30 May 2006


At this point in my life, it doesn't get any better than three straight days of surfing. I've not been able to do anything like that for close to three months. I won't accrue any vacation time until I've been here for a year, thus it's unlikely I'll be doing any three-peats again until either June (if I take my paid birthday leave on a Friday or Monday) or Labor Day weekend. I wasn't even sure I could handle another day of surfing given the muscle soreness I already had, but I was wrong. By the third day, I was surfing like my old self, willing and able to paddle harder for waves. It didn't hurt that I was at the home break with most of the crew. You can't help but smile and laugh when you're in the water with this bunch. I spent several truly magical years with them. There was a time when most of us, for whatever reasons, were surfing together just about every day. During that time, I was either unemployed, working temp jobs, or working part-time. I had nowhere else to be in the morning, so I chose to spend my time in the water. Many of the others were in the same situation. Fast forward a few years and everything has changed. What we had is now over. It was certainly fun while it lasted.

28 May 2006

I'm Going for a Hat Trick

I've surfed two days in a row. I'll be happiest if I can also get a session in tomorrow. Soul Brother #1 already knows I'm chomping at the bit. But see, the surf pass is now in full effect. Brother Man just got a new motorcycle, which means he lets me surf in exchange for me letting him ride most of the day (which, in turn, means I've got Soul Brother #2 most of the day). I know it's supposed to be small tomorrow. I don't care. Time spent in the water is time spent working on my paddling muscles. Today's session was perfect for that. I couldn't catch much of anything. Most people weren't catching much of anything. The waves at the home break were mostly closeouts. You'd paddle for them, feel them build beneath your board, and then watch the bottom drop out. I made the drop twice. It wasn't worth it to keep trying to do it throughout the session. The waves were strange. They came one right behind another, thus making them hard to paddle into, let alone catch. The shoulders were nonexistent. It was still a helpful session. Again, the sun was out. The conditions also forced me to do an inordinate amount of paddling for no good reason. Now my shoulders are good and tired. And yet, I still want to go back for more tomorrow.

27 May 2006

That Was Tasty!!

No, I didn't take the new board out. I haven't even put wax on it yet. It's still sitting there, looking all pristine and beautiful . . . or at least as beautiful as a board without color can look. With the purchase of this board, I didn't just think outside of the box, I showed that I could actually step outside the box and forget that I was ever in it. With that said, I took the Slick out this morning. I didn't know what to expect. Nor did I know where to go. When I got up, it was already windy. I thought I'd end up taking a drive to the beach, finding nothing worth surfing, and driving right back home. How mistaken I was!! I went to RPB, my old standby. It didn't look good. It really didn't. The waves, what few there were, looked confused and little and anemic. However, I thought other spots might be more jacked up so I stayed. There were a few waves rolling through. I thought I ought to jump on them while they were still there. And guess what? The session wasn't half bad. The water is warming up. That makes me deliriously happy. Then something strange happened. The sun came out. (It then played peek-a-boo with the clouds but I was happy nonetheless.) Warmish water and a little sunshine are good enough for me. Thankfully, the waves picked up a little too. I will admit that the waves were weird today. The mush factor was high. Once again, I caught the first wave I paddled for. The rest of the session was just fine. Long rides weren't the order of the day. However, there were shoulders and sometimes, after a spring of less surfing than I'd like and weird waves, you're content to find a wave with a shoulder. If I can work this right, I'll surf over the next two days as well. Then it's back to the grindstone for a short bit before I get a paid day off for my birthday. Have I mentioned how much I like the company that employs me? My probation period is up the first week in June. My birthday is the following week. The company doesn't insist that you off the exact day of your birth. They give you a 30-day window; you must take the day within 30 days of your birthday. I'll be following the surf reports closely, hoping a swell arrives the week of my birthday. If not, I'll wait and take the day off later.

