31 August 2007

What a Week!

All I want now is to get wet. The combination of Soul Grandmother #1 being under the weather, Soul Brother #2 starting school, cramps and going to back to work at a place where I no longer want to be was a bit stressful to say the least. I haven't surfed since Sunday and I've only gotten in the pool twice. I've not had many opportunities to work the stress out of my system. I doubt that the sessions this weekend will bring much relief; every break in Southern California will be swollen with the fair weather surfers who want to do their last little bit of surfing before the weather turns cold. I don't like the crowds. I've learned to live with them, but I still shudder when I turn around to paddle for a wave only to see three or four people sitting in my path. I'll get wet bright and early tomorrow. Get in early, get out early. That's the key on a holiday.

Everyone be safe this weekend! Surf like you mean it!

27 August 2007

First Day of School

Let's just say I did not get the sense that I was going to be missed. The brotha did me proud. Before going to bed, he thanked me for choosing that school. What a great kid!

Why Can't I Be There?

My favorite break in L.A. County is catching some of this swell. I, on the other hand, am not.

25 August 2007


Actually, I wanted the title of this entry to be "Take This Job and Shove It . . . Farther Up". Yesterday was my last day as a full-time employee at that dumb job. I swear I wanted to take a vow of silence (like the kid in Little Miss Sunshine) and simply walk around with a notepad that said, "What the fuck is wrong with you?" My boss is an idiot. His boss is an idiot. Why did it take me so long to leave? I gave them three weeks notice—21 days!!!—and offered to train my replacement. It finally dawned on my boss yesterday that I would no longer be there full-time . . . and they'd yet to hire anyone . . . and I actually do a bunch of different, important tasks . . . and they were now going to be up a creek without the damn paddle. Then it occurred to one of the my co-workers that I cover his and others' asses on a daily basis, that I work in such a way that I made their lives easier and that I'd no longer be there full-time to do that. That was bad enough. I'd been reminding HR for weeks that the 24th was my last day. They said I'd get a final paycheck with my unused vacation on that day. I reminded them again in the morning. This time, they said I wouldn't get a full paycheck since I was coming back as a freelancer, but I'd still get a check for my unused vacation days. Mind you, it was 7:30 a.m. when I reminded them of the day. They said send a request to payroll for the check. Well, at 2:30, with no check in hand, I walked over to Payroll to inquire about my check. What check? No one submitted a request for a check. I followed the guy from Payroll over to HR, then he and I returned to Payroll with an HR person, the one who submitted the request. After much confusion, the Payroll guy determined that the request was put in the wrong slot outside the office. As a result, it was never seen and (wait for it) they couldn't cut me a check. (Now you can picture me going mute and holding up my handwritten note.) Tell me why it is that a well-known company which makes many millions of dollars per year can't cut a check on the spot 24/7? Why?

Thank goodness for the love of co-workers. One of my friends insisted on buying me lunch even though I declined. When I returned from my lunch time swim, there was a BLT sitting on my desk. That was 1:00 p.m. I didn't eat again until 1:00 a.m.!! See, Soul Grandmother #1 has not felt well of late. By the time I got home from work last night, I knew she should be in the ER. Much to my surprise, she agreed. After doing some necessary running around (i.e., fetching the little man from daycare and getting him to Soul Grandmother #2's house, among other things), Soul Brother #1 and I took my mom to the hospital. Three hours in the ER lobby. Two hours in the actual ER. No, it wasn't meningitis. I worried that it was because of the location of the excruciating pain. The good news is that it's arthritis. The bad news is that it's arthritis. Soul Grandmother #1 has three prosthetic limbs—two knees and a shoulder—as a result of arthritis. Those were limbs that could be replaced. They can't replace your spine. So while it's good to know she's not dying, I'm saddened by the idea that this problem will only worsen, thus compromising her quality of life. But she's a trooper and I will continue to live in the moment. It makes no sense to worry about the uncertainties of the future.

I think I finally got to bed at 2:00 a.m. That was a problem. I was supposed to be at the OC spot at 6:30. I'd even suggested that a couple of folks (including my boy Bean Counting Surfer) join me. But I'd been away from the computer all day. I couldn't make any calls from the ER. So I hadn't followed up with anyone. I decided that it was much too late to make phone calls. I need only worry about myself. I set the clock radio for 5:20, telling myself it was simply a formality. I thought I'd actually turn off the alarm while still asleep and then eventually head to the pool for a swim. Well, 5:20 rolled around and I got up. By 6:30, I was in the OC looking at what I thought was crap. I was hoping the friend who was meeting me there would agree with me on the conditions. He didn't. By 6:50, I was suiting up. There were definitely "Victory at Sea" conditions. I thought I'd merely paddle out and sit. I got out at about 8:45 having surfed my little butt off. I walked. I carved. I traded boards. I laughed. The bottom line is I felt better. I'm going to pay for all of this recent excitement tonight. I'm already fading. In fact, I'm surprised I'm still awake. No, I take that back. There was a three year period when I slept only four hours a night. I can still do it when necessary. At least I know I'll be able to get more sleep tonight.

