28 February 2007

Please Stop . . .

talking about, posting pictures of, and letting me see with my own eyes your new boards. You all know I've got a problem. What I wasn't revealing of late was my thought that my quiver was still incomplete. Something is missing and I don't quite know what it is. So, I've been talking to a local shaper about what I need. I know how I am. As a result, I wouldn't meet with the shaper face-to-face. I've only corresponded by email and talked to him on the phone. Because, see, I know how I am!! However, I want to make sure that the board I get meets my specifications, therefore I've been taking baby steps, getting to know the shaper, etc. Well, now I've lost my mind. All I can think about is filling out the quiver with this board now. Forget baby steps! I'm ready to run the marathon! And it's all your fault. I'm talking about the collective "you"—Whiff, Alan, Grace, Clay, Jason, Slow Polk, Surferbrat. You all should be ashamed for causing me such board envy. Thankfully, our finances are horrible right now. (Soul Bro #1's car is not on my good side tonight.) I must continue to take baby steps. I think, though, that this will be the board that will fill the gap in the quiver. I've been searching for a board like this for awhile. At some point, I came to my senses, realizing I'd need to get with a shaper to help me make this board a reality. It may be months before I get it. (Yeah!! Famous last words from the woman who would probably buy a surfboard a month if she could afford it.) You know what's ironic? I need to work more if I want to buy more boards. But then if I work more, there will be no time to surf.

27 February 2007

Hmmmmm (Not About Surfing)

Why I Hate Blacks

Kenneth Eng, Feb 23, 2007

Here is a list of reasons why we should discriminate against blacks, starting from the most obvious down to the least obvious:

• Blacks hate us. Every Asian who has ever come across them knows that they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us.

In my experience, I would say about 90 percent of blacks I have met, regardless of age or environment, poke fun at the very sight of an Asian. Furthermore, their activity in the media proves their hatred: Rush Hour, Exit Wounds, Hot 97, etc.

• Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years. It's unbelievable that it took them that long to fight back.

On the other hand, we slaughtered the Russians in the Japanese-Russo War.

• Blacks are easy to coerce. This is proven by the fact that so many of them, including Reverend Al Sharpton, tend to be Christians.

Yet, at the same time, they spend much of their time whining about how much they hate "the whites that oppressed them."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Christianity the religion that the whites forced upon them?

• Blacks don't get it. I know it's a blunt and crass comment, but it's true. When I was in high school, I recall a class debate in which one half of the class was chosen to defend black slavery and the other half was chosen to defend liberation.

Disturbingly, blacks on the prior side viciously defended slavery as well as Christianity. They say if you don't study history, you're condemned to repeat it.

In high school, I only remember one black student ever attending any of my honors and AP courses. And that student was caught cheating.

It is rather troubling that they are treated as heroes, but then again, whites will do anything to defend them.

This was published in a prominent Asian publication. First I heard about this. Then I did what I could to find it. Even though the article was removed from the publication's website, I found a blog—oh yes, another blogger, an Asian guy who was less than amused by this article—that had a copy of it. I've got no comment. I just wanted to post this article for the sake of posterity.

25 February 2007

What He Said

Different break. Different time. Different tide. Same outcome. Whiff's words expressed my feelings exactly. I've got nothing left to say. Okay, I've got one thing to say: Grace's new board is sweeeeeeeeeeet!!

24 February 2007

Not Going Out in that S@!t!

There was no way I was going to paddle out today. Yes, it was a glorious day. But looks can be deceiving. Don't forget, it rained a couple of days ago. Although it wasn't the kind of rain they get in Seattle, it was still enough to wash everything out of the storm drains and into the ocean. Nope, I ain't goin' out like that.

