30 September 2009

Guest Blogger #2: Kyle Lightner

I could talk about both Kyle the man and Kyle the photographer all day long. I think the former is the most passionate person I've ever known—and we've yet to meet in person. Kyle the photographer is an enigma. While most of the photographic world is going digital, Kyle remains devoted to film. He does shoot digital photos when necessary, but his heart belongs to the darkroom and the Polaroid. His personal blog is a wonder. That's the only way I can describe it. The surf blogging world should also be thanking him for the wonderful Grass is Greener blog. See? I'm already going on and on about this cat. I'll stop now. I'll let his work speak for itself.

28 September 2009

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

I attract them like moths to a flame, like flies to you know what. It.never.fails.

I surfed a local localized break today. Prior to the knee replacement, I'd surfed this break all of one time. Call me a wimp. In many ways I am one. I don't deny that when it comes to surfing with the overly aggressive. The place always scared me. I'd heard too much, read too much, thought too much, and knew I never wanted to go back there.

Since the knee replacement, I've been there three times. When I got there today, it was somewhat crowded. My first inclination was to leave.

I stayed. And I surfed. I left Surfsister the Shrinking Violet in the car. Surfsister the Bionic was the one who paddled out. My first wave started with a paddle battle. Normally, I won't battle. Today was different. I was in no mood to give up waves. My wave! So I kept paddling. I popped up. Then I gave the stinkeye to two guys who wanted to drop in. I wasn't having any of that today. My wave!

It was a good session for my confidence at unfamiliar breaks if nothing else.

After the session, a guy beamed when he saw me emerge from the water. He greeted me as if we knew one another. Interesting, I thought. I don't normally surf there. So how did he know me?

Once I got to the car, the guy waited for Soul Brother #2 to walk away before he approached me. He extended his hand. I shook it.

"You are probably the most beautiful woman I've seen in a long time. I just had to come over and tell you that." I was gracious in my reply.

(Sigh) I'm not lying when I tell you I think the guy was blind in one eye. He was slurring his words and I swear I detected a missing tooth or two. Upon returning to the car, Soul Brother #1 told me he'd seen the guy approach me. Once I described my admirer to him, he was laughing too hard to do the jealous husband bit. Then he gave me a sincere compliment—smart man—and we left.

27 September 2009

The Kook Magnet

I'm up and riding. Once again, I'm holding a high line. Then it happens. He paddles right into me. Boards meet. I'm taken down rather spectacularly as his board comes between me and my leash. We were so tangled up that I had to remove my leash in order to disentangle myself from him. (We introduced ourselves after all of this. His name was Nick, by the way.)

Alan, I'm laying claim to the kook magnet. I swear my magnetic personality has them all over me.

26 September 2009

How to Surf the Home Break Closeouts

On days like this one, I can't help but question my willingness to believe those who say things like, "In another hour, it will be all time." I, and others, gave it another hour. This is how our session on Thursday looked. We were met with one closeout after another. The tide filled in. The waves kept closing out. Such is my home break.

23 September 2009

Go Ahead—Paddle Right Into Me!

As I was watching him paddle right into the line I was taking, I was thinking he wasn't stupid enough or kooky enough to do it. I was mistaken.

22 September 2009

Knee Replacement: Five Months Later

I'm not even keeping track anymore. I'm too busy living. I'm only doing this post because I know people are searching for any information they can find about knee replacement and recovery.

So, how am I doing? Well, I surfed on Thursday. I surfed on Friday. I was Mommy all day on Saturday. I surfed Sunday. I surfed Monday. I surfed today. I plan to surf again tomorrow. In other words, I'm doing well, I think. I'm surfing. I can ride a bike. However, I've found that the stopping and starting involved in riding in the city hurts too much. I've also developed a bit of tendonitis in my ankle from having to ride with my foot in an awkward position during the months when I could only sit on the trainer with a knee that didn't want to bend. Those were the months when I first couldn't get the pedals all the way around and then, when I could, I had to force it. I am certain that the tendonitis will right itself if I limit my cycling for now. As for the surfing, other than the fact that bending the knee past a certain point hurts like hell, all is well.

On Monday, after getting Soul Brother #2 off to school, I went to my brutal massage therapy session. Then I surfed for an hour and a half. That was subsequently followed by a one hour walk with the dog. The day ended with me doing my normal things: homework, dinner, dishes. In other words, I had a full day. My knee hurt, but the pain is now more of an ache. It's a sharp pain only when I try to force the bend. Today, I got the little man off to school, drove to San O, walked the dog, surfed, drove back, lifted weights and then did the "normal things" once again.

