Sunday, February 25, 2018

This Week In Not Surfing

My wife goes on a vacation to Mexico, leaving me with the children and the dog. It is the clearing of two hurdles. The first, and lesser, is leaving the children for five days. Or rather leaving me alone with the children in the house for five days. The first couple nights of her sabbatical I imagine being spent tossing and turning through nightmares about wastelands of sanitary disrepair. The second, and far more treacherous I'm sure, is the very idea of taking a vacation at all. Unwinding, disconnecting, entering a world where she is neither required to remark nor capable.

Uncharacteristic doors open for me. Being the sole possessor of our family station wagon with children tucked safely away at school, I am confronted with the peculiar possibility of late morning surfing. Hands rubbing together, growling a low chuckle, I scheme. I connive. I put off meetings, feign appointments, cryptically decline lunch dates. The Sunday afternoon Magic Seaweed check has Monday afternoon looking surfable. The Sunday night Magic Seaweed check has Monday morning starting to very good indeed. I go to bed with the taste of canary in my mouth.

I wake in a pool of condemned-man cold sweat, perusing my internal Google calendar before I even open an eye. I calculate the losses in time. I add up the cost in trust. I grind my teeth, slap my forehead, wrapping the softer pillow around my face and banging my head against the mattress, a muffled middle-aged man's baleful wail wheezing ineffectually through the down. There is no escape.

I hold out for Thursday morning. Magic Seaweed has a hip to armpit high wind-belch possibly hitting between six and eleven AM. The winds are teetering on perfect (enough), a forecast with a 75% chance of being on the dot. Holy basil tea. L-theanine. Magnesium powder. It will hold.

In June last year, a Texan died from swimming in the ocean five days after getting "Jesus Is My Life" tattoo'd on his leg, the result of an infection run riot through an alcohol ravaged body, welcomed by the healing wound.

"Oh! There you are. Listen, everyone's in on the books for Thursday morning. Oh, are you sure you can't meet then? Look, Ben can't meet on Wednesday and he's leaving for a week on Friday. Robert and Grace can only do Thursday breakfast, afternoon isn't available and we need to sort this project out right away. Tuesday is booked solid and I can't fit anything in Wednesday afternoon. Can you do Wednesday night? Tomorrow night? No? Oh right, you're Mr. Mom this week, sorry I forgot. No, no one can do Wednesday. Are you sure you can't do Thursday?"

Holy basil tea. L-theanine. Magnesium powder. My eleven year old has a fever. My three year old refuses to get into bed before ten. Suddenly, brutally, I am off my January diet, eating slices of pizza and bowls of spaghetti and meatballs.

And the surf goes dead.

At least that's what I keep telling myself. I'm not even looking at the forecasts. My body is getting tighter, my back stiffer. At an earlier time in my life, were I this skinny I would have looked "sinewy." But at this stage "droopy" does.

My wife returns from Mexico and fills her previously open Thursday mornings with a new client.
This leaves Sunday mornings, Monday mornings and Tuesday mornings for possible sessions.

And last night, tomorrow morning looked good.

A year ago I won a tattoo from a silent auction fundraiser for my son's elementary school. The tattoo artist emails me on Friday that she'll be free Sunday afternoon. Doing the seasonal maths I reckon that if I don't get this tattoo now I might have to go under the needle later in the spring when the air's warmer. When the sun is coming up earlier.

I'm not sure whether the Jesus tattoo on that man's leg was in fact the name of his son, but the new tattoo on my arm will be. I can't imagine anyone being more anyone's life than that, albeit people seem to feel pretty strongly about their gods. I feverishly scribble with a Sharpie a couple dozen variations on a few pieces of paper and and head out the door with the likely design. My next surf will have to wait another couple weeks.

Holy basil tea. L-theanine. Magnesium powder. I'll pull out that foam roller.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

This Week In Not Surfing

1. We carry our ceremonies around with us. They are the roles to which we've acquiesced. I would say acquiesced over time because all the therapists think the roles we play, these poignant personal traditions, are the product of something very early, and have developed along with us, step by step. We didn't submit. We've accepted; embraced. And the moment we break free is the apotheosis of the ritual. I'll never be free of myself.