26 May 2006

And Then There Were Five

I know I hinted that I was going to buy another longboard. That was certainly my intention. I did have one on layaway that I had every intention of buying. But as I thought about my quiver and what I thought I needed, I couldn't justify buying yet another longboard. What would be the purpose of that? Yes, I love my Slick. I still believe I will break it some day. Now I think it's silly to buy another in anticipation of that day. Such a board would probably do a lot of sitting. That makes no sense to me. So I reconsidered and decided to free my mind of my preconceived notions. As a result, I decided on an Al Merrick M13. I'm a little surprised I allowed myself to think outside the box into which I've confined myself for the last few years. It's time to once again step up my game. Now I admit that this board will be the death of me mainly because I lack the time to surf it and learn it quickly. I'm not comfortable with that prospect. Nonetheless, I know I've got to at least try. It's supposed to be good in knee high to double overhead waves—yeah, like I'm going to charge Pipeline any time soon! It's said this board is somewhere between a funboard and a shortboard. That's perfect. I've got my longboards dialed in. My funboard is easy to surf. But they all still lack that je ne c'est quoi. So, I went for this. Granted, I do have a 7'0 single fin. That's a retro board. This is a 7'1" tri-fin with a buttload of rocker and a good amount of width. Whiff, are you going to help me learn how to ride this thing?

22 May 2006

My Telepathic Powers . . .

certainly aren't what they used to be. Or perhaps they never were and I'm trippin'. Either way, they're not working very well. I knew the swell was still with us when I got up on Sunday morning. As usual, I was hesitant to broach the subject of me making a run to the beach lest I endure the wrath of Soul Brother #1. But I did think about it. And I don't mean I just thought about it, I mean I was sending telepathic messages to his brain, trying to put thoughts in his head and words in his mouth. I swear it used to work. He would voluntarily ask if I was going surfing. That always meant I had his blessing to do so. (It also meant there was something he wanted to do that day and he knew I'd assent to his thing if he assented to mine.) What went wrong on Sunday? I don't know. There must be Kryptonite in the house somewhere. He was either unable to receive my mental pleas or he was blocking them. Either way, I got shut out.

20 May 2006

All Better

Finally, finally, finally—a session I could smile about (or, if you're one to criticize the dangling preposition, a session about which I could smile). The pictures are from RPB. I got there early, knowing the low tide at mid-morning would be a negative one. I also knew there would be a crowd. Gone are the days when I surfed during the week and thought 10 people in the water was a crowd. What I saw today was a crowd. I overheard someone today comparing the crowd to the 405 at rush hour. At one point, I turned around to paddle for a wave only to find that my path was blocked by at least three people. I could have done the Malibu thing and mowed them all down, but that's not my style. I opted to stop paddling and watch that wave go by without me. Since this is not Pulp Fiction (a movie I loved but couldn't quite keep track of—notice the second dangling preposition), I'll go back to the beginning.

Okay, this session was destined to be a good one before I even finished paddling out. A wave came to me before I'd made it all the way out to the lineup. Even though I was tired, I turned around and paddled for it . . . and got it. I knew then that I would finally be writing about something enjoyable. My surfing karma is such that catching the first wave I paddle for always means good things and bodes well for how I'll handle myself during the rest of the session. I don't keep a mental count of waves. My short-term memory isn't good enough for that. What I do remember is on several occasions, the waves that started out with three or four of us and ended with one person making the sections all the way through to the shore. And that person was me. I don't know what I was doing right, but I liked it. I'd look to the left, see the wave start to closeout behind me, and watch the person behind me fall off. Then I'd turn right, see the wave start to closeout in front of me, somehow race past that only to find that the person in front of me had fallen off too, and I'd be on my own. This is what I needed, especially on a day when there were so many people in the water. I'm not a wave hog. I don't yell or do the stink-eye thing. I usually smile and sit with my hands in my armpits, quietly watching the horizon for the next set. I think it was my turn for some decent waves. I knew the waves were going to be decent today. I even thought about making a run to Malibu. Then I looked at the cam and thought better of it. I swear there were at least 25 people in the water at 6:30 a.m. Today was not a day to deal with the yelling, jostling, and paddle battles. Today was a day for good waves and a mellow vibe. That's the reason why experienced surfers go to RPB even though people like to say it's a spot for beginners. RPB is a decent break with a wave that's ripe for the picking if you just paddle around the beginners. It's also a place where you can spread aloha by giving encouragement (and I've done my share of that) and giving up waves to those who just need someone to talk them through it. People did it for me . . . and still do, especially when I get too far inside my head and can't get focused. Now it's my turn to pay it forward.

