Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Running down Rica - the Philosophical

This will be short, and when I have more time in the next few days, I'll write more specifically about the breaks I surfed in Costa Rica before I forget. (And, SurfSis, I rode both the 7'0" I brought but by Wednesday, I decided I was on vacation and didn't want to work for my waves so I borrowed a 9'2" epoxy from the surf camp AND a 10'2" epoxy which totally rocked!!! -- more on that later.)

The Epiphany

I once had a surf buddy who said, "Surfing is my life."

I kinda thought he was an idiot anyway, so my initial pause and raise of my eyebrow was not so abnormal a reaction. But I had a feeling that the statement was sort of weird and pathetic even if it were out of the mouth of someone less moronic.

Last week, probably about two days into being carted around to different sites and chasing surf all day to get skunked with windblown chop, I was surfed out. Never mind the 80-degree air and 75-degree water, forget the sparsely populated shoreline and surfing in boardshorts. I wanted no more. I realized my inner curmudgeon liked routine. I like to get my surfing in the morning and be done with it. I don't like spending an hour looking for the perfect spot because by mid-morning every break has a high probability of sucking anyway: sucking by wind, sucking by tide, sucking by crowds.

I discovered that surfing is NOT my life and I was relieved. Surfing is just one part of my life. It's definitely a part of my life that defines certain choices I will make in the future: choosing where I live, choosing my morning alarm settings, choosing my vacation spots... But surfing is not all of my life and I am glad to recognize that I need balance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pura Vida

So the water is warm and the cerveza is cold, but I'm not used to surfing mid-morning or afternoon which is what we've been doing. Mostly skunked with the onshore winds at Marbella and the howling offshores sending spray into your face at Avellanas. There was not enough swell to make the long-ass boat ride to Witch's Rock and Ollie's point more than interesting for the experience. I liked Ollie's but that was more because I learned how to pee in the water there. This winter I know how I'm keeping myself warm during dawn patrol!

Today was the first good day of surfing but that was mostly because we demanded a dawn patrol tour of Playa Langosta. We had gone there in the afternoon two days before and saw head high waves and 50 guys sitting on the limited take-off point. I saw an L.A. surf buddy who was there with his wife. Small world. I watched all the amazing surfers angle for the inconsistent waves and when I finally got my wave, I took off and never looked back. Outta there. Dawn patrol this morning was EXCELLENT. Chest-high and just me and N for twenty minutes until two other surfers came out to play. Enough waves until 7am when the peak quickly filled up to 15 people. Time for me to say goodbye. I got my long carving rides and left while I was still feeling good.


Went on to swellmagnet.com to read Uncle Grant's report about the crazy waves hitting Venice. Wish I were there to see it! (Nah, not really. I was actually hot in my rashguard this morning at 6:30.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm sad to miss this show...

From wetsand.com:
Wednesday the 21st, the shortest day of the year, will be seeing some big surf hit the coast. As we mentioned in yesterday’s report, this is from a significant WNW system traveling at low latitudes towards our region. Today, models have kicked this system up a notch; actually make that about three or four notches. This powerful system is now posted in NWS warnings, which considering their conservative nature on swell prediction is impressive. The NWS is warning of high surf and coastal flooding potential. The WAM model runs today are showing this system now building into an astonishing large system with 18+ second periods, and surf that could reach 20+ feet on the faces at direct west facing breaks. Now, bear in mind that we’re still dealing with some 48h+ models, and we’ll need to confirm this in the next couple of days. Nevertheless, significant swell is imminent; we just need to see if this system builds to a 10-15 foot swell-maker, or, as some models suggest today, a 20-25 foot surf pounder. To err on the side of conservative predictions, our call could be for 12-14 foot face heights at west facing breaks. To err on the side of caution, we’d call for bigger, more hazardous surf. We’ll have more details by Sunday morning, and keep you posted as models converge on this system over the next 36 hours.

I look forward to reading your blogs to see if this swell actually came in.

See ya!

One last blast of cold water at the Pier this morning to prepare me for the grueling 70-degree water and 85-degree air in Costa Rica. Red eye flight tonight, and this time tomorrow I'll be in board shorts and a rashguard (if it isn't too warm).

Rough life. I know.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Breakfast burrito?

I'm having a waffle.

I've been out of the water for nearly three weeks (reasons: lack of waves, landlocked for the Thanksgiving holiday, a week-long cold that made me lose my voice and sound like a Canadian goose). Yesterday I went back in only because I started having fear about going to Costa Rica and not having surfed for a month. So I took Doc to the beach and decided to go out no matter what. The waves at the home break were maybe waist-high-plus and mostly dumpy. One surprising wave loomed up and I actually made three nice turns on an actual shoulder. I'm still reliving that wave today because it was so shockingly good in such poor pickings.


This wave got me to thinking about me and surfing and how I love longboarding. These thoughts co-mingled with the hassle of finding a travel board bag, packing the board, and hauling the board across continents made me wonder why the hell I was bringing a short(er)board to Costa Rica? I'm having a waffle.

I mean, yeah, it would be nice to have my own board down there, especially if my snobby self hates the crappy rental longboards... but I *love*love*lurve* longboarding so that surfing the crappy epoxy plastic bubbling delaminated rentals in France last year was fun. Do I even like surfing the 7'0" enough to deal with the hassle of getting it down there?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lost: Timing

Last seen about 3 weeks ago, before cold virus and laryngitis took it away. Looking for timing before going to a surf trip to Costa Rica. If found, please return to Grace.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tag me, I got my shots

Little Miss N, with whom I'm going to Costa Rica, said I don't need these vaccines:

Hep A
Typhoid Fever

"It's Costa Rica!" she said, as if it was supposed to invoke an image of a sort of paradise.

I'm sure it was paradise, before Adam and Eve came. I envision the same sorts of problems that a high concentration of human poop in the L.A. river basin causes. Honestly, I probably shoulda gotten the Hep A shot long before this upcoming trip.

Anyway, my arm is killing me. The right arm, shot up with Hep A, is just a tiny bit sore. The left arm, with the tetanus/diptheria shot feels like it's been hammered with a brick fifty times. I had planned on surfing this morning, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I was actually on true dawn patrol this morning. Full moon out over the Santa Monica mountains, gorgeous colors of sky meeting water in a haze of a horizon... and no one in the water. No one was in the water because it was flat. Flat on the one day I try to get back to my old DP schedule. I turned on my heel, got in my car, and drove away.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Spicy surf

Saturday: short(er)board, decent-sized waves, crowded as all get out

Sunday: Doc 9'0", waist-high waves, remembering that I knew how to turn a longboard

So, Saturday night I went to have spicy Korean stew. And I mean SPICY. Like bacteria disintegrating spicy. The first time my Korean friends took me to this place, tears came rushing out of my eyes and gushing out of my nose as I had a naso-vascular reaction to the heat. Sweat poured off my brow. IT WAS GREAT! (Feeling it on the other end the next morning was not... too much information?)

Since then, though, I developed a red tide allergy this year which pretty much wiped out my sense of taste and smell. Not all taste, but the stuff I like best -- salty, savory, smoky. Recently, this has expanded to include my inability to taste some spicy food. I recently tried Killer Shrimp and their moderately spicy broth... absolutely nothin'. After telling my friend this info, Saturday night's excursion to K-town was thought-up in part as an experiment to see what would happen to me. Happy to say my nose was running and I was sweating. I don't think it was actually as spicy as the first time, but I'm glad to know I haven't completely lost the spicy buds.

Wine, however, has completely gone out of the picture. I opened a bottle on Friday and couldn't smell a thing. It just tasted like warm water with tannins. I had no idea if it was a good bottle or a bad bottle of wine. My guy came over and he took a glass. Immediately he said, "This is GOOD." Yeah, whatever, buddy. Drink up.

I'm not completely sure what to do. I like surfing and I like eating. Hard for me to give up one for the other. Right now, I'm being all Vulcan and being fascinated by what I can and can't taste... brunch at Joe's on Abbot Kinney last week was a really bad call on my part because I couldn't taste much of the pretty food on my plate. I fed the boy my food in addition to his own brunch and made him tell me what he was tasting in order to live vicariously. After one particularly loud moan of pleasure on his part, I warned him not to fake it.

In that meal, though, I could taste the fresh tomatoes smothered in a shrimp sauce. The acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes were actually bright on my tongue. I'm intrigued by this whole mechanism of what I can and can't taste and how foods might taste different to me, but this is gonna get old pretty quickly.

