Saturday, June 30, 2007


So it's a nice sunny Saturday, I'm looking forward to a pleasant day of surfing and sunning. I head straight out from my house to the beach, to the spot where I always go.

As I'm setting my board down J. (one of the locals who's in contention for King of the Beach in terms of seniority, surfing ability, popularity, etc.) runs up to me with a look of utter hate on his face.

"No, no, no! Not on this sand! You can't come on this sand!"

I'm in shock. I say something like, This is my beach too.

"You're psychotic!" he spits out. "I don't like you! You're psychotic!"

He turns away and heads for the boardwalk. Wait a minute, I say. You can't just say shit like that and walk away. What the hell are you talking about?

He keeps walking. Now he's up the stairs and there is a group of about eight people watching from a bench, most of whom are people I know, surfers.

What are you talking about, I repeat, like it's going to make sense this time. What did I ever do to you? What's wrong?

He says again, "You're psychotic."

What did I ever do to you?

"You're stalking my friends."

Well, now I least I know where these lines come from: K., my former friend.

And then, in front of everyone, he says: "I wish I could pay someone to hit you!"

And nobody else says anything. Or maybe they laugh. But he's still King of the Beach, anything he says is cool. Everyone sticks together.

I turn around and go get my board and go surf, but how do you think I feel?

Because the thing is, last I knew this man was my friend. Or said he was. He was actually very sweet to me last summer and fall. I liked him very much. We didn't see each other over the winter. And at the beginning of the summer it was like, Hi, how are you. And there have been some weird vibes since then. But to have that kind of hate in him...I couldn't have expected that.

And why? I haven't changed. The only thing that's changed is K., as I've mentioned in previous posts, is now sleeping with his best friend. And K. now hates me viciously and has been working hard to get everyone else to hate me too. Almost a year after our breakup, her efforts haven't lessened.

K. and I had a bad breakup. No, we're not lesbians. But our friendship ended when I. decided she wanted the beach house I was sharing with K. and knew I'd never give it up unless she alienated K. from me. Long story short, she pretty much convinced K. I was the source of all evil. Ants in the house, I brought them in; no detail was too petty for her to work it into some picture of how evil I was. (While selling herself to K.; they would go into business together, they would take surf trips together, etc. etc. etc.)

The funny thing was that J. saw through all this, too, when it was happening, and sympathized with me. But that was before K. started sleeping with his best friend.

When K. decided to break up, she picked the word that, in her limited knowledge, was the worst thing you can say about someone. "Psychotic." She doesn't understand what it means, but no matter. It works instantly to turn people against me. It scares them. No one believes K. lies because she is superficially sweet, also blond and "hot." Do I need to tell anyone here that I am not psychotic? You know, it works pretty well to assume most people you know are not psychotic unless you have evidence otherwise, like they are walking down the street saying they are Jesus Christ.

The stalking thing was made up by I. She tells people I'm stalking and threatening her. Goes with psychotic, I guess.

Does this have anything to do with surfing? I've said this before and I'll say it again, and you might conclude the same thing if you've been reading here a while, it does. I know, I know, the myth of aloha and all that. Love, acceptance, eternal sunshine, bros and brahs, total strangers becoming friends in an instant. There may be such aloha, but doesn't it make sense that if there is there is another side of it, which I am unfortunately experiencing? Is there another community where one person says some false hateful thing behind your back out of spite and everyone believes it even and especially if they don't know you, and then spreads it around to everyone else they know, and no one, but no one, ever says to your face whatever horrible thing they're saying behind your back, and you can't guess because it's so outrageously removed from reality and anything you did or the person you actually are, whom no one cares to get to know, because they'd rather just be hating on someone they don't know, for sport, apparently...and the irony is that you're the least psychotic or violent or whatever they say person on the face of the earth and not one person will stand up and say that, not even the ones who know better, because they're afraid of being tarred with the same brush that tarred and feathered you...

After the J. incident, I. turned around and, later on that day, told some more lies, with the aim of getting someone who is a real, good friend of mine evicted from his house for associating for me. I think it's going to work, too; I guess she told his landlord I'm psychotic. Just for sport. Just for fun.

A friend of mine, from the real world, said this scenario reminds her of a small town in the 1950s, you know, the Jim Crow era.

It's more like high school, where everyone's afraid of the popular kids.

Would anyone but a bunch of high schoolers or surfers sit around and laugh when someone threatens to physically harm you?

It could be that these ignorant, insecure, immature assholes just happen to be surfers. That could be. But why does no one who is also a surfer, but not such an asshole, knowing and seeing, dare to call them on it? Isn't that mentality, that go along with the crowd no matter what the crowd does thinking, that fear of not being accepted, the inability to think for yourself, or to believe what you see what you see with your own eyes if your surf buds tell you it isn't so, the I hate Susie because Jill hates Susie thing...isn't that kind of tribal thinking the surfer mentality? I don't know what else to compare it to, the Mafia maybe? You take an oath to be loyal to certain people and band together against outsiders?

