31 March 2011

The Mental Health Day

I took the day off yesterday. They think I took the kid to the doctor. I was, instead, taking a break from my place of employment. I've finally come to realize why it's as bad as it is. No one is in charge. The patients are running the asylum. Case in point, I entered the request for this day off into the company's internal timekeeping system. About 20 minutes later, I got an email from the former head of my group, the one who no longer works for the company. She asked me to inform IT that my request, and others, were going to her personal email. She doesn't even work for the company anymore!! When I realized that my request was not being seen by the proper eyes, I inquired as to who is in charge of my section and, thus, my boss. No one seemed to really know.

This is where I work.

So, I took a day. Football players take a knee. I took a day. Granted, I took a day when spring was upon us. In other words, the spring waves were upon us too. I always forget that the waves of spring are ones you have to grin and bear. Spring is when the ocean often takes its own break. And more power to you, Mother Ocean. It's not about us. Do what you have to do, even if it means giving us those sad little waves that make everyone go "Meh!"

What I found at the beach wasn't much to speak of, but being in the ocean with the mediocrity of it all was still preferable to sitting in the madhouse all day. I know the home break closeouts well. They are predictable and, on a smaller day, relatively harmless. Being in their presence made me smile.

In other news, I talked to Shaun Tomson on the phone yesterday! Wooooot!!

27 March 2011

When in Greenough Country . . . Ride Your Mat!!

I've been to Rincon on two occasions, both of which were to surf the Rincon Invitational. Last year, my first time there, we all got skunked. The waves were tiny, so I had no idea what all of the fuss about Rincon was about.

This year?

Color me initiated into the fold. I was at the Queen of the Coast, unafraid to curtsy or do whatever else was required to show my respect. What I saw there yesterday was a thing of beauty.

I'd tried to follow the forecasts and reports for a few days prior to the event, trying to decide which board to take. In the end, I decided the 8'0" Almond would be the only board I'd take since my space was limited. Heading up there with two boards was not an option.

Heading up there with one board, two mats and fins is always an option.


So, we get up there and I immediately run into Paul Tomson, my good friend from my home break. I love him to death, both in and out of the water. Before I know it, Paul's brother walks up. He and I have met before. And before I knew it, I was greeted by Shaun Tomson with a kiss! Well, I thought, the day can't get any better than this. I mean, I've had a crush on that man since I was a teenager.


Who knew there was much more joy to come?

As I said last year, the Rincon Invitational is a team-based event. The goal is to get as many people as possible, one one team, to share waves. That's a wonderful concept in knee high waves. In head high waves? Not so much. The beach was not closed to other surfers either, so it was a bit crowded out there. The more I looked at the wave and the crowd, the less inclined I was to paddle out on a surfboard. My mind was envisioning what that wave would be like on a mat. I was torn though. I asked a few people what I should do.

"Ride your board."

"Take your board."

(Shoulder shrug)

Eventually, I asked one of the locals, a guy we'd grabbed off the beach last year because our team didn't have enough people. He and I talked for a bit. Then I asked him whether I should ride the board or the mat.

He leaned in and spoke rather softly. Our faces were about an inch apart. We probably looked like we were sharing some intimate secret. I guess we were. He said something to the effect that if there was ever a day to experience the Rincon wave in all of its glory with relatively few people in the water, this was the day. I was certain he was going to say that this was my best chance to surf it on a good day on a board. And then he surprised me: "I would ride the mat."

He'd said what I wanted to hear in the way I wanted to hear it.

I can say more, but I'm unwilling to try to articulate something that defies description with the spoken or written word.

I will say that The Queen of the Coast loves the mat. I got the longest mat ride of my life on one of her waves. And when our heat was done, I gave up my rashguard, but opted to stay in the water. The inside waves further down the beach were calling to me. Although they were smaller than the main wave, their shape was just as good. When I saw my group get together on the beach for a picture, I didn't hesitate . . . to stay on my mat. I was quite content to be left out of the group shot if doing so allowed me more time with those waves. Eventually, though, I got called in to be a part of the picture. #$@#$%@! They were willing to wait for me. (sigh) So I got out and quickly jumped into the shot. By the time were were done, I realized I was cold and tired, and called it a day.