Dick Move of the Day Award: How many times have I said that when you park on PCH—or some equally busy street that runs next to a break—you should give the cars in front of you and behind you some room? How many times have I said that? Well, obviously my message is not being heard. When I got out of the water today, I noticed two people sitting on a car that was parked a few cars ahead of me. I wondered why they were just sitting there. I mean, the sets were still rolling through. Then I noticed that the bumper of the car in front of them was only about half an inch from their bumper. As I walked a little further, I saw that the bumper of the car behind them was also about half an inch from their bumper. In other words, they couldn't get out. These assholes had pinned them in. I don't care how much the place is firing, you don't do that to your fellow surfers (or anyone else for that matter). Enough said?

15 May 2006

Fun Wasn't Had By One and All

Okay, the fun wasn't had by Surfsister. I can't speak for anyone else. I managed to surf on both Saturday and Sunday. Good times, right? (Sigh) I'm still dissatisfied. What is going on here? Okay, I'll admit that much of my negativity is due to the weather. I like the sun. I like the heat. I love them both when I'm in the water. But once again, my surf sessions were lacking both.

Saturday's session was nothing noteworthy. The now infamous contest led to this session, which took place at the Breakwater. Since some of the photographers were unable to shoot the women's heats last week, it was decided that we would meet this weekend for a photo shoot. I arrived at the Breakwater at the appointed time only to find no one else there. I waited for awhile, thinking I'd get in if no one showed up by 7:20. (Yes, I was there, ready to surf at 7 a.m.) Well, first a photographer showed up. Then another surfer. Then another photographer. Then another surfer. And there were were, ready to hit it . . . except that there was nothing to hit. The Breakwater was essentially flat. The wind was already up. I was ready nonetheless. We stayed in for about an hour and a half. The waves were small and weak; there wasn't much you could do with them. Still, I caught as many of them as possible. We all did. What I actually did was wear myself out. It took effort to catch those sad little waves. I know I surfed as well as could be expected in those conditions so I'm not sorry I gave it my all. What I a bit pissed about is that I was too sore to surf my best on Sunday.

Sunday's session was a little better in terms of the amount of waves and quality of waves. The SW swell I expected did arrive, but RPB wasn't exactly firing while I was there. I got to the break around 7 a.m. and thought I was seeing the beginning of a decent swell. I was wrong. I did a lot of sitting and waiting. Again, it was gray and windy. Truthfully, I can't take much more of that. I'm sick of this gray sky thing. I took awhile for me to start catching waves since the swell was not a strong one. I caught a few after awhile. Then I caught a couple of longer rides. I don't know. Nothing about the session impressed me. I knew, or at least thought, Soul Brother #1 was mad at me for going surfing. That made it hard to concentrate. I was sore from Saturday's session. And the place wasn't firing. There was no reason to smile about anything happening in the water.

I know my head is just in a weird space. I know I'm in a bit of a surf funk. I'll come out of it, but I'd like that to happen sooner rather than later.

Mother's Day Surprise Gift

My preoccupation with the wax on my boards is well-known, so I won't spend too much time and space talking about what you see above. I'll say this: that wax job is completely unacceptable. Once I see any kind of noticeable gap in the beads, I scrape off the wax and start over.

Wasn't I surprised when, on Mother's Day, Soul Brother #2 asked to help scrape the wax off my board? I'd envisioned paying him to do this in a few years, especially since I do it so often. My little one amazed me on Sunday when he volunteered to do it. (At four, he doesn't do it well, but I didn't tell him that.) I even laughed when he looked at the somewhat melted wax on the scraper and announced, "This is disgusting!" He still kept scraping. That was a present I hadn't expected and it's one I won't forget for a long time.

12 May 2006

And That's All I've Got to Say About It . . . For Real

My money was refunded today. And with that, this subject is officially closed.

Soul Brother #1 won't be at work tomorrow, thus there's no need to find a babysitter. So that's one session covered. What I'd really like is a Mother's Day pass that allows me four or five hours without interruptions or distractions. In other words, I need some "me" time. But I'm not sure if such a request will go over well and I'm afraid to be the first to broach the subject. That "me" time would be the present anyone could give me on Mother's Day. I don't need a store-bought gift. All I want is some quality time in the water to get some of that swell.

09 May 2006

And That's All I've Got to Say About It

(Words in italics represent names that I've redacted.)

