Friday, February 28, 2014

A Week in the Life of a Middle-Aged Portland Oregon Surfer





Monday, 7:30 a.m.
I’m tired, probably feeling a wee bit of the after-effects (not gonna call it a hangover) of drinking too much over the weekend (again.) I surfed Saturday though. Still riding a bit of that stoke. I can still feel that second-to-last wave that really got my juices flowing. I replay it in my head over and over and over. I should have pulled a harder cut back though- screw my back.

 I also should have gone for that wave that looked like it had just a bit too much vert on the face. It didn't even close out! Don’t be such a wuss next time!

I’m checking the forecasts for later in the week. Too early to know for sure what it’s going to really be like.


Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.
Ahhhhhh it’s only freaking Tuesday! I’ve spent way too much time on Surfline today. The stoke is pretty much worn off. Friday is looking good I think. Why am I on Craigslist looking at surfboards again? I just bought yet another board that will have to be hidden in my garage until who-knows-when.

Wednesday, 10:45 a.m.
Dammit, dammit dammit! Perfect conditions at the Cove! Dammit! I could skip out of work early, make the 1.375 hour drive to the coast and get a solid hour+ of surf in before it’s pitch black out. Dammit! Kid has soccer practice tonight though! Dammit!

Thursday, 2:15 p.m.
Okay, Friday is looking okay, and it’s my regular rotating Friday off. Cove looks good, Shorties looks fair. Okay, on the road by 6:30, in the water by 8:15. But wait, crap, surf-forecast.com is showing a short period swell now and wind out of the north. What the hell?!? Swellinfo is showing all green and wind out of the east. Mixed swell? Dammit! Should I make the drive? Dammit!! I hate these stupid forecast sites!

Friday, 4:45 a.m.
Too dark to see anything on the webcam at the Cove. No matter. I bet everything is blown out. Wind switched onshore. I hate you all.

Friday , 6:30 a.m.
Okay- I can kinda see something on the webcam. Looks like crap at the Cove but maybe Shorties is okay? My surf buddy is texting: “what do you think?”

Friday, 6:35 a.m.
Forget it.

Friday, 8:15 a.m.
Surf buddy text: “Let’s go to P.C. It looks clean!” Too late. Wife is awake and I’m put on lockdown for household assignments. Dammit!! But wait… Saturday is looking good.

Saturday, 6:00 a.m.
Loading the truck, caffeine flowing, double-checking gear (yeah I should go ahead and bring 3 leashes… you never know.) Do I pack the 8’4” just in case? It’s supposed to be 5-7’ but the tide is high. No, because then I’ll have to leave it in the back of the truck if I don’t use it. Okay- 7’3” speed egg then. No, wait, maybe the 7’8”. Should I try the 6’4”? I’m getting too fat to ride that thing anymore. Dammit! I need to roll.

Saturday, 6:04 a.m.
I’m on the road- I’ll be in the water by 7:45 at the latest. Metallica!!

Saturday, 6:08 a.m.
Dammit!!! I left my booties in the garage!

Saturday, 6:10 a.m.
Okay- no worries, back on the road, cranking Queens of the Stone Age! Yes! 

I get ready to merge onto highway 217. Yeah gas station guy- that is a surfboard sticking out the back of my truck! Don’t be all jealous! In the water no later than 8:00!

Saturday, 7:45 a.m.
Well, the Cove looks decent. Yup, screw it. Not going anywhere else. But damn, that wind is picking up a bit…

Saturday, 11:50 a.m.
I scramble over the rocks back to my truck. I need to have a serious conversation with my wife about moving to the coast. I could telecommute. I’m sure my boss would be cool with that. I wonder what time my wife works tomorrow? I could leave super early and be back home by 10:00. Ooooohhhhh look! That house has a for sale sign on it! I wonder if any new boards are on the shelf at Seaside surf?  Maybe I’ll swing in and browse a bit.

Saturday, 1:15 p.m.
Text from wife: “Where R U!?”

Sunday, 12:30 a.m.
(Sipping a beer I don’t really need) I wonder what kind of jobs they have for Americans in Nicaragua?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Iowa!

Yes! Iowa! -36 degrees this morning with the wind chill. I know that wind chill thing makes it sound so much worse. Okay, the ambient temperature was -9, okay? I've found there isn't much difference between -36 and -6 and 0 these last 4 days.

 I ate at the bar of this Mexican joint in Cedar Rapids around 6:45 or so. The place (or the bar at least) was packed. And everyone was drunk. I listened on as a 50-some-odd-year-old woman talked about how smart her youngest girl was, going to K.U. and all. 'I'm not saying she's really smart,' she says, 'she's just smarter than my other kids, you know?'

 Why did Joe-White-Man-Settler run the Indians out of this place and call it home, anyways?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why I Will Never Ever Post to Craigslist Ever Again

Want to lose all faith in humanity? Go to Craigslist. Create a post in the "free" section. Observe the idiocy.

