Sunday, October 31, 2010

my new neighbors!

I don't know if I've written much about my new apartment yet. I'm very excited and very broke, and it may be full of mold, like my TWO YEAR OLD TOYOTA, and it would win an ugly contest with the Byrne, and the wallpaper is stained and has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, and the yard floods A LOT when it rains, which being in San Francisco, it rains A LOT. Actually, I could go on, its going to be a great set when Drew Barymore makes a "$12 Surfboard" movie. I've got doors to nowhere, a hole in my sink, weird crystals growing in my cabinets, a cabinet door made of cardboard, not the fake wood cardboard, but the corrugated kind. And there are random bars on the windows, like a demented drug dealer used to live here, from the outside it kind of looks like a Liquor store in Detroit, yet it has a glass front door. I just discovered that the window not just leaks, but funnels rain inside in a waterfall if you don't close it right.


I'm a block from the beach. I get to keep my dog. I have a yard with a hose. And best of all:

So this morning, in the first time since forever, I got up and got a morning session in on a Saturday. I suppose most people would be mad if their neighbors woke them up on a Saturday morning. But I was quite literally stoked!

I was having this awful nightmare, I had accidentally destroyed a weaving and was trying to fix it before the weaver came back, and everything I did made it worse.

But then I heard my neighbor Alex saying "Sarah! Sarah are you home?" You see, I live in a building full of surfers, and I am the only one in possession of a yard and a hose. This makes me very popular. Alex was in Costa Rica (more on that later) when I moved in and was storing his wetsuit in my yard, he apologized for it, but I told him he was more than welcome to keep it there. I mean, I have a HOSE (which is actually Alex's but he left it in my yard, and I assumed correctly that he wouldn't mind if I used it) and a YARD. A fenced in yard you can CHANGE in! I would be a very bad person if I would not share this bounty. And, hey, who minds surfer boys changing in the yard? Really? All this for $1100 bucks a month? Who needs real cupboard doors, or doors that go somewhere? Or wallpaper that doesn't make your eyes hurt? And the window totally works if I close it right. I have neighbors that care enough to not let me miss the good surf by sleeping in. I woke up from a nightmare to a happy surfing dream that turned out to be reality. I'm in paradise.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

lately, I've been frustrated with my surfing ability its been months since I had a "good" session. I'm tense when I get in the water, and only slightly less when I get out. I've been in tears nearly every session, and it doesn't matter the quality of the wave, it actually gets worse when the surf is good. or the difficulty, it gets worse when I go to an "easy" spot. Either I'm in tears because I can't do it because it's still above my ability after I've been surfing for so long, or I'm in tears and depressed because I can't even seem to be able to do what I could do a year ago. I'm at my wits end. Just last fall I was starting to drop into overhead waves and now I hopelessly pearl at the god damned jetty. I can't remember the last time I caught a wave and enjoyed it, really enjoyed it. Its like I've lost faith, in everything.

Its not just surfing that I've been struggling with lately. About two months ago I was promoted to "temporary" shift supervisor. I was so excited and proud of myself. But today I had that taken away. I was close to giving it up anyway. I couldn't concentrate. I was making stupid mistakes. I stopped enjoying myself. The guys I was supervising weren't even difficult to supervise, but I buckled under the pressure anyway. I'm so disappointed in myself. But I was in over my head, and my boss had the good sense to pull me out before I drowned. It's disappointing, sure. I thought I could do it, but it was too much too soon. Now I can concentrate on being an amazing machinist. And that's really what I want.

I turned down program director at boys and girls club for a reason. I was a great art teacher, I was one of the best in a city that had the best, in the worst neighborhood in the city. I had some amazing peers, legends in their fields, and I was one of them, to stand with people like Kay and Bill and Mark was an honor, and I knew I was worthy of it. I deserved to be, and I knew it. I would have been at best an average program director, realistically a pretty lousy one, because it wasn't where my heart was. My heart wasn't in supervising. It was in making good parts. And I'm just too dumb or too smart to do both at once.

In fact, if I can be as good a machinist as I was an art teacher after 5 years I'll be pretty kick ass.

That makes me feel better. There were times early teaching art that I was in tears, I did stupid things. I did stupid things and was in tears a lot near the end, but for different reasons. I did stupid things and was in tears a lot, because I cared. I guess that's happening all over again. Growing is painful.

I felt so good after being demoted today. I was sad for about an hour, and then I was so happy that I could go back to just being a machinist again. The two things I was worried about when I took the job were not whether or not I could do it, it was that I would follow the career track of most women in technical fields and wind up managing instead of making, and that I would stop growing as a machinist. I went backwards as a machinist.

The way this relates to my surfing block is this: I've been so frustrated lately its almost like I'm setting myself up to fail. And I know I was setting myself up to fail on my $12 surfboard, learning to surf where no one should learn to surf, but by knowingly setting myself up to fail, I was also accepting that I would fail, and I've lost sight of that. Failing is part of succeeding. Like they said in "Roll Bounce" "If you don't fall, how will you ever know what it feels like to get up?"