(This wave was so long that only a tiny snippet of it was filmed. Apparently, I went so far down the beach that it was pointless to keep shooting.)

animated gif maker
Animated gif maker

Life is better when you surf, whether it be on a surfboard or a mat or both.

24 March 2011

Sometimes I Hate Being in the Car

This was not one of those times. I was waiting for the tide to work its magic. And that it did.

I think I feel an unpaid day off coming soon.

Cos early morning sun and weekday dawn patrol sessions can't become a reality soon enough!

21 March 2011

Don't Be That Dude!

More Surfing Videos

20 March 2011

"Nobody Wants to Stay Here"

Words like that, especially when they support things I've seen and heard over the last month, are troubling. I think it was only a day or two earlier that I'd been told about the guy, a new hire who'd only been there a couple of weeks, who'd gone to lunch . . . and had never come back. What I found even more distressing is the fact that his work station is just as it was when he left. No one has touched it. Had I not been told of his departure, I would have sworn that he'd just stepped out for a bit. His notepad was still open to a page on which he'd written some things. His pen, with the cap off, was sitting next to it. He'd been gone at least a week.

This is where I work.

Since this is my blog, since this is my life, since this is a way for me to record events, I'm going to spend some time on the blog talking about this job. It's not that I'm trying to fill some space. No. I want to see how my own thought processes work. I already know that I'm not the type to ever have a career. Hell, if I stay in a job a year, that's saying something. This time, as with the last one, I'm not going to put all of the blame on myself. I need to be able to look back on this and laugh. Cos Lord knows I'm not laughing right now.

The first red flag, the one I wasn't sure how to interpret, was that I was hired with the request that I stay for a year. Huh? I didn't know what to make of it, but was actually excited that they were giving me an out at such time as I was ready to move on. Well, now I know why they asked me to stay a year. This place is so badly run and so dysfunctional that it's rare that people even make it through a year there. Most of the people with whom I work have been there for no more than six months. The woman who had been in charge of my department or section or whatever it is (since no one tells you who's in charge and I actually have no idea who my true boss is) just quit. She'd just started the job in December!!

When I made some complaints about my computer not working, and thus preventing me from doing my job, I was told not to complain. My supervisor said that there are too many complainers in the company, that she didn't want anyone on her team to be identified as one. Hmmmm. My complaint, and it's been the only complaint I've verbalized, was related to work and my inability to get it done. I think, in the sane world, people are allowed to do that, aren't they? And in the sane world, the supervisor sets things in motion that will fix the problem and allow the new hire to do what she was hired to do.

The thing that struck me finally was that this place has no retirement plan. Again, this has no bearing on me. I won't be there long enough for it to matter. But a company that doesn't have anything related to retirement is clearly one that could not care less about retaining employees. In fact, I think that's a sign that they don't want people to stay.

So, I am there getting a paycheck for awhile. It's my goal to make it through a year and then walk away. But there's no telling if I will even make it that long. One thing I've also heard is that being fired is also common here. I swear, if I wasn't in the middle of it, I'd find it all quite entertaining. However, I am in the middle of it. I've yet to be entertained. It's the kind of place where no one trains you and then you're criticized for not following the company standard for something. Then, when you say you want to meet to discuss that standard, all of a sudden you're given the paperwork necessary to do the job correctly. And guess what? That paperwork was created two years ago. And guess what? You've been there for a month. And guess what? No one gave it to you until you suggested that meeting.

This is where I work.

With that said, I ain't quittin'. We still need the money. I've already ordered a new, custom board (because I do support my local shapers--yes, that's a hint). I'm getting bills paid. I'm also squirreling away the money to resurface the ramp. After those things are paid for, I will start saving in earnest. I don't spend money on food when I'm at work. It's not worth it and I can bring food from home. I don't spend much money on clothes; right now, I've got enough clothes for work. This job is only about money. Now that I've seen what this place really is, I can and will simply slog it out.

Pray for surf. Pray for the Japanese. Pray for the Middle East. Pray for world peace. Smile often. Watch your back—especially at work. Surf like you mean it. And . . . go left for me!