And this was just one of many...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stinky Wetsuits

I went surfing on January 1st. What follows is the exchange I had with my surf buddy prior to, and following a fun session in Seaside, OR.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Shark!



So there was a shark attack last week not too far from where I surf. The guy got away without any injuries though—the big lug just gave his board a little taste-test. I’m sure there’s a wetsuit that got a thorough cleaning this weekend, and for the record, the guy was an out-of-towner. Maybe it was a local shark just keeping the line-up in order.

All joking aside, it keeps you on alert the next time you paddle out after hearing about this sort of thing. That odd swooshing of water a few yards off or the shadow that may or may not have just passed under your board...? You can’t let your imagination run wild but occasionally it does. The worst (or best?) part of it is there isn’t going to be any of that cinematic fin-rushing-up-from-afar crap if a great white does decide to go after you. I’m sure most surfers that have been attacked never even saw it coming. Great whites attack from underneath and it’s usually a case of mistaken identity. Of course that’s no consolation if Jaws takes a bite out of your thigh.

Seals and sea lions are usually on the menu, and incidentally, there’s a seal that frequents my regular break. Whenever I see the doe-eyed little guy it immediately gets my hackles up, especially when he’s closer to the beach than I am: it’s like, does he know something I don’t?
 
I honestly don’t believe surfing is inherently dangerous. I mean, of course there’s risk involved, but like any sport (and I hate to call surfing a sport) there is definitely a potential for injury. Yet most competent surfers know if conditions are beyond their ability. Sure, accidents happen, but by the numbers, the sheer amount of surfers in the water around the world at any given time compared to the amount of drowning reported, shark attacks, and other potentially-fatal incidents associated with the activity are relatively low.

 And I actually read somewhere that more people get attacked by cows each year than by sharks. 

Of course it’s probably a bit more frightening to have Jaws barreling up underneath you than Lulu the cow giving you a swift kick to the backside. Or whatever it is a cow does when it attacks.

At the end of the day, even though the linked incident took place just miles down the coast from where I usually surf, it won’t keep me from the water. I may pay a bit closer attention to that seal though. If he’s paddling in, I might think about doing the same.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm Still Here...



So I won’t even bother with any commentary on my lack of posts of late. Suffice it to say the work that pays the bills overfloweth. The surf has been great as well, so my, uh, free time has been limited.  Just to let you know I’m still alive and keeping the creative juices flowing (or attempting to at least), I thought I’d share a few things I overheard while out and about in the office over the last few weeks. This amused me.

“…so one day it was raining and she showed up to class with an umbrella in a scabbard on her belt…”

“…they weren’t homeless people back then: they were bums…”

“…that’s one thing about software engineers, not only will they go to the renaissance faire, they’ll dress up in the pirate costumes and talk with an accent and shit…”

I also want to take an opportunity to plug another writer’s blog:

http://poubellemouth.wordpress.com/author/poubellemouth/

The name says it all… irreverent, shit-talking brilliance. I loves me a potty-mouthed girl.

Enjoy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Astronaut and a Rock Star


So an astronaut and a rock star walk into a bar. No, not really.

As it was relayed to me years later though, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up— an astronaut and a rock star. Sounds like something out of a Japanese manga or anime series. I can imagine it flashing across the screen: “Kazu Starthruster! Interstellar adventurer and rock and roll hero!” Kind of like Buckaroo Bonzai maybe? Damn that was a stupid movie. 

I announced it once over dinner I believe—my intent to be both an astronaut and a rock star. Quite noble ambitions, really, both requiring an exceptional amount of skill, luck, and even charisma. I’m sure there are some billion-to-one odds of actually making it in either profession, but as a kid, I wanted to be both.

My astral aspirations were dashed pretty early on though: I sucked at math. I barely made it through the basic algebra courses and flunked out of geometry in 10th grade. I imagine I grew out of the rocket man dream around 8th grade or so, but if I needed a nail hammered in the proverbial astronaut coffin, sucking at math was it.

That left rock star.

This became the focused career path of choice around the time I started high school. In 9th grade my friend Josh and I started writing what you might call songs on a Casio keyboard and acoustic guitar that rarely had all 6 strings intact. I recall sitting on a beach in Mexico (Josh was usually invited on family vacations with us) writing lyrics. Something about being lost in space and hate and something about blood too. Regular literati stuff. 

By age sixteen I had moved from the Casio keyboard to bass guitar and Josh picked up a Gibson Explorer copy and a cheap amp. We started writing semi-cohesive material and actually filmed ourselves performing (guitar, bass and loads of ad lib dialogue and singing,) replete with cheesy camera angles, strategic lighting, fake blood, and eye-liner that would have made even Robert Smith cringe. Oh and there was a sword fight in there. Thankfully I have the only copy in existence.

