29 November 2008

This Never Gets Old

I don't know when I'll be back in the water. While Soul Brother #1 is on the mend, I'm kind of on lockdown. I know there's a swell coming, a swell that won't see any of my boards.

In the meantime, I'm watching mat surfing on YouTube and keeping my head together.

25 November 2008

Have You Kissed Your Surfboard Lately?

Was it last year that my Bonzer, which was shaped by Clayfin and glassed by Moonlight, was giving me a fit? With all of the preoccupation of late with health issues and (lack of) work issues, I forgot to post my newest Bonzer impressions.

This thing is so tasty that if it were a man I'd be giving serious thought to cheating on Soul Brother #1. I'm not sure where my head was when I first got it. I didn't know what to think. I wasn't sure what wave to surf. I wasn't sure of my own surfing. I've had a lot of time in the water since then and I've also been surfing shorter boards. That's helped both my actual surfing and my confidence.

This year, when we finally got a little NW swell, I took it out at the home break. My expectations were neither low nor high. I think, for the first time, I was simply open to the experience of surfing my Bonzer speed egg. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!!!!! Fast as a mutha! Turns on a dime! For the first time in my life as a surfer—and remember, I was holding fast to my longboards until a few months ago—I hit the lip and then continued on with the ride. I did this on more than one wave!

Alas, it's not an every day board. This Bonzer needs some juice and some shoulder to really enjoy itself. This is the board, I think, that will see me through the winter swells at my favorite point breaks. Sometimes, you just don't want to be on a longboard. (If you've read my blog from its inception, you'll know how astonishing a statement that is.)

Surgery update: The doctor said the surgery went well, that the nerve bundles looked good. What does that mean? Well, it means the prostate didn't appear to be riddled with cancer and that, um . . . hmmm . . . use of a particular body part for a particular thing was not completely compromised.

We won't know the full extent of the outcome until we get the pathology report in about a week. Soul Brother #1, who hates doctors and hospitals, came through it like a trooper, a trooper who hates doctors and hospitals. We're hoping he can come home today. The doctor hinted that he might be able to if he's feeling up to it. Thanks for all of the kind thoughts, offers of food and support. It has helped more than all of you know.

23 November 2008

Johnny Rotten Has Spoken

The home break was unbelievably crowded today. I even heard a guy in the parking lot ask the question we've all been asking for many a Sunday: "Doesn't anybody go to church anymore?" The number of people in the water was completely ridiculous. I'd love to say the interlopers cause all the problems, that they drop in and don't play nice. No. I'd have to save that criticism for some of the regulars. Throughout much of the session, I was sandwiched between the two worst offenders. On either side of them were the interlopers. None of these people, not locals and not unwelcomed visitors, gave any thought to a lineup or etiquette. It was a true free-for-all.

After the session, one of the locals pushed my as he was walking by. These guys don't play. They accept those of us who've surfed there (and suffered there) for years. We've earned their respect. They throw serious stinkeye at everyone else. After the push, he laid it all out there in one sentence. If you don't start yelling at these people, I'm going to start yelling at you.

He wasn't kidding. Time to learn the art of the stinkeye, I guess. I prefer not to talk to people who piss me off, but if such behavior on my part means I must suffer the wrath of Johnny Rotten, I'd rather become a regulator.

21 November 2008

Dammit! We're Keeping Him!

The woman who rescued this puppy's mother and raised the puppies was worried that we, the three of us and the dog, might not be right for one another. First, we met the dog at her house. Then, she brought the dog to our house (for the home check). She said the dog didn't seem excited to see us. (How and why would he be excited to see people he'd only played with for 20 minutes the day before?) We arranged for the dog world's equivalent of a sleepover. We spent the first two days worrying that she would tell us we couldn't have the dog. By today, the third day, I laid claim to this little guy. I announced to Soul Brother #1 that Oxley was our puppy, that there was no way we'd allow her to take him back. By the time she came by today, we'd already signed him (us?) up for puppy training classes, purchased his crate, gotten an I.D. tag and hooked him up with a sweet little collar.

He's half Beagle. No one is certain of the other half, but it appears to be a Lab. The woman teaching the puppy training class couldn't see the Beagle in him. Then he let out a howl whose sound bounced off every wall in the store. Oh, he's got Beagle blood alright! This little guy is making the men in our house very happy. Oh yeah . . . I like him too!