2. I read somewhere the quote, "don't poke fun at people if they mispronounce something. It means they've read it." This is a bastardization I'm sure. But at some point you could do so much better than constantly checking the thesaurus. Describe it some other way.

3. Surfing at Little Rincon on a smaller day, the toe-headed freshman paddled out hooting at my ride. Inexplicably this produces a wash of self-consciousness causing me to lose control of my pumping rhythm, failing to drop down the face at the wrong moment, slicing over his new, pearly white potato chip rocker rocket. He screamed, knowing instantly what I'd done. He laid into me loudly as I paddled back out past him, and I  knew in my shame that he couldn't pull rank. Later I'd buy him a ding repair kit by way of apology. When presenting it to him at his dorm room door he yanked out his board, showing me the deep gash. I forget whether it was in the nose or tail but remember thinking that no ding repair kit would sufficiently repair that. He was still incensed. I, still humiliated but in full knowledge of our physical disparity, mumbled that he should have gotten out of the way. I recall this episode with both fondness and embarrassment.

4. Monday night and all set to paddle out in the morning, I receive an email that will fill my tomorrow with an unexpected job. I could do the reasonable thing and ignore it, letting others pull my weight and ensuring I remain sane. But I don't. A little later, before bed, my wife tells me my "color looks off," and asks if I am feeling ok. I feel fine. Pretty good actually. But suddenly all I want to do is move back to California.

5. Looking up the "no poking fun" quote on Google I see it is a meme. One of those quotes people put over black and white pictures, or primary color back grounds, or images of baby animals. How embarrassing.

6. So two morning surfs missed in a week. Tuesday's last minute cover and then Friday my wife had to be working by seven fifteen ante meridiem. And certainly no afternoon glass for me in any deck of cards these days.

7. I direct message Neil on social media asking if he wants a big plastic box full of climbing wall hand holds Matthew found at Build It Green. His response is a question back: "Would you believe me if I told you I haven't surfed in 2 years?" Yes Neil, I believe you. Seems entirely reasonable, in fact.

8. I started working as the sole busboy in a Croatian restaurant in a strip mall in suburban Seattle at the tender age of thirteen. My previous two payed gigs (I wouldn't've known to call them gigs at the time) were a stint as a church summer camp counselor for kindergarten kids and a newspaper route I inherited from my older brother (also inheriting his bruised walkman.) My first restaurant job was also my first brush with homosexuality, two of the waiters being flamboyantly so, like two caricatures of late 80's gayness (or gayness as far as I'd seen on T.V.) One, dark and pony-tailed, tall and arch, the other squat, pale, bespectacled and boisterous. The former begrudged me my tips but tipping well in the end, the latter teasing me endlessly and skimping on my share to boot. In current parlance I could call the latter's a harassment I suppose. I'm not sure. Could or couldn't, the introduction seemed to have the effect of curing whatever bigotry I might have developed otherwise, that particular other not being widely accepted for years to come in the circles I'd travel.

9. An interesting amount of my time would be spent in church related jobs throughout high school. I'd continue as a summer camp counselor for a couple years. Later, I'd work three days a week after school as the local Presbyterian church's Filippino janitor's assistant. He taught me how to vacuum large swaths of carpet efficiently. I'd also find Sunday employment shuttling people from the old folks home to mid-morning services in our family's faux wood paneled Chrysler Voyager. The geriatrics called me Sonny. Two Wednesdays a month I'd hitch a ride or catch the bus downtown to a youth homeless shelter to make massive bowls of spaghetti and iceberg salad. All these things are part of my identity I think. Again, I could be wrong.

10. In fact for many years I've considered myself queer. Not gay. Just queer. I've imagined this to be one of my secret powers. The others still being secret, mostly because I'm not sure they are helpful powers at all.

11. I need to surf more.  This is the only identity I know for sure.