An Open Letter to Guy Who Put on the Contest and the Related Sponsoring Group:

Since I’m a strong believer in positive reinforcement, I will give credit where credit is due before I get to the point of this letter. Had I not been a black female competitor, I could honestly say the contest was an impressive function if for no other reason than for the positive vibe that was on the beach throughout the day. People were happy. The music was great. The waves, for most of the competitors, were good. What more can you ask for, right?

Well, I am formally asking for a refund of my entry fee and parking fee. I am also requesting a refund of the same amount of money for my friend, and fellow competitor, Surfing Buddy. (Each of us paid $10 to park and $30 to enter the contest.) We both feel that as female competitors we were treated with disrespect.

My first question is this: What did my $30 entry fee get me? From what I can see, it got me nothing. The beach was not closed to non-participants, therefore competitors were forced to contend with non-competitors who dropped in on them, got in the way, or were simply hostile. In other words, the entry fee did not provide competitors with a chance to compete openly and freely. I don’t need to pay $30 to have a paddle battle with someone. Second, at most competitive events, the organizers provide the participants with something free—a t-shirt, food, a sticker, or whatever it takes to make people feel as if their money was well spent . . . even if they were only in the water for a short time. The competitors at this contest were provided with nothing. So, my $30 went toward what? Finally, the women paid the same amount of money that the men did, yet the women were treated unfairly. As we all saw, the waves were good for hours. The male competitors were allowed to go through their preliminaries, semis, and finals while the place was still firing. The women, on the other hand, were forced to wait until the place was flat.

There were seven women in the contest—three were in the shortboard portion and five of us were on longboards. One woman competed in both events. Since there were so few of us, it was decided by the contest director that there would only be two finals heats. This meant that the combined time of the two women’s heats would be 30 minutes. I see no conceivable reason why our heats weren’t scheduled in the midst of the men’s heats while the waves were firing. If you actually respected women’s surfing and the women of color who do surf, you would have given us the chance to show what we can do. Damn the rulebooks or any men who had a problem with that. (And frankly, I think few men, if any, would have complained about it.) You could easily have announced that the women were going to be sent in before the tide got too high. You would not have been met with resistance if you’d reminded one and all that the women paid the same amount of money that the men did and that they too deserved a chance to ride the waves while they were good. Much was made about all of these women of color who were doing this contest, but nothing was done to help us put our best foot forward as women and people of color. My deduction, then, is that you just didn’t give a damn about us even though we were there to represent as surfers.

I find it interesting that the music was pumping and the announcers were busy working the mic during the men’s events. But by the time the women’s longboard heat got under way, everything had changed. The DJ was no longer providing music. There was no announcer. In fact, no one cared enough to even fire the horn and let us know it was time to start the heat. We all waited at the shore for awhile before finally paddling out together since we didn’t know what else to do. By that point in the day, the contest was apparently over. We were just in the way, right? Again, by the time we got in, it was flat. There were few waves to be had. I think only a handful of waves were ridden between the five of us. There simply was nothing out there. Before we knew it, the horn was fired and we were told to get out. Let’s digress for a bit and talk about the little man who was the contest director. Before I tell you how he too disrespected us, I will tell you that I was very nice to him throughout the contest. I was constantly going up to the table to see what time our heats would take place. I spoke to him most of the times that I went to the table. I was always polite and civil, especially since I represent the Related Sponsoring Group. I even thanked him at one point for helping out. In other words, he and I got along just fine. However, Surfing Buddy seemed to rub him the wrong way. She asked him throughout the day what time our heat would be and why we couldn’t simply be scheduled earlier. Apparently, he didn’t appreciate the questions. Surfing Buddy caught a wave while we were out there. When she paddled back in to check her results, she saw that there was an “NW” next to her name. In other words, the judges said she got “no wave”. When she complained to the contest director about it, he said (with a good amount of derision), “It only took you 40 minutes to catch a wave.” What was that about? For one thing, we were only out there for 15 pointless minutes (that, I will remind you again, cost both of us $40). And what was he trying to say?

I supported this contest from the beginning. I received the contest fliers on a Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, I was dropping them off at surf shops. I contacted Surfline.com several times to ensure that the contest was mentioned in the “Local Knowledge” section of the website. I even publicized the contest on my own surf-related website. I did my part. You did not do yours.