19 November 2008

If You Won't Talk About Your Prostate, I Will

There. That should have gotten the attention of the the segment of the human race—Okay, the small segment of the human race—with a Y chromosome that reads this blog. This post is not just for the guys. The women who read the blog have fathers, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, etc. and I expect them not to be ashamed to bring up the subject with the men who are important to them.

By now you've realized that this post has nothing to do with surfing. It has everything to do with the reason why I hardly blog these days, why I can't sleep, why my attention span is that of a four year old, and why I feel compelled to share what I know.

Soul Brother #1 has prostate cancer. There it is. Out there for the world to see. Normally, I'd keep his business his business. However, he's been telling male friends and acquaintances. He doesn't say much. It goes something like this: "Yeah, man, I found out I got prostate cancer. You should get checked." That's about as far as he will go in the discussion. Not mad at him. I'm a bit shocked that he's even been willing to say that much. While he's tried to emotionally process this diagnosis, I've learned everything I can about prostate cancer. He still can't deal with the reality of it. This is a statement of fact, not a statement of judgment on my part.

Let me back up a bit. Rewind to July of this year. Soul Brother #1 takes a bad spill while on his bike (thanks to the asshole drivers here in L.A.) and tears the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Since he did the exact same damage to his left shoulder the previous summer, we knew the drill. Orthopedist for diagnosis, general practitioner for pre-op physical. We'd done all of this a year earlier. We knew what to expect . . . or so we thought. The timeline is a bit of a blur after this what with the surgery, reduced hours from my job, layoff from his job and the death of the dog. In the midst of all of the drama that has become our lives, we got a call from the general practitioner. The blood tests showed a prostate something or other that was high and he wanted to do the blood test again. (I can now tell you that it's the PSA number that was high. PSA for prostate specific-antigen.) The second test showed an even higher number than the first. The next step was a visit to the urologist to schedule a biopsy of the prostate. A few days after the biopsy, I get a call on my cell phone—not a good sign!—from the urologist's office; they wanted SB #1 to come in for an appointment. All it took was them ushering us into the doctor's office, as opposed to an exam room. We both knew, without speaking to each other, what he was going to say. And he came right out and said it. Boom! I think all SB #1 heard was "cancer" and "aggressive". He was scared to death. Mind you, this is a brother from the projects. No one else would have known he was scared. I've had close to 20 years to know what's going on in that brother's head. He was devastated . . . and so was I, but I kept listening because I knew he couldn't.

Yes, Soul Brother #1 has prostate cancer. Surgery is on Monday. (Thanksgiving is cancelled.) The doctor will robotically remove the prostate in the hopes of catching and removing the cancer before it spreads.

Why am I spilling our family's personal misfortunes? Well, it's like this. Men aren't women. We share. We get the word out. We're not embarrassed to tell it and claim it. Men are not us. Men don't want to go to the doctor. They really don't want to talk about or deal with anything that might affect their nether regions. Men don't process potentially emotional subjects well. They're men. They're not wired for that. I get that. At the same time, it's important that someone get the word out. There are websites, message boards and forums related to prostate cancer, yes. Still, there needs to be a wider dialogue on the subject. See, this is why you need women in your lives. We will say what you men can't say to each other.

Now look, this is important. I wouldn't be talking about this if it weren't, right? Here are some facts:

· 1 in 6 men will get prostate cancer.

· Every 19 minutes a man dies of prostate cancer.

· In men whose cancer has escaped the prostate only 31% live 5 years.

· Prostate cancer is second leading killer in men behind lung cancer.

· If you have a brother or a father with prostate cancer it is 100% more likely you will have
it at some point in your life.

· Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in America.

· 219,000 will be diagnosed this year in The United States alone.

· Approximately 25% of diagnoses occur under the age of 65.

· Prostate cancer often does not cause symptoms for many years. By the time
symptoms occur, the disease is usually well beyond the prostate.