What's a foodie surfer to do?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Need more yoga

I was wondering when it would start happening. Since I've been back in the water more consistently and since I'm not on the heavy Cooperfish, and since I've been sitting in front of this computer all day again, I was wondering when my back would start freaking out on me. The answer: today. I was in the water for about 20 minutes and every pop-up got this little hitch in it. I had a decent right that I took all the way in and decided that was enough. It's time to start contorting my body again to build strength in all the muscles that aren't worked by paddling.

Also, I had serious longboard envy this morning. In the parking lot as I was pulling on my wetsuit, I spied a tiny woman barely carrying a huge single-fin. I looked at my un-longboard with some distaste. I do have good days on my un-longboard, but I never have the same joy as I do on the big board.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I read the swell energy was going to be down until the latter part of the week, so I thought I'd take it easy on myself and break out a longboard. But then I thought how that would not help my short(er)board training, so I compromised and took out a board I hadn't surfed in over a year. It was dusty when I got it down from the wall. It's a 1970s single fin -- my Disco board --with a diamond tail and wings. It's 7'0" and three inches thick all the way to the rail with a beak nose. The last time I was on it, I was coming off riding a 9'0" almost exclusively and, frankly, I sucked. This time, everything about it was easy. Paddling, taking off, turning. It's kinda like cheating now because it's so much like surfing a longboard (but without the longboard sexiness): turn from the tail, step forward for speed.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The good kind of sore

Sunday was great. I saw some of the weekend crew I haven't seen since I started having my weekend escapes in Valencia/Ventura. I took out the 7'0" Okazaki even though I was tempted to take a longboard because I wasn't completely confident of my abilities in what would surely end up being a crowded sunny morning. But I told myself I'd have to start challenging myself on this board if I wanted to be comfortable going to Costa Rica with it in December. So I tossed the board in the car before I could have second thoughts.

At the beach, I found chest-high waves came through with decent shape! I was surprised to find how easy it was for me to catch waves and pop-up and get the right stance. I'm no longer blaming my shorter board ineptitude on my ineptitude, I'm blaming it on the crap waves I surfed prior to Sunday.

It was so much fun on Sunday, I started attempting "things." Not quite tricks, just things. On one left, I saw the shoulder line up and I got a little speed going... enough to make me think I could attempt a snap. So, I set up and threw my shoulders and hips into cranking the board up and around. I don't think I really believed I was actually going to get even *close* to a snap, so when I saw my board go up and start coming back around, I didn't know what to do. I panicked and screamed like a little girl right before I wiped out. I came up for air with a grin as bright as the day.

This morning was much the same, not quite as good a shape and not as big, but I had a really good right where I did a couple of turns and did a serious "I know what I'm doing" kick-out. I landed on my board in the perfect position and perfect direction to just start paddling back out into the line-up.

I'm so happy with my progress, I may have to reward myself with a longboarding session soon.

I've decided NOT to reward myself with a new (used) longboard. (Surfsister knows what I'm talking about.) I was seriously thinking of getting this used 10'0" Boss that's on consignment. I looked at it and it's not quite watertight, but I feel confident enough in my repair abilities to take it on. I've been casually looking for one of these for the last 6 months, but the weight of new car and new furniture purchases have made the timing of this used board really bad. I realized Sunday that my jones for the Boss came in part from my dissatisfying sessions on the shorter board. When I have decent-sized waves, I don't think about plunking down $500 on a big board with holes in it.

(Also, I just got Bob-O's number, so I'm now seriously considering saving money to order a new 10-foot board from him next year!)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Toes nowhere near the nose

I use my toes to pop-up. Most surfers have no idea what that means because they're probably popping up the correct way. On a longboard, my toe-popping style doesn't matter and probably isn't even noticeable. On a shorter board, it's problematic.

I switched boards briefly with D and found that with his 6'6", my toes had nowhere to pop when taking off on a wave, so there was no popping-up.

I don't know if I'm going to fix this problem, since my toes have a tail to touch at 7'0", but I have noticed that I'm raking my toenails across the deck when I pop-up, sometimes slowing me down. Part of the reason I do this is my toes keep the tail in the wave. Part of the reason I do this is because I'm not sure the board is going to stay underneath me when I pop-up.

Yup. I probably should fix this problem.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just like a longboarder

So I got the paddling and the taking-off bit down on the 7'0" Okazaki, but I can't quite get my feet to the proper place on the pop-up. I find myself too far back on the board... just like a longboarder. Only, I can't walk forward on the board without the board stopping or squiggling out of the wave.

Nonetheless, I'm happy with the progress I'm making. I'm happier with the fact that I've only surfed the O the times I've been out at home on weekdays, no matter how much I want to break out the longboard.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Can accidents be avoided?

Okay. I'm alternately irked and relieved from Sunday's foray into Ventura. (And I think I'm actually surfing at the Fairgrounds, not C-Street, but I'd have to remember to ask someone to be sure.)

First, let me say that people are SO nice up there. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think that when a break is populated by longboarders of all ages, people mellow out. Or maybe I just have no perspective from surfing in the much more aggro L.A. County. It was much more crowded this week than last week -- probably because it was head-high to overhead on the sets, but even then, people were nice, waiting patiently for their waves and chatting. I met a nice woman my age who moved here from Hawaii and surfed really well with clean style. I also chatted with an old man who looked like a goat and who got two of the best outside waves of the day -- they must have been 9-feet at least.

Second, my waves were nothing to write home about. Again, I brought out the wrong board. Last week, I had Doc and the waves had no power, so I found myself paddling like mad and popping up only to dig a rail in when I cut too hard. I finally learned, but still, I let a lot of pretty decent waves go last week because of my mistake. So this week, I brought Coop, thinking it's weight would propel me down mushy point break waves. Well, yeah, propelling happened, but mushy didn't. I would have preferred Doc's lightweight speed to make it around some hairy sections. As it was, I took off on some big-ass waves that went nowhere, but the thrill of the take-off was worth it. My one good wave actually made me feel like a surfer as I made a bottom turn around a section, came to the top to feel it hollowing, stepped back to come back down and made the hollow section without wiping out, but as I came around the second bottom turn, I was too slow and saw the whole wave collapsing in front of me.

But to my point: I am irked because I pulled out of a couple of waves where I was free and clear down the line but there was someone paddling out right in front of me. There's a chance I could have taken off and cut the correct line so I wouldn't hit him, but I decided I didn't want to take the chance should I have screwed up. I had the heavy board and I didn't really feel like killing someone that morning.

Okay, I'm not irked because I was a thoughtful and caring person. I am irked because someone else, faced with the same situation with me paddling out DID NOT think to do the same thing.

So, I was paddling back out, looking for my coffee wave (the one to take me home to coffee) and I saw a two guys scrambling for a wave. I would have made it over the wave safely if it were just the first guy taking off deeper in the wave, so I'm hoping the second guy sees that he should pull back because 1) I'm right in his line and 2) there's someone else behind him. But second guy does NOT do this and first guy has to kick-out. There is no way, no time for me to correct the course of my paddle-out and eat it in the breaking part of the wave. All I can do is paddle as fast as I can and hope that second guy takes the straight drop instead of taking off at an angle right toward me. HE DOES NOT. He angles toward me on the take-off. I have no idea what the hell he's thinking. I paddle to the very last nano-second until I have to bail or get finned in the the head.

The wave washes over me and I'm hoping that my big honkin' board hasn't knocked out the shortboarder. I pop up to see the guy. I'm relieved he isn't dead. I apologize because I'm nice, not because I think I'm wrong -- but that doesn't really come across, does it? I ask if he's okay and he asks if I'm okay. We're all okay and nobody yells at each other. His friend asks if I'm okay and says the most important thing is that everybody's okay. Okay. We're all okay. And I am again amazed that everybody is so nice. Relief.

His friend says that he heard someone get a skeg hit. I look at the board. It's me. Two surgical-precision fang marks all the way through the double volan glass on the rail. I told his friend there was no way for me to change the course of my paddle and he said in that situation all you can do is throw your board toward the wave and dive under. Great. Try throwing a 35-pound 9-foot-7-inch board while you're floating in the water some day and see how that works out. Irked.

I don't know, can accidents be avoided? I say yes -- at the cost of losing what could be your best wave of the day. But isn't there always another wave coming?


PS. I really think I'm having allergic reactions to the red tide. It was back in force on Sunday and I spent Sunday night breathing through my mouth. Today, I'm hopped up on drugs.

PPS. At one point waiting for my coffee wave, I hear my name being called. WHA-? Nobody's supposed to know me here. I turn to shore and see Jen-n-Joey from my home break in Santa Monica waving at me. Small surf world.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What's that floating in the water?

