little roll down the street and back, I drove around in the car to check out the neighborhood. I was mainly looking for food. (I eat healthy so when I don't take food to work, I often starve; I don't eat fast food and I won't settle for fast food, even when I'm starving.) I didn't find food. I did find a small skate park. I truly don't want to break anything . . . but damn that place is tempting. It looks like fun. I don't plan on ever skating there. But it'll be a good place to hang out, watch, and learn during my lunch breaks.


12 March 2006

What's Up With the Weather?

Now that I'm down to surfing on weekends only, I'm none too thrilled when the weather refuses to cooperate. I was completely shut out this weekend. By the time one took into account the cold, the rain, the wind, and the questionable water quality, paddling out didn't seem like such a good idea.

Yesterday, I once again spent my workout time here.

It's got everything I need . . . except water and waves. But when I can't surf, this is where I can be found staying in shape for surfing. I get up at 5 so that I can spend an hour in here before the day truly begins. Bowflex. Squat rack. Rowing machine. Bike on indoor trainer. Ceiling fans. If you've got to go to the gym, you might as well go to your own gym. At least that's how I feel about it.

I thought about paddling out today. After looking at the surf reports and doing my own assessment of the weather, I went for a bike ride. I took my camera. I only got one surf picture and it doesn't do justice to the waves I found (at the Venice Pier). What I did find was an innovative dad. I had to take a picture of him, his daughter, and their dog. Look closely at how he's handled the tricycle/skateboard issue. Smart man!

09 March 2006

Am I Dead? Is This Heaven?

Did I mention that the guy who occupies the cubicle across from mine is also a surfer? I was telling him I'd planned to go to the store to check out prices on skateboards. I don't need anything great. I want something to tool around on. The longboard skateboard I have is too long and completely impractical on surfaces that aren't smooth. My surf buddy suggested I go see the buyer who handles skateboards, saying she would let me try one out. Cool, I thought. Well, before I could go see her, she came to our department to see my surf buddy. As it turns out, she also came to see me. She'd seen me in the parking lot, spotted the racks (bike and surf) on my car, and knew that there was another athlete in the building. I'd already spotted her car days ago since it, too, sports racks. I eventually told her I'd drop by her office later about a board. (Fast forward to later.) There were several boards in her office. She let me choose . . . and told me to keep the board. Huh? I again mentioned I wanted to try it out and would then bring it back. No, she said. "Keep it." Am I on Candid Camera? Is someone playing a cruel trick on me, lulling me into a false sense of security at this place? My surf buddy also hooked me up with a radio yesterday. This was a lifesaver. I've not had much to do so it was nice to at least let the radio keep me company while I sat quietly—doing nothing, unsure whether I was allowed to read a book while I waited. (I opted to do nothing; no one can criticize you for doing that when there's no work for you during your first week at a job.) Once again, the radio was given to him by a buyer (to photograph for advertising) and then the buyer never retrieved it. It's been sitting in the box since that time. This place is cool. Did I mention they don't want you to work overtime? I'm sure it's expected during the few weeks before Christmas. As far as I can tell, that's the only time when my department would work overtime. How cool is that?

It doesn't look like I'll be getting out this weekend. The rain is coming again. If it doesn't rain on Friday and the wind cooperates, I'll go out on Saturday morning. The only thing I'm dreading is the water temperature. Wetsand said the temperature is back down to 55. I thought I was done with that damn hoodie. I'd stopped wearing it. If it's going to be that cold in the water, I'll put that dumb thing back on.

07 March 2006

I Quit!!

No, I didn't. Although my track record shows I don't stay in jobs for long, I'm not even thinking about leaving this job. The only thing wrong with it is that I don't get a chance to surf anymore. I swear the people who run this company are on crack. What company pays for your medical insurance, gives you every holiday under the sun, gives you your birthday off, gives you 40 hours in sick leave, and gives you two personal days? Is this for real? The personal days can be taken in increments. That means once I'm done with my probation, I can go in late every once in awhile and get paid for it. I'm already scheming. I'll arrange to come in four hours late, drop off Soul Brother #2 at daycare at his (new) normal time, and then have a couple hours of surfing in the morning. That means I'll be getting paid to surf! Now why would I leave job like that? I'm also thinking that once a month or so, I'll ask Soul Grandmother #1 to let Soul Brother #2 spend the night. That way, I'll be able to do a dawn patrol session once in awhile. Hey, I'm willing to do these things if it means I can get in the water during the week since weekend sessions aren't a given. I've not personalized my cubicle yet. Why bother until after you've made it through the probation period? Right now, my desk is sporting a tide book, a Quiksilver sticker, and the picture of me (surfing, of course) with Farrah Fawcett's head swapped out for mine. The latter is the wallpaper on my computer. That picture still makes me laugh for some dumb reason. I'm also worried about losing my surfing fitness so I've stepped up my workouts, rising at 5 to lift weights, row, or ride my bike on the trainer. The last thing I want is to find that my surfing is getting worse as a result of a lack of fitness. That would just be wrong! I'll keep writing in the blog. It's too much fun to give up.