19 March 2011

Waves for Japan

Yesterday, because it was Friday, my thoughts turned to surfing, specifically my surfing. I started thinking about my beloved custom Reunion wetsuits and decided I wanted one with a Japanese rising sun as a way to show solidarity with both the people of Japan and the surfers of Japan. Well, I can't get that wetsuit any time soon. However, I'm happy to report that Ryo, the owner of Reunion, is safe. He told me his family and friends are safe too. That is a relief, to say the least.

Anyway, I wanted to do something surf-related for Japan. I figured there couldn't possibly be much surfing going on over there now. And I sincerely doubt that anyone is feeling good about the ocean at this point. So, I decided I would catch waves for Japan. I'd get the waves that the Japanese surfers can't get (for obvious reasons).

Of course, the conditions were terrible. A storm is on the way. The tide was way too high in the morning. You know the drill. I would not be denied though. I watched the cam, waiting for something to catch my eye. When it finally did, I then had to decide about my wave-riding weapon of choice. A friend who'd surfed earlier at the home break had described the waves as "chunky". There was no good way to construe that. Watching the cam at a different break, the words "bumpy" and "lumpy" came to mind. I finally decided to leave the surfboards at home. I don't enjoy days like this one when I'm on a board. It would be the mat or nothing.

When I got to the beach, the waves did, in fact, look pretty bad. I didn't care. There was a lot of energy in the water. The shape could have been better, but it wasn't exactly horrible. It just wasn't good. You don't need good when you're doing a karma surf/mat session. All you really need is a wave to ride.

I'm happy to report that I mined 500 tons of stoke for the Japanese. And all of that stoke was for them.

In our next episode, I talk about coming to the realization that my new job is run by the insane, the disgruntled and the overly fashionable. I truly believe that. Will I last a year there? Those who know me well would say I won't. I say that I will. But who knows?

13 March 2011

You Know You're All Surfed Out When . . .

the post-surf 45 minute walk of the dog is torture. Normally, I do my workout and then walk the dog so that he gets a workout. We generally walk up hilly streets. It's rare that I consider our walks anything other than a break from my normal day. They're not workouts. They're just part of what I do each day (like the crunches I do each morning). Today? That walk just about did me in.

I think I surfed a little over two hours yesterday. Much to my surprise, the waves at RPB were working. I went back again today. I was under the impression that they'd turn on again. Well, initially they didn't. And I sat out there, wondering if I should have hit another spot. Then, they turned on in earnest. And they stayed on. I kept telling my friends that I had to get out, that my 80 year old mother must certainly be tired of an energetic 9-year-old. But the waves were just too consistent and too good. Each time I'd get a good one, I'd think of another reason to paddle back out. I can't end on that one since someone dropped in on me. I can't go in on that one because it wasn't a left. If I go in now, I'll kick myself for the rest of the week. I finally got to the point where I was getting cold. I got yet another good one and headed to the car.

Of course, once I was up there looking down at the break, I still wasn't ready to head home. The waves were finally showing some consistency, enough so that I couldn't take my eyes off them. Nope. I'm not going home now! The board was shoved into the car. Within a matter of minutes, I was back at the water blowing up my mat. About 30 minutes later, I emerged from the ocean with four mat waves under my belt. I'd spent close to four hours in the water today.

Apparently, people saw my car when they got there and noticed it was still there when they left. I received the following text:

Hey saw ur car at ss. U must have had a marathon session!

I only surf two days a week now. And I make it count!

Remember to be grateful for what you have. I have a home to go to. I have my health. I have my family intact. All of that could change at a moment's notice. Never forget that.




12 March 2011

For Japan

11 March 2011

There Are No Words

I take that back. I do have a few words.

Say a prayer for the Japanese. I'm not religious, so I don't pray. I do my own sending-of-good-karma-your-way kind of thing. But if you do pray, now is the time to put that energy to work.

Now I've got a message for Pat Robertson: Don't you dare say something stupid like you did when Haiti had its horrible earthquake. (And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal." And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.) In other words, keep your racist, jingoistic, God-loves-me-more-than-you mouth shut. Seriously. Shut. It!!

We must all live on this planet together. Let's keep the Japanese in our thoughts.