I can run. Two weeks ago, I couldn't think about running. Now, if I need to run across a street because the light is changing, I can do it. I do squats with low weight. There is pain in the region of the patella. However, it's not a serious pain. I'm not pushing myself too much. I feel like my level of activity is just right. I'm basically back to where I was prior to surgery. There is still stiffness if I sit or stand too long. That wears off once you start walking around.

I'm not sure what to say about the knee these days. I know it's there. I'm no longer miserable though.

I spend more time showing off the scar than I do thinking about the pain.

I like being bionic.

20 September 2009

Blast It!!!

I spent part of this beautiful afternoon mining stoke. In other words, I watched Invasion! From Planet C. How best to describe this film? Hmmm, you've got me there. It defies description. Did I get it? No. Did I enjoy it? Very much so. Perhaps there was nothing to get. I know it had something to do with aliens coming to earth to mine stoke. (Shrugs shoulders and shakes head) The surfing footage was great. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

I thought I should see Invasion! From Planet C before Jazz the Glass is released. I felt I needed to get into Mike Black's head.

Once you've seen one of his films, you realize that's a fun place to hang out.

18 September 2009

The Everybody-Shake-Off-the-Work-Week Dance Party

The title doesn't apply to me since I ain't got no gig. I do remember throwing dance parties for one at my last job. Humans weren't meant to sit quietly behind a desk for eight hours a day. I know this human wasn't (meant to sit quietly behind a desk for eight hours a day, that is). The first few times my boss caught me having a dance party, I was embarrassed. I eventually got over it. He'd walk by and I'd stop, wait for him to leave, then start dancing again, knowing he'd turn around to see if I'd do it. What? Were they going to fire me for dancing? That wasn't likely since I was good at my job. This one's for all of you who are finished for the week. It's time to shake a tail feather!

17 September 2009

Moving On

After posting about how much distress the new knee was causing me, I moved on. I always do. I hate stasis, especially when it relates to me being in a bad mood. Perhaps part of the moving on is the result of the surfing epiphany I had while having sex.* (Yeah, I said it out loud.)

Anyway, I'll work around the knee and its limitations. As El Hefe advised, I will continue to surf, lift and workout as I have in the past. The knee will eventually catch up to me.

This morning I ventured to a local break that I normally avoid like the plague. The lore surrounding this place keeps me from surfing there. I went there nevertheless. I promised myself after the surgery that I'd start surfing breaks that are unfamiliar to me. So when someone suggested that I head up to this spot for a session, I went. (Yes, T, I'm talking about your spot.)

A good time was had by one and all. Aside from the fact that I ran over a rock, my session was great. I got vibed by a couple of locals, but the session ended with one of them being downright nice and polite, saying he'd see me again. Was that an invitation to return?

I'm paddling out again tomorrow. Because I can.

* This uncanny ability of mine to do the deed and while pondering the state of world affairs was explained in an article I read recently: "Women are consummate multitaskers, and society rewards this ability." Women have become good at doing a million things at once—talking on the phone, cooking dinner, watching TV, reading a magazine—that it often becomes hard to slow it down or turn it off during sex and just enjoy the moment.

I must admit, though, that I was enjoying the moment AND thinking about surfing.
Hey, don't judge. Your women do it too.

16 September 2009

The Bionic Knee Blues

I'm not even feeling this bionic thing of late. The pain is just that. A pain.

When I ride my bike, it hurts. When I try to crouch on a surfboard, it hurts. I'm not talking about that achy, dull pain we all get with age. This is curse out your mama pain.

Then I ask myself all kinds of questions that get me nowhere. Will it always hurt like this? Will I ever be able to crouch down, even if it's only a slight crouch? Who invented scar tissue and why hasn't that person been put in front of a firing squad? Should I make tacos or turkey burgers for dinner?

I'm well aware that I'm only five months out. The soft tissue is still healing. I've read of people who gained range of motion many months after surgery. I'm praying I'll be one of them. I'm not asking for much. I just want to bend down low (as Bob Marley would sing). I'll even settle for bending down lowish. Low-like? Okay, lowly.

I'm still grateful for this surgery. Without it, I'd be doomed. My scar tissue problems have little or nothing to do with the new knee. They are the result of the second surgery on the joint, the one where I spent an entire summer in a full leg cast before being sent back to school with a minimal amount of physical therapy and no information about the importance of regaining as much bend as possible.

I can't change the past. Therefore, I don't dwell on it.

I suppose my surfing style (if I even have any) will change accordingly. If I can't bend much, I'll deal with that. But I won't stop trying for more.

