Thursday, May 13, 2010

Also: Surfing

I had another session with Jules on Tuesday (and then I'm caught up! Thanks for being patient and encouraging during all this surf talk.) Surfing three times in one week means summer is coming. It also means: Omg, my life is so good, I just surfed three times in one week!

Tuesday was another big and junky day, and I would not have been playing in those waves alone. At one point a few kids came out and briefly tried to find something to ride, but other than that, we were pretty much in the water alone. I think it got up to 8', and at one point a wave came up so big that Jules (who was holding my board at the time, thank god), just went under the water and ditched my board. It was pretty aggressive. Other than that one, we did ok, although I sure noticed that those kinds of waves tire me out. Getting smacked in the head all day uses up a lot of energy. About half-way through, the undercurrent got really strong and it took so much strength just to walk around in the water. I slept really hard the night after that lesson.

The best thing about Tuesday was my first couple rides of the day. I hope I remember these rides for a long time. Jules always tells me to take a belly ride in for my first ride of any day just to warm up, but I can never resist attempting to stand and do my thing. Well. On my first ride, I caught a nice, strong wave, brought myself upright to a standing position in the most slow-motion, perfect flow pop up I've ever done, and stood upright for a nice, long ride in until my fin hit the sand. It was nuts. I had time to look up to the trees above the sand, look back at Jules, and look back to the shore. Nuts. I don't even think my arms were extended for balance. It was really crazy. Then I went back out, caught another wave, and did the exact same thing: totally smooth move, just perfect flow, standing sideways and totally upright like when I'm standing on the ground. All the way in. Complete craziness. All I can say is that it felt like totally peaceful, slow motion craziness. Heaven. Or crack.

I got about five good rides in (but no more as awesome as those), and then spent the rest of the time trying to do those first two rides again. I wasn't able to, and it got kind of frustrating. One problem is that I'm so used to falling that, as I get up, I keep my body in a position where I'd be ok to fall. It's not so good. It really works against me committing to the ride. I'm just not sure what else to do because I prefer to fall into the water vs. onto the board. I've fallen on the board during a ride before and it hurts. Another problem is that I'm still pretty afraid of pearling. I'm surprised at how much, and I'm not sure what to do about it.

But I admit that even the frustration of going through 2 more hours of nothing great wasn't able to take away the feeling of those first two rides. I never wanted them to end. I guess it's what getting so much time in the water in one week does for you - just allows you to really practice and progress. It felt amazing. I can't stop thinking about those rides.

The only other thing I want to remember from that day was a bit of a tough encounter after my lesson. I went back to the surf shop to ask the owner about getting a bag for my board. I don't care that Jules says all that wax is nourishing my hair :) I'm sick of it taking an hour to get a comb through it after I'm in the water. The shop dude is just a great guy, and he's been a huge advocate for me this past year. He gave me the Super Duper Bro Deal on a board bag, and then started giving me a hard time about still taking lessons. Now, the past few times I've been out to the coast, he's been telling me I need start going on the outside (um, further into the deeper water; outside before the waves break) and riding green water. I just blow this off because - please. A month ago I stood on my board for really the first time. But that day he was telling me that he's sure I get a lot of good information from Jules, but that I need to think about stopping lessons and getting out on my own. He was reminding me of all the folks I know from the shop who I would see in the line up, and he also said that the more I surf the more I'll meet people and make friends with other surfer girls.

This was really tough for me. I explained that I've practiced quite a bit on my own, and that I enjoy it, but that I just don't feel comfortable going out alone unless it's summer/early fall. (The waves are much stronger in the winter.) If I didn't go out with Jules, I wouldn't go out at all. Other than that, I was kind of tongue-tied and didn't know what to say. Going out with Jules has really nothing to do with any information she gives me - she's super smart, but to be honest, I forget most of the surf stuff she teaches me. And it doesn't really have anything to do with not wanting to be alone. I just know myself - I know myself - and I know when I need someone experienced with me to feel safe in the water. And I don't want to not be able to surf October - June because the water is too rough for me. And I've been in the water when I don't feel safe (black eye day) and it doesn't work well.

I don't know, it wasn't what he said, it was how I took it (poor guy probably just feels bad taking all my money), but I felt lousy afterwards. I felt like someone was telling me I was doing it wrong. Jules has been saying lately how "unique" I am in my approach to surfing, meaning, I guess, how I process it so holistically, and she means it only as a compliment. But I don't know. I wanted to say: Will you people please quit having opinions about me. I'm doing my own thing; go do yours. (I know I'm overreacting. That's cool.)

