Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Happened Next

Right after the last post, exactly that day, life went into a tailspin from which I have not yet fully emerged. Loss, grief, regret, financial catastrophe and to top it all off a bad haircut. I think I aged two years in the past two months, which you really can't afford when you are my age. They've pretty much been wasted, terrible, horrible months, which have cost me dearly healthwise and lookswise.
That said, here is what I can remember of the past two months:
I did get powder. I got wonderful powder (the snow kind) both in my home state and in California. In fact, I skied after Easter and there was plenty of snow left. I remember the big snowstorm on my birthday, December 20, and how I hurried home so as not to miss it---if only I'd known how many more snowstorms there would be this winter!
The snow in NY was at least as good as the snow in Cali and much less expensive. The most fun run was the eponymous run at the NY State resort beginning with B. I just discovered it this year. Discover it for yourself.

I remember a moonlight surf one night, in the midst of all the strife. I got back home with only half an hour of daylight left and was dying to surf but wished there was more light. Well, not to worry, the full moon came up, and that combined with the light of the planes passing overhead was enough light to surf. And I was not the only fool out in the dark. One guy was left, having a blast and helping me find the best spot to catch waves. We surfed together---I have no idea who he was---for more than an hour in the dark.

Then there have been the early summer surfs, just a couple. Considering how bad a shape I am in I surfed amazingly well.I was astonished that I could do it at all. It makes me see how well I can surf when I am actually feeling, well, well.

I've got a loaner surfboard that is only 6 -10 and will be trying it out soon. Today the waves were just a little too big to be on an unfamiliar board. (Thanks, Miguel.)

Summer's started and I'm aware that the local surf clique sees blood in the water, bad haircut and all. Screw 'em. I live here and I surf here. So I've stopped putting on lipstick to go surfing, so I look like shit, so my toenails aren't polished. Those are the kinds of things that start gossip. Screw 'em. As I always say, I'm here to surf. Don't need Botox for that.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why aren't we skiing?

You might have heard about (or seen or experienced) the record snowfalls this winter both in the East and in the West. In fact, Hunter Mountain in upstate New York, a place I'm fond of, just received....guess what...SEVEN FEET of snow.

So why, on this nice Sunday afternoon, with so many local ski (and snowboard) hills bursting with record amounts of snowfall, were so many people out surfing? Why weren't we skiing?

Or, you may have been thinking, "Grandma, where is the annual ski blog you've had every year where you report about the great time you had on a ski trip? After all, it's almost March already!"

Grandma is in the same position of many other people right now, of having much less money than I did this time last year.

Planes, hotels, lift tickets, equipment...you know how much that can all add up to. And my credit card's maxed out. I may not get a ski trip.

But the ocean doesn't charge fifty to seventy dollars for admission, thank Neptune. And it doesn't cost me a cent in gas, or in plane, train, bus or even subway fare to get to it. It's free. Blissfully free.

And it was fun today, so much fun I forgot about the seven feet of snow fun I was missing out on.

And no lift lines! But, the equivalent: crowds!

Summer style crowds in February!

Winter surfing makes no sense anymore! What the hell is the point of freezing your ass (and your toes and your nose and all your other body parts) off if you have to deal with crowds, people getting in your way, people cutting you off?

There's no way to keep pretending my booties don't have holes in them. They do. But it's late in the season and I don't have money for new ones (see above), so my toes will have to freeze for a while longer.

But...I just went on the internet in search of mad cheap ski accommodations close to home, and may have come up with something. If I have, I'm there. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snowstorm surf

I remember thinking back in December that it was an epic event to get a snowstorm in New York City. That day (it was my birthday) we got maybe a foot and a half. Since then we've gotten so much snow it's just silly. Several epic snowstorms.

And today another was forecast. I aimed to get out before the snow but missed. It was just raining earlier. I don't much like surfing in rain but was making an exception because there have been so few waves this winter. By the time I got out the rain had turned to snow. Not bad! Snow is softer and prettier, though a bit colder on the noise. And this wasn't a blizzard, just a nice light snowfall. Not so much you couldn't see.

The waves were pretty good and it was crowded as hell. I was not surfing well, making weird mistakes, falling off my board when I caught the wave, falling down as soon as I stood up. And, of course, watching other people get fun rides.

One of them was a woman I'd noticed parking her car on my street. I noticed her car because 1) it was a BMW 2) it was baby blue and 3) it had California license plates. What I'd give to have a baby blue BMW with California license plates! I'd consider sacrificing my firstborn. (Just kidding, son.)

I hadn't seen her before, I don't think. Had she driven from California to surf this snowstorm?

In the water she saw me struggling and helped me out. "You're catching all your waves, you're just standing up too late. Stand up right away."