I spent the morning on my bike. You know what? Whatever it was that I loved about cycling . . . is long gone. Now, cycling is merely a means to an end; it keeps me fit to surf. Granted, I can still roll when I need to. It's not like I'm bemoaning skills and power I once had. I could regain them if I so chose. Well, I don't (so choose). While I rode with this group of mostly novice cyclists, I couldn't help but think about surfing. When I get on a bike, I look and ride like someone who is completely at ease. Even when I'm dying, I know how to stay loose. I know how to look like it doesn't hurt. In other words, I know exactly what I'm doing when I'm on the bike. That's the result of almost 20 years in the saddle. And it's this kind of calm, cool and collectedness that I envy in people who've been surfing for decades. I know I'm finally coming into my own as a surfer. The kook moments are less and less frequent, but they're still there. (The cycling term for a "kook" is a "Fred". I no longer have Fred moments on the bike.) My one regret regarding surfing is that I didn't start sooner. I love seeing surfers who, although they may be out of shape or may have been away from surfing for years, have that innate sense of self as one with the board. So they can get in the water after a long break and still surf so well that you can't take your eyes off them. That's how it is with me on the bike. I can see heads turning as I pedal up to the front of the group without breathing hard. The silence is deafening when we pull up to a light and everyone takes a foot out of the pedal to rest on the ground . . . everyone, that is, but me. I just stand there balancing. It's not a matter of showing off. It's something I've been doing for years, something that makes your cycling life much easier (because you simply pedal away when the light changes—you don't have to struggle with getting your foot back in the pedal). I thought of these things while I was riding. People envied me for my skills and the seeming ease with which I rode. This is the same envy I feel for surfers who've been at it a long time. They don't even have to try. They just do it. Everything about surfing is second nature to them. I long to get to that point in my surfing, but I fear that I started surfing too late in life to ever experience this myself. While I was in the group this morning, I wanted to yell, "Don't you people realize I don't even like riding my bike anymore?"

I guess, in some ways, it's about paying your dues. I paid dues for years on that bike. There were periods in my life when I could think of nothing else but the bike (even though I managed to get two advanced degrees during some of those years). I've yet to pay those kind of dues on on the board. It all comes with time and I know that. But, damn!! I'll be in my late fifties by the time I've spent as many years on the surfboards as I have on my bike! I just hope I still have my fitness and my stoke then.

21 February 2007

The Free Cams

Thanks to someone who made an anonymous post on this blog some time ago, I'm now aware of free, government-sponsored cams. They aren't in real time. Who cares? I'm fine with knowing what was going on in the water 20 minutes ago. I also like looking at the pictures of the sunsets at various beaches.

February 23:
What happened to my damn pictures? Damn you, Blogger!

19 February 2007

Fears Conquered (Part II)

Well, today I did manage to sleep in. I didn't get up until 6:30! Yeah, I know. Even I was a bit disappointed, thinking I'd somehow sleep longer than that.

Alright, let's talk about El Porto. I went into Sunday's session ready for a fight. I'd gotten enough sleep, I'd eaten, and I'd put my head in the right space. I also took the right equipment. If I'm going to surf El Porto when it's got some waves of size, I've got to leave the single fin at home. I'm not saying it can't be surfed with a single fin. I'm just saying that my skills aren't good enough to surf that break well on a single fin. Once again, the ferocious dog and I headed out in the dark. We arrived so early that I took him for a little frolic on the beach while we waited for a bit more sunlight.

The paddle out was relatively easy. Waves were coming through but not like they were on Saturday. The reason for getting out early, of course, was to get some space to clear my head and surf. And that's what I did. In fact, I was a bit disappointed to find the waves were smaller than the previous day. Still, I got out there alone and surfed. I didn't overthink it. I let go of the fear. I just surfed. After about an hour, I decided I'd had enough. The offshore wind was actually making me quite miserable. I can deal with cold water. I cannot deal with the chill brought on by the wind. It was also getting crowded. But then something happened. I wouldn't get out. I sat there not quite knowing what to do. I didn't want to paddle in. I'm not ashamed to do paddle in when time is of the essence. But when my time is my own, I prefer to wait for that "one last wave". As it was, I jinxed myself. There were long lulls yesterday, lulls that were long enough to allow for a dry hair paddle out. Then when waves came through, everyone was on them. I'm not comfortable with that. I took a few when the crowd initially got out there. I noticed guys would see me paddling and then begin paddling for the same wave. Then once I was up, they'd get out of the way (except for one guy at whom I had to yell "Move!" because he was paddling across the front of me as I was paddling for a wave, a wave I did get, by the way). Anyway, it got really crowded after my first hour. I was already cold, but too stubborn to get out. I wanted to surf out, yet I was just sitting there.