· Prostate cancer, when caught in the early stages is 98% curable

Dudes, Bros, Homies, Whoever—you've got to stay on top of this. If you're 45 or older, you need to start having the blood tests that screen for what might be prostate cancer. Did you hear me? A simple blood test. You can easily live with that. We women get poked, prodded and flattened—do not tell me you don't know what we go through with pap smears and mammograms!—to test for cancer. You men are lucky enough to have a blood test. Excuse my language but prostate cancer doesn't fuck around. You can't surf if you're dead!

What if Soul Brother #1 hadn't injured his shoulder? Getting him to go to the doctor is like pulling teeth! If he hadn't gone in for the pre-op physical, that cancer would be deciding where it wanted to go next. For reasons not entirely clear to me, it is especially aggressive in black men. There's no telling how quickly the cancer might have spread had it not been caught now. Mind you, he had a pre-op physical with the same doctor last year when he hurt his other shoulder. His PSA was normal then. So in the span of a year, that cancer took hold in a way that made the doctors sit up and take notice.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get thee to a doctery (?) and tell him/her/them that you want your PSA numbers checked. That's it. No one has to come at you with a gloved hand and a tube of KY jelly. All it takes is a blood test. If you're reading this and you're female, it's on you to broach the subject with the men in your life. If you can't talk about it, print something off the internet and leave it where that certain man will see it. Do whatever it takes to make him take his health seriously.

The doctors believe they've caught Soul Brother #1's cancer early. If that's the case, that will be the beginning of the good news this family needs. In other news, I think we have a puppy (although the rescue organization person hasn't said whether or not we'll be allowed to keep him—that's another story for another time). I actually got him to help with Soul Brother #1's recovery. He (the man) won't be able to obsess about his situation if he's got something else (the dog) to concentrate on. This is our little secret, people. He doesn't know that this was my primary reason for finding another dog so quickly. If you tell him I said it, I'll deny it and then drop in on you every time I see you in the lineup!

Thank you for listening. I know someone out there heard me.

13 November 2008

How Do You Turn a Frown Upside Down?

Oh, it is so on! My mat arrived this afternoon long after our normal mail delivery. I was heading out of the house when a postal truck pulled up and stopped in the middle of the street. Could it be? Certain that the delivery wasn't for me, I kept walking across our front yard. (Soul Brother #1, being the respectful homeowner that he is, always goes across the walkway. Not me! I tromp straight across the grass to my car. It's our half-dead grass. Why can't we walk on it?) Then the woman got out of the truck with a box and came toward me. "My mat is here!" Soul Brothers #1 and #2 stood there wondering why I was so deliriously happy. It's a mat thing! You wouldn't understand.

The quiver is coming together rather nicely now. I've wanted a mat for months. I think Pranaglider's blog is what first introduced me to surf mats. Even though I had no idea what he was talking about, I knew I wanted a surf mat. I'd never seen one in the flesh before I got mine in the mail today. I've also never seen anyone ride one. Who cares? I can learn. There are mat blogs, mat forums and mat riding videos on YouTube. I also have the man himself, Paul Gross, willing to give me tips from afar. I can do this! It might be ugly while I learn, but I bet I'll be laughing harder than the people on the beach (and in the lineup) watching me crash and burn.

Let the steep learning curve begin!

Commit to Your Quiver

As I was about to paddle out yesterday, it hit me that I've surfed all but one of the boards in my quiver over the last two weeks. Mind you, my quiver isn't that big: Three longboards, two mid-sized boards and a single fin egg in the mid-6 foot range. Still, I'm amazed at the ease with which I'm now able to switch between boards. A year ago, I was on my beloved longboards 95% of the time. I still believed that anything shorter than nine feet was a shortboard.

These days I practically roll my eyes when the conditions dictate that a longboard be my weapon of choice. The last two days have seen me paddle out on the bonzer speed egg shaped by Clayfin. (Is there some law that says surf bloggers, by virtue of our internet kinship, tend to be my favorite shapers?) Last year, that board gave me a fit. This year, I'm finding it to be the "most likely to succeed" board for the upcoming winter waves.

Why this change in perspective? It stems from, I think, a newfound commitment to my quiver. I want to be intimately acquainted with all of my surf craft. What's the point of having more than one surfboard if you don't take advantage of what each board has to offer? One of my longboards, if not two, will soon be on the chopping block. I don't surf the 9'1" single fin anymore and don't plan to do so now that it's been rendered redundant by the other two longboards. One of those longboards may leave simply because I'm ready to move on (and we need the money it can bring into this house). I'm sure that board is also tired of being treated like a rock magnet. Anyway, I've seen the light. It's shining on all of my boards, directing me to give each board its place in the sun. I'm really trying to do that.