See the posts of November 2009 for debate on this point of stand up late vs. stand up early.

Whatever---her advice worked, or maybe it was just the fact that someone noticed me, smiled and gave me advice---a placebo effect, if you will. I caught the next wave and rode it perfectly and everybody noticed. And she said, "Nice one!"

Thanks, California BMW girl!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The ocean can see really well today

That sounds like the title of a Tom Waits song, doesn't it?

Here was my session today:

Head high waves. Getting out no picnic. Had to do back to back turtle dives which I HATE, no time to catch your breath, plus something weird was going on where the board slipped away from me on turtles which never happens. But it did today more than once.

On one wipeout where I either turtled or didn't, or maybe did too late, I forget, the wave knocked both of my contact lenses out. Both. That's a first.

I went home and managed to replace both of them one-handed---not easy!---because I didn't want to take both gloves off. Then I put the wet glove back on and went back out.

More strange wipeouts, more holddowns. I didn't get a single wave. All I was getting was wiped out. And in water this cold, that's brutal. There was no question about how tired I was going to be that night, and not from having fun, just from getting beat up.

And then a wave knocked the second set of contact lenses out. Both of them.

Well, that was it. No waiting for hypothermia striving to get at least one ride.

Session over, and if you find two sets of blue-green contacts in the water, they're mine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

wetsuit blues

I am having trouble lasting more than an hour in this cold weather. I haven't had this trouble before and I wonder if it's my gear.

I read in some surf magazine "Wetsuits are so good now that if you get cold it's your own fault." Not true! It's not my fault! I am trying not to get cold!

I wonder if my 2-3 year old suits need to be replaced? They haven't got holes or rips, so why aren't they warm? I have two 6-4 O'Neills. My other O'Neills have lasted forever. But the 6-4s get far heavier use. Let's face it, we're in them six months of the year, which is why I have two. One's 2 years old and one's three. Is that too old? Do I need new ones?

It's the boots and gloves too. Do they just get too old? My fingers and toes get cold. OK, the gloves are quite old, maybe five years, but haven't seen heavy use. The boots are only one or two years old.

When do you need to replace your gear? Does it eventually just give up the ghost even if you can't see anything wrong with it?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Too easy

Today in the midst of life, long phone calls, emails sent and replied to, bills paid, groceries bought, decisions mad and unmade, neighbors greeted, there were waves. Oh, they weren't predicted. They were called poor by Surfline. I couldn't even see them from my window, not until I went to the boardwalk, because of where they were breaking. And it happened late in the day, in the middle of everything.

And so I just accepted it and integrated them into my life.

This, after all (I had so forgotten this flat and despondent winter) is why I live here, after all.

Dropped everything, went. Thinking,

This is too easy. All I have to do is make sure I've got something in the house for dinner cause I'll be starving when I get out; throw on a suit; and go. Thinking too much about it would ruin it. Ten minutes from, should I go, to, Yes.

No one could do this if they have to drive or take a train to the beach. No one could just stop in the middle of whatever.

I considered that living 30 seconds from the beach really does make it too easy to surf, but after some contemplation, failed to find anything wrong with that. Anyway I was already halfway to the water as I contemplated. Is there such a thing as too easy?


And even though the wind had west in it, I had some miracle waves. Two of the best ever, or at least in a long time. Waves where I was able to look back over my shoulder and adjust what I was doing to what I knew, from long experience, the wave would do, such as close out. Waves where I was able to do what I needed to do on each section, all the way in.

Unexpected. Easy. Wonderful.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

20 degrees, 20 people

This morning by 10 am there were at least 20 people out in the lineup.

It's February. It was 20 degrees.

We were all wave-starved, it was sunny, there was not much wind, there was a favorable Surfline forecast the night before that alerted the nonlocals, but still: 20 degrees.

I know I posted before about a 20 degree day that didn't faze me, but there's some kind of math that goes on between air and water temperatures that makes not all 20 degree days equal. Maybe it's air temp plus water temp plus wind speed. Does anyone have the equation?

Today the water was in the 30s. That's about as cold as it gets here. It was goddamn cold.

Yet I managed to stay out for over two hours, which is what I do in summer!

Why, you ask? Is it that I was having so much fun?

Hell, no! It's that I wasn't---and then I was like, I'm out here in frickin 20 degrees, I better be having fun! So I kept trying, but for at least half of the time I was really so cold it affected my surfing. The waves were a tad challenging, but not that big and not that hard. It was the freezing my ass off that threw me.

The more I froze, the more I kept trying to have fun. Finally, I had to say, This is not worth getting hypothermia.

Nothing that happened out in the water could compare to the bliss of a hot shower immediately followed by crawling naked into bed under a down comforter, nestling into pillows warmed by the bedroom radiator and the afternoon sun.