The problem with being black and female in situations where you're the only black and the only female is that you get a lot of attention. Sometimes it's unwanted. Sometimes it's a nuisance. Sometimes it is what it is. Yesterday, two guys in particular took an interest in me. I think they thought I was either too scared to take a wave or barely capable of surfing at all. They were both very nice and I was not at all insulted. I just get tired of having to prove myself on demand. (I once did a session at RPB where a guy was so shocked to see me up and surfing that he said, "I didn't even think you could stand up." Because he was a nice enough guy, I kept myself from saying, "Yeah. I can read and write too!") Well, now I've gotten myself off-track. I have no idea where I'm going with this discussion. The first guy, who was older and kept calling me "girl" (in a nice way), told me I "did good" when I got up on a wave and pulled out so as not to impede the ride of the guy who was closest to the curl. The second guy kept teasing me for calling "one last wave" and then being stuck out there. After a long while, I caught what was supposed to be my last wave. I mean I was right there at the shore. I could have gotten gone in. Instead, I decided to paddle back out. I wanted more. And I wanted whoever was watching to see me catch more. I got another wave after that. Again, I paddled back out. I'm not sure where the waves that followed came from. Whiff saw them, saying I swear there was 15 minutes where it was non-stop head+ waves coming through. It looked real sweet. Whiff, guess what? They were sweet. My last wave was heavy. Here I am on a 9'1" board. I start paddling for what I think is a decent but not overly big wave. It turned out to be a bomb! I realized it once the board picked up speed. It was too late to turn back. The rest is a blur. I don't remember popping up or anything about the ride. I do remember hearing someone. I don't know if I heard a whistle. I don't know if he said anything. I just remember that the tone of his voice let me know this wave was heavy. I also remember seeing the lip way above my head; the wave started closing out as I headed down the line, so I turned and headed to the shore. With that, I got out. Nothing was going to top that.

Am I still spooked by El Porto? No. Will I go out when it's huge? No. I'm not stupid. This place can hurt you on a big day. This was not a big day. It was a big enough day. I did what I went out there to do: exorcise some surfing demons.

18 February 2007

Fears Conquered

Film at 11.

Right now, I'm too tired and full to blog. I'll be back at some point, either tonight or tomorrow, with news of today's attempt to storm the beach at El Porto.

Perhaps I'll sleep in tomorrow . . . until 7. Hey, for me that's tantamount to sleeping the morning away.

17 February 2007

Who Needs Sleep?

I do, much to my chagrin. It occurred to me earlier in the week that the reason for my lack of motivation for my 4:45 a.m. (pre-mommy duties and pre-work) workouts is I don't get enough sleep. I thought I was just bored. Nope. I'm just plain tired. My goal, now, is to get more rest. By getting more rest, I'll be more likely to do my workouts before my day begins (rather than rushing through them in between the time I arrive home from work and the time I start dinner). Why am I talking about this? Well, it's like this. Soul Brother #1 had to work today. That meant I'd need a babysitter if I wanted to get a session in. The only problem was the tide. It's sky high these days. This morning, the tide was to be at its highest before 9 a.m. I don't have the luxury of an afternoon surf on the weekend. That left dawn patrol as the only option. What? I was going to find someone to come to our house at 5:30 a.m.? Ain't gonna happen and I wouldn't ask anyway. To my surprise, Soul Brother #1 called my mom (who I hadn't asked since I'd assumed she was busy—the woman is 76 years old with a social life that won't quit). He arranged for the little man to sleep over at his grandmother's, thus allowing me to get up and out for a session. I couldn't believe it. My spouse made arrangements that would allow me to surf. I'm still in shock.

Well, when the alarm sounded this morning, I was not amused. I wanted (and needed) to sleep. It was still dark outside! Don't I get enough of that during the week? What did I do? I got up. Although I wasn't feeling it, there was no way I would let Soul Brother #1's hard work come to naught. I got up and out in the dark. Home break? No. Too risky, especially given the recent sewage spills. I decided to go to El Porto. Mind you, I am not a big fan of that wave. It simply confounds me. I cannot figure it out. I surfed south of the main part of El Porto, choosing to surf where more of the longboarders surf rather than hitting the part where shortboards abound. I swear that wave hates me. I've never had a good session at that place. Granted, the waves weren't great today, but that's never stopped me from getting waves at other breaks. The place spooks me. I know much of my problem with El Porto is mental. I've said it before and I'll say it again: years of riding my bike past that place and seeing broken boards in the trashcans makes me more than a bit apprehensive (even when the waves aren't big).

