Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Perfect summer day

I'm down to the wire with editing my book, and I hate that this is happening in the summer! It means saying no to sunny days on the beach and warm waves. I keep telling myself it's almost over. But summer, to me, is a sacrament and I've always felt like spending a beach day inside is a sin.

In a week I'll either get the book in and head straight for the nearest bar, or get an extension of three months and head straight for the nearest bar. I will drink more if it's the former.

Today was the kind of day I don't want to miss again. I took a stack of chapters out on the beach to proofread. It was too hot to sit for very long, though, so I had to keep cooling off in the water. Our water is not always beautiful, but today it was; clear enough to see the little fishes darting at your feet, blue like you were in the Caribbean somewhere.

The waves grew better hour by hour and by midafternoon I just had to go get my board. I've had a session or two lately I didn't even bother writing about, it was that bad. But today on these little waves I did great. I had friendly encouragement from F. in this almost all-guys line-up, and it really helped. He hasn't been surfing long, and sometimes he helps me figure it out. Sometimes a word or two is all it takes. I made my takeoffs, didn't pearl (maybe because of being further forward on the board) and got up earlier than usual. So I had the feeling like, Oh, that's how it's supposed to be, that I got in my surf lessons. And once I was up I could balance and at least try to steer the board.

As he pointed out, I'm still not doing the popup. Maybe I never will. I keep dragging my back foot and had quite a hole in the front of it to show for it. It took forever to heal and I can't rip it up again.

This turned into one of those fun sessions where you don't think cause you're just having fun. I had a few thoughts, but I just dismissed them. I didn't even want to get out of the water but finally the "I'm hungry" thought became overwhelming.

Still, I had to hang out on the boardwalk for a while because D. had seen me and had good things to say. I can't remember when I've had a performance that he saw that I was proud of, practically never, so that was very satisfying. He told me I should start working on my turns. Yeah, that's the point I was at a month ago, before I started going backwards. It's never forward linear movement with my surfing. It's get better, go back two years, then a month or two later work up to doing better again.

If there was any downside to today, it was L., who I saw in the water for the first time. Forgive me for sounding like an idiot and not someone old and wise enough to be a Grandma, but what is it with guys who are all over you one day and then the next time you see them they act like they never saw you before? I just don't get that, and I never will, but I can't worry about it.

Pretty much a perfect summer day. I want more.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

0 for 2

No rides for me today. I'm discouraged, but I noticed a lot of other people were having trouble as well. People who usually get waves were blowing them. I didn't see F. get anything and he was doing great yesterday. The exception, as always, was U., who gets waves when there are no waves to be gotten. I don't know what it is about him. Magic, or voodoo. I'm sure he never had a surf lesson in his life.

Mostly, I was using the technique from yesterday, paddling when I was farther out and paddling hard, but it didn't work today. I would keep just missing the wave.

I did catch two waves, but on the first I had to stay down and veer hard to keep from hitting two idiots on the inside, and the other time I found myself going right over the wooden pilings and so just held on for dear life. If you hit those jagged spikes, death spikes we call them, you can really get hurt.

I haven't had a day as bad as this in a long time. I need a good day to get some confidence. Or another lesson, going back a few steps/years to focus on wave selection.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Waste of time

It was a notch smaller today, and thinking I'd gotten things figured out yesterday, I thought I would do well. I was stoked enough to get up and out early again.

It took me an hour just to get my hair wet. That's because I couldn't catch shit. The waves that looked so easy to catch from shore, weren't.

Plus weird vibes in the water. No, not sharks. I actually think I would prefer them. It's the disease that seems to be caused by the water here: formerly smiling faces turned stinkeye, friends turned distant or enemies. In other words, more casualties of the the local rumor/hate mill. It gets to everyone, in the end, then I'm like a detective trying to figure out what was said and when and by whom. Well, I always know who, it's one of the usual three suspects. One of whom has not said twenty words to me in her life, but has said plenty about me.

I was really kind of wasting my time in the cold water. Eventually I did get my hair wet, but didn't get up. And then I banged up my elbow up with my board. Time to quit. I felt guilty about the time spend so unproductively in the water and, after a little hanging on the beach, spent the rest of this sunny day working.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Paddle, paddle, paddle

Today was hyped as a good wave day, but it fell far short. About a foot or two. But it looked good out. I got up early in anticipation and was in the water before ten---back home in a minute to get a wetsuit because the water was surprisingly freezing!

I was thinking I'd do well, but I spent the first hour not doing anything. The technique I learned from my latest surf lessons, waiting much longer than I usually do to start paddling--and then waiting two more seconds---just wasn't working.

All that was happening was that I was freezing to death.

G. was near me in the water and watching me. Bless him, he hasn't caught the weirdness virus that has infected nearly everyone here. You say hello, he says hello back and doesn't grimace and look away as if he's smelled sewage! He even says hello himself first sometimes! He might even add another sentence! I'm telling you, in this neighborhood that qualifies him, in my book at least, as a hero!