The thing about meeting other surfer girls really bugged me. I mean, I don't not want to meet people, especially because I think you can only really talk about surfing with folks who surf or you end up sounding pretty strange. But one of the specific reasons I wanted to learn how to surf was to have something I could do alone, something that could be a meditation for me. And if I do want to surf with buddies, I already know people who surf (or want to.) I felt like: don't assume things about me, don't assume I'm like other people. I'm me. I know I'm an unlikely surfer, and I know I've been a ridiculously slow learner. It's been very embarrassing for me. But this is what I do: I do things my own way. In my own time, in my own order, in my own way. In my world, everybody gets to decide for themselves what's important. I'm not going to do something a certain way because someone I don't even know has decided that's the way to do it. I can't imagine anything more stupid. I decide what has value in my life. You can say whatever you want. And then I'm going to do it my own way. That's how that works.

Anyway, I know he wasn't trying to tell me not to do my own thing. It didn't really have anything to do with him; he's just a cool guy who wants me to get all the tasty waves I can get. I just noticed a really strong reaction inside of myself and wanted to be sure to remember.

One of the stories my favorite Grandfather used to tell was about when we were all over at his house having dinner in the 70's. I think I was under 5 years old. We were getting ready to eat and I was saying the blessing for the meal - some kind of canned "God is great, God is good" type prayer. At one point he corrected me because I got the wording wrong, and I stopped and said to him, "Listen, Grandpa, you do it your way and I'll do it mine."

That's all I'm saying.


  1. I'm glad you made more progress. You really do take me out there with you and, while I'm reading you, it feels like I've been on the same learning curve. You're a skilled writer.

    I also recognise what you've written about Surf Shop Dude. It took me back almost (is it really?) 20 years, to when I took up Paragliding (my first lesson took place in the US, just outside San Francisco). Back in the UK, I progressed quickly - it felt so natural - but then I was completely turned off by the regulated, club-focussed environment. What appealed so much to me was the freedom and independence. Like you, I wanted to do it alone, to be out there connecting with Nature and meditating. Talking to my version of Surf Shop Dude was like having a wonderful symphony spoiled by discordant notes. I was drawn to my sport from spiritual need, a need to connect with myself rather than other flyers, and the social aspect just felt like the wrong direction.

    Like you, I reckon Surf Shop Dude is well-meaning, but just doesn't recognise that you are a different type of person, more INFP than ESTJ. As a shopkeeper he's most likely more of an extrovert, certainly. It's difficult, but I guess you have to read through the lines and silently thank him for being interested and caring about your progress rather than just taking your money with no personal interaction. I'm sure a couple of "Oh, I just want to follow my own path" comments will get through to him.

    Sounds like you knew exactly how to tell people that before you were 5 - good for you! x

  2. Fuckin' A! You know what you want and what you don't and you're not afraid to show it. I love that about you, Miss Thang! You're a shining example for little self-conscious types like me, who need to figure out more what *we* want and not always worry about what everyone else thinks. Thanks again for the inspiration! :)

  3. Great post. :-) Paddle paddle paddle pop!

  4. I love this, babe. Like, a lot.

    It really is YOUR thing, and as helpful as that guy probably thought himself to be, you don't need anyone to tell you that you can't do it YOUR way.

    I honestly don't know that I would be super comfortable going out without someone else ever. I'm sure some of it goes back to my dad and the issues I will always have with water because he drowned. While I consider myself to be a pretty kick-ass swimmer, the ocean doesn't mess around. It doesn't care that I'm a good swimmer, or that you, or anyone else, is a good surfer.

    All of that to say: It's your prerogative to go at your own pace and it seems like it's working beautifully for you. Those two runs sound AMAZING.

    And I seriously can't wait to come paddle around with you one of these weekends.

  5. Reason # 53 why I love you:

    "I'm me. I know I'm an unlikely surfer, and I know I've been a ridiculously slow learner. It's been very embarrassing for me. But this is what I do: I do things my own way. In my own time, in my own order, in my own way. In my world, everybody gets to decide for themselves what's important. I'm not going to do something a certain way because someone I don't even know has decided that's the way to do it. I can't imagine anything more stupid. I decide what has value in my life. You can say whatever you want. And then I'm going to do it my own way. That's how that works."


  6. Nothing irritates the shit out of me more than having some goddamned fool tell me what to do.

    Now, me telling other people what they should do? Well, that's totally helpful, of course.

  7. Seriously, you have to do it your own way or you're never going to be comfortable surfing. If you still need/want someone to go out with you in winter then that's your right to have someone out with you.

    Personally, the only surfing I've seen is on the California coast which is a complete 180 than what it is up here. (no wet suit, easy waves, not super choppy.) So if you want someone to be there with you, more power to you for knowing than instead of just being stubborn and thinking "I can do this myself" and getting hurt. (Longest sentence ever!)

    I want to learn to surf, after all my boyfriend does it and he talks about how awesome it is. It was always on my "life list" but I just never got around to it back in California.

  8. I love your story about how you do things your own way. I've always felt like I did everything so different from everyone else. I've always done it "my way".

    It's great to hear there is someone else out there that shares the same reality:)

    Keep doing things your way because if you don't you will never be happy.

  9. The awesome thing--aside from two sweet smooth rides--is that you know what's right for you.

    Also recognizing what's your stuff and what's surf shop guy's stuff is. That's worth a lot.