"First flush" they call it. People are really horrible. After the rain, you can see what we do to the world lying in a mangled heap of convenient packaging discarded along the water's edge.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Waves North

I surfed Saturday and Sunday at a point break in Ventura and boy are my arms tired. Because of my laziness and beach break training, I find point breaks tiring -- even at head high -- because of all the paddling I have to do to get into the wave.

It's such a welcome break from crowded weird vibing in LA County. It's nice to surf a longboard spot with mellow people. It's odd to actually take off on a wave with shape and go down the line with NO ONE in front of you -- on the wave or paddling out. Shocking!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Better today. I don't want people to shoot me so much when I'm in the water. I'm getting more comfortable on the shorter board -- enough so that I did a "no-paddle" take-off when I was too deep on a wave and enough so that I actually walked forward on another wave that didn't have much power.

Worse today. Actually, it's always the same. Just bad. When I leave the water, go back home, shower, get in my car to go to work... the weight of the day starts pressing at each step of the process to work. It's not that all I want to do is surf all the time -- I feel like I'm over that obsession -- it's that I want to look forward to the day, but I don't.

It's always especially apparent when I have a good morning surfing (and today was, if only because I can feel marked improvement at learning the shorter board) and then get to work with the same old nothing. I need a new gig.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I'm too lazy to ride a shortboard. I don't see why I should waste my energy paddling into a wave when I don't have to even think about it on a longboard.

I know. I'm just whining. I'll get over it. I just hate feeling like a kook.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not quite surfing

I had a few waves today where I was actually surfing. You know, the thing you do when you get a wave with a shoulder and you pop up to your feet and turn a few times... surfing. But they were short rides and long lulls. I looked up and saw EsF get a nice long right. He kept going and going. He kept going until he hit shore. Wave of the day.

So, after more lulling and few shoulders, I saw this big steep thing come off the horizon and head right for me. I decided since I was obviously not going to get the longest wave of the day (claimed already by EsF), I would go for the most exciting wave of the day. I heard some of the pals whoop my name as they realized I wasn't backing off the close-out. I took off at the top of the wave, grabbed the rail, sped down the wall backside, miraculously kept all 9'7" of the rail from digging into the wave, closed my eyes and just waited for the smash. It didn't come when I expected it to. That was weird. Almost made me open my eyes. When the crash finally came, it wasn't where I thought it was going to be, namely, on me. Either I had been in a barrel and made it out of a section, or I was nowhere near as tucked in like I thought I was. "Surfing" blind.

Cheap thrills.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Old and creaky

It was my first day back in the water after two weeks and a cold. I forgot how much fun surfing can be when the water is clear enough to see stingrays underfoot and the sun is lighting up the sky (and unfortunately blazing down on fires in the valley). I also forgot how easy it is to lose muscle, cardio-vascular capacity, and timing when all you do is lay in bed and blow snot out your nose for two weeks.

Friday, September 23, 2005

137 pounds, 1 virus infection, 1 week no surf

I came back from the east coast with a cold. I would be okay if it were a normal cold, instead, I have the mother of all sore throats. I've never been in such pain. But a visit to the doctor told me I'd lost three pounds, even though there was nothing she could do for my throat.

I also came back from the east coast with a grudging acknowledgment that I'm no spring chicken anymore. I headbanged my way through a song late in a Cape Cod wedding reception only to wake up the next morning with a kink in my neck which progressed all the way down my back by the end of the day when we had driven to meet my brother in Boston. I was sitting in his back-room poker game with a backache that unfortunately, and amazingly, outweighed my curiosity at his vaguely shady hobby.

That said, I've missed and will continue to miss this swell until I'm well.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hopefully fewer pounds, 0 cigs, 0 alcohol units, no breakfast

I'm really glad I'm going to be out of town this weekend, because I could see the sets start rolling in this morning and it wasn't pretty -- but it looked FUN. If I'd done what I wanted to do this morning and taken out my 9'0" thruster, I'd probably have taken my share of suicide drops. But no, I kept to my commitment to ride the short(er)board until I learned how to ride it -- which I haven't done yet, so I hesitated on waves that the adrenaline junkie in me would have paddled for.

At 7am, there were some shoulders and I managed to hit the lip going backside -- ugly, but I did it. By 8am, I was shivering in my springsuit because wave after wave was big and unrideable. Gloved Guy was taking some insane drops and, from over one close-out, I could hear him hollering all the way down. When he paddled back out, I laughed at him.

"We could hear you yelling, 'Whooooo!' on your entire ride. That's a good thing because then we know you're okay!"

I'm glad I'm not going to be here this weekend. I'd be tempted to be a part of the carnage. Weekend warriors and crowded point breaks. Good times. I'll be thinking of y'all while I have lobster rolls on the Cape and chomp on a hot dog at Fenway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

140 pounds, 1 beer, 1 cigarette, 1 Killer Shrimp

I thought donating a pint of blood to the American Red Cross would bring me down a pound. I was in the doctor's office with my shoes off, hoping that bleeding the day before would tip the scale in my favor. It didn't happen.

Me and the Okazaki are doing better, but I still wonder why people feel the need to ride shortboards and "paddle." What is this "paddling?" Isn't it better to be up and riding a wave instead of swimming all the time?

I have to keep reminding myself that I have to ride this board like I don't have two longboards sitting dry in the garage if I want to learn how to ride this board. Good thing I'm going away this weekend so I won't be tempted to break out the 9'0" thruster when the purported monster waves come rolling through.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

140 pounds, 1 beer, 0 cigarettes, 1 short(er) board

7'0" Okazaki and me = v. bad.

I'm indulging my Bridget Jones neuroses at the moment. I'm taking a page from chick lit to chronicle my ill-fated relationship with a shorter board. I'm not usually weight conscious, but I stepped on a scale for the first time in a year... and I'll never do that again!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'd rather wash dishes

I surfed with N at Pipes in Encinitas this weekend. COLD! What happened to the water temp? On Sunday, I paddled a lot for rolling waves that didn't break. I turned to my friend and said, "Where have you taken me?! Don't you know me? I DON'T PADDLE!" But I got some nice long rides that made up for it. It's nice taking off on a wave and consistently finding a shoulder ahead of you.

On Monday, I was frozen because I'd learned my lesson from the day before. Don't paddle for waves that look good on the horizon, but peter out at the line-up. Since I didn't paddle, I didn't stay warm. Still, though, consistently kicking out frontside made the session worthwhile. Now, if only I could learn how to do that going backside.

Tuesday, back at the home break. Sunny. Warm water. BUT it's so hard to go back to those dumpy close-outs when you've had two days with shapely waves. It was so hard to go back to those close-outs that I woke up this morning at 6:30 and briefly pondered loading up the surf gear only to decide to clean the kitchen instead.


Also, not in surf news, I've been having a hard time giving the Red Cross a monetary donation (but they're getting my blood). I just don't feel like giving a percentage of my dollar to administrative fees in this case. I gave to them when it came to the tsunami in December, but for some reason I feel like the behemoth organization is not the best way to get things done here in the States. That's part of the social ethos that got us into this mess -- we rely too much on a large organization (the federal government and the despicable Bush administration) that doesn't have a clue about what's best on the local level.

(By the way, I heard Halliburton and their subsidiaries have already been awarded the contract to rebuild the military bases in Louisiana. Your tax dollars are going straight into the pockets of Dick Cheney, once he's done with his gig as VP of the U.S.)

I am impressed with the work of a local comedienne named Tig Notaro who will be driving down to her home town of Pass Christian, Mississippi. She's renting a truck in L.A. and making the trek to drive supplies down to Mississippi on Thursday. I'm about to get my ass off this chair and use my lunch break to buy things like bottled water and diapers. It's not going to be tax-deductible, but at least I know that the dollars I spend are going to directly effect a person's life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Malibu, 2nd point in the evening

First time at Malibu ever for me last night. It was crowded at 1st point, but I stood and watched the sexy sexayyyy longboarders do their thing. I took Coop to the hairier 2nd point to meet Dean and Steve. Head high set waves... and I always seemed to take the first one. I would turn to paddle out and see, on the horizon, a series of 5 more that I had to turtle and drown under. But still, I was happy to have a big and non-threatening (big waves, non-grumpy people) introduction to the spot. Grumpy people concern me more than big waves -- why is that? Maybe because nature is dispassionate in doling out its punishment. People, not so much.

This morning, I think I was a bit kamikaze at my break. I feel bad about that, but people kept paddling to where I was. See? People suck. I suck. I get grumpy and I get stupid. And I got the bigger, heavier board.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Heh heh...

Head high!

Two nice bombs of a right that stayed open on Sunday and Monday. LOVE it. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning, but I've moved it in hopes of catching a few more.

