28 February 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It?

Sitting quietly in the back, the sandy back, of the car.

Preparing to launch an assault on the dirt trail down to TPWSRN.

I wore two different pairs of Vans yesterday. One pair escorted me to my surfing destination. The other pair took me down the trail and across the rocks. That second pair, in all of its tattered glory, patiently waited on the shore while I did some much-needed sliding. Once I was done, I shoved my cold, wet feet back into them, making my way back up the trail and, ultimately, to the car to get dressed and put on the first pair.

Which pair do you think I like best?

You're right. And I'm not ready to part with them just yet. I've got another pair of too-jacked-up-to-wear-out-and-about Authentics waiting to take their job, but I swear I won't give up on these once-brown Vans until they let me know they're ready to depart this mortal coil.

In other news, there is no other news. I am a full-blown weekend warrior now. I am having a new board made. I'm also going to resurface the mini ramp with Skatelite Pro. That will allow me to get my (quiet) skate on once Daylight Savings Time hits. Right now, I come home from work, deal with dinner and that's about it. It's too dark to go outside and play. But summer is coming. And play I will. In my Vans. Of which I currently own seven pairs.

That is all.

26 February 2011

Guest Blogger #8: Steiny

I don't even know where to begin. It was the name of his blog, Harmless Neighborhood Eccentric, that first caught my attention. How can one say so much in just three words? When you go to his blog, it gets even better. The brother doesn't say anything. That is to say, he generally doesn't write anything other than titles for his posts. Everything else . . . is visual stimulation. But it's not just the pictures. There are many blogs out there with pretty surfing pictures. Who doesn't love a pretty picture of the beach, waves, hills and the like? Well, this still isn't one of those blogs. It's that the pictures are fascinating; they often have little or nothing to do with surfing. I guess I love Steiny's blog because you never know what you're going to read (in his post titles) or see. His blog is true genius. I swear, I will spend a good five minutes thinking about the few words he writes before each entry. I mean, I will just sit here contemplating how perfect that are.


between grief and nothing, i'll take grief

this individualism thing has gotten way out of control-what about community and taking care of each other? (i got barreled today)

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness


He wrote a few words about himself when he sent me a bunch of photos for this post. This, my friends, is today's guest blogger:

my name is jonathan steinberg, my friends call me steiny. i live on the westside of santa cruz. i am a small wave hellman and harmless neighborhood eccentric.

Steiny sent me pictures for his guest post. Dammit, he didn't send me a title for the post. So, since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I'm going to do the title myself . . . Steiny style.

a junkie walking through the twilight, i'm on my way home--I left three days ago but no one seems to know I've gone

24 February 2011

My Mat Article (from TheIntertia.com)


I’m black, I’m female and I surf. When I paddle out at a spot where people don’t know me, I’m met with stares, silent curiosity, whispering and, ultimately, smiles. Those reactions used to unnerve me when I first started surfing. Over the years, I’ve gotten to the place where I don’t always notice the reactions of others when I enter the water.

Then I started riding a mat. (Cue every surfer within a 200 yard radius turning to see who I am and what exactly I think I’m doing out there on that inflatable pool toy.)

It’s difficult to know where to begin a conversation about mats. Does one continue to invoke the name of George Greenough, only to be met with blank stares from those who don’t know their surf history? Or does one just tell it like it is, knowing that those ubiquitous blank stares will always accompany the allure of the “magic towel”?

Simply put, I find riding the mat experientially more engaging than riding a surfboard. It’s difficult to explain, but I will make a feeble attempt at enlightening the uninitiated. (Yes, I know my education is showing. I’ll put it away now.)

Whenever I’m on a mat, I can’t help but think, “This shit is so much fun!” The mat is a game-changer. When my favorite winter spot decided that it wanted to fill itself with thick beds of kelp that prevented anyone from going left at all (which is a nightmare when you’re a goofy who had always celebrated collecting all of the lefts since most people who surfed there felt the right was a better wave), I was heartbroken. The rights soon became a crowded mess; paddle battles became the norm for a right that was surfable, but littered with kelp nonetheless.