20 August 2007


I managed to leave the house, get Soul Brother #2 to daycare and get comfortable at my desk before I noticed I was wearing one black shoe and one brown shoe. (That gave me a good laugh all day.)

I swam so hard that I was shaking when I got out of the pool and was still sweating after I showered.

My boss, after having laughed at my shoes and whatever else it is I do to give him a chuckle on a daily basis, said to me, "Who am I going to harass once you're gone?"

I talked about surfing—as always—with the friend who's got me heading behind the Orange Curtain several times a month. We were trying to decide whether we could find a way to take off sick and hit the swell that's supposed to be here this week.

I thanked whatever deity or power I could thank for my mom. She rocks!

18 August 2007

Not Feelin' It Today

Once again, the mysto spot in Orange County delivered actual waves. Nothing spectacular, but heads and shoulders (literally) above what I'd find down here. The only problem is I wasn't up to the task today. I felt a little lethargic and out of sync. I got my waves. I just didn't ride them like I did last weekend. At one point, a head high bomb rolled through. I didn't have the wherewithal to take it. I sat there with my mouth wide open, gawking at a wave I hadn't expected and wasn't ready to take. Oh well. I may go out tomorrow. I may rest. We shall see.

15 August 2007

Brings Back Memories

12 August 2007

Talk the Talk

Wetsand's assessment of yesterday's waves wasn't a good one: Today (Sunday) is yet another small day for surf along the California coast. Luckily, I didn't see that forecast until after my session.

I ask but one question: what have I done to deserve the good luck of finding small but decent waves two days in a row? Am I reaping the benefits of the good karma I try to exude everywhere I go? (I don't always succeed at the karma thing. I dare say I'm better than most in that department.)

Two straight days behind the Orange Curtain. Two straight days of happiness. I didn't expect much out of Sunday's session. I was somewhat sore and none of the surf reports suggested that good things might happen in the water. Since Saturday was good, I was down for returning to the scene of the crime to try for more. At first glance, it looked horrible, horribly flat, flat flat. Still, I was there with three people in tow (CYT and the Soul Brothers). Paddling out was a given. I can only provide highlights of the session since my memory, as I've said before, is so bad.

— I felt like a bona fide longboarder. I spent my first few waves warming up by finding trim and enjoying the rides. After that, I was walking. I managed to pull off several successful Cheater Fives. Since I know my walking when going backwards is questionable, I decided to stop—for once—working on style points. Instead of walking, I shuffled. Cross step up, shuffle back. My goal was to stay on the board. And that I did. I know the shuffle will eventually morph into a cross step while going backwards.

— This was the first time I rode a wave that I knew was perfect for getting 10 toes over. Mind you, I didn't hang ten. I was too busy analyzing what was going on. Still, I knew what was happening. I've seen it in videos. I've never had it happen to me. This was a good sized wave, maybe shoulder high. (I say "good sized" since the reports suggested the waves would be ankle to knee high.) I got into this wave and looked down. I realized the nose and the outside rail were completely out of the water. The inside rail and the tail were in. And when I say "in", I mean locked in. I couldn't believe it. I thought this kind of thing only happened to the good surfers, the surfers in videos. I guess I thought they somehow knew how to make it happen. This wave showed me that a good wave is a good wave. Period. A good surfer knows how to work such a wave for all it's worth but the wave is the same whether you're a good or mediocre surfer. If I ever get a taste of a wave like that again, I'm going straight to the nose. No fear.

— I love side slippin' (a la Herbie Fletcher). One of my favorite waves involved me side slipping past two guys who were paddling out. As I headed back to the line up, they gave me my props for that move.

— Walking the board gets easier with each session. Now that I'm making myself do it, I'm not self-conscious about trying and failing. If I keep it up, walking will be second nature. I won't think about it, worry about it, hesitate, etc. I want to get to the point where I just do it.

— I can't say enough good things about swimming. The soreness in my shoulders didn't keep me from surfing hard on Sunday. In fact, I swam today as well. Today, I got in during our lunch break and just swam. I used to do a few lengths and then rest. Today, I swam for a good 15 or 20 minutes before stopping to check the clock. I was surprised to see I only had 10 minutes left before we'd have to make a mad dash back to work. What's happening to me? Was I a fish in a previous life?

11 August 2007

Walk the Walk

The reports all suggested that the waves here would be less than satisfactory this weekend. So I took a chance and left the county. (Remember, L.A. County is one of the largest counties in the country.) Once again, I ventured behind the Orange Curtain to surf with friends from work. I lucked out; the session made the drive worthwhile. Small waves with shoulders. Dolphins everywhere you looked. Space to turn around and ride actual shoulders.

Today's session was all about walking. I think half of my rides involved a trip to the nose. I'm back, once again, to making myself walk. That's what a longboard is for. I'm not going to get good at it if I never do it. In fact, I may never do it well. All I want is to do it successfully. Can't do that without practicing until you've got it down. Today I did a lot of the following: paddle, pop up, bottom turn, quick ride/stall, walk to the nose. After walking to the nose I'd end up (1) falling off, (2) getting settled in only to have the wave die, or (3) walking back only to lose my balance and then fall off. I know that the repetition is what makes you improve. I'm willing to fall off as much as necessary in order to get comfortable with walking that board. Watch out, world! I'm on a mission!