I'm slightly worried that paddling into head high close-outs doesn't get my adrenaline going like it used to, because I'm afraid I might be tempted to chase adrenaline in the future. But I think I'm just being neurotic about worrying.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

First words

I woke up this morning and something was different.

"Oh my god. It's sunny."

I usually don't talk aloud to myself and there was no one in bed with me, so you know how exciting the sight of blue skies through my window was for me to mutter words first thing. I hopped out of bed and suited up and knew there wasn't going to be great waves where my time could allow me to go, but I went. Swimsuit and boardshorts. Funky tan lines. Paddled out to the buoy twice.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

3 times to the buoy

It takes me a minute and 30 seconds to get out to the buoy doing a regular paddle and a minute 40 to get back knee-paddling. I only timed my last paddle to the buoy today, so this is a purely unscientific presumption: I suck at knee-paddling.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pretty, but never

Gene just did this. It's a very pretty 12-foot gun. Gorgeous, but I am at this moment promising myself that I will never be in a position to want a 12-foot gun. Overhead to double, okay. But I will not ever, never, no stinkin' way, set my sights for anything that needs a 12-foot gun.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Goofies all the way down

There's this earth/existence myth. I don't know which culture, but it starts with a person saying that the earth was supported on the back of a giant turtle. When asked what the turtle was standing on, the reply is, "It stands on the back of another turtle. It's turtles all the way down."

I surfed "LPB" for the first time with Surf Sister and CYT. Last year, I'd stopped there for a peek on my way to find surf. Shoulder-to-head-high FUN. I was so happy to watch all the little rippers and take my own drops that I got a little excited. I was so amped that on one wave, I forgot to look to my right down the line. I dropped in on CYT (who I swear makes every wave she paddles for). SORRY! Luckily, I saw her bright board and was able to grab my rail, stall, pull back, and hold on to my board so nothing and no one got banged up. BAD BAD GRACE.

But way fun otherwise. My first wave was a steep drop that I just had to get out of my system. It was big and had no shape whatsoever. I held onto the rail and just tucked in, speeding down the face of the wall. I got smashed on the inside, but the adrenaline was worth it.

I've never seen so many goofy-footers congregated in one place in my life. Goofies all the way down.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Full Moon

I surfed Full Moon Topanga last night with Firefly Mark.

SHIT. THAT's what surfing's all about. Use the Force, Luke.

Clear skies, picturesque light pollution coming off Santa Monica in the distance, and moonlight glinting off the rolling chest-high waves.

It took me a while to get the hang of it, and it took me a while to actually get into a wave because I was nervous about the quick hollowing of the point which always kicked my ass -- even when I could SEE it. But I got a few -- nothing like Firefly got -- but my favorite ride was one where the spotlights from shore reflected off the wave hollowing out and I took off anyway. I made it and was trying to get trim, but it was too fast for my Cooperfish and my lack of ability. I got tossed like I haven't gotten tossed in a while and it was my favorite ride.


Because this is how I learn. I am a student of the Wipe-Out School of surfing. You wipe-out. You figure out what you did wrong. You change. You wipe-out again. You adjust. You do this enough and then it clicks.

On a normal chest-high DAY at Topanga, there would be fifty grumbling guys at the point and if you got worked by a wave like I got worked on that wave, there would be no chance of you EVER getting to take-off and get worked again.

I was happy to be able to wipe-out at Topanga without all the pressure. I need more of those waves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


After weeks of flat, I knew today everybody would be out en masse to any of the point breaks that would take the South swell. I drove to Sunset with my Cooperfish Hornet, repaired, unwaxed, and saw 100 people sitting and waiting at 6:30. No thank you. I'd rather take my chances with close-outs at a beach break.

I ended up at the Pier and it was pretty much as Uncle Grant said (sans yesterday's Catholic guilt). But it was better than OP and I just liked the look of waves higher than my knee.

It took a thousand years to wax my newly repaired board, and I ran out of wax. But there was no way I was getting up to the nose anyhow. I paddled out.

Man, did I stink!

After actually starting to figure out Sensei J's huge-ass board, I was all wrong on my own board. I didn't even know how far forward or back on the board I was supposed to be when paddling out. Then, first wave, one with an actual shoulder... I friggin' kooked out and pearled. PEARLED! When's the last time I did THAT?

I figured out that I'd been shifting all my weight forward when paddling for a wave on the log so as to gain enough momentum to get in the wave. I didn't have to throw my whole body into it on my board. Fixed.

On a left, I was so far back on the tail that when I moved to turn it off the top, the board swung wildly out of the water. Obviously, my body expected to haul 35 pounds of log. I didn't have to do that either. Fixed.

I caught a few decent rides after those initial disasters. Still, though, not quite dialed back into my board. I guess I shouldn't have expected a homecoming with open arms.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It was the breast of times...

It was the worst of times.

I went out today because I've grown large and I thought a little paddle might help. I raced J-Deluxe out to the buoy. He won. Bastard. But he showed me how to make my knee-paddle more efficient.

Before the swarms of people showed up to (not) get (craptacular) waves, I had a surprisingly nice left -- the only wave with any kind of shoulder. I steered the borrowed boat of a board pretty well and was able to do a top-turn. As the wave closed, I did my patented stall and fall onto the leashless board (since I can't kick-out). Unfortunately, the water angled the board a little and hit me right in the breast. That's gonna leave a mark.

Everybody else is amped up because of this supposed swell coming in. I know better. I'm not a true surfer because I'm not that optimistic. I think those islands are in the way. I think we'll have more surf than we've had in the last two weeks, but I don't think it's going to be anywhere near chest-high. And we're talkin' about MY chest, the bruised one. As a short dumpy Asian chick, chest-high is about three feet off the ground.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My baby's back!

Coop looks better than when I bought it used. Aqua Tech color-matched it almost perfectly. Shiny!

Coop's back. Now, where are those waves?

Whaddaya use for bait?

Suzy Q called last night and said she was going to Sunset in the AM. I shrugged and said I'd go for a drive.

At 7am, there was nothing in the line-up except for a couple kayakers, a bunch o' birds, and Sherman sitting on his board casting a line with his fishing pole. I wonder if he caught anything?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What a gorgeous board

I pulled into Aqua Tech this morning before work just to harass them. Ken was nice (and working with a guy who'd brought in a beautiful longboard with a nose concave). He looked for my board and I immediately spotted it on the saw-horses. Big sleek glassed-in fin. Ken apologized and said it should be wet-sanded and ready at the end of the day. There's nothing to surf in the water, so I'm not overly worried. I was just happy to see all 9'7" of it.

Seeing Coop reminded me of this exercise I did at a writers' retreat years ago. We paired off and one person was blindfolded while the other person led the blindfolded partner to a tree. Any tree at the retreat. My friend led me from the clipped grass, over rocks, through weeds. I could hear the sounds of the ever-rushing river move from my left ear to my right as I turned and felt the sun on my face. When she put my hands on the bark of a tree, I was allowed two minutes to touch the tree, walk around it, smell and taste it if I liked, then she led me back to our starting point.

After taking off the blindfold, I was supposed to retrace my steps to try to find the tree. Crunching over gravel, hearing the river, feeling the sun, I knew I was going in the right direction. Then I got lost. I didn't know where to go from there.

I'm admitting this now after all these years... I cheated. I turned slowly in a circle and mumbled a little as if I was trying to get my bearing, but I glanced at my friend when she thought I wasn't looking. I saw her dart a look in a particular direction. I knew that was the way I was supposed to go.

(I also knew at that moment she would be a horrible poker player.)

So I made some noise about thinking maybe possibly I was going the right way and I stumbled off in the direction she inadverdently pointed. I walked about ten feet over some weeds and rocks and there it was. The tree stood there with its arms akimbo, "What took you so long?"

This is probably the closest I can come to explaining what a dream is like. I mean, when you're dreaming, you "see" images without actually seeing them. I didn't actually have the visual stimulus of actually seeing this tree, but I recognized it instantly. The tree was exactly as I had pictured it... without actually having pictured it.

And all this is to say that I had a similar feeling of "What took you so long?" when I saw my board.

And to say that there are no waves, so I'm talking about trees.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Who needs therapy?

I don't really have a subconscious. That is, my dreams tend to be pretty straightforward. Last night I dreamt I got my Cooperfish back from its repair visit to Aqua Tech. And I dreamt it was the size of a boogie board. It was also incredibly thin, like a dinner tray.