I have never had anything like this happen to me, ever, in all my life, with all the people I've known from various walks of life. What else can I think?

(Hmmmm...maybe I should generalize about alcoholics and potheads rather than surfers...the above initialed individuals are one or both. Not that I've heretofore had any reason to hold anything against alcoholics and potheads.)

Should be interesting on the beach next time. Hell no, I won't stay off the sand.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Today was the first day of the year surfing without a wetsuit, Hooray! Just a bathing suit and I wasn't cold at all!

I surfed OK too, getting a few rides.

Surfing in a bathing suit for the first time after a winter of thick rubber wetsuits and freezing water is one of the great joys in life. Like learning to play jazz piano after having been trained in classical. Like seeing your puppy for the first time. Like opening your door in the morning and finding a cute horny young surfer ready to jump your bones. OK, maybe not as good as all that, but very good.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Checking in

I haven't been in the water for a week, and what a mother of a week it's been. Most of the time, I was too busy to even check for waves, but I don't think there were any.

I really wanted to go surf today, but not just for the usual reasons. Surfing can serve a lot of different purposes at different times. Sometimes it's a chance to relax (as long as the waves aren't too big), to think and meditate (if the crowds aren't too big), to just to connect with nature and the ocean.

I have had more than one major, historic, life altering event this week. (Nothing I want to blab about to the whole world---sorry, guys.) Some of the signposts I use to make sense of the world seem to have been moved. (But in a good way; I mean, the events were positive ones, if disorienting.)

I needed to go experience the ocean again, waves or not, to check in with her.

Oh hi ocean. I see you're still here. I'm so glad. I'm still here too, but different, can you tell?

So even though the waves were one foot and the tide was wrong, I still went out, for a little while. I didn't stay long. I didn't get rides. I got up, but when I caught waves, the tide was so high there was just nowhere to go. On a day like today, I'm totally cool with blaming the waves, not me.

It's OK. I just needed to check in.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The end of the curse

Two good days in a row, the every other session curse is broken!

OK, did the surf instructor guy's wave judgment make a difference? Yes, it did. I did not do as well without him. But, it did not make that much of a difference. I still got waves and I still got up and riding. Yeah, sometimes with the knee, sometimes with the ass, sometimes just feeling that indefinable feeling that tells me I did neither one but something more like a popup.

The waves were small, crowd small, friendly. I ventured over to the jetty where I couldn't ask for two friendlier faces. B. and G., two guys who have never wavered or flaked out on being friendly and encouraging. I moved away from the jetty quickly because that's what I'm used to doing; that's where all the best surfers hang out. But after I moved, I thought I might have missed my one best chance to hang there with guys who would actually let me get waves. I mean, I don't know when I'll get that chance again. I think I could've handled it and it might have been fun. But I just wasn't confident enough. My one thought at the time was just to move out of their way.

They would have let me get waves, but I wasn't sure I wouldn't have blown them.

So I went down to the very end of the line, where I did amazingly well. After a really good ride I was confident enough to venture toward the jetty again. But now the lineup had changed to unfriendly faces, including a friend of K.'s who just scowled at me when I smiled at him encouragingly after a long ride. I stayed close to but not at the jetty. On one wave I found myself riding towards U., and then I either fell off the board or bailed to keep from hitting him--I honestly don't know. But whatever happened, using my best efforts not to hit him my board went up in the air and came down on his board. He was pissed. Of course K.'s friend took the opportunity to condemn me to everyone in earshot, telling them to "throw her out of the water." U. stood up for me.

The reality? It was a simple accident, one I did my best to avoid, the kind that everyone has. There was no damage to U. or his board. But because of K.'s endless spewing of hatred about me to most people who surf here, suddenly I'm a major criminal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bestest day ever

I know I've had other posts called Best Day Ever, but the Best Day keeps changing and getting better...which is why I call this one Bestest.

I haven't been out for a while so wasn't expecting much, but expectations never have anything to do with performance. I got up and riding on my very first wave, and just kept going. I didn't count how many rides I had, but I am pretty certain it was the most ever. I had more rides than not-rides for, I think, the first time.

I'm not really sure how or why. I should make it clear that this was a surf lesson. I was out with the same guy from last time. I mostly wanted his commentary on what I was doing on each wave.

Since my goal was to work on the standing up part, I pretty much let him choose and call the waves for me, substituting his wave judgment for mine. Normally I wouldn't do that, but I've gotten pretty confident lately on my wave judgment, so I didn't feel like I really needed to work on that so much.

