Friday, April 27, 2007

Thoughts from just North of South


There's a milky sky of grays and blues above the Pacific as I look out to six surfers playing in the high tide push of an otherwise weak swell. But do not get me wrong, just an hour or so ago I was one of the six. Actually one of the three at that moment, but I digress. Presently I sit atop sandstone with my tin cup full of wine- I look out on Cardif-by-the-Sea and I look back on a fun session in a place I had never surfed before. I'm camping at San Eligo tonight and I got one of the best campsites, #57, in the entire camp. There's a view of the break from my picnic table and I'm on the beach level, no walking up and down the cliffs, just a few steps and I'm on the sand. I would have been happy with any site for I am just happy to get out of Orange County but to get the best site in the entire camp is really stoking me out. Call it karma, call it what you will but tomorrow in the AM, after some oatmeal, a bagel and some fresh French Press coffee. I'll be walking from my tent to the surf.

There are four surfers left and I would assume that the sun has now gone down. There is too much cloud cover to see any sky which means no sunset and also means no stars tonight. I had rather hoped that I would have been able to have a good night sky in which to watch as I sat on the beach but alas, no. Though I couldn't be further from upset at this moment. I don't even think rain could spoil this feeling for me.

I think on the fact that I'm alone right now, a thought which usually brings me any variation of sadness or depression, but now leaves me rather blase. There is nothing so unique or solitary about this moment which couldn't be shared with another -- it's just that I'm OK with it for the moment. I thought of Talia, one of the people who puts my travels to shame with her escapades, on the drive down here. I called her later in the day and we had a good laugh as I drove North from checking the surf at Torry Pines and she got ready for a business dinner in New York City. At this moment, the physical but not metaphorical, darkening moment I think on lots of people. People I love, people I want to get to know better and I think on sharing my ambition to sit on the rocks into the twilight. Though I am alone, that fact doesn't stop me from doing what I want to do and, I hazard that, that is what pleases me into the night.



I rose early this morning with the chipmunks. I kept putting off getting up and thought it was much later than 7am when I sat up in my sleeping bag. I made my coffee and my oatmeal and took them up to the bluff and sat upon a picnic table and watched the swell come in from the dawn. The wind was already hard and it was only 7:30. There were peaks and a few guys out but it didn't seem as if the tide was right for the place that I had surfed yesterday so I decided to pack it all in and drive up the coast and check for a more wind sheltered spot.

While packing I thought of how I must look to those around me. The lone wolf turning down some sort of surf and packing it all in before most people are up and I think on how they must wonder where I'm off to next. What's so important that 8:15 in the morning can't wait for...and there is no answer and that's the let down. I think south, I think Mexico--it's right there like a mysterious woman calling me from the shores. I could just keep going south, stock up on food and gas, and keep going. And I wonder what stops me...

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Consumption

I was doing some packing today and came across a letter from Dannimal from when he was fresh in Guatemala. He talked of time and it's allocation and how even on a basic level, something you love, (in his example writing and then furthered with guitar and song writing) ends up taking up your time and it can easily turn into "work." He used the "day off" metaphor of having nothing to do but spending six hours with pen or guitar in hand and then be left with limited time to accomplish everything else you wanted to do that day. I found this ironic for right as I got sick, my last day in the water, I thought on this subject and upon returning to the truck jotted down the shards of a conversation Taylor and I had some weeks earlier on surfing and work.

I think on Taylor and I's conversation of late, the one of delegating time and the different avenues of pleasure. How if you take out all the other pleasures in your life and focus all your positive feelings and energy (i know i sound like a hippie) into one specific aspect of your life then that aspect which was once so pleasurable becomes tiresome and ceases to bring pleasure but takes on the roll of being a chore of pleasure. The pleasure flees from the activity and it becomes a responsibility.

I never did ask Taylor what his exact thoughts were on the subject but it's something to that extent. When I wrote that excerpt I was still in the throws of Lent and I was still sober. Now that Lent is over and I can drink again I have started to see where I took more out of my life than just booze. I was taking everything pleasurable out of my life. Even though I still saw friends I would remove some aspect of the encounter because I was without a beer in sight. I made surfing the only true aspect of my pleasure because it was something that I had never done drunk and, at the time, I was learning how to do just about everything again while sober. And I can say that being sober didn't make sense at every point. I'm not saying that either extreme is the answer but rather that either extreme is never the answer. Maybe that's what I had to get out of all of this, maybe realizing that I can't annex myself and think that I can fit into the same society I live in is an option. Maybe that I need to retool my thinking and my environment. Cole, at one point during lent, questioned my sobriety in the way that if I was to just go back to being either the party animal or the wall flower, then what would be the point of doing it at all. She brought this up at an early stage which made me question my fasting, and I can not thank her enough for she gave me an answer to a blind question I was existing in. For I'm finding now that it's not one or the other but the degree of consuming one or consuming the other.