I think it's been over a month now. I've called every week or every other week and they tell me it's gonna take another couple of days. I think it's probably time to pay them a visit. I just want to make sure my board, all 9'7" of it, is there.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

To suck or not to suck

I'm wondering if it's better to suck in a wildly stinkerific kind of way or if it's better to just suck in a mediocre kind of way as I am doing.

I need a beater nose-rider. That's the next board on my "want" list. I want something that is huge, heavy, doesn't turn from anywhere but the tail, but is also old and cheap so I won't worry about hurting it as I learn.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A little better, but I still suck

I'm still not getting far enough back on the tail with this board, but it was better. I was at Sunset at some darkish-early time because I had to pick up my mom from the airport in the AM and I thought I'd get a few mushy waves in an effort to become less frustrated with my below-par skill set. I was able to kick-out in that lame floop-over way on one wave, so I figure I'm starting to get the hang of this Nose Devil thing.

The hardest part of the session, though, was bringing the board down the stairs and off the cement platform. If it were my board, I'd be less ginger with it. Since it's borrowed, I tend to be a little precious about it. I can't handle the pressure of dropping the thing on rocks; I'm parking at the dirt ramp next time.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I suck

I hadn't surfed in over a week. Reports of lack-luster surf couldn't drag me out into the marine layer grey, but I went out on Sunday just to be social. I had the Okazaki-7' which I could have surfed. There was enough punch in the water, but Sensei J had his 9'7" Cooperfish Nose Devil (nose concave, wide, square tail, big honkin' fin) and I thought it might be fun to go back to a big heavy board. First wave I took and I thought I was just rusty after a month of not surfing a heavy board and because I couldn't turn the goddamn thing. It's amazing how different this 9'7" Nose Devil is to my 9'7" Hornet model. Second wave I took and I started to realize that this board is a little beyond my skill set on a beach break.

MAYBE I'd do better at a point break.

MAYBE I just suck.

I was also on Sensei J's borrowed J.J. Perrin (sp?) which I liked better because it's a similar shape to my 30-year-old weirdo board that I haven't ridden in a year. I caught waves just fine, but I don't rip like Sensei J...

Yet. I don't surf like Sensei J yet. Someday, I'll grow up to be just like Papa Bear.

Today, though, no. He loaned me his Cooperfish for the week since mine is still in the shop and Mark still has Doc. I didn't wake up early enough to hit a point break, so I was back at OP. Okay. So I can make one turn, but I don't really "get" the board. I don't know what to do after I make the turn, especially when faced with a crappy wave with no shoulder. Gah! Tomorrow, I'm going to be haunting a point break near you.

PS. Where are you, Sir Richard?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

No surfing, just thinking sexy thoughts

I haven't surfed in about a week, but it doesn't sound like there's been much to miss. So, instead, I've been thinking. I've been thinking about the terrorist attacks in London and in Egypt... and the racial backlash and media depiction that isn't helping racial tensions. But this blog is about surfing... so much more important...

So, intermittently, I've also been thinking about the age-old fight (not quite as old as the one in Gaza): longboarders vs. shortboarders.

The last time I was on the shorter board, I gazed down the line at a stout man in boardshorts as he calmly floated to his feet on the huge-ass board and then flicked the board over the wave when it was ready to kick out. I thought, "Sex-ayyyy!" Then I thought, when was the last time that I saw a shortboarder on a wave and thought how sexy he was? Never really ever. Sure, I think he's talented, ripping a wave apart and all, but never do I think about how that guy might handle a woman (or a man, should that be the persuasion).

There is just something crazy sexy about a guy who can keep control of more than 9 feet of foam and fiberglass in a chaotic environment.

Friday, July 22, 2005


In a sort of unsightly panicked move on the O-7 (Guy O 7'0") today, I actually snapped off the top of a puny wave going backside. Woo! I'm sure it didn't look pretty, but it felt good when I stuck the landing.

Yeahhhh... I meant to do that.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

blah blah blah

I had to paddle away from Posing Boy today. I heard too much talking. Too much talking without saying anything. Same stuff I heard a long time ago. Repeating repeating repeating.

Funny tan lines

Yesterday I was hot in a spring suit, so today I was in a swimsuit and boardshorts.

Yesterday was fun, but I knew Thruster Doc was pooping out on the smaller waves, so today I put the 2+1 back in and gave it to a friend to ride while I went out on Dragon, my Guy O 7'0". I bought this board back in October from Nedra. I surfed it twice and then Cooperfish came into my life and never looked back.

Since I'm going to Costa Rica, and because the hopper plane between San Jose and Liberia only fits up to 7'0" boards, I have to practice before I take Dragon down there. I told my reasoning to Big Red Truck Billy in the water and he asked me, "When are you going?"


He laughed.

I know it's a long time away, but I'm one of those anal-retentive people who likes to be as prepared as possible. I want to be so comfortable on this board that I don't have to think.

To that end, I have to say that I was surprised how easy the whole transition was this morning. This board Guy made is really great. My problem is not knowing exactly where to position myself on the board when I paddle. Most of the time, I was too far forward and I buried the nose before the take-off. Buried the nose! On a short(ish)board! Other than that, the waves were surprisingly easy to catch and we all know turning on a shortboard is nothing compared to cranking around a longboard.

Now, if I can just stop surfing it like a longboard...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Thruster vs. 2+1

More on my latest obsession in this Q&A on Surfline. It explains why and how fins work.

Doc Lausch made my 9'0" with a lot of rocker and a bump in the tail to "loosen" it up. It also has a really hard rail at the tail and a round pin for bigger waves. He also makes his boards REALLY light and is generally known for his shortboards. I'm pretty sure this is why I surf my Doc like a long shortboard (or I'm trying to).

I've discovered, as the swell has gone down, that a thruster longboard doesn't work as well in small waves. Bigger waves, though, yi-yi-yi! Swoop down and up and back down again to make the most of the wave. Luckily, today, with the tide push, there were still a few larger left-over waves that came rolling through for me.

Monday, July 18, 2005

9'0" thruster

LOVE it.

It drives through turns and makes me feel large.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pier-ing over the ledge

Checked three spots this morning because of the alleged swell coming in. Sunset first, no. Then OP which looked about the same as yesterday. Then the Pier. Bobby G. and I could hear it before we could see it. The bigger waves were head high with no shape. The waves were stacked up one after the other (annoying at times), and they were hitting the sandbar pretty hard.

Well, that just sounds like fun. We suited up.

I'm still not completely in tune with the thruster set-up. I had a lot of fun drops today, but I'm not sure if it was because of the close-outs or if it was because of how I was surfing that I couldn't really make a true bottom turn on the bigger drops. On the plus side, the thruster longboard is really fast.

Best wave of the day was my second to last. There was a smaller wave in front of a much larger wave looming toward me. I decided to take the smaller wave that had better shape, knowing full well that I was going to get pummelled AFTER my kick-out. The wave had a decent shoulder and I was going frontside so I could see the bigger wave behind it waving at me with its giant, darkening hand. I waved back and saluted (seemed appropriate to acknowledge it at the time). I kicked out of the smaller wave in order to immediately dive off my board into the dark water, under the crest of the larger wave.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tinkering: 9'0" thruster

Yup. It works. I would prefer better waves with this set up. (Wouldn't we all?) Crazy Johnny wasn't so crazy. I can feel the new tri-fin Doc want to make sweeping drives off the bottom, but with the close-outs of OP today on a low tide, that wasn't going to happen so much. Bigger waves, bigger faces, that's what I need with this set-up. Weirdly, I wonder if I had had smaller fins might today's smallish close-outs been more fun and racier? At one point, I was thinking of going back to my car to put in the little side bites and keeping the G5 center fin in place. Stay tuned, mad scientist at work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My eye!

I'm going to rename this blog and call it "Random Body Parts."

So, I was planning to surf this morning and try out the thruster set-up on the longboard. Though it occurred to me that my first board was a used 1980s neon orange 8'6" Doc Lausch board with a glassed on thruster set-up. The fins were light blue. 50/50 rails in the middle with a bump to transition to a hard rounded pintail. It was 24" wide and 3" thick. I broke it because I like big waves and steep take-offs.

I digress.

I was planning to surf the new fin set-up this morning on Doc, but I made guacamole last night. Sounds like a non-sequitur, but follow:

  • My guacamole recipe includes a finely chopped jalapeno pepper.
  • I woke up at 7:25, which is on the verge of being too late for me to get a decent session in before work, but not late enough for me not to try to get to the water.
  • I stumbled to the bathroom to put on my contacts.
  • I evidently did not wash my hands very thoroughly after making the guacamole.
  • "Ouch" would be an understatement.

I spent fifteen minutes splashing water into my burning eye, thus pushing me past the time where I could make it to the beach and get in a decent surf session before work.

