On the morning of Saturday, November 3rd, I wake up at 7:30 a.m. to a dark room. The nightlight I plugged into the wall, a subtle alert to the presence of electricity, is still dim. I grudgingly push two down comforters aside and climb out of bed, wearing the latest in pajama couture: Long socks, shorts, sweats, and a hoodie layered beneath a ski sweater. It’s our sixth day without electricity and it’s 4 degrees in my house. But at least I have a house. I keep reminding myself. So many of my friends lost everything. But at least they are safe.
This headspace is surreal. I remember watching Katrina and her aftermath on the television, and being unable to process what I was seeing. Too much destruction and sorrow. Human kindness–as well as malevolence.
The night before, I sat in my friend’s living room, absorbing borrowed warmth, and watching the nationally televised Sandy benefit concert, broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City, where half of Manhattan still didn’t have power. Another friend who made the journey back through the Lincoln Tunnel said returning to the City was the strangest thing she’s ever experienced. It’s hard to fathom New York standing still.
My parents have a bitey dog and a flair for dramatics. Even if this storm proves to be over-hyped, it’s possible that riding it out with those three will result in bodily harm. Psychological injury is pretty much a given. This is why I have procured a personal wine reserve.
And anyway, Sandy looks unlikely to be a bust, as the projected point of landfall is, give or take three miles, my house. Continue reading
I wrote this post about Bells a few months back…
Day 2. The sun is piercing the super translucent remnants of the marine layer mixed with wildfire haze; a virginal veil over the pristine beauty that is Victoria’s rugged coastline. It hits the gold-grey sand and wheat-coloured cliffs, refracting off of the glass-smooth faces pounding Winkipop with a deceptive grace. Overhead sets wrap ‘round the point at Rincon. Thousands of millimetres of lens are trained on the Bowl. Jet skis rear and climb peaks, dive down their spines. Julian snaps, hacks, cuts.
Day 4. Gale-force winds ravage the contest site shortly after an emotional Mick Fanning is presented with his bell trophy. As he gives an interview to Channel 9, the gusts apparently level every section of fence bearing a past champion’s photograph. Except one: Michael Peterson. Talk about eerie. The late legend was the very first champion of the Bells Easter comp in 1973.
The weather had been warm and sunny all week–atypical for Easter in Victoria, and it actually began turning during the men’s final. The clouds rolled in as the crowd on the beach shared a moment commemorating MP. “Hells Bells” played on the loudspeakers and goose bumps rose on our arms. Someone said, “It would be fitting if a ‘Cooly kid’ won this year.” This 51st year. Kelly flew and spun and stuck, but Mick rode Bells as Bells likes to be ridden–with power, style, control. And win a Cooly kid did. Continue reading
The other day, I put it out there into the ether (uhh… I tweeted it) that riding your bike in the wind, while grasping a surfboard, is damn near impossible. Unless you’re a trained circus performer. My friend JoAnne responded, “Fins first!” JoAnne, you are a genius. This seems like a fairly obvious strategy, at least to try, but it’s always the obvious that’s overlooked. Think about it: why the hell would flipping the board over make it any less awkward or more streamlined? If anything, I imagine you’re thinking, those pesky fins would collide with your handlebars and make an even bigger mess! Not so. For whatever reason, not so. I like to think this is one of those invaluable pieces of information that is passed on from one generation of bike-riding surfer to another, only in times of need. And then everyone just smugly rides their bikes to the beach, to the wonder of the unenlightened, saying nada about their completely evident (yet untapped) tactics, until some poor and frustrated soul says, “Fact: Unless you’re a carny, riding a bike while holding a surfboard is nearly impossible in the wind.” If you know one of these people, please just pass this along to them. But definitely don’t share it with someone who hasn’t earned it by asking for help.
Thursday, August 25th, 2011. 19:39
The Rain Before THE Rain
The air might smell like the copious raindrops that fill it, or like salt marsh, but my nose is stuffy. I guess that’s what I get for surfing in hypothermia-inducing, upwelled waters this afternoon. I paddled out amid the hordes at Manasquan, even though the cloud formations indicated impending doom and the water was painfully cold, because the waves actually had faces. Faces on which I could make use of the very minor trickage I have in my arsenal. The wind was blowing hard out of the south, but the jetty blocked it and surprisingly smooth peaks remained. Anyway, after about 30 seconds, my core ceased circulation to my extremities and now I can’t smell anything.
Thunder rumbles continuously, and the dense clouds are occasionally illuminated by dull, bluish flashes.
“Chance of rain: 90%,” The Weather Channel tells me. Every ten minutes. The local forecast breaks up the round-the-clock coverage of Hurricane Irene, which they’re saying could be a 100-year event–especially in terms of flooding. In terms of other things, well, the mayor just called and said a voluntary evacuation is in effect for the barrier island. I received a Facebook message from the Garden State Grudge Match Trials: “No comp due to evacs! Go surf, have fun, & be safe!”
We’re supposed to prepare for a direct hit: flash flooding and storm surge and high, high winds.
“A hurricane watch and a flood watch have been issued for our area.”
Irene is on-track to clobber New York City. The last time the city saw a hurricane was more than a hundred years ago. If I were still living in the city, I’d evac for sure. Fuck those sheets of glass falling from the sky.
Magic Seaweed is saying we’ll get a 15.5-foot swell on Sunday. Will anyone be there to see it?
Last Wednesday, I brought my board when I met Jackie at the beach–mostly because I could; not necessarily because I expected the surf to be any good. The Park has decided to let us surf anywhere that is not a designated swimming area. Finally. This means that if you happen to have a day free of work or other obligations, you don’t have to rise with the sun to get in a decent session before the lifeguards kick your ass down to the ever-migrating surf beach. Since the regulation relaxation, I’ve noticed a lot more surfers in the water. Lured out by facility, I guess. Getting up super early/dropping by post-work does require some additional effort, which I can see being a deterrent–especially when the afternoon swell is often killed by the wind and the tides only occasionally ally themselves with your free time.