Guy Who Put on the Contest, as the father of a little girl who will probably grow up to surf (and surf well given your abilities in the water), I hope your daughter is treated better than this when it’s her turn to compete. Is this what you want for her, contests that treat her like a second-class citizen who is unworthy of both decent waves and decent prizes? I’m certain you want something better for her. As a black woman, I want something better for her as well.

With that said, be aware that I’m not expecting the other women to complain. I’m not even sending this letter to anyone but the three of you. In other words, I’m not trying to make anyone look bad. All I want is a refund of the $80 Surfing Buddy and I spent to support this event. I will also let you know that I won’t be doing any other contests, so you won’t be receiving another complaint from me next year. If you see me at the next Names Changed to Protect the Innocent contest, I won’t be wearing a rashguard. I’ll be in the water free surfing . . . for free.


06 May 2006

It's Me, Isn't It?

I'm the reason why the much-awaited swells never materialize at the breaks I frequent, right? This is really starting to get to me. There were waves. And I guess one should be grateful for small favors. Still, RPB was not firing and it was a f*%^king mob scene. I got a parking spot on PCH only because I willed it to happen. The space was a tight one, a tight one that I'm capable of making when given the space and the time (i.e., on a city street where people can simply go around you). There was no way I could quickly parallel park in a space that small. Thankfully, the guy parked in front of the space guided me in. I wasn't as close to the curb as I would have liked—when my mom parks like that I yell "Taxi!" and tell her I'll need a cab to get from the car to the curb—but he said it was good enough. CYT parked in the restaurant parking lot. It was $7! Are you kidding me? I know I'm working now; I'm still not paying that much to park at an overly-crowded break on a day that doesn't even approach epic. My session was, once again, mediocre. Now I'm starting to think it's me. Granted, I'm not surfing regularly any longer. I can feel the difference. I feel a little off these days. If I'm not paddling hard enough to get into a wave, I'm taking two or three paddles too few and then miss the wave even when I am paddling hard enough. I drop in to do a bottom turn and then can't seem to climb back up into the wave to find trim. This irritates me. Now I'm going to do this contest tomorrow and I feel like I should keep my ass at home. It's not like I think I'm going to go out there and kill it. One of the reasons why I'm going is to support my club. I've never been to one of our contests. They usually fall on Soul Brother #1's birthday. Frankly, I don't think spending all day at the beach watching your wife sit around waiting to get in the water for 15 minutes at a pop is how he wants to spend his birthday. This year I lucked out. His birthday is on Monday. So now I can do the contest, but I'm not feelin' it. Perhaps being able to be in the water with only a few other people will help. It's kind of hard to clear your head and recharge your batteries—which is what surfing allows me to do—when there are 500 other people in the water. Today's session just didn't do it for me. Send me some good karma tonight and tomorrow. I'm not going there with the intention of winning. I just don't want to look like an idiot.

05 May 2006

We Won't Get Fooled Again

Let's rewind to last summer and surf contest at Venice. That's an experience I don't want to repeat . . . ever. So, in preparation for the Black Surfing Association contest on Sunday, I've been shopping. Let me just say this: Target is a wonderful place. I used to look down my nose at Target, thinking (for some stupid reason) that the place was beneath me. Now that I'm a mom, I know the joy that is Target. The place rocks. And they pay their people a normal wage. (Yes, that was my way of saying shame on you for shopping at Wal-Mart.) Soul Brother #1 and I went to Target to find a present for one of Soul Brother #2's compadres. Yeah, we found a present. I also found a nice, easy-to-use sunshade and some portable camping chairs. That wasn't enough. I still needed more for Sunday's outing. I looked at soft-sided coolers at Target but couldn't find one I liked. Then I looked at some at one of the stores owned by my employer, but I was too cheap to spend the money (even with my discount). I finally sent my surfing buddy—the guy in the cubicle across from mine—to tell the camping equipment buyer that I wanted the cooler that sat in our workspace for at least a week. My surfing buddy came back with not one but two coolers. (I gave one of them away; I'm not greedy.) All I need now is a couple of those plastic things you use to keep stuff cold while in the cooler and some foot. Then we're set. I'm not all that concerned about the contest per se. I'm going to support my club. My main concern is that our long day at the beach be as enjoyable as possible. Thanks to Target and the buyers at my job, it will be.

I'm going out tomorrow for a bit. I want to catch the swell. It took some work to line up a babysitter, but I made it happen. Once again, I'll be paying cold, hard cash for this so the swell better be there.