Sometimes I'm such an idiot.

Monday, July 11, 2005

New board for $60?

I'm glad that even though I don't surf for a week, I'm still able to hop back on the board with some amount of confidence. Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised by the waves that came through. From shore they looked like close-outs. From the water, they still looked like close-outs, but there were also the surprising shoulders that peeked out. Nice amount of wave energy and I felt like I was really getting to understand how to hug the face of the wave... at least going frontside.

Somewhere amid the fun, I snapped off the left side fin in my 2+1 set-up on Doc. I don't know when I could have done it. I didn't kook out that day and run it into the ground.

Sunday I decided to take the other side bite out and try surfing Doc as a single-fin -- 7-inch single fin. Hmmm. I had my doubts. I tried not to make judgments on the first few waves and wait instead until I had finished my whole session. In the end, it was a fun time, but I could feel the difference and I didn't really like it. This is not a single-fin board... at least it's not a 7-inch single-fin board. There was no drive into the wave.

Walking back up to the parking lot, I ran into Johnny who encouraged me to take on a thruster set-up on the performance longboard. Whaa---? Hmm. I've always said that Doc is a long shortboard, so I figured why the hell not?! Sensei J has a bright yellow 9'0" Hawaiian T&C performance board with three tiny fins -- it's a board he reserves for waves with big faces. So, hell, why not? I bought a FCS center fin converter and a set of G5 fins (on Johnny's suggestion). I haven't tried it yet, but there's some waves coming. This could be fun. 9'0" longboard thruster. Wacky.

If this works, I theoretically have a whole new board for $60... and I'd be interested in playing around with fin set-ups and seeing how they work. Brave new world! And cheaper than buying a whole board.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The nose

At first I thought it was allergies, then I wondered if it was a cold. Now I think it's the red tide that has been screwing with my sinuses. I don't usually get allergies, but I have had a couple of freak incidents in the last few years. I took some medication to alleviate the symptoms. That was three weeks ago. Then, when it really wasn't getting any better, I thought maybe it was a cold. So I took more medication to alleviate the symptoms. That was a week and a half ago.

Now, after my symptoms have progressed to the point of not being able to smell certain smells (those in the more smokey, savory range), and after I started complaining to some surfers, I think it's the red tide. I think something is screwing with not only the sensory nerves in my nose, but it's also screwing with the receptors in my brain. This SUCKS. I'd just quit smoking this year and food was starting to taste REALLY GOOD and now this happens.

When a friend came over on Monday, I had a finger of my favorite single malt scotch and was surprised at how little I could taste of it. There was still the fun burning sensation down the throat, but the smokiness of this particular scotch was completely missing.

And lest you think me a complete lush, I also fixed a pot of Darjeeling/Assam blend of loose leaf tea when a dinner party on Sunday retired to my place for dessert. I remembered the Darjeeling/Assam blend to be a smokey tea, especially after steeping so long between entertaining anecdotes. Everybody in the party was saying how great the tea was, but I couldn't smell or taste a thing.

I haven't been in the water for the last two days, but it hasn't really gotten better. I think I might have to go to the doctor before I start to freak out. I thought maybe being able to taste less would make me want to eat less, but instead, I seem to be shoveling food into my mouth at twice the normal rate in the hopes that the next bite will stimulate SOMETHING besides the growth of new fat cells.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Night and Day

Evening surf at OP last night ended up being rather fun with Sir R and Mean Howard. I cut too hard on my first wave and dug a rail (almost the entire length of my board) into the wave. Mushy waves require gentle finesse and body english, I discovered. Slow waves are nice sometimes because you can look down the wave and see four moves ahead. If you know where you're going, it's easier to understand how you're supposed to get there.

This morning, I was back at OP because Mean Howard woke me up at 6am with a phone call. "It's foggy and I don't want to go out alone." It was okay. Not as fun as the previous morning with bigger walls and sunnier sunshine, but still... it's surfing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I was back at OP this morning after so much Sunsetting lately. It was the usual: close-outs, but early on there was still some shape with a few sets of head-high walls thrown in just to keep you on your toes. I forgot what it's like to actually have to exercise wave selection judiciously.

The ZJ crew were taking autistic kids out into the water on soft-tops. The kids looked like they were having a great time.

I have to admit that I was having a great time on some of the nicer rights, but the most memorable wave today was a left that walled up just as I made the drop. I held onto the rail and tucked in. I couldn't keep my eyes open, but I felt the wave start to pick up the inside edge of my board as I got covered up by the lip. I held onto the rail with my right hand and kept my feet planted on the deck as I did a corkscrew inside the wave!


I swear. One of these days, I'm going to knock myself out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

And now I'm depressed...

I was feeling pretty good about myself this morning. I was at Sunset again and wasn't too antsy during the long lulls. I've figured out that the best way to have fun at Sunset is to chat with your neighbor, the regulars of Sunset being a jocular crew. Then, when the set comes, you drop in on your new friends (just kidding!).

But then I read a note on Wetsand.com about a surfing dog and I started feeling terrible. This dog surfs better than I do! I mean, I kicked out or "gracefully" finished every wave today, but Buddy's a DOG.

THEN, I read an editorial in Variety by Peter Bart about director John Hughes (THE BREAKFAST CLUB, SIXTEEN CANDLES, FERRIS BUELLER, etc.). Bart writes in the last paragraph:
Hughes' audience, now middle-aged, remembers Hughes' films with a fond glow and would love to revisit them. The trouble is they're not young anymore. Neither is Hughes.

When did I become middle-aged?!?! What happened to my "Sex and the City" 30s and 40s? I know the show is over, but I was hoping to parade around in sexy shoes with outrageous heels for another two decades.

I'm throwing in the towel. Next time you see me surfing, you'll recognize me by the surfboard outfitted with a walker.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Nothing's too good for my baby.

I'm getting the Cooperfish completely overhauled and it's going to cost a pretty penny. Several pretty pennies. And some corroded pennies that have been lying on the ground for a while. In fact, I'm going to go pick up those pennies right now because I need to scrape together some cash to fix Coop properly.

So this is what loves does, huh? Makes you spend lots of money on it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Oy! My sciatica!

Actually, I don't really have sciatica; the pain in my lower back is pretty much localized in my lower back. I like to call it the pain in my ass. I've noted that this only really happens when I have to paddle a lot for waves. Not only was I on a shorter board (9'0", go figure -- Doc feels like a long shortboard to me) but I was also at Sunset this morning. Paddle paddle paddle... pain in my ass.

After the first half hour of futile paddling, I had a few good waves near Dos Banos (with Ash) as a chest high set rolled through. Took a couple of lefts -- one of which turned into a steep wall as I was down in a rail grab. I looked down the line and wondered what the hell I was going to do about this, so I just tucked in. I'm pretty sure I got a little barrel because I could feel a curtain of water come down on my outside arm while everything sounded like an echo chamber. I don't know for sure because, well, I always close my eyes when I tuck in. I think this defeats the purpose of tucking into a barrel.

Then I "righted" my way back to the staircases to Uncle Dean and Bobby G. (Marlon got two more boards... that makes a full deck now... 54.) As I was looking for a last wave to go in, a nice bigger wave came through. I made the drop and the turn only to be blinded by the sun and the sight of a newbie trying desperately to pop-up. If I had seen him a beat earlier, I could have redirected, grabbed the rail, and stalled. As it was, I redirected too late and my board shot out at him. I felt really bad for letting the board go, but I also felt like maybe he'd learn how to look and pull out of a wave. I made sure he and his board were okay and paddled away... only to have another beginner drop in on me on the next wave, same situation, he was trying to pop up. This time, I had already made the bottom turn and was looking down the line when I watched him try to get to his feet. I redirected and grabbed my rail to stop quickly. No collision. I kinda knew him, but I don't know if I felt any better about this. He said he did see me, but the wave had already taken him... That didn't make me feel better at all! A basic skill should be to know how to pull out of a wave and when is the last possible second before you're going to take-off... You sit back on your board, pull up, and use your legs as if they were ski poles to stop your forward motion. Ack.

Oy! Sunset sciatica!

Monday, June 20, 2005

And so...

I'm forced to ride something different for the first time in six months. I mean, I've had a day or two, mere flirtations really, with other boards in the past six months, but it was to Cooperfish that I devoted myself. In big waves (which have been infrequent), the single fin turned like a dream. In small waves (which have been frequent), I could knee-paddle and sit cross-legged, floating in meditation.