09 November 2008

Suffer the Little Surfboards

After all of the gnashing of teeth and internal wailing over the events of the last month, particularly the death of my little shadow, I needed a catharsis . . . badly. On Saturday morning, I was still moping. It's hard enough to grieve for your pet alone. Watching the deep sadness of a six year old makes it even worse. I'd worked hard on Friday to make him look at it all in perspective: at least we got five great years with a dog we truly loved and who loved us. That seemed to help my little man as we decided to talk about things the dog did to crack us up. By the time Soul Brother #2 went to sleep at Soul Grandmother #2's house that night, he was having an easier time dealing with the loss. I, on the other hand, spent the night tossing and turning, trying not to cry my eyes out over a dog I didn't want or particularly like when he first came into the family. (We got him for my mom, but he ended up living with us.)

When I woke up on Saturday, I didn't know what I wanted. I'd surfed the closeouts at the home break the previous day. I did not feel the need to repeat that glorious session the following day. The beach breaks were closed out even worse. The point breaks showed promise, but not enough to warrant a paddle out onto a lake. And so, I sat, pissed off and needing a release. I still have two bikes. I still have little interest in putting those bikes on the road for long periods of time. Soul Brother #1, who had also shed a few tears over a dog who drove him to distraction, told me I needed to surf. I still sat. I saw little lines at the point break, but I wasn't budging until I saw a surfable wave. It took about an hour of periodic visits to the computer to look at the cam to get me to pack up the car. (Unlike others who rely on the advice of surf reporters, I only look at surf cams to see the water. I make any and all decisions based on what I see through the lens of the camera. I've got no interest in what someone I don't know thinks he or she is seeing. I only trust myself and my friends to know what is or isn't surfable.)

I thought the point break would be small. That meant I had to go into the garage to get my summer board—the Tyler log. As I was packing up the car, it hit me. I'd scraped the wax off that board and had put it up when summer was over. Shit! Now, anyone who reads this blog knows how compulsive I am with respect to the wax jobs on my boards. Well, yesterday I just didn't care. Fuck the wax job. Fuck the perfect bumps. I grabbed a bar of old school Sex Wax and laid down a thin layer. That was enough wax to do the trick. (See, I'm so anal that I even called Sex Wax some time ago to ask them to explain the difference between the Quick Humps and their normal wax. I think I kept that guy on the phone for 15 minutes talking about wax. That's anal!) But yesterday I just didn't care. All I wanted was to stick to the board. I no longer had a dog. I didn't give a damn about some wax. Oh, it gets worse!

As I discovered later, I also didn't give a damn about my board. It took one for the dog (as opposed to taking one for the team). Thinking it would be rather small, I left the leash in the car. As I was stretching and watching the set waves, I thought about going back to get a leash, then decided I didn't really care. And I didn't. My ding repair guy will attest to that. Really. I needed something to get hurt to take away my hurt. If it was a surfboard that was sacrificed, so be it. Of course, I wasn't going to sacrifice my beloved Black Power longboard, my afro-centric Bonzer, my rasta-themed mid-sized board. Nope, it was going to be my expensive log. At this point, that board and those rocks are on a first-name basis. They've gotten well-acquainted many times before. This session would give them a chance to reminisce. They only got together once. Once was enough. I took a left that was a nice size, found trim, and walked right up to the nose. As I perched, I thought about how effortless that was. Before I could do any more self-congratulating, I was pitched off. When I came up, I looked toward the horizon for the board. Nothing. I knew where it had to be. I didn't see it at first. But when I did, my brain went into overdrive trying to process the situation. I'm supposed to be sad. Wait! I'm supposed to be mad now. Wait! Look at how the board is slamming against the rocks with each successive wave. Wait! Does she see this? She's not reacting.