09 March 2011

Again, Big Red?

The first time I called for the tow truck, I'd been on my way home from Loyola Interiors. They'd replaced the headliner and carpet. As I was driving home, giddy with excitement about my big red boat, the "HOT" light came on and steam started pouring out from under the hood. One radiator and many hundreds of dollars later . . .

Today, I was driving home from work, giddy with excitement about being in my big red boat, thinking about how happy that car makes me. Then the "ALT" light came on and the car abruptly stopped. In the middle of the street. During rush hour. In the dark. Think about it—it's not like there are any hazard lights on this thing. Push it out of the way? With what? My Superman-like powers of mental telepathy? I think not. I just sat there. I called home. I called Triple A. And then I sat there motioning cars to go around. Finally, two good Samaritans pushed me out of the middle of the street.

My guess? Hmmm, I'll take alternators for $300, Alex.

This is to be expected. The car has just about all of its original parts. This is why the guys at the place where I take my cars to be serviced told me not to drive Big Red too far too soon. As Jonathan said, "We need to see if anything falls out." I would guess he was being figurative, but with a car this old you have to wonder if he was also being literal.

I'm still completely in love with this car. What's funny is that I don't know much about the mechanics of cars, but for the last month or so I'd been thinking it needed a new alternator. It was just a hunch. Bad ass shaper Shawn Ambrose had told me that this is what happens when you own a classic car; you just start to know when something is wrong even if the car doesn't let you know this immediately.

Well, here we go again. I never did mention the car was hit by a drunk driver last month . . . while parked. It's long story. He was drunk. He fled the scene. He had a suspended license. The long and short of it is that he admitted fault and his insurance company cut me a check within a week and a half. The damage to Big Red was actually minimal, but the check was not. Since I hadn't planned on painting it just yet, I'll use some of that money for the new alternator.

Ah, the joys of car ownership. Well, I'm still joyful. This car has yet to be a money pit. It is taking me on quite an adventure though.

07 March 2011

Where the Author Leaves the Board on the Car

We had summer on Saturday. Sunday? Well, my son referred to it as Christmas since it was windy, cold and overcast. When I got to the beach, folks were complaining about the conditions. It certainly didn't look like it did the day before.

What to do? Ride the mat. Period. That thing is a session saver. Had I not been spoiled by Saturday's shapely waves, I might have paddled out on Sunday, just happy to get wet. Unfortunately, I went to the beach on Sunday expecting the best . . . and not finding it. The winds were blowing onshore. The ocean was textured. The waves had questionable shape. And I had a 9'2" log with a big old D fin. I just wasn't feeling the idea of tackling that (pointing toward the ocean) on this (pointing to my beloved Almond log).

4GF Tracker Square Tail and Viper fins to the rescue!!

These days, riding the mat gets easier and easier. Where I once used to hang on for dear life, letting the mat take me where the waves dictated, I now easily direct the mat. It goes where I dictate. There were just enough shoulders out there to really get the mat up and running. There was also enough energy in the water to make this one of the hardest, in terms of taxing my body, and best mat sessions I've had. Ever.

The work week has begun in earnest. I've been here for six hours. They've given me all of about 10 minutes' worth of work today. There's something I want to write for TheInertia.com, but I think I'll wait to do that later in the week. I've got nothing on my plate for Liquid Salt right now either. I'm waiting for people to send back their interviews. Then I will begin my next set of interviews. I suppose that leaves me with watching videos. There are more than enough of those to keep me occupied for now.

Looking forward to the weekend . . . already.

05 March 2011

Station Wagons are for Squares

Then I'll never be a hepcat since I have two vehicles of the mommy car/grocery-getter/surf mobile persuasion. When I was at the beach today, one of the crew said I was single-handedly keeping Kadafi in power by driving a car that requires so much of Libya's oil. (You know, of course, he was referring to Big Red.)