And because I'm an idiot, I've layed up Coop with an injury for a while, and am forced to rekindle a relationship with another one of my boards. Naturally, I'm on Doc again, previously an intense old flame. Sunday I took him out, and initially, I was treating him like I would Coop (who does part of the work dropping into a wave for me because gravity likes its mass). After this realization, Doc and I came to an understanding that what we have, too, is love. It's just a different love. Faster, harder, and more work in the water. It's a flashier love, but that doesn't mean it has to be a flash in the pan...


Yup. I might need therapy.

The moral of the story

Fix your dings.

I was happy to surf with Sir R, Sensei J, and Baby Face K on Saturday. But on a nothing wave toward the end of my mediocre session having grown lazy with a leash attached to my knee, I stupidly didn't kick out of a crap-tacular wave and came up to find that the nose of my beautiful (if used) Cooperfish had delaminated.


What kills me is not that there is this swatch of fiberglass hanging off my board, but that I've been saying that I had to get these dings fixed for the last five weeks (some I inherited from the previous owner, made worse by me).

The moral of the story is that I have to STOP PROCRASTINATING. I do this too much with too many things in my life. I'm pissed at myself for letting things go until I'm forced to confront them. The curling piece of fiberglass is a tangible reminder. So the day of the delam, I spent an hour using elbow grease (and Bar Keeper's Helper -- a super fantastic cleaning powder which has burned away layers of my skin) to clean the 6-month, caked on grease off my stove-top and drove my Midget Smith funboard into the surfshop for resell. I still need to edit some short stories, clean off my dirty hiking boots, and hang up a few wall racks for my remaining boards, but I feel better that I've started.

Oh, and I have to take my Cooperfish in to get fixed. It doesn't look to be unfixable, though this morning Murphy's dad at the Venice Pier encouraged me to fix it myself. Um. No. I can fix rail gashes with a certain amount of confidence now, but working on the nose and the tail makes me nervous.

Friday, June 17, 2005

6 friggin 30

I was out of bed at 6:30am this morning -- which, a year ago, was not so early. I woulda been in the water already by 6:30. But this year, 6 friggin 30. Out of bed, filled up my water bottle with hot water, hauled the big-ass board into the car, and drove.

I had every intention of going into the water no matter what. I'd grown soft and grumpy, so it was time to go for a paddle at the very least. I drove to the Venice Pier and stupidly walked out to pet Murphy the dog and say hi to the Pier birds. There, from the Pier, I saw texture on the water and uninviting walls on the south side. The north side had better corners, but that's not saying much. Dribbly drabbly.

So, I drove to Porto for the first time since the parking lot's been torn up. Textured and peakier than Venice, but that's not saying much either. Waist high at the most and crumbly. I just couldn't do it. Woke up at 6 friggin 30 and drove around, but I couldn't do it.

I have no idea what it's going to take to get me out on the weekdays. The weekends I'll go out just to be social, but I don't really feel like I'm surfing anymore.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Surf flow

I rarely dream of surf: only once before last night. If I do dream of surf, I'm never surfing. Both dreams have taken place in the same make-believe setting where cliffs and stairs and boardwalks and limestone caves meet sand and water. Both times my surf was stopped by bad conditions. The first dream, the tide came high and flooded people's cars and sunk them into the sand. The second dream, last night, just as I was about to hop in, I noticed that the top layer of the water had frozen over. An ice floe.

I don't know what this means. I know that I used to get up and surf every day. I don't even get up any more. I think I've grown so picky about what waves I surf that it's coming out my subconscious.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On the NYT Bestseller List

My new bitching buddy Sir Richard and I have spent the last two Sundays floating around on the choppy waves at OP while coming up with a new self-help book for single ladies who surf. Sir R can't believe that I'm still single and that none of the guys who surf there have asked me out (that's very sweet of him). I then told him that I prefer not to date surfers anyway... besides the salt-water-for-brains thing, there's also an attitude that manifests itself, especially in male surfers: the "maybe the next wave is better" worldview. Who wants to be the "good enough until something [better, blonder, skinnier] comes along" girl?

Sir R told me that I was on to something and should write a dissertation. When he came up to me in the parking lot last week after staying in the craptacular conditions longer than I did, he pointed to the ocean and said to me, "And sometimes, you can stay in a relationship TOO LONG."

This week, he paddled up to me and told me he shared our conversation with his son. "He said you missed one major thing in your dissertation."

"Oh, yeah? I'm all ears."

"You forgot to mention that men who surf have already found their true love."

Oh, so wise.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Because of the low tide messing up my dawn patrol, I went to Sunset this morning. I had a few pretty good waves, but it's mostly what I expect from Sunset -- a whole lotta paddling. I'll probably be there tomorrow morning, too, but mostly because I'm gaining some weight in the middle of my body and I don't like exercising. "Surfing" is not "exercise" to me, so I can bear it. This morning I went out at Sunset only because I knew that if I drove back down to one of the beach breaks, it would bring me closer to one of the many breakfast places I like to frequent... and "breakfast" is definitely not "exercise" but would eventually encourage the need for more distasteful exercise in the future.

Monday, May 30, 2005

3 for 3

Just got back from visiting Nedra in Del Mar. This is the third time I've been down their to visit. First time, we ended up at Pillbox in Solana Beach. Small waves. Second time at 15th Street. Small waves. This time, the third time, at Pipes in Encinitas. Yup. Small waves.

Shape was good, people were friendly, it was amusing to watch Nedra be nice to strangers, so it still was fun. But eh. I'm tired of potential and am waiting for the reality of these supposedly fantastic waves.

Ah what a metaphor.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Back on Cooperfish

I can't seem to stop riding that board. Saturday I didn't surf, but Sunday I went out and had some pretty decent rides. I've only done a real kick-out once, but I'm finishing a wave as much as I can. I hit the lip a few times and on one nice one I was able to hit the lip and stick the landing. All on a heavy 9'7" longboard. I also had a pretty decent left where I didn't grab the rail.

Mama L had a BEAUTIFUL kick-out, though. We were about fifty yards apart and took off on the same wave toward each other. There was no panic, just an acknowledgement that we were both going to have to end this wave before we met in the middle. I was WAY TOO LOW (another bad habit) on the wave to do anything but try to smack the lip and stop the board. As I did that, though, I saw Mama L's board arch way up and over the wave before I fell into the wave. After I resurfaced, I whooped at her and cheered her awesome kick-out.

I love it when my friends get better and find new moves when I'm there to see it. It's almost like I can be there on the wave with them. Living vicariously...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Unremarkable, yet I'm remarking...

I went to OP with two boards in my car: 7-Something and Doc (just in case it was head high and glassy). The conditions weren't good for either board: waves that would roll so I knew I'd just be frustrated on 7-Something which I'm still learning, and sloppy waist-high waves so I knew Doc would feel every bump without the right push. So I went to the Venice Pier.

The shape wasn't so hot, but at least it was bigger and had more push. So I took out Doc just to see what I could see. Steep waves that walled up. I had some fun drops but not enough shoulder to play with. One really exciting left that, yes, I grabbed the rail on but I was speeding along with a split-second decision to either tuck closer to the wave and maybe get a curtain of water dumped on me or turn out and see if there's another section to be made. I'm a chicken, so I stood up and turned out. And of course there was no section.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

When will this be over?

Day 2 on the short(er)board. It wasn't horrible... it just wasn't a longboard. When I'm actually on the wave, I'm fine. It's the getting on the wave that is frustrating. I could blame the mushy non-breaking waves, but I prefer to blame my inability to paddle in and pop-up fast enough.

Supposedly a nice swell is supposed to come in this weekend. If it's big and glassy, I'd like to take Doc (9'0" performance board) out, but I also know that I'm only going to get good at a new board if I dig in for two weeks and get smacked a thousand times. Doc may win out, if only for part of a session one day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Because I'm one of those people who likes to tick things off lists, I took out my friends 7-foot something Mobley surfboard (I think it's 7'4", but he's not sure and I didn't care enough to get out the tape measure). He gave it to me to repair a ding he made (on dry land, in his room when another unused surfboard of his fell on it). I told him I'd repair it if I got to take the board out. Of course, I have a hard time taking anything else but my Cooperfish out in the water because I can't bear the thought of not surfing it. But, like I said, I like to tick things off lists, so I took the Mobley out this morning.

I haven't surfed anything shorter than 9-feet in six months. And that was only for a couple of weeks. Since November, I've really only surfed 9'7". First impression paddling out on 7-something? "Man, why do shortboarders subject themselves to this?! There is absolutely no reason to waste energy paddling out. I miss my longboard!"

Anyway, I caught a right straight-away and was sort of surprised I didn't doink. WOW is it easy to turn a short(er)board! Whip whip whip. Blam on the lip. I don't know if it's easy because longboarding requires some finesse in turning or if it's easy because it's just EASY.

