Friday, June 27, 2008

Surfing and music

I know what you're thinking. What's with the long silence? Did I regress again and become too discouraged to post?

First, let me say there have really been no waves for over a week (as far as I know) and second, anyway, I have been out of town. I can state with certainty that there were no waves anywhere near Washington, DC. Here's where I was:
an event very near and dear to my heart and one I heartily recommend. I had an absolute blast.
In between events at the conference, I had the chance to try out a couple of these, which can't be found in New York at the moment:
Playing Keith Jarrett on one of these is nothing short of a religious experience.

I played the end of the first movement of his (transcribed) Koln concert, which is entirely fitting because this is the piece of music that was playing in my head the entire first summer I started trying to learn to surf (2004). I love that piece to death---especially the rockin' parts. Some time after that summer, I can't say when but it might have been as long as a year later, I discovered the transcription and began learning it. I have to say it is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever attempted. It has taken me until now, summer 2008, to learn to play it properly. And I've only learned the first of the three movements---but that in itself is 35 pages. I got the end down not long ago, and it's the best, most joyous part of the entire concert. It sounds good on any piano, but on a Fazioli it is transcendent.

And finally: No. I did not regress. I had planned to take it easy today, recuperating and reorienting after the trip, but the waves were just too good. I had to go out. Yes, I did it again. If there's anything better than catching a perfect wave, it's having that ride witnessed and complimented by D., senior surfer, former surf teacher, friend and all around good guy. And other people did, too. "I saw the barrel of the wave right behind your board," is what D. said. And he congratulated me for not quitting given all the shit I've had to put up with, amply documented on this blog. I've been waiting a long time to hear that.

D. is also a musician. Would he rather play music or surf, I've asked him. No hesitation: play music. Which is more of a religious experience, Jarrett on Fazioli or riding a barreling wave? Well, that's a more difficult question to answer. Maybe if I were surfing big waves and getting long rides surfing would win. But I don't think so.

One more thing: No wetsuit today, Woohooo! This day deserves to be a national holiday like Turnaround Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What it's all been for

What it's all been for, five years of struggle: this day.

One perfect day when it all comes together: Catching waves; popping up (really), getting up low and staying low; riding waves (really) the way they are meant to be ridden, with the power of the wave behind me, turning the board to go the way the wave wants it to go. It's fun in a way surfing has never been fun before. This is, finally, the real thing. I can do it.

And I do it again and again, I am a surfer; and it may evaporate tomorrow, I may backslide again, but today it is perfect.

In my mind somewhere is the image of the way I've seen others ride waves for five years, and I know I am doing the same thing. Surfing.

The next day, other people post eloquently on the local surf message board about this day. I am not the only one who felt it; though some feel the need to qualify their joy by saying "best small day," still what they are saying is best day in memory.

At the end of the day I feel exhausted, happily; I think I'll sleep early, but I can't sleep so easily; I'm still thinking about how it felt today. I'm too stoked to sleep.

And Surfline called it flat.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flat. Not.

I wasn't even going to check the waves today because Surfline called it flat, except that so many days that Surfline called flat were such fun, so I did.

And guess what.

Tiny clean little waves, and I got in on the last hour or so.

My Robert August, my real board, is back and got wet for the first time in three months, yay! I forgot how good it was. Yeah, I did OK on my backup board, which just shows how much better I've gotten; but this one catches waves so much easier. I just have to catch them earlier than I've gotten used to doing with the backup board.

So I got up and riding many times, and some of those times my timing was such that I was actually riding the wave instead of just catching it, popping up and not going anywhere. Riding the wave, as my surf advisors keep reminding me, is what it's all about. I think it's all in the timing; I wasn't really doing anything different on those waves where I stood up and stalled out than on the ones where I rode waves, except for the timing. (As far as I know; I could be wrong.)And we're talking miliseconds but they seem to make all the difference. If you're off by a milisecond there doesn't seem to be a lot you can do to make it right---or, a lot that I, at my current level, can do, anyway.

What fun! I loved that I was by myself for a long time because the others (who didn't listen to Surfline) were over by the jetty and I was getting as many or more waves than they did. I hoped they were watching!

Tomorrow's forecast: "Flat."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

First weekend of summer

The craziness has begun; it's the first weekend here that's really felt like summer. And I mean summer: 95 degrees and sunny.

That means, after a year of nonstop hard work, switching my brain into summer mode. It als means crap waves and crowds. Actually neither was too bad this weekend. And my streak of successful surfing continues. It's almost enough to make me think I won't slide back again. Saturday, even with only choppy sections to work with in the afternoon, I got good rides that other people noticed and complimented me on. I was as surprised as they were. And Sunday, on better waves but with much bigger crowds, I made all or most of my popups and got good rides as well. A lot of people were just congregating and socializing in the water, "having tea parties" as my old surf camp instructor put it ("You cannot have tea parties in the water!") which is fine for a hot Sunday afternoon; but I was all the way over at the jetty---Queen of the Jetty for the day---getting waves and rides. If I didn't know better, I'd almost think I detected a touch of respect in the lineup. Nahhh. Well, at least only one guy, who I don't know, snaked around me. My biggest enemy and one of the hood's top 3 assholes (read back a year for his name) stayed on the other side, five feet away but never paddling around me.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Another day like yesterday.

Monday, June 02, 2008

On a roll

The heavens are aligned in my favor. For the past few days, I can do no wrong---everything is golden. Sometimes, not too often, this just happens. I'm not questioning it, just enjoying it for as long as it lasts.

I even checked the horoscopes in the paper today to see what was going on. The horoscope pretty much said I'm on a roll. (Of course, it was for Gemini and I'm Sagittarius, a small misprint.)

So, surfing today was a blast. The icy water and 80-degree sun were an invigorating combination. No assholes in the crowd, and a really cute young boy kept giving me friendly advice. I was like, Are you talking to me? He was, and to everybody else. It was a good (small) crowd.

And I got most of (not all) of the waves I went for, perfect waves for practicing popups, and a respectable number of rides. F-word again. Fun!

And it's summer, really summer, and I am off duty, so to speak, as far as work is concerned, for the duration. I could do this every day.