A drummer, singer, and occasional 2nd guitar were added to the mix towards the end of our sophomore year, and by the time we were juniors in high school we had a full-fledged punk/thrash band going. Our name? Subconscious Holocaust (although our singer, Rick, a 21 year-old dropout that found his way into our mix through a mutual friend, decided to tattoo the band name on his leg and spelled it “Subconscious Holocost.” When I pointed out the misspelling he turned the "s" in Holocost into a dollar sign and insisted that was how we spell the band name. The few fliers and cassette “J” cards I have left from back then are all spelled “Holocaust,” for what it’s worth.)

Our first gig was in Josh’s driveway. It was a ½ mile dirt affair that peeled off a quiet road out in the country a few miles from the desert town I grew up in. There were maybe 12 or 15 people there. Our set was so sparse we played it three times through and barely cracked 45 minutes before Josh’s parents told us to cool it. It was a modest start, but the handful of kids that showed up loved us. A dusty mosh-pit erupted in front of our amps as the kids slam-danced and slammed beers. In typical punk-rock DIY fashion, our cobbled-together gear barely functioned and was primarily held together with duct tape. We had no P.A., but rather an old stereo amplifier rigged up to a car speaker box. We probably sounded like shit, but we didn’t care; we were on our way. 

If anything we were persistent. We practiced three, sometimes four or more times a week. We wrote songs, building our paltry set-list to a point where we could rock for at least 30 minutes without playing the same song twice. We even managed to work up a cover of Anarchy in the U.K. It took some practice as Josh couldn’t do much more than power chords. It speaks to the level of musicianship in a band when you have a hard time covering a Sex Pistols song.

Our next gig was a considerable step up—our sound was improving with the addition of Todd, the 2nd guitarist. He could actually play solos.  Around the time Todd was worked into the band on a part-time basis, a kid I had known since elementary school threw a house party and invited us to play. (See imbedded video following the blog).

The back deck served as a stage and overlooked a sweeping yard in one of the nicer areas of town. Our sound check around 6 p.m. the night of the party got the neighbors on alert. By 7:00 p.m. there were at least 50 kids crammed into the yard. We managed to crank out 20 minutes worth of music to a mass of drunk high school kids before the cops showed up and rousted everyone. Josh’s amp fed back horribly the entire set. We couldn’t hear Rick. Ryan (the drummer) and I managed to hold the bottom end together yet really, I don’t think anyone at the party knew any better.

Gig number 3 was similar to number 2 except we never got shut down by the cops. We were tighter and our set had grown exponentially. Our equipment hadn’t improved much but were getting a better handle on making do with what we had, actually turning down the guitars and bass to make up for the crappy vocal amplifier. There was some buzz around high school the following Monday. I got some comments in the halls. We were on our way. Yet before we could rocket into local stardom, things went awry.

At our 4th and final gig we sounded the best we ever had. We played a party with another band that let us use their P.A. For the first time we could actually hear Rick singing during a gig and had actually developed a balanced sound.

Unfortunately there was a bit of a conflict that night.

 You see, it seems some of our friends had a run in with a skinhead at school in the weeks before the party. Even though we (the band) had nothing to do with said conflict, the skinhead and a couple of his cronies decided since our friends had dissed, pissed off, or otherwise insulted him, we, the band, were now a fair target for their displeasure as well.

It so happened these degenerates were at the party.

Halfway through our set one of the skinheads sucker-punched Rick in the gut. As a churning, riotous mosh-pit spun in front of us, the skinhead lunged out and connected a fist into Rick’s stomach. I remember hearing the sickening “oooommmpphhh” reverberate through the P.A. as Rick doubled over and nearly went to his knees.

Rick did his best to finish the set but his heart wasn’t in it. We carried on, and although musically we sounded the best we ever had live, the show ended with a whimper. We packed up our gear (most of which had to be crammed in and on top of my VW Bug) and headed off, drinking a case of cheap beer at Rick’s apartment.  

Soon after, Subconscious Holocaust was no more.

Ryan was the first to go. We got another drummer (coincidentally the kid who hosted the deck party) yet I never played a gig with him.

Todd had never really been a full-fledged member so I don’t know if he ever really officially quit—I think he just stopped showing up.

 I decided to join the Navy and went on delayed entry my senior year and, due to what I can only imagine was seen by the other band members as a lack of long-term commitment on my part, was effectually booted from the very band I founded. 

Shortly after I was ejected, Rick skipped out on probation and went skulking around New Orleans with a group of junkies he had hooked up with.

 I think Josh tried to keep the band rolling for a time, but soon after my departure Subconscious Holocaust (or Holoco$t,) a marginally-talented punk/thrash band from the desert nether-reaches of southern California petered off into an obscure high school memory.

Yet despite the premature demise of my first venture into the world of hedonistic musical indulgence, it certainly wasn’t my last attempt at rock stardom.