05 March 2006

The Last Hurrah

The party's over, I think. Whether or not the blog continues remains to be seen. It all depends on how much I'm able to surf with a full-time, "9 to 5" job. I actually thought my last day in the water would be Friday and I was prepared to leave it at that. Then, an opportunity presented itself this morning . . . and I took it. Soul Brother #1 had to work yet again (which really sucks for him as he hasn't had a day off in close to two weeks). Mom agreed to hang with Soul Brother #2. I made a run for the ocean. Pacific Waverider showed RPB as the only local spot that looked somewhat promising. Once again, I was prepared not to surf, but I knew I wanted to get in the water one last time. The waves at RPB were small. Every once in awhile, a waist high or shoulder high wave might roll through. For the most part, the waves were tiny and weak. My shoulders were none too happy with all of that pointless paddling for waves that either petered out or provided short, snail-like rides. It didn't matter much. The place wasn't all that crowded. I think I've circled the group I was in. I tend to line up with Dos Baños.

When I decided it was time to go, I paddled down closer to the stairs and waited for my one last wave. One of the bigger ones appeared in the distance. (Of course, it only took about two hours for that wave to travel 500 yards!) It came straight at me. I felt kind of lucky. I hadn't been waiting that long for the "one last wave" and there it was. I caught it, watched it build, and set up for a nice long ride. Or so I thought. Damn that Marlon! Okay, Marlon's the dude with over 60 boards. I enjoy surfing with him. He brings positive, joyful energy into the water. But, dammit, he dropped in on me on my one last as-close-to-perfect-as-that-slow-assed-wave-is-going-to-get wave. I mean he dropped in right in front of me. Then I just started yelling. "Marlon, that's my wave! Get off my wave!!! My wave!!! Get off!" Mind you, I was saying all of this in a tone that showed I wasn't mad. Marlon laughed so hard that he fell off his board before he could even pull out of the wave. Damn snake! I owe him one.

I don't know where I go from here exactly. I won't be surfing much anymore. Part of me wants to walk away from it altogether. It's not that I no longer love the sport. It's just that you sometimes feel like a thing isn't worth doing if you can't give it your all. I've always cringed at the idea of being a "weekend warrior". But your perspective changes once you become a parent. Before Soul Brother #2 was born, I would happily awaken at 5 a.m. to do a workout before work. Usually that meant I rode my bike. Had I been surfing then, I would have been in the water. Now, my mornings belong to Soul Brother #2 (since Soul Brother #1 is already at work by 5:30). If I want to surf, it will be on the weekends. I feel like that's not enough time in the water. Then again, something is better than nothing, right? We shall see what becomes of this blog. This is the job I think I'm meant to have. However, the last time I held such a thought, I got laid off (with almost everyone else in the company) after three months. My goal is to stay at this job, pay some bills, and figure out a way to make enough money doing my own thing. I'm thinking of starting another blog though. If I do, I'll put a link to it on the "Links" list to the right. Everyone get some waves for me and wish me luck—and patience—at this new job.

02 March 2006

That's Just Foul

I'm talking about the water, of course. We hit the Breakwater today. This was after eyeing RPB and quickly eyeing the Pier (only to find that we'd gotten a ticket, dammit). The waves weren't bad before the winds came up. What was bad, really bad, was the water. CYT and I got out after an hour; we couldn't take the sight of the water. It was truly disgusting. I don't know what that brown gunk is. It can't be anything good. In terms of waves, it was a good session. The shoulders were easy to spot. I felt fine. However, I don't think that session was worth half a parking ticket. No matter. There've been plenty of times at the home break when I either didn't pay to park (because I knew the Parking Enforcement guy wouldn't check the lot) or stayed past the expiration of my space. I guess it was my turn for a ticket.

I've got one more day of freedom surfing. Tomorrow's forecast doesn't look good. I'm fine with that. Monday's session at RPB felt like a gift. I do appreciate it and I'm not greedy. If I don't surf before I start this job, so be it. I'm satisfied with what I've gotten this week (and over the last four years).

01 March 2006

Oh So Tempted . . .

to get in that dirty water after seeing the surf reports. Soul Brother #1, upon hearing my hesitation about doing a non-water-related workout, said, "I'm telling you right now—no!!!" I need that. I know better than to paddle out today, but the waves do call to you. I guess I'll go for a bike ride . . . to the beach . . . with my wetsuit . . . and I can borrow someone else's board . . . and he'll never know . . . right?