Today, my problem was a combination of physical fatigue and mental hesitation. I was also misgunned. (Is that a word?) I definitely wasn't undergunned. My Slick catches waves there. But this wave takes a shape I'm not accustomed to. And I think I would have done better with a performance longboard. Even though I felt like an idiot who couldn't catch anything, I noticed that the people around me weren't catching much either. I did manage one nice left. Other than that, I did either a lot of paddling for nothing or a lot of paddling over waves that weren't too big for me yet still managed to make me nervous. Where does that leave me? I'm going back tomorrow. I like that El Porto forces me to leave my comfort zone. I've got no choice but to go back and try to redeem myself. Because of this damn high tide, I've got to do another dawn patrol session. Thankfully, there's no work on Monday. Perhaps I will get some rest then.

15 February 2007

This is Getting Old

Beach Closed at portions of Will Rogers Beach, Venice Beach and Dockweiler Beach. Will Rogers closed 100 yards on both sides from the point of discharge to the ocean. Venice Beach is closed from the Marina del Rey entrance channel to 1 mile north of the channel. Dockweiler Beach is closed from Ballona Creek to 1 mile south of Ballona Creek.

11 February 2007

"You Thought Wrong"

That's what I was telling myself as I stood in the parking lot at LPB on Saturday morning. There was some swell in the water, just not enough. In fact, the one guy who was in the water was going right. Huh? Isn't this a left point break? The other guy in the parking lot told me the place had been breaking right for the last few days. I made a one hour drive for that? Suffice it to say I was a little disappointed. I'd gotten myself up early and I thought I knew what would happen. There was some swell in the water, right? The tide would be at its lowest later in the morning. The way I saw it, the early morning would only show some of the swell, probably enough for a longboard but not enough for a shortboard since the place breaks best on the lowest possible tide. I was confident I'd get a couple of good hours there in the water.

After a 20 minute wait, I headed back down PCH to RPB. Malibu was breaking. Again, that place is never my first choice. The dirty water and the crowd are enough to make me drive right by. Predictably, I ended up at RPB. Can a sister just go left? When RPB is crowded, people go right even when a left pops up? Yesterday, I finally got a left, went left and then had to straighten out because the guy to my left was going right.

The session was okay, nothing exciting or worth mentioning. I saw someone there with whom I am no longer friendly. We were civil to one another, but did not surf much within the vicinity of one another. The friendship ended a few months ago. People assumed we'd get over the hard feelings. I did. She did not. I'd say more about it, but that's probably not a good idea in such a public place since I believe both of us were wrong. C'est la vie.

09 February 2007

Some Thoughts on Little Man's First Visit to Disneyland

1. Too f*%#ing expensive. It was $239 for two adults and one child. And we paid $11 to park!!!

2. The child was overwhelmed. Nope, that's the wrong word. The kid was scared to death! For our $250, we did all of three rides. We did Winnie the Pooh (which scared him initially). We did the Casey Jr. train. We did Small World. In fact, we did Small World twice. That's it!!! Soul Brother #2 didn't want to go on anything else.

3. Where do they get off charging the prices they do for food and drink? Thank goodness friends told us to take our own.

4. The second trip through Small World made me wonder if I was in hell.

5. The Casey Jr. train has cages for animals, one of which is labeled "Monkeys". Soul Brother #2 can't read much yet. When we got off the train, he said he wanted to go again. Then he pointed to the aformentioned cage and said he wanted to ride in it on the next go round. Soul Brother #1 and I said "No!" almost in unison. The little one asked why we couldn't ride in it. I said I'd tell him in 10 years (when he's old enough to understand discussions about race and stereotypes). When I told my mother of all of this, she fell out laughing, saying she understood why we said no.

6. Soul Brother #2, to our surprise, was in awe when he met Mickey Mouse. My friends think the picture indicates his apathy. But I know my kid. That's the look of someone in awe. You see that look on the faces of people who get an audience with the Pope. For Soul Brother #2, this was like meeting the Pope. That look on his face is one of beatitude.

7. Coolest thing we did: getting a silhouette done of the little one. They sat the little man down in a chair. Then this woman simply talked to him and, without the aid of computers or anything but a pair of scissors, cut out an absolutely perfect profile of my child. How'd she do that? Truly amazing.