That missing hubcap? I'm glad you asked. When I got the car, it had some aftermarket hubcaps on the wheels, but three of the original hubcaps were in the place where the third row of seats had been. I eventually located a fourth original hubcap on eBay. About a month later, I put all four of those OG hubcaps on the car. Still, I'd always wondered why the original owner only had three of those hubcaps. Where did the fourth one run off to? I soon found out. As Soul Brother #2 and I drove up a hilly street close to our house one day, I heard the sound of something metallic rolling down the street. I looked in the sideview mirror. There was my hubcap, disappearing into the distance. I parked the car, told the little man not to get anywhere near the steering wheel (because old Fords have a tendency to shift themselves into reverse when parked on a hill and a child accidentally breathing on the shifter was sure to make that happen) and took off running. After having spent good money on that hubcap, there was no way I was going to let it go without a pursuit. I got it back, but it's obvious now that this wheel is different from the others and can't hold an original hubcap.

My session was beautiful. I don't know how else to describe it. I felt good today. Well, I always feel good. What I mean is that I felt incredibly in tune with my board and with the waves. I will thank Miki Dora, Alex Knost, Worm, Robbie Kegel, Dano and his crew, Tyler and others for that. During my free time at work this week, I spent a lot of time looking at surf blogs. This time I wasn't reading them so much as I was watching the videos that folks had posted. I've been working on style for the last year or so, but there was something in my own surfing that was not to my liking style-wise. I could never pinpoint what it was even though people have been recently using the word "style" when talking to me about my surfing. But watching all of those clips of people who are incredibly stylish made something click. I realized what it was that I was trying to achieve stylistically. It was clear as a bell. So, when I surfed today, I admonished myself to do what I'd seen all of these incredible surfers do. What's amazing is that I could feel the difference in my surfing with that one minor change in the way I was positioning my body. Someone told me today that I "showed impeccable style" on one of my waves. And what's funny is that I could feel it. That wave just felt . . . right.

I guess this means I'll be spending more time watching videos posted on surf blogs. They're definitely keeping stoke alive!

04 March 2011

It's Finally a Friday!!

Today is the day I will get my first full paycheck.

This is the day when I start looking at the forecasts for the weekend. Since starting this job, I've only been able to manage one session per week because of the rain. This weekend brings the potential promise of two days in the water. To say I'm excited is an understatement.

I'm already all in a state of bother over it. I want to get wet. I sit most of the day in an office. That's not bad. Many of us do that. What I find a bit difficult is that I sit in semi-darkness in an office without windows. Since I'm the company's proofreader, I sit in the department with the graphic design folks who put together the stuff I proof. They sit with their noses pressed up to their massive monitors. The light that had been over my desk, before I got there, proved bothersome to them, so it was disconnected. Once I was hired, it was reconnected. Then, after the outcry from the graphic designers, it was disconnected again. That meant my desk was, and still is, in the dark. Don't make me go into how long it took them to get me, the person who must often look at small type, a lamp. Order one from an office supply store? Not this company. Find one somewhere in the building? Good luck with that! It took a couple of days and then someone appeared at my desk with a lamp that had apparently been hidden away somewhere.

This is where I work.

Anyway, I sit most of the day in front of a computer. When there's no work, I surf the net if I don't have anything to write. I often watch the water. I want, and need, to see what the ocean is doing. I miss it, yes, but I am so glad to be making some money at a time when we desperately need it. Few people at my company do anything at lunch. Some people don't even take a lunch. They stay chained to their desks, as if doing so will get them into heaven faster. If that's the case, I won't see any of them up there. I spend my lunch walking, getting my blood moving, waking up my muscles, seeing the sights, looking for potential places to skate and thinking about staying fit to surf. I walk every single day. Sunshine. Fresh air. All of that helps to fight the stasis that rots your body and your brain. Yes, I said "rots".

Why am I writing all this? Oh, I don't know. It's my blog and I just feel like spending some time with it before I start my day. It's pay day. It's the day before I surf again. It's Friday. And I'm happy because I'm surviving in a milieu that I've found distressing for most of my adult life. For the time being, I'm content. The folks I work with are cool and quirky. I am a bit of an odd duck there, but I no longer feel like an outsider.

I've decided I'm going to wear Vans to work one day. Granted, this is fashion. And you do see some things, especially footwear, that will make you snicker. Still, it's more laid back than I first thought. So, I guess, as I allow myself to be myself, I will find the job even more tolerable. Vans will help!!