14 September 2009

Guest Blogger #1: Whiffleboy

This guy is the reason why I started blogging. If this was an episode of True Blood, I suppose I'd consider Whiff my "maker". Years ago I saw a little blurb on Surfline that highlighted the "Blog of the Week" or something to that effect. His was the blog that was mentioned first, I think. Once I started reading his blog, I realized I wanted to write one of my own. I love Whiff's sense of humor as well as his candor. When he agreed to do a guest post, I said his would be the first. Thanks, Whiff!

I'd like to thank Surfsister for offering up a guest blogger spot to little old me. I'm not worthy and, after you read this, you'll agree.

So I've been at this surfing thing here in Los Angeles for about 7 years now. In retrospect, that's a lot of time invested in what amounts to about 45 seconds worth of actually standing up and riding the face of a wave, but, that's just the way it is. Anyway, I thought I'd share with you a quick guide to surfing in Los Angeles in case you decide you want to take it up or, if you're a visiting surfer, decide to give one of our beautiful lackluster breaks a shot:

  • Shit before you go. If the restrooms aren't locked due to traditional vandalism, they've been vandalized in other, more disgusting, fecal-type ways. Besides...you don't want to disturb the guy getting the blow job in the next stall.
  • If you can't find the syringe you think you just stepped on in the sand, it didn't happen. You're good to go.
  • Parking is at a premium. That is, if you go along with that whole "no parking at any time" bullshit signage.
  • There are no locals from the Valley. Look at a map. At least that's what the dude from Pasadena told me.
  • Generally speaking, the only shoulder you'll see on our waves is the one on the guy who just dropped in on you.
  • "Fair+" = "Shitty" anywhere else.
  • It's inappropriate to hum "Been Caught Stealin'" while sharing the lineup with Perry Farrell. He really doesn't think it's cute.
  • Please refrain from using the term "crowded lineup" until the Fire Marshall is finished doing a headcount.
  • If you accidentally threw away your winning lottery ticket, wait till the next rain and retrieve it from the lineup.
  • All secret spots in Los Angeles are located along Dockweiler Beach.
  • Jesus would not SUP. Neither should you.

See you in the lineup.


12 September 2009

Guest Bloggers

It's an idea whose time has come . . . again. I'll be having other bloggers do some writing on my blog. Why?

Well, why not? I think leaving the comfort zone of one's own blog to talk story on someone else's is, in many ways, cathartic for the blogger, the blog creator and the audience. I was a guest on someone else's blog years ago. I ended up talking about things I never would have mentioned on my own blog.

Some of the guest bloggers will post under their own blogger pseudonyms. Others will remain anonymous. I'll leave it up to each person to decide what he or she wants to do.

I continue to work on strengthening the muscles that support the bionic knee. I've got a long way to go. Sometimes the knee feels great. Then there are the days when it hates me. I don't hate it though. Aside from the fact that I can't crouch (and haven't comfortably crouched for over 20 years), I'm content. My arthritis pain is long gone. My surgical pain remains. I'm able to ignore it for the most part. People tell me that I won't even remember any of this pain a year from now. Who knows? I may even be able to do a slight crouch by then. You know, for all of those baby tubes I surf so effortlessly.

09 September 2009

Best Mat Session Ever!

I still can't ride a mat to save my life. Who cares? I enjoy it more than any of my other water activities. Riding a mat is a true treat.

My surf mobile is down for the count. She's near the end of her days. The mechanic said we can keep her alive for another year for $1200 or give her a transplant that would keep her going for much longer . . . $3400. I opted for the former. Why am I even talking about this? Oh yeah. Since my car is down, I have no way to transport surfboards to the beach. I don't need no stinkin' surfboard to enjoy myself in the waves. That's why I have a mat.

I got a few bona fide rides today. Something has definitely changed since the knee replacement. This is actually my first mat session without knee pain. None. It was also the first time I felt like I was actually reading the waves while riding the mat. Unfortunately, I still can't turn very well. Pranaglider, KenDog and the others need not worry about me snaking their waves. I look down the line. I think, "Turn!" I always think I'm turning, but somehow I'm not. I can't quite make it happen. I'm still relatively new at this. I've got fewer than 10 mat sessions under my fins.

I did learn a thing or two today. Notice in the third picture my elbow is sticking out. Wrong!! I know it's said you've got to keep the elbows on the mat. Now I know why. While I was on this wave, I did manage to get that elbow into the water (which probably means I did manage some kind of turn). The mat immediately lost a great deal of speed. Nooooo!! You don't want to lose speed. One of the joys of riding a mat is the speed. Let this be a lesson to us all. Elbows in!!!