I didn't react because I didn't care. I wanted something to hurt. I wasn't going to hurt myself. (Lord knows that wouldn't be a smart move in a house that's about to lose its health insurance.) I wasn't going to hurt anyone else. That left the board. The damage was initially less than I'd expected. I've done much worse in the past. Thankfully, I cared enough not to lose the board again. And the session was cathartic. Between the transference of some of my anger onto the board and the talking I did with a new friend, who obviously still hadn't gotten over the death of the dog he'd had for 13 years, I felt a little lighter when I got out of the water. (I felt lighter, yes, but the poor board was probably taking on water and would have kicked me if it had legs.)

I'm emotionally moving on now. I don't have the luxury of grieving for long. We've got too many other things to deal with right now. We've all agreed that we will get another dog, but Monty will always be the first and the best dog our little family ever had.

07 November 2008

Five Years of Unconditional Love

We didn't know we, as a family, could cry that hard or that much.

05 November 2008

The Elephants in Our (Figurative) Room

I can't help but use the blog to unburden myself of the things I'm having trouble getting past. Although I'd prefer not to broadcast that which is causing me pain right now, I feel the need to really let go of it.

hcaresickdoglackofpethealthcareandacco mpanyingbadattitude.

Since I seem to have lost the ability to get a good night's sleep, I'm more than happy to sit here killing time at the computer.

These days I'm completely enthralled by any surf stuff related to surf mats. My mat will arrive shortly. I'm beyond excited. I'm probably more excited about the surf mat than I am about our new president. The holes in the quiver are slowly disappearing. There's one more board to come; it was in the works before everything around here went to hell in a hand basket. So I will make that my last board for awhile. (Yes, I know. I can't be trusted with that promise even when the family is in dire financial straits!)

Will the water be clean by Friday? The County's website suggests that the water is clean already. Now that I've experienced the joys of dirty water (i.e., the nasty sinus infection I got from our world class point break earlier this year), I'm in no rush to tempt fate after it rains. Maybe I'll wait until Saturday just to be on the safe side.

Presidential Election Dance Party!

04 November 2008

President-Elect Obama

It Took an Hour and a Half!

The front of the line (6:45 a.m.)

The middle of the line (6:45 a.m.)

The rest of the line (6:55 a.m.)

Don't anyone ever say that black folks don't vote!

03 November 2008

Magic 8 Ball

Is there a surf mat in my future?

02 November 2008

McCain Supporter Has Lost Her Damn Mind!


Next year, when kids come to our door, I'm going to ask, "Do you surf a longboard or a shortboard?" When they tell me they don't surf at all, I'm going to yell "Kooks!" and slam the door. I'll only give candy to the children of surfers. And since this is a black neighborhood, that means I won't be giving any candy out at all. Hmph! I guess that'll show them!

01 November 2008

Rain, Rain! Come Again?

It rained while I was out in the lineup today. There's something about surfing in the rain that I enjoy. Mind you, I won't paddle out after a measurable rain. That's just asking for trouble. But when you're sitting out there on your board and the clouds open up with a good torrent, it's wonderful thing.

While I was at the spot leaning against my car and watching the water before the session, a cyclist rode past and stopped. Then I heard her call out my name. A blast from the past. I remembered her face. I didn't have the nerve to tell her I couldn't remember her name. She said the last time we'd seen one another was about 10 years ago. She said she remembered us tag teaming on rides (i.e., working together to wear out the rest of the people—mainly guys—with whom we were riding). I acted like I remembered that. (Do you see why I keep a blog? My memory is horrible.) She said she wasn't sure if it was me standing there by the car. But our cycling friends told her I'd stopped racing and was now a surfer. So, when she saw this black chick at a surf spot, she thought it might be me. We talked for awhile, about 20 minutes. During that time, the tide still hadn't dropped to my liking. Since my window of opportunity was rather small, I paddled out anyway. I'd have to settle for whatever I could get.

The waves were backing off something fierce today. I was already sore from swimming and lifting. That soreness isn't bothersome when the waves have some size; bigger waves require less paddling. Today's waves lacked the juice I needed to make this a physically easy session. I was forced to work for every wave I got. That's fine. I got out of the water tired. I need to work off much of this anger I'm carrying around as a result of stuff that's happening out of the water. Unfortunately, surfing can't make it all better. Surfing ain't my mama. I will admit, though, that I consider it a good friend.