Tuesday, August 29, 2006


To the anonymouses (anonymai?) who commented on my last post... yes, I always give waves up to people who have priority - no matter new or experienced. (In fact, one of the surfers this weekend commented how I was pretty good at giving up waves in crowded situations... and I've found that I get a good number of priority take-offs in return.) That's not my point. My point in the last post was actually about me overcoming my non-conflict nature and giving suggestions to people who can actually take off on waves, but don't understand how beautiful a skill controlling your board can be.

I cannot wax any more superlative on the subject of a kick-out. It's such a gorgeous way to finish a wave. There are a couple really great surfers at my home break who can surf shortboards and longboards, but it's when they kick-out on a board longer than 9 feet that I have palpitations. In the chaos of a beach break wave that's closing out, they always finesse that board up and over the wave in a perfectly timed and effortless kick-out. About half the time, I can kick-out frontside, most of these are little baby kick-outs and nothing like the powerful arcs of these other surfers. Once in a while, I'll actually kick-out like they do and that's when I feel like a giant. On the backside kick-out, I'm still useless. I rely too much on kneeling, grabbing the rail, and pulling into the wave, sometimes in a cover-up, but mostly to punch out the other side.

But at least I'm not letting my board go.

I know I'm not at any kind of advanced level of surfing, but I do know I'm at a transition point right now. I'm not sure surfing is a kind of sport that you actually "master" because there always seems to be something else you can work on. Right now, I'm obviously working on the physical skill of kicking out (a failed attempt on Sunday resulted in a floater I was really proud of!). But more than that, surfing has always had that mental and emotional metaphor for me. And after being rather fearless and reckless (with regards to my own body, never with regards to others around me) and reaching some level of confidence with myself, I'm looking for a new metaphor. And I think it's going to have to be with how I interact with others.

In life and in surfing, I've always considered the feelings of others before my own. I've always recognized a need to be more assertive (in surfing and in life), but my non-conflict nature makes me walk (or paddle) away instead of confronting an issue. I'm not saying I'm going to go out there and pick fights and be an asshole. That's not me. Anybody who surfs near me can tell you that I'm always whooping for other people's waves. What I'm saying is that I would like to be better able to have a dialogue when something irks me instead of letting it simmer and twist up inside of me.

After reflecting on my inner dialogue on Saturday's incident, I actually talked to the girl on Sunday. She brought it up, actually, and apologized again for running into me. I took the opportunity to ask her if I could give her a couple suggestions that were given to me a few years ago. My insides got less twisted up and I hope the shared knowledge will improve her surfing.

And I'd REALLY like for this practice of being more assertive in dialogue to transition to my "real" life, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Home Break

aka Crappy Santa Monica beach break
aka Surf Spot of the Decade

Where did they all come from, these surfers? A refrain from last weekend and this weekend I heard from my buddies in the water, "F**k, if you looked at all the surfers in the water, you'd think this was a surf spot!" Granted, today was kinda fun, but the ol' grump inside of me started rearing its head when a kid started taking off on a wave that I was already riding. Gave him some stink-eye and he backed off. The kid on the soft top was an okay surfer, but there's no excuse for not knowing etiquette. I missed the ol' police presence in the water today. You know the guys. Those slightly scary guys who can surf circles around you and will put people in their place for any breach of etiquette. One's got an injury, one told me he'd be at work today, and I'm not quite sure what the other two guys were doing loitering around the parking lot.

I'm also never sure what to do when some of the newer people who I'm friendly with don't know how to control their boards. I was inside and I watched a girl I know take off on a wave drawing a line directly for me. She was looking ahead of her board and not right at her feet, but she was only looking about 3 inches ahead of the nose of her board. If I had been in her place I would have A) considered not going on the wave because there were two many people inside, B) gone on the wave knowing that I should trim more tightly on the shoulder, C) been looking WAY beyond where my board ended and where the water began, and, in the unlikely case that I would have come too close to someone inside, D) fell on the board and held on to stop it instead of falling backwards and letting go.

But I wasn't in her place, so I kinda saw what was going to happen. I decided that the safest thing for me to do in this case was to reach out and hold on to the nose of her board that was coming towards me. No, that's not right. The safest thing for me to do was to duck under the water, but that was not the safest thing for my surfboard.

I don't know. I guess I should have offered her my thoughts in that situation, but instead, the low-conflict kind of gal I am, I just said I was okay and that I had reached out and blocked her board with my hand. No worries.

No worries?

I come from a long line of worriers all the time. My bone structure and my worrying I've genetically inherited from my father.

I just don't understand why people can't see how ugly it is when they just fall off a board without making some effort to keep it under control and close to them? I don't understand why people don't see the classic beauty in a kick-out. Surfing's not just about speeding down the biggest baddest wave you can get. It's about taking control in an inherently chaotic environment.