10 August 2007

The Summer of Swimming

When my buddy from work and I first started swimming at lunch, I was good for about seven lengths in the pool. He was good for about two or three. I spent a lot of time catching my breath when I first started. Since then, I slowly worked up to swimming several days a week (usually at a different, shorter pool). Today I was back in the longer pool. I'm now up to 20 lengths (in the same amount of time it would take me to do the seven)!!!! I've even been able to teach myself how to do a sad little flipturn. I don't do it often, but I can at least say that I know how to do one. What a great summer this has been for my fitness. Yes, the surf sucked for most of the summer. That doesn't matter. I'm taking a hell of a lot of increased fitness into the winter surf season as a result of all of this swimming. Now that Soul Brother #1 is going back to work and Soul Brother #2 is starting school, my pool time is limited. I'm still going to find a way to get in the pool a couple of times a week. I've got two more weeks for sure. I can still swim at lunch during my last two weeks at the job. After that, I'm back in our weight room/gym at home since I'll be working part-time as a freelancer at my job for several weeks after I quit. During the four hours that my little man is in school, I'll be working. Eventually, his days will increase and I'll be leaving my current employer for good. Then I'm going to take a break of about a week or two to relax and workout. Then I'll be looking for a more suitable gig.

Call Me "Shorty"

Did I mention that I gave notice . . . again? You know, I'm not even sure how many jobs I've had since I started this blog. Well, as the saying goes, "another one bites the dust". I decided I wanted to be there (wherever "there" is) when Soul Brother #2 starts kindergarten in a few weeks. It wasn't a hard decision. Stay at a job with no room for promotion and the possibility of doing the same work for the next 20 years? Or spend more time with my kid—taking him to school, picking him up, establishing a homework routine, getting to know his teacher and the other parents—at an important time in his life? You know the decision wasn't a hard one. So, I'm what prisoners call a "shorty". That's a guy (or woman) whose prison sentence is coming to an end, someone who only has a short time left behind bars. Am I comparing working in an office to being in prison? I think we all know the answer to that question.

04 August 2007

Small Waves, Big Crowds

There wasn't much to be found today. I knew there was a tiny bit of SW swell, so I headed to a point break, hoping I could score a handful of waves. They were small waves, yes. But they were still waves. Soul Brother #1 and I got out early. I wanted to beat the crowds and catch the tide as it went from high to low and back up. When I paddled out, I was one of the first ten people in the water. By the time I got out of the water, I was one of what seemed like, oh, several hundred in the water.

Soul Brother #1 got a few good shots, one of which is of me stepping to the nose. Too bad I crashed and burned after I got up there. At least I looked relatively competent while I was walking up there.

I think the best shot of the day was of me doing my best imitation of the new Cardiff surfer statue. At least I was falling off my board.
What's this guy's excuse for that posture? (Photo stolen from JP's Leucadia Blog.)

02 August 2007


Last night, for the first time since I started surfing, I came to the realization that the crew at my home break is, for better or worse, a family. What's funny is I couldn't tell you the last names of most of the folks in the crew. In fact, I couldn't call them or show up unexpectedly at their front doors. I don't know phone numbers. I don't know home addresses. These are mere formalities. When we're all together in one place (whether in or out of the water), there's a comfort level that I don't even have with many of my non-surfing friends. Last night, we all came together for a party. Ria and B got married a few weeks ago . . . in Vegas . . . by Elvis . . . with their beloved Ridgeback present as the best man, er, dog. The wedding was a small private affair. So, they threw a party here in L.A. to celebrate and share the love with their friends. And there we all were. In real clothes. With spouses/significant others and kids in tow.

Looking around the gathering, it became clear that I've known those folks long enough to become attached to them. I remember when E. smoked and drove an old ratty Saab. Now, he's a non-smoker with a wife, a kid and another kid on the way. When K walked in, I was astonished. Now that one of the female members of the crew finally got him to cut that hair (which he allowed to grow to shoulder length even though his he is basically bald on top), he looks rather dashing. J and L are still going through changes, but they're still together. I remember when they were trying to get pregnant. Now they've got a beautiful child who looks just like both of them. When I see G with her non-surfing man and listen to her talk about the future, I get a sense of how much things change in just a short period of time. I get the sense that they're in it for the long haul, that this is probably the one. There were others from the crew there too. You look at these faces and start thinking about how much you genuinely care for these people. Surfing is unlike other sports in that you can actually get to know people while you're engaged in the activity. You can't do this with basketball, baseball or even cycling. You only socialize with folks when you're done with those sports (i.e., going out for a beer after your workout). Because we're somewhat anonymous to one another, I think we surfers tend to share more. For our crew, it's usually the case that what's said in the water (or the parking lot) stays in the water. Therefore we tend to say a lot more than one would normally say on land. How can you not care for people with whom you've shared some heavy conversations?

Ria and B!!! Congratulations!!! Thanks for registering at a surf shop. This was the only time I enjoyed shopping for a wedding gift.