Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No longer a kook

Update after six years of surfing:

I saw my former friend, always expert surfer, and sometime surf coach W. on the beach today, and he declared that I am officially no longer a kook.

Coming from him, that's high praise.

"You know what you're doing. There's lots of people way kookier than you."

I have been upgraded to make room for the next generation of kooks.

D. said that the next step up from Kook is Gremmie, so that's my new status. Just call me Grandma Gremmie.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recalibrating the aggresso-meter

Just because you live on the beach doesn't mean you don't need to get away sometimes! To another beach, of course...

I was in need of some mothering, the reason for the roadtrip mentioned in my previous post, an eight hour trip. I was headed to visit my friend who lives on the shore of Lake Ontario. Talk about one cool grandma...(after all I'm not really a grandma yet and she is)...I will write about her sometime, she's a true inspiration and role model for any middle-aged woman who isn't sure how to handle getting old.

So I hung out in her teeny town which is as far north as you can go before getting to Canada, and swam in Lake Ontario, where I had the whole damn lake to myself (as least as far as I could see).

And then I got back to my beach (there really isn't anything deserving of the name beach on Lake Ontario, a sad disappointment) and, more importantly, to the water. And it was crowded. Packed.

It wasn't easy to recalibrate from the solitude of Lake Ontario to the packed lineup. In fact I wasn't sure I even wanted to.

There seemed to be a lot of aggression going on in the water today; either there was more than usual or I was more sensitive to it than usual because of having been away. Most of the people out were men and the water was seething with testosterone. Did I mention I'd spent the past week entirely in female company?

The waves weren't big or beyond my ability and I had to give myself a stiff talking to, about how I needed to recalibrate my aggresso-meter now that I was back in the city if I wanted to get any waves. It's hard to be aggressive when you're wearing a bikini and worrying about various things hanging out. Know what I mean? I've seen some things hanging out that I never wanted to see and hope never to see again, and it ain't pretty. Like how do you tell a female friend that her tampon string is hanging out and how do you ever look at her again without seeing that image? But enough said.

I was feeling so intimidated that when I saw a friendly female surfer paddle out I nearly said something like, "Watch out, there's a lot of testosterone out here."

But then I watched her paddle out right into the thick of the lineup, tiny string bikini and all, take her place amidst the boys and surf just as aggressively (or perhaps I should say confidently) as any of them, get wave after wave and just kill it. (And nothing hung out.)

Let's hear it for estrogen. After that my aggresso-meter was successfully recalibrated, I stopped thinking silly things about women not being as aggressive as men, and I did fine.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

God Bless GPS: Or, The OTHER great summer pleasure

I am not surfing this weekend, though it's midsummer and midsummer surfing is one of life's great pleasures. But summer is brief and it's time to discover the OTHER great summer pleasure: the roadtrip. Yeah!

If there's anything better than setting off on a roadtrip, it's setting off on a roadtrip with GPS. I truly think this is one of the greatest inventions in the history of humankind. You can now truly go anywhere without planning in advance and can never get lost (for very long). Roadtrip perfected.

I like going places, but I just like driving in and of itself. Of course, the essential ingredient of a great summer drive is the soundtrack. And some of life's best moments are when road and music coalesce into an experience which transcends either of them by themselves. Great drives stay with you forever and are to be treasured. I've had quite a few and a couple already this summer.

Like the late-night, exhausted-from-sun-and-surfing drive from Santa Cruz to a little town I'd never heard of just outside of it, though a forest or what looked like one by the light of the moon, on a thrilingly winding and deserted road, the air cool and fragrant, listening to a CD I was hearing for the first time: Music for Drella by John Cale. Yeah, an old one but new to me, and with the pine trees and the moon it absolutely blew me away, it was so suited to the night and the whole day that had passed before it. I was going there to either sleep with or not sleep with a man who lived over a bar in this little town. The bar was something out of the 1950s movie and as far from hipster Santa Cruz as could be and I fell in love with it immediately. I ended up not sleeping with the man who lived above the bar with his dog and think it was the right decision even though I had and have decided for all practical purposes that at my age the word "No" should have no part in my vocabulary. And I will never say it again.

Or the drive this week that took me straight through a hailstorm so fierce that I had to pull off the road while hailstones exploded my car with such intensity and such noise that I feared they'd shatter the windshield; it was kind of like being inside an MRI magnified by a thousand and by fear. The rain came down in sheets and made me feel like the car was sliding away while it was parked and I could see nothing but slippery whiteness outside. And then it stopped and the sun came out and I started to drive again, looking for a rainbow and finding one, which makes any drive special. And the sky took on the hue that only comes after a violent storm, and the grass turned that extraterrestrial green of full summer, and there was haze on the river that ran alongside the road, and I said: I must remember this light, these colors, because it was like seeing a painting. And I had just gotten a Nina Simone CD and was listening to it, and it was a compilation of songs that had been recorded over many years but were all new to me, and one in particular I liked so much I played eight times in a row, because it was the perfect music for a day that had been pelted by a storm and washed clean and pure; nothing suited it like that voice. And I was glad to be on the road, many hours away from the ocean, headed in fact for Lake Ontario where there are no waves.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

You Know It's Summer When...

It's the middle of the week, middle of the day, waves are teeny-tiny, and there's still fifteen people out.

But what a gorgeous day. There hasn't been a nice, mellow, sunny day like this in forever. At least it seems like I've been waiting for it all year; I have. The kind of day when the water's just the right temperature in relation to the air, and you don't want to get out of the water, and then you don't want to get off the beach.

With all the rain we've had, it's the first great summer weekday. And everyone who knows, knows weekdays are the best.

P.S. There is the most beautiful full moon out tonight over the water. It's light enough to surf by, if you wanted to.