It was that spot that turned me into a bona fide rider of surf mats. After trying to surf a board at this spot a few times this winter, I publicly lamented the situation there (“publicly” meaning on Facebook, of course). A very smart man said, “Ride your mat.” Ride my mat? But the lineup is too far from the shore. I’ll never make it out there. And I don’t even know how to really ride this thing. People will laugh. My excuses were many.

Finally, a day came when I arrived at this break only to spy one person in the water. I could take a board into the small takeoff zone and go right for a couple of hours. Then again, I could take my mat into the kelp and go whichever way I chose, knowing all of those waves would be mine regardless of how many people with boards eventually showed up. The decision was an easy one, and my life as a rider of waves changed for the better after that session. My mind was blown. I likened the way I felt after that session to how Timothy Leary must have felt after his first acid trip.

That was the day when I finally got what riding a mat was all about. That was the day when I was blessed with the time and the space to ride prone on waves with wide open faces. That was the day I saw the ocean like I’d never seen it before.

These days, I ride the mat at any spot that looks good to me. It’s not uncommon for me to begin my sessions on a surfboard, but finish them on a mat. This seems to amuse people. Well, I’m amused by it myself. I seem to easily divide my loyalties between my surfboards and my mats. When I’m standing on a surfboard, I am the queen of all I survey. I am surfer, hear me roar as I (usually) stand above the waves that do my bidding. On a mat, though, I am almost a part of that wave. I’m neither looking down nor looking up. I’m looking straight ahead, watching the wave form, feeling it contort, picking up speed and grinning from ear to ear.

I’m not trying to convert anyone to our almost secretive society of mat riders. I ride mats for reasons that I still can’t fully explain with the spoken or written word. The one thing I can say unequivocally is that riding a mat is the closest I’ve come to having a transcendent experience while surfing a wave. The experience is one that a surfboard can’t replicate. Ever. So, please, don’t laugh at me and my mat, and I won’t laugh at you and your surfboard.

21 February 2011

She Who Would not be Denied

After saying I wouldn't get in the water after all of the rain we had late last week, I did get in the water. Mind you, I won't paddle out into dirty water. Ever. I know many others who do, whether they be weekend warriors or those who can surf whenever they please. I'm not willing to throw caution to the wind. I tend to be cautious by nature anyway. I don't know what it means to act impulsively. Just about everything I do has been thought out ahead of time. This is probably one of the blessings that comes from my complaint about inability to get out of my own head at will. I think about everything. So when unexpected situations arise, I'm rarely surprised or caught off guard.

I was prepared to suffer through a dry weekend . . . until I awoke to sunshine on Sunday morning. The sun calls to me as much as the ocean does: "Surfsister . . . come out to plaaa-aaay!!" Hmmm. Sun is out. Rain has abated. Could it be possible that the surf is up at TPWSRN? I checked the only cam I trust. It's also the only one I pay for. I trust it because it gives a nice, clear picture of the ocean. Granted, it provides views of breaks nowhere near where I planned to surf, but it will give me what I need most: swell direction and tide. Once I saw that there was some NW swell in the water, I decided it would be worth it to check TPWSRN. That break, even after it rains, remains clean. It isn't spotless, but it does maintain a passing grade (usually a B or a C) because it receives no run-off from L.A. I decided I would go take a look.

I didn't take a surfboard. If the spot had anything, it was going to have to accommodate me and the mat. Why? Well, the dirt trail was sure to be muddy and slippery. (Remember, I'm always in my head and had thought about this.) I could just envision myself falling after my shoes caked with so much mud that they could no longer provide proper traction. Then, of course, that made me worry that I could potentially ding both myself and a board. My irritation with a dinged board far outweighs my fear about dinging myself. You know that, right? It just seemed like the mat was a better choice given all of the variables.

As is typical, it was sunny and warming up when I left my house to go check the spot. Once I got to TPWSRN, I was met with a biting wind and cloudy skies. But I saw waves, even with the tide coming up. I saw waves. There were a few people in the water trying to get what they could. That's enough for me. I saw waves I could ride.

The trail was muddy. My shoes got caked with more mud than I thought one pair of zombie apocalypse-ready Vans could handle. I did not fall. I'd promised myself that if there was trash all over the shore, I wouldn't get in. That's usually a sign, no matter what the beach, of serious run-off and serious pollution. At least, that's a clear sign when you're at L.A. beaches. Much to my delight, the shore, as usual, was clean.