And I guess I have to do that with people.

All that aside, I did have a great day of surf.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I "misunderestimated"

I honestly thought this swell wasn't going to get here, but I was wrong. And I'll force myself to listen to Bush's weekly radio address as penance.

As the Decider, I shot straight out into those waves today and didn't look back. Cuz I'm the Decider. I was ready to attack and smoke out those shoulders. Cuz we got weapons to find surf: liberty and freedom. Those other waves, you know, those closing-out brown-lookin' waves, they hate us. They hate us because they hate our waves of freedom and democracy.

(Oh, the waves were swell today by the way.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Where Grace goes, no swell follows.

Almost every time I've gone down to visit Little Miss N in Del Mar, there has been no swell. Even if forecasts say there's going to be a little bump in size, my presence pretty much assures knee-to-waist.

Even so, I had fun on Sunday in San Diego County. I brought down my darling Cooperfish to treat him to some shapely waves. It amazes me how easy it is to surf nice waves when you call a crappy close-out beach break home. I took off on some decent set waves and had some time to walk back and forth. I still chicken out before I get to the nose, and I'm not sure how to get beyond that reaction.

Friday, August 11, 2006

School of Wipeout

I thought I did stupid stuff in the water... but Mark Healey does it in double-overhead and tow-in waves in this video on Surfline. I'm dedicating my next good wipeout to the master.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A break from surfing... for a rant

Mooooovies suck. The movie business sucks even more. I'm tired of listening to sucking up, desperation, middle men. I'm tired of projects being sold on charm and smarm and who's in the damn thing. I'm tired of deals done out of relationships rather than out of content. I'm tired of corporate America which is what the media business is. Three white men own every friggin' thing you see on TeeVee, mags, and the big screen. (And Clear Channel owns the radio waves.) You know this right? Rupert Murdoch, Disney (which isn't so much a man anymore than faceless monster of shareholders), and Sumner Redstone.

Here's a media ownership chart that's a few years old, but I'm sure with all the mergers of company, the spheres of influence are bigger and fewer.


Don't EVER EVER let anyone tell you that the media is liberal-biased. When you have a corporate media, the only thing that media answers to is the DOLLAR (or maybe soon, the YUEN). And corporations are in the business of conserving or increasing the value of shareholders' dollar... inherently CONSERVATIVE.

I'm tired of this stupid business. I shoulda done what my daddy tole me to. Shoulda gone to med school. Cuz THAT business isn't dogged with corporate control at all. (No pharmaceutical pressure to approve drugs and push them through doctors, nope nope nope.)

Ack. I need to go live in a tree somewhere.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Whitewash waves - who knew?!

When I started doing this surfing thing, I didn't start out in the white water. I started out paddling, turtling, and paddling back and forth along the shore the distance of 6 lifeguard huts. I'm a good Asian and I always did my scales and etudes before I started practicing the concerto. When I started "surfing" I started on the outside waves. I got pounded. I missed waves. I learned by wiping out. I never ever surfed the whitewash. It didn't even occur to me.

But today, I sat on the beach for ten minutes watching Sensei J and Sir Richard bobbing on the horizon. Each of them got an in-n-out with some pretty kick-outs, but mostly, they were just bobbing beyond the head-high close-out sets. I'd just had a GREAT day yesterday at County Line. Head high and peaky, and everybody was cordial and followed etiquette (unlike Sister's experience at RPB). I think I got tubed, but I don't think it counts unless I open my eyes. All in all yesterday was a great surf day.

So you can imagine my reluctance to take the beating of Santa Monica close-outs. Then Ms. Birds joined me on the beach sipping her coffee and happily said, "I'm thinking of just playing in the whitewash!" Well, hell, the sun was out and I'd just driven from the boyfriend's place forty miles away (he's geographically undesirable), so I decided to take a spin in the whitewash, too.

I had SO MUCH STUPID FUN! I think I caught a hundred waves and I felt sorry for the growing number of schmoes bobbing up and down in the line-up. Each whitewash wave came with a requisite amount of silly posturing on the board and each walk-out was a work-out. Not joking. The inside rip was so strong, we were fighting it and the chaos of unending activity on the inside. I know I'm going to feel it in the glutes tomorrow.

My favorite wave was one I decided to take on my belly. As I was speeding toward shore, I saw this backwash wave come racing up at me and I held on for dear life. I launched off it, caught air, and slammed back down to continue racing to shore. Stupid fun!

One thing I learned about the white water I never surfed before: It's really difficult to maintain balance on your board. Because the water is more chaotic and the waves have less power, any imbalance can send you digging a rail and tipping. I think whitewater can actually be a good conditioning exercise for longboarders! I took some steps back and forth trying to maintain balance and I made sure to cross-step intead of shuffle. Another close-out day (which I think this south swell will continue to give our beach breaks) might see me doing these whitewater exercises!