Now, was it his superior wave judgment that resulted in so many rides? Well, perhaps, if timing is all that critical that a fraction of a section earlier or later makes that much difference; my judgment wouldn't have been off his more than that. And in fact, sometimes he made mistakes in judgment as well.

It was good to know, because he could see and call each wave, that sometimes the best timing in the world couldn't have saved it---sometimes what looked like an approaching wave just turned into "moosh" (his word) too late for you to see that this was what was happening. In those cases all the paddling power in the world wouldn't have worked.

He gave me compliments on my paddling---well, anyone can look at my arms and see I've been working on that.

Nevertheless, with him I definitely missed fewer waves than I would have on my own, but I still missed waves. And missing fewer waves was probably a big part of why I got so many rides (maybe eight or ten) today.

I was doing so well he started telling me how to work on turning, but that was kind of late in the session and we didn't get very far on that.

I was getting up earlier than I have been. He'd yell at me to stand up, and I'd go, Yeah, Right! but right after that I'd get up somehow. A couple of times I know I used my knee. The other times, I have no idea what happened, but somehow I was up. And unfortunately he couldn't always tell me whether I used my knee or what I did, because he was watching from behind me and not from the shore and couldn't see.

Oh, yeah, a few times I did the haul ass thing again, not bending my knees but from the waist. That doesn't work, he said, simply because when you're bent from the waist your head is hanging down, and it's too heavy and will cause you to fall over!

Other times, he said, I kind of froze in place, knees locked, and that's not good either.

He repeated this advice: Surf like you've just smoked a joint!

Haha, no good for me, I've never smoked in my life. (Well, I did, once or twice, but didn't inhale. And that is really true. That's not a Clintonism. I wasn't trying to be good, at that point in my life ---age 18---I just didn't know how to smoke.)

Other advice often repeated: Don't think; relax.

I'd practically have to become another person in order to do that. I like the person I am.

Do you know how much work there is to do on a book after you've finished the book? "Finished" is a relative term. After the exhilarating surf session, I got right back to work. Only about a month to deadline (I can get an extension but don't want to). This kind of work is not creative or fun. I spend hours just trying to track down how to get the rights to use the quote or the photograph I want to. Tonight I just spent four hours trying to figure out how to get permission for the photo I want to use on the cover. Somewhere someone is not telling me the right thing because no one seems to know who has the rights to the photo. But I am a master detective and don't give up easily. The more difficult a challenge, the more I like it.

Anyway, it's a long haul, and very tedious at times. But I'm getting there.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chaos at the jetty

Today there were remnants of the big swell I missed because I was out of town. People hungry for more waves crowded the lineup all day. It was chaos at the jetty (no more than any other summer day, I guess). That means three or four people taking off on the same wave, and lots of yelling and narrowly avoided (hopefully) collisions.

Standard practice at our break is that the self-appointed better surfers huddle at the jetty and today there were eight or ten of them all together in a small space. They all take off on each other and then yell for right of way. Today I saw some of these surfers very nearly run over each other. Had I done what they do, had I taken off on a wave which wasn't my wave and had four other people on it and then nearly hit them, I would have been crucified.

I did not run over anybody, but I did what everybody else does: paddle for waves I think I can get. A couple of times I paddled for waves which someone else ended up getting as well, and then made sure they didn't run over me if we both got them. The way I do that, if we both take off, is not to even try standing up, because once I stand up, I have little to no control over my board---I can't turn. So I rode a wave or two in on my stomach and stayed safely out of everyone's way.

For this I got yelled at by a former friend (now not my friend, I guess, simply because he's the friend of the guy K. is sleeping with. Get that?) And this was just not fair, so I stood up for myself: I was in control of my board, I did not do anything anyone else did not do. I did not hit anyone and no one hit me.

Normally I would've just meekly nodded and apologized. But I am sick of being condemned for what everyone else does. Partly, this is because of being a woman in a lineup of ten men. But mostly, it's because of the myth that K. has created about how bad/incompetent/careless/evil/fill in every bad quality a person can have I am. And everyone, even and especially those who don't know me, believes her because she's young/cute/blond and is sleeping with one of the most popular surfers in the community, hence she is one of the most popular surfers.

Well, it's nothing but crap and I am sick of it. I may not surf very well or at all at times but I actually am one of the more considerate and cautious people out there. Plenty of people get away with really selfish and even dangerous behavior because of their hierarchy in the local surf mafia. I am not going to take shit from them. I am not going to meekly move over and just let them hog all the waves and drop in on their buddies and let that be the way it is because it's the way it's always been. (It's not true that their superior surfing skills make it OK or safe to do what they do: I saw that amply today, with the near-collisions.) Most of all, I am not going along with the myth that K. has created. No, I'm going to do what I did today: go for the waves I can get.