I blew up the mat, donned my fins and got wet!! There wasn't a lot to catch due to the rising tide. Still, I was able to get a few. One of them was an absolute screamer that had me grinning ear-to-ear during the ride as well as the kick/paddle back out to the lineup. I'm always happy to get wet, but there are those sessions when one wave makes it all worthwhile. That was the wave.

I don't know how many waves I caught. It really doesn't matter. I don't keep score. A week's worth of stoke was mined though. That's all I was trying to do.

(This post was written from my desk at work. In terms of work for today? I've got nothin'. So here I sit, telling myself to hang tough because they're still paying me to write. It's hard though. But here I will stay until it's time to cut out.)

19 February 2011

Making the Transition

This is what I've been doing for the last two weeks. I've had to completely change the way I live my life. Two weeks ago, it was all about surfing, all about skating, all about writing about surfing, all about surfboards, all about surf blogs, etc.

I liked that life for the most part. I miss it, of course, but now that I've gotten a paycheck, I know I'm doing what needs to be done for the time being. This is the most money anyone has ever paid me to do anything. I didn't even ask for this amount. I would have been satisfied with less because, truly, I'm not that into the money and I don't have expensive tastes in anything but surfboards. I just need enough to pay the bills. I can now pay the bills. And that is a relief.

Still, the loss of free time, the loss of play time, is what's made the transition hard for me. When the sun is out, my body (and mind) believes it should be outside. Instead, I'm sitting in front of a computer. The good thing is that my company allows me to do what I want while I wait for work to either come across my desk or my screen. Therefore, I'm free to write about surfing, read about surfing and do as much of my thing as I can do while sitting down in a building to which I must give eight hours or more of my time five days a week. I am grateful for that. Last week, I finally finished an article I'd started about riding mats. When it goes live on the site to which I sent it, I will also post it here. So, the way I see it, I got paid to write.

I got my first paycheck. It was for one week of work. The word "stoked" doesn't begin to describe how I felt when I opened the envelope. I tell myself every day that I've got to stick it out for a year. In the meantime, I've got to figure out how to survive without having to sit behind a desk. This is why it's hard to live the life so many of us enjoy. Unless you're independently wealthy, you can only live so long as a free surfer or free skater before you're forced back into the working world. If I only had myself to think of, I'd do what I want. But I have a child whom I love dearly. We only get one chance to do the parenting thing right. The right thing for me, at this point in my life, is to ensure that his needs (emotionally, educationally, nutritionally and, eventually, orthodontically) are met. He is my world. So, I'm happy to be able to make some good money for awhile. And who knows? I may actually come to like this job and learn how to work it into my life as a surfer/skater. I already stroll in there at 9:30 every morning . . . and people still arrive later than that. (You've gotta love the fashion industry!!) Dawn patrol will certainly be a valid option once the daylight permits.

In other news, it rained for the last few days. No surfing for me this weekend. Oh well.

14 February 2011

This is How You Treat Your Board (and Your Car)?

Who sticks the board out of the sunroof when the vehicle is easily big enough to accommodate shoving the board inside (by putting down the seats)? And who sticks a board out of the sunroof anyway? (Shaking my head.) I got a strong whiff of the K-word when I saw this disaster rolling down PCH.

13 February 2011

Threading the Needle

Once you become a weekend warrior, you appreciate your sessions that much more. I was always happy that I could surf. Every day I surfed was a day for being thankful. Now that I can only surf on the weekends, seemingly mediocre conditions are fine with me. Crowded conditions? Hey, at least I can just get wet and keep my gills from drying out.

I surfed RPB this weekend because just about everything else was flat. When I looked at the cam yesterday morning, I saw lines. They weren't big lines. "Epic" was not part of the vocabulary for this weekend. However, I wanted to be in the water. Had it been flat, I would have sat there, happily reflecting on nothing in particular.

Well, I found waves. Where they came from, I have no idea. Sunshine. Warm weather. Waves. Familiar, smiling faces. That's what I experienced on Saturday. I turned to someone and said, "This is the best session ever!!!" She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. I guess I had. I was that happy to be in the water.