(On a side note, I did not head south today but will do tomorrow)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Continuing

Billy Joel plays on my stereo, the coffee pot clicks from the kitchen, my shades are drawn back, I see a sky smeared with clouds and I watch the trees get abused by the wind. It's a Saturday morning and the Red Sox are playing the Angels. I speak of all these things for I am still sick, much better than before but alas still sick. I'm planning on going to the gym today, some light lifting to shake off the cobwebs for come Monday morning I'm heading down to San Diego County to take advantage of the State Parks system. I'm bringing my boards, coffee, pasta, wine and a whole lot of wood and I'm gonna do some car camping. Be it that I will go alone but I will go. My time left here in California is limited so sick or not, surfing buddies or not, I'm going to Swamies, Pipes and Cardiff. I'll camp North Carlsbad, take a hundred or ten pictures and return to work on Wednesday with another adventure which will be met with the standard issue: "You went by yourself?"

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Rivermouth

So I surfed the river mouth in between Huntington and Newport on the 4th, the day before I surfed Cliffs and watched El Porto. It was a decent day, head high plus, some shoulders, a lot of close outs, just big and heavy. I had a few good lefts, the best, by far, would have been my first wave of the day. A left just ripe with cut backs and perfect positioning. The wave made me happy with the entire session. What has not left me with any pleasure is that since that day I have been getting sicker and sicker. Today is the best I've felt in sometime but still quite short of fathoming the idea of putting on a wetsuit and getting back out there in the drink. It's a sad state of affairs when you get sick from the water. I'll post the Surfrider link below: just as a reminder....


Friday, April 6, 2007

Thoughts from El Porto

So the oddity of life and the peculiar way things work shows it's way through my recent blog entries, or lack there of. I created this to talk about surf and well, it's surfing that has kept me from writing. Or better yet, transcribing. Scrawled out in my moleskin are the thoughts and recollections of the past days but in keeping brevity in mind I'll just leave you with my thoughts from yesterday. Enjoy:

I've got a cup of coffee and my notebook as I sit on the rocks at El Porto. I await the call from Cole telling me she's out of work, so in the interim, I do the only thing which comes naturally, I go to the beach. There's a decent mix of surfers in both boards and ability.

The few times I've surfed here have been enjoyable. The fun lefts and the soft rights out in front of the power plant or who knows what it is industrial complex. I've had good luck here with the fish, stalling and continuing on into the reform - a soft wall which is good for a cutback and a crouch, pulling yourself through the back of the wave.

I feel a little antsy while watching some of the better surfers make their way through the sections and snap turn a rooster spray against the gray sunset. And though my boards are in my truck my wetsuit hangs on the balcony at home for the fourth day in a row.

Today was cliffs, around six foot with a current which could rip a hole through teflon. After crossing under the railing I was poised to traverse down the dirt cliff when I saw two guys digging for a wave. The second guy had paddled around the first to beat him out of position but as karma would have it, the first guy (who had original position) stroked into the wave of the day. I stood there board and leash in hand and watched as his red board cut high and fast across the face of a head high plus wave.

I was stretching in the intertidal when the aforementioned surfer came walking by - I told him that I watched him from the cliff and that it was a hell of a wave to the end the day day on, the kind of wave you just go in afterward. He admired my board and was shocked that it was a Becker, for his was as well. Not knowing the size we matched pintail to pintail and decided it was around seven feet. His board was numbered around a thousand, a real classic.

There's barely any sun left right now and just two black specks left bobbing in the water, the last of the El Portos

I did well today. The first few waves were nothing of glory or gloom. But as I raced up the coast, catching left after left, (A south swell in southern California is a goofy footers wet dream) I found my rhythm and the strength in the pain from my body. After each wave it was right back on the board and right back out into the breakers: hard, digging and taking lick upon lick, my head border lining brain freeze. I had the power of desire in my arms.

There were no epic waves today. One frontside crouch to put my head and shoulders under the lip, which proceeded to crash on me and I skated out from the wash onto the shoulder to finish the wave. And there was one left, a big boy I hit with a drop and stall on a great angle. I then proceeded to pump once or twice before a cutback off the lip, from which I saw a lot of open wave behind me so I returned right and cut back in the soup and raced the white up the coast. I pumped fast and she sped close but I beat her out for once and celebrated with a big swoop of a cut back. No spray off the top just a text book swoop with my knees bent in homage. The kind of wave you want to end your day on but it wasn't my last wave, and for that I was glad for that stoked the fire and made me burn my arms more and more until I neared Bolsa Chica and the yearning for a cup of coffee, a hot shower and drive up north to see one of my close friend's overpowered me and I jumped off my board and body surfed to the shore with a 6 foot 8 piece of fiberglass in-tow.