One of the first lessons, and probably one of the most important lessons I've learned surfing is that when you wipe out really badly, you don't struggle. The first time I really got tumbled, really held down, I knew this intrinsically after a few seconds. The wave is more powerful than you. You don't know which way is up, so if you struggle, you waste your air and may be holding yourself down for longer, in fact, you usually are. But you are buoyant, your board is buoyant, and waves have a rhythm and cycle and if you just relax, go limp, and give yourself up to the wave it will bring you back up faster than struggling will. But the last two really bad wipe outs I had, I struggled. I even knew better. I made the conscious decision to struggle. I as so angry at myself. I was so angry in general. I wasn't paddling, I was punching the water. I knew at one point I was pushing myself down further. I was so frustrated that I did something I knew was just making the problem worse, and it wasn't working. I had to force myself to give in, and as soon as I did, I recovered. If only life were so simple. I had to give in because I was going to run out of air if I didn't.

I remember the joy of my first real wipe out. I'd slipped off my board a few times, but nothing like that. That was the first time I got tumbled, really tumbled. I was down, I didn't know what was up or down. It was scary. I knew from the beginning that it was coming and if I could get through that, I could keep surfing. I knew there was a real possibility that I would get so scared I would quit. Back then, I still could have quit. I was only out 12 bucks. Less than a sandwich, as Charlie said.

But I realized when I was down there I knew exactly what to do. Go rag doll limp. And when I made it to the surface, it was even better than finally achieving the coveted pop up two years later. I remember that now. Failing really is the first step to succeeding, and lately I've lost sight of that.

Lately I've had the powerful urge to ride the Byrne again. Now I understand. Just like the time I really did drop in on an overhead wave because I knew I could go for it or be pummeled by it. I took it because I was forced to. I didn't even know that the wave was that big until the next day.

Lately, I've been desparate to get back to that. I've gotten lazy by trying too hard. I need to fail if I'm ever going to succeed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The wonder and horror of abundance

This morning, I wanted to make some boiled eggs for a salad. When I separated from my husband, I took none of the cookware with me, so I had no pots and pans to boil the eggs in. So I took my trusty dog for a walk, looking up and down the streets for a cast off pot. First, all I found was a dish drainer, but I needed one of those as well, so I took it. We turned around after 5 or six blocks and headed up another avenue back home. Sure enough, just two blocks from home, someone had set out boxes with "Free" signs on them and just as I had hoped (and to some degree expected) One was full of just the cookware I needed and more. After I took the dog home I came back and helped myself to a teapot with a broken handle and a missing lid for a pot, two different size frying pans, a crepe pan, three votive holders and two drinking glasses. I left behind four boxes of assorted cookware, children's clothing and other housewares. This morning I basically went shopping on the street, finding everything I was looking for and more, within the space of about an hour and a half.

The poor person in me is delighted. I got what I needed for free, easily. The environmentalist is horrified. It was too easy. we covered 10 blocks to find what was essentially waste. If you multiply that by the space of the city, the space of the country, the face of the developed world, and think of how much I left behind, its a terrifying comment on our society. Whats more, the bulk of the cookware was in bad shape, In all honesty, I'll probably put it back on the curb when I can afford better, and then where does it go? In spite of programs like freecycle, and all the second hand stores, even using things again, it all means we have just too much stuff, and it wears out too quickly.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm taking lessons

After 3 long years of struggling to learn to surf all by myself, I decided for the sake of my sanity it was finally time to take surf lessons. There were a number of influences that led to this decision:

1. A native Hawaiian I met on OB named Jessie had offered lessons I could potentially afford.
2. I got a substantial shift bonus at work for switching to nights, so I actually could afford them.
3. I got spooked after a friend I hadn't surfed with before tried to get me to paddle out into waves that were way too big for me and I kept getting pounded. When he asked me if I wanted to go back to the Jetty I got so discouraged I actually went there and got even more discouraged. I'm not JETTY BAD!
4. After taking this particular friend's advice and going back to what was once my favorite place in the world that I now avoid like the plague, I had the third worst day I EVER had surfing, the second worst being the aforementioned trip to the dreaded Jetty, and the worst ever being the day I decided to separate from my husband.

On my last trip to Linda Marr I lost it. After pearling a good seven times in a row, I actually got so pissed off I actually TRIED to break my epoxy funboard in half. I screamed at it for wasting three years of my life. I took off my leash and I threw it in the water, hard, twice, only to have it come back and hit me so hard in the shin it left a scar. I was ready to give it to the next person I saw. I was ready to leave it on the beach. When I came to my senses, sort of, I was ready to take it back to Sonlight, sell it, and my wetsuit, and give up surfing altogether.

But then what would I do? I've rearranged my entire life around surfing. I work nights so I can surf. I have a 60 mile round trip commute so I can surf. I had just spent every dime I had so I could get an apartment on the beach so I can surf, and before that, I lived in a creepy garage so I could surf. I no longer had a husband. Art no longer interests me. All I've wanted to do for the past three years is be a machinist and surf. And I'm not great at either...yet.

So, I figured, I'd tried everything else, I might as well take a lesson.