07 February 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Man

I could not have asked for a better kid. You make me proud every day. All I want is that you grow up to be happy and self-reliant. And should you decide that you never want to surf (or do any of the things about which Daddy and I are passionate), that's fine. You do you. Be yourself and follow your own bliss.

04 February 2007

Pride Goeth Before a Fall

I discovered how true that is. I was working this left that was just about perfect. A perfect left at the home break? Yep. Somehow, in between the lulls and the closeouts, I scored a couple of long, juicy lefts that had me content for the remainder of the day. No, not the remainder of the session—the remainder of the entire day. So, this first left didn't seem to be anything special when I started paddling for it. The waves today were good enough, but they weren't epic or anything. I was simply on it today. As a result, my wave count was high. I was going for whatever I thought I could get. But, I digress . . . so I get this left and before I knew it, the shoulder got longer and longer. As I rode this wave, I could feel that all was right with the world. Everything felt right: body language, foot placement, position on the face, etc. I was having a ball and it showed. I went up and down the face. I did a soul arch. I was pretty damn sure of myself and my abilities while I was on this wave. After a lot of carving and posing, I decided I would step up to the nose. Before I could even finish the thought about making my way to the nose, the board stopped abruptly and I was sent headlong into the water. Then I got caught inside when a 500 wave set rolled through. While getting worked, I managed to swallow enough water to make my throat burn. (In fact, my throat is still sore.) By the time I paddled back out, I was humbled to say the least. Humbled but smiling from ear to ear. That wave was tasty! I learned my lesson on that one: keep your ego to yourself. Okay, well, I was keeping it to myself. All of the thoughts I had about how well I was riding the wave were in my head. Nonetheless, I think the lesson to be learned was not to even allow those thoughts to enter my head. Just shut up and surf! When I got the second wave like that, I simply surfed it and did a little happy yell once it was over. Two nice long lefts in one session. Heaven!

I surfed yesterday too. I was underwhelmed. I'd gotten up early, headed out early in order to beat the high tide, and then sat around waiting. I saw waves at the first spot I hit. However, there weren't consistent and I knew as soon as the tide came up an inch the place would shut down. The second spot I hit—the home break—was closed out. The third spot confused me. It wasn't quite closed out and it wasn't quite showing waves worth riding. I stayed there for awhile before heading back to the home break to wait for the tide to come up and slow things down. The only thing I liked about Saturday's session was surfing with Grace. The waves were mostly closed out. There wasn't much shape to them. Still, I love to surf with Grace. She cracks me up. This was the second time in a few weeks that she's brought up that dumb Chicago Bears "Superbowl Shuffle" song from the '80s. And if you don't remember it, she does a quick little rendition of it for you. I don't quite remember the song. I do remember the horrible video and a lot of horrible attempts at dancing by the Bears, including Jim McMahon.

Everything about today's session was positive. Soul Brother #1 sent me on my way, saying he was cool with me surfing as long as I could be home by 11:00. Since it was 7:45 when he told me this, I got my butt out of the house and straight to the home break, which I thought might be a little less closed out since the swell was decreasing. Parking today was free. The payment machine was out of order when I got there. I felt no need to leave a note. I figured it was simply my good luck to get free parking. Once in the water, I felt great. I felt on. Mind you, I don't usually feel dialed in. But I've found that the longer I surf, the easier it is for me to get dialed in when I really want to. Today, I wanted it. And with me it's like flipping a switch. When I know I'm feeling good, I simply decide that I'm going to go for everything and anything that's mine. I didn't cut anyone off or snake anyone. Through most of the session, I was between a woman who couldn't catch anything and a guy on a fish who was catching very little. That meant I was cleared for take-off. When I saw a wave I wanted, I caught it. When I saw them going for waves they wanted, I watched. Once I'd assessed the fact that they were having problems, I pretty much got every wave I decided I should have. It was just one of those good days in the water when the wave gods smiled on me. The two great lefts were made even better by the fact that people saw them. One of the locals whose surfing I envy told me he'd seen them. Another local told his friends he was going to sit next to me since I was catching all the waves. What's ironic is that after the second left, I turned off. I was mentally done. I'd had my fill. As is typical of surfers, I didn't get out. But I didn't go for many waves either. I sat there and took it all in. I watched everyone else. When I decided I was cold, I caught a short left and got out. And, yes, I was home by 11:00.