That was way too much fun!

08 September 2009

The I'm-Not-Ashamed-to-Admit-I-Love-Three-Dog-Night Dance Party

The Soul Brothers and I happened upon a used record store on Saturday. As far as I was concerned when I left, I'd totally scored. I'd gotten a PiL album (old but new), a Chicago album and a Three Dog Night album of greatest hits. I've loved TDN since I was a kid. As an adult, I'm finally admitting it to the world. Their music always made me stop and think. If I wasn't thinking, I was happily singing about Jeremiah being a bullfrog or asking how your light shines in the halls of Shambala. Check out the funky duds in the this video. Yikes!! The 70's live!

07 September 2009

Like Manna From Heaven

It's not every day that a Paul Gross hull practically falls in your lap. I wasn't looking to expand the quiver (again!!) just yet, but when asked if I wanted to buy it, I couldn't turn it down. I mean, c'mon, it's a Paul Gross hull. Brand new. There are certain names that are synonymous with hulls. His is one of them.

Dear Scott,

Your loss is my gain. Thank you for not to taking this board. It's mine now. If you ever see it again, I'll be riding the shit out of it!

Love, Surfsis

Yes, T, I am a board whore. Call me that all you want. Just don't refer to me as a "bitch" or a "ho". But "board whore"? Yeah, that's me.

06 September 2009

Do You See Yourself in Other Surfers?

Were someone to pose that question to me, saying I should answer spontaneously, I would probably admit that "No, I don't see myself in other surfers." I do see other women in the water. I sometimes see other black folks in the water. It's rare that I see other black women in the water. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It's just a thing. When I paddle out, I expect to be stared at. A black woman who surfs is certainly an anomaly. I got over being stared at years ago. The way I see it, the more you stare, the easier it is for me to take your wave. Period. But, as usual, I digress.

Why do I bring this up?

On Friday morning, I met up with three other black female surfers for a session. Yep. Four black chicks in the water at one time, surfing together and throwing it down. I was one of those chicks and I was taken aback by the sight of the four of us sharing a peak.

I prefer not to bring my feelings about race, racism and the like into my surf blog. I've got another blog for those discussions. (Yeah, I know I haven't written in it since November of 2008. We were busy dealing with the layoff, prostate cancer, dead dog and knee replacement. I needed to take a break from personal, often painful, reflections about race.) However, Friday's session forced me to consider how my race, my gender and my surfing intersect.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos. That's some nappy headed hos there. . . . The girls from Tennessee, they all look cute. Kind of like a Spike Lee thing. Jigaboos versus the Wannabes."

Tattoos, huh? I sport five of them. Nappy hair? Call it what you may. I proudly wear my hair in its natural state, free of straightening chemicals and untouched by straightening combs. Hos? Jigaboos? White women face gender bias too, but not to this extent.

"Why are Black people not good swimmers? Because they don't have all the buoyancy."

This stereotype gnaws at me every time I get in the water, whether in a pool or the ocean. I know what people are thinking. Even when they're not thinking it, I know it's in the backs of their minds. You think I'm paranoid, don't you? Try being black for just one day. Then talk to me about the feelings you can't explain, feelings that you know you should dismiss but time and experience have taught you to listen to if only for the sake of safety (when in the presence of strangers).

I can't fuck no head doctor
I don't give a fuck even if the bitch is proper
She might be cute, she might be thick
but she will get G'd if she don't suck dick

There's no need for me to identify these lyrics. I'm sure anyone who reads them can identify the genre of music from which such words stem. The speaker is a black male. And the woman in question? What do you think she looks like? Am I being too sensitive when I say these brothers act like that's all we're good for?

Four black women in the water. Throwing it down.


Despite the fact that black people can't swim. In spite of the fact that some take liberties in their generalizations of who we are and what we do.

Four black women surfing.

On that day, I did indeed see myself in Andrea, Suyen and Delila.

Four black women.


01 September 2009

I Still Rip!!



It was small and strange today, alternating between glassy and Victory at Sea, offshore and side shore. It was a day to fool around with a surfboard. I don't know that you could call what we were doing actual surfing.

I swam a lot. Since the bend in my knee is limited, I don't even try to hang onto the board once the ride is over. At Malibu, yes. At the home break, no. As usual, the bumps masquerading as waves would show a little shoulder before turning into mushy little closeouts.

I still find this kind of session fun. Water is water. A wave, even a small one, is still a wave if you can stand up and ride it on a surfboard.