Hardest part for me was knowing when I caught the wave and subsequently popping up fast enough to catch the shoulder. I found myself staring at the nose of the board a lot, which slowed my pop-up. Bad bad bad. I never do this on the Cooperfish (sometimes I don't even look at the board at all, which can create a whole slew of other problems).

Conversely, I found popping to my feet going left was fine. My bad habit of backside railgrabs were not a problem. So I'm locating my fear and bad habits and I'll be on this board for a while so I can break the railgrab habit and get back on the Cooperfish with better style.

I swear I must be the only person who gets on a short(er)board so she can get better on the longboard.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


It's my birthday and I really wanted a good birthday wave. I'm not greedy. I just wanted one great wave. I had an okay left, but I still started the shoulder with a rail grab by my index finger (which is really not any better than doing a rail grab with my whole hand) and an okay right that would have been great if the wave hadn't walled up, causing me to swing the board up early toward the lip so I wouldn't get smashed in the head by the wave.

Most everything else was closed-out or not breaking. I did a lot of paddling chasing my non-existent birthday wave and it just frustrated me. I tried to calm down in the beautiful morning -- sitting lotus-style on the longboard. But mostly I kept waving at the waves and cursing the walls as they came up to me. I felt like John McEnroe cursing into his racket and at the line judge back in his glory days, so that was kind of fun. Then I realized that beginning with such a crappy session could only signal a day that had nowhere to go but up.

So, I'm happier because one of my friends emailed me a birthday greeting with a ridiculous court case attached (here) and I read a surf report that says maybe Friday will be big. And it will be high tide in the morning. So maybe it will be big and mushy and I'll get my great wave on that day.

Surfers are so optimistic.

I haven't been surfing much lately.

(Complete the syllogism.)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

bad habits

I will not grab the rail going backside.
I will not grab the rail going backside.
I will not grab the rail going backside.

Well, maybe sometimes, when it's steep...

But I will not grab the rail going backside.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Look where you're going?

Ever since I learned how to bottom turn and top turn, I've always looked in the direction I've wanted to go. Today, though, I got a little ahead of myself on one wave.... a beautiful chest-high wave that set up nicely. I popped up at the top and started the drop, confident in my ability to do a frontside bottom turn just by touch. I looked toward the shoulder to find my line and make sure the shortboarder wouldn't drop in. Then I felt my giant board get loose -- not a good loose, it was the bad "wave is hollowing and I'm not on the tail" loose. So I tore my eyes away from the shoulder and looked at the nose of my giant board become a diving board.

I was too late to scramble back to the tail. So, slam! The wall came up, flicked the tail up, and slammed my nose down into the flats. I let out a yell before I drowned, mostly to tell the shortboarder to go ahead and take the nice wave.

He did and when he paddled back up to me after the wave, I asked him if he was glad that I totally messed that wave up so he could take it. He was pretty stoked about the conditions today.

Other than that wave, I had a great day. No other swan dives off the board happened. And I had a lot of fun scrambling back and forth on the deck of my board to get speed and turn. I love turning my Cooperfish from the top half of the board. It always amazes me that I'm able to do that because the board drives faster when I'm up there.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Is this what love feels like? This giddy lightness that floats you above the ground?

I bought the Prius because my 13-year-old oil-leaking, oil-burning car was starting to make me nervous. It's been a week of driving bliss, and I didn't think it could get better... until surfsister gave me a board bag so I could see if my 9'7" Cooperfish would fit inside the car.

This morning, after an unremarkable session, after shimmying the boardbag over the big board, after folding down the back seat and the front passenger seat, I hefted the monster glassed-on single-fin in through the hatchback and over the front dash! There are inches to spare!

You know what this means? I can get a bigger board.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Accidents do happen

A week ago Sunday, the water was Santa Cruz cold in L.A. I could feel the cold through the neoprene of my stinky booties in my first step into the ocean. But I stayed out for over two hours. Why? I was having a fantastic session! I did a cheater 5! An honest-to-goodness cheater 5! I held up there for about two seconds before I just sunk the board. I never got back up there again, but I was hanging out in the front part of my board on a lot of waves, feeling how loose the board was and trying to keep my balance while turning from the front.

Then, this past Friday, I did real kick-out! Not just a lame floop over the wave, no, I did a REAL WHOMPING ARCING kick-out! It's that Sensei J and Joey kick-out. They make it look SOOOOOOO easy. Anyway, on Friday, the board arced straight up toward the sky and over the wave and I was lying on the board ready to paddle back out toward the horizon before I knew what had happened. THIS, honestly, was more exciting than the cheater 5. I haven't been able to do it again, but I'm encouraged.

Friday, April 08, 2005

chop chop chop

What a desperate people we surfers are to go out in conditions we had today. It's been so flat for so long and I was so tired of running that I was happy to see some size on the water... even if it was choppy wind-swell in 54-degree water with a good 13 mph cold wind. At least it was sunny.

The rides I got were pretty decent, but I was back on the ocean-liner (the 9'7" Cooperfish) and trying to paddle against the current to keep from ending up in Venice was making me sea-sick. I started hallucinating that my board was talking to me, "You fixed me and waited so long just so you could take me out in THIS?" I started to feel guilty.

On the plus side, though, I could really feel the flex on this board as I paddled through every single nausea-inducing ripple. I love how the board sounds and how the board gives -- kinda like really good shocks. It takes big smacks of water and dissipates it through the entire length of the board so that it kinda vibrates and hums pleasantly underneath you.

I'm talking about a surfboard. Don't let your mind go to the gutter place!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

the Blow-up Board

I was down in San Diego/Del Mar and ended up surfing with Nedra in Solana Beach at a spot called Pillbox. I don't know why it's called Pillbox. Anyway, there was no swell, so it was small and the tide was coming up, but still, people were friendly and it was fun.

A guy paddled up to me to say hi and, "Have you ever seen one of these?" It was an inflatable surfboard. I switched boards with him. It was a 6-foot-something fishy twin fin. Really really wide.


It was like surfing on an inflatable bed! It paddled into waves easily (because it was so floaty), but because the waves were so small and had no push, this fish kept letting the wave slip out. You really had to force the thing down the small wave in order to stay on the tiny shoulder. In any case, it was fun for a lark and I would consider getting one of these things for guests who visit and want to have the surfing experience without having the near-drowning one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The boards I love

I went back to my Doc Laush Surf Prescriptions tri-fin performance 9'0" today and what a HUGE difference from a Cooperfish double-glass singlefin 9'7"! I had forgotten how fast Doc was, and this was the first good day that I've been on it with the smaller 7-inch center fin. I traded the 8-inch fin with Chris G. a while ago. I may be remembering Doc differently and my surfing has probably changed because of the honkin' single-fin Cooperfish, but I swear the difference in having a smaller fin is the difference between surfing with a longboard style and surfing with a shortboard style.

Today, on a 9'0" I felt like I had to envision the thing like I would a shortboard. It takes off fast and it turns by driving into the wave rather than by finessing trim. It's quite an aggressive board... and exciting in a whole different way.

I've been on the Cooperfish almost exclusively for the past four months and I'd forgotten how much I used to love Doc. Nice reminder today that a girl should be able to wear diamonds or pearls when she feels like it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Frank's Corner

I'm going to dispense all that Frank wisdom that trickles down between sets outside and between sips of coffee on the wall.

Two years ago, Frank helped me out when I complained that I always seem to lose the wave even when the shoulder was good (this was after I'd learned how to turn). He made a general motion toward shore and said, "Grace, you want to stay on THAT side of the wave."

Simple advice, but profound to me for some reason. Stay on THAT side of the wave! A-ha! So I have to keep turning this board. I can't just set a direction and go... I have to actively maintain trim to keep on the correct spot on the wave!

And I haven't looked back since.

Yesterday, I was complaining that when Topanga was big it always seemed to kick my ass when it hollowed out suddenly. (Complaining to Frank always elicits good advice from him.) He said, "You have to look really far ahead down the line to see what's coming up so you can plan your moves now." How far? He pointed to a trashcan about 25 feet away, "About at that second trashcan." Yeesh. I mean, I look at the wave, but I look about half that distance.

So, today I tried it on some great shoulders that set up for me and looking that far ahead opened up so many possibilities for me! I realized I'd have to drop lower to make a closing section, but it was possible to get back to a shoulder after it, and I knew way ahead of time where and when I should kick-out because further down the line it was just a big wall that would be no fun.

Woo-hoo! New things to practice!

Thanks, Papa Frank.