Anyway, he told me what I already knew, that I was hesitating too much instead of committing to and going for the wave. Stop hesitating, go for it and paddle hard, he said.

So that was the kick in the pants (or wetsuit) I needed. But even so, there was one more thing I needed to do, and that was forget what had been working for me for a while---the waiting to paddle until well after my instincts told me to. With these waves---and I have no idea what was different about them---that just wasn't working. So I tried what I used to do: paddle much earlier. I had nothing to lose, I wasn't getting anything. The paddling energized me and had the welcome effect of warming me up a little. I did catch waves this way. I was so surprised to catch them, it took me a while to try to stand up. I did eventually get up on three or four waves. I think I used my knee. It definitely wasn't that popup feeling. I tried to balance but didn't get riding for very long. Still, I was glad to have gotten anything after that first hour or so. But by the time I figured out how to deal with these waves, I was a Popsicle.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Today was just a lovely day at the beach: nice weather, a mellow group, none of the usual hassles. Stinkeye and hate was missing as the biggest jerks were apparently sleeping off their hangovers. I hung out for a while, did some reading, did some tanning. The good vibe continued into the water, where I regained some of my confidence by getting a couple of rides.

But I also found myself pitched off the front of my board a few times, and around the third or fourth time, when I attempted to resurface with the board in front of me, it clunked me on the head. Well, I was right; this board hurts less than a heavier board when it hits, but it still hurts. And then I ran my hand over my head and saw it for the first time in a couple of years: you guessed it, blood. It wasn't bad, but you never want to see red. I ran out of the water and people immediately came to my aid: T., H., a woman surfer I like a lot, and an anonymous woman who took my hand and led me to the lifeguard shack, saying she was a nurse. The consensus was I didn't need stitches. Thank God! I hate the emergency room.

I iced it, rested up a while, later went to the local bar and still had a nice time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To anonymous

I can't comment on my comments because I lost my password, so here's your answer.

I totally agree with you. I don't think wanting to go on the beach in front of my house without being screamed at and threatened, or wanting my friends not to be intimidated and threatened---by the so called cool people---is "desperately trying to fit in."
That's what I want, and I think it's more than my right.
Yes, as I think I've said before, I am much too old for high school cliques and games and gossip.
I just want to go on the beach and in the water in peace.
The "cool" people are trying to make that impossible.
How would you deal with it? I agree about being positive, but what about when hate is all up in your face?

In other news, surfing was miserable today. The water was freezing and though I caught some waves I could not get up in any way, shape, or form. I'd have done better going for a swim. Well, at least this means the next session will be good.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

We now return to surfing

Yes, I've been out surfing, three or so times since the last post. We shall return to surf blogging.

In the meantime, the SurfNazi women have taken a new turn, in which they have really gone too far. I. and E. have targeted a good friend of mine, and are trying to get him evicted from his apartment. They live in the same building. I. called up the landlord and spouted her usual lies, the same ones Tim (Hill, not J. as I called him; I don't need to anonymize people like that, I need to warn others about them) said to me on the beach that day (last post). I guess they come off as "sweet" and "blond" (though only one of them is hot) and he believed them. The landlord is threatening to evict my friend if he ever talks to me again. Poor man, he is so upset. He's lived in the building for many years, long before they decided to take it over and make it a nonstop surf party house. If they succeed in getting him out, that's exactly what it will be. A decent, regular guy like him, who works long and hard, is too old and boring for them apparently.

I have never met such vicious, narrowminded, meanspirited people in my life. How can anyone take such pleasure in trying to destroy others? I'm sure they're reading this and laughing.

And E. doesn't even drink, though I. does, so I can't blame alcohol. Anyone in my position would reasonably conclude that surfing makes people bitches and assholes.

But I digress.

My surf anniversary on July 3 came and went: four years. Fireworks etc. on July 4th were lots of fun. Somehow by the middle of the summer I've ended up with four guys' phone numbers I didn't have at the beginning. (I've only called three. And only one I really like.) And I've had good times at the beach, despite mostly small and crappy waves. Last session I managed to get up and riding despite that.

The best times were when one guy told me how good I was doing---that really made the session. (He's a beginner and worse than me, trying hard to stand up by the end of his first summer. The Schadenfreude guy.) And when I'm in the water with normal people as opposed to SurfNazis, it's no big deal: it's accepted that I can surf, inconsistently but I can. I am better than some and worse than others. Only someone with their own horrible issues projected onto me would scream at me to get out of the water.

I try to just focus on the people who are real. I don't care if they're dorky or not "cool" with the "in" crowd of Surfnazis. I've even been glad to see Barney (well, that's not his real name, but he's a Barney), the older, goofy looking beginner from last summer. Barney is still just Barney, thank God. He's not into stabbing anyone in the back.

When it's amazing to you that you can have a normal conversation with someone on your beach without them acting all weird or screaming at or threatening you or calling you names, you really know how f*d up the surf social scene is there.