This picture from yesterday's session caught my attention when I first saw it. It's not because I'm threading the needle; I had no intention of running over the back of that old man's board or of decapitating Tae. What I find interesting is that I'm surfing differently as a result of, one, riding a mid-sized hull and, two, riding a skateboard. I'm beginning to surf off my front foot. I initially thought I must have been preparing to cross-step, but then I remembered that I don't cross-step in a situation like; I wait until there's no one around for me to run over . . . or spear . . . or decapitate. I was certainly surfing off of the front foot.

Sunday? Same beach, but it was pointless. The waves weren't consistent. The wind got on it. The crowd got on it. Oh well. I was still happy to paddle out. I'll be stuck behind desk a for the next five days. Now that's the routine that can get old while surfing goes back to being the thing that excites my stoke. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

12 February 2011

Has the Fabulousness of It All Rubbed Off on Me Yet?

I don't think so. I think I've got better things to do than worry about my clothes, my hair, my makeup and the like. The dreadlocks are still in full effect—sun-bleached and all over the place. My clothes are clean and somewhat stylish (as I had to do some serious shopping before I started this job), but that's all you get from me.

Basically, I kick ass at what I do. Period. I've never had a career. I don't believe in them. I'm not capable of staying in one job for a long period or of looking at the same walls for decades. Of all the jobs I've had, I will say that proofreading has always been the one I didn't hate. I can hang out and proofread for a year or two at just about any place. That is my goal here. And that's my only goal. They asked that I stay for a year or two. That's what I plan to do. After that? Who knows. Then again, if they are cool, I might stay longer. I don't foresee that though; I've never held one job for more than two years.

Anyway, I'm now making the transition from full-time free surfer to weekend warrior. It hasn't been difficult. No one was paying me to surf, so although my sessions were many, I could not ignore my concerns about the future. Once I got the job, I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief. I'm not fond of full-time work; I am fond of paying the bills. And that I can do now. Besides, surfing—like anything else—isn't always fun if you do it too often. It becomes routine. That's probably why I'd started going to the skatepark. It's why Joel Tudor started practicing jiu jitsu. Human beings need balance.

I had a good, long run of surfing for a good, long time. When I'm able to do dawn patrol, I will certainly do it about once a week. In the meantime, I'm staying in the pool and the weight room in order to stay fit for weekend warrior surfing.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm still fabulous . . . in my own inimitable way. I'll let the youngsters concern themselves with fashion. I, in the meantime, will sit at my desk with my shoes kicked off, dreadlocks in my face and my iPod on (because, really, I don't want to hear the word "like" used more than 10 times in one sentence again—"I was, like, you know, like, talking to them about Runway, like, every day and, like, it was just, like, pointless to keep talking since, like, we have another, like, next week and . . . .").

Promise to catch a wave for me when you paddle out. I would appreciate that. And I'll be around updating the blog. I just took a break this week since it was my first week and the kid was home sick with the flu all week.

What's that you say? Well, of course I'm already beginning discussions about having a new board shaped. I can do for myself while I pay the bills, can't I?

04 February 2011

Fancy That

In a matter of three days, I went from gainfully unemployed with no prospects to an offer of full-time employment. I heard about this job, via word of mouth, on Wednesday afternoon. I contacted the company on Thursday morning. I was emailed a test, a hard as $#^%!@#! test, on Thursday afternoon. I sent it back a few hours later. They called before the day was out and asked me to come in for an interview. I went in this morning. I interviewed with two people. I got home around noon. At 3, they called to offer me the position. I start work on Monday.

My head is still spinning.

Yes, there's a reason why I've put this picture in this post.

Those of you who know me or have met me know I'm not exactly a fashion plate. I'm quite happy in my jeans, tank tops and Vans.

So how on earth did I land a job in fashion? I'm so ignorant when it comes to fashion that I was not even familiar with this company. Of course, when I told others about where I'll be working, they flipped.

Expect some serious Ugly Betty moments.

03 February 2011

Leroy Grannis (1917-2011)

(Sheepishly) You're Turning My Head!!

Year Of The Rabbit
Zodiac gift items available at the Gallery Shop

1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.

I'll get back to talking about surfing shortly. There's not much going on with respect to that of late. I have been surfing, but have nothing to report. Well, I must say that Big Red (that behemoth of a station wagon I bought) easily fits my 7 foot hull when the rear seat is